Andy McSmith's Diary: Tory’s think-tank attack is not such a bright idea

 

Ann Leslie, the 73-year-old former Daily Mail columnist, reminds me that six years ago she revealed in her memoirs how she was once ambushed in a bedroom by the film star David Niven. After writing that, she received a reader’s letter – unpublishable until now – from a woman who had suffered a similar experience at the hands of Rolf Harris.

“At least your molester”, her correspondent wrote, “had a bit of class.”

Think-tank blast backfires

The maverick Tory MP Charlie Elphicke is pursuing a campaign against the IPPR, a think-tank with links to the Labour Party. He thinks that Labour MPs should have declared research done by IPPR on the register of interests, and has challenged the think-tank’s status as a registered charity. Complaints have been fired off to the Charities Commission, the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

You might think Mr Elphicke’s zeal would please the Tory high command. Actually, he is giving them the jitters because another think-tank, Policy Exchange, founded by Michael Gove, is also a registered charity. Policy Exchange’s former director, Neil O’Brien, moved to the Treasury 19 months ago as George Osborne’s special adviser.

In June 2012, one of David Cameron’s special advisers, Sean Worth, moved from Downing Street to the Policy Exchange. Last year Alex Morton moved in the opposite direction, advising Mr Cameron on housing. The Prime Minister was the main guest at Policy Exchange’s summer party two weeks ago, when he described the hours he spent in summer 2005 listening to its clever Tory wonks talking about how to modernise the Conservative Party and “stole all their ideas” to use in his bid for the Tory leadership.

Mr Elphicke’s campaign against IPPR could do serious collateral damage  to the PM’s favourite policy-wonk house.

Hacked off by rave reviews

The National Theatre’s new play, Great Britain, was given a four-star rating by The Independent’s critic Paul Taylor, and by The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. It was given five stars on the website of the former chief critic of The Times, Libby Purves, who was axed last September. But in The Times it rated only two stars.

What could it be about a play about phone hacking that appeals to every critic except one currently employed by Rupert Murdoch?

Once bitten, twice shy

Biteback, the small political publishing house launched by the former Tory blogger Iain Dale, celebrated its fifth birthday today with Jeffrey Archer, the billionaire publisher Lord Ashcroft, and the former Labour ministers Charles Clarke and Peter Hain.

Biteback’s best-selling author, the notorious former Downing Street spinner Damian McBride, was absent, sadly. So was Stuart Holmes, the elderly protester who placed himself in shot when McBride was doing a piece to camera plugging his book, and was wrestled to the ground by Mr Dale.

I assume Holmes was not invited because Biteback could not find his address, because he does not have an address. He lives rough on London’s streets, where he is safer, generally, than when he is anywhere near Mr Dale.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on