Andy McSmith's Diary: You can’t complain about Page 3 while wearing a PVC skirt. Discuss


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Indy Politics

The Labour MP Stella Creasy put her head well over the parapet when she challenged David Cameron to say whether he supported the campaign to get The Sun to stop publishing its famous Page 3 feature – a challenge that the Prime Minister dodged.

The first act of retribution came swiftly, in the form of a tweet from The Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn: “Boldly, @stellacreasy has just asked the PM to justify Page 3 – while wearing a bright blue PVC skirt in the Commons chamber.”

In the Twitter spat that followed, she invited Newton Dunn to carry on commenting on how other MPs, such as Cameron, were dressed. He claimed to “fully support ALL equal opportunity; yours to wear what you want – and p3 girls to express themselves as they want”. As the day progressed, Newton Dunn inspired Twitter comments about his suit, tie and trouser length. Do not expect it to end there.

Truth and reconciliation

David Cameron got through half an hour of Prime Minister’s Questions without a single Labour MP asking him about that “selfie” of him and Barack Obama on either side of the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. There was a good reason.

Labour’s business managers thought that Cameron had made a fool of himself. “It’s amazing what a man will do, even a world leader, when asked to by an attractive woman,” one said.

But they also judged that Cameron would have too easy a comeback because Thorning-Schmidt is married to Stephen Kinnock, son of Labour’s ex-leader.

And they were right. When the relevant question came at the very end, from the Liberal Democrat Martin Horwood, Cameron replied: “Nelson Mandela played an extraordinary role in his life and in his death in bringing people together, so of course when a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it only polite to  say yes.”

Nice guys finish last

“Gillard adviser outed as abusive,” says the headline on the website of Australia’s ABC network, in what purports to be an exposé of John McTernan, a former adviser to Tony Blair who also worked for Australia’s ex-prime minister Julia Gillard, but is now back in the UK.

They say they have seen “thousands” of emails which reinforce the view that McTernan was Malcolm Tucker made flesh – and then rely on an example of him using a word that rhymes with Jeremy Hunt’s surname in a single email.

It does make me wonder how these poor fragile Aussies would have coped if ever Alastair Campbell, or Peter Mandelson, or Gordon Brown’s spinners Damian McBride and Charlie Whelan, had descended on them. In that company, McTernan always passed as one of the nice guys.

Redemption for Tories?

By the time Will Brown reached the age of 42, he had been in and out of institutions for 30 years. Being released was like taking “home leave”: he didn’t look for work, he had a drug habit to feed, after three or four months he would be back behind bars.

Then he was contacted in prison by the Sycamore Tree, a project run by the Prison Fellowship, and was introduced to a woman named Christine who described the trauma of having her home invaded and being tied up by two drug-crazed young burglars.

“That could have been me,” Will says.

“I done terrible crimes and they never left me any sleepless nights, but months after hearing Christine’s story, I couldn’t sleep. Christine gave me a conscience. I had never had a conscience.” He is now out of prison, off drugs and in a steady job.

He was talking at a meeting in the Commons organised by a group of charities, including the Prison Fellowship and Bible Society, to spread the word that this kind of restorative justice, as well as having overtones of confession and redemption, actually works. The Home Office minister Jeremy Wright is a convert. He said the Government  will put £29m into it in three years.