Village people: 05/12/2009

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Indy Politics

Pickles's optimism

*Eric Pickles the chairman of the Conservative Party, is an optimistic fellow. Not only did he send your diarist an email invitation this week to become part of an "exciting new network" called MyConservatives (thanks, but no thanks), he also thinks that his deputy, Lord Ashcroft, would be willing to go on the Today programme to discuss his tax affairs. "I dare say that if you get his lordship on the programme, he will be very happy to answer for you," he said on the programme yesterday.

Ashcroft mystery

*Meanwhile, the Labour MP Gordon Prentice has become exasperated with the Cabinet Office's failure to divulge information on Michael Ashcroft. He suspects they hold details that would show if Lord Ashcroft fulfilled the promise he made in 2000 to become a UK resident (a condition attached to his peerage), and he complained to the Information Commissioner about it many months ago. Now he has lost patience with them because they have not answered, and is leading a debate in the Commons on Monday week on why the Information Commissioner won't give out information. Perhaps Lord Ashcroft can shed light on the mystery on the Today show.

Did she inhale?

*Caroline Dineage, the daughter of 1970s children's TV presenter Fred Dineage, is the new Tory candidate for the safe seat of Gosport, replacing Sir Peter Viggers, he of the duck house. Ms Dineage is one of that incomprehensibly large number of politicians who admit to having tried illegal drugs when they were young, but claim that they did not do anything for them. Why do they all say this? And who are these drug dealers who specialise in selling duff dope to adolescents destined to become MPs?

Where's Mystic Greg?

*A wicked whisper spreading among Labour MPs says that Greg Cook, Labour HQ's polling guru who is known as "Mystic Greg" for his supreme ability to read the public mood, is quitting because he could no longer bear to go to Gordon Brown to break any more bad news about Labour's poll ratings. Party sources say that this is not true. Mystic Greg is, apparently, taking a brief break from reading the runes, but he will be back in time for the general election. They need him.

Dale rejected (again)

*A constant complaint of people who blog is that what they think is important is different from what is reported in the mass media. "Climategate", the 1,000 or more emails and documents stolen by hackers from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and posted on the internet last month, already merits an incredible 30 million hits on Google, but only the occasional appearance in the newspapers or on television or radio. People who do not believe that human activity causes global warming regard those emails as very important. Richard North, who writes a blog called EUReferendum, has done a calculation that shows there is one blogosphere obsession that is even more underreported. It is Tory blogger Iain Dale, who is mentioned 25,429 times on the blogs for every time his name appears in the mass media. With that rebuke in mind, it is our sad task to report, belatedly, that Mr Dale was not shortlisted for the safe Tory seat of Beckenham. That's three Tory associations who could have had the nation's number one political blogger as their candidate, but chose not to. Surely this cannot go on.