Village People: PM goes undercover on the campaign trail

David Cameron spent three hours in Oldham East and Saddleworth, scene of a by-election where some people suspect the Tories are pulling their punches to avoid hurting the Lib Dems. The Prime Minister's visibility was so low at times that reporters on the scene starting wondering what he might be doing.

I now learn that he spent part of his visit enjoying a quiet beverage with his entourage in the Bower Hotel in Oldham. A man who was in the hotel bar at the time tells me that he and other drinkers were startled when a fleet of cars swept into the hotel car park and the place was suddenly crawling with police.

Then a group of visitors was seen being ushered to a back entrance, which unfortunately was locked. The group came to the front, and the astonished guests spotted the Prime Minister. My spy tells me: "First we thought it was the cops bringing somebody who had grassed up on a drugs deal for a secret debriefing – but it was Mr Cameron, who came in looking like somebody who thought he was appropriately dressed for the area but wasn't. They ordered tea and coffee for about a dozen people."

MP shows how to avoid greedy landlords

Looking back at Hansard for 17 November 1998, I notice that David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, used parliamentary privilege to name seven property companies in the Manchester area which he accused of being extortionate landlords.

He demanded government action on behalf of tenants. In his own life, Mr Chaytor found a foolproof way to avoid dodgy landlords. In London, he was his own landlord. In Bury, he "rented" a house from his mother. And yesterday he began 18 months as a guest of Her Majesty.

Death of a Thatcherite with a whiff of sulphur

People old enough and sufficiently right-wing enough to have cheered when Margaret Thatcher's government broke the miners' strike 25 years ago will be mourning the death this week of David Hart, who scurried around the coalfields on the government's behalf enlisting strikebreakers. He was also a special adviser to Michael Portillo and Malcolm Rifkind in the Ministry of Defence.

David's uncle, Herbert Hart, an eminent Oxford don, worked for MI5 in the war. By contrast, his aunt Jenifer came under suspicion in the 1960s of having been a Soviet spy. She admitted she had been a Communist, and had been approached by a Soviet agent in the 1930s who told her to "go underground" – but denied passing secrets.

Her interrogator, Peter Wright, another weird product of the world of spooks, described her as "a fussy middle-class woman, too old, I thought, for the fashionable short skirt and white net stockings she was wearing".

In Thursday's Daily Telegraph, a laudatory obituary of David remarked that "there were many, notably in the Tory Party, who detected a whiff of sulphur about Hart. His enemies likened him to Rasputin and accused him of being an agent of the CIA, the KGB or Mossad, or all three." Strange guy, but very useful to the Thatcher government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot