Village People: Tam Dalyell is never one to run with the herd

  • @andymcsmith

News that Colonel Gaddafi was dead had only just hit the airwaves when that relentless old campaigner Sir Tam Dalyell was on the phone.

The former Labour MP for West Lothian is of the same mind as Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the Lockerbie bombing. Neither believes the Libyans committed the atrocity, though both suspect Gaddafi may have known who did. Dalyell thinks it was a Palestinian terrorist group hired by Iran. He did not share the optimism that the new Libyan government will be an improvement. "I'm in a minority of minorities here," he said. "I met Col Gaddafi in 2001 and got the impression that he wanted to do his best for his people. I was against the Nato intervention because they were unclear who they were backing. In five years, there may be a lot of people saying 'Bring back Gaddafi'. Who knows?" Dalyell had strong opinions and could be wrong but he was never one to run with the herd.

Liam Fox may have shot himself in the tail with his remarks about press coverage in his resignation statement on Wednesday. His friends say he did not mean to sound like he thought the media was responsible for his predicament. His anger was directed specifically at The Sun, for reviving the story about the burglary of his house, revealing he was not the only person at home when it happened, and for the innuendo about his sexuality. Unfortunately, it sounded like he was complaining that he would not have got into trouble for breaking ministerial rules if the media had not inquired into he was up to – which predictably turned the whole pack of political journalists against him. Some are vowing revenge if ever Fox tries to get back into front line politics. "We'll make it harder for him, if not impossible," one feral beast snarled.

One of the planks of Ed Miliband's campaign last year to win the leadership of the Labour Party was a promise to improve its internal democracy. The only avenue through which members can influence its policies is the National Policy Forum, which met in July. Its next meeting is next July. Slow business, this party democracy.

The discussion in Parliament early this week on the Hillsborough disaster showed the much maligned House of Commons. It has given relatives of 96 Liverpool fans who died in Britain's worst soccer disaster hope that they will eventually know who was behind the orchestrated campaign of slander that compounded their grief.

But they had to wait until after 5.40pm for the debate to begin, while the Commons spent the previous two hours discussing MPs' pensions.

For the Tory MP Christopher Chope, two hours was not enough. He said they should talk pensions until 7pm. Mr Chope says this was due to the importance of the issue, and nothing to do with a report that one of the constituents in his Christchurch seat is David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge on that day in 1989. The Taylor report into the disaster was scathing about Duckenfield, and identified him as the first person to try to divert blame onto the fans and away from what Lord Taylor identified as the real cause of the tragedy, inept policing.