Miles Kington Remembered: Enveloped between my respectable rivals

There were plenty of recognisable faces... people who would like to stand asanti-sleaze candidates... Ernest Saunders, Asil Nadir and Darius Guppy

Share
Related Topics

(11 April 1997) Apart from a bout of graffiti-painting in the 1960s, I have never been actively involved in politics so I was quite surprised to get a call last week from activists in the Tatton constituency asking me if I might think about standing for Parliament for them. "Not been your year, has it?" I said sympathetically.

"I beg your pardon?" they said.

"You'll be lucky to stay in the Premiership. And it doesn't help to see Arsenal doing so well..." I thought they had said Tottenham. Icily, they said that they were from Tatton. I told them I would look it up on the map and ring them back.

"Hello," I said, ringing them back. "Well, I've looked Tatton up in my big road atlas, and I'm afraid there is no such place listed, so either this is a belated April Fool joke or you have given me the wrong name. I have found Toton in Nottinghamshire and Totton in Hampshire and Taston in Oxfordshire, which all sound nice, though I have to say I would prefer it to be Taston which is slightly nearer to where I live..."

The voice broke in, again somewhat coldly, to inform me that the constituency was actually named after Tatton Dale, an area of Cheshire near Manchester. "Got it," I said, turning the map. "Here we are. Knutsford ... Wilmslow ... Oh, no, how dreadful!"

"What's wrong?" they said quickly.

"Being Knutsford and Wilmslow country, that's what's dreadful," I said. "I've been there. I've seen it. All those smarmy, pseudo-smart, funny money, wheeler-dealer, poodle parlour, nouveau riche, coach lamp, house- name-written-on-slice-of-log places. "You are talking about our constituents," the voice said tightly. "I thought they were Neil Hamilton's constituents."

"Not for long, we hope."

"Pity," I said. "It sounds to me as if Neil Hamilton is just the right man for such a place. Both dodgy smooth..."

"Before we ask you to run as our anti-sleaze candidate," said the voice, "can we ask you for a view of Mr Hamilton?"

"Mr Hamilton," I said, "is an obvious scumbag who no more deserves a seat at Westminster than a seat on the lavatory. He is just the sort of spivvy, self-made twerp that Thatcherism brought into being, and he is precisely the sort of person who has given the Conservative Party such a bad name."

There was an awed silence for a moment. "And that is your view?" "No," I said. "That is the view of Mr A N Wilson, writing in the Evening Standard."

"And do you agree with it?"

"Not entirely. I think there were spivvy self-made twerps like Neil Hamilton before Thatcher came along." There was a whispered conversation at the other end of the line. Then the voice spoke again.

"Mr Kington, we would like to invite you to the final selection meeting for picking our anti-sleaze candidate. Would you care to be there?" "Well, it's a long way..."

"We will pay your expenses."

"Used notes in a brown envelope? Overnight freebie? Wife included?" "Of course."

Minutes later I was heading for the motorway. The next day I was in the ante-room for the final interview. There were plenty of recognisable faces there of people who, for one reason or another, would like to be seen standing as anti-sleaze candidates. Ernest Saunders, I noticed, and Asil Nadir, and Darius Guppy...

I sat next to an unobtrusive man in the corner and introduced myself. "Craig Brown," he said, shaking my hand. "Would that be the manager of the Scottish football team or the humorist who writes countless columns a week, some under his own name?"

"You think they are two different people, do you?" he said.

While I was still puzzling over this, my name was called and I was led in to the anti-sleaze HQ. "Tell us, Mr Kington," said the committee chairman, "have you ever done anything remotely sleazy which the opposition might dig up?" I was about to tell them about the time I had employed a cleaner and not paid her national insurance in full, when my mobile phone rang. I answered it.

"I'm sorry, gents," I said, standing up. "I have just had a call from a tabloid newspaper who tell me that if I stand as an anti-sleaze candidate, they have a stock of highly salacious photographs of me which they would not be afraid to print. In this situation I have no decent course of action but to withdraw."

They quite understood. In fact I was telling a lie. The phone call was from the BBC to ask me to be on the short-list to take Martin Bell's job. But I thought that if I told them the truth, they would not think it an entirely honourable reason to withdraw.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
With an eye for strategy: Stephen Fry’s General Melchett and Rowan Atkinson’s Edmund Blackadder  

What Cameron really needs is to turn this into a khaki election

Matthew Norman
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace