Even those who castigate David Cameron for his lack of conviction over the trivia, such as social policy and Europe, must acknowledge his refusal to compromise in the one paramount sphere. His commitment to proving himself the “heir to Blair” remains unshakable, as the row over what Andrew Feldman may have said about Tory activists confirms. Any doubt over why the Prime Minister made Lord Feldman, below, his party chairman is removed. Having studied the precedent of what Lord Levy did for Mr Tony’s reputation, the PM had the common sense to place an ennobled tennis partner of his own in a position from which he could inflict maximum damage. It must be stated that Lord F rigorously denies calling Tory activists “mad, swivel-eyed loons”, just as Levy convincingly denied (though interviewed under police caution over cash for honours, he was never prosecuted) promising titles to the generous donors with whom he and Mr T often played Sunday doubles on his Totteridge court. I pity the fool, to borrow from an earlier Mr T, who does not accept Lord Feldman’s version of events, and will outline below why it was a plain and simple mishearing. For now, we demand that the role of Prime Ministerial Tennis Partner, with responsibility for endangering the PM’s career, becomes an official government post with full cabinet rank.
New doubles partners: Miliband and Mottram
If Ed Miliband is serious about making it to Downing Steet (an open question once again, it seems, with renewed rumblings about his performance), he must appoint his own Tennis Partner without delay. The stand-out candidate is Buster Mottram, who in the 1970s juggled his duties as Britain’s top tennis player with voluble support for the National Front. The good news is that Mr Mottram is available, having been expelled from Ukip in 2008 for trying to broker an electoral pact between Nigel Farage’s “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” (© David Cameron) and the enchanting Nick Griffin’s BNP. What cuter way to counter Ukip’s appeal to traditional Labour voters could there be than handing the shadow Tennis Partner portfolio to Mr Mottram?
Mad mix-up of words about Uncle Marty
Returning to Andrew Feldman and what he insists he never said, off the record, at a reception last week, I am pleased to settle this vexing matter to the satisfaction of all concerned. His lordship was in fact reminiscing about his great uncle Marty Feldman, the madcap comedian who often swivelled his dramatically bulging eyes (the result of the auto-immune disorder, Graves’ disease) for laughs. Over all the clinking of glasses, someone misinterpreted Andrew’s fond reference to his relative, who starred in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Mishearings of the kind are not unknown in British politics (John Major’s disastrous “back to basics” was in fact a reference to a private visit to the gnome warehouse where he operated a forklift truck as a young man; “back to bay six” is what he actually said), and this was an easy mistake anyone might have made. Now let that be an end to it before a civil war breaks out.
No tax avoidance at News Corporation
A joy to find Margaret Hodge using Sky News’s Sunrise show as the bully pulpit from which to rail against the evil tax avoidance of Google. “We all have responsibilities to the community” she pointed out, and who will argue with that? Certainly not News Corporation, the largest shareholder in Sky News. If any multinational has gone the extra mile to avoid avoiding its tax liabilities, it is News Corp under Rupert Murdoch. At the last count, in 2011, it operated as few as 136 subsidiaries in nations identified by the US government as tax havens.
Members’ discount for Mad Mel’s merchandise
There is no word yet about the very early performance of Melanie Phillips’ new online merchandising company. One assumes that the mugs, iPhone cases and other items – all adorned with the official Mad Mel logo, loosely styled after an ecstasy tablet – are flying off the e-shelves. But if business is slow, the advice to the one-woman Amazon manquée is to deploy husband Joshua Rozenberg as an agent in the field. Joshua is believed to spend a great deal of his time at the Garrick Club these days, and if this summer is half as wet as last year, he could make her a fortune by setting up a stall in the members’ bar.