Could Brooks Newmark and Mark Reckless have timed things any better?

Ed Miliband can breathe easier than he deserves to this week

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The Independent Online

A newspaper sex survey has revealed that since the austerity age dawned in 2008, the number of men unhappy with the size of their penis has risen by 7 per cent.

What a relief, then, to meet one chap who seems wholly content with the size of his. Whether Brooks Newmark, the honourable and presumably girthular member for Braintree, and until Saturday the minister for civil society, was wise to share photographic portraits of his winkle with an undercover reporter posing on social media as Tory PR gal Sophie is another matter.

Some may regard this as more grubby red‑top entrapment, but it is hard to disagree with Louise Mensch (and not for the only time today, bizarrely, as we’ll see elsewhere) when she calls Newmark’s act an abuse of power.

Asking “Sophie” to “resend [a picture] without your hand in the way and legs parted”... well, that sort of caper might be fine in the Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity at Brooks’ alma mater of Harvard, but it’s unlikely to impress those congregating in Birmingham today for the Tory conference.

In regard to the chaotic state of the party, the author of the 2008 tome The Price of Irresponsibility shares credit with former colleague Mark Reckless, who fought whole-heartedly for the Sabbath headlines by jumping ship to Ukip. While there was nothing reckless about his defection – he must have spent months, à la Douglas Carswell, studying internal polling for his Kent seat – the timing sets a new mark for political spite. Perhaps these two beauties should pioneer the deed poll name reversal? Brooks Reckless, meet Mark Newmark...

Meanwhile, as he strolls around Hampstead Heath bumping into people desperate to share personal tales exquisitely suited to whatever message he wants to share with us this week, Ed Miliband can breathe easier than he deserves to. The Tory conference has been torpedoed even before it began, and without the traditional assistance of the leader’s amnesia.

Forget the welfare cuts and Osborne’s a real cutie pie

George Osborne’s reinvention as Westminster’s hippest dude continues with a Mail on Sunday interview which passes lightly over the trivia (more welfare cuts) to concentrate on “the prosperity Chancellor’s” cuddlier side.

George hasn’t always been this adorable, and he reflects on being booed at the 2012 Olympics, when he worried about the effect on his children who were “a bit younger then” (what, younger two years ago than now? It’s a temporal paradox!).

George has made it up to them since. He cooks them a Jamie Oliver dish called beer-butt chicken in which you shove a beer can up the bird’s arse, “which is a bit rude when you see the pictures of it” (yeah, yeah, tell that to Brooks Newmark’s “Sophie”). And he took them on a Peak District holiday in a “pimped up campervan”, because his daughter liked the look of one they passed on the street. Compare and contrast with David Cameron, who tells another paper that he tests his kids on South American capitals on the school run. The pimped up Chancellor must be the coolest dad ever.

Ring, ring – do you remember that, Prescott?

While agreeing with Louise Mensch once in a lifetime may be regarded as eccentric, doing so twice in the same column raises obvious questions about one’s sanity. Yet in tweeting about John Prescott’s apparent double standards, as on Brooks Newmark, she cannot be gainsaid.

Even the obstreperous Lord P has never been so volubly enraged by anything – not even at the Brits when the Humber Thumper was doused in iced water by the anarchist band ChukaUmunna – as being hacked by the News of the World. However, despite the Mirror Group’s recent admission to hacking phones, his Sunday Mirror column survives.

In his defence, he briefly alluded to  the matter, though he styled the offending company “the news group Trinity Mirror” as if it had nothing to do with his newspaper.

No one in their right mind, which on the Mensch test seems to exclude me, would confuse his lordship with a preposterous hypocrite.

But lest anyone should, he might want to resign his column before next Sunday, if not return every penny he has earned from it to cleanse himself of that taint of dirty money.

We should take a lead from the Daleks in Isis campaign

With the bombing of Isis in Iraq underway, would anyone care to join me in launching the Stop Calling It “War” Campaign? I appreciate how the word glorifies the aerial destruction of terrorists (and no doubt civilians) with zero risk of reciprocal casualties through other than mechanical failure.

But this is not war, as a Dalek put it during an asymmetric conflict with the Cybermen in the Doctor Who story “Doomsday”. This is pest control.

Lord Bell is a most modest and sensible PR man

Emboldened by his admirably sensible demand that Hilary Mantel be prosecuted for her fictional story about the assassination of Margaret Thatcher, my friend Tim Bell grants a book-plugging interview to the Daily Mail. I must say, Lord Bell-End of Much-Tossing-Over-The Heath, to dignify him with his full title, comes across as a deliciously modest cove.

“The man who moulded Mrs Thatcher” dismisses David Cameron and others as pygmies, and claims to have invented Comic Relief [news perhaps to Richard Curtis].

“I don’t have the arrogance to believe I’m a sort of bloody genius,” he helpfully adds, “though a lot of my friends and supporters are kind enough to think  I am.” Count me in there. A bloody  genius indeed, and in no way a timely reminder that – for all Brooks Newmark’s indelicacy and Mark Reckless’s treachery – there was an age when the Conservative Party was even  yukkier than it looks today.

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