Diary: Mensch the pantomime villain and Aidan Burley at a Nazi-themed stag party

Our diarist looks at the MP's error in judgement, Cameron's new tweeting venture and ex MP Louise Mensch.
  • @andymcsmith

Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who got himself photographed at a Nazi-themed stag party, must have had his self-destruct mechanism turned up high when he made a pointless quip about genocide at a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference.

On hearing that his colleague Robert Halfon was due to speak at a meeting about genocide in Kurdistan, he asked whether Halfon was “for or against” genocide. The UK representative of the Kurdish regional government has called for an apology.

It would be easy to get aerated about this remark, but Burley is not a Nazi, just a very silly boy with a limited future in politics. The cause he has been promoting in Birmingham is not fascism, but the ancient Tory practice of bashing unions.

He chairs the Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC), which has a list of things they want to stop unions from being able to do. TURC invited Halfon, a serious and thoughtful character, to speak at one of their meetings, and were a little taken aback when he told them that their campaign was “ethically and politically wrong”. They should recognise unions as valuable community institutions and encourage Conservatives to get involved, he suggested.

Mitchell and Mensch are the pantomime villains

A film shown as the warm-up to the first of the two Boris Johnson speeches to Tory conference offered an insight into what really makes Tories angry. It was a film about overseas aid, featuring the talking heads of various Conservative politicians, some of whom have undergone a change of fortune since the film was made. The audience was plainly uneasy when Andrew Mitchell came on screen, on account of that incident at the gates of Downing Street, but the booing began only when they caught sight of the ex-MP Louise Mensch. To insult a police officer is one thing, but to land the party with a by-election that it was almost sure to lose is something they cannot forgive.

Forget Boris, and look at Twitter

It was a good day and a bad day for David Cameron. The bad bit was having to force himself to look happy while Boris Johnson poked fun at him. A good bit was that he made Ladbrokes look like fools. They had offered 25-1 that having opened a Twitter account on Sunday, the Prime Minister would not reach 100,000 followers before the conference was over, which has cost them a packet. The other good bit was a Balti curry with Samantha to celebrate his 46th birthday.

Beware, walls have ears, spin doctors told

Adjoining the big room where the journalists are based at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham there is a smaller, private room for the Conservative Party press officers and spin doctors. Along its thin wall several notices have been pinned, each one of which bears the same message – “Quiet! Press outside.” They don’t trust us.