It's no different to being a minister, says Dorries

Our diarist wonders if Nadine Dorries' excuse for a jungle getaway holds water, and if there'll be apologies to Lord McAlpine from some parliamentary tweeters
  • @andymcsmith

Nadine Dorries has hit upon an interesting riposte to those who accuse her of neglecting her parliamentary work by agreeing to spend up to a month at taxpayers' expense in the jungle with Ant and Dec. “Would they say that to Alistair Burt when he goes abroad each week?” she asked her local paper, the Bedford Times & Citizen. “Being a minister and an MP is two jobs and he does them both very well. Do they say when he is in Qatar for weeks that he is neglecting his constituency?”

Alistair Burt is MP for the Bedfordshire constituency that adjoins that of Dorries. It can't be denied that he spends a lot of time abroad. That is because he is a minister in the Foreign Office.

Yesterday, Mr Burt seemed a bit put out that she should equate representing the UK in an official capacity with squatting in a jungle to amuse television viewers. Also, even when abroad, Mr Burt keeps in touch with Westminster and his constituency, something the rules of I'm a Celeb… will not allow Dorries to do.

Mr Speaker is shown up by Mrs Tweeter

After yesterday's dignified denial by the elderly Lord McAlpine, there are a huge number of ill-informed bloggers and tweeters who owe him an apology. To name but one, there is Sally Bercow, who owes her 56,000 Twitter followers principally to being married to the Speaker of the House, one of whose responsibilities is to ensure that MPs do not abuse their privileged positions by making false accusations against innocent people. On 4 November, Mrs Bercow tweeted: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*” – which could only encourage the equally ill-informed to think that they were onto something.

The quality of Mersey

Best wishes to Roger McGough, the Mersey-beat poet, who spent his 75th birthday yesterday working on a new adaptation of Tartuffe by Molière for a theatre in Liverpool. His publisher, Penguin, threw a birthday bash for him in The Strand on Thursday evening, to which he turned up in bright red shoes that matched the handkerchief in his lapel pocket.

Given that so much else about the 1960s and Top of the Pops has been soiled by the Jimmy Savile scandal, it is nice to know that old age has not changed McGough, who is still hacked off with a literary establishment that could not accept that someone who was in a Merseyside pop group with Paul McCartney's brother might also be a fine poet.

He rails against them in his most recent collection, As Far As I Know, published last April – “This is just to let them know, that though forgiven, they are not forgotten.”

Just don't mention Eton

“Justin Welby (aged 56) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge…” says the opening sentence of a biography of the new Archbishop of Canterbury on the 10 Downing Street website. But it does not say where he went to school.

I wonder why.

Leveson: are papers in for a biffing?

Sir Brian Leveson is maintaining radio silence about what his report will recommend on future regulation of the press, so nobody really knows. Or do they? Could his appeal court colleague Lord Justice Laws have inside information?

He was presiding this week over an appeal hearing by the former News of the World editor and Downing Street spin doctor, Andy Coulson, during which one of his fellow judges, Lord Justice Sullivan, made some remarks about a hypothetical situation in which a brawl broke out in a newsroom and one journalist “biffed” another. (Yes, that was the word he used).

This prompted Lord Justice Laws to say: “I can see circumstances where it would be entirely right to biff a journalist.”

So, will there be a section of the Leveson report setting out conditions under which such a course of action is acceptable? Not long before we find out.