Matthew Norman on Monday: DJ Mike Read, the future of Ukip

Danny leaves the Lib Dems with a mountain to climb; Mitchell's word vs The Sweeny and could Mel 'n' Mitt be a match made in heaven?

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The Independent Online

Danny leaves the Lib Dems with a mountain to climb

During what threatens to be a riveting party conference season even by recent standards, prepare to hear the tired critique which paints modern politicians as tedious technocrats inured from life’s harsh realities by never having done a proper’s day work. It’s cobblers, of course.

No one in a post-war government had as usefully qualifying a pre-political career as Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury whose previous role as the Cairngorm National Park press officer inbues him with a heightened understanding of how the world works.

This is confirmed by Danny’s championing of a  new assault on tax evasion, as revealed to the Mail on Sunday, predicated on boosting the Revenue’s “Affluence Unit” from 200 to 300 employees.

With at least half a million Britons worth that amount, you needn’t be a top Treasury number cruncher to discern the genuine intent from such lavish staffing. Each additional inspector will focus on 3,500 people – which, assuming a 35-hour working week, equates to 21.6 seconds per week per potential evader.

The mystery is not how Danny rose tracelessly to become, as a member of that “quartet”, one of the country’s four most powerful politicians. It’s how the Cairngorms have survived without him.

Gold old Mike, the future of Ukip

And so to the conference just ended, during which much was written about Ukip’s journey away from the batty and towards the mainstream. A picture is worth a hundred YouGov polls, of course, so it was reassuring to see, in Saturday’s Independent, the snap of Neil and Christine Hamilton sitting next to that wickedly under-rated political thinker Mike Read (above).

The erstwhile Radio 1 DJ – once Boris Johnson’s challenger for the Tories’ mayoral nomination – defected to Nigel Farage’s blue, red and white  army in July. “The long night of European darkness is over,” Readey rousingly informed  the faithful in his keynote address. “Good morning, Great Britain!”

Whether he added, “And coming up after the weather and travel, it’s Europe with ‘The Final Countdown’,” is sadly not reported. Even so, a new dawn has broken, has it not?

How could anyone doubt Mitchell’s word?

It is seldom easy choosing between contradictory accounts of the same conversation, but can anyone doubt Andrew Mitchell, the mannerly Chief Whip, when he denies calling a policeman a “pleb”? This is exactly the kind of archaic, public-school insult that would flash into a copper’s mind. I mean, how often did The Sweeney’s Jack Regan yell, “Shut it, you pleb,” as he banged a villain against a wall?

Mel and Mitt, the perfect marriage

In this week’s sortie into Melanie Phillipsworld, we find the old girl giving succour to Mitt Romney. She blogs that Mittens was quite right to categorise the 47 per cent as scroungers (and to point out that the last thing the Palestinian people want is peace), before cannily identifying his one genuine problem as vicious media bias.

As ever, she makes a compelling argument. Maintaining strict neutrality and refusing to present outlandish rumour as plain fact are duties too often abrogated by less principled hacks than herself.

“This is the same media, let’s not forget,” MM reminds us, “which effectively put Obama into the White House ... by systematically refusing to publish the overwhelming evidence of his extremist background, friends and attitudes... 

As a result,” Mad Mel, calmly continues, “America elected its first far-left, anti-West, Black Power fellow-traveller ...”