Matthew Norman on Monday: Was Vicky Pryce foolish to trust a journalist's advice?

Plus: Ray Winstone is on Vince Cable's side, but will he may flee the country before the next election and will Rupert Murdoch come out for Ukip?


If Isabel Oakeshott feels any guilt over her role in Vicky Pryce's downfall, she masks it beautifully.

Writing in the Sunday Times, its political editor mixes a delectable cocktail of self-righteousness and empathy for her prey, although the odd contradiction is apparent. How to reconcile “I wouldn’t advise you to do something that I knew was clearly bad for you,” (the very thought) from an email dated March 1, 2011, with yesterday’s: “Vicky had committed a criminal offence. I hoped she could be persuaded to go public – and take the consequences”? But had Pryce not recorded her chats with Chris Huhne, would there have been such consequences? Oakeshott cites it as Pryce’s idea, yet in email after email she pushed a reluctant Pryce to do so. 4 March  2011: “Are you loathe to try the text message + telephone conversation option?” 8 March: “Obviously it would be better to have extra evidence (text message or phone recording)...” 11 March (a happy second anniversary to all concerned): “Can’t see a way of doing it really... without some independent evidence (taped admission of whatever).” Et cetera, et cetera. Why Pryce needed coercing to act on her own brainwave is opaque, although as Oakeshott noted yesterday she was not thinking straight. “By the time he walked out of their marriage... her judgment was completely clouded by grief.” Who can say if that begs the question of why she nudged her towards self-destruction? “By the time I met her,” she concluded, “she was already a broken woman”. A most convenient closing reflection with which to relegate the public humiliation, ruination of career and the spell in jug expected to begin later today to virtual irrelevances for one with apparently nothing whatever left to lose when she linked up with her Lady Macbeth.

The long-distance revenge of Liz

Lured by the tale into solipsistic mode – and all the better for the rarity value it is too – is Liz Jones. For the betrayed wife, Liz assures Mail on Sunday readers, “revenge... seems the only course open to us.” When Liz’s ex did the dirty on her, she emailed the mistress that she was No 5 on the list, and then staked out her New York office to give her a slap (the woman was sadly on holiday). “I continued to stalk her on Facebook for years...”, writes Liz, who last week expressed bewilderment at the lack of attention paid her down the years by male colleagues. This mystery grows apace, and is now an estimated 973-pipe problem.

Ray Winstone may flee the country

Swings and roundabouts for Vince Cable, who can balance Vicky Pryce’s claim that she told him about the points swap before the story broke with fresh support for his anti-austerity line. “There are more holes in the roads than a tennis racket,” says the underrated Keynesian thinker Ray Winstone, “we can’t build hospitals and fire stations are closing”. His worries go beyond underspending on infrastructure. Ray feels “raped” by high taxes, and may emigrate. Dubai, to which Jim Davidson repaired when plagued by the taxman, seems favourite. We’d miss him dreadfully, of course, but please God he keeps making those TV ads for bookies, in which various versions of Ray reassure others that they are truly the daddy, by which to remember him.

Will Murdoch  come out for Ukip?

Whether Ray reneges on his blood-chilling threat, the rats continue to depart the SS Government. Lord Ashcroft’s pow-wow with Big Ed Miliband was one thing, but Rupert Murdoch’s dinner with Nigel Farage will alarm Downing Street more. The prospect of Rupert doing a Vicky Pryce to Cameron for Leveson, by putting The Sun behind Ukip, as raised here last April under the header of Idiotic Suggestions Not Worth A Second Thought, begins to look credible. For guidance, I suggest watching Louise Mensch in The Sun on Sunday. Presumably news of that dinner hadn’t reached Louise in New York when the champion Murdoch ingratiator rubbished Ukip and called Farage “cowardly” for not contesting Eastleigh in yesterday’s column. If Louise becomes more nuanced towards Ukip, Downing Street will need no help in reading the runes.

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