Matthew Norman on Monday: Chips are down as spudlord takes aim at Cameron

Plus: Mitchell’s women round on Soubry; Eric turns on charm after Yeo no show; Liam recycles  a catchphrase; Sun twists the knife  in tormented Tulisa

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Everyone is wearily familiar with the stalking horse, but lovers of political novelty may now anticipate the first stalking potato. Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire and supplier of pre-washed spuds and other vegetables to the catering industry, seems poised to challenge David Cameron.

Likening his leader to a pilot with no idea how to land a plane, Bridgen told The Mail on Sunday readers that he has signed a “secret” letter calling for a no confidence vote and the PM will be petrified by the quality of this latest opponent.

A sworn foe of gay marriage, Bridgen is a ferocious campaigner for social justice in the one limited area of raising MPs’ pay.

Cameron haters seeking an encouraging omen will rejoice to note that Bridgen is the second MP to out himself as such a signatory, in succession to Patrick Mercer. We wish him luck with his bid to save the Tory 747 from a corkscrew spin, and look forward to this richly talented figure writing a Sun article headlined: “Tory Spudlord: Cameron’s Had His Chips!”

Mitchell’s women round on Soubry

With a summer reshuffle likely if the PM can hang on long enough, things look bleak for  the Public Health minister, Anna Soubry.

After she criticised women GPs for playing hooky for as banal a reason as motherhood, she was caught in a pincer movement between two female doctors.

One is Andrew Mitchell’s wife, Sharon, the other his daughter, Hannah. Each had a letter accusing Anna of sexism published in different papers on the same day. The ex-Chief Whip denies  co-ordinating the attack, and the plebgate form book cautions against doubting his word. If Anna is jettisoned,  Mr Mitchell’s special insight into the NHS would make him the perfect replacement.

Eric turns on charm after Yeo no show

Although a front-bench recall looks unlikely after the lobbying claims he denies, Tim Yeo will have been grateful for Eric Pickles’s warm support on Dermot Murnaghan’s Sky News show. 

“Well, he’s missing a treat,” said Eric, informed that Tim had pulled out of appearing at the last minute. “I’m sure you would have been very charming to him.” 

Fans of the droll Communities Secretary will rejoice to learn that Eric has been offered the part of a Sontaran, in accord with the show’s efforts to slash the make-up budget, in the first post-Matt Smith series of Dr Who.

Liam recycles  a catchphrase

Over on BBC1’s Marr show, meanwhile, the Simon Pegg doppelganger, Liam Byrne, popped up to underline the full significance of Labour repositioning on welfare. Liam was hopeless, though in his defence it cannot be easy going on telly with no answer to the obvious question of which benefits a Labour government will cut.

Not that his interview with Sophie Raworth was a total loss. It’s always exciting to be in on the birth – in this case, Liam having trialled it four years ago, technically a rebirth – of a brilliant catchphrase.

Liam’s “radical with power, realistic with money” is such a winner in the tough-on-crime mould that we hope to hear it from him again in 2017.

Sun twists the knife  in tormented Tulisa

So overjoyed is The Sun with its efforts to seemingly destroy the life of Tulisa, who was arrested last week after allegedly discussing a cocaine deal, that it lavished another two pages on an interview with her father, Plato, on Sunday.

Dwelling on the singer’s past history of anorexia, depression and teen suicide attempts, not to mention the mental health problems of her bipolar mother who was sectioned when Tulisa was five, the newspaper merrily reported she “has refused to  drink or eat much since the allegations appeared, and sits chain-smoking in her £6m Hertfordshire mansion – rocking back and forth”.

Coming so soon after the news of Stephen Fry, this tasteful celebration of the torment it has caused a fragile young woman’s does the paper only credit.

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