Nice line in red-faced bluster

Share
Related Topics
Tim Collins, the Conservative Central Office media guru who claimed the credit for John Major's victory at the last election, and who is now masterminding the Government's by-election disaster in Wirral South, really must learn to engage brain and mouth simultaneously.

Creevey's spy spotted him a while ago at a public meeting in Levens village hall in the Cumbrian constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale, the seat he is inheriting from Michael Jopling, the former Tory Chief Whip. He was addressing a small multitude. Eighteen people, in fact. It seems that not even the party hierarchy could be bothered to turn out, though many of them live locally.

Smart-alec Collins said in his opening address that the Conservative message was "opaque". A rather odd admission from a man who had just been introduced as head of media communications at Smith Square, you might think. He blamed the media for not getting "their" - the Tories' - message over. Oh, so that's what we are here for.

During question time, when some voters had the barefaced cheek to ask about Tory heartlessness towards the unemployed and homeless, members of his audience found him "very red-faced and angry".

All is not lost. Immediately after the meeting closed, Collins's agent stood up and said: "At the moment, Tim has to stick to the party line. He has to. What you have just heard was only the party line - but come the election, Tim will be able to tell you what he really thinks!"

Is that so? It may well be possible to postpone this pleasure, at least until the self-esteeming child takes his place on the Opposition benches.

n BILL Deedes, the "Dear Bill" of Private Eye fame who ought really to be more famous for defying the laws of mortality, is finally writing his memoirs. They will make a riveting read, if he really tells us what he knows.

The ex-editor of the Daily Telegraph, immortalised in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop and a former Tory minister, has known everybody who is anything for the past 60 years. And quite a lot who are not, for he is a genuine public bar man. To nobody's very great surprise, he has a gorgeous amanuensis. "Got thish girl," he confides to Creevey's snout. "She's very pretty. She's managed to extract a lot of stuff from me." Can't wait.

ONE despairs of the gay community's grasp of the laws of libel. The diary is in receipt of a letter from the Society for the Promotion of Camp, which has an address in Old Queen Street (naturally), purporting to "out" virtually a dozen closet Tory gays in the Commons. Their "stage" names are Patsy, Linda, Mavis, Clarissa, Fanny, Edna, Wally (that's a woman), Betty, Hattie and Sonia. Quite OutRage!ous. Wild horses will not extract anything further.

n WORST party of the year, they say, the opening of Politico's, a fancy new "political bookstore and coffee house" in Westminster for the chattering classes. It was so full that Creevey's colleague had to go outside to bend his elbow - and then wasn't allowed back in. He wasn't the only one. Tony Banks, leader of the Jesters' Party, couldn't get in either. And he was the compere. What you missed was Ken Baker, Gerald Kaufman and Sir David Steel giving their books a free puff. But isn't Steel's tome, The Time has Come, or Time for Change, or some other prattish Lib-Dem title, now remaindered? David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, was wandering round complaining that the bookstore had only one decent book about Northern Ireland. Perhaps the Hero of Drumcree should write one.

Mephistopheles visited Tony Blair last week, according to the usual informed sources, and offered him the keys to 10 Downing Street in return for his immortal soul.

"OK," said the Labour leader, "it's a deal."

"And the soul of your wife, Cherie," persisted the diabolical ambassador.

"Fine, fine," said Blair.

"And those of your three children?" continued Mephistopheles.

"Yes, yes," said Blair, impatient for power. "Where's the catch?"

n GOODBYE corner this week welcomes Jacques Arnold, the cuff-shooting Tory MP who blusters for Gravesham, Kent. This is a bell-wether constituency, in that whoever wins it usually forms the government.

Creevey firmly expects that Arnold, who has an ingratiating manner towards his political masters, will be going back to the banking industry from whence he came in two months' time. He is not exactly popular on the backbenches. One quite right-wing fellow Conservative MP asked about Arnold said: "Do you mind if I remain silent at this juncture?"

He is so complacent he thinks that NHS hospital trolleys are just as comfortable as beds these days. What are the whingeing poor complaining about? But just to be on the safe side, he declined to spend a night on one.

Educated in Brazil (where the nuts come from), Arnold is tall, smirking and possesses an irritating habit in the Commons of beckoning Labour MPs over for a scrap. He would run a mile if anyone took him up. Scrooge Arnold also berates unemployed young people as "idlers". With staggering vanity he sees himself as "a family man who embraces traditional values but who is capable of going for the jugular if pressed".

In fact, he couldn't knock the skin off a rice pudding. His only claim to fame is that he slept through the Great Storm of 1988 while half his roof blew off. Gravesend, the heart of the constituency, deserves better than this. The town is the resting place of Princess Pocahontas, who died there of a broken heart, and Charles Dickens was a noted inhabitant.

Step forward, then, Chris Pond, director of the Low Pay Unit and Labour's standard-bearer. He is confident of overturning the Tories' 5,493 majority, and the canvassing returns suggest he will wipe off that smirk.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living