Thomas Creevey - His Diary: Whispers on the promenade

Share
Related Topics
Forget the debates, just feel the width of the gossip. New Labour proved to be no different from the old version at Brighton.

Robin Cook let it be known he was not amused at being snapped on the seafront with his new love, Gaynor Regan, during the party conference. Yet he had been only too happy to be seen in public with his inamorata in the middle of Brown's, a popular watering-hole for the hordes of media in town. Cook's detective toyed moodily with his food in a discreet corner.

Even stranger, the Daily Mail decided not to publish the pictures of Cook's seaside promenade, on the grounds that they might contravene the new privacy code of conduct for newspapers - which, as you know, is designed to stamp out vermin like Creevey.

These are remarkable times. The Daily Mail brought you the anti-Labour Zinoviev Letter (fake) and the British Leyland Slush Fund (less effective fake), but now it is truckling to the Blairist establishment. Sir David English, boss of bosses, and his editorial satraps were even seen to join the standing ovation for the Great Leader.

While we are on the pictures front, Chancellor Gordon Brown was happy (if that's not an information overload) to be photographed on the seafront with his girlfriend, Sarah Macaulay. But she was rather less than entranced at being described by Jon Sopel on the live BBC coverage of the conference as Brown's "partner". Over warm white wine at the European Union party, she said she prefers to be described as his "friend".

What my scouts have not been able to discover is whether Big Gordie and Sarah were living "en Hague" - that is, in a suite with connecting doors, as the Tory leader is with statuesque Ffion Jenkins in Blackpool this week.

THE social front at Brighton was particularly busy, but with variable results. Helen Brinton, the new girl for Peterborough ("I Ring the Local Paper Three Times a Day" Tendency) pronounced herself bored at the BBC party thrown by director-general John "Dalek" Birt. At least she got a drink. The hapless Irish Ambassador, Ted Barrington, rushed to the bar towards the end of his own bash for Labour's Guinness Fuseliers to get himself the first snort of the night - and was promptly refused service. Shut, sir, snickered the waiter. Better luck in Blackpool, Ted. Creevey's tip: stand by the door so you can ambush the waiters bearing trays of the black stuff.

Teetotallers should beware the privatised utilities. A delegate who went to the Anglian Water function asked for a glass of water, only to be told it "wasn't available". Not much faith in their products there, then.

THOSE awful fellows, the Labour whips, sent ministers out on safari with a snapper round the conference exhibition stands, so that the assorted lobby groups, privatised utilities and so on could take away a permanent record of this great event. Imagine the chagrin, then, of Welsh minister Peter Hain, being dragged like a reluctant mule round the bazaar that passes for conference these days. He was offered for a photo-opportunity at the Low Pay Unit stand. Did the stallholders want their pictures taken with the minister, asked an excitable, shaven-headed party official. "Er ... no" they replied.

BACK at Westminster, the Tories were preparing for their conference in the best way they know how - by dismissing great swathes of their staff. Among the 46 to get the sack from Conservative Central Office is messenger Sam Anderson, a ubiquitous, chatty Ulsterman who performed great services for the party. No, he didn't lose elections. He simply kept a previous party chairman, Sir Peter Brooke, well supplied with his favourite Big Macs (plus double portion of French fries) while the toffee-nosed research workers dined off smoked salmon. It would be unpardonable to lose Sam's skills. Creevey fully expects to see him behind one of the palace bars 'ere long.

IF you can spare a fiver, put it on Douglas Alexander to win the Labour nomination for Paisley South, the hitherto-safe seat vacated upon the sad occasion of Gordon McMaster's suicide. Wee Duggie, runner-up in the by-election at Perth that brought in Australian-educated SNP toughie Roseanna Cunningham, is the favoured candidate of the leadership.

Like the Chancellor, he is a son of the manse. Indeed, he could be seen only a few weeks ago flitting in and out of the Treasury helping to write the Budget speech. Alexander's bid has been substantially bolstered by Tony Blair's insistence that his Number 10 Policy Unit trade union specialist, Pat McFadden, cannot be spared from his duties to go for the seat. Maybe this tells us more about the Great Leader's impending row with the unions than it does about who is right for Paisley. Watch out for some nationalist fireworks.

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26  

General Election 2015: It's time we forgot what school we all went to

Stefano Hatfield
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions