Thomas Creevey His Diary: Hague learns to talk proper

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The Independent Online
William Hague, it seems, did not learn to speak proper English at Wath upon Dearne comprehensive school, South Yorkshire. He is to have elocution lessons. Those flat Tyke vowels may be all right back 'ome i' Richmond, but Central Office chiefs believe the Boy Prodigy must sound more authoritative, more like a Conservative Party leader who could win an election and run the country.

Some hope. Look what good it did Margaret Thatcher. The elocutionist managed to soften her voice from her natural harridan's rant, but he couldn't do anything about the manic eyes. John Major didn't try for a voice makeover, preferring to speak like a Dalek on Valium. Tony Blair, of course, learnt to speak English in a Melbourne kindergarten, and therefore can't prononouce "it". He says "uht".

Come to think of it, if Just William spends his mornings learning to pronounce "give me a ton of coal, and I will put it in the barrrth", and his afternoons learning Welsh from his live-in fiancee, Ffion, when does he get time to lick his dwindling band of MPs into shape?

PATIENCE, Brother Prescott, patience! In his enthusiasm for a speech he was making last week to construction industry chiefs, the Deputy Prime Minister knocked a glass of water from the podium. The contents went all over his smart double-breasted suit. Scarcely pausing in his joined-up shouting, he quipped: "That'll be in a diary tomorrow." Creevey, who was naturally in the audience, rejoined: "No, on Sunday."

SO IT WILL not be Lord Harris of Kintbury, Berks, Creevey hears. Robert Harris, author of Fatherland and Enigma, which sound like books about New Labour but are not, was suggested by sources close to the Minister with Great Ambition (though without Portfolio) for a peerage. It now looks certain that Robert will not be joining the superannuated MPs who made way for Blairistas at the general election. Not quite right for the red benches, apparently.

A great pity. Robert has a certain nerve. The former Panorama reporter who turned over the Times's naivety in the matter of the Hitler Diaries once marched out of his job as political guru at the Observer telling anyone who would listen - including the editor, Donald Trelford - that he had seen the sun rise too many times over Battersea Park, while writing the main feature of the week overnight on Friday, to put up with another tier of editorial management.

However, a serious question arises: once you rule out peerages for "services to political and public life" - that is, cringing at the feet of your party's parliamentary whips - it becomes awfully difficult to find anybody vaguely Labour who will want to enter the House of Lords. The word going round Westminster is that Michael Montague, one of Blair's "luvvies", will be ennobled instead of Harris.

SOMETIMES, you think they do it simply to get in the papers. Joe McCrea, political adviser to Frank "The Appetite" Dobson, went down on bended knee on the shingle beach at Brighton to propose to Bridget Sweeney, who works for the Labour Party, on the very spot where Neil and Glenys Kinnock were soaked in front of the television cameras. Fortunately, she said "yes" before the tide took him out to sea.

AND all shall have biographies. Gordon Brown is being done by your own diarist, who now hears that Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, has appointed John Kampfner, political correspondent of the Financial Times, as his biographer. Kampfner, a former Moscow correspon- dent for the Telegraph, is unquestion- ably well qualified for the job: not only can he write but his ego is a match for Cook any day of the week. On hearing the news, a middle-ranking minister asked: "Which of them will be the book be about?"

Cook himself is going abroad for his summer holidays, despite all this modish talk of patriotic ministers taking their vacation in Britain. On the recommendation of President Clinton, no less, the Foreign Secretary is going horse-riding in Montana. Knowing Cookie's turf-mania, he'll probably be in the 3.30 at Helena racetrack. Still, he should feel at home: there is a namesake city of his Livingston constituency in the mountain state.

KIM'S Chinese takeaway is getting regular orders for aromatic crispy duck for two (or more) from No 11 Downing Street. Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer closeted with his advisers, working on a speech? Or is it an evening at home with his girlfriend, Sarah Macaulay? Creevey would ask "Irn Broon's" press secretary, Charlie Whelan, but is fearful of the consequences. Ann Sloman, the BBC's chief banana, has advised her staff that they need not put up with Charlie's industrial language. They can simply put the phone down. Oh yes? What if they are ringing him up, as is usually the case?

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