Andy McSmith's Diary: Even Larry the cat is not safe from factions in Downing Street

Our man in Westminster

Andy McSmith
Friday 18 October 2013 19:28 BST

The more I hear about Larry the Downing Street cat, the more his story becomes an allegory for our time. As previously reported, the reputation of this mog was trashed by Downing Street spin doctors after he was brought in to clear the Prime Minister’s workplace of mice in 2011. It was implied then that he was too lazy to catch a cold, let alone a mouse. Last month, the commentator Matthew D’Ancona alleged that Larry was also unloved.

The latter claim was denied and a Downing Street source told me that this allegedly work-shy cat was actually a demon mouser, who had caught four mice in two weeks.

The plot thickens. I am now informed that some days ago, Larry the hardworking Downing Street mouser caught a mouse in the yard behind Downing Street and was playing with it when a furious member of staff emerged, accused the cat of wanton cruelty, and rescued the mouse.

This leads me to conclude that there is a faction in Downing Street working to undermine Larry by briefing that he cannot catch mice, while another faction seeks to big him up as a veritable mouse slaughterer, while a third undertakes mouse rescue activities. This government is split from top to bottom.

‘The youth are taking over’, MP squeaks

It is not often said that the problem with Britain is that the people who run it are too young, but Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, 44, came close as MPs discussed reform of the House of Lords. “We are not quite being run by schoolchildren, but the youth of today are taking over. Where are the octogenarians and nonagenarians? They are in the House of Lords. That is a good thing,” he said.

Talk among friends

The former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth has updated the Oxford Book of Humorous Quotations, published this week. His modesty shines in his introduction, in which he informs his readers: “There is almost no one who was born over the past one hundred years and who is quoted in the Dictionary whom I have not met. Kingsley Amis, Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Maurice Bowra, Craig Brown, George Burns, Quentin Crisp, TS Eliot, Jackie Mason, John Mortimer, Joan Rivers, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Stoppard, Peter Ustinov, the Queen – I’ve known them all. Well, I have shaken their hands... It’s a start.”

Tory councillor discovers cannabis

Roger Oakley, a Conservative councillor in Worthing, on the Sussex coast, was out doing some groundwork on a possible new cycle route, which took him tramping through some waste ground where there used to be a council tip years ago, when he came upon five large, carefully cultivated plants growing in a circle, surrounded by canes. Someone in Worthing has been growing their own cannabis.

“The site must have had around a dozen plants there initially. You could see that some had already been harvested. We also recovered a number of leaves lying around on the ground,” Councillor Oakley told the Worthing Herald.

Clark ‘lazy, brilliant’

The Tory peer Michael Dobbs, writing in the free-sheet Waitrose Weekend, has offered a succinct verdict of the former Defence minister and Thatcher-worshipper, Alan Clark and his 1980s diaries: “He was the laziest minister I knew. His breaches of confidence are disgraceful. Sexist, arrogant, disloyal. These diaries should never have been published. Yet they are brilliant.”

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