The casual homophobia of David Jones is very depressing. To say that gay couples as are incapable of providing warmth and affection as parents will cause great hurt to a lot of decent people

16 Feb 2013 at 09:33

Some of you may not of heard of David Jones MP. Apparently he is the Secretary of State for Wales. He first crossed my radar on the Stephen Nolan show on 5 Live last night. He is the fellow who quite casually, live on air, uttered the rather chilling words that gay couples are unable to provide “warmth and affection” should they chose to parent children. Surely, not even the most knuckle dragging of our government would utter such offensive nonsense? But Nolan played the tape and that is what the guy said. To be fair he did qualify it by saying that he did not object to gay marriage, which I thought was a little odd as he voted against it.

Imagine if he had said that black couples were unable to provide children with warmth and affection? The world and his wife would be screaming for his resignation. I don’t think that Jones should resign; just get out a bit more.

What saddens me is that intelligent people can have genuinely held beliefs which are so obviously wrong. The gay men and women of Wales who have adopted children and offer them love, affection and a stable home must feel rather hurt. Why does a cabinet minister feel that they are incapable of bringing up a child?

Does Jones think that Elton John and David Furnish don’t love their kids? And if so why? It may well be that Jones is a creationist and genuinely believes that the World is four thousand years old and that we are not descended from apes. It is the delightfully tolerant British way of dealing with things to comment that “we respect those views”. I’m afraid that I don’t. Jones will have caused great hurt to many decent people who have not chosen a lifestyle but just happen to be born the way they are. They have love to give and shouldn’t be denied the opportunity of giving it.

Children desperately need to feel loved and secure. End of story. Why this isn’t so blindingly obvious is a total mystery to me.

Sometimes I look round parliament in total disbelief at the wide range of quirky views and sometimes I think that I inhabit another planet from some of these people. God knows what the electorate think.

Sometimes it is very hard to be a Conservative. But like David Cameron I struggle on.


That bloody omnivore "I'll eat anything" Paterson better keep away from my cats

15 Feb 2013 at 09:33

Imagine the scene. David Cameron is chill axing in his study at Downing Street. He has just finished a challenging hour of zapping angry birds and has given up trying to slice those pesky coconuts on Fruit Ninja. His PPS pours him another refreshing glass of General Galtieri 1981.
“I say Sam, this Owen Paterson fellow, what’s he actually for?” A frown passes over the handsome ebonied features of the young Oxford graduate destined for higher things. Perhaps one day he would be a parliamentary under secretary in the Welsh Office. Such dreams. But back to the matter in hand.

Paterson? The name did ring a bell. Not that heartthrob vampire? No,no. Hang on, wasn’t he the PPS to Iain Duncan Smith who Cameron had to give a job to to keep the right wing happy? Of course,he’s a bit dim, so he was put in Northern Ireland as he couldn’t do too much harm and then things got a bit iffy and was reshuffled into DEFRA to replace someone even dimmer but was there to keep the quota of women round the cabinet table about right. And then the bloody woman decided to to sell off our forests to the French but forgot to tell us. Jesus!

“I remember”, says Cameron. “He’s the chap who is supposed to keep an eye on what people eat. Didn’t he tell the Daily Mail that he would happily eat a horse, that he is an omnivore and would eat absolutely anything? For God’s sake stop him going on the telly chomping on some pony burger. And don’t let him go to Korea.” The thought of the twerp tucking into puppy fricassee was too much for the Prime Minister. What would the Chipping Norton Pony Club think?
“Best not let him go to China either, I think they eat babies out there. The WI wouldn’t approve at all.
And Sam just tell him to actually do something about our food being contaminated.”

Now O.Patz can’t help being a hoof short of the full horse, but he does have some very bright advisors. What on earth has he being doing since his appointment in September? DEFRA knew there was contamination of the food supply way back in March 2012. You’d have thought they would have asked some very searching questions of the Foods Standard Agency, told them to get grip and perhaps slip in a statutory instrument on a wet Thursday night (nobody would have noticed) to give them more powers.

And what about the big supermarkets? Did anyone call them in, tell them to check and double check how their meat was sourced? Did any officials start inspecting slaughter houses? God knows. It all sounds horribly complacent.

I have a sinking feeling that ministers were terrified of what would happen to the meat industry if this ever came out. They all remember Edwina and eggs and shudder. Yet at least she told the truth.

Most depressing of all is this is just another breach of trust. Can we be sure what we are eating? Do we know what is in our food? Can we be certain that it is safe? I just don’t know.

I suspect that everyone has been so obsessed with salt, fat, sugar and obesity that eyes were taken off the ball. Two years ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest that meat from some drugged up horse could appear in our lasagne. Just how long has this been going on?

And don’t blame the recession and the need for cheap food. The line, which is a gross insult to the poor, that if you pay a few pence for a sausage don’t be surprised if it contains a load of crap. This is fraud and complacency with the whiff of cover up. And it is a national disgrace.

So yet another institution has joined the sorry list of MPs, bankers, the church and the NHS who have lost the public trust. No wonder people are so cynical.

And as for omnivore Paterson? Well, the bloody man better keep away from my cats.


Jeremy Hunt has learned an important lesson in politics; Who Cares Wins. He must now put it into practice

10 Feb 2013 at 16:05

When Jeremy Hunt was promoted to Health Secretary I was one of the first to write that this was an inspired appointment. Rather a lot of people tweeted suggesting that this was proof that I should be sent off to the Priory for a long holiday. But I might just have been right.

The contrast between Hunt and Lansley is stark. Andrew is a thoroughly decent man who cares about the NHS, but he is a technocrat and speaks like one. His is the world of outcomes, management structures and bureaucracies. On planet Hunt the emphasis is rather different. Care, compassion; getting better. I watched him on Marr this morning. Calm, professional and believable.

Hunt’s great asset is unflappability. A few months ago he was written off as an almost certain piece of reshuffle road kill because of his closeness to Murdoch during the SKY bid. For a while it looked like curtains. But he kept calm, behaved with dignity when the press goat fuck was in full cry and most important of all, kept the heat off of Cameron. Who better humanise the health service?

The trouble is that we have all worshipped at the feet of the NHS for so long that we have become blinded to the harsh reality that in some respects they are made of clay. What horrified and shocked me about the Francis report was an almost an endemic institutionalised lack of compassion. That the old and the frail were left begging for water and being left to fester in the indignity of their own filth is nothing short of a national disgrace. And now it has come to light that this was not just at Staffs but far,far more widespread. Churchill once said that a measure of society’s civilisation was the way they treated their prisoners. That yardstick has changed. If we as a nation were judged on the way we treated our old and vulnerable we would be in the stone ages.

The left would argue that this is because nurses are under resourced because of government cuts. This is a very dangerous lie. The Staffs scandals happened at a time when Brown was throwing money at the NHS with the gay abandon of a drunken sailor. What snookers Andy Burnham the charming but rather ineffective shadow health secretary is that this all happened on Labour’s watch.

I am still of the belief that our health service is wonderful. The care that my ninety two year old mum receives up in Scotland is a model of good practice and compassion. But it is a post code lottery for many.

I suspect that there is no simple solution to the problem unless the ethos is to hire people who put care and compassion above everything else. There is too much box ticking to feed the insatiable Whitehall monster’s lust for statistics. And now for something which will cause the left to squeal and howl and condemn me from the roof tops. So let me take a deep breath. There are too many overseas nurses who regard nursing not as a caring profession but as a handy means to send money back home. They must be weeded out.

I suspect that it is no coincidence that on the back of the Francis report the government has finally plucked up courage and put forward sensible plans to ensure that that our elderly no longer have the fear of losing their cherished homes which they wish to pass on to their loved ones. Why Labour ignored this very obvious reform stills fills me with incredulity.

So what do people want? It really is a no brainer. They want and deserve a health service that works for them when they need it. That they don’t have the terror of finding the cash to pay for it. And that the old and the vulnerable live out the rest of their lives warm, well fed and with dignity. But no matter what policies are put though and no matter the good intentions of ministers, a health service is not worthy of its name unless every thought and every deed of every day and every night has care and compassion at the forefront.

Jeremy Hunt has understood an obvious but long overlooked certainty in politics. Who cares wins.


A glittering night out with Iain Dale a lake of bubbly,political stars and some wicked gossip

8 Feb 2013 at 13:59

I normally regard attending book awards as a bit of a chore. Sipping warm white wine with intense and and sometimes very dull authors is not my idea of a barrel load of laughs. So trekking over to the Political Book Awards filled my heart with dread. But as it was organised by my mate Iain Dale I loyally went to support the old boy. Thank heavens I did. It was one of the most glittering and enjoyable events that I have ever attended. And being a professional junketeer the bar is set very high.

Anyone of any interest in the world of politics and journalism was there. David Steel, Alastair Campbell, Tony Benn, Edwina Currie, the Hamiltons, Jack Straw, Ann Widecombe, stacks of former cabinet ministers, Dame Ann Lesley, Nick Robinson and anyone who is worth talking to from Her Majesty’s press.

After downing a few bottles of Ashcroftian bubbly we were ushered into the Imex auditorium. The lights went down the screen flickered into life as Royalty’s gentleman’s gentleman, Gyles Brandreth, glided on the stage to host the event. With the delivery of Sir Lawrence Olivier and the looks of Victor Meldrew he oozed professionalism. And came out with some great one liners, my favourite being, Tony Blair’s book, ‘A journey’, isn’t selling well in Germany, perhaps because the title translates as Ein Fart.

Thatcher impersonator, Steve Nallon, came up dressed as the old dear and did a great turn ending with a withering, ‘if I had had wanted John Major’s opinion I’d have given him one.’

Then the splendid Widdecombe appeared. Now I am very fond of Ann but sometimes you get the impression that her outfits were designed by David Blunkett based on an idea by Sir Patrick Moore. She sported a pair of tights that rather than flatter her pins made them look is if they were recovering from major surgery performed by Edward Scisserhands.

And while the stars came out did their turns and won their awards I was treated to the waspish, bitchy and very funny commentary whispered by my neighbour and very old friend Andrew Pierce. It also cheered me to see that two people that I am devoted to, Nick Cohen and Owen Jones won well deserved prizes.

But the pre and after show gossip was priceless. My old mate Ali Campell (despite what some say he is a very nice guy) reminisced how he once punched the Guardian’s Michael White (well who wouldn’t).
“That was bad”, he moaned.
“What hitting Whitey?”
“No. It was a bad punch”.

However a gothic froideur chilled the room when Edwina Currie and Christine Hamilton gazed daggers at each other. And Edwina, I don’t know what you are on but you looked stunning.

And as I staggered off to bed the legendary Ann Leslie informed me that we share the same hairdresser. What a funny old world.

So thanks Iain for a splendid evening. I can’t wait until next year.


Huhne made Alan B'Stard look like a shining beacon of truth and principle but he doesn't deserve to be separated from the love of his son for the rest of his life

5 Feb 2013 at 09:19

I have long been of the view that ministers of the crown should be made to read one Greek tragedy a month. It would improve their knowledge of history and remind them of their political mortality. For Chris Huhne it may have been his salvation. If he had not humiliated his Greek born wife we may never have known of his dishonesty. But thank heavens we do now. The Lib Dems were a whisker away from electing him as their leader. He could have been Deputy Prime Minister. This would have been not just a catastrophe for the Coalition but for politics.

It is hardly a revelation that the public treat the political classes with contempt. They think that they are lying, cheating, charlatans who abuse our trust to gain power. Huhne has lied to his family, his friends, his party and his Leader. After months of legal wrangling and deceit he now “takes responsibility” for his actions. When I heard him utter those weasel words on the steps of Southwark Crown Court my stomach churned with revulsion. The trouble with self made men is that they so often worship their creator.

I am not here to gloat. For years before this scandal I, like many others, reported his total disregard for Cabinet responsibility. He would brief against Clegg, lie about May and generally make Alan B’Stard look like a shining beacon of truth and principle. He was despised by his Cabinet colleagues of all parties simply because he was regarded by his peers as the worst word in the political lexicon, a shit. If my old mate Alan Clark were alive he would have gone further. “The bloody man’s not just a shit, but a shit’s shit”, he would have drawled with an expensive glass of claret in one hand and a shapely thigh being stroked by the other.

Yet let us be really honest. Can you imagine any other senior politician behaving like Huhne has? Cameron? Clegg? The brothers grim? Even the man that represents everything that is repulsive in politics, Ed Balls? No. It would be unthinkable. But when Huhne is shipped off to prison for a few months, the public will just shrug their shoulders and mutter that that’s where most of them belong. That is untrue, unfair and utterly depressing. But that is how low the political classes have sunk in public esteem.

However I do have a word of advice for his son Peter, whose frank texts scuppered his father. It is this. Your dad may have hurt you deeply by the way your mother was treated and you have every right to be confused, bitter and angry. But he is still your dad and those texts and letters show that he loves you. In time be at peace with him. If you travel through life full of hatred it will gnaw into your soul and humanity. Don’t go to your grave with unfinished business.
As you will have seen I have never had any time for Huhne. But not even he deserves to be separated from his son for the rest of his life.

And finally a word to those who are considering voting against the Gay Marriage legislation tonight. Read Peter Kelner, the president of YouGov. His opinion poll is fascinating. 55% of people in favour, 36% against. Of the most important matters to people, the economy 56%, immigration 42%, NHS 26%. And Gay Marriage? 7%. Most interestingly 4/3 say that they would be more likely to vote for a party that supports it than less likely.

Bit of a no brainer really. But brains don’t seem to be apparent in this debate. I might just pop into the Strangers bar tonight and bayonet the wounded.


The Huhne trial could have some very interesting repercussions. If a Tory by election candidate can give a clear election commitment not to wank himself to death they could be in with a shout

1 Feb 2013 at 12:50

This has not been a good week for politics or politicians. Both the Lib Dems and Labour were committed to more equal constituency boundaries and for the most venal, partisan and odious reasons they cast whatever principles they might have possessed into the poisoned well of opportunism.

Then the anti gay marriage brigade demand that in return for a sensible reform of the law which is popular amongst the majority of voters but are sending the Tory Taliban into wild eyed frothings of rage, there should be better tax breaks for married couples. But doesn’t that also include same sex marriages too? Sometimes I wish that I was a psychiatrist. But only so I could commit some of this lot to places of safety with lashings of liquid cosh.

And just as we thought that there had been rapprochement between the bothers grim Ed’s lot have been briefing against David. It appears Ed didn’t want to rule out a referendum on the EU at all. Oh, no. It was all the fault of the King Across the Water. It is no wonder the electorate regard our great tribunes of the people as an absolute shower.

However, there was a little light relief. Just to prove that the Kippers are in touch with the pulse of the nation some young lad who was once the head of their youth wing writes a piece positing that having sex with dead people may not such be a bad idea. Rather a messy position to take I would have thought.

But Farage has not had the wooden stake successfully pushed though his heart just yet. And if the Huhne trial goes seriously tits up and there has to be a by election in Eastleigh there could be some surprises. With the Lib Dems flatlining, the Tories, providing they can produce a candidate that can give a clear election commitment that he will not wank himself to death, are in with a shout. Just remember that Farage stood as a candidate there way back. This could be very interesting.

It is time for Sir George to start cracking a few bones. These daft leadership challenge stories still keep appearing. The Telegraph reports that it is not just Cameron who is on probation until 2014 but Osborne too. This really is the politics of the mad house and it is becoming seriously irritating to the majority of Tory backbenchers. I predict that if these stories keep appearing (placed by the usual suspects) there will be an explosion at the 22. I would imagine that Afriyie must be getting very concerned to read reports that he has set up a well funded organisation and will be announcing an alternative economic strategy. After his proclaimed bromance with Cameron I find this very hard to swallow. Every time the poor fellow opens his mouth it will be twisted into an attack on the leadership. For an ambitious young man with a brain this is a perilous situation to find himself in. My advice to the lad is run for the hills, write a piece in the Telegraph saying that all this talk is loose and sign a loyality pledge to the leadership in his own blood. And that is the start. He has now become, probably quite unwittingly, a focus of serious dissent. The trouble is every time he does say something sensible the government is not likely to roll over and have their tummy tickled for fear of being frit of a young pretender.

It is all desperately sad.

But fun.


The bedroom tax is not about shagging but rather more worrying

29 Jan 2013 at 06:47

When my best mate Nigel Nelson, veteran political editor of the PEOPLE, emailed me about his campaign to water down ‘the bedroom tax’, I thought the old boy had finally flipped. Was this was some mad red top spin that the government had finally started taxing shagging? Such wonderful headlines as, “Katie Price won’t take this laying down, ’I’ll move my three assets offshore’ she pouted”, swam through my mind. And weighty columnists like Simon Heffer and Peter Hitchens, who would rather like Britain to become morally like a rainy Saudi Arabia, would welcome the move as a lesson to a younger generation obsessed and corrupted by sex. On the other hand John Prescott would have to live abroad for a large part of the year and I would be entitled to a massive tax rebate.

But this is not what Nelson was contemplating. This is what he emailed to me, which you may think is rather troubling.

“The plan is to withdraw housing benefit from those couples whose kids have fled the nest but are still living in three and four bedroom council homes. Saves about £500 million. It’s a tax on unoccupied bedrooms designed to get these people to downsize and free up housing stock.

Trouble is the rules don’t take into account individual circumstances. So you hit kidney patients on the transplant list who need a spare room for their dialysis machine, parents whose kids are temporarily away fighting in Afghanistan, foster parents who have rooms free for more than 13 weeks while they wait for their next batch of kids, that kind of thing.

But the real problem is that for most people it’s impossible to downsize. Local authorities just don’t build one bed properties – they think in terms of catering for families – so even if these people are prepared to move they can’t. But they could be losing up to £30 a week. 660,000 households are affected and there are estimates that 40,000 could end up homeless which would negate savings being made.

There’s no way we can reverse the measure which starts in April. So we’re campaigning for upping discretionary housing allowance so local authorities can take individual circumstances into account."

I don’t think for one moment that IDS, a sensible and compassionate fellow, thought that these were going to be the consequences of a proposal to free up housing stock which has considerable merit. It highlights the problem with this government. Their early warning systems don’t seem to work.

Whatever you might think of Damian MacBride as a human being (discuss) his blogs give a fascinating insight into the operation of government. After the pasty and charitable giving budget fiasco he wondered how on earth they could have slipped passed the Treasury scorecard system which is designed to weed out these sort of problems. Recently, he brought our attention to the demise of the grid system. I, like most others, thought that this was just a tool to set the media agenda. Not a bit of it. A stream of announcements would be provided to SPADS with a thirty page briefing so that most the wrinkles could be smoothed out beforehand. According to MacBride this is not happening now. My question is why on earth not. Failing to spot the potential cockups in time has been the Achilles heel of this coalition. It has to be remedied.

So to Nigel Nelson and his campaign, good luck mate.

Finally, may I thank all of you you have sent kind comments about this blog. I haven’t quite worked out how to operate the comments section yet so please don’t think that I am being rude!


Should Cameron be Afriyie, very Afriyie? Nah, he's onto a winner

27 Jan 2013 at 17:47

What on earth does Adam Afriyie think he is playing at? He is personable, bright and wealthy through his own efforts. His friends say that he was merely putting down a marker for the Tory leadership. But he will find that not too many of them will wish to be seen with him too often and that the only marker that he has put down is for the Downing Street axe that will be placed firmly and bloodily between his shoulder blades. His Windsor constituency will have a few less friendly words with him too. For the time being he has become a political dead man walking.

To be fair to him it was not entirely his fault. The Tory backbenches have become infested with a small coven of Cameron haters who will stop at nothing to orchestrate his downfall. They are the no hopers, the dispossessed, those who have been sacked and those who are desperate for promotion but have given up under the Cameron regime. Finally, most lethal of them all, those who feel that they are not listened to and are being condescended to by the posh boys. There is not much Cameron can do about the first lot. But he can make more of an effort with those who feel they are not being listened to. Poor old Adam is a decent soul but has sadly and terminally screwed up. He should not have allowed his vanity to have been stroked.

Yes, I know, as ghastly as it is Cameron and his chums are going to have to work the tea rooms again and give succour to the suckers and hope to the hopeless. And his excellent PPS Sam Gyimah is going to have to go into overdrive stroking some over inflated egos. If there is ever a young man who is going places it is this lad. Popular, bright and with judgement. His closest friend recalls how he slept his way to the Oxford Union Presidency. But not in that way. He was just so delightfully laid back.
Poor old Adam must seriously despise him.

Just before Christmas when talk of a letter with the requisite number of signatures to trigger a leadership election was febrile Afriyie might have received some sympathetic nods. However, never believe a word what politicians say about the level of support they have for whatever cause they are advocating as they tend to lie through their teeth. I doubt whether there really is a letter, merely a draft. And nobody apart from political zombies like Nadine Dorries or Patrick Mercer, for whom the downfall of Cameron has become an obsession, will have promised to sign it.

The trouble is that MPs of all parties tend to live in a bubble where the bright light of reality doesn’t always shine. They flit from party meeting to party meeting where the activists on the Labour left and the Tory right chant the same mantra, “give us our party back”. Yet it was never their party in the first place and when either had the upper hand their parties ended up in the political wilderness for a generation.

Then the next moan is the post bag. The political post bag is representative of activists with bees in their bonnets and not of the silent majority. I had more letters from those concerned with the tethering of sows than the first Iraq war. Was that really representative of public opinion? Of course not. The real indicator of when things are going horribly wrong and have to be addressed are the casework letters. When my surgery was cram packed with decent people hounded by the Child Support Agency I realised that we had seriously fucked up.

I once wrote that the Conservative Party operated in two gears, complacency and panic. I was wrong. I should have added hysteria and self destruction. Before Christmas Tory backbenchers were in serious hysteria gear. The horror of UKIP had raised its very ugly head, particularly in marginal constituencies where the Conservative vote could be mortally split. But Cameron’s Europe speech, if it didn’t quite shoot their fox it, seriously wounded it. Better, Labour and the Lib Dems are horribly exposed. Whether Cameron wanted the praise of Simon Heffer would be a rather an interesting Oxbridge interview question, but it is better than a kick in the bollocks.

The trouble with UKIP is that they are the replacement of the electoral spittoon that used to be the Lib Dems. The Ashcroft analysis shows that their attraction is a basically Dog and Duck (saloon bar) England (not the other buggers dear boy) has gone to the dogs appeal, with immigration top the list. The weakness of the Kippers is also their greatest asset, Nigel Farage. He is the anti politician politician. His appeal is that he is not part of the political elite, but one of us. This of course is total nonsense he is as much on the make as the rest of the grubby lot. But as Charlton Heston once said, “acting is about sincerity, fake that and you are made”. But Farage is UKIP. Kilroy Silk tried to civilise them and failed. And dear old Lord Pearson showed that a few hundred years of aristocracy doesn’t do a lot for the gene pool, which in his case, none of us would run too much of a risk of drowning in. The Kippers are a one man band in a one horse town where the horse is dead. If Farage pops his clogs (northern not Dutch of course) they will implode.

And so what is Cameron’s greatest asset? The opinion polls have seriously narrowed to a very dangerous level for Labour and the beginning of the slide for the Kippers. They will still do reasonably well in the locals and very well in the Euros. Why? Because most people think that these elections are of mind erasing irrelevance.

It was once said by Lord Kilmuir that the secret weapon of the Conservative party was loyalty. Sadly it was two weeks before he was rather unfairly sacked by Macmillan who was in hysteria mode. Most backbenchers of all parties are out for their own. Little meerkats sniffing the air for a whiff of preferment. But where loyalty does matter is in the constituencies. It is ironic that those who wind up their weak a feeble MPs realise that Cameron is that most important political phenomenon, lucky and still electable.

But there is still one more problem that has to be dealt with; immigration. The policy is right but UKBA is a disaster area. They disobey ministers. They set their own agendas. And they are less than truthful with the facts. To show the Tories mean business it’s time to upgrade the job to a cabinet minister. And who best to appoint? Why Ken Clarke who is totally wasted in a nonsensical business job in the lift. A former Home Secretary who is as tough as old boots, but could never ever be accused of being a racist.