Friday, September 25, 2015

The North by North Westminster Diary: Of Pigs and Men

Monday 21st September
David Cameron awakes to discover his mobile phone is melting.
The Daily Mail is serialising a new unauthorised biography of the PM, written by his former donor, now nemesis, Lord Ashcroft. In horror, Dave reads of the allegation that, whilst at university, he "inserted a private part of his anatomy into a dead pig's mouth".
He goes into the kitchen for breakfast, praying that Samantha hasn't heard yet.
Before he can say anything, she abruptly hands him a sausage and bacon sandwich.
They eat in silence.
Political journalists basically have the day off.

Tuesday 22nd September
“It’s just not fair!” screams Tim Farron.
“Here we are trying to relaunch the Lib Dems and no-one’s listening to us because everyone’s concerned with whether David Cameron put his curly in a pig!”
You can understand his pain. The Lib Dems are struggling to get any airtime at all. It seems to be the case that Lord Ashcroft is taking vengeance on all those who kept him out of government. After all, he could have released this at another time.
Though no time would have been good for David Cameron, who today is visited by Fran├žois Hollande.
“Don’t worry David,” says the French President. “These things blow over. I know. Just ask my mistress.”
“I’m just dreading the next few weeks,” replies a browbeaten PM. “All the sly jokes and innuendoes. It’s already wearing me down.”
“Courage mon brave! Come, let us act like statesmen.”
They head towards the PM’s study and begin talking EU renegotiation.
“So, mon ami,” says the President, “shall we begin with the Common Agricultural Policy? I’m sure you have some passionate views on that.”

Wednesday 23rd September
Finally, the Lib Dems get some limelight as Tim Farron gives his first speech as party leader.
But enough of that. David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft are having a ding-dong, if you’ll pardon the expression.
According to the BBC’s James Landale, on Monday night the PM spoke to a friendly audience at the Conservative Carlton Club. He revealed that that morning he had been at the doctors suffering from back pain, brought on by some “over-energetic wood-chopping”, presumably because he was trying to get in touch with his inner Putin.
The doctor said he needed to administer an injection, remarking “This will be just a little prick, just a stab in the back.”
“Which rather summed up my day,” said the Prime Minister.
Lord Ashcroft responded on Twitter.
Ashcroft had said his book was not about “settling scores”. Which makes his little Twitter outburst not so much a Freudian Slip as a Freudian Klaxon.

Thursday 24th September
Amidst all of this, Jeremy Corbyn has barely featured thisweek, but now he has done an interview with TheNew Statesman. So, can the man who doesn’t involve himself in personal attacks resist the temptation to remark on #piggate?
His response: “I am concerned about the alleged knowledge, or not, of the non-dom status of some of his friends in the House of Lords.”
Oh yes, because whilst everyone – everyone (including this diarist) – has been revelling in the most macabre pig’s head story since Lord of the Flies, we have been ignoring more substantive allegations that Cameron knew Lord Ashcroft was a Non Dom long before the story broke, as well as allegations that Cameron was at loggerheads with top brass over Libya strategy. Corbyn, meanwhile, has focussed on the real issues. Who does he think he is? A frontbench politician?
Then he spoils it by saying that a United Ireland is “an aspiration that I have always gone along with”, which should settle down his new leadership’s already fraught relationship with Unionists in Northern Ireland.
At least he said this during such a settled period. It’s not like the government there has all but collapsed and we are, to borrow a phrase from John McDonnell, “in danger of losing the peace process”. Clearly he’s been taking his Shadow Chancellor’s advice on temperate language.

Friday 25th September
As if to rub salt into the wound of the Lib Dems, #piggate finally abates just in time for the Green and UKIP conferences to bask in the now available political coverage.
First, it's Nigel Farage, who is now all about the upcoming EU referendum, and is beginning the fight with stirring rhetoric.
"The campaign to leave is a united force. That's why we have two different campaigns currently competing to be the official campaign, and that's also why I'm backing one of them and my only MP is connected to the other one. Unity in action!"
Then it's Natalie Bennett, who is to public speaking what Iain Duncan Smith was to public speaking. She confidently declares that the "world is embracing Green Party politics".
You can see where she's coming from. At the last election, universal embracement of Green politics was demonstrated by just under 4% of the population.
So, less of an embrace, more of a nod to acknowledge it's in the room, but that's progress.
Meanwhile, David Cameron - who spent the day in a cocoon of solitude - emerges and asks: "Is it over yet?"
"No," replies an aide. "Farage called you Piggy in the Middle, and Liz Truss rang up to ask if she could go back to Beijing to open more pork markets. Though I think she was genuinely asking. Difficult to say with her."
"Thank you! That'll do!" says Dave before an awkward silence descends, broken by the impish aide giving into temptation…
"That’ll do pig. That'll do."

Events depicted may differ from actual events. In fact, this is a work of fiction, with some facts. But mostly, it's nonsense. 

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