There we were, in the Any Questions Green Room, the panel of
four, all cacking ourselves before being called on stage. So we did what anyone
would do. We discussed what questions might come up. And to my horror, no
matter what the potential subject, we all more or less agreed on the answer.
‘This might be a rather boring programme,’ I thought to myself. So as the
programme progressed, I found myself picking a fight with Mark Miodownik, a
scientist. I nitpicked and gnawed. The lovely professor Alison Wolf was far too
nice to attack, and the NFU President Peter Kendall was so bloody reasonable, I
am afraid Mark had to be my target. As it turned out, there was a little more
disagreement than I feared. On Syria, I was the only one to oppose military
action. It felt a bit odd to be the most left wing panel member.
Unaccustomed as I am… But I soon restored my hardline credentials on the badger
cull. I got a text afterwards from Owen Paterson in which he expressed his
amusement that I had attacked him for pussy footing around! All I will say is
that if I were a badger with TB, about to die a long, painful death, with my
internal organs failing, I’d happily be shot in a cull.
Seen this week on Facebook: “So, I've just sent an Email to
an MP with the title being 'Panel Discussion', only, in my haste, I missed the
‘P’ off, and my iPad saw fit to change it to something else.
Needless to say a correction/apology Email was sent afterwards.”
We’ve all been there. I remember
when I was organising a course titled “Public Relations in the Ports Industry”.
Only I missed out the L in ‘Public’. I think some of the delegates attended
under a slight misapprehension.
My LBC colleague James O’Brien has introduced me to the
concept of ‘Newsknitting’, where you knit two stories together. For example,
why can’t poor people eat badgers? Should we hold an emergency summit on Kevin
Rudd? Basher Al-Assad not convinced by the case for HS2. The list could go on…
Talking of Syria, I can’t say I find it comfortable opposing
military action. I’ve never found it necessary before, and I remember all the
terrible things I said about people who opposed action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But in the end you have to go with your instincts and argue for what you
believe. I won’t rehearse the arguments here – it’s a diary column, after all –
but if you want to read my blogpost click HERE. Opposing military action on Syria for a Conservative, will, I suspect, not
be as lonely a position as it was for John Baron or Richard Bacon to oppose the
Iraq war. Of the nine or ten Tory MPs I have spoken to about Syria, only one
was unreservedly in favour of military action. Most of the rest couldn’t see
what the endgame was. And nor can I. As we approach the anniversary of the
First World War, we should perhaps pay more attention to the law of unintended
So a Government source tells The Times that David Cameron
thinks Ed Miliband is a “f***ing c***” and a “copper bottomed shit”. I’m not
particularly squeamish, but doesn’t that strike you as going too far? The full
quote is: ““No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f****** c*** and a
copper-bottomed s***. The French hate him now and he’s got no chance of
building an alliance with the US Democratic Party.” What does this ‘government
source’ think will be achieved by telling this to a journalist? All it does is
drag the reputation of politics through the mud. If David Cameron finds out the
identity of this individual he should do us all a favour and publicly denounce
them, then sack them for gross misconduct.
Listening to Nick Clegg on his weekly LBC phone in talking
about Syria you could be forgiven for thinking it was his colourful predecessor
Jeremy Thorpe in the hotseat talking about Rhodesia. Back in 1967 he acquired
the nickname of ‘Bomber Thorpe’ for suggesting that the Wilson government
should bomb Rhodesia after it declared UDI. Clegg seems to be a complete hawk
on Syria, something which won’t go down well with the beard and sandals
brigade. He even said he would be in favour of bombing if UN approval isn’t
obtained. ‘Bomber’ Clegg. Has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?