It’s always bittersweet for a publisher when you see a book that you turned down being published. You wonder if you made a mistake, and if it will turn out to be a bestseller.

That’s happened to me this week with the publication of William Waldegrave’s memoir A different kind of weather. When I read the manuscript some time ago I felt it was, as you would expect, beautifully written – but I wasn’t confident it would attract enough punters to make it commercially viable.

Luckily for Lord Waldegrave, Constable disagreed. I’m a total sucker for a political memoir. I hate it when one gets away. I was very angry with myself when I saw Baroness Trumpington was writing her autobiography. I had nearly approached her a few years before but I figured that, at approaching 90, if she hadn’t written it by now, she never would. Wrong.

I’m currently reading Tim Bell’s autobiography – another one I’d have liked to have published. The one I’d really like to get is Ken Clarke’s. The trouble is, he’s been around for so long that there would probably have to be at least three volumes. I’m not being horrible, but I honestly doubt he would have enthusiasm to start it or the application to finish it.


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Good on Esther McVey. She was asked on Loose Women whether she’d like to be Prime Minister and, instead of doing what most politicians do, and saying “Oh, I’m just concentrating on the job I’ve got now”, she said “Yes, I would, actually”.

How refreshing. How Heineken. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with ambition or expressing it. I asked Ed Davey on air the other day if he’d like to lead the LibDems. The politically correct answer would have been to day “there’s no vacancy”, but instead he said “yes” and got a lot of credit from listeners for it. Others (are you listening, Chuka Umunna?) take note.


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Readers may remember me taking the Daily Telegraph to task for the fact they have lost so many of their best journalists over the last couple of years. Private Eye carried a story in their last issue that their journalists had been told not to use my name in the paper ever again. So when I did a search on my name on their website, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the articles I have written for them over the years were still there. But, after what I am about to write below, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before they are deleted.


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I’ve known Peter Oborne for many years. He’s great company, an original thinker and totally unpredictable. He’s also a fantastic writer, and any newspaper he works for is lucky to have him. Why? Because he is thought-provoking and doesn’t follow the prevailing winds. He wrote recently about why in his view Ed Miliband is a fantastic leader of the opposition – something which not even most Labour columnists would ever written. (Like most idiosyncratic people, he can also be very wrong and misguided, as readers of his book on Iran will testify.)

His very public resignation from the Telegraph demonstrates how far into the depths a once great newspaper has fallen. I now wonder if it can ever recover its former glories while it stays under its current management and ownership. The Americans have a phrase ‘clean house’ and that’s what the Telegraph needs to do, but the Barclay Brothers and their management team, led by Murdoch MacLennan, need to depart the scene before that can happen.

The problem is, who on earth would buy the Telegraph at the moment? Answers on a postcard, please. Meanwhile speculation continues as to which Telegraph journalist will be next to abandon ship. Brussels correspondent Bruno Waterfield is my tip, and he would be a very big loss indeed.


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On his weekly radio show on LBC, which I’m listening to as I write this, Nick Clegg has just said that he would like to extend his free childcare to all parents including rich ones. And yet he has a policy of removing winter fuel allowance and other benefits from rich pensioners. He’s clearly not heard of the word ‘consistency’. But then in politics, he’s not alone in that.


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The West continues to underestimate Vladimir Putin. He made fools out of Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande by agreeing a ceasefire in Ukraine and then failing to prevent it being broken within hours of it starting. Michael Fallon has been talking in the last few days about the Russian threat to the Baltic States. Let’s remember that the three Baltic States are full members of NATO. If NATO is to mean anything, it needs to deploy troops to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania forthwith, and make clear that their borders will be defended from any potential Russian incursion. If that doesn’t happen, Putin will interpret it as a sign of weakness and act accordingly. And it will be entirely NATO’s fault.


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On Wednesday night I did something I will never do again. Ever. I hosted a phone-in on male circumcision. I know it’s not on a par with FGM, but isn’t it barbaric to do it to babies? Quite a lot of my listeners agreed with me, but there were still plenty who still subscribed to the view that if it was perfectly OK to do it because that’s what people did in ancient times and tradition is important. Perhaps they think adulterous women should still be stoned too.


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I still cannot understand how Channel 4 got away with showing that so-called drama UKIP: the first hundred days. It should never have been commissioned – let alone broadcast so near to the election campaign beginning.

The worst thing about it wasn’t the overt anti-UKIP propaganda, it was the subliminal stuff. It was reminiscent of the Leni Reifenstahl approach to making films, designed to implant a thought in people’s heads.

But what was just as bad was thoroughly misleading account given by the Nick Mirsky, 4’s Head of Documentaries. He told the world that Nigel Farage had been offered the right of reply, but had declined it. Total fiction. Channel 4 offered Farage an interview with Paxman, after the show. Farage accepted, but the channel later cancelled it.

Farage was then booked into a public, meeting and C4 later re-invited him to an interview with Jon Snow. But by then it was too late, since he had given his word to somebody else. Mirsky failed to mention any of these facts.

Apparently more than a thousand people have complained to OfCom over the broadcasting of this abortion of a programme. I doubt whether it will do much good as OfCom have consistently shown themselves to have little appetite to do anything over incidents like this apart from tap TV companies on the knuckle