Tag Archives: Brian Reade

William Hague – a tribute

 

The article  below appeared in the Daily Mirror on 5th March 201o and is reproduced here with the full permission of the author Brian Reade.

When you have finished reading about William Hague, you may perceive that Brian Reade is probably not the Chairman of Hague Fan Club – and you would be right.

I have been Socialist-bashing ever since I could open a notepad but for the sake of balance I do believe that we should have an insight into the lives and more-importantly, the characters of all the main players in the  forthcoming General Election. In the last year we have all come to learn that what really appears to separate politicians (of any Party) is nothing more than  size of wallet plus position on the Odious Scale.  Idealism seems to have given way to the ugly spectre of self-interest. 

William Hague has had a long history within the Tory Party and as Brian describes below, he is the Conservatives’ Malvolio – having had greatness thrust “up him” rather than “upon him”. He is also one of the few Tories who has proved that there is life after death.

The Daily Mirror has several heavy-duty writers of conviction  but I’ve always considered Brian Reade  as the most perceptive and incisive .  Enjoy some of the most genially-executed knife-work you’ll ever see.

For three decades he was a political joke beyond parody.

William Jefferson Hague, the geeky nerd who spent his youthful nights studying Hansard and memorising Churchill’s speeches. Who at 16 wowed a Tory conference with that shrill, hectoring speech. The gormless leader who at 36 thought he was being passed the Thatcher ite Flame, only to find it a poisoned chalice handed to any chump foolish enough to take it.

The Original Tory Boy who tried to win the yoof vote by wearing a baseball cap to the Notting Hill Carnival and a theme park, only for Tory writer Simon Heffer to say he resembled “a child molester on day release”.

Unabashed, he told GQ magazine he spent his youth downing 14 pints a day. No-one swallowed it. Not least a local pub owner who called him a liar and labelled him Billy Fizz.

Eventually The Youngest Fogey in the West became Billy Bandwagon, leaping onto every passing rightwing cause to ingratiate himself with the party’s core vote.

He was The Fighting Foetus, The Dome-Headed Tyke, in thrall to his party’s Loony Right, and he fought the 2001 election on a puerile Save The Pound platform. The Tories gained just one seat. He was a political failure at 40, leaving them so battered turned to Iain Duncan Smith.

ANIMAL

But even critics admitted he was not just a caricature. His combative displays at Prime Minister’s Questions hinted at a cunning careerist behind the joke exterior.

The next decade showed the real Hague – an avaricious animal ready to oil his way into the good books of any individual or organisation that could line his pockets and keep him close to the Tory throne.

So successful was he that he earned more than any other sitting MP. David Cameron made him Shadow Foreign Secretary and called him “my deputy in all but name”.

It is Hague, not George Osborne, from whom Cameron takes most advice, which is why the Michael Ashcroft affair goes right to the top of the Tory chain of command.

Ashcroft is Hague’s man. Friends call the two “extraordinarily close”, with Ashcroft admitting a “mutual chemistry” the instant they met in 1997. So Ashcroft’s outing as a non-dom, who went back on a pledge to pay tax here to gain a peerage, casts a long shadow over Hague’s integrity.

It was Hague who persuaded him to bankroll the party in 1998. Hague who begged Tony Blair to make him a Lord.

Hague who refused to give a clear answer when asked nine times by Jeremy Paxman and four times by Andrew Marr if Ashcroft paid tax on his overseas earnings.

Maybe he didn’t know him that well. He had only been travelling on the billionaire’s jets and staying on his yacht for 11 years.

He only let Ashcroft accompany him to Cuba and the US last year and attend key meetings. They were so close that when Hague ennobled him, both gave a “clear and unequivocal… solemn and binding” JAshcrofts assurance he would become permanently resident in Britain. Only for the lord to spend a decade avoiding full UK taxes.

As former civil service chief Lord Turnbull said on Wednesday, it was Hague’s responsibilty as his “sponsor” to ensure he fulfilled that assurance. “We were taking Hague’s word that he had negotiated this deal and it turns out that he had negotiated a deal with a loophole,” said Lord Turnbull.

Hague claims he has only known of his chum’s tax status for a few months. The Times called him “evasive and weak.”

But his devotion to wealth is no surprise to friends. After quitting as Tory leader he was the first MP to earn £1million in a year, thanks to consultancies, newspaper columns and speeches. Commons documents last year showed £235,000 in “remunerated employment” including £50,000 as “parliamentary advisor to JCB” and £25,000 for a speech in Brussels.

There are directorships at AES Engineering and AMT-SYBEX Group, four trips overseas funded by private firms, a helicopter ride to Crewe and honorary membership of the Carlton club.

BANKERS

The expenses scandal also raised questions.

Despite his fortune he got the taxpayer to pay his mortgage interest and £4,000-a-year service charge on his £1million second home in London.

His claim of £61,995 between April 2004 and March 2007 was almost up to the maximum of £64,646. A senior Labour source added: “He’s been using taxpayers’ cash to help build a property empire.”

Then there are the freebies, such as £800 tickets for him and his wife to attend a Tory ball, paid for by a private finance firm.

The London Evening Standard asked why one of the wealthiest MPs chose to “accept the hospitality of others at this event?” Questions were also asked over a 2008 Barclays jolly to Italy’s Lake Como on the day global markets went into freefall. The Daily Mail wrote: “The VIP treatment… was at odds with the restraint and austerity David Cameron imposed on his party”.

Labour’s Richard Caborn blasted: “On the one hand Cameron is trying to distance himself from his chums in the City by slagging off bankers’ bonuses. On the other hand his right-hand man is jetting off to join a £500,000 bankers’ banquet in Italy.”

Cameron wants to show the Tories are the party of the ordinary guy. But thanks to the Ashcroft affair, it may be backfiring.

Behind the exaggerated Yorkshire twang, Hague is no Man of The People. His father owned a soft drinks company and Hague attended Oxford University. He now owns £1million homes in Yorkshire and London.

And he remains passionate about axeing inheritance tax for the super-rich and says: “I believe in it strongly. If we’re going to create a savings culture rather than a debt culture, we need to show we are serious.”

Hague believes the Tories will win by scaring the electorate. He is currently asking voters how they might feel waking up on the morning after polls close to find Gordon Brown still in government.

Maybe he should ask how they would feel if Billy Bandwagon finally made it there.

George Osborne. Why?

 

You may have heard of the Bilderberg Group or the Bilderberg Conference. It is an annual gathering of 130 influential people from Europe and North America who spend a few days discussing world politics, economics and various cross-border issues.  Heads of State attend the conference as do politicians, bankers, and directors of large businesses such as IBM and Shell. All are established men and women of influence. Reporters are excluded and although confidential minutes are taken, names of participants are excluded.

This has led to various conspiracy theories and rumours that these big-hitters are there as an unofficial world government. For instance, they had an informal dinner meeting in Brussels in November 2009 which was attended by Herman Van Rompuy who was then surprisingly elected President of the European Council. The President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick is a member of Bilderberg as is European Commission Head Jose Manuel Barroso.

There are established British politicians who attend the conferences – people such as Ken Clarke and Peter Mandelson but there is another British attendee who has been invited to the conference since 2006 – a politician with no government experience and certainly no obvious influence – George Osborne, our Shadow Chancellor.

Osborne’s rise has been a great mystery to many, including senior people within the Conservative Party. Yesterday, we looked at David Cameron’s background and today it is the turn of  Tory Boy George. Where did he come from and where is he going?  Having said that, “why” may be a more pertinent question.

Are we regressing into a New Age  age where influence will once again triumph over merit? Will Osborne continue to be Robin to Cameron’s Batman? Why has Cameron hired Ken Clarke as a “back stop”?

Brian Reade is the Daily Mirror’s premier  columnist and although you may expect his description of Osborne to be a touch partisan, do have a look at Brian’s  article which is published in the Daily Mirror today. It will scare the bejesus out of you.

Listen to Brian- he knows what he’s saying.

 

The following article was published in the Daily Mirror on 5th February 2010 and is reproduced here with Brian Reade’s full permission.

 

The confused expression that sits permanently on George Osborne’s face has taken a lifetime to perfect.

From insecure child to ineffectual shadow chancellor, the heir to the 17th century baronetcy of Ballentaylor, has faced constant ridicule and rejection.

He’s the little rich boy who could never quite buy the approval of his peers, always on the outside looking in.

He was born Gideon George Oliver Osborne, but when he became a teenager dropped the Gideon.

“Life was easier as a George,” he said. It didn’t do him much good.

A few years later at Oxford, when he was invited into the elitist Bullingdon Club because of his family wealth, he was renamed Oik due to the crime of having attended only Britain’s third most expensive public school, St Paul’s, not Eton or Harrow.

A popular lark among his fellow Buller men was to hold Oik upside-down by the ankles and scream: “Who are you?” Whenever Osborne gave the wrong answer he was dropped on his head, and was only released after squealing: “I am a despicable ****.”

The identity crisis followed him into politics. Embarrassed by his aristocratic connections he changed his Who’s Who entry when he made the Shadow Cabinet, dropping mentions of club memberships at the exclusive Beefsteak and Cheshire Pitt.

COCAINE

Initially Westminster wags christened him Tory Boy, after the Harry Enfield character, for rising to high office at such a young age without ever having had a job outside of Conservative politics.

That changed to Boy George (in honour of the singer) when a photo emerged of him with his arm around a prostitute, Mistress Pain, who specialised in sadomasochism.

The picture plainly shows a white powdery substance and rolled-up papers lying in front of them.

Mistress P alleged they had snorted cocaine but Osborne denies the charge.

His costliest faux pas, which could have cost him his job as shadow chancellor, came two summers ago after Old Etonian friend Nat Rothschild invited him to his Corfu villa.

Another guest was the then European Trade Minister Peter Mandelson, and when Osborne returned home, he spread word that Mandy had been dripping “pure poison” about Gordon Brown.

It was typical Boy George, a rabid gossip who passes tales around Westminster to ingratiate himself with influential types. And typical too, that he should so badly misread the club rules and end up a shunned outsider. Rothschild was furious that a private meeting he had organised was made public, and took his revenge by claiming that while Osborne was in Corfu he had visited the yacht of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and solicited a Tory party donation – which would have been illegal from a foreign source.

Osborne denied any wrong-doing but the damage was done.

The vision of him as an arrogant, upperclass buffoon (already boosted by publication of a Bullingdon Club picture of him posing in tailcoat with an almost comical aloofness) wasn’t helped by news that, in between swanning around villas and superyachts in Corfu, he’d flown back to London to make a speech on poverty.

Once more he had alienated his upperclass contemporaries and shown himself to be completely out of his depth against powerful beasts like Rothschild and Mandelson.

And it rocked his standing in a party which had largely accepted him as the supporting act in their dream ticket.

Senior figures despaired at his naiveté, finding it incredible that a would-be Chancellor should spread malicious gossip about a holiday in which he’d rubbed shoulders on yachts with a mysterious foreign billionaire.

Leading right-wing commentator Simon Heffer wrote: “George is silly; George has poor judgment; George is unreliable; George is, to coin a phrase, a dolt. What credibility does he have left? This has at least caused people to forget what a disaster he made of his attempts (if they can be dignified with such a term) to mount a response to the global financial crisis.

“Can a dolt aspire to hold a great office of state? For little George could be walking out of 11 Downing Street with Mr Gladstone’s dispatch box within months.

“How much does that make you want to vote Conservative?”

After Yachtgate, Boy George was once again figure of ridicule and contempt. At least his nickname had changed – he was now Cabin Boy George.

It seems that no matter how hard Gideon George Oliver Osborne tries, he rarely succeeds.

And the omens aren’t good as he stakes his bid to run the British economy.

As one financial pundit put it: “He’s too weak, inexperienced and ill-informed about his subject. How could such a bumbling nonentity run the fifth biggest economy in the world?” As shadow chancellor, Osborne failed abysmally to offer a convincing argument about what he would have done with Northern Rock in 2007 (he opposed nationalisation) or how he would have saved RBS and Lloyds, and critics say he has never grasped the severity of the spending crisis.

The respected financial journalist Jeff Randall was scathing about him at the time: “As the situation becomes ever more serious George becomes increasingly flaccid. He’s not so much behind the curve as behind the curtain.”

Even this week a blog on the pro-Tory Daily Telegraph website summed up feelings towards him after he unveiled his economic strategy for the general election: “How to judge Cabin Boy George? By the words that emanated from his mouth during the gravest financial crisis in a century. Namely: none.” Few in the City will go on the record with their fears over Osborne’s unsuitability for high office in case it jeopardises a Tory victory, but David Buik, senior analyst at brokers BGC Partners, said: “I find it quite extraordinary that his only experience, in terms of business, industry or commerce, has been as a speechwriter at Tory Central Office and that he should be the chosen person to be the next Chancellor.

EMPIRE

“It’s frightening. And I say this as an obsessed Conservative. You have got to have some experience of life.”

Last November a senior Tory councillor launched an astonishing attack on the Shadow Cabinet, his prime target being Osborne.

Stephen Greenhalgh, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and named Local Hero of the Year in 2008 by the Conservative Home website, said: “My mates are all in the Shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those ministerial boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university with them – they haven’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

“They’re going to get a department of state, in one case running the finances of the nation.”

Greenhalgh contrasted them with leading politicians in other countries who learn their trade at local level before taking national office.

“If you’re going to fail, fail running Alabama, fail running Texas, fail running the city of Paris – don’t just take over the country.”

The attack was met with widespread sympathy among Tories, with Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, echoing Greenhalgh’s fears. “Quite right” he said of the prospect of Osborne being chancellor: “Scares me too.”

Osborne’s massive private wealth is another worry for Tory strategists. He was once asked by a journalist if he was too posh to govern. The reply from the 18th baronetcy-in-waiting was: “It’s not as if I grew up in a stately home with a deer park.” He could have fooled us.

The son of Sir Peter George Osborne and Felicity Loxton-Peacock, he is the heir to a baronetcy that dates back to 1629 and he has a 15% stake in his family’s wallpaper firm, Osborne & Little, which is worth, at a conservative estimate, £15million.

It’s why eyebrows were raised among the party hierarchy when he became embroiled in the expenses scandal and was ordered to repay £1,666.

How, they said, could a future Chancellor and multi-millionaire overclaim mortgage payments on his second home (as well as putting in a £121 bill for servicing his Aga)?

He had form. A few years earlier the heir to the Osborne empire had offered donors the chance to fund his Commons office directly, a fact he failed to mention in the Commons register, which drew another rebuke from the standards watchdog.

Osborne entered politics in 1994, gaining a job at the Conservative Research Department. Even he admits that his career as an adviser has been something of a joke.

“I worked for Douglas Hogg during the BSE crisis, for John Major when he lost the 1997 election and was William Hague’s political adviser when we lost the next election,” he said in 2005. “Maybe I have given pretty poor advice.”

HAWKISH

His close association with Hague is telling. When he became leader of the party in 1997, Hague picked 26-year-old Osborne as his political secretary, asking him to help drag the party away from the wet Major era and back to the hawkish days of Thatcher.

Meaning that in little more than a decade, Osborne has gone from penning tub-thumping right-wing speeches for Hague to claiming ownership of the centre-ground as a leading Tory moderniser. Yet, like Hague, he remains a committed Eurosceptic.

Small wonder people don’t know who Osborne is or what he stands for. Including many Tories who worry about his age, inexperience, gaffe-prone nature, blurred policy vision, unsuitability for his job (he’s on record as saying only 40% of his time is spent on economics) and his desire to put politics before sound finance.

The drafting in of 69-year-old Ken Clarke as shadow business secretary was a tacit acknowledgement of Boy George’s many glaring faults.

As Michael Portillo diplomatically said of him: “He’s not yet weighty”.

As Tory commentator Patrick O’Flynn more frankly put it: “He is wide open to the charge of not understanding the lives led by most Britons.

“At times he has given the impression of being a boy in a man’s job. Tory MPs have increasingly come to believe that he only retains his post because his best mate is party leader.”

Informed people in Westminster say Osborne has been told to work on his gravitas and coached to deepen his voice and slow his delivery. They also say the Tory leader has had serious wobbles about keeping him as his shadow chancellor.

When David Cameron was asked by his biographer, Dylan Jones if Osborne would be his successor, Jones was cut dead with the words: “I don’t pick successors.”

Maybe that says nothing. Or maybe it says that the little rich boy with the lifelong identity crisis is forever fated to stay on the outside looking in.

Cameron – is he a real or a random?

The General Election is only three months away and so it is now time to start thinking hard. 

The Labour Party is currently being  judged on its leadership and the current state of the economy. The Conservative Party is being  appraised on  its  promised  leadership and its economic theory and hopes.

The economy will continue to limp along no matter who is holding the tiller  – and is so damaged that it is more-or-less a non-issue. Neither party can promise with any degree of certainty that we’re not going to end up hitting rocks and sinking – either way, it’s a gamble.

That is why this is primarily going to be an Election of Personalities and that is why we need to have a very close look at the leaders of the two main parties.

There are those whose political beliefs are well documented but there are others whose views blow in many directions and are neither real, sincere or constant. There are those for whom conviction  is secondary to power and ambition.

Below is an example of what may be loosely-termed  a basic set of  Conservative beliefs:

The first is that every family’s breadwinner be given the optimum opportunity to provide for his or her dependants. The second is that Society looks after and shields its weakest in order to ensure that their quality of life is as worry-free as possible. The third is that there is the minimum intervention from the State in people’s lives. The fourth is that those who work hardest are rewarded – i.e. we encourage excellence and we all enjoy the benefits of living in a meritocracy.

That is a simple set of beliefs. Not everyone will agree with it but when we elect our next Parliament, when we elect our next leader, we need to know what he or she believes in. That means that we need to know about our leaders. That means that we have to know about Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Gordon Brown, love him or hate him has become as familiar as an old slipper.  Maybe not always as comfortable or pretty but we know him. We know him well and in spite of the occasional cock-up or  local trouble, we cannot doubt his sincerity as a man of the people. He is not slick, he is certainly not flash Gordon but most do believe that he is doing his sincere best.

David Cameron, on the other hand seemed to arrive out of nowhere, except perhaps Tory Central Casting. He seems like an OK sort of bloke, but then again, so did Tony Blair.  Do we really know what he believes?  We only seem to know that he’s a toff and that he went to Eton. That is why we all need to know a lot more.

Below I have reproduced an article from today’s Daily Mirror. It spotlights David Cameron and has been written by my chum Brian Reade who I believe to be one of our sparkliest national treasures.  I don’t always agree with him and you may think (quite rightly) that Brian is somewhat left-of-centre but what always shines through is his underlying passion and integrity.

The following  article is reproduced with the full permission of the author, Brian Reade and was published in the Daily Mirror on 4th February 2010.

 

Few financial journalists in Britain are held in higher esteem than Jeff Randall.

He has been business editor of virtually every heavy newspaper, was the first journalist to be given that title by the BBC and now has his own peak-time show on Sky.

In a peerless career, he has been showered with awards for his honesty, integrity and grasp of City matters.

In the late 1990s, as editor of Sunday Business, he had many dealings with the head of communications at Carlton TV, David Cameron.

And this is what he wrote when he became Conservative party leader in 2005: “I wouldn’t trust him with my daughter’s pocket money.

“In my experience, he never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative.

“Whether he flat-out lied I won’t say, but he went a long way to leave me with the impression that the story was wrong. He put up so much verbal tracker you started to lose your own guidance system.”

Randall was not alone among business journalists in holding Cameron in utter contempt throughout his seven-year stint at Carlton. Like him, some pull up just short of calling him a professional liar.

Chris Blackhurst, City editor of the London Evening Standard says Cameron was “aggressive, sharp-tongued, often condescending and patronising.

“If anyone had told me then he might become Premier I would have told them to seek help.”

Patrick Hosking, investment editor of The Times, said: “He was obstructive.”

Most damning of all is this assessment by veteran City journalist Ian King, who calls him “a poisonous, slippery individual,” adding: “He was a smarmy bully who regularly threatened journalists. He loved humiliating people, including a colleague at ITV he would abuse publicly as ‘Bunter’, just because the poor bloke was a few pounds overweight.

“He was a mouthpiece for that company’s charmless chairman, Michael Green, who operated him the way Keith Harris works Orville.”

CONNECTIONS

The hugely ambitious Cameron had been working in Tory Central Office for six years since leaving Oxford, and he realised the quickest way to achieve his goal of becoming an MP was to put some “real-world experience” on his CV.

For most 27-year-olds the chances of landing a prestigious, well-paid City job without any private-sector experience were negligible. But not to a man who had effortlessly glided into every position he’d desired, through family connections.

This time it was Annabel Astor, the mother of Cameron’s fiancée, Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, who pulled strings with her friend Michael Green. “When she says to me, ‘Do something,’ I do it!” said the usually far-from-timid Green.

When Cameron left in 2001 to become an MP, Green was more than happy with the man he’d employed to do his dirty work. “He can be ruthless,” he said.

A view shared by Michael Portillo, who says of Cameron during his time in Tory Central Office: “Not everyone was enamoured.

I have heard he is not, sometimes, as nice in private as you might think. It was said by people beneath him.”

This is a recurring theme. As his biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, point out in their book Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative, he never wasted his time chatting to people he thought were unimportant.

One Central Office colleague said: “He had personality, intelligence, ambition and judgment but wasn’t charitably disposed to those who thought differently from him.”

thought differently from him.” Another said: “He saw it as a way of making himself look good to make other people look stupid. He was a bombastic bully, dismissive of those who didn’t agree with him.”

At Carlton, Cameron played up to the role of City squire, wearing red braces during the week and Barbour at weekends as he joined the hunting and shooting set. But mostly he kept his eye on the prize of becoming an MP.

In March 1996, his first press reference of note appeared in the London Evening Standard where he was described as part of “a silver-spoon clique” and someone who frequently boasted that he would one day be Foreign Secretary. “David Cameron, a 29-year-old Old Etonian, has come up with a novel strategy for getting elected to the House of Commons, which he announced in a drunken moment at a party. ‘He’d worked out his chances of getting a seat by finding out which of the present incumbents were most likely to die,’ relates one of the guests. ‘Sir Ian McNair-Wilson is about to kick his clogs,’ he told us.

“There was a long pause. ‘You’re completely right,’ a schoolmate agreed. ‘He is going to die soon. He’s my stepfather.’ ” It wasn’t McNair-Wilson’s death that gave Cameron his big break but Shaun Woodward’s defection to Labour in 2000, which left the Oxfordshire seat of Witney vacant. Yet again, as Cameron climbed another rung on his career ladder, people were left scratching their heads as to how he managed it.

The selection committee whittled the field down to two candidates – Cameron and Andrew Mitchell (now Shadow International Development Minister). In the run-up to the vote Mitchell was considered favourite. But on the eve of the vote, something strange happened.

According to Simon Walters’ book Tory Wars, Mitchell was subjected to an anonymous smear campaign when some activists wrongly claimed he was involved in the cash-for-questions affair.

As Elliot and Hanning wrote: “It is a curious story and one that suggests that someone within Witney Conservative Association bore Mitchell a considerable amount of ill-will – or was very keen that Cameron should prevail.”

Prevail he did, and four years later he found himself catapulted to the second top rung of his career ladder, leader of the Conservative party.

SHALLOWNESS

But not every Conservative was convinced of their young messiah, some doubting his depth, credentials and vision. Top Tory pin-up Simon Heffer called his political views “philosophically naive and vacuous”.

One of Cameron’s closest friends, Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove, wrote: “He is the kind of poker player who waits and reads the other players, and bets when he knows the alignment is in his favour.” And former Tory minister George Walden summed up Cameron’s perceived shallowness perfectly when he claimed Cameron’s chief criterion for judging a situation is: “What would Diana have done?” But it’s not just his lack of ideological depth that is a flaw; it’s his upper-class background and the fact he has chosen to surround himself with chaps of a similar ilk.

Tory Speaker John Bercow, says: “In the modern world the combination of Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at Whites is not helpful when you are trying to appeal to millions of ordinary people.”

Sir Tom Cowie, founder of Arriva and a party donor until August 2007, argues: “The Tory Party seems to be run by Old Etonians and they don’t understand how other people live.”

Even the true-blue Sunday Times wrote: “He has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan. Can he represent Britain from such a narrow base?” But perhaps the most damning indictment of the man who would be the next Tory prime minister is the blatant indifference towards him by the last man to hold that office.

Twice a week for a year, Cameron briefed John Major for Prime Minister’s Questions and almost every day throughout the 1992 election campaign, yet Major says he has no clear memories of him.

Fellow Tories say he is being diplomatic. By saying nothing he offers no offence.

But by offering no thoughts on Cameron, when he clearly has some, Major leaves the impression that he either doesn’t rate him or doesn’t like him. And there is evidence to back both views.

Not only did Major once spectacularly lose his temper with Cameron over a woefully inadequate briefing, but Cameron had hoped after the ’92 election victory that the Prime Minister would choose him to be one of two political secretaries.

But Major decided to have just one. And that wasn’t Cameron.

The man who gave him his first political job in the Tory Research Department, Robin Harris, now wishes he had followed Major’s instincts.

“Cameron was in the category of people who came into the party at the time because they saw it as a way of advancing their careers.

“He is an out-and-out opportunist. I don’t believe he believes anything.”

Brian of Britain

 brian-reade.jpg “Pillow-eating?”

Brian (Fidel) Reade is arguably the best columnist around  and the best-loved Scouser since James Maybrick but there are occasions when he appears to be playing without the full complement of marbles.

This week’s  article in the Daily Mirror finds our Brian suggesting that  GB’s sporting success has  largely been made possible through the munificence of successive Labour governments. 

Pity Labour cannot do the same for the economy. 

Brian blaming the Tories for our lack of sporting success is like blaming Ramsay MacDonald for the Great Depression or Tony Blair for Gordon Brown’s current rerun of the MacDonald years.

Anyway, we digress because among the millions of British Olympics Association bulletins that Spygun has been receiving over the past 12 months, here is  one which Brian will find of interest:

Liverpool’s  bid in for the 2016 Olympics

OPENING CEREMONY
The Olympic flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown into the arena by a native of the Toxteth area of the City, wearing the traditional costume of balaclava and shell suit.

THE EVENTS
Liverpool’s previous Olympic competitors have not been particularly successful.
In order to redress the balance some of the events have been altered slightly to the advantage of the local athletes…

100 METRES SPRINT
Competitors will have to hold a video recorder and a microwave oven (one under each arm) and on the sound of a starting pistol a police dog will be released 10 metres behind the athletes.

110 METRES HURDLES
As above but with added obstacles –  car bonnets, hedges, gardens, fences, walls etc.

HAMMER
The competitors will be allowed to make a choice of hammer (Claw, Sledge etc.)
The winner will be the one who can cause the most grievous bodily harm to members of the public within their allotted time.

WEIGHTLIFTING
From a standing position competitors will have various electronic goods placed in their arms. In order to complete a lift these must then be taken through the shop door and placed in a mate’s van.

FENCING
Entrants will be asked to dispose of as much stolen jewellery as possible within five minutes.

SHOOTING

A series of targets will be set up to establish the competitor’s ability over a range of disciplines The targets to be as follows:-
1 – A Moving Police Van.
2 – A Post Office Clerk.
3 – A Bank Teller or Securior Driver.
4 – Their next door neighbours youngest child.
NB – This event will be accompanied  by the ritual cries of ‘I thought he was a Bizzy’ or ‘He pulled a blade on me, like’.

BOXING
Entry to be restricted to husband and wife teams and will take place on every Friday and Saturday night of the games.
The husband will be given 15 pints of Stella, and the wife will be told not to make him any tea when he gets home.
The bout will then commence.

CYCLING TIME TRIALS
Competitors will be asked to break into the Liverpool University bike shed and take an expensive mountain bike, owned by some Mummy’s Boy from the country on his first trip away from home.  Against the clock.

CYCLING PURSUIT
As above however this time the break in must occur at Liverpool Police Station and must be witnessed by an officer.

TIME TRIAL
The competitor who can waste the most of the court’s valuable time before being found guilty will be adjudged the winner.

MODERN PENTATHLON
Amended to include mugging, breaking & entering, flashing, joyriding and arson.

THE MARATHON
A safe route has yet to be decided, but the competitors will be issued with sharp sticks and bags with which to pick up dog shit, crisp packets and used hypodermic syringes on their way round.

MEN’S 50Km WALK
Q – Why does the Mersey run through Liverpool?
A – Because if it walked it would get mugged.

Therefore for safety reasons this event has been cancelled.

RELAY
Each of four competitors to remove an appliance of their choice from a house in Cheshire and get it back to Liverpool using at least four different stolen cars.

ARCHERY
Each competitor will be given three needles, the winner will be the person who gets nearest to three different main veins in their own body.

DISCUS
Will be decided by which contestant can get a hubcap off a car and throw it to his mate the fastest.
In addition the following ‘exhibition’ event designed at promoting the local culture will be introduced:

PILLOW EATING
The winner will be the contestant who can get the most pillow in his mouth after his 18 stone cellmate takes a shine to  him.