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Wednesday 5th November 2014
Undeterred by the criticism that followed his tequila-laden appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch in the summer, Nick Clegg has been back in the kitchen this morning.
Unfortunately, the DPM’s ITV performance may yet raise questions about whether he can be trusted to cut profligacy and waste within the Government.
It started off well enough. Clegg was handed a knife and a carrot or two. “The chopping’s going fine,” he bristled when he was asked if he coping ok.
Clearly aware that this was a man who was not used to receiving praise (he does spend a lot of time with Tory ministers who aren’t exactly his number one fan), Lorraine Kelly and the chef James Tanner sought to reassure him of his skills.
“Mr Clegg’s wonderful carrots,” beamed the chef. “Gorgeous,” commented Kelly. To Dot, they looked rather like carrots.
Then he moved on to the grating and Clegg went at it as if it was the head of a right-wing Conservative rather than a block of cheese that he was shredding. So much so that Tanner needed to stage an intervention.
“Sorry Nick, that’s great.”
“I was just carrying on until you told me to stop. Is that too much?”
“There’s four of us,” Tanner said, the chef scarcely able to see his guest over the Himalayan swathes of cheese ribbons laid out for two potatoes.
Next up was basil. Like a dog revisiting past mistreatments at the hands of his owner, Clegg ventured: “Too much?”
“No, no. That’s good,” Tanner replied. “That’s good. Ok, you can walk away now.”
By the end of the meal, it was clear that the time had come to rebuild Clegg’s confidence. As Miriam González Durántez was invited over to assess her husband’s contribution, Lorraine, almost pleading said: “I have to say the cheese was done so well.”
Durantez (having earlier said Clegg’s cooking was not his strongest suit) commented on the “nicely chopped vegetables”; Tanner added in: “And lovely cheese. Fantastic.”
Job well done, Nick. Job well done.
Sunday 2nd November 2014
An open letter to Private Eye
Interviewing Ed Davey on the Sunday Politics this week, longstanding host Andrew Neil pressed the Energy Secretary on whether he had worn the 'This is what a feminist looks like' t-shirt so in vogue among Westminster's fashion elite of late.
Mr Davey replied:
"I haven’t and no one asked me to. Maybe they couldn’t get a size big enough for me… You’re often pictured in a t-shirt as I understand?"
I wondered if you might be able to substantiate this claim with anything from the archives?
Friday 31st October 2014
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant”, David Cameron said once, and the Government has today published its quarterly transparency returns.
Just in case you don’t have the desire to wade through the documents yourself, here are a few of the interesting bits:
- Tory Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin was given a gift worth more than £140 of “Traditional Tea Pot and Cups” by Chinese property giant Wanda Group. Letwin has decided against buying the gift and so it is currently being held in the British embassy at Beijing.
- David Cameron bought shoes worth £279 from Oliver Sweeney.
- Moldova’s prime minister gave Cameron wine worth more than £140 which was then used for official entertainment;
- The President of Afghanistan offered a “trinket box and coat” to the PM which is currently being held;
- Interpol is also in the business of handing out gifts, apparently. The police cooperation body gave a £150 watch which the PM decided to purchase.
- Nick Clegg was given “food items” from Lord Alliance worth more than £140. Hopefully they weren’t perishables because they are still being held by the department.
Wednesday 29th October 2014
As a former First Sea Lord and, arguably more pertinently, a minister in Gordon Brown’s government, Lord West is quite familiar with the importance of peacemaking.
The skill proved handy when he defused a potential incident with the Occupy protesters on Parliament Square.
West recounted the events to the Lords yesterday:
“When I was being driven past in my car in my full uniform, they [protesters] came and stood in front of the car and I managed to stop an incident because my Royal Marine driver said, ‘Shall I re-educate them, sir?’ and I said, ‘Not today’.”
Home Office Minister Lord Bates almost seemed in awe to West as he responded quickly:
“The noble Lord is absolutely right— I fully agree with him.”
Wednesday 29th October 2014
The debate rages on over David Cameron's refusal to wear a pro-feminist t-shirt.
Nick Clegg did it. Benedict Cumberbatch and Ed Miliband did it too. And today Harriet Harman was wearing the very garment (emblazoned with the phrase: "This is what a feminist looks like) at Prime Minister's Questions.
Take that Dave!
How did we get here? Last year, Cameron was asked by the women’s magazine Red whether he was a feminist. He paused, before replying: "I don’t know what I’d call myself… it’s up to others to attach labels."
The PM later told Channel 4 News: ‘When I was asked that question, what I should have said is, if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist."
This week, Lorraine Candy, the editor-in-chief of Elle said: "We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Society’s iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot... Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels."
Since then No 10 has refused to say whether the Prime Minister has any plans to wear the T-shirt, but instead said the PM is focused on policies in Government aimed at better equality for women.
The whole tale may prove to be a salutory lesson for ambitious Tories destined for greater things. So what does former Olympian and Tory hopeful James Cracknell think of the F word?
In a recent interview with the Evening Standard, Cracknell would not define himself as a feminist. And he said that neither would his wife, Beverley Turner. He told the paper:
“Erm. I don’t know if Bev is either. She has an incredibly strong sense of justice, as do I.”
Cracknell was speaking to the Standard just a few days before the Cameron t-shirt furore broke out. Obviously.