If only Mark Oaten had defected to the Tories…

Iain Dale is right that the Tories were stupid to start saying that they were trying to attract defectors. But I find his writing rather like a self-justifying fantasist where he writes:

Oaten came very close to defecting to the Conservatives in the autumn of 2005.

As Lib Dem home affairs spokesman he was frustrated by the party’s opposition to his tougher approach on crime, and, in particular, terrorism: but the Tories were choosing a leader and Oaten’s bargaining position was weak, so he stayed put.

David Cameron nearly claimed his first scalp two months into his leadership.

“Nearly claimed his first scalp”…what utter drivel. It’s like saying someone is “nearly pregnant”.

But anyway, let us take this rubbish in the Torygraph at face value. What if Mark Oaten had defected to the Tories in Autumn 2005? One suspects that membership of the Conservatives would not have immunised him from exposure by the News of the World. Indeed, by being a defector he would have had the same profile as when he ran for the LibDem leadership. So we can safely assume that he would still have been spread all over the NoTW, with some acts not described because they were too horrific for the paper’s readership.

So Cameron gets his first high-profile defector in, say, November 2005 and that defector defecates, almost literally, on Cameron’s doorstep in January 2006.

That would have been a bit of a faux pas, wouldn’t it?

Michael White destroys Guido

I have an interest to declare. I am the Number One Fan of Michael White, the Guardian’s Political Editor. Not because of his superb political journalism skills, but because he is a St Austell boy and very funny.

Normally, Michael is quite affable and laid back during his television appearances. Last night he was on Newsnight with Paxo and Guido (the latter via a link and ridiculously blacked out). Michael went ballistic, as far as he can without punching someone, and it was a delight to behold.

The gist was: Guido looked silly even though, and, indeed, perhaps because, you couldn’t see his face. Michael destroyed his arguments that bloggers are somehow above the law and that they can break stories that otherwise wouldn’t get into the public domain. I don’t altogether buy White’s complete derision of these points and sympathise somewhat with Guido.

But I am glad that Guido was made to look a clot. Blogging is a bit of fun and and is an important exercise of free speech. It is mainly the province of the amateur, in the best sense of that word: people who do it for the love of it (the word is formed from the Latin word “amare” – to love). The moment any bloggers become pretentious and think they are serious “professionals” is the moment they deserve being publicly humiliated by Michael White, as Guido was.

Monbiot regrets Tory conference appearance

I have now got round to watching Channel 4 Dispatches “Toff at the Top” about David Cameron by Peter Hitchens.

The first thing which hit me was, of course, Peter Hitchens. A remarkable man. I sometimes think he lives on a different planet than the rest of us. But, give him his due, he produced an interesting programme. He was persistent and searching with his questioning. The rather pompous delivery can be put to one side.

It was remarkable to see Mr Hitchens donning the Bullingdon Club dinner garb. Cost: £3,000 for a teenaged student!

We then had the spectacle of Michael Gove spinning like mad: Oh no, David Cameron didn’t write the 2005 Tory manifesto. He was a mere typist on the project. Oh no, Eton isn’t elite, it’s good that parents invest money in their children. Hilarious.

But the highlight of the programme was George Monbiot. You may recall that Mr Monbiot was wheeled onto the last Tory conference to give come green credibility. He recalls the experience as “dismal”. He was speaking but he said the audience could have been the inhabitants of “catacombs”. Dead.

Worrying developments in Egypt

Last year I enjoyed an excellent holiday in Egypt. Having seen the huge amount of police and soldiers on the streets, I did some googling about the state of Egypt on my return, the results of which concerned me. Constitutional changes are now being put through by President Mubarak:

..for many in the opposition this is a black day in Egypt’s history as they say the changes spell the death of the constitution as the main guarantee of liberties and democracy.
The opposition says the changes will consolidate dictatorship, and that watering down judicial supervision of elections will make fraud easier.

This is very worrying. On holiday in Egypt, one is bowled over by the friendliness of the people. It is only when you research the set-up of the country that you start to get a trifle concerned.

Archbishop says Church must consider reparations for its role in slavery

I very much welcome the statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Church of England should consider making or paying reparations for its part in the slave trade.

The Church of England received £9,000 in the 19th century as compensation for freeing slaves under its control. At the very least, this money, including a substantial amount for inflation and interest, should be paid by the Church as reparations. The Archbishop asks who it should be paid to.

I am sure he will think of someone or some body, or bodies, to pay it to.

One centre of the Church of England’s involvement in slavery was Barbados.

A five second Google on “Barbados Charity Poor” reveals the Barbados Children’s Trust. Sounds ideal. This charity has an added attraction: Cliff Richard has been involved with it.

Possible cop-out in Northern Ireland process

While acknowledging the historic nature of the DUP’s decision to go into government with Sinn Fein (albeit with a delay), Peter Hain has left the door open for a delay on the 26th March deadline. If DUP and Sinn Fein agree on a delay, then, he says, that’s OK. And Sinn Fein have said that the DUP must talk directly to them to allow a delay.

Crikey. It’s a good job no-one is holding their breath.