Steerpike

Alan Duncan’s burn book of insults

Alan Duncan's burn book of insults
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Alan Duncan's diaries are currently being serialised by the Daily Mail ahead of their release next Thursday. As a long-serving MP of 27 years who knew four successive Tory premiers, who lent Major his leadership headquarters, was part of May’s Oxford generation and worked alongside both Cameron and Johnson, surely such chronicles would be brimming with brio and insight?

Unfortunately thus far revelations appear to have been fairly short on the ground, despite the Mail's best efforts to puff its 'hilarious' purchase as 'one of the most explosive political diaries ever' by claiming the cabinet had been 'rocked' by its contents. As of day three, the biggest bombshells have been that Duncan didn't think much of Boris (quelle surprise), that Tobias Ellwood wanted a spaceport and that Sir Alan was a big fan of Hawaii Five-O.

Attention has instead been drawn to the long list of Tory colleagues at whom Duncan unleashes a barrage of potshots. At times the serialisation reads less like Chips Channon and more like a 'burn book' of Mean Girls inspired insults as he takes aim at his 'mentally certifiable' colleagues on the green benches. Whether it's the 'crowd of zombies, aimlessly circling' in the 'most unimpressive cabinet imaginable' or poor old 'fat lump' Eric Pickles, Duncan rarely has a nice word to say about anyone. Of Theresa May, he moaned:  'I don't know who she talks to or confides in. Certainly not me, which is so silly.’ With these memoirs, it's hardly a surprise.

Mr S has done a quick count and it appears in just the three extracts published thus far, Duncan took aim at no less than 27 of his fellow Tory MPs — than 9 per cent of the 2017-19 parliamentary Conservative party. Below is Steerpike's guide to the best and worst of Alan Duncan's insults on his fellow Conservatives in the Commons. 

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg: ‘He thinks he’s clever: he is not. He is a cheap nationalist with faux manners and an ego the size of a planet.’
  • Nicky Morgan: ‘Not up to much, bitter, poor judgement, self indulgent.’ 
  • Michael Gove: 'Gove is an unctuous freak who generates his own publicity, a wacky weirdo who is both unappealing and untrustworthy... There’s something so socially unaware about him: it lies somewhere between shameless and synthetic.'
  • Philip Hammond: 'I have never so much as had a meeting with Philip Hammond about this poor dilapidated country [Yemen] because quite frankly he’s not bothered. As Foreign Secretary, he’s only interested in the rich ones… He has no idea how to extend elementary courtesies.'
  • Mike Penning: ‘What a dumbo. He is one of the dimmest MPs on our side. He has been over-promoted at every stage… moronic, ungrateful, self-deluded, treacherous dunce.’ 
  • Tom Tugendhat: ‘These types have little concept of what it takes to be a minister, let alone the Prime Minister... Cocky little tosser. 
  • Nadine Dorries: 'Nadine Dorries, aka Mad Nad, is promoting David Davis as an interim PM. No, no, please, please, NO!'
  • Johnny Mercer: 'If he were still in a regiment, he'd be taken behind the officers' mess and roughed up.’ 
  • Andrea Jenkyns: 'Ghastly... a brainless nothing'
  • Boris Johnson: 'He is Harold Wilson's George Brown without the alcohol... thinks he is the next Churchill. He has a self-deluding mock-romantic passion which is not rooted in realism. He is disloyal. His comedy routine has gone stale; his lack of seriousness in a serious job rankles; and he has little following among MPs.'
  • Steve Baker: 'Quite the most useless minister and is just so simplistic he might just as well not have a brain.'
  • Gavin Williamson: 'A venomous, self-seeking little shit... an inexperienced schemer, only in it for himself.'
  • Jesse Norman: 'Suspect he is one of those who is incapable of wiring a plug.'
  • Andrea Leadsom: 'Despicable — Sarah Palin on crack'
  • Priti Patel: 'A dolled up nothing person... a complete and utter nightmare... the Wicked Witch of Witham'

Mr S wonders whether it was the entire parliamentary party who were useless or maybe Duncan should take a look at himself?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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