Having sat patiently on a barrel of digital dynamite for months — the emails from Gordon Brown’s chief spin doctor Damian McBride to Mandelson’s protégé Derek Draper, suggesting Tory smear stories — I light the fuse on Andrew Neil’s BBC Daily Politics show. In an unedifying squabble, I succeed in stitching up the once again infamous Draper on live TV, forcing him to deny that he takes briefings from McBride.
One can only imagine what went through Alistair Darling’s mind last weekend, as the scale of the McBride affair became evident. In his Budget next Wednesday, the Chancellor faces a political mission which was already next to impossible before the email story broke. Now his task has become downright laughable in its scale. To produce a budget with the economy in freefall is hard enough. But to do so with the government disintegrating all around you is scarcely worth attempting.
In 1890 Friedrich Engels, co-author of The Communist Manifesto, celebrated his 70th birthday. ‘We kept it up till half past three in the morning,’ he boasted to Laura Lafargue, daughter of his old friend Karl Marx, ‘and drank, besides claret, sixteen bottles of champagne — that morning we had had 12 dozen oysters.’This was not an isolated act of indulgence. During the 1870s his Primrose Hill home had become a popular venue for socialist excess.
There’s a UK-based internet site called Urban Dictionary and I’m lucky enough to warrant an entry on it. The text reads as follows: ‘Rod Liddle — an odious, untalented, bigoted, low-level Sunday Times journalist who engages in buggery with Nazis such as Nick Griffin.’ Or at least that’s some of it. Incredible, don’t you think? — all lies. Or mostly lies — God knows how they found out about the Nick Griffin stuff.