Entries from September 2010 ↓

Ted Heath’s sulk – did he ignore Mrs Thatcher for 22 years?

Andy McSmith’s No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s will probably become one of the definitive books on the 1980’s. It’s written in a concise style, is incisive yet generous to the subjects and conjures a vivid picture of the mood of the nation at the time.

I tweeted a previously unknown fact from the book that Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher did not talk for 22 years. Simply not true, said Iain Dale in a Twitter reply.

Andy McSmith was generous to email to say that the source of his quote was none other than the great Ted Heath himself. Andy was a guest at his house in Salisbury on the eve of his appearance on stage with Margaret Thatcher in 1998, and when asked, he said that he had last spoken to her in 1976.

So, we heard it from the old boy himself. But was he being puckish with the recollection of the facts to his house guests? Iain thinks he might have been. “They definitely talked in May 1979 and also when he attended the tory conf in either 1980 or 81. They also spoke at a downing street dinner for all living PMs held in the mid 1990s.”

Yet are Iain’s good manners playing tricks with his memory? They may be.

Andy’s response to Iain:

“You overestimate the warmth of the Heath-Thatcher relationship. They did not speak in May 1979. She refused to have him share any platform during the election. On the Saturday after polling, she sent him a written note by bike messenger to tell him that she was appointing Carrington Foreign Secretary, so no government job for him. She wrote to him again ten days later offering him the job of Ambassador to the US, which he refused, also in writing. No spoken words were exchanged, even by telephone.

“Heath did not go the party conference in 1979 or, as far I can ascertain in 1980, but he did turn up in 1981 to attack Thatcher, and was heckled. He joked about it, saying: “Don’t applaud, it may irritate your neighbour.” She said something vaguely nice about him from the platform, but I can’t find any evidence that they spoke.”

He adds “I don’t think you can assume that just because they were at the same dinner table some time in the 1990s, that Heath acknowledged her presence. You don’t mention that she turned up at the dinner in 1990 to celebrate his first 40 years in the Commons, but it would be assuming too much about Heath’s graciousness to assume that he spoke to her.”

And further adds “Also, I think the dinner to which you refer is the one held at Spencer House (not Downing Street) in July 1992 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne, at which all living PM and ex-PMs except Alec Douglas Home were present. The Palace took the precaution of seating Heath and Mrs T well away from one another. She was next to the Duke of Edinburgh, he was next to Princess Diana. I find no evidence that they spoke.”

Iain is certain that he saw them talk at the event and that it was actually broadcast on TV. “I absolutely know they spoke at the Downing Street event because I saw it on TV with my own eyes.” says Iain. He’s going to ask Mrs Thatcher’s people if they can get to the bottom of the matter.

I suspect this will come down to what constitutes “talking”. Small talk on the way into a reception can hardly be described as conversation. It’s perfectly possible for Heath to have asked Mrs T. about the weather whilst never talking to her about the folly of the 1981 Budget.

Can you help me establish the facts though? Do you know of a time whether Mrs Thatcher and Ted Heath had a conversation between 1976 and 1998?

Vince Cable – Philip Green of the Arcadia group should pay more tax. Newsnight, Monday 20th September 2010

Speakers: Vince Cable, Kirsty Wark

KW: In 2005 Sir Philip Green saved £300m on a £1.2bn dividend because Arcadia group is in the name of his wife, registered where she lives in Monaco. That is legitimate, nothing illegal about that, that’s exactly what you are talking about, you would rather that £300m was paid?

VC: Yes, I’d rather it was paid here and I have said that.

KW:Have you said to him?

VC:Yes.

KW:And therefore are you uncomfortable about the fact that he is advising David Cameron?

VC:Well it is a fact of life we are now living with .. I have expressed my views on his tax affairs and I really don’t need to elaborate. He is not doing anything illegal but I think people out there who make a very large income in the UK should be paying their tax here including him.

Committee Advertises for a Specialist Adviser

Culture Media and Sport Select Committee requires a Broadcasting Expert and a Creative Industries Expert to provide specialist advice on a consultancy basis.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is seeking applications for two specialist advisers, covering respectively broadcasting and the creative industries.

Applicants should be prepared to provide a readily available source of expert and technical advice to Committee members, including in relation to particular Committee inquiries within their field of expertise. Successful applicants will work closely with Committee support staff in the preparation of advice, briefing material and Reports for the Committee.

John Whittingdale, Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said:

Specialist Advisers can provide invaluable assistance to the Committee on these two important and technical subjects. In return, they can gain an insight into the work of Parliament, and the vital scrutiny function of a Select Committee.

The appointments are for 12 months, with the option of renewal at the end of this period. Advisers are paid for the days they work for the committee plus expenses. Rates are dependent upon experience and knowledge.

Anyone who is interested in taking on either of the two specialist adviser roles, is asked to provide a statement of no more than 750 words why they consider they would be an appropriate candidate and to send that statement, along with a copy of their cv, to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at CMSCOM@parliament.uk by Thursday 14 October.

For further information, please contact Tracey Garratty, Clerk of the Committee, on 020 7219 6188 or email CMSCOM@parliament.uk.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership is as follows:
Mr John Whittingdale(Chair) (Con) (Maldon)
Ms Louise Bagshawe (Con) (Corby)
Paul Farrelly (Lab) (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Dr Thérèse Coffey (Con) (Suffolk Coastal)
Alan Keen (Lab Co-operative) (Feltham and Heston)
Damian Collins (Con) ( Folkestone and Hythe)
Jim Sheridan (Lab) (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
Philip Davies (Con) ( Shipley)
Mr Tom Watson (Lab) (West Bromwich East)
David Cairns (Lab) (Inverclyde)
Mr Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem) (Torbay)

New You Gov poll: 52% of people think Andy Coulson should resign, 24% think he should remain.

You Gov say:

The majority of the public thinks that Downing Street’s Director of Communications Andy Coulson should be removed from office (pdf) and that investigations into the News of the World phone tapping affair should be reopened after fresh allegations, our survey reveals.

In 2007, the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glen Mulcaire, were jailed over conspiracy to intercept the voicemail of senior royal aides. The editor at the time, Coulson, denied all knowledge of the operation but accepted ‘ultimate responsibility’ and stepped down. He has since become David Cameron’s Director of Communications, but recent allegations have suggested that phone tapping was widespread at the paper and that Coulson was aware of its use.

Losing his job
Just over half the population (52%) believe the Government’s PR boss should lose his job because of this, compared to 24% who think that Coulson, who has denied the allegations and said he is ‘happy to voluntarily meet’ police to assist further investigation, should keep his position.

Strikingly, just 14% of the population think that the police conducted a full investigation of the phone tapping affair at the time. Although the Metropolitan Police maintain that they gave the Criminal Prosecution Service full access to the clear evidence gathered, almost half of the public (47%) say they do not believe a full investigation was carried out, and a considerable 54% of Brits believe that the police should re-open the investigation, compared to under a quarter (24%) who doesn’t think this necessary.
Editorial ethics
Although this case of illegal story acquisition is limited to News of the World, it appears that the general public do not have much faith in the ethics of other publications either. A staggering 80% of the public believe that other newspapers ‘probably do similar things’, and the News of the World reporter ‘just happened’ to get caught