The Brighton frolics: my mole reports on the Jovial Toad and other assorted loonies. And is our Harriett as mad as a box full of frogs, or what?
Would you like to know what all the people who are busy ruining your life are really like? Now's your chance. My mole in Whitehall sent me a report from behind the scenes at the Labour Party shindig last week, with an introduction that read:
"Knowing your preoccupation with the venality, incompetence, hubris and self-absorption of politicians, I thought this might be of interest to you".
This distinguished mole is, as you will see, a very good writer, so I have changed very little.
"Life is experience and experience, life; when offered the opportunity to indulge fascination and revulsion in equal measure I could no more decline the invitation than could an investment banker ignore a £50 note poking from a crack-whore's cleavage.
So it was that last Tuesday evening I boarded the Brighton train for a night at the Labour party gala dinner.
I learned several things including a surprising amount about the economy and political governance of the Isle of Man, after talking to their Agriculture Minister.
Tax haven and homophobia was how one of the Labour party faithful characterised the island's chief exports, upon being introduced to him, suggesting that whatever PR purposes the Minister had in mind when he applied for his conference pass, he still has some work to do.
Did you know that Delaware is an offshore tax haven? I didn't. The Isle of Man is quite keen that everyone knows about this, so I'm just letting you know. This is the kind of stuff you learn at these events.
Harriet Harman is barking mad; delusional; not safe out on her own. "Why?" she wailed, "why can't voters see the flaws in Conservative policies? Why?" she demanded, "do they not see what a good man Gordon Brown is?"
Harriet, dear, I thought to myself, you have been in this game too long; you need a bit of a lie down and then some time out in the ordinary world again. I didn't share these thoughts with her. She'll find out soon enough next May, bless her.
Ruth Kelly was sitting nearby. She was very nice, in fact she exudes a curious manly charm that I find slightly beguiling. She seems very normal, unlike dear Harriet, which makes the Opus Dei Christian fundamentalist stuff all the harder to deal with. Give me zealots with straggly beards and a tea-towel on their heads and I know where I stand. If they have a prosthetic hook instead of a hand, that helps too.
Ben Bradshaw came over after dinner to say hello. Obviously he hadn't a clue who I was, more a case of working the room and perhaps casing out potential dance partners for later on. He and and a few others were ejected from the Grand hotel bar at 1.30 the following morning after raucous renditions at the piano of Jerusalem and other popular favourites (see the Evening Standard for details).
A friend tells me she was at college with Bradshaw and that he had the hots for her. When she spurned him he found solace in arms of a chum. Perhaps so.
Lesley Garrett not only sings with quite astonishing gusto, she also displays the same brand of myopic party loyalty that makes the Harperson such a hazard to the civilised world. It's a shame really, I quite enjoyed the singing, in an 'applying a pair of tweezers to unwanted nasal hair' kind of way.
Then there was Gordon, the great toad himself. He tried to tell a joke. You could tell his aides had taught him it. It probably took quite a while, judging by his performance. He does have presence, but then so does a two week old horse cadaver.
There used to be a culture in insurance companies that people would be promoted to the level of their own incompetence, reaching a pay grade one step beyond their natural ceiling, at which point they would get stuck. Gordon Brown is the epitome of that tradition. He has frittered away the good fortune he inherited as Chancellor and is now floundering in a role which is clearly beyond his capabilities.
He may indeed be a good man, as Harriet insisted, certainly his wife seems fond of him, but he's not much bloody good as a prime minister."
By the way, folks, though Cameron could hardly be worse, will he be that much better? A piece in the Sunday Telegraph "by" him is full of piffle about giving power back to the people with hardly a practical example in sight. They hate detail, these pols.