Total Politics - October 2010

Page 9

Jon Sopel Conference season in the city Increased security and a new conspiracy

Diary

How many diary pieces at this time of year have started with: “As politicians prepare to pack their buckets and spades…”? Well, not this one. For the first time in decades there will be no autumn trip to either Bournemouth, Brighton or Blackpool for the party conferences. Big cities are in (Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham) – and gaudy seaside is out. And I, for one, will be mourning the passing of the Liberal Democrats into government. The Lib Dems used to be the most relaxed – no Ben Gurion airport-style security, use your proper conference pass if you fancy, but the game would be to find how many other passes you could wave in front of some elderly volunteer to gain admittance: your BBC pass, your blockbuster video card – even your Caffé Nero loyalty card. So no buckets and spades, just three weeks of emptying pockets, electronic arches, and giving your place and date of birth – all for the right to listen to some windy speeches. I suspect it might be a little bumpy for the party in Liverpool. A friend tells me that she was talking to her Liberal Democrat voting parents the other night, and they were expressing horror at the coalition. “I didn’t vote Liberal Democrat,” the mother angrily said, “so they would end up in government.” Curious. And there was me thinking that’s exactly what you used your vote for. A conspiracy theory. In Cornwall there is a pile of Tory/Lib Dem marginals – David Cameron decides to eschew abroad and holiday there. How very convenient for his wife to go into labour while there and give birth a suspiciously short time after contractions started in Truro. Oh – and this is the killer – how doubly convenient that Sam Cam’s obstetrician was also on holiday in Cornwall at the time. Really. Throw in a Cornish middle name for the baby and it’s clear she was induced on the orders of Tory High Command. All we need is the paper trail leading inexorably back to the party chairman. This could be right up there with NASA faking the moon landings, MI6’s murder of Princess Diana and the US government being behind the attacks on the Twin Towers. The summer has seen another of these mega smash-and-grab raids on upmarket jewellers. This time on an arcade I had never heard of in the city. But I want to take you back to one that happened a little earlier, across the road from Television Centre at the Westfield Shopping Centre. It produced a piece of spin that would make Alastair Campbell blush and Andy Coulson go puce. Millions of pounds worth of gems are stolen. The boutiques are ransacked. And I promise this is the quote from Francois Delage, chief executive of De Beers: “This is an unfortunate incident but it is yet another reminder of the timeless allure of diamonds.” Francois – if it doesn’t work out in diamonds for you, there’s a career in government waiting. As I write this, the International Cricket Council are deciding what to do with the Pakistan cricketers caught up in the News

Alastair Campbell blush and Andy Coulson go puce. Millions of pounds worth of gems are stolen. The boutiques are ransacked. And I promise this is the quote from Francois Delage, chief executive of De Beers: “This is an unfortunate incident but it is yet another reminder of the timeless allure of diamonds.” Francois – if it doesn’t work out in diamonds for you, there’s a career in government waiting. As I write this, the International Cricket Council are deciding what to do with the Pakistan cricketers caught up in the News

“Throw in a Cornish middle name for the baby and it’s clear she was induced on the orders of Tory High Command”

of the World sting. Spot betting is new to me. Do people really bet on when a no-ball is going to be bowled. Why? Without corruption it is a totally unknowable, random event. The punter – whether on the Grand National or the date of an election – surely likes to think their study of the form book has given them special insight. Which reminds me of the lobby briefing when John Major was PM and Norman Lamont was chancellor. The PM’s spokesman told us it was going to be a shortish speech. Well, under an hour. What an innocent. Did he have no idea that there has always been a betting market on that? Joy it was to be a lobby correspondent that day to walk straight from Downing Street – not back to the Commons – but straight round to the bookmakers to fill our metaphorical boots. I hate Asil Nadir. Let me qualify that. I hate the fact that he has returned from his bolthole not looking a day older than when he left. I, on the other hand, went into the BBC newsroom the other day to find teams of young producers laughing at archive film reports from 17

years ago of a young political correspondent looking nothing like he does now. Anyway, I am not going to let the buggers get me down. Maybe I’ll give the conferences a miss this year and head off to Northern Cyprus to find the elixir of youth.

Jon Sopel presents the Politics Show on BBC One and is one of the lead presenters on the BBC News

Channel

October 2010 | Total Politics | 9