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D I A R Y
The Old Un’s diary All the news that matters. And some that doesn’t
Great lives? What can have possessed Westminster Abbey to announce a special memorial service for Sir Simon Milton, to be held on October 31st? There were a few raised eyebrows last year when St Paul’s became the venue for the memorial service of frock designer Alexander McQueen – but at least his creations added to the gaiety of the nation and boosted British exports. Sir Simon’s career seems to have brought fewer advantages, financial or otherwise.
There is, for example, the important matter of his political apprenticeship under the gerrymanderess Dame Shirley Porter, the disgraced former leader of Westminster Council. In 1988, she contrived to get Milton selected as a Tory candidate for Westminster Council, which was then embroiled in the sale of thousands of council homes in marginal wards to perpetuate Tory rule in the borough.
Later, as Deputy Leader of Westminster, Milton led the charge against the gallant District Auditor, John Magill, who single-handedly took the fight to Porter. By this stage, Magill had acquired enough evidence of the Great G-Mander to fill Westminster Abbey, and argued that the corruption had cost local council-tax payers some £21 million, a bill which eventually soared to £42 million. But Milton argued that Porter was completely innocent and there had been no wrongdoing at all.
investigators were hunting, without much success, for her well-hidden riches. There’s no hint of criticism of his council’s pathetic failure to find Porter’s wealth. (In fact,
The Abbey does not mention Milton’s role in placing a hundred homeless families into asbestos-filled tower blocks…
In its glowing website biography, Westminster Abbey makes no reference to the role Milton played in placing a hundred homeless families into asbestos-filled tower blocks, or to his discreet supper with Porter in Tel Aviv at the time council-appointed
Milton attacked the BBC’s Today programme for its role in uncovering some £12 million for the taxpayer, and subsequently sought damages from The Oldie for daring to suggest that he wasn’t keen on collecting Porter’s debts.) Instead, the Abbey bigs up
‘Signal them to cross, and when they’re in front of the car, honk the horn’
Milton’s later role as Mayor Boris’s bag-carrier, and the knighthood bestowed by a grateful nation in 2006 for ‘services to local government’.
When Porter pops her clogs can we expect her forgetful local abbey to hold a ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ to celebrate her life too?
Do as I say… When the Guardian’s consumer affairs correspondent Rebecca Smithers noticed an ‘eye-watering’ 13 per cent increase in the price of her Pret A Manger porridge, she decided to ask readers to send in examples of rampant inflation.
‘We’re tracking the real rise in price of everyday items, and we want to hear from you when you spot an increase,’ announced the Guardian’s Money website. ‘Tell us in the comments section of Inflation Watch articles or let us know on Twitter.’ Curiously, Smithers’s porridge catastrophe remains the only entry on the Inflation Watch blog over a fortnight later.
Could this have anything to do with the increase in the Guardian’s own cover price, which has soared by an easyto-calculate 20 per cent to an ‘eye-watering’ £1.20 – despite having considerably fewer sections and pages than it used to?
November 2011 – THE OLDIE 7