BLACK DOG: Freedom saved by a whisper!
02:12 GMT, 2 December 2012
Just 24 hours before David Cameron told MPs he had rejected Lord Justice Leveson’s call for state muzzling of the press, No 10 was shaken by a rumour that a Cabinet Minister was ready to resign if the PM backed Leveson.
Was it a piece of mischief-making to stiffen the PM’s spine, or was it real
Worrying: Just 24 hours before David Cameron, left, told MPs he had rejected Lord Justice Leveson’s call for state muzzling of the press, No 10 was shaken by a rumour that a Cabinet Minister was ready to resign
Frantic calls were made to find out if any of Leveson’s most vocal Cabinet critics – William Hague, Michael Gove and Eric Pickles – were about to walk out in defence of free speech.
They all denied it. Now, we’ll never know. Unless Dave performs another U-turn.
The sound of Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell pontificating on the Leveson Report and journalistic standards had seasoned hacks reaching for sick bags.
They recalled how, as political editor of the Daily Mirror, Campbell published a story claiming Labour wanted Jill Morrell, girlfriend of Beirut hostage John McCarthy, to stand as a parliamentary candidate.
Later he admitted making it up. If Ed Miliband wins the Election, don’t be surprised if Campbell, blamed for the bogus Iraq War dossier, is put in charge of ‘press standards’. You’ve been warned.
Labour golden boy Chuka Umunna has shunned the usual office-based slurps of warm white wine and stale nibbles laid on by his colleagues: instead, the Shadow Business Secretary has invited half of Westminster to a Christmas party in a high-ceilinged, stuccoed Georgian dining room off Parliament Square, all bankrolled by a deep-pocketed City outfit.
The boy is clearly going places. Or thinks he is.
Punchy Charlotte takes on all-comers
Tory MP Charlotte Leslie, whose elfin frame belies her prowess as a former amateur boxer, is trying to convert the rest of the Commons to the noble art.
Colleagues are being invited to join Charlotte, right, in the ring this week at a South London boxing club.
Fighter: Tory MP Charlotte Leslie, whose elfin frame belies her prowess as a former amateur boxer, is trying to convert the rest of the Commons to the noble art
Dog would pay good money to see her take on new boxing hero, ex England cricket captain Freddie Flintoff.
Not all Treasury officials are impressed by George Osborne’s decision to hire Neil O’Brien, a Tory policy wonk from the Chancellor’s favourite think-tank, Policy Exchange, as his special adviser on Northern England.
Just weeks ago, Dog revealed how Michael Gove had recruited O’Brien’s pal, Tim Leunig, who wrote a Policy Exchange report that effectively called for the North to be shut down. ‘That’s what Tories really think of us up North,’ scowled one of the few Scousers in the Treasury.
Ken Clarke’s ‘let ’em out’ prisons record as Justice Secretary has been defended – by a convicted paedophile. Former BBC presenter Jonathan King, who served time for child sex offences, tells Inside Time – the rag for lags – he was upset by Clarke’s move in the recent reshuffle. ‘I was a supporter of Ken Clarke and I’m sad he has been nudged out.’ With friends like those . . .