Dave sees red at Arrows 'axe'

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A sense of humour can be a dangerous thing, David Cameron learned after teasing hacks on board his plane during his North Africa tour.

Rebuking one paper for claiming the SAS faced the chop, he said: ‘It’s total rot. I suppose tomorrow there’ll be a headline Red Arrows To Be Scrapped and the day after, Trooping The Colour Abandoned.’

Sure enough, when he landed in the UK yesterday, one front page screamed: Red Arrows Face Axe. Sighed Dave: ‘I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.’

Dismayed: David Cameron's joke about the Red Arrows backfired, leaving him not knowing whether to laugh or cry

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Would-be Prime Minister Adam Afriyie, exposed for plotting to succeed David Cameron, is not the first Windsor Tory MP to be caught out by this newspaper.

Ten years ago, his predecessor Michael Trend was forced to quit after we revealed how he fiddled £90,000 expenses on a non-existent ‘second home’.

When Tory chiefs in Royal Windsor discover the full extent of their current MP’s political treachery, Afriyie’s prospects may be on a similar downward trend.

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Grant divorced from gay marriage duty? Hapless: Helen Grant

Hapless Equalities Minister Helen Grant may be humiliatingly stripped of a starring role in this week’s Commons debate on gay marriage – with ex-Life Guards officer Hugh Robertson, the Sports Minister, replacing her.

Dog hears Mrs Grant, left, was due to make the closing speech in favour of the marriage plan. But that was before she apparently voted the wrong way in one Commons division and then did not take part in a crunch vote on boundary changes.

‘Hugh may be stronger on the Olympics than gays getting spliced but we need a safe pair of hands,’ snarled one Tory insider.

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David Cameron inadvertently played matchmaker between his would-be political nemesis Adam Afriyie and his second wife, Tracy-Jane.

They met at the Policy Exchange think-tank, where Cameron launched his leadership bid in 2005. According to a Tory policy wonk, Tracy-Jane, formerly married to Kit Malthouse – Boris Johnson’s tubby deputy at London’s City Hall – and Adam ‘couldn’t leave each other alone’.

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Now it's Orange Ed

A night of unbridled jubilation for Ed Miliband’s troops after the Tory defeat over parliamentary boundary changes came to a climax when the party leader himself joined the party in Strangers’ Bar. ‘Right!’ said the ruddy-faced Labour MP in the chair.

‘That’ll be six double whiskies, five pints of best, two brandies and Ed, what you ’avin’?’ ‘Oh, a Britvic orange, please,’ ventured Red Ed, lamely, prompting groans all round. Make that a double Appletiser if he ever gets into No 10.

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Whippersnapper Tory Minister Matt Hancock, renowned for his acid one-line put-downs, plays a key role in David Cameron’s ‘prep’ sessions for his weekly 30-minute ordeal at Prime Minister’s Questions.

When Cameron was goaded by Labour over Tory ‘stalking horse’ Adam Afriyie, his witty comeback – ‘the Tories have always stood for people who want to get on’ –  was supplied by Hancock. ‘Matt  is so cocky, he’ll start calling it Hancock’s Half Hour soon,’ said a No 10 aide.


Black dog: Try marriage guidance, boys

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MP Mike Freer is at loggerheads with Hendon¿s Matthew Offord over gay marriage plans

Two neighbouring North London Tory MPs have not spoken to each other for more than a year in a simmering feud over gay marriage.

Finchley’s Mike Freer, who spoke emotionally in favour of the move in the Commons this week, citing his love for his male partner, is at loggerheads with Hendon’s Matthew Offord – a staunch opponent.

Freer curtly refused to let Offord interrupt his speech – and when Offord  did stand to speak, he likened same-sex matrimony to ‘polygamy’.

The pair used  to be friends – now they need mediation.

  Sports Minister Hugh Robertson – happily married to wife Anna for ten years – is being ribbed by unreconstructed Conservative colleagues over his unenviable job of steering the same-sex marriage Bill on to the statute book.

Says a friend: ‘The next MP to bowl up to him and shout, “Hello, Duckie” in a high, camp voice will probably get a thump.’

 

Unsurprisingly, Boris Johnson had the best Huhne joke, telling a Chartered Institute of Housing dinner:  ‘My lords, ladies and gentlemen, in the immortal words of Chris Huhne to Vicky Pryce, there are three points I want to get across to you tonight darling...’

He’s got a nerve, bearing in mind his own dalliances. But unlike Cameron, Boris can – and does  – get away with anything. Which is why he makes Dave so cross.

  When will Jeremy learn his lesson?

Oh, TO be a fly on the wall when Jeremy Hunt takes a private call from his delightful Chinese wife, Lucia.

The Health Secretary has been overheard whispering sweet (or should that  be sickly?) nothings  to his wife in Oriental-accented English.

But it makes Dog wonder why Hunt ever bothered to  take Mandarin  lessons at a cost to the taxpayer of  more than £2,500.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been overheard whispering sweet to his wife Chinese wife Lucia in Oriental-accented English

 

Ed Balls bridled when this newspaper revealed claims from colleagues of a dinner party plot to undermine Labour leader Ed Miliband last year.

But the effect of ‘Lasagne-gate’ has boosted his kitchen credentials to near Jamie Oliver levels.

At a recent party fundraising event, one generous donor pledged £1,110 for one of the Shadow Chancellor’s culinary creations. Ed promises it won’t contain horsemeat.

  Yvette's locker shocker

Yvette Cooper got the shock of her life when she went into the ‘Members’ Changing Rooms’ at Westminster to use  the unisex facilities.

One male Tory  MP – apparently unaware of the ‘his  ’n’ hers’ arrangements – gave Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary the Full Monty treatment.

‘Yvette suddenly spotted something very interesting on the ceiling,’ says a friend.

  It’s not easy being a gent these  days. Tory grandee Edward Leigh thought Nadine Dorries would be pleased by his response when she said her speech in the gay marriage debate was not one of her best.

‘Don’t worry my dear, you looked absolutely lovely,’ he said. ‘That’s outrageous!’ retorted Nadine. What’s  a chap to do?


Black dog: Right image for the BBC, James?

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Ex-Labour Cabinet Minister James Purnell is the BBC's new £300,000-a-year strategy chief

Will ex-Labour Cabinet Minister James Purnell improve Auntie’s standards as the BBC’s new £300,000-a-year strategy chief?

As an MP he was embroiled in a fake-photos scandal when his image was crudely inserted into a publicity shot after he turned up late to an event.

Purnell claimed it was all a misunderstanding – but MPs who featured alongside him said they had discussed how the picture would be doctored.

Weeks earlier, he had accused broadcasters of ‘forfeiting public trust’ with scandals over doctored footage and faked competitions.

 

There were embarrassed groans when Tory chairman Grant Shapps issued a rallying cry to MPs to join the election trail in Eastleigh, where disgraced Lib Dem Chris Huhne was forced to resign.

‘Unlike its former MP, our excellent candidate Maria Hutchings does not tell lies about herself or anyone else!’ yapped Shapps.

Is this the same Grant Shapps who posed as a ‘multi-million-dollar web marketeer’ called Michael Green at an internet conference in Las Vegas? Er, yes.

 Box of choccies for Dawn! Go figure...

When Labour MPs clubbed together to buy a ‘get well’ present for shapely Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo, left, recovering from a hip operation, they were told: ‘Don’t send her chocolates – she likes to look after her figure.’

So what did they buy her? The biggest box of choccies you have ever seen.

Relax, Dawn, you could eat a ton of Milk Trays and still be thinner than the lardy larrikins who sent them.

Get well soon.

Labour MPs who clubbed together to buy a get well present for Dawn Primarolo were told: 'Don't send her chocolates'

 

It has been Andrew Mitchell’s constant companion throughout ‘Plebgate’, but Dog hears the ex-Cabinet Minister is parting with the trusty old bicycle he tried to wheel through the No 10 main gates.

Mr Mitchell, who resolutely maintains he never shouted ‘pleb’ at a Downing Street copper, is fed up with people asking to have their picture taken with the rusty old bike.

The former Chief Whip is going to put it on eBay and  give the proceeds to charity.

 

Hague switches to reds

William Hague’s palate is unrecognisable from when he was a ‘14-pints-a-day’ man in his wild South Yorkshire youth.

When he was consulted on wines to serve at an official Queen’s Diamond Jubilee lunch last summer, the Foreign Secretary licked his lips before plumping for Chateau Cos D’Estournel 1990 or Chateau Leoville-Poyferre 1990 – both top-notch clarets costing well over £100 a bottle.

Beats a  pint of Old Sheep’s Droppings – or whatever Hague used to sup – any day.

  Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz enraged party leader Ed Miliband by praising David Cameron for pledging an EU referendum.

Now he has upset Miliband again by calling for Right-wing Tory MP David Ruffley to be made a  Home Office Minister.

‘He always comes to debates with good ideas,’ Vaz told the Commons.

‘It’s a mystery to me why he isn’t in the Home Office because he knows so much about it.’

A Labour aide said: ‘Vaz should stop cosying up to the Tories and do something for his own leader.’


Black Dog: Farage's bid to rock the vote

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As UKIP’s vote appears to be surging in the Eastleigh by-election, party leader Nigel Farage is trying every trick to maximise his advantage. 

He has co-written a pop song, bizarrely based on one of his speeches to the European Parliament, and performed by a Portuguese rock outfit called ‘JOE x Ppl’ of all things. The dirge-like riff, released tomorrow, turns a Farage rant about the financial crisis into ‘music’.  

At the Eastleigh by-election: UKIP Leader Nigel Farage knocks on doors

Listening to it, Dog reached straight for the ear-muffs. Nigel had better hope the voters don’t do likewise.

 

Flamboyant ex-Tory MP Jerry Hayes, who returned to his old job as a lawyer after being kicked out by the voters,  reveals that it was he who persuaded Chris Huhne’s former wife Vicky Pryce to use the ‘marital coercion’ defence in their speeding points case. To his annoyance, Vicky then chose another barrister to defend her – a lucky escape, given that his tactic may have contributed to the jury’s utter bafflement, which forced an embarrassing retrial. ‘Cheeky s*d’ is Jerry’s Oscar Wilde-like riposte when this is pointed out.

 

At least it wasn't a big pink turban, Dave!

Downing Street spent an age deciding what colour bandana David Cameron should wear during his visit to the Golden Temple Sikh shrine in India. In the end,  they plumped for blue – genius – but he still looked a bit daft.

Visiting the Golden Temple: David Cameron at a Sikh shrine in India in February

Dog reckons Dave, right, got off lightly compared to Margaret Thatcher’s better half Denison a similar Indian jaunt in the Eighties. Locals in a village outside Delhi adorned him with a vast pink turban, leaving Denis to mutter under his breath: ‘These blighters are trying to make me look like a bloody fool.’

  Lib Dem headache: Former British energy secretary Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne’s resignation has driven Commons cloakroom attendants to distraction. Ludicrous Westminster tradition dictates that whenever an MP resigns, all the coat-peg nameplates have to be rearranged in alphabetic order. Now plans are being hatched by people who think about these things to list them in constituency order in future so the next time someone quits in disgrace, they won’t need to do a thing. A wise move, given the current crop of scandal-prone jokers in the Commons.

 

Alan uses his noodle

Energy Minister Greg Barker’s ‘top dog’ status as the Minister with the cutest canine pet – Otto the sausage dog – is under dire threat. Alan Duncan, the dapper International Aid Minister, has acquired an adorable pup, a cocker spaniel/poodle-cross named Noodle. The proud new owner boasts: ‘My cocker-poodle’s gorgeous.  Noodle will certainly beat Otto in a beauty contest. I mean, just look at her owner!’

 

The Commons has a problem: an urban fox has penetrated its strict security and has been seen padding around Parliament. One witness even claimed to have seen it strolling, bold as brass, down the corridor next to the Commons Library early one morning. ‘We are taking adviceon what to do about him,’ says an official. Pro-hunting Tory MPs will need little invitation to saddle up and dispatch the mangy beast.

 



BLACK DOG: Jibe blows up in Toby's face

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It was a tough ask for anyone involved in the Eastleigh by-election to top Labour candidate John O’Farrell’s crass remark that he wished Margaret Thatcher had died in the Brighton bomb.

But Toby Perkins, the Labour MP who helped O’Farrell, came close. In a cack-handed tribute to by-election runners-up UKIP, rugby-playing Perkins said: ‘UKIP ran a chaotic, organic campaign but, like  Al Qaeda, it was effective.’ Minus the suicide bombers, he forgot to add.

Thatcher joke: Ed Miliband visiting Eastleigh to meet John O' Farrell for the by-election

For once, Boris Johnson did not use David Cameron’s by-election woes to rub his Tory rival’s nose in the dirt. Asked about the party’s defeat in Eastleigh, the London Mayor creased his blond brow and grunted: ‘Small earthquake in Chile, time to move on.’ Which may go down well with the PM, if less so with the small community of Chilean expatriates in Johnson’s London.

 

Claire and a case of crash for Questions

Don’t hold your breath for a repeat appearance by Amazonian Tory MP, and former aide to George Osborne, Claire Perry, left, on BBC1’s Question Time. Party officials said Perry’s hectoring, patronising performance on Thursday’s show was a ‘car crash’. Sitting next to clowning, bow-tied, UKIP-supporting ex-Tory Minister Neil Hamilton – disgraced in a ‘cash for questions’ scandal – Perry achieved the seemingly impossible task of making him look statesmanlike. ‘Every time Claire’s on the telly, we say cheerio to 10,000 votes,’ sighed one despairing Tory colleague.

Making even Neil Hamilton look good: Conservative MP Claire Perry was not a success on Question Time

      More from Black Dog...   Black Dog: Havana laugh, at Dave's expense 02/06/13   Black Dog: Mogadon Man needs a tonic 25/05/13   BLACK DOG: Skiing accident MP Graham Stuart a victim of power politics as officials reject expenses claim for electric wheelchair 18/05/13   Black Dog: Party rivalry for Nad and Dave 12/05/13   BLACK DOG: 'Ugly' Gove's big attraction 05/05/13   Black dog: By Gove, Happy Birthday Ma'am 28/04/13   BLACK DOG: Maggie and Denis - reunited at at last 21/04/13   BLACK DOG: A hip answer to grumpy Glenda: Could Left-wing MP need another operation to 'lighten her up'? 13/04/13   Black Dog: So that's why it's called the conko 06/04/13   VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Rail Fares Minister Simon Burns, shamed by this newspaper into travelling to work by train from his home in  Chelmsford, Essex – instead of using an £80,000-a-year, chauffeur-driven Government limo – claims he has worked out how to beat the rush-hour crush. He says he ‘bustles’ his way on. Wow. Reluctant commuter Burns is full of dazzling insights into the crumbling railways. ‘There are punctuality issues and investment is needed on the tracks and infrastructure.’ You don’t say! If only he had been kicked out of his limo a few years ago.

 

Nick's Uganda intrigue

Former Liberal leader David Steel used a Lords debate to poke fun at Nick Clegg over the sexual harassment claims against Lib Dem peer Chris Rennard. Sniggering Lord Steel said that when he and Clegg visited Africa recently, ‘a colleague suggested Nick and I should have some “Ugandan discussions” ’, referring to the infamous Private Eye euphemism for sex. ‘As though we don’t have problems enough,’ added Steel. A bit rich considering he became leader after predecessor Jeremy Thorpe was brought down in a gay sex scandal involving the shooting of a Great Dane.

 

While the storm raged over the sexual impropriety allegations, Rennard ran off to Armenia. He was on an all-expenses-paid jaunt – sorry, fact-finding trip – monitoring elections in the former Soviet republic, which has a ‘widespread and growing’ problem with corruption. Rennard’s verdict on voting there? ‘We could find no widespread basis for complaint.’ If only Clegg could say the same about him.

Away on a fact-finding mission: Lord Christopher Rennard



BLACK DOG: Huhne misses the key point

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Chris Huhne wrote a guide for a university magazine

The seeds of Chris Huhne’s downfall were sown 40 years ago when he was a scheming young Machiavelli at Oxford.

The former Cabinet Minister – who will be sentenced tomorrow for the speeding points fiasco – wrote a guide to the black arts for a university magazine that advised would-be politicians to ‘stab’ their foes at every opportunity, join whichever party gave them the best chance of getting to the top, and to stay away from Westminster if they were a ‘nice guy who likes his mamma’.

Dog has a new one: don’t display such ruthlessness if you have a vengeful Greek ex-wife.

  David Cameron has evoked Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution to apologise to his MPs for the party-splitting row over gay marriage.

The PM told backbenchers at a recent lunch that there would not be ‘any more cultural wars in the Conservative Party’ – a sign that he is in no hurry to push any more divisive social policy ideas.

One MP present said:  ‘It was good of him to admit just what a nightmare he has put us through.’

 

Duke sees through Karen's limp excuse

Tory MP Karen Lumley

The Duke of Edinburgh could not resist teasing Tory MP Karen Lumley, left, when she limped into a Buckingham Palace reception last week on crutches.

The West Midlands MP insists she came an innocent cropper on the stairs  at home early one morning, but Prince Philip was having none of it.

Leaning forward, the old rogue  told her: ‘If  I were you,  I’d take  more water with it  next time.’

George Osborne's tabby cat Freya is being blamed for a nasty bout of infections that have hit staff in Downing Street.

A leaked email from a No 10 official says: ‘I have just witnessed what I had suspected.

f you leave cups or glasses on your desk with water in it, then Freya will come along and drink from them. She has just tipped over the jug on one desk while trying to drink from it – hence some of our throat infections maybe? Please pass on,  as this is very serious.’

 

Turning back the clock

Welsh Tory MP David Davies is so determined to get tough on criminals  that he works part time as a special constable with British Transport Police.

Traditionalist Davies scoffs at plans for police to switch from their dark blue tunics to yellow ‘high-vis’ jackets.

‘If I had my way, I would wear a paramilitary uniform, preferably in black,’ he says. Make the lad the next Home Secretary.

  Former Conservative Defence Minister Sir Gerald Howarth has spent a lifetime worrying about the Communist threat, so he was more than a little surprised to spot on the Westminster television screens the blurred two-word message ‘Nyet Signala’ – Russian for  ‘no signal’.

Fluent Russian speaker  Sir Gerald said: ‘I assume it was a technical hitch. But just in case the Russians really were coming, I have asked the Speaker’s Office to look into it.’


Black Dog: Hunt's so sorry for his Nazi jibe

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) bizarrely name-checked SS chief Heinrich Himmler while making a gag about Labour MP Michael Dugher

Labour MP Michael Dugher is spitting blood over an ‘outrageously stupid’ Nazi-themed gag apparently aimed at him by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

As Mr Dugher (and his guitar) waited to perform at an MPs’ talent show for charity last week, compere Mr Hunt bizarrely name-checked SS chief Heinrich Himmler – before immediately adding: ‘And  now here’s Michael Dugher!’

Friends of Mr Dugher, MP for Barnsley East in Yorkshire, say he is livid over the incident; the Health Secretary blames  a misunderstanding.

Either way, Dog hears an apology will be on its way.

  Ex-Tory Minister Gillian Shephard’s new book, which reveals how Maggie Thatcher used her sex appeal to woo Ronald Reagan and Francois Mitterrand, did not surprise defence chiefs.

A veteran brass hat recalls Mrs T clinched a £30 billion fighter-aircraft deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd after arriving at his desert HQ in a stunning long dress run up specially, with arms and head respectfully covered.

‘Fahd had a soft spot for her and the moment he saw her outfit and flashed a rare beam, I thought, “Well played, gal, it’s in the bag”. I called it the £30 billion dress.’

 

Amid all the bitching about Theresa May’s leadership manoeuvrings, Tory MPs say her new ambitious streak has coincided with a change in her wardrobe.

Out went mumsy quilted patterns, in came power dressing.

Her trendy East London fashion house, La Petite Salope, boasts of  its ‘sophisticated, strong identity with a healthy dose of sex appeal’.

Salope is French for ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’.

Home Secretary Theresa May

  May’s bitter Tory leadership rival, Education Secretary Michael Gove, has been seen supporting Queens Park Rangers.

The club’s stadium at Loftus Road is in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, handily only a stone’s throw from Gove’s home in posh Notting Hill.

He is not the first politician to trumpet his supposedly gritty football-supporting credentials to boost his popularity.

As an ally puts it:  ‘A photo of Michael on the terraces with  a blue-and-white QPR scarf round his scrawny neck would do no harm.’

 

No stranger to conspiracy claims: Labour's Lord Ahmed

Labour's Lord Ahmed, who claims a ‘Jewish plot’ led to him being jailed for sending text messages shortly before his car was involved in a fatal crash, is no stranger to conspiracy claims.

He also said Labour Foreign Minister Denis MacShane suggested he was being spied on when he criticised the Afghan war.

Ahmed asked MacShane: ‘Are you saying MI5 have been bugging my phone?’

He said MacShane looked left, then right and replied: ‘They are probably listening here, for all I know.’

  Tory MP Andrew Bridgen – who made his fortune selling ‘pre-washed potatoes’ – is frequently ribbed over his wealth.

‘Your farmhouse must be worth over £2 million. Nick Clegg is going to clobber you with his mansion tax,’ one MP teased.

‘Not so,’ replied the Leicestershire MP. ‘The High Speed 2 line will pass within 50ft of  my door. It’s wiped millions off the value!’



BLACK DOG: Tories inflate their chances

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Asked about George Osborne's decision to let the Bank of England's new Governor, Canadian-born Mark Carney, pump more cash into the economy, one of the Chancellor's aides confided: 'It's simple: Carney's job is to turn on the printing presses and not turn them off until the recession is over.'

A cynic's translation might be: Cause as much inflation as you want if it wins us the next Election – we don't give a damn what happens afterwards.

David Cameron's obsession with The Smiths is such that he felt compelled to summon his best Morrissey impression and give a rendition of William, It Was Really Nothing at Downing Street.

Inflate: Chancellor George Osborne, left, and new Bank of England governor Mark Carney, right

The performance was for the benefit of ex-MP Louise Mensch's husband Peter – a rock manager who must have heard worse caterwauling in his time. 'It sounded as if he was singing about William Hague,' said a baffled Mr Mensch.

  More... How does Dave know he's in trouble? Boris wants to help him Blair heads for gold-rush Burma: Former Prime Minister opens new front to his personal empire after the junta relaxes its grip

A group of Tory chiefs who went to the HQ of polling firm Crosby Textor – set up by Cameron's tough Aussie campaigns supremo Lynton Crosby – had a pleasant shock.

They accidentally stumbled into the next door premises in London's Old Park Lane and found themselves staring into the, er, faces of two scantily clad bunny croupiers at the Playboy Club. How very Australian.

Kwasi's prospects are booming...

Old Etonian: Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng

Conservative MP Aidan Burley is not among fans of multi-millionaire would-be party leader Adam Afriyie.

Burley told Ghanaian-born Old Etonian Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng, self-styled 'black Boris', author, wit and tax-cutter: 'We could well have a black leader, but his name isn't Afriyie.'

'Really?' replied quizzical Kwasi, pictured. 'No, it's Kwarteng,' said Burley. Man-mountain Kwasi let rip with a booming baritone roar.

At last it's official: MPs haven't a clue what they are doing. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas reveals: 'When the bell goes for a vote and everyone's rushing over, the conversation is always, 'What are we voting for?'

'I've seen people being pushed physically into the Aye or No lobby with absolutely no idea what they're voting on, which is a scandal.'

John Hayes, the outspoken Tory kicked out as Energy Minister for insulting windfarm fanatics and appointed Cameron's Commons 'troubleshooter', is not everyone's idea of the best person to mind the PM's back.

When Hayes set up the Tory 'Deep Blue' dining group for young MPs, the first guest speaker was a top pollster. His subject: 'Why Boris Johnson is a natural leader of the Conservative Party.'

No one could accuse super-cool Tory Kulveer Ranger – Boris Johnson's former transport aide who made a success of 'Boris Bikes' – of a false sense of modesty.

Whenever Ranger, a Sikh tipped to become Britain's first turbaned MP, visits London's Ivy Club, frequented by Kevin Spacey and Kate Moss, the pianist strikes up the opening chords of Kulveer's 'signature tune' – the James Bond theme tune 'Dum di-di dum dum...'



Black Dog: So that's why it's called the conko

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Dog hopes David Miliband’s new employers, International Rescue Committee, don’t leave him stranded as they did when Labour overseas aid spokesman Ivan Lewis went to the Congo in Africa.

An IRC boat ferrying him across Lake Kivu, known as an ‘exploding lake’ owing to sporadic volcanic gases, conked out, leaving Lewis adrift in the jungle as night fell.

He had to be rescued by another boat.

New career: Dog hopes that David Miliband's new employer don't leave him stranded as they did Labour overseas aid spokesman Ivan Lewis in the Congo

 Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, has been asking friends in high places when the long awaited Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War is to be published, Dog hears.

Why so eager? Surely no one could criticise Campbell for his role in the bogus ‘45 minutes from doom’ dossier on Saddam’s weapons, the second ‘dodgy dossier’ crudely copied from out-of-date internet info or events prior to the death of MoD weapons expert Dr David Kelly?

But maybe, just maybe, Chilcot will.

If Campbell isn’t in a sweat, he should be.

  Tristram's elite touch with the 'precariat' Elite: Tristram Hunt

Unlike dogs and their masters, MPs do not always mirror their constituencies.

Take Stoke’s the Honourable Dr Tristram Julian Hunt MP.

The languid golden-locked, Labour lord’s son, TV lounge lizard and Cambridge-educated intellectual, left, is undoubtedly a member of the ‘elite’ top rank in a new guide to British classes.

Contrast that with the bottom rung, the ‘precariat’, harshly defined thus by one observer: ‘Lives in Stoke, did not go to university, works as cleaner or jobless, has little cash for luxuries.’

And is not called Tristram or Julian, let alone both.

  Friends of ex MI6 boss Daphne Park have raised more than an eyebrow over a claim by Labour former union baron Lord Lea that shortly before her death in 2010 the baroness blurted out to him over a cup of tea that she had organised the  Cold War assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

He was the pro-Soviet President of what is now called the Congo.

‘Lea is  the last person Daphne would share any secrets with,’ said one spook.

‘She regarded him as a bit of a windbag.’

  Sir Gerald in the pink

Veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, 82, was appropriately dressed to fend off the chill swirling around Westminster last week.

Peacock Kaufman sported  a stylish camel coat and multi-coloured scarf, but was most proud of the livid pink woolly hat over his pixie ears.

‘I got it at a music and literary festival I attended in the Lofoten Islands recently,’ glowed Sir Gerald. Norway’s Lofoten Islands are in the Arctic.

 

Pugilistic MP Eric Joyce is squaring up to Paolo Di Canio, the new Sunderland FC manager who makes fascist salutes.

Joyce – arrested but not charged following an alleged Commons brawl last month – brands the footballer a ‘nutcase’ who would be scared to take him on.

Asked what would happen in a fight, Joyce replies: ‘He’d run away.’

As for the salutes, they are a sign that Di Canio is ‘worried about his masculinity,’ says Joyce, who adds for good measure: ‘And he’s thick.’


BLACK DOG: A hip answer to grumpy Glenda: Could grumpy Left-wing MP need another operation?

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The acidic tone struck by Left-wing MP Glenda Jackson during Commons ‘tributes’ to Baroness Thatcher shocked fellow MPs – it sounded as though the former actress had swallowed a bottle of balsamic vinegar.

Labour elder statesman Barry Sheerman, who made the most pro-Maggie speech from his side, later observed: ‘People say Glenda lightened up a bit a couple of years ago when she had a hip op.’

To which a wag replied: ‘Maybe it’s time to get the other one done.’

Letting rip: Fellow MPs were shocked at Glenda Jackson's outburst against Margaret Thatcher

  Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis says he is the author of David Cameron’s best joke in his Thatcher tribute: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Mrs T wasn’t the foreman on that job.’

  More... London's ring of steel: Preparations in full swing ahead of Baroness Thatcher's funeral as police get ready to launch biggest security operation since the Olympics

Says Davis: ‘I wrote it for John Major when he was Prime Minister to use about Maggie, but he hadn’t got the nerve to deliver it.’ What did he have the nerve for?

Big job: Sir Malcolm Ross has been charged with organising the funeral of Margaret Thatcher

Who'll muscle in this time, Malcolm?

At least funeral organiser Sir Malcolm Ross, the Queen’s former Master of the Royal Household, should be spared the type of incident that marred the Queen Mother’s lying-in-state in 2002.

Sir Malcolm, left, was then faced with Tony Blair’s tasteless bid to muscle in on the ceremony and gain a more prominent role.

When this newspaper revealed the stunt, Blair and his spin doctor Alastair Campbell lodged a formal protest.

They were forced to eat humble pie when Black Rod, Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks, threatened to expose their antics.

The moral of the story? Don’t mess with The MoS.

  The fuss over whether to have a minute’s silence at football grounds as a mark of respect would not have bothered Lady T a jot.

Her glorious ignorance of the national game was laid bare when she watched Ipswich Town beat Arsenal 1-0 in the 1978 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Asked for her ‘Man of the Match’, she gushed about the ‘marvellous Ipswich No 10, Trevor Whymark’.

Unfortunately, Whymark wasn’t even playing. An aide recalls: ‘She had seen a photograph of Whymark and liked him because of his long blond hair.’

A caustic reaction?

Edward Heath never forgave Maggie for snatching his job.

As the former Tory leader tore into her record during a supper with journalists, this newspaper’s correspondent threw down the gauntlet: ‘Sir Edward, I challenge you to say something nice about her.’

Divided: Thatcher's death has split the country - even former Tory rival Edward Heath finds it hard to say anything good about her

Heath drawled: ‘I believe she was a rather good chemist’ – and chortled so heartily he nearly dislocated both heaving shoulders.

Lady T studied chemistry at Oxford.

 Diehard Thatcherite David Davies, who is also a part-time British Transport Police officer in London, has his own cunning plan to claim a seat at the funeral.

‘As a lowly backbencher, I haven’t the faintest chance of getting an invitation,’ he says.

‘So I have put my name down for extra police duties next Wednesday. I’m hoping they will send me to the funeral, but knowing my luck I’ll be chasing pickpockets in Slough instead.’



BLACK DOG: Maggie and Denis - reunited at at last

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Margaret Thatcher believed she would be reunited with late husband Denis after her death, according to Baroness Anne Jenkin, a close friend of the former PM.

At peace: Lady Thatcher shared a strong bond with her late husband Denis

‘She was a deeply religious woman and there is reason to believe she genuinely thought she would see Denis again in heaven,’ said Baroness Jenkin, wife of Tory MP Bernard Jenkin.

‘Theirs was a true love match and it would be nice to think it is true.’

  Sneering Jeremy Paxman got both barrels when he observed to one of the brass hats who accompanied the cortege that ‘the military are a minority pursuit in this country now’. Major General Matthew Sykes, honorary colonel of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, fired back: ‘We may have reached the point where there are more people in the BBC than in the Armed Forces, but that doesn’t make it a minority pursuit.’ Touché!

  Bewhiskered Rob puts Sally in the shade

The barrel-chested, bewhiskered bloke who accompanied Speaker John Bercow at the funeral was a big improvement on Amazonian wife Sally, who boycotted it.

  More... BLACK DOG: A hip answer to grumpy Glenda: Could Left-wing MP need another operation to 'lighten her up'? Black Dog: So that's why it's called the conko

Who was this Edward VII lookalike who stood in for loudmouth La Bercow and sang like Caruso? Sir Robert Rogers, Clerk of the Commons. Sir Robert, above, is a church organist in Herefordshire and is ‘wildly musical’, say friends.

  Lady Thatcher’s closest Tory MP confidant and fan in her in declining years, Bournemouth MP Conor Burns, says the former PM was not averse to adding a little Old Testament fire and brimstone to her prim and proper Methodist principles.

Remembering Thatcher: Close confidant MP Conor Burns

‘She leaned towards me once, narrowed her eyes and whispered, “Conor, every now and again, you have to brush up on your hatreds.” ’ As Arthur Scargill, Michael Heseltine, General Galtieri and a few others discovered.

  Jump Jet didn't fly

Backers of the proposed US-style Thatcher museum and library originally hatched a plan to buy a Harrier Jump Jet – as used in the Falklands War – and park it in the chosen memorial’s leafy grounds miles from London. But it was Maggie herself who shot the plan down.

Before she died, she insisted: ‘Don’t be daft, I  want the memorial to be in London and the last time I looked there was no room for a Harrier in the capital.’

  Lib Dem Lord Razzall claims Maggie and Denis had the occasional lovers’ tiff, like any other married couple. ‘I was in the Lords dining room when they were having supper and a chap asked Lady T to sign the menu. He had a Latin-sounding name and introduced himself, but hadn’t got a pen, so went off to find one. When he came back, Maggie said, “What is your name?” Denis butted in, “He’s already told you, you idiot.” ’

 

Prize for most tasteless Thatcher joke goes, inevitably, to waggish Labour MP Stephen Pound. ‘Have you heard about the miners’ protest at the crematorium where they took Maggie? They wanted to strike while the Iron  Lady is hot.’ Groan.


Black dog: By Gove, Happy Birthday Ma'am

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Michael Gove came to the rescue when he took his children to St Mary Abbots Church in Kensington last Sunday. 

Not one pinkie went up when trendy Reverend Gillean Craig said: ‘Hands up any children with a birthday so we can all sing Happy Birthday.’

The awkward silence was broken by the geeky chap in specs at the back. ‘It’s Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday today. Let’s sing the national anthem for her!’

Step forward the patriotic Education Secretary.

Michael Gove struck a patriotic note when he encouraged the congregation to sing the national anthem in celebration of the Queen's birthday 

  The PM has aimed another jibe at multi-millionaire Tory MP Zac Goldsmith for leading a revolt over planning laws for home extensions.

This newspaper revealed last week how indignant Cameron said of Goldsmith: ‘Who does that man think he’s accountable to?

Now he has had another eruption, spluttering: ‘It’s all right for Zac – he’s got such a big house, he’ll never need an extension.’

  How Maggie silenced motormouth Jeremy

An unintended snub to Jeremy Clarkson by Tory MP Bernard Jenkin is behind the Top Gear host’s unlikely appearance at Maggie’s funeral.

After taking part in the Top Gear race-track challenge, Jenkin jetted off to Afghanistan before Clarkson, left, could interview him. Clarkson got revenge by using a cardboard cut-out of the MP on the show.

Bernard Jenkin arranged for the Top Gear host to meet Maggie Thatcher, but Clarkson was rendered speechless by her

When the two finally buried the hatchet, Clarkson said he’d always wanted to meet Thatcher, so Jenkin arranged for them to have dinner.

The MP said: ‘He was so in awe of her, he sat there speechless.’ A first.

  Leveson QC Carine Patry Hoskins’s appreciation of men appears to have kept her going during the inquiry’s endless hearings. First she stared at actor Hugh Grant. Then she had a fling with Grant’s QC, David Sherborne.

But less well known is her admiration for suave Channel 4 newsman Jon Snow. Moments after Snow, 65, left the Leveson witness box, Patry Hoskins was heard chiding herself for forgetting to ask him to sign a copy of his memoirs, which she had in her handbag.

  Nigel's pop at Shapps

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has accused Tory chairman Grant Shapps of trying to copy his saloon bar hero image by posing for a media photo in a pub with a pint of ale.

Farage’s ratings soared after he was interviewed by this newspaper in a boozer at 11am last year with a foaming glass of bitter in front of him.

‘Little Shapps is kidding himself if he thinks posing with a pint will make him more popular,’ says Farage. ‘He’d look more convincing with an alcopop.’

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage's rating soared after he was interviewed a foaming pint of ale

  MPs on the all-party Gibraltar group have been urged to adopt one of the colony’s famous Barbary apes, which are mating like fury and making a menace of themselves.

‘Please take one each,’ begged Albert Poggio, our man on the Rock. Tory Andrew Rosindell declined the offer.

One of the apes took a chunk out of his arm – in the manner of Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez – on a parliamentary jaunt.



BLACK DOG: 'Ugly' Gove's big attraction

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Reports of Sarah Vine’s hilarious account of how her husband, Education Secretary Michael Gove, upset Mick Jagger by making jokes about his tackle after they stood next to each other at an Oxford University urinal missed the point, so to speak.

When Gove asked for a lift back to London, the riled wrinkly rocker snarled: ‘In the f****** boot.’

But Dog gathers it may have been more out of envy than fury.

One of Gove’s chums explains: ‘When people ask Sarah why she is married to a man who calls himself ugly, she smiles broadly and says, “It wasn’t his big heart that first attracted me.” ’

Big attraction: Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove, pictured, says it wasn't the Education Secretary's big heart that attracted her

  How convenient for David Cameron’s blunt-speaking Aussie election guru Lynton Crosby that the Prime Minister is to ditch from next week’s Queen’s Speech plans for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

Lynton’s PR firm Crosby Textor was paid by tobacco companies to oppose similar moves in Australia.

Mr Crosby yesterday denied a claim that  he had told Tory MPs in Westminster that such nanny-state legislation in the UK was a bad idea.

  Tory Ian's still got Victorian values

Tory MP Ian Richard Peregrine Liddell-Grainger – the great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, left – has inherited her fondness for plain talking.

This was well illustrated when, bristling with anger, the West Somerset MP berated one of David Cameron’s aides over the Tory rout by UKIP in the local elections. ‘Tell the PM from me that he is not the problem, George Osborne is!’ barked Liddell-Grainger.

When the aide replied limply, ‘Anything else, Ian?’ Liddell-Grainger snapped: ‘Yes, shoot Ken Clarke!’

Or, we are not amused, as his great-great-great-gran might have said.

Tory MP Ian Richard Peregrine Liddell-Grainger has inherited Queen Victoria's fondness for plain talking

  MPs lecture the rest of us on cutting our cloth according to our purse, but no expense is spared when it comes to their own cloth.

They have just spent a staggering £20,000 on a gigantic fancy screen to cover up scaffolding on Westminster Hall during repairs.

It is an exact replica of the front of the building and will be thrown away when the work is done.

‘It’d be cheaper to knock the whole lot down and leave a big screen there instead,’ sneered a passing Labour MP.

  Call her Theresa Maid

A study of Tory leadership hopeful Theresa May’s roots by genealogist Roy Stockdill suggests she is the perfect antidote to David Cameron’s so-called ‘posh boys chumocracy’ at No 10.

Stockdill says both grandmothers of vicar’s daughter May were below-stairs servants, and her great-grandfather was a butler.

More Downton Abbey than Downing Street.

 

Nowhere was the Lib Dems’ local election disaster more humiliating than in Wadebridge, Cornwall, where they lost a seat to Collin Brewer, 68.

The independent councillor was branded ‘depraved’ and forced to stand down three months ago after saying ‘disabled children cost too much and should be put down’.

Incredibly, he won back his seat on Thursday – from a Lib Dem. How low can you get?


Black Dog: Party rivalry for Nad and Dave

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The hostilities between David Cameron and Nadine Dorries – welcomed back into his party through gritted teeth by the  PM – will tomorrow spill out on to the  Tory cocktail party circuit.

Barely minutes after David Davis had sent out his invitations to a ‘Welcome Back Nadine’ champagne reception, ambitious young Tories received an email making it clear that they were expected at a ‘vital’ No 10 campaign meeting at the same time.

‘We get the message,’ said one double-invitee. ‘If you want a job, ditch Nad.’

The hostilities between David Cameron and Nadine Dorries will tomorrow spill out on to the Tory cocktail party circuit

 Since George Osborne hired former BBC producer Thea Rogers as an adviser, he has undergone an image overhaul: his fogeyish suits look sharper and his foppish quiff has been chopped. 

But Ms Rogers, 30, who joined the Treasury last autumn, is also having an impact in other ways.

‘She is completely ferocious in meetings,’ says one Whitehall insider. ‘She takes on everyone. Even George looks scared.’

 True-blue-Cecil - a hit with the greens

At 81, Margaret Thatcher’s best loved Tory chairman Cecil Parkinson (right), who helped her win a landslide victory in the 1983 Election, has lost none of his drive.

A keen golfer for more than half a century, Cecil scored a hole in one at the magnificent Valderrama golf course – the scene of 1997 Ryder Cup triumph for Seve Ballesteros.

Parkinson, right, went on to get an eagle, two below par, on the toughest par-five hole. Whatever Cecil is on, Dog would like some of it.

 Owen Paterson felt a hand on his shoulder as he went through passport control in Australia last month, and was told by a burly guard that the mud on his shoes could be a disease risk.

‘But this is prestigious dirt,’ said the Environment Secretary.

‘It comes direct from the turf of the British Grand National!’ Paterson’s verbal flash of the Union Jack did the trick and he was waved straight through.

 It's a target seat, Adam

Would-be Tory leader Adam Afriyie was just about the only high-profile Conservative MP to bother to campaign  in the no-hope South Shields by-election  – an effort regarded as ‘admirable’ by his friends and ‘desperate’ by his enemies. 

‘I don’t know why he bothered,’ says an MP in the latter category.

‘They use blue rosettes for target practice up there, especially when they are worn by multi-millionaires. His ambition is insatiable.’

 

Pint-sized ex-Labour Minister Sir Ian McCartney can be forgiven for not sharing the rose-tinted take on the late Walter Harrison, the 1970s Labour whip whose thuggish antics are immortalised in the current hit play This House. Five-foot-nothing McCartney recalls how, years after Harrison had retired as an MP, he met him in the Commons Strangers’ Bar.

‘For no apparent reason, he came up and punched me in the testicles,’ recalled McCartney. ‘He hit me so hard I had to have an emergency operation.’ They don’t make ’em like that any more.


BLACK DOG: Skiing accident MP Graham Stuart a victim of power politics as officials reject expenses claim for electric wheelchair

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After the scandal of MPs claiming duck houses on the taxpayer, Commons expenses chiefs scrutinise every claim. 

But spare a thought for Tory MP Graham Stuart, recovering from crippling injuries after a skiing accident.

'My doctor told them that to carry out my MPs' duties, I probably needed an electric wheelchair. The expenses officials said that since I only 'probably' needed an electric one, I'd have to make do with a manual one. I ask you?'

Crippling: Tory MP Graham Stuart was told by expenses officials to make do with a manual wheelchair

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James Wharton, the 29-year-old Tory who won an MPs' ballot to get the chance to turn plans for an EU referendum into reality in 2017, should enjoy his moment in the sun.

He is unlikely to be in Parliament when the historic plebiscite takes place: Teesside MP Wharton has a wafer-thin majority of 332 and his constituents don't seem to give a monkey's about the EU.

'I'm not voting for him again,' one local said yesterday. Make that 331 – and falling.

  More... £11.5bn in cuts? No, we can only manage £2.5bn, cabinet ministers tell the Chancellor Education Secretary Michael Gove is heckled as headteachers pass vote of no confidence in his reforms

The risky roamings of Freya the tubby catGeorge Osborne's cat Freya, who lives with the Chancellor's family in Downing Street, is fast using up her nine lives.

The tubby tabby has been spotted in, of all places, the Red Lion pub, on the other side of Whitehall, one of the widest and busiest roads in Central London.

The mobile moggy, above, was also seen in a Trafalgar Square restaurant and was found roaming the Foreign Office.

'Freya has seen more of London than most tourists,' said a Treasury aide.

Roaming: George Osborne's mobile moggy Freya was spotted in the Red Lion pub in Whitehall

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The Deputy Speaker, Tory MP Nigel Evans, arrested over claims of rape and sexual misconduct with two men, has thanked Ed Miliband for the warm support he has received from Labour MPs.

Labour MP Louise Ellman was seen throwing a comforting arm around Evans, and veteran Leftie Sir Gerald Kaufman made a show of offering his support, too.

'Nigel has been deeply moved by the response of Labour MPs,' said a source in the Speaker's office.

Duped by Mr Sneaky Michael Gove caused a stir claiming teachers were using the Mr Men children's cartoons in lessons on the Nazis. But he is not the first political figure in trouble over Mr Men.

Tony Blair tried to use them to portray John Major as 'Mr Spineless' and 'Mr Dither' in 1997 Election posters.

It was vetoed by trustees of the cartoon's creator Roger Hargreaves – but Blair's aides got round it by leaking them to the Press. Mr Sneaky.

Mr Sneaky: Michael Gove claimed teachers were using the Mr Men cartoons in lessons on the Nazis

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Ed Miliband's housing spokesman Jack Dromey has dropped a brick.

The old trade union warhorse makes the furious point that 'the number of house build starts in Bradford has plummeted by almost 50 per cent in the past year, from 580 to 390.' Jack, that's 33 per cent.

The former master of the block vote is, well, a blockhead.

        ********************************************************************************************************************Innumeracy must be in the air in Westminster: Nick Clegg has apologised to the Commons for claiming during his PM's Questions appearance on Wednesday that 'we spent 100 days legislating in this Parliament for an EU referendum'.

He meant 100 hours, but Dog understands why he made the slip – it has certainly felt longer.



Bayern Munich v Chelsea: Champions League final analysis

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RAMPAGING RIBERY

Playing right back for Chelsea will be the hardest job on the pitch and it is Roberto Di Matteo’s toughest decision whether to go for Jose Bosingwa or Paulo Ferreira to replace Branislav Ivanovic.

Containing Franck Ribery is key for Chelsea. If the full back does a proper job on him, Ribery can drift inside looking for the ball and his attacking threat can get snarled up in midfield traffic. But if he stays wide, is given space and plenty of ball, Ribery can destroy defences.

Wing wizards: Arjen Robben (left) and Franck Ribery will pose a danger

That is why Di Matteo’s selection decision is crucial. I think he’ll go for Bosingwa because Ferreira lacks a bit of pace and, with two centre halves nursing injuries, Bosingwa could move seamlessy to replace one of themif he has to.

THE CENTRAL ISSUE

The absence of John Terry is a huge miss. Gary Cahill and David Luiz last started a Champions League match together away to Napoli, where Ashley Cole effectively kept them in the competition with a top clearance. If it was not for Cole’s brilliance, Chelsea would have been 4-1 down... and out.

But they can take confidence from the way Chelsea have finished the season. Stop Bayern’s wingers and you stop Bayern. Ribery and Arjen Robben are inside-out wingers (left-footed Robben on the right,right-footed Ribery plays on the left), but it is not just the full backs or Luiz and Cahill who must be on their game.

Pep talk: Gary Cahill will feature for Chelsea after returning from injury

Ramires not playing puts extra pressure on the two wide players Di Matteo selects to track back and double up. Salomon Kalou has the energy todo that, so I would not be surprised to see him starting. Chelsea cannot afford to let Bayern’s two wingers go one-on-one.

KROOS CONTROL

Toni Kroos was probably the best player on the pitch against Real Madrid,so it’s a blessing for Chelsea that he is being forced into a deeper position. Kroos is like a silent assassin; you hardly notice him becauseeverything he does is so tidy and quick. Luiz Gustavo’s suspension means Kroos will have to play in the middle alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, with Thomas Muller playing off striker Mario Gomez. Bayern will miss Kroos’ clever link play in advanced areas.

I would play Juan Mata in a central position, it is where his guile is most effective for Chelsea. Di Matteo may go for Michael Essien but hehas seen little first-team action and seems to have lost some of his pace and power.

Midfield maestro: Toni Kroos may be hindered by his deeper position

DIDIER MUST DELIVER

Didier Drogba is unplayable — my Sportsmail colleague Martin Samuel summed it up perfectly. Didier will be licking his lips playing against Bayern’s two central defenders.

They are stand-in centre halves, because of injury and suspension. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is a defensive  midfielder and Jerome Boateng played at full back at Manchester City. Didier must let them feel his power and not waste energy diving. His contribution is vital for Chelsea.

  More... Di Matteo considers Bertrand gamble with youngster poised for Champions League debut Ex-Tranmere starlet Jennings backs Bayern to topple Chelsea in Munich He's spent £1bn on a European obsession. Now his caretaker manager Di Matteo promises to deliver Roman's Holy Grail Di Matteo can orchestrate his Blues to finish on a high note in Munich Martin Samuel: Bayern are so at home... all that's missing are the slippers How Robbie's old mate Newton figured out way forward for Roman's Chelsea Mark Hughes - My World: Bayern were 10 years ahead of United when I joined...



Brendan Rodgers will succeed at Liverpool: Jamie Redknapp

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I spent some time with Brendan Rodgers when I started my coaching badges at Chelsea. He was reserve-team manager then and I could see he had something about him.

We have spoken since about his coaching methods and his football philosophy. This is it: ‘The other team can’t score against you if they haven’t got the ball.’

He wants his teams to pass in all areas. He has used a system that has worked in Spain, especially for Barcelona —  principally the two centre halves split, the full backs push on and the holding midfielder steps in and plays from there. Everyone is encouraged to get on the ball, take risks, pass it, keep it. Liverpool will be playing the tiki-taka style.

High flier: Liverpool want Brendan Rodgers to continue the run of success he had as boss of Swansea

He won’t change at Liverpool, but he will need time to implement his way of playing. The Liverpool crowd will be patient, because they love and understand their football and will quickly see what he is trying to achieve.

Liverpool used to pass teams to sleep, but in recent times some of the managers they have had sent the players to sleep in training, with sessions based on stopping the opposition. At times, Liverpool supporters have been starved of good football.

This squad should be excited about working with Brendan because he won’t waste a training session, where he will be working with the ball and teaching them how to break down other teams.

When you are working for a good coach, players should go home every day thinking: ‘I’ve learned something there.’ Coaches should educate their players and this man does that.

Players go into work wondering what they will discover next. That is one of his strengths. I remain a Kenny Dalglish fan, but the board have decided that one cup and eighth place is not a good enough return. This has been a difficult season for Liverpool and so it is not a bad time for Brendan to be stepping in.

Audition: Swansea were clapped off the pitch at Anfield after outplaying Liverpool for long periods during last season's 0-0 draw

Over the last 10 years, it’s been one step forward and then two back and, even though I believe there were signs of healthy recovery under Dalglish, they finished 37 points behind the top two.

Liverpool played with less fear and more freedom last season, although their home form was very poor.

Brendan will need more goals to come from midfield: at Swansea last season, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joe Allen and Nathan Dyer scored 16 Premier League goals between them. Steven Gerrard, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing scored seven. This is where Liverpool come up well short.

I expect Rodgers to hijack the Sigurdsson deal (Swansea are trying to take him permanently from Hoffenheim) and I expect him to try to get Allen, too. Neither would look out of place in a Liverpool shirt.

There could be a long road ahead for Liverpool, but this has been a reality check for the fans. They say they wanted Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, but Liverpool finished eighth — and were behind Everton, despite having a far superior squad. The club have done just fine by  getting Rodgers.

Significant: Rodgers masterminded a 1-0 win over champions Manchester City

They have got to grow again into a force and they haven’t got Guardiola, but they may have the next Guardiola. As a former captain of the club, I am excited by this appointment and the owners should be congratulated for investing in a young British coach. Manchester United did that when they appointed Sir Alex Ferguson.

Brendan inherits a strong squad but he needs to improve it and maybe he will raid Swansea.

When he took over there, he improved players. Some of them couldn’t wait to get the ball as far away as possible, but now they are happy on the ball. Ashley Williams, the centre half, is a good example.

This is a step up for a young manager, at 39, but he has suffered a setback before, when he was sacked by Reading. So this is not like Andre Villas-Boas, who had never encountered difficulty in his career before and walked into a brick wall at Chelsea.

Rodgers is not inheriting a difficult group of players, either. They will welcome him and enjoy his approach to playing football. In return, he should embrace the knowledge and quality in his dressing room.

Influential: Joe Allen (right) holds off the challenge of Jordan Henderson

His captain, Gerrard, has so much to offer and Brendan will know that, on and off the pitch, Jamie Carragher is worth tapping into. I would go a step further and offer Jamie a formal coaching role to extend his influence at the club.

 

One final point: the Liverpool fans who think the club have appointed a manager who didn’t want them because he turned down an interview are wrong. He didn’t want to be part of a beauty contest.

His audition came last season in two matches when his Swansea team took four points off Liverpool in the Premier League.

  More... Swansea fear Allen will follow Rodgers to Anfield... but Liverpool will have to pay at least £10m From Gerrard to getting the Kop onside: What is in Rodgers' Anfield in-tray... Rodgers to bring Swansea backroom team to Anfield as Liverpool agree compensation deal Liverpool will love life under Rodgers! Swans star Monk hails departing boss All the latest Liverpool news, features and opinion




England issues for France match - Jamie Redknapp

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Young and free

England’s key player is Ashley Young. Our two wide players will be running marathons trying to track back and support the defence and the two midfielders, Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard, will have to be disciplined.

England will try to mirror Chelsea’s performance against Bayern Munich, so it’s crucial for Young to find pockets of space at the other end. He has had mixed success in that ‘Rooney role’ and finds it harder when the opposition play a midfield three, as France will, with a holding player to close the space.

Key man: Ashley Young is England's most important player

It’s a specialist’s position; when the ball comes your way, you have to decide whether to pop it off or control, turn and run. He’s quick but his natural game is not playing with his back to goal.

The far left Cover: James Milner will have to be on his game

France’s strong point is their left side of Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery.

They will come down that side regularly and James Milner will have an important role in front of Glen Johnson to act as cover.

England must not allow overlaps and Milner needs to stay alert and switched on. It is one of the reasons why I’m sure Roy Hodgson will go for him ahead of the speed of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Remember to attack!

I hope England are progressive and don’t just sit in and defend. We need to cause France a problem too and get at their back four.

Against Estonia last week, France looked like a team enjoying their football.

If England go behind in that heat, it will be a difficult task. An early England goal would make it very interesting.

  More... Martin Keown: England expects... these are some key issues to think about if the team are to deliver Big Match Dossier: England v France... Matt Barlow reports from Donetsk Martin Samuel: England... the tale of Goldilocks and the three lions A history of England v France: Sportsmail looks back ahead of Le Crunch


Euro 2012: England were outnumbered in midfield - Jamie Redknapp

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I want to pick out the work rate of Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, although I worry they had too much ground to cover.

It's hard to play with two central midfielders in international football when most rivals, like France, play with three.

France are a good team but not outstanding and the workload for these two England midfielders was too great.

Grafters: England's two in the middle had to do the work of three men

 

That was a hard game for the pair, not because of a lack of fitness or because of a long season but because they were outnumbered.

I wonder if Roy Hodgson will change it if England go deeper into the competition or at least get one of the forwards to lend more of a hand and drop back.

Great Scott: Parker was replaced late in the game by Jordan Henderson

He can be Ox-ceptional

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be a real weapon for England. I was a little frustrated with his contribution because there is so much more he can give.

He had a 'nearly' game, almost wriggling clear a couple of times. The Ox can be an outlet for England, turning defence into attack and giving the defenders a breather by drawing a free-kick or a winning a throw.

I like him a lot.

Ox-ceptional: The young Arsenal star showed moments of real class

Not so clever

France are over-rated. I was a bit disappointed with them. How many of their players would get into the England team?

And I just wonder if, over breakfast this morning, England's players might consider this a missed opportunity.

Allez! France didn't live up to the pre-tournament hype

  More... The Capello Index: Fabio rates Young as England's worst player against France Hodgson makes a case for the defence but England boss refuses to criticise ref Rizzoli Click here for the latest European Championship news, tables, fixtures and results