Sunday, August 27, 2006

Independent on Sunday Diary Column

The news that two of the finest heads of hair in journalism are to take over ITV’s Sunday political show, has opened up a new career opportunity for ITN newscaster Alastair Stewart. As Andrea Catherwood moves from Mark Austin’s deputy on the News at When to join Andrew Rawnsley on the Sunday sofa, Stewart has been promoted to replace her in the number two slot on the ITV late night news show.

It’s quite a coup for Stewart who was convicted three years ago of a drink driving offence and lost his high profile job as presenter of ITV’s Police, Camera, Action. And earlier this year he was ousted as chief anchor of the ITV News Channel when it shut down.

Speculation is also rife that Andrew Rawnsley will now be forced to give up his Sunday night presenter slot on the Westminster Hour. However, a decision on Rawnsley’s future is unlikely to be taken immediately if only because the programme’s editor Terry Dignan is on holiday, as is his boss James Stephenson, as is his boss Rick Bailey. BBC insiders think it is a particularly odd move by Rawnsley as the Westminster Hour has an audience double the size of the old Dimbleby programme, and anyone who’s anyone in the political world listens to it. But Rawnsley’s friends say he was never happier than when he was presenting Channel 4’s A Week in Politics with the much missed Vincent Hanna. This was the programme which gave Martha Kearney her break in political broadcasting and it would be deeply ironic if Rawnsley’s defection to ITV opened up the Westminster Hour for Martha Kearney to take over. Stranger things have happened.


There was a mild sense of panic at Talk Sport last week when George Galloway hadn’t shown up to present his Sunday night show, but with minutes to spare he ran into the studio hopelessly out of breath and almost unable to speak. It transpired that his open top red sports car had caught fire on Battersea Bridge and with time running out our intrepid hero had to leg it to Talk Sport’s Waterloo studios, leaving his passion wagon smouldering on the roadside. Rumours that members of Mossad were spotted in a getaway launch on the Thames heading towards Putney were said to be wide of the mark. I think.


As the UKIP leadership race draws to its conclusion at least two of the leadership candidates appear to indulging in a bit of mutual backscratching. Former Tunbridge Wells Tory Chairman David Campbell-Bannerman and MEP Nigel Farage are the two favourites to succeed to the charismally-challenged Roger Knapman but I hear that Farage has proposed Campbell-Bannerman for membership of the exclusive East India Club. Farage’s Brussels colleague Godfrey Bloom is his seconder. It’s either an illustration of the gentlemanly nature of UKIP leadership contests, or a hostile takeover of the East India Club. If I were them I’d be thinking about a blackball.


Good to know that the Dunkirk spirit is alive and well among British Airways air hostesses, or flight attendants as we must now call them. On the day of the latest airport terror alerts a group of Al Jazeera journalists landed at Heathrow on their way to the States. Their outbound flight unsurprisingly experienced a lengthy delay, but it wasn’t until they were eventually airborne that they discovered the real reason for the delay. It was nothing to do with the terror alerts at all. Apparently the BA trolley dollies objected to being asked to take their stockings off as part of a security check, and they duly downed tools, if that’s an appropriate expression. Quite how they were eventually coaxed out of their stockings is best left to tasteless speculation.

Meanwhile, it appears that BAA is taking drastic action to improve the speed of their security checks at Heathrow. According to a friend of mine to flew to Los Angeles last week Duty Free shop staff are being given one hour’s training and drafted in to search passengers’ bags. They’re none too happy about it and openly admit they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. Still, it doesn’t beat my experience at ITN last week when I was told by their security guard to search my own bag, as due to health and safety legislation he wasn’t allowed to put his hand in the bag himself. Just as well, as I had brought my pet piranha along for the ride.


Filming is about to start on a new BBC2 drama series called Party Animals, which appears to be a sort of House of Commons meets This Life. The main characters are a group of twentysomething parliamentary researchers whose lives revolve around sex, drugs and politics. So it’s quite true to life then. The script writers have been inundated by phonecalls and emails from party apparatchiks detailing their various liaisons and sniffing escapades within the Palace of Westminster. Sadly, most of the real life experiences are too unbelievable to be included in the script. Mark Twain’s remark about truth being stranger than fiction has never been more apposite.


strapworld said...

There is much unease within ukip that Campbell Bannerman, who places great weight on his being a distant relative of the Prime Minister of that name,is not quite who he says he is.

A little like Knapman's assertion that he was a Meastricht Rebel and one of the Major 'bastards'

If Farage is elected that will bring that party into the sidings. He is a legend in his own mind, a loud mouth but not a team player. Ukip will go where he wants it to go and nowhere else....wait for the inevitable split.

I believe the N.o.t.W and the Sun has many stories on Farage that will ensure a quick death to that party under his leadership

Anonymous said...

With Campbell Bannerman heading the brownshirts and the descendant of the Buckinghams married to an old Etonian heading the blueshirts, and a scottish presbyterian lawyer in charge of the reds, trouble in Afghanistan and so on, politics is looking more and more like it was circa 1905 or thereabouts. All we need now is the return of Lloyd George.

Iain is your blog slipping? We've had no mention of Prescott for almost several days.

Anonymous said...

All we need now is the return of Lloyd George.

Blair's beaten his record on peerage sales !

Anonymous said...

Iain old fruit, do hope you've burnt your 'HANG NELSON MANDELA' T shirt. Darling dave will soon be purging the Tory Party of anyone who wore one. If there are any photos of you at a FCS meeting singing, 'that song' well goodbye any chance of you being an MP.

Tapestry said...

Suchorzewski would convert UKIP from a self-absorbed ballot-rigging cabal into a political party. But how will he be allowed to win as the cabal also controls the leadership ballot? I doubt he will find a way through any more than Kilroy 'Kill The Conservatives' Silk was able to.

For really explosive anti-Cameron tirades for his Mandela 'fraternisations', look no further than the BNP's website. White heat!

The Hitch said...

Anybody care to bet that dave will be at the notting hill carnival today for a photo oppurtunity?

fairdealphil said...

talking of UKIP and leadership, has anyone heard of Robert Kilroy Silk since he:

a. became a UKIP MEP for the East Mids...

b. failed (did he lose his deposit??) less than a year later in a so-called key seat in the East Mids...

still waiting for a receiprocal on your blogroll Iain....

Anonymous said...


answer to your questions.
1. Doing what all the euro MP's do collecting cheques and nothing else.

2. He did not lose his deposit!


Suchorzewski would be a breath of fresh air to ukip. The bllots have ALWAYS been controlled by the cabal, nothing changes.

Farage started it and by God he will finish it!!

Suchorzewski will break away with all the decent people.

Mind you I have said for a long time that there is a real need for all the anti EU parties/groups/pressure groups etc to get around a table and discussion a confederation. There are too many and they take votes from each other and thus show a disunited and unelectable rump!

Tapestry said...

Kilroy sits as a deselected Independent in the EU Not-A-Parliament until 2009. He formed Veritas from UKIP breakaways, but he and it bombed at the GE 2005. Veritas now scarcely exists.

Anonymous said...


Veritas, believe you me, had some very good people, the cream of ukip especially in the North West and the Midlands. The problem was lack of funding and the major problem of not being able to have a party political broadcast.

There was no lack of support from members and Kilroy, when he visited places throughout the land was mobbed! Sadly they did not believe that Veritas could win and so the votes did not come.

Kilroy is not the fool some paint him. He is a patriot.

Veritas is now run by a double glazing Owner from the Midlands!!!!!

This cabal of three parties at Westminster ensured that no new party could get any PP broadcasts until they have representation

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, 6.31 said
"Kilroy is not the fool some paint him. He is a patriot."

So was Oswald Mosley, of whose speeches some of Kilroy's more swivel-eyed pronouncements were reminiscent.

Ross said...

George Galloway's has a sportscar? I guess we now know what the Miriam Appeal money was spent on.

The Leadership Blogger said...

If it wasn't for the insane hysteria around at present I would find it hard to credit that anyone in their right monds would think a BA stewardess would be involved in tights bombing attempt.

Anonymous said...

Ross F, your comment about Galloway and the Miriam (sic) Appeal money are about as original as me saying about you that a village somewhere is missing an idiot.