The Conservatives graciously allowed two gatecrashers at their conference.
One was Alastair Campbell who, reprising his role at Labour’s conference the week before, went to campaign on behalf of Alcohol Concern for minimum pricing. (Not that again!) I wonder if he got paid.
He was on the Daily Politics on Tuesday, October 1, saying how wrong David Cameron was to drop the minimum pricing plan. I can appreciate that some people have drink problems, but to lump us all in the same basket is condescending. Still, Campbell no doubt wants to occupy the left-wing high moral ground. Mmm. How’s the air up there, guys?
The next day I was set to interview Alastair Campbell back in the LBC studio about his new novel “My Name Is…” It is a superb book, telling the story of a teenage alcoholic through the eyes of twenty people involved in her life. Anyway, he arrived early so we had a coffee. While we were talking his phone rang and it turned out to be Grant Shapps on the line. Apparently Alastair was going to the Conservative conference to promote a campaign by Alcohol Concern, but had been refused a pass. The nice Mr Shapps had intervened, having been tweeted by the spin maestro, and sorted a pass for him. So for the first time in 20 years, Alastair Campbell will be at a Tory conference. If you see him, be nice to him. He’s a pussycat really. No, really.
Watching Campbell buttonhole unsuspecting Tories about minimum pricing was cringeworthy. They probably agreed with his position just to put a swift end to his monologue.
My question to readers here is — how would UKIP supporters feel if Hamilton became party chairman in time?
Did Farage’s fringe appearances help or hinder the Tories? James Forsyth wrote in The Spectator:
… those on the Eurosceptic right of the Tory party feel more confident attacking Ukip for easing Miliband’s way to Downing Street. It was telling that Nigel Farage’s visit to the conference fringe was not the triumphant affair that the Tory leadership had feared. Instead, Farage was harangued by Bill Cash for ‘not acting in the national interest’ and for making it less likely that there would be a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The Tories are quietly grateful for Red Ed’s pledge to restore socialism to our shores — and possibly also to Paddy Ashdown for saying that the Lib Dems are ‘a left-wing party’. Forsyth, along with a number of other commentators, says that Miliband’s closing statements have united the Conservatives and given them more of a common identity. We shall see.