Francis Beckett

Yesterday I recounted conversations with Clodagh Hartley, Whitehall editor of the Sun.  Since then I’ve found out that she and I are probably the only two people to have had plays produced in London about the MPs’ expenses scandal. 

So the Metropolitan Police Commissioner thinks it's too easy to sue the police, and wants to make it harder.  Try telling that to Cliff Augur.

On Saturday 5th January 2008, Cliff went to watch Chelsea play football, as he has done most Saturdays for 40 years.  He had with him his two teenage sons and two of their friends. 

Stalin used to talk about socialism in one country, but Labour today seems to have opted for socialism in one family. Ed Milliband’s views are marginally to the left of his brother’s, but that’s not why they chose him.  He may, as Neil Kinnock seems to be saying, have a more common touch than his brother, but that’s not it either.  He is leader because he was not an MP when we went to war in Iraq.

There have only been two baby boomer Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.  With the election of David Miliband or Ed Miliband as Labour’s new leader today, we know that there will never be another. All three Party leaders are now far too young to be baby boomers.

So the Pope worries about "aggressive secularism" and "atheist extremism", does he?

Here's a cationary tale about what we used to call serious newspapers.

The media is all Bob Crow, because television wants him. Television wants him because he says the things television wants to hear.  He says strike.  He doesn't say why.

After 46 years I had hoped I'd meet N.F. Simpson again.  But on the preview night of If So, Then Yes, he wasn't there. He was due the next night, apparently.

Which is a great shame.  In 1964, he man who invented absurdity - the creator of the speak your weight machines which were being taught to sing the Hallelujah Chorus - taught English A-level at the City of Westminster College.  I was one of his students. Actually, he thought I was rather talented.  He said so.

The myth that Tony Blair "made Labour electable again" is getting another outing in the wake of the great man's memoirs.  Yesterday I participated in a small and secret gathering of five people (I'm not allowed to tell you who they are, but they are all well known names and have good political contacts) to choose the Daily Telegraph's 100 most influential people on the left.

Just after Gordon Brown left office, I spoke to his aide Wilf Stevenson, who was helpful when I wrote my instant biography, suggesting Brown might co-operate with a rather fuller version.