White’s club has become the Brextremists’ staff canteen, Highways England’s political messaging and the latest on Sunday Times ‘monkeygate’ scandal.
Brextremists love Mosley’s club
It says everything about how elitist and out of touch Boris Johnson’s government is that White’s club is now to all intents and purposes its staff canteen.
“I’ve seen both Johnson and Dominic Cummings breaking bread here,” whispers my man at the bar. “The Carlton was traditionally the venue of choice for a discreet lunch for ministers and senior advisers to thrash out their differences or to plot, but Johnson’s men seem to see it as simply too naff.”
He adds with a shudder: “Not since Sir Oswald Mosley was a member here has the place been buzzing with such extreme right-wing talk.”
The fanatically pro-Brexit Lord Lamont and the disgraced duo Brooks Newmark and Lord Black – the former Telegraph boss – are among the present “luminaries” of the capital’s oldest club, along with a huge swathe of lesser-known, but nevertheless powerful Johnson backers and a smattering of crusty Whitehall mandarins for whom the £1,000-a-year membership fee amounts to no more than small change.
In June, Johnson was reported to have had a secret meeting with David Cameron at the Carlton, but the story was denied as “total rubbish”. Cameron resigned from White’s in 2008 because its refusal to admit women members did not sit easily with his attempt to portray himself as a moderniser. The last thing Johnson and his junta seem concerned about is being seen as modernisers.
Mandrake is beginning to see method in the madness of Paul Dacre. His handbagging of Geordie Greig – he accused his successor as editor of the Daily Mail of repelling more advertisers than he’s attracting – raised eyebrows as he continues to be handsomely rewarded by the company.
There are whispers that it could well be in Dacre’s interests to rubbish the Mail as he may be about to embark on the long-awaited “second act” of his career: as editor of the rival Daily Telegraph. I reported last year how the Saudi Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel and Evgeny Lebedev – the co-owners of the Independent – were attempting to acquire the Telegraph titles from Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay.
Of course, the Barclays denied the story, but the announcement that their papers are officially up for sale looks to me like a last-ditch attempt to flush out rival bids ahead of accepting the one still on the table. Each year the papers bleed readers, they bleed value. The Daily Telegraph would also make a nice birthday present for Dacre, who is 71 on November 14.
A question for Grant Shapps, the transport secretary who has responsibility for Highways England. Why, as I journeyed to Macclesfield for a wedding over the weekend, did I have to read over and over again on the motorway information signs the words “DRIVING TO EU NEW DOCUMENTS 1 NOV – CHECK”?
As it happens, there were en route a great many queues and other obstructions – including an accident – that I’d rather have been pre-warned about, rather than something that’s clearly not now going to happen. It also seems to me that political messaging – if not trolling – is not what Highways England should be about. No doubt if Dominic Cummings continues to pressurise little Shapps any more these motorway signs will soon be informing us that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, “Brexit means Brexit” and “vote Tory”.
Gina Miller said that newspaper columnists – every bit as much as politicians – must take responsibility for radicalising individuals who are resorting to making murderous threats against her and others. Horrifyingly, the GoFundMe website hosted an appeal to raise money for a hitman to kill Miller and it stayed up for several months. The police are now investigating.
Rod Liddle, the Sunday Times columnist, is, meanwhile, refusing to apologise to Miller for calling her and others “monkeys”. Few, if any words, emit the same stench of racial hatred and it’s by no means startling that the Bulgarian fans who abused England’s black stars in the recent Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia made monkey chants.
I trust Miller will refer Liddle to the press watchdog IPSO, an organisation which has so far failed to take a sufficiently robust line on racism in the media.