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On Piers Morgan’s wedding, education, Moat, Iraq, celebocracy and Dacre being a wimp

Posted on 11 July 2010 | 3:07am

Apart from lots of journos who send their kids to private schools doing their best to suggest Michael Gove’s cocks-up are not too serious, and David Cameron being ‘terrified’ of London state comprehensives (all part of paving the way for his ‘free schools’ nonsense),the continuing wall-to-wall coverage of Moat-hunt, and the odd (I mean odd) picture of Peter Mandelson in a cravatte, there is very little in the papers to interest or amuse,  except for a few good World Cup final pieces. Hup Holland Hup.

If that was the longest blog intro I have ever written, it may be because my favourite part of this particular entry is at the end, a clue to which is in the headline. But bear with me, don’t just rush there.

On the education front, as I said to Andy Coulson at Piers Morgan’s wedding bash last night (it was that kind of do) I think education could be the issue where the Clegg-Cameron glue holiding the coalition together begins to come apart. Once the cuts bite, and the madness of the free schools policy fully dawns upon Lib Dems who claim to care about education for the many not the few, they will be retreating to that place Lib Dems know best — avoiding difficult decisions when the going gets tough.

But first, thanks to the commenters who felt that my portrayal of 24 hour news in ‘Maya’, (novel complete with Piers endorsement on the front cover for its portrayal of modern celebrity) was if anything less satirical than the actual portrayal of the denouement of the hunt for Mr Moat. Tweet of the week has to be the one pointing out that he had his own TV show – ‘the news.’. And thanks to The Observer for the analysis of the chief constable’s eye shadow. A real advance for women’s equality that one.

… So back to the wedding bash. Fewer photographers waiting behind the barriers than we expected. Perhaps they knew there was to be no Simon Cowell, no  Osbournes, no Posh or Becks, obviously no Cheryl. Get well soon pet.

Our daughter not being with us, I couldn’t tell you the order of merit in the celebocracy, so this is just a random recollection, with apologies to the ones I didn’t recognise or have never heard of – Alan Sugar, Christine Bleakley, Amanda Holden (I think – I tend to confuse her with Anthea Turner), someone called Bruno who someone called Eve (Pollard) told me was a judge in a TV dance show, Eve’s daughter Claudia Winkelman, Kirsty Young, Andrew Neil, Sophie Raworth, Andrea Catherwood, Emily Maitlis (he obviously likes newsreaders). On the sports front Freddie Flintoff (good laugh as ever) and Kevin Pietersen (brighter and more charming than I expected.) Nice too to see Sarah Brown. 

If you are surprised that I had a perfectly civil chat with Coulson, David Cameron’s comms director, I also had one with Adam Boulton, there as Mr Anji Hunter, lifelong friend and near neighbour of Mr Morgan, whose Sussex family home was much grander than I had expected. I thought on arrival it was one of those National Trust-type pads you can hire for weddings and parties and porn shoots.

It was also less of a celeb fest than we had feared, with Piers’ and bride Celia Walden’s families easily outnumbering the A, B, C and D-listers.

I particularly enjoyed meeting Piers’ sons and brothers, who had a very good take on older bro. I was able to satisfy my long-held suspicions that whenever Piers and I had argued about Iraq and Afghanistan, and he had always used in support of his stance the experience and views of his army officer brother who had served in both wars,  brother’s views were in fact closer to mine than his.

But as it was the man’s wedding bash, as a non-party animal I must admit  that as parties go, it was a good one.

However please allow me to close with a descent into pettiness, by revealing that my personal highlight of the evening came as Fiona and I were standing chatting to Kevin Pietersen at the end of the queue for food, when Mail Obergruppenfuhrer Paul Dacre emerged to join the line but then, on spotting me, suddenly decided that he had an urgent appointment back whence he had come. Wimp.

Piers has long held the view Dacre’s loathing of me stems from a deep-seated love that dare not speak its name.

He could have confessed. I was ready for it. Fiona and KP would have understood. The salads were stunning.

*** Buy Prelude to Power here at Amazon.

  • markmembers

    Cravatte? Is that some sort of shrimp you wear round your neck?

  • olli issakainen

    I have read a bit of Sigmund Freud, and it seems to me that both Adam Boulton and Paul Dacre appear to have a psychological trauma about you. For me that would explain their overreactions.
    Mr Boulton may feel insecure in your presence, and perhaps Mr Dacre feels betrayed.
    On the other hand, Woody Allen has said that psychoanalysis is a myth run by the couch industry!

  • Paula Minto

    On top form today AC … a bit of light, a bit of heavy, a bit of serious, a bit of funny, a bit of celebocracy, a bit of politics, and a slap in the face for your friend Mr Dacre. Really enjoyable read. Still find your friendship with Piers odd given the past but there we go. Love the blog looking forward to redesign …

  • Macavity

    The MAndelson ads are truly cringemaking. Did he ask your or anyone else’s advice on this?

  • sarah

    Just managed to “persuade” a fourth friend to join Labour in the two weeks since I joined. Out of the five new members to the CLP four of us are teachers. One of them joined, with a bit of a tweek from me, after reading Cameron’s twaddle this morning which she said made her want to vomit over her keyboard.
    I agree with AC that this will do lasting damage to the coalition. I also wish to add that Labour party members need to be very nice to any teacher friends right now….they are much easier to recruit then Lib Dems who seem too shell shocked to breath right now.

  • Wireman


    I think not.

  • Jacquie R

    I really, really, really don’t want to sound like Mrs Killjoy, but ……I do feel that very glitzy,showy, extravagant, egocentric parties are a bit crass and passe in these difficult times when so many people are trying to make ends meet.

    Being a wedding bash doesn’t make it okay. Today so many couples feel obliged to spend a fortune they can ill afford on their weddings – because they think that is what is expected.

    By all means, bring on the champagne and party, party,, party. I am no ascetic and I’m not suggesting celebrations should consist of brown rice and choruses of cumbaya. It’s just increasingly distasteful for the rich to flaunt their wealth quite so blatantly. It sets a bad example and it creates envy and dissatisfaction.

    Ew that sounds so prudish .. but you know what I mean.

  • Trickie Dickie


    I do know what you mean but I think you are wrong to a certain degree.
    If everyone followed your lead then we would head into a deep recession for certain. What is needed in fact is the opposite. Those who can afford it should continue to spend and those that can’t should not get into dept to do it.
    The wedding may have been lavish to yours and my standards but it paid a few wages contributed to the running costs of the venue. Added to the t/over of the caterer and hopefully generated some taxes for the govt.
    Transport firms will have made money holiday company makes money hotels made money. Florists made money, Wedding presents were bought from retailers who pay wages…I could go on.
    I think all rich single people over 21 should get married and help fuel the economy….tongue firmly in cheek.

  • Richard

    The creepy Mandy ads on TV, and your celeb licking twaddle, topped off with your illiteracy (cravatte!), indicate that you guys who ran the election for Labour are at a loss for something to do, now your mates are no longer in power.

    Most importantly it speaks volumes as to your collective integrity.

  • Graham Jones

    OMG!!! Has Peter Mandelson been at the Angel Dust? And I don’t mean the kind Tinkerbell was covered in. What was he thinking? Once upon a time……..there were two kings…… evil prince…….a king who couldn’t smile? What will the next advert feature? – him wearing fangs? I’ve only just stopped laughing, and I saw it an hour ago.
    I hope this won’t be a trend. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow, and see AC portraying himself as Snow White, with the cabinet as the seven dwarves.

  • David

    What a horrible world you inhabit. How can so many people who profess to loathe each other, break bread with each other and party – and by all accounts a good party as well?

  • Robert Jackson

    So how often is the glitzy wedding an excuse by one party to the marriage to wield control over the other?

    The project too big to fail?

    The Conservative election campaign?

    The new apology for a government?

  • John Riverhorse

    Scanned the Mandelson excerpts in The Times this morning. Wow, amazing, bedazzled…are just some adjectives which do NOT describe my reaction to the General’s prose. COME ON PETER! This is almost a reprint of any braodsheet journo’s account of ‘the fateful days’ following May 6th-but with the odd reference to which window GB was standing in. Searing insight? Well they used the tunnel a lot. But the shocking revelaton is that Clegg insisted that Brown had to step aside for any coalition to take place…YOU’RE KIDDING! Can I just say I’m also fed up with ‘Coalition Speak’. People hit out at New Labour for years pointing to spinful three line alliteration or the repeat couplet in party speeches. Yet all I hear from Clegg is ‘dispersal of power’, ‘devolving’ ‘giving back’. I just have this impression of a bureaucrat who hasn’t a bloody clue what to do with power now that he has it. It’s a kind of ‘Urrgh, we don’t want it-you have it’ politics. Trouble is I haven’t voted for a local sub committee occupied by bumptious rotarians or WI types. Worried!

  • danton2

    @ sarah

    “I also wish to add that Labour party members need to be very nice to any teacher friends right now….”

    so – teachers, lawyers, media junkies, celebs, Campbell, Blair, Mandy, party luvvies…? How the well-paid, well-heeled, well-oiled live, talk about champagne socialists, this lot really are on coke, e…So when the poor and workshy come knocking what have you got for them, tell them to eat cake why don’t you? – sorry coke…New Labour? No, New Tories!

  • sarah

    I joined, as did my colleagues, because I actually give a shit about the kids I teach and the schools I teach in.

  • Graham Jones

    So, Andrew Lansley is going to solve red tape and waste by payinf off people and making others redundant, so they can go and do the same job for a GP. If Lansley thinks that GP’s have the time to control a large NHS budget, then he better think again. Sure, some little megalomaniacs will love the feeling of weilding power over such a budget, but most are skeptical as to the benefits of becoming administrators, as well as running a clinic.
    Would it not be better to look at another way of deciding how the money gets to the areas where it is most needed, rather than go through an expensive cutting exorcise. Redundancies are never cheap, and the administrative costs may well rise in the long term with unforseen costs.
    Time will tell, and if this hair-brained scheme goes doesn’t work, then there will be no hiding place. With different systems in place where power has been devolved in the UK, we will get a direct comparison on the strength of services.
    It sounds like a piece of spin, that’s been concocted by Andy Coulson and David Cameron, again . There were a lot of power words and phrases used, but when you dissect them, they are just shallow sales terms employed to placate the Lib-dems, and for consumption by the lame media. Same old tories – no substance.

  • Alan Quinn

    “they will be retreating to the place Lib Dems know best – avoiding difficult decisions when the going gets tough..”
    Brilliant, can I use that on my leaflets?