One mention in the Times Diary might normally be enough, but two in one day? That normally spells trouble… And so this is what they printed this morning under the headline TIPSTERS HAVE RESHUFFLE BLUES…
Political prediction is a dangerous business (Lord knows I’ve made lots of duff calls), but the Telegraph has probably buried its headline from last weekend that suggested Eric Pickles and Iain Duncan Smith would “make way for women” in the reshuffle. Likewise, The Mail on Sunday will forget its “scoop” that Liam Fox was set for a comeback. The champion tipster was the publisher and broadcaster Iain Dale, who made 20 predictions on his website and got most right, including William Hague leaving the Foreign Office, Pickles and IDS staying put and Michael Fallon stepping up. Perhaps Dale might now like to pick a Tory candidate for mayor of London in 2016. With Seb Coe and Karren Brady losing interest, they lack a big hitter.
And then came this…,
Well-lubricated Westminster pub gossip suggested last week that Lord Ashcroft, the party’s eminence grise, is keen on Dale himself standing for mayor. Dale laughs it off, sort of. “I don’t detect a clamour from the good people of London for me to stand,” he says. “I’m not exactly Boris Mark 2. Or maybe that is a good thing . . .”
I think that bit of gossip was incredibly well lubricated. I can assure you that Lord Ashcroft and I have had no conversations about this and if we had I suspect one of us would have fallen off our respective perches laughing at the suggestion. Well, both of us would, probably. The key in this world is to know your limits. And I know mine. Really. In the words of George Bush Snr, ‘Not gonna happen’.