Set in 440 acres of Oxfordshire countryside and built around a striking 18th-century manor sits the Heythrop Park estate. It hardly screams “We’re all in it together”.
The luxury manor in Chipping Norton was the venue for an outing for David Cameron and his MPs last week. About 200 arrived for a day of bonding and phones turned off.
The “smart casual” dress code was taken seriously, with jeans and open necked shirts the order of the day. Keith Simpson MP guided MPs that, “Casual is jeans and a T-shirt and we wouldn’t want to be mistaken for Young Liberal Democrats.”
In a jam-packed day there were presentations on the media. This, according to sources, was concerned with explaining Twitter to the MPs
Spin doctor Lynton Crosby updated the MPs on the party’s campaign strategy. The sources claim this was that they should criticise Labour.
At 6pm, the hard work of blue sky thinking drew to a close and some went for a drink in the hotel bars.
While lunch was casual, with MPs standing around over small bowls of pasta and Caesar salad, dinner featured a formal seating plan. Joy upon joy it was followed by a quiz from the Latin-loving education secretary, Michael Gove.
Cameron told MPs that nine journalists had been stopped by police trying to get into the event. He added, “I don’t know if they were tasered.”
MPs don't like the food we buy them
Whining MPs are complaining about the quality of food and service at the House of Commons. They were moaning about undercooked fish, “not enough chips”, and tofu “like rubber”.
One diner who was treating a party of guests to lunch in the Strangers’ Dining Room, said he was “horrified” when told it had run out of certain vintages of wine.
Another complained after putting £2 in a vending machine for a sandwich costing £1.75 and not getting any change. “Is it possible to be reimbursed?” he wrote.
We shell out more than £5 million a year to fund a 75 percent subsidy on food and drink for MPs, which allows them to sup pints of beer for just £1.70.
The subsidy also allows MPs and their guests to tuck into a rump steak, hand-cut chips and Bearnaise sauce for a modest £7.80, and slow-cooked belly of pork with shallot mash and balsamic tomatoes for just £3.55.
Nigel Farage says he is not a fascist
Ukip’s Nigel Farage appeared to have grown a Hitler-style moustache when speaking to BBC Breakfast (below).
He had been talking about Enoch Powell following revelations that teachers saw him as a “racist” and a “fascist” at school.
A teacher said that, at a Combined Cadet Force camp organised by Dulwich college, Farage and others had marched through a Sussex village “shouting Hitler-youth songs”.
Ukip’s Godfrey Bloom said a debate on women in politics was “full of sluts”.
The MEP spoke after two of his colleagues said they don’t clean behind the fridge—a previous Bloom complaint.
He also hit a journalist for asking why there were no black people pictured on the conference brochure.
Get your Thatcher gun here
Demand has picked up for the gun engraved with the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s face, after the trophy failed to sell at auction in June.
J Purdey & Son’s shotgun was put up for sale by a retired boss who credits Thatcher with creating the entrepreneurial culture that allowed his office cleaning business to flourish.
It has now changed hands for £32,000.
Nice work, if you can get it
If you’ve got some time on your hands, why not apply for this job working for the queen?
Buckingham Palace is on the hunt for a Royal Horological Conservator, someone to wind up her 1,000 clocks and check they are accurate. One of the biggest tasks is to help change the clocks in March and in October.
Eviction made in Chelsea
The first apartment in One Hyde Park to be repossessed is on sale.
The one-bedroom flat in London’s most expensive block was originally bought by Irish property developer Ray Grehan. He paid £3.7 million for the fourth-floor property in 2007.
The “entry level” apartment in Knightsbridge, yards from Harrods, comes with a parking space and its own allocated section of the wine cellar.
It is now being marketed for £5.25 million by agents Strutt & Parker.
Charity begins at Eton
New guidance issued by the Charity Commission means posh private schools can continue to benefit from low taxes as charities.
They can now get rid of any subsidised places for poorer children. That is how they claim to be charitable.
The Charity Commissioner is William Shawcross. The royal biographer was given the job by the Tories. His daughter is a key economic advisor to George Osborne.
Poor? Buy fewer clothes
Vivenne Westwood told reporters at London fashion week, “I know I’m lucky, I can just take things and borrow them and I’m just okay, but I hate having too many clothes. And I think that poor people should be even more careful.”
People working for Westwood need to be very careful. She is currently advertising for five unpaid workers for a five-day week for three months.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is advertising for two interns to work in education and external affairs. And the salary? Travel and expenses only. Blair has earned a reputed £50 million.