John Street’s Diary

Written By: John Street
Published: May 20, 2017 Last modified: May 20, 2017

Our lady of the well
The prime minister’s EU temper tantrums suggest she is a spoilt brat, according to Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. She said: “The truth is that Theresa May paints herself as a bloody difficult woman or a Margaret Thatcher figure, but I think this is less Margaret Thatcher and more Veruca Salt. You can’t just stand there and simply say: ‘I want, I want, I want’ when you are negotiating.” Ms Salt was the appalling little girl in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Red neck friend
Tory Michael Ellis, a former Theresa May bag-carrier at the Home Office who is hoping to retain Northampton North, seriously embarrassed his former boss when he forgot to delete that part of his constituency website in which he said: “Leaving the EU would only embolden Putin. It’s a threat to our economic and our national security.”

Fountain of sorrow
Theresa May topped the Google search rankings in 444 constituencies, with Jeremy Corbyn coming top in 97 constituencies, a BBC analysis found. However, the corporation admitted, “We don’t know the reason why people are searching for their names or whether they view the leaders positively or negatively.” So pretty useless, then.

I am a patriot
Jeremy Corbyn appeared to out himself as a closet royalist. He said: “I would like to pay tribute to Prince Philip following his decision to retire from public service. He has dedicated his life to supporting the Queen and our country with a clear sense of public duty. We thank Prince Philip for his service to the country and wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.” Maybe this is his idea of appealing to the populist vote at the expense of long-held republican principles.

The pretender
Diane Abbott’s car crash interview on police numbers reminded many of a 2000 BBC grilling in which John Prescott got himself into a right pickle over home-building plans. He said: “Can we do it again? I made that crap.” Nick Robinson paused, then said: “Deputy prime minister, do you realise we are live?”
Lawless avenues
Former Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe, a candidate in that party’s second leadership election of 2016, told BBC 5 live that he would now vote for Theresa May rather than his former party leader, Paul Nuttall. No further comment was necessary, but Nigel Farage couldn’t resist. He said that that May is now using the same language he has been using for 20 years. The message was clear, as Lib Dem Tom Brake said: “A vote for Theresa May is now a vote for Nigel Farage. There’s no need for Ukip because the Conservatives have become Ukip.”

For everyman
Yet another 40 top executives who received at least £1 million in their remuneration package last year feature in the latest review by the Labour Research Department. They  run companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 350 index and they received £89.44 million in total last year, an average package of £2.24 million. Homes, takeaway pizza, and online insurance take the top three spots. They are headed by Nigel Greenaway. In April 2016, he retired as board member with responsibility for the South East at housebuilder Persimmon after 30 years at the group. Most people would be happy with his final remuneration package of £12.1 million, which works out at £756,640 for the 16 weeks’ work he put in. The biggest boost to his package was the £11.94 million he received on the vesting of his long-term share bonus scheme. David Wild, chief executive of the world’s leading pizza delivery company Domino’s Pizza, was left in Greenaway’s slipstream. He was on £4.48 million or £86,090 a week. Paul Geddes, chief executive of online insurance group Direct Line, holds third spot with an annual package of £4.07 million, which works out at £78,190 a week. Year-on-year comparisons can be made for 31 out of the 40 executives and 14 saw their packages grow. Thirteen of the increases were for 2.8% or more at a time when growth in average weekly earnings in the whole was running at only 1.9%. David Wild of Domino’s Pizza takes top spot with a 260.2% rise courtesy of a long-term bonus payout in 2016 when none was received the previous year. David Jenkinson, group managing director at Persimmon, takes second spot with a 50.2% hike courtesy of an increase in his annual bonus of over £1/4 million. His package was worth £1.39 million in 2016 – that works out at £26,620 a week. Third spot with a 46.8% rise goes to Jean-Philippe Mouton, an
executive at property group Hammerson. His 2016 package of £1.41 million equates to £27,040 a week. At the bottom end of the scale, John Burns, chief executive of property group Derwent, saw his package shrink by 46.5% to £1.35 million last year. Nevertheless, he still picked up £26,020 a week.

Standing in the breach
A candidate for the Rubbish Party has been elected to East Ayrshire Council. Sally Cogley took the seat after standing on a platform to tidy up the local area, clamping down on litter, dog fouling, fly tipping and pollution. All of which is fair and good, except some people were allegedly confused about what party they were voting for.

Before the deluge
Betfair’s latest odds, which are determined by customer betting patterns, predictably show the Conservatives heavily backed to win the most seats, and a Commons majority: Conservative, 1/33 or 97% chance; Labour, 27/1 or 3% chance, Lib Dems, 299/1. Betfair spokesperson Katie Baylis said: “While the leak of their manifesto has caused embarrassment to the party, punters on Betfair Exchange have actually reacted positively in Labour’s favour. While still huge outsiders, we’ve seen a Labour overall majority shorten from 189/1 at the start of the week to 49/1 and Labour to win most seats come in to 27/1 from 47/1, with 76% of all bets on this market today on Jeremy Corbyn’s party. But the Tories are unlikely to be shaking in their boots and are clearly huge odds-on favourites in both markets.”

Which side?
An unlikely relationship is developing between cross-bench peer and Big Issue founder Lord Bird and the prime minister. They have had talks about a new approach to tackling poverty if she is re-elected as prime minister, and he said: “I’m expectant. I have great expectations”” about a new focus on preventing poverty before it takes root. Bird learnt to read while in prison, while Theresa May grew up comfortably as a vicar’s daughter.

The times you’ve come
The terms of former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie’s departure are being negotiated. Not content with his slurs on Liverpool FC Hillsborough victims, he was suspended for comparing Everton’s Ross Barkley – who has a Nigerian grandfather – to a gorilla. It’s taken far too long, but GOTCHA!

Doctor my eyes
Tribune has been unable to substantiate reports that Corbynistas cheered when the Leader’s limousine ran over the foot of Laura Kaunsberg’s BBC cameraman. Or that others inside Labour HQ cheered equally loudly when Len McCluskey took a tumble down steps outside a manifesto meeting. Both are slurs … as everyone knows, the party’s campaign is a well-oiled machine, a happy, smiley band of brothers and sisters.

About John Street

John Street is Tribune's diary columnist.