Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Let me give you some advice

Following Nicholas Blincoe's unpleasant and unfunny attack on Chris Huhne, and the controversy over whether he is an advisor to Clegg, Jonathan Calder asks whether he can be considered a 'former volunteer adviser to Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy', having occasionally written jokes for them.

Goodness knows what qualifies someone to style themselves an 'adviser'. I remember that the journalist Paul Johnson often claimed to have 'advised Margaret Thatcher on trade union reform', as thought the two of them had crushed Arthur Scargill together, unaided. Yet Johnson is mentioned only once in Thatcher's memoirs, suggesting his role was not quite as great as he likes to think.

Most strange of all was the period when the late Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, then leader of the Lib Dem Peers, allowed himself to be described as an adviser to Tony Blair, who was then leader of the Labour party. So a parliamentary leader of one party was acting as adviser to the leader of another when the two organisations were not in alliance or coalition. A very odd business indeed.

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