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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Boris Must Be Fancied – Or Else

Allegra Mostyn-Owen, whose sole claim to fame is that she was the first to marry London’s occasional Mayor (and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, let the cat out of the bag about her former husband in an otherwise unremarkable Standard interview: “He needs the adulation of others. He can’t thrive without that”.

Crikey chaps, more success! Yikes!! Down, Percy!!!

So when a new biography of Bozza came out earlier this year, and turned out not to paint him in a totally adulatory manner, the response was all too predictable. Author Sonia Purnell was discovered to have previously worked alongside Johnson during his time in Brussels, and so the spin went out: here was an act of spite from a woman scorned and therefore unreliable of mind.

Sonia Purnell not with a flea in her ear

The reasoning behind this was straightforward: Bozza does rather well with the gels, dontcha know, so must be some kind of magnetic presence before whom attractive women go suitably mushy before readily engaging in what Private Eye might have called “discussions of a Ugandan nature with a view to reaching Kampala”. Ms Purnell is an attractive woman, ergo she had the hots for Bozza.

This tactic was signally unsuccessful. The book came out, it sold well, and Ms Purnell was duly invited to appear on the BBC. Then she wasn’t. Then she really was, but afterwards, the Corporation got cold feet about her. Those “close to” Bozza were making unfavourable noises. It was “talk to her and lose access to Boris”. And she could forget turning the book into a stage play.

Then, as Sonia Purnell put it, the “lost love” suggestion “was even put to me as virtual fact on air by a big-name Tory broadcaster on a leading independent radio station”. Did she mean Iain Dale on LBC? Hey, she did mean Iain Dale on LBC! And this can be confirmed following a decidedly testy Twitter exchange between Dale and Adam Bienkov earlier today.

Dale did not deny he had put the claim to her. The to-and-fro became difficult when Dale clearly thought he was being accused of being one of those briefed by Team Bozza. He wanted to let it be known that it was merely “what a lot of people were saying at the time”. Bienkov was not convinced, observing “it’s a pretty nasty smear when you have no actual evidence”.

Iain Dale can be appallingly thin skinned (which is almost certainly why Peter McKay, the World’s Worst Columnist (tm), had a go at him which was only mildly homophobic) but this is curious: a not particularly pleasant assertion is made, just as Team Bozza would have liked, but the perpetrator is then at pains to say he wasn’t part of any organised smear campaign, honest.

One thing is for sure: nobody disses Bozza and emerges unscathed. Oo-er chaps!


Iain Dale said...

How odd that you didn't actually link to the article which Adam Bienkov was referring to. Doesn't suit your argument, does it?


Yes I am thin skinned when some two bit author accuses me of unprofessionalism but hasn't got the guts to actually name me.

And please do explain how you can be "mildly homophobic". You either are or you aren't, and he was.

Tim Fenton said...

Iain, I had not seen your piece. Yes, I do follow you on Twitter but also get distracted by other matters. The post has been updated to include a link to it, as there is no intention on my part of excluding anyone mentioned in the post.

My point about McHackey was that his dig at you was mild by the standards of the Daily Mail. If you are still unsure what I mean, check out their attitude towards the likes of Chris Bryant.

In any case, the main thrust of the post is that I find this desire to lay into Sonia Purnell fascinating. If she's not a very good author, then why all the attention?

Heck, she's got a story to tell, and we've all got to earn a crust. Why be so sore about it?

Iain Dale said...

Indeed she has got a story to tell, and I gave her half an hour on my programme to talk about it. She seemed to enjoy it very much. There wasn't a hint of unhappiness.

So when I read something which is clearly aimed at me, where she sneers about me being a "Tory broadcaster" and conniving with Boris, forgive me if I get a bit sore. I think it's an entirely reasonable reaction.

Tim Fenton said...

We agree on something at last! But I didn't read Ms Purnell's CiF piece as "sneering" in the least. You may no longer be a party member, but many I suspect will still characterise you as "Conservative", if not "Tory", whatever your attempts to ensure everyone gets, er, "equal grilling".

But many thanks for looking in. I do find this Boris business interesting, especially as what Ms Purnell describes looks like the kind of treatment meted out to the likes of Tim Donovan of the Beeb.

Tim said...

Considering the readiness with which Iain Dale will turn a blind eye to or even seek to gain from false accusations of paedophilia from his fellow Conservatives I am genuinely amused that he should be so upset over this.

Nor surprised, mind. Just amused.

It's equally funny that he should moan about people not linking to this or that; Iain made a regular habit on his old 'blog' of taking down straw man arguments while not linking to the actual argument he claimed he was 'destroying'

Tell me, Iain, do you still refuse to alter the headline on your site that falsely claims/implies I was given a warning by police for harassing Nadine Dorries? That was the wording of your Conservative chum Dorries, and not that of police, who are clear that they gave advice about future action, not any warning about any past or future action as you imply. You've been advised of this. Why not change the headline? Or do you demand standards of others that you are not willing to meet yourself? Or, even more likely, is it more a case of you being a man who is willing to smear critics on behalf on Conservatives with which you are personally/politically aligned?

Tim said...

Oh, and Iain; may I quote you on this? "Yes I am thin skinned"

... because it's nice to see you've at least matured enough to be able to admit this.