Should I talk to the media off the record?

Story of Ming and Gordon’s siren voice rumble on. I am called by Sky, BBC and Daily Politics to see if I will just have a chat – off the record if I like. Hmmmmmmm – never be fooled by journalists saying they want a chat off the record! And there’s nothing more to say – Gordon wants us. We don’t want him!

PS If you want to know what I think Gordon will be like as Prime Minister – read this.

Crime figures

Up early to be at Sky News crack of dawn to speak for the Lib Dems as the latest crime figures are published today.

There are two sets: the British Crime Survey which is a massive survey of people and how many crimes they have experienced. These figures show overall crime is reducing – including violent crime, which is down by 11%.

The other set of figures published is from the police, and shows the numbers of crimes recorded by them. As these are absolute figures rather than a survey they might seem more accurate – but they are very dependent on the rules for recording crime and a change in the rules can make a big change in the numbers even if reality hasn’t changed. One example – when the police got much better at taking rape seriously there were big increases in the figures for rape – because they were recording and investigating more – not because there was a big leap in rape.

The recorded crime figures also record crime dropping – but violent crime up 6%. So it is obvious to me that the story will be the difference between these two figures.

As indeed it is!

It strikes me that as 48% of violent crime is alcohol related that the Government might just pause for thought about relaxing the licensing laws and introducing 24 hour drinking just at this moment in time.

The problem with the Government’s Violent Crime Reduction Bill is it does the ‘tough on crime’ bit of the equation – but doesn’t have any measures to address the seemingly British malaise where young people drink themselves to oblivion on a Friday and Saturday night.

Whilst I am personally in favour of changing licensing hours so all the pubs don’t empty out at the same time – the timing of Labour’s licensing plans really isn’t smart.

Spend much of the morning yoyo-ing between the Commons and doing media interviews. Then back to the Commons to gen up on what’s in the papers ready to go back to Millbank to the Beeb for the Daily Politics show with Andrew Neil.

My only encounter thus far with him was during the General Election of 2001 when Sky did a late night program on ‘rising stars’ on which I went with a Labour and Conservative equivalent. At that time I was a distant third hoping to rise to second in the election. I remember Neill saying something derogatory about the Lib Dems – like well you’re only a Lib Dem so who cares what you say. And I remember giving as good as I got! He loved it.

The other thing I remember about that night was outside of the studio I spoke to a psephologist who was pontificating on the election and is likely swings and directions. He asked me what I was hoping for – and I said ‘obviously to win – but a good second would be an achievement in itself’. He said he would eat his hat if I even got into second place. I swept magnificently into second place – but sadly couldn’t remember this guy’s name to recontact him with a view to watching said spectacle of hat-eating ceremony!

Anyway – today we will be discussing Muslim communities and retired people abroad getting winter fuel allowances. Neill starts by having a go (as it is the last day of the Parliamentary term) about the so-called long holidays MPs have.

Bollocks to that – I have only had a couple of days off since going back after Christmas, I do a seven-day week, and weekdays are usually 10 to 18 hour days. So pooh to you Andrew Neill. He is unmoved – and obviously thinks all MPs do nothing. He says he will come and check on me in the constituency and I say just fine!

I think the only way political pundits will be happy is if we have no holidays, reduce our pay, cut our staff and office allowances and expenses and I hear that Marks and Sparks do a good line in hair shirts!

David Davis joins us for a section of the show and for reasons that remain a complete mystery to me spends the entire time of his interview refusing to admit that he is going to stand for the leadership of the Tory Party. Completely bonkers.

Rush back to Commons for lunch with someone who wants to discuss the future of the Liberal Democrat party with me! My researcher appears to tell me that 4 bombs have gone off – or more accurately 4 detonators have gone off which appear to have failed to detonate the bombs themselves – thank God. Much evidence will therefore be available to the police and security forces.