Following the serialisation in the Daily Mail this week of Call Me Dave, the unauthorised biography of the Prime Minister authored by Michael Ashcroft with some assistance from hack Isabel Oakeshott, has come the spin and punditry, some of it informed, and, all too predictably, rather a lot of it totally misinformed. Into this latter category has come the ranting of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
Ms Mensch has decided that poor, unfortunate Michael Ashcroft has been taken for a mug by dastardly publisher Iain Dale and nefarious journo Ms Oakeshott, which is where she is, sad to say, plain flat wrong. Ashcroft and Dale have a business relationship going back some years: the Tory peer is an investor in Biteback Publishing, which published the Cameron biography. So most of her attack is also wrong.
She commented - at length, unfortunately - on Dale’s blog which reproduced his ConHome column, and which discussed the Cameron book. There was enough in Dale’s post to tell anyone who did not already know that Ashcroft was not some kind of innocent party to its publication. Ms Mensch was not for reading and inwardly digesting: she had already made her mind up, and moreover, decided that it was the unvarnished truth.
“Zero sources Iain. Zero sources. You don't have any. Congrats on your first foray into fiction!” she trilled, seemingly unaware that “Piggate” was an anecdote: no other claim was made about it. Perhaps she was equally harsh on Ashcroft’s claim about Tom Baldwin’s foray into the snow. Perhaps she wasn’t. But she did stress “the difference between what I say about #Corbyn and Oakeshott's zero-sourced fantasy is that what I say I cite”.
This, as Zelo Street readers will know, is also crap (see HERE and HERE for two examples from her piss-poor Sun columns; there are lots more from Twitter, of course). She also obligingly emphasised her shaky relationship with reality by then Tweeting “Of course. Labour supporters didn't vote for Corbyn”. A vast majority of registered Labour supporters voted for Jeremy Corbyn. So that claim is crap, too.
All of this meant that Dale tired rapidly of the incessant whining, and after publishing her comment advised her to “Go and bother someone who gives a rat's arse what you think”. Note also that he tagged Michael Ashcroft in that Tweet. Ms Mensch, as so often, declined to take the hint: “Iain Dale's a bit upset that I'm calling out his excuses on #piggate here”. He wasn’t upset. He just has a life, and better things to do.
Call Me Dave has, for a political biography, been a publishing success - as Dale observes, most such books don’t sell more than around 5,000, and the Cameron biography has an initial print run of 35,000. The idea that Michael Ashcroft has been stitched up by his publisher and co-writer is as laughable as it is untrue. And Louise Mensch has no room to call out anyone for falsehood and misinformation.
[UPDATE 28 September 1650 hours: After Iain Dale had not bowed before her superior shouting power, nor withdrawn Call Me Dave in accordance with her dictates, back has come Louise Mensch again and again. And again. This she deems a justification for her view.
@IainDale; he feels entitled to publish unsourced fiction that hurts somebody real, but gets huffy when called on it" she trilled, unaware that quite a lot of people "get huffy" when their points are answered only to be bombarded with what is verging on harassment.@IainDale if you choose to publish a zero-sourced story like that, fine, but to huff off b/c criticised for it? Dish it out, take it". There was a source for the "Piggate" anecdote - but that source remains confidential to the authors.
Meanwhile in the real world, Iain Dale is presenting his LBC show from the Labour conference in Brighton. Louise Mensch is holed up in her reassuringly expensive corner of Manhattan. I'll just leave that one there]
Dave's fictional fairy godmother Louise
Got involved in a factional fight with a Belize
The ambassador won to Lou's tremendous unease
And now she's caught the great tabloid disease
Moral: Don't confuse faction with fiction.
Spot on about Louise here. I actually genuinely like her - a bit like Marmite, I think she's someone you either 'get', or you don't - but her formulation of all this is patently absurd, and her blind spot towards Ashcroft horribly instructive in what it says about the power of such individuals.
You may like to read this too. My take on the whole thing:
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