Boris Johnson, whose family live on Exmoor, Somerset, has been dubbed a "rock star" by David Cameron. A stand-up comedian might be more apt. Wishing Mr Cameron a happy birthday yesterday – the PM turned 46 – he joked: "I was pleased to see that you called me a blond-haired mop in the papers. If I am a mop, David Cameron, you are a broom – a broom that is clearing up the mess left by the Labour government, and a fantastic job you are doing. I congratulate you and your colleagues, George Osborne the dustpan, Michael Gove the J-cloth, William Hague the sponge. It is the historic function of Conservative governments over the last 100 years to be the household implements on the floor of the house, so effective at clearing up after the Labour binge has got out of control."
Austerity hits the Tory party conference. The reception for delegates and MPs from the South West can usually expect a good turn-out given the strength of the party in the region. Would-be guests were surprised to discover, though, a £20 entrance fee was being charged. For context, neither Labour nor the Lib Dems boasted a door tax for their respective regional events. One Conservative MP tells the Western Morning News they were forced to snub the party as they only had a £5 note in their pocket.
Queen guitarist Brian May set up pitch at the Hyatt Hotel in the heart of Tory conference land to persuade MPs against a cull of badgers, which will take place in the South West. East Devon MP Hugo Swire, also a Foreign Office Minister, appeared non-plussed as he was glad-handed by the musician and animal welfare activist. "Yes, I heard you were here," the MP noted, before striding of to his next engagement. Meanwhile, a solitary anti-cull protester also attempted to disrupt a National Farmers' Union fringe meeting starring new Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson, but was strong-armed out of the room by farmers without any of the speakers breaking their stride.
Mr Paterson yesterday made his views clear on onshore wind turbines, which are deeply unpopular in parts of the rural Westcountry. "In my part of the world, local residents – 300 of whom turned up at a public meeting last week – are deeply concerned about the impact of proposed wind farm pylons on their communities," the North Shropshire MP said. "These are the unintended consequences of renewable technology. They risk upsetting the delicate balance of interests that underpins our living, working countryside."