Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Spin Doctor Writes. Ace PR Man Tad Friendly Tells All to Peter Bradshaw

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Spin Doctor Writes. Ace PR Man Tad Friendly Tells All to Peter Bradshaw

Article excerpt


JUST because the Christmas season is almost upon us doesn't mean there's any letup in the sheer grinding stress of my life as a political consultant. By no manner of means. Like everyone associated with this administration, I'm always passionately concerned that 21st century Britain gets the quality of life it deserves.

Just the other night I woke up in a cold sweat because so few homes in the UK have broadband internet access.

"Jesus!" I gasped. "Internet access is just too slow through a normal BT line!"

It was only when my lady wife Normandie made me a cup of valerian herb tea that I could get back to sleep again.

But what has really upset me is this business about Elizabeth Filkin, our doughty parliamentary standards commissioner. Oh, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth. You really have been very silly making such a fuss.

And your letter to the Speaker, Mr Martin Michael - or is it Mr Michael Martin? - alleging a "poisonous campaign of smears and destabilising innuendo" by my office is really quite extraordinary. At the request of Keith Vaz, Peter Mandelson and others, I may possibly have briefed various media outlets and parliamentarians about concerns with regard to the way Elizabeth's role was constituted. Or perhaps not.

I really can't remember. I would have to check my appointments diary.

I ACTUALLY had dealings with Elizabeth many years ago when she was an inspector with the Inland Revenue. It was towards the end of the 1980s and, I admit it, my personal and business finances were a little unorthodox. My accounts were not entirely halal.

There may have been a smidgen of exaggeration in the amount of petrol mileage claimed. There were some consultancies undertaken for cash; some payments in kind, one or two hospitality trips to the United Arab Emirates, racing at Dubai, quad-bike events in Oman, that sort of thing. Christ, everyone was at it!

But that didn't wash with Elizabeth, did it? Not for nothing was she known as The Terminator. And as my accountant, the late, great Leo Krank, and I saw her coming up the path, we felt like that poor, young woman when Arnold Schwarzenegger is clanking after her in the final reel. …

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