This morning, I'm in love with the Tories . . .

Sayeeda Warsi joins Question Time's "BNP panel"

Hooray! Thank God for the Conservative Party.

Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

According to the Times, the Tories will be putting up Baroness Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion, to represent them next week on BBC1's Question Time against nasty Nick Griffin from the BNP -- as I advocated they should in a post more than a month ago. Yesterday I had been full of despair upon hearing the news that Bonnie Greer would be on the panel, along with the boring, uninspiring, middle-aged, middle-class, white duo, Jack Straw (from Labour) and Chris Huhne (from the Lib Dems), and wondered why the BBC bosses and the three main parties seemed so unconcerned about the lack of a British-born ethnic-minority panellist or a British Muslim panellist to face off against the racist, Islamophobic Griffin. In picking the Dewsbury-born Muslim lawyer, Sayeeda Warsi, the Tories -- and, to be fair, the BBC -- have played a blinder and killed two birds with one stone.

The shadow community cohesion minister is ferociously feisty and combative, and will (I hope!) give Griffin a verbal kicking on the night. She also happens to be from Yorkshire where the BNP have made such inroads in recent months, winning 10 per cent of the vote and a seat in June's European elections, and so she will have an opportunity to expose the Holocaust-denying, Muslim-baiting, hate-inciting Griffin to her fellow Yorkshiremen on national television.

Good on the Tories! And good on the BBC! There's two things you don't often here me say on this blog. Makes a change, eh?

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell a minister

The move is revealed in Ed Balls' new book.

Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell, a sports minister. Campbell had served as Tony Blair’s press chief from 1994 to 2003, Ed Balls has revealed.

Although the move fell through, Campbell would have been one of a number of high-profile ministerial appointments, usually through the Lords, made by Brown during his tenure at 10 Downing Street.

Other unusual appointments included the so-called “Goats” appointed in 2007, part of what Brown dubbed “the government of all the talents”, in which Ara Darzi, a respected surgeon, Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly a United Nations diplomat,  Alan West, a former admiral, Paul Myners, a  successful businessman, and Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI, took ministerial posts and seats in the Lords. While Darzi, West and Myners were seen as successes on Whitehall, Jones quit the government after a year and became a vocal critic of both Brown’s successors as Labour leader, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

The story is revealed in Ed Balls’ new book, Speaking Out, a record of his time as a backroom adviser and later Cabinet and shadow cabinet minister until the loss of his seat in May 2015. It is published 6 September.