Michael Portillo 1, Sarah Vine 0 Photo: Youtube screengrab
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WATCH: Daily Mail columnist and Michael Gove's wife Sarah Vine slammed for her "Mr Spock" Miliband comment

Michael Portillo lambasts Sarah Vine's comparison of Justine Miliband to the late Mr Spock in her Daily Mail column this week.

Sarah Vine talked about newspaper ethics with Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson yesterday evening on BBC's This Week. Andrew Neil, sat back, with a smile on his face. Why? Just watch this fascinating takedown: 

Here's a juicy extract: 

Portillo: "Well, Sarah in her article about Mrs Miliband compared her to an alien - compared her to Mr Spock and said that a government under Ed Miliband would bring a Stalinesque situation. I mean that was pretty tough talk, particularly from someone who's in a position to know how vulnerable you are..." 

Vine: "It's interesting because when I started out in the process I was - well not exactly a sensitive flower - but certainly a much more nicer person than I am now. You just get tough. You have to get tough, otherwise you just can't survive it. 

Portillo: "Yeah but there's something else going on: the corrupting influence of newspapers. Newspapers want you to write that sort of vile stuff. I mean that lady has done nothing wrong in life except that she happens to married to the leader of the opposition. To compare her to alien or Mr Spock in my view is not justified." 

Burn.
 

Here's an extract from Vine column in the Daily Mail yesterday: 

The one thing that was totally lacking from her [Justine Miliband] interview [with BBC on Tuesday], however, was humour. That and any sign of warmth, empathy or fallibility.

Intellectually, I’m certain she understands these concepts. But, like the late Mr Spock, one gets the impression she considers them unnecessary, inconvenient and wholly surplus to requirements.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.