Liam Fox was once incensed at having to pay a publisher: now they’re paying him

Andy McSmith

Liam Fox was said to be ‘incensed’ when, as Defence Secretary two years ago, he had to authorise a £151,450 payment to a published called Quercus. They had commissioned a book on Afghanistan by the Daily Telegraph correspondent, Toby Harnden, had it vetted by the MoD, made all the 500 or so changes that the department demanded, and had printed 24,000 copies – only to be told a day before publication date that the top military brass still thought it contained information that threatened national security. His fury was directed at his officials, not at the publishers. Now that he is out of office, I see that he has received £4,100 by way of an advance for a book he is writing – from Quercus Publishers.

But his outside earnings pale in comparison with those of Tim Yeo, the Tory chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee. He has interest in energy companies, the company that tuns the Channel Tunnel, and a consultancy that advises the Ugandans on how turn Kampala University. His latest entry in the Register of Members’ Interests shows that him being paid more than £20,500 last month alone, on top of his MP’s salary.

A document is being put around by the Conservative Party explaining why Eastleigh was “a very bad result” – not for David Cameron, but for Ed Miliband. Twice, it quotes an article written three weeks ago by The Observer’s distinguished political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, in which Rawnsley forecast that it was “just about possible to envisage Labour winning the seat.” Instead, of course, and despite having a lively candidate, Labour limped into fourth place.

But it was wrong of the Tories to draw attention to this piece, because Rawnsley clearly added “if it happens, remember you read it here first. If it doesn’t, forget I ever mentioned it.” I’ve forgotten. And so should they.

Not all the week’s by election news was good for the Lib Dems, by the way. In a contest for a spare seat on Coatbridge council, in Lanarkshire, the Lib Dem candidate came fifth in a field of five, with less than three quarters of one per cent of the vote, while Labour hovered up nearly 79 per cent. But that’s Coatbridge.

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    Great oaks from little acorns grow.

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