Piers Morgan’s diary: What I have in common with Jeremy Corbyn – and Katie Hopkins

Plus: Throwing £20 at Cherie Blair, a night with Christopher Hitchens, and other conference memories

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

Party conference season is the most pointless waste of money, time and liver quality ever devised. I attended these sweaty, drunken gatherings for ten years during my newspaper-editor days and achieved nothing constructive other than clarity over which is the best way to treat a monstrous hangover. (Answer: my late grandmother’s recipe of vine tomatoes on toast, laden with thick Marmite and gargantuan grinds from a pepper mill.) But they were fun, so long as I adhered to the golden rule: always leave the bar before 2 a.m., thus avoiding the moment when enough alcohol emboldens other delegates, and indeed one’s own staff, to tell you what they really think of you.

Politicians use their conferences to plot, scheme, shore up support and remind us all that they’re a bunch of self-interested charlatans. I recall dinner with newly appointed home secretary Jack Straw during the 1997 Brighton gathering, where I asked what he would do about Moors murderer Myra Hindley, whose parole was being considered. ‘Officially, I fully intend to afford her the same rights as any other prisoner in Britain,’ he replied. Then he smirked like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. ‘Unofficially, if you think I’m going down as the home secretary who released Myra Hindley, then you must be fucking joking!’

The dreaded conference hall, devoid of functional air-conditioning and featuring an interminable roster of dreary speakers, is best avoided. I had far more entertainment off-piste. There was the annual Daily Mirror lunch with the Blairs, where Cherie’s behaviour towards me depended on how she viewed my conduct in the preceding year. She was friendliest just after I’d declined to publish topless paparazzi photos of her on a beach. ‘My heroic knight in shining armour!’ she gushed when we sat down. She was least friendly after I’d successfully campaigned against a whacking pay rise for her husband and his cabinet. ‘We have bills to pay!’ she said. ‘Here,’ I retorted, chucking a £20 note across the table, ‘get the kids something nice for Christmas.’

Then there was the night I persuaded Boy George to reform Culture Club for a party in Bournemouth, and watched Peter Mandelson grooving to ‘Karma Chameleon’ like a Walking Dead zombie poked with a cattle prod. My favourite conference memory, though, involves a dinner with Christopher Hitchens in Blackpool which concluded with him announcing he was going to jump up in the middle of Bill Clinton’s speech the next day and declare: ‘I am Christopher Hitchens from the Daily Mirror and for bombing Iraq to distract attention from your affair with Monica Lewinsky, I hereby accuse you of war crimes!’ He was deadly serious. Fortunately, or perhaps not, I sobered up enough by the morning to dissuade him.

Jeremy Corbyn and I have much in common. We both went to prep school, grew up in a sumptuous country home, had disappointing A-level results, support Arsenal and opposed the Iraq war. Oh, and he has brother called Piers (I have one called Jeremy). Yet his ascension to power in the Labour party is only marginally less ludicrous than if I were the newly elected leader. This is a guy we deemed too much of a nutty, left-wing extremist to feature in the pages of the Mirror. Dwell on that bombshell as you munch on your lentils, comrades.

The explanation for Corbyn’s rise is not dissimilar to that of my friend Donald Trump in the American presidential race. Both men have capitalised on boredom and irritation with the political class. They attack opponents and colleagues with equal gusto, and seem to relish all the opprobrium that rains down on their head. The Donald rang me last week. ‘Can you believe this, Piers?’ he chuckled, referring to his soaring poll numbers. Well yes, I can actually. Just as I can understand why Corbyn is where he is, even if I find it preposterous. There’s a refreshing authenticity about Trump and Corbyn, which is appealing regardless of whether you agree with them. ‘See you at the White House!’ cried Trump when he hung up. I wouldn’t bet against it.

Katie Hopkins is my new bedfellow. Not a discovery that instantly warms the cockles of one’s heart, never mind any other organ. She has defected from the Sun to Mail Online, the world’s most popular English-speaking newspaper website, for whom I am the US editor-at-large. Ms Hopkins’s column flames with invective from the ‘migrants are cockroaches’ school. Yet when you meet her in the flesh, she’s an altogether less displeasing creature; warm and amusing… cuddly, almost. I can relate to this vast disparity between public profile and private persona. We’re both massively misunderstood human beings.

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Show comments
  • Clive

    I didn’t read this piece, I just wanted to express my disgust at The Spectator using this man who is a liar and a crook. He used pictures about the Iraq War which showed British soldiers ‘torturing’ Iraqis which were all made up http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3716151.stm.

    He used share tips from the Mirror’s city column while he was editor to line his pockets and tried to get people to cover up for him http://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/nov/04/pressandpublishing.mirror.

    That’s not to mention phone hacking http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11553405/Piers-Morgan-questioned-again-by-police-over-phone-hacking.html

    As long as journalists ‘protect their own’ like this, however disgusting these people are, they will have a worse reputation than politicians.

    • Dystopian

      Agreed. The only acceptable excuse is that the editor intends it to be a Dummies’ Guide to the Peril of Smug Self- Regard.

  • BugBoiz

    Shameless name dropping? Not saying anything of worth? Bias towards people he knows? Awkwardly humourless?

    Classic Piers article.

    • 5JimBob

      No true! The comment about Peter Mandelson dancing like a ‘Walking Dead Zombie being poked with a cattle prod’ made reading this a truly rewarding exercise!

    • Zanderz

      Did you read the one about his exclusive cocktail party with Bill Clinton? (couple of days ago in the DM). All of the above plus a lovely dose of historical revisionism and bandwagon hopping. I doubt there’s an original thought in his head.

      • PaD

        I still enjoy the memory of his implosion on HIGNFY

    • rtj1211

      Note that the former tabloid editor is always remarkable forgiving of the extramarital sh***ing that he, Coulson, Brooks and Murdoch all got up to/get up to.

      How any of them didn’t lose their careers because of it is beyond me.

      What’s so special about highly paid media types which allows them to break all the rules they hang politicians for??

  • davidshort10

    PM got where he is despite a lack of talent, humour and just about any human quality by cuddling up to people in power, the first being Rupert Murdoch. No wonder he continues to name drop in every thing he writes. Trouble is, a lot of them are past their best, over the hill etc, now. Let’s hope he’s already made enough to retire on.

    • rtj1211

      Oh, he has certain talents. He’s very good at running a tabloid, although he lost his job due to a calculated risk that went awfully wrong. He’s good at hacking phones, which is one of the great outsourced industries of all UK business nowadays. He’s even semi-good at interviewing sports stars on TV.

      What he isn’t any good at is trying to be a moral voice of conscience, because everyone knows he’s screwed around in marriage twice, he’d sell his grandmother for a tabloid exclusive and he hacked phones without understanding what was wrong with it.

  • Andrew Phillips

    Yes we get it… you know people

    Put your narcissism and obsession with fame aside for a second and you might write an interesting article

    • 5JimBob

      Hi Andrew, did you read the whole thing before posting this? If so, you can’t criticize.

      • Andrew Phillips

        Did you read my whole comment before replying? If so, you can’t criticize.

        Doesn’t make sense does it?

        • 5JimBob

          Okay. my logic, such as it was, was that the article was definitely “light” in the intellectual sense – gossip style entertainment – and this was obvious from the first paragraph. So, anybody reading the whole thing must have found the thing sufficiently worthy to continue to the end. That is to say, interesting.

          I found it lightly amusing myself, enough to devote the couple of minutes of time required to read it. I found the mental image of Peter Mandelson “grooving to ‘Karma Chameleon’ like a Walking Dead zombie poked with a cattle prod.” entertaining enough to be worth the entire effort.to read the whole thing.

          • Andrew Phillips

            Ok Piers

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  • douglas redmayne

    I agreed with what Katie Hopkins said about immigrants and with her reaction to the dead foreign 3 year old and the spasm of emotional incontinence it elicited.

    • willshome

      And that illuminates us how?

    • LG

      You’re both cockroaches with a lot in common then.

  • Josh Smith

    I didn’t read this but fuck you.

  • Richard Heffernan

    Yawn. Please ban this crashing, self seeking bore from these pages. What are you thinking, Spectator???

  • Beth Williams

    It is far from clear what is the point of this dreary exercise in name dropping.

    • rtj1211

      Mr Morgan was probably paid a few grand by Fraser Nelson to write it……perhaps if you don’t want him to be paid that sort of amount again, you and your kind should lobby Mr Nelson and threaten to stop buying his rag if he does??

  • Alaa Al-Mohammad

    “But they were fun, so long as I adhered to the golden rule: always leave the bar before 2 a.m., thus avoiding the moment when enough alcohol emboldens other delegates, and indeed one’s own staff, to tell you what they really think of you.”

    Maybe that’s something only you have to deal with Piers. Maybe because you do things like this:

    “‘Here,’ I retorted, chucking a £20 note across the table, ‘get the kids something nice for Christmas.’”

    Am I supposed to think ‘what a baller’?


    What could Piers Morgan have in common with the absolute C*** that is Katie Hopkins ?

    • MathMan

      I think you’ve answered your own question there.

    • rtj1211

      He’ll do anything for publicity……

  • Felixthecat

    Piers Morgan is always painfully on message.

  • j33per

    “Party conference season is the most pointless waste of money, time and liver quality ever devised”.

    Incorrect, there’s someone called Piers Morgan.

    • rtj1211

      Surely if you managed to drink soft drinks, you would have an unparalleled opportunity to pull women, since all the competition would be rapidly incapable of doing so??

  • Tarquin Gaylord

    Piers, you are such an attractive man.

  • Partner

    Disgusting murdoch filth. He would be truly at home as a Kapo in auschwitz.

  • NickG

    Not read this piece, have no interest. What on earth has got into the Speccie’s collective head getting this utter arse to sully their pages?

    • PaD

      This has put me off the Spectator..a great deal…WTF is going through their heads? Its professional suicide having this nomark on their team

  • Ralph

    ‘What I have in common with Jeremy Corbyn – and Katie Hopkins’, did they both hack phones and lie about British troops committing war crimes then hide in the US to avoid prosecution?

  • hobspawn

    Can’t traitors still be hanged? It’s a shame the law is not applied in the case of the repulsive Morgan. I don’t believe in the death penalty but for me, Morgan would be the exception which proved the rule.

  • MC73


  • Clive

    I have not read this piece and if this person keeps appearing in here that will be the end of my Spectator subscription.

    He tried to cover it up his involvement with insider trading when he was at The Mirror

    Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan tried to persuade Viglen’s PR adviser to lie over the timing of a conversation with one of the paper’s City Slicker columnists, a court heard yesterday. In his witness statement read out in court, Nick Hewer said Mr Morgan had asked him to say the conversation had taken place later in the day than was actually the case because he was “in trouble” over his dealings in the technology company’s shares…

    He put fake pictures of ‘British soldiers torturing Iraqis’ in the Mirror

    …The pictures provoked fears that they would endanger the lives of British troops in Basra. After a fortnight of recriminations, demands for an apology reached a climax once the Ministry of Defence declared that they could not have been taken in Iraq.

    Col David Black, a former commanding officer of the regiment, said: “It is time the ego of an editor is measured against the life of a soldier.”

    A statement from Mirror publishers Trinity Mirror said last night: “The board of Trinity Mirror has decided that it would be inappropriate for Piers Morgan to continue in his role as editor of the Daily Mirror and he will therefore be stepping down with immediate effect….

    He is involved in phone hacking

    Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror and television host, has been questioned under caution for a second time about phone hacking.

    I am all for not convicting someone until they are proven guilty. He was proven guilty over the fake pictures and that, in ‘journalistic’ terms should have been the end of his career.

    I noticed that he was on Andrew Neil’s ‘This Week’ a few weeks ago so presumably this has something to do with Andrew Neil.

    It shows poor judgment.

  • plainsdrifter

    Very amusing. And certainly more amusing than the bitchy remarks posted here. Guttersnipes.

    • PaD

      Little amuses the innocent

  • PaD

    Morgan is a nonentity in real terms

  • Solage 1386

    Piers and Jeremy are kunts. Katie is not. What then is the connection? This article makes no sense