On Claire from Harry Motram:
“…And yes I did spend the night with Sasha Swire while her husband watched – if only from time to time. It was election night in 2015 at the count in Sidmouth in Devon. We were all unsure of how the vote would go as the Independent candidate Claire Wright had been closing the gap on Hugo’s massive majority election after election. With one flick of her lustrous hair Claire could increase her vote by 10% at a time amongst men of a certain age, such were her seductive charms. And she was also a highly popular county councillor who had gathered support from all corners of the political spectrum by campaigning on local causes.
In the end Hugo’s vote just about held up on what turned out to be a good night for the Conservatives. I sat next to Sasha all night chatting away about life, families, Hugo and work as a journalist. Charming, fair and with a wicked sense of humour she was very good company. And Hugo wasn’t bad either – although he was on his best behaviour since the room contained several journalists.
I felt sorry for Claire who had made a spirited attempt to usurp Hugo’s very comfortable East Devon seat but Sasha wasn’t so compassionate. “All she wants to be is an MP,” she said, “she doesn’t care about anything else. Look at her counting up the votes as they come in. She’s not had a drink, a chat or a break. She’s obsessed.” Unlike her husband a very relieved Hugo of course who clearly didn’t want to be an MP as he worked the room thanking supporters and congratulating party members who were standing as councillors in local elections counted at the same time….”
Harry Mottram http://www.harrymottram.co.uk
Now to the local Press which reports the comments of a well known local blog that the Swires probably regard as “scurrilous” – Owl
Ex-Devon MP referred to local councillors as ‘toilet seats’
Colleen Smith www.devonlive.com
The wife of former Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire has shocked Westminster with her explosive diaries – but they also lift the lid off the long-standing Tory MP’s attitude to local politics in East Devon.
Lady Sasha Swire’s new book reveals that she and her husband refer to a pair of diligent local councillors as “toilet seats” and that he launched a campaign to save Ottery Hospital – even though he wasn’t standing for re-election – “for no other reason than to annoy” independent Claire Wright.
Local voters rarely get a look-in and party supporters in East Devon are described as being as dotty as the church stalwarts in The Vicar of Dibley .
The diary casually lets slip snippets which show how much independent candidate Claire Wright had become a thorn in Sir Hugo’s side.
The diary entry from just prior to the December 2019 election says: “Hugo launches a campaign to save a local hospital for no other reason than to annoy an independent candidate in his constituency who’s been getting on his nerves……”
Sir Hugo announced his retirement from Parliament months before the General Election. He was Member of Parliament for East Devon from 2001 until 2019.
Claire Wright was supported by actor Hugh Grant and was widely predicted to be within a whisker of winning her election battle, but lost to Conservative Simon Jupp by 6,708 votes.
She said after reading extracts which were serialised in The Times: “Yes it will be an interesting one to read when it’s out although I have no intention of buying a copy.”
“Regarding that specific quote in the Times I think my reaction was firstly, yes I remember that very short-lived campaign and that I had thought at the time that was his motivation.
“I think it’s an insult to Ottery residents and confirms really what we all thought, that he didn’t ever really care about East Devon. I will read the book, if I manage to source one, with much interest.”
Martin Shaw, county councillor for Seaton and Colyton, said the diary entry proved that “the Tories don’t really care about our community hospitals”.
A war of words had broken out just before the election following the government’s announcement that Ottery St Mary Hospital’s future had been secured.
Sir Hugo said at the time that he hoped Ms Wright would not ‘stir up’ more anxiety about the building’s future.
The East Devon Watch local blog commented after republishing extracts from The Times: “We learn from “Sasha’s Secret Diaries” that Hugo was so in with Dave he was the first one Dave called to get drunk with after his defeat.
“So pally, yet Hugo couldn’t get him to do anything for East Devon. (Toilet seats too small to bother with?)”
The Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power is due out next week and the indiscriminate indiscretions have been described as “social suicide”.
The book — described as the most indiscreet political memoir in decades – has 500 pages of disclosures from the last 20 years of politics.
When Lady Swire was asked in an interview by The Times if she had been in touch with those mentioned in the book – her private diaries – for their permission, she blankly replied ‘Oh, I haven’t done that.’
Lady Swire is the 57-year-old daughter of the former defence secretary and one-time Lazard bank chairman Sir John Nott (who once confessed that he fancied Margaret Thatcher something rotten).
The book is creating a storm in the corridors of power, with many greeting it as the best insight ever into the last two decades of politics.
But there is also a backlash. Sarah Vine, writing in the Daily Mail, said of Lady Swire: “I certainly always got the impression that she thought the whole lot of us were utter fools, and that she and Hugo were the only people with any iota of sense. And I’m not sure she was even that certain about Hugo.”
And Marina Hyde in The Guardian says: “Sasha is married to the former MP and minister Hugo Swire, a Cameron-era Tory so obscure I’m amazed even his own wife has heard of him.”
Sasha reveals the nicknames she has for everybody. Former Prime Minister Teresa May is ‘Old Ma May’, George Osborne is ‘Boy George’ while Dominic Raab is ‘Raab C Brexit’. She dubs Donald Trump ‘a filthy, racist misogynist’.
She talks about the dinner at 10 Downing Street in August 2019, when Sir Hugo Swire informed the Prime Minister of his plans to retire as an MP.
During the evening, she reports watching Boris Johnson as he ‘stuffs in more mouthfuls and knocks back the cheapo plonk at an alarming rate’.
In 2019 when Michael Gove is caught in a hoohah about youthful drug-taking, Hugo is asked how he would respond if asked if he had ever taken drugs.
“Five-one-zero-three-nine-four,” barks Hugo. Why? “That’s my army number, the only thing I’m trained to give under hostile interrogation.”
Lady Swire recalls visiting the Camerons for a weekend at their Oxfordshire home, in the wake of the fateful Brexit vote in June 2016.
She claims that then Prime Minister David Cameron asked Sir Hugo Swire to bring ‘two fat Cohibas and plenty of booze’ and was ‘chomping on cigars’ over ‘endless bottles of wine’.
She adds that Samantha Cameron had to muster up some Dutch courage before joining her husband for his resignation speech, feeling unable to do so ‘without drinking a large negroni’.
She also reveals that Cameron is a huge fan of Devon’s own Agatha Christie, describing how he spent his downtime at Chequers watching Poirot murder mysteries.
She wrote how Cameron, in August 2011 while holidaying in Cornwall with the Swires, said: “What more do I want? A great day on the beach, I’m with my old friends and I’ve just won a war.” He was talking of Libya.