Knives are out for a round of back stabbing

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Why are politicians such bad losers?

Within hours, almost, of Labour’s defeat, the knives were out for Ed Miliband. People who, ostensibly at least, had been supporting him leadership for five years, suddenly rounded on him as “useless” and other derogatory epithets.

The Labour MP Caroline Flint, who is planning to stand for the deputy leadership of the party, says Labour is now fighting for its very existence. But even more striking is the turmoil which is now engulfing Ukip. Its blokeish leader Nigel Farage was suddenly and astonishingly accused by one of his most trusted lieutenants, Patrick O’Flynn, the MEP, as “snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive”.

When O’Flynn worked in the Press Gallery of the House of Commons before he entered politics, I found him a cheerful, amiable, mild-mannered individual who would never say anything ill about anybody. That is why his ferocious attack on Farage is all the more surprising. Farage kept his word and resigned the leadership after his defeat at Thanet South.

Many in the party believe he should have taken the “short break” - which one of his new-found critics insolently advised him to do - and wait for an all-party leadership process in which he could legitimately take part. Ukip polled 4m votes and secured just one seat, Douglas Carswell’s Clacton. Now Carswell is having a row with the leadership over the amount of public money he and the party should accept for maintaining their offices.

Politicians seem incapable of accepting defeat with a good grace. Instead they are behaving like prima donna Premiership footballers.

I hope the Government cracks down hard on the bullying tactics of many charities, whose “hounding” of Britain’s longest-serving poppy seller, Olive Cooke, 92, may have contributed to her apparent suicide in a gorge in Bristol. This tragic case has highlighted the sometimes ruthless tactics employed by certain charities to extract money out of often vulnerable people.

These charities are sometimes too ready to submit cold calls and avalanches of expensive marketing material through the letterbox, turning them into slick business concerns rather than charity appeals.

If businesses in the private sector adopted these kinds of methods, they would almost certainly be acting illegally.