Andy McSmith's Diary: After Esther McVey, it was Chris Bryant's turn to get a rough ride from Speaker John Bercow

John Bercow has apologised for the quip in which he likened the Employment minister, Esther McVey, to a washing machine. He was pulled up today by the Tory MP Heather Wheeler who suggested that it was not the sort of thing the Speaker should be saying to a female minister.

Andy McSmith's Diary: You can't say John Bercow is sexist - he's rude to everyone

John Bercow, the Speaker, risked setting off a row about sexism when he made a sarcastic comment at the expense of employment minister Esther McVey who had just given a 95-word answer to a question from an MP. “I am reminded of the feeling when one thinks the washing machine will stop – but it doesn’t,” the Speaker remarked.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Sir Malcolm Rifkind's exit clears path for Kensington's first female MP

Kensington Conservative Association, which has suddenly lost its sitting MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, will be choosing a new candidate on Friday the 13th, and whoever they choose is as near as guaranteed to be the next MP. Party headquarters have received an avalanche of applicants, from which they will pick six names, which the local party will whittle down to three.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Want to be a non-dom for tax? Just ask your dad

One of the more extraordinary revelations thrown up by the HSBC scandal is that a rich man who counts as non-domiciled under our tax system, and is therefore exempt from paying tax on money earned outside the UK, can hand this status down to his British-born children.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Sting in the tail for Jack Straw, a bridge too far for Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is an aloof grandee who never took much trouble making friends or remembering names. Jack Straw has spent 35 years in the Commons being friendly and keeping his enemies to a minimum. Both, it is assumed, have destroyed their chances of being elevated to the House of Lords after the latest lobbying scandal, but Straw can take some comfort from the reactions of other MPs when he made a reappearance in Parliament today. As he was speaking in the Commons, the maverick right-wing Tory, Jacob Rees Mogg, interrupted to pay tribute to Straw’s “amazing chairmanship” of a committee set up to sort out the fractious argument over the appointment of a new Clerk of the Commons. “It was amazing to see so sophisticated and capable an operator steer us through... I hope he doesn’t mind me interrupting him to put that on the record,” said Mogg.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Say what you like about her, but Harriet Harman wouldn't say this

Imagine you are a woman no longer in your twenties and so obsessed with the way you look that you cannot resist constantly posting photographs of yourself on social media, preferably with loads of cleavage on show.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Strange bedfellows caught in cabal at Westminster

During a break at the high-level Govern Up conference at Westminster today, which brought together civil servants, politicians and advisers from all of the main political parties, who should be seen standing to one side, engrossed in an intense private conversation, but Ed Miliband’s chief of staff, Tim Livesey, and Johnny Oates, who does the same job for Nick Clegg.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Why the latest Tory HQ blunder is way off target

Somebody at Conservative HQ blundered in style by giving out too much information when they uploaded the photographs of hundreds of wannabe Tory MPs. The captions under 112 of the pictures categorised the seats they are fighting as ‘non-targets’ – meaning that the Tories plan to put minimal effort into winning them.

Culture Minister Sajid Javid

Andy McSmith's Diary: Culture Secretary rides to defence of posh entertainers like Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and James Blunt

Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Blunt and all the entertainers who went to expensive schools have a friend in the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Gordon Brown and George Galloway earn more than Tory barristers

Stephen Phillips has been described as Britain’s highest-paid politician – but he is not, not any more.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Old political souls never die in the corridors of power

Anyone who does not believe in life after death should come to Parliament after the general election and see the newly ex-MPs wandering the corridors like lost souls on the banks of the Styx. Those who have not landed seats in the House of Lords are allowed to hold on to their old Commons passes and haunt the place forever.

Andy McSmith's Diary: David Cameron's a man of principle - if you can dig deep enough

David Cameron has said he will “rule nothing out” – meaning that he just might call for a No vote in a referendum on EU membership if his negotiations in Brussels come to nothing.

Andy McSmith's Diary: The Tories' missing reports on 'weaponising' mass distraction

David Cameron is right on one point: no one seriously doubts that Ed Miliband dropped a comment in the hearing of BBC executives about “weaponising” the NHS. The PM says it was a “disgusting” thing to say.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Is that George Osborne I hear? Or Barry White?

Something seems to have happened to George Osborne’s voice. He did not sound like the Chancellor we have come to know and love during a live appearance on the Today programme. The squeak was not there. Perhaps it was a trick of the acoustics, maybe he has a cold, or maybe, just maybe, he has been practising to lower his pitch and sound more authoritative. Today, answering questions in the Commons, he sounded more like his usual self, but that could be only a temporary reversion.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Who said politics was all about the money? White Dee

White Dee, heroine of the Channel 4 documentary series Benefits Street, has been advised by her agent to shun politics. If the bookies are correct, she has a better chance than any other challenger of unseating the incumbent Labour MP Shabana Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood where she lives, but her manager, Barry Tomes, thinks she should forget it. He has advised his client, whose real name is Deirdre Kelly, that she can make more money by being a media personality. She is thought to have been paid £100,000 for appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

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