Andy McSmith's Diary: Who needs a food bank when you’ve got fancy restaurants?

Liam Marshall-Ascough, a Conservative member of Crawley Borough Council in West Sussex, was once styled the “Virgin politician” because of his day job as a member of Virgin Airlines’ cabin crew. A virgin he may be, but innocent he is not. He has made his mark by pushing through stricter rules for getting on Crawley’s housing register, to keep Romanians and Bulgarians off it, and has obstructed a plan to introduce a food bank in the town hall, because he frankly does not think it is necessary.

Man About Town: Clubs cater for all tastes – even bean baths

A dwarf dressed as a dog walks around greeting the guests

Andy McSmith's Diary: Have you heard the one about the Tory whip and the ambassador? I have

The former Tory MP Jerry Hayes has a book out this week, in which he tells a jolly tale: “Sir Spencer Le Marchant was a legendary Tory whip. His job was to ensure that his MPs stayed to vote. One evening, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a Tory MP creeping down the steps to slink out of a vote. This seriously angered the old boy – and he aimed a kick which sent the MP flying, with the shout of ‘and you can fuck off, you lazy bastard’. 

Andy McSmith's Diary: Paying lip service to endangered species as the poachers run amok

International conferences like the one the Government hosted last month on the slaughter of African and Asian wildlife by poachers produce fine speeches and commendable resolutions, but do they make any difference?

Andy McSmith's Diary: Good news for all those gay couples about to wed - Ukip recognises you

Ukip had two “unique selling points” until recently: one was its wish to pull out of the EU, the other was its obdurate opposition to gay marriage.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Len McCluskey’s a dyed-in-the-wool Union man – Soviet, that is

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, has sagely reminded us that they did not have crises like the present Ukraine situation back in the days of the USSR. “When it was the Soviet Union, Russians and Ukrainians mixed happily together and so it is regrettable what’s happened at the moment,” he tells the current edition of The House magazine, the trade journal for parliamentarians.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Looking like Rasputin helps - ex-Tory whip beats Labour's Chris Bryant to Russian job

There were chaotic scenes in a Commons committee room today, when more than 200 MPs crammed in to cast their votes. It was so crowded that some grabbed handfuls of ballot papers off the table, to pass to those at the back.

Andy McSmith's Diary: In office but not in power: curious case of Andrew Mitchell

Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, regaled journalists at a press gallery lunch with amusing tales from his days as Lib Dem chief whip. When Andrew Mitchell replaced Patrick McLoughlin as Tory chief whip, he apparently announced: “This place is like a sergeants’ mess. It should be more like an officers’ mess.” Carmichael noted in passing that the Lib Dem whips’ office was always just a plain mess.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Parliamentary privilege and the police force that broke the law

Home Secretary Theresa May’s announcement of a public inquiry into undercover operations is not the only embarrassment the police suffered today. Sussex Police has been rebuked for committing a contempt of Parliament.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Being a former PM is expensive work, as Margaret Thatcher knew

Margaret Thatcher made a generous gesture to her predecessors, Jim Callaghan, Edward Heath et al, by acknowledging that an ex-Prime Minister continues to be a public figure for life, having to run an office, make public appearances and answer correspondence. She therefore introduced the public duty costs allowance, which any former Prime Minister can claim.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Britain really is best when it comes to laundering money

We have seen the images of Viktor Yanukovych’s £180m home, his other house in Crimea, his private zoo, and his golf course, and we think this is corruption on a fabulous scale, and yet he is a “rank amateur” compared with some of Russia’s kleptocrats, according to the US fund manager Bill Browder.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Harman’s next problem is a son who’s paid to make mischief online

As if Harriet Harman and her husband, Jack Dromey, have not been through enough lately, trouble may creep up on their family from another direction.

James McAvoy has stopped a play in order to tell someone off for using their mobile phone

Andy McSmith's Diary: You heard it from the horse’s mouth - Ukip can’t change a thing in Europe

Ukip is expected to get its best result ever in May’s elections to the European Parliament, chasing Labour for first place. But those who vote for them ought to know that their success will not make a blind bit of difference, because “they can’t change a thing”.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Could time be up for Peter Bone, the Tory right’s court jester?

Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, has made his mark on Parliament with a running gag about “Mrs Bone”. Her name has been invoked in Parliament so often that it would be tedious to list every mention. One example was when David Cameron returned from a confrontation with other EU leaders in January 2012. Mr Bone told MPs: “I am happy to report that Mrs Bone was singing in the bath yesterday.”

i Newspaper
 
TheIPaper
The Independent around the web
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?