Diary: Call for decorum in handing out parking fines


Jacob Rees-Mogg, that priceless guardian of liberty, has come up with a cracking idea to improve the manners of council officials empowered to issue on-the-spot fines – make them wear bowler hats.

The Conservative MP for North East Somerset, who is never seen in Parliament other than in a pin-stripe double-breasted suit, is shocked that respectable motorists should be handed parking fines by people who are improperly turned out. "What we currently have are some desperately scruffy tatterdemalions who wander around as accredited persons," he told a Commons debate on local government.

"They look as though they have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Their uniforms are a norky thing, not the sort of thing as an officer of the Crown would ever be seen wearing – the sort of thing that could be worn by anybody. I wonder whether they might wear bowler hats, for instance, so that it would be clear that they were from the council – proper, thoroughgoing bureaucrats." He believes we should not be compelled give our names just because someone officious asks who we are. He cited two cases of people refusing to identify themselves – Oedipus, who told Polyphemus, the cyclops, that his name was "Nobody" and Bertie Wooster, who used a false name when he was up before the beak for pinching a policemen's helmet.

Neither of these heroes was real. No surprise there. What is truly bewildering is that Mr Rees-Mogg exists.

Mostly men left in Miliband's office

All change in Ed Miliband's private office. His special adviser, Polly Billington, has been selected as Labour candidate for Thurrock, where the incumbent Tory MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, has a majority of just 92. His chief of staff, Lucy Powell, missed becoming an MP in 2010 by a narrow margin and is expected to try again. His press spokeswoman Ayesha Hazarika is returning to work for her old boss, Harriet Harman. At least the men who work for him are sticking around.

Padiham misses out on dubious honour

Padiham, a little town west of Burnley, has been spared the dubious distinction of becoming the first community in Britain with a BNP mayor. Until a few days ago, the town's Deputy Mayor, who was due to become mayor next year, was BNP member Bob Cave. The mayoress would have been his wife, Sharon Wilkinson, the only BNP councillor left on Burnley Borough council since the May elections.

Councillors in Padiham do not sit in organised political groups and are expected to leave their party affiliations behind, but Mr Cave's involvement with the BNP is well-known enough for two of his daughters by a different marriage to say in April that they were changing their names because they were so ashamed of being associated with him.

Despite that, Mr Cave took great exception to the three Labour Party members on the Town Council and sought to have them removed. He failed, and this week he resigned, sparing Padiham what would have been some unwelcome publicity.

Far-right leader's empty promise

The appointment of the French-speaking Elio di Rupo as Prime Minister of Belgium, after 18 months without a government, looks to be a disappointment to all those had hopes that they would see the last of Filip Dewinter. He is a leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party, linked to the UK Independence Party, which is seeking independence for Belgium's Flemish speakers.

Ahead of the vote, Mr Dewinter tweeted: "Di Rupo premier! No Way! I would then move to Namibia...." A Facebook group devoted to getting him to keep his promise has gained 50,000 followers – none of whom, so far as we know is Namibian But Mr Dewinter says he is going to stay.

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