Diary: Will the real Michael Green – er, Grant Shapps – stand up
Michael Green MP is so very talented a multi-tasker that it is surprising how few people know he exists. He is profiled on a website called Daily Income in such glowing terms that you might even suspect that he wrote them himself.
"Believe it or not," says the profile, "Michael Green is a member of the UK Parliament, is a CEO of How To Corporation and is a successful online marketer…His wealth is such that he actually flies his very own personal plane and also lives in a fabulous mansion.
"Some find it hard to believe that regardless of Michael Green's internet success, this online marketing guru only allots a day per week to work on his internet ventures."
Mysteriously, the photograph accompanying this blurb (right, top) is not that of anyone ever seen around Parliament, but of a male model. Michael Green – we now learn – has a dual personality. His alter ego is a character called Grant Shapps (right, bottom), who has supposedly been Tory MP for Welwyn and Hatfield since 2005, is Minister for Housing, has about 57,000 Twitter followers, and is expected to be promoted in today's reshuffle.
Yesterday, the Labour MP Steve McCabe fired off a letter to the housing ministry's Permanent Secretary pointing that there is no mention of any internet interests in the latest entry by "Shapps" in the Register of Members' Interests, nor in the List of Ministers' Interests.
"The Ministerial Code requires that Ministers act with integrity and openness. Are you satisfied that the use of aliases to promote a private business is in keeping with these principles?" Mr McCabe asked.
Breaking the code of English literacy
Regardless of whether "Grant Shapps" has broken the ministerial code, Michael Green surely needs investigating for his gross breaches of literate English. In his book, How To Bounce Back From Recession, he writes: "Most 'mainstream economics' (those of whom most of us cannot personally relate to) believe that recessions are caused by reduced purchase of goods and services. These experts advocate expansion by politicizing the buy, buy, buy, or, spend, spend, spend dogma.
"Depending on which particular school of thought or training the economist subscribes will generally determine which strategy he/she favors to be the quickest and most effective remedy for bouncing out of recession…"
People who care about the use of language (those of whom self-promoting politicians cannot relate to) can only hope that Mr Green will come upon an effective remedy for bouncing out of public life.
Waddington loves his shaggy dog stories...
The British do love stories about their pets. The index of the recently published memoirs of David Waddington, who was Home Secretary in 1989-90, lists two references to Iraq, three to the poll tax, five to Tony Blair, and seven to a Norfolk terrier called Basil. Lord Waddington recalls meeting a woman who was wrongly imprisoned in India as a suspected Sikh terrorist. He has nothing to say about her prison ordeal, but describes how Basil jumped on her lap, causing her to spill her tea.
Sheerman obviously touched a raw nerve
One of the last speeches MPs heard in the Commons before the summer break was a warning about the alleged collapse of staff morale in the building. The veteran Labour MP Barry Sheerman blamed a mindset that seeks to run the place as if it were a commercial business, with too many bosses. "We have a business change manager, a director general of human resources and change, an assistant corporate risk management facilitator, and an implementation manager…," he said. I am told Mr Sheerman has received a stiff letter from Clerk to the House of Commons, Robert Rogers, accusing him of getting his facts wrong. What seems to have upset middle management most is Mr Sheerman's implied assumption that their jobs are safe while the job cuts fall on junior staff.
On the contrary, the Clerk says, senior management is to be cut by almost a sixth.
Even the people with grand job titles cannot be certain of what the future holds.
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