Why Michael Heseltine is like a hamster
Sunday 28 May 1995
The answer is the darling of the Tory right, Michael Portillo. But the new comparison is not a piece of political invective; it is part of an official adopt-a-creature charity scheme suggested to MPs by London Zoo.
Earlier this month the zoo sent MPs an adoption form, a list of animals and an invitation to adopt a beastie on behalf of a fellow member, either openly or anonymously.
The general public pay from pounds 20 to pounds 6,000 for the privilege, receiving a certificate of adoption, a photograph of the adopted animal, a car sticker and a plaque naming the adopter next to the animal's cage. Aiming to raise its parliamentary profile, the zoo offered MPs the privilege free, suggesting, by way of example, a lion for Mr Major, a hamster for Michael Heseltine, and a penguin for Mr Portillo.
But no one thinks MPs are strange animals more than MPs do, and the scheme has led to some surprising pairings of members with mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and fish.
Fish, indeed, for Mr Portillo, the Secretary of State for Employment, who is to adopt a thick-lipped grey mullet, courtesy of an anonymous Labour MP.
Ann Widdecombe, the forceful Employment minister, has been given a vulturine guinea-fowl; Robin Cook, the ginger-haired shadow Foreign Secretary, a red-whiskered bulbul (an African bird); and David Shaw, Conservative MP for Dover and a frequent thorn in Labour's side, an African dung beetle.
The name of the sharply spoken and sharply dressed Teresa Gorman will adorn the home of the jewel wasp; that of Ray Powell, the senior Welsh Labour backbencher, that of a fat-tailed scorpion; and Peter Mandelson, Labour's former spin doctor, will be seen inscribed beside the abode of a smooth snake.
Most adoption nominations so far have been anonymous, but Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, admits that he adopted a red spitting cobra for Dennis Skinner. "Everyone is sitting around filling in their forms. It's the main preoccupation in the House at the moment, finding animal- like qualities for MPs," he said.
Nobody, however, has owned up to pairing Lady Olga Maitland and a narrow hatchetfish; Jacques Arnold, Tory MP for Gravesham, with a Malagassy hissing cockroach; and Sir George Gardiner, the Euro-sceptic MP, with a lappet- faced vulture.
Fishy matches also include Phillip Oppenheim, Conservative MP for Amber Valley, with a bony-lipped barb; David Alton, the Catholic Liberal Democrat,with a bleeding heart tetra; and Hugh Dykes, Tory MP for Harrow East, with a shovelnose sturgeon.
London Zoo was bemused by the MPs' choices but does not intend to alter its scheme as a result.
"For all our adopters we have a plaque next to the species. We'll probably do a special one for MPs. Even if the animals are a bit strange I think we'll just do it," a spokesman said. "We'll send them all the stuff and say that 'you are the proud owner of an animal'. I hope they will take it in good heart. If they don't they haven't got a sense of humour."
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck
First full-length look is finally here
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...
£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...