Andy McSmith's Diary: At least David Cameron was only torturing the language at PMQs…


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The Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski had a struggle making himself heard at Prime Minister’s Questions today because he was the next to be called after David Cameron had accused the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls of “political masosadism”. It was a slip of the tongue that had MPs rocking with laughter. No one present had ever heard the expression “masosadism” before, but apparently it exists, and applies to those who derive pleasure from pain but also occasionally like to dish it out too.

When Mr Kawczynski was finally able to put his question, it was a dull one, about how his Shrewsbury constituency has thrived under a Tory-led government. When he is not talking about his constituency, Mr Kawczynski’s main interest is the Middle East. He was in Riyadh this year as a guest of the Saudi government, and in 2011 he told the Saudi-British Relations website that he was writing “the most pro-Saudi book ever written by a British politician”.

Saudi Arabia is a land of public beheadings, amputations, and the lash. Today, a Syrian drug smuggler became the 75th person executed by the Saudis this year. A few months ago, Raif Badawi, who co-founded a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a massive fine, and 1,000 lashes, for holding the wrong opinions. Obviously, if 1,000 lashes were administered in one session, the victim would be dead before it was over, so to ensure that he feels every cut, they are inflicted 50 at a time, in public, after Friday prayers.

Perhaps Mr Kawczynski’s forthcoming book could include a chapter about masosadism and Saudi law.

Clegg’s vital port of call

David Cameron is having to get used to handling Prime Minister’s Question without Nick Clegg sitting impassively at his side. The Deputy Prime Minister has been absent for three weeks in succession.

Today he was in Penzance, to announce a £150,000 study into whether the town needs a new breakwater. “I’ve spent four years dutifully sitting there on the green benches and this year I thought it would be a nice change to get out of the Westminster,” he told the Western Morning News. Penzance is in the St Ives constituency, which the Liberal Democrat Andrew George held in 2010 by a perilously small majority.

So Clegg was really telling the locals that if they want that breakwater, they had better re-elect their MP.

Quietly does it, Ed

Politicians often choose a day like today, when the news was dominated by the Autumn Statement, to slip out an announcement on the quiet. Today, Labour announced that Ed Miliband had made a few minor adjustments to his front bench, including the appointment of Lord Bach, a former Justice minister, as shadow Attorney General. The previous holder was Emily Thornberry, who was sacked for posting a photograph on Twitter of a house in Strood bedecked with England flags.

Asking for the moon

In the past two years servicemen have been accused eight times of exposing themselves in public, according to the written answer in the Commons. The MP who tabled the question was Madeleine Moon.

Evolution farrago

St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh has displayed a mural entitled “Evolution” showing Adolf Hitler, Sir Oswald Mosley, Nick Griffin and, at the front, the smiling face of Nigel Farage. “It’s an insult to Ukip voters in Scotland,” Scotland’s furious Ukip MEP, David Coburn, told the Edinburgh Evening News. But at least it implies that Farage is a higher life form that the three men behind him.