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.”

It is not Jennie Bone so much as her elderly mother, Dorothy Sweeney, who has been in the news this week. The MP has posted a 1,200 word account on his website of how he and his wife were questioned by police over who has been paying for Mrs Sweeney’s care. “Either Jennie or I have looked after her mother properly, or we are devious, thieving, crooks,” he concluded.

If this affair gets out of hand, the outside right of the Tory party stands to lose its most outspoken champion. Withdrawal from the EU, withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, banning the burkha, bringing back hanging, adding a Margaret Thatcher Day to the nation’s calendar, denying gays the right to marry – name your favourite right-wing cause, Bone has embraced them all.

He once described the idea of recognising gay marriage as “completely nuts”. He is in favour of ending the coalition with the Lib Dems and negotiating an electoral pact with Ukip.

One Friday in November, he kept MPs busy arguing over a Bill he had devised that would set down the order of succession should the Prime Minister be assassinated or die suddenly. He said it was a serious Bill, though the main point seemed to be to ensure that Nick Clegg did not ever become interim prime minister.

He is either a colourful maverick or a right-wing clown, depending on your point of view. Certainly, he is one of a kind.

Off the naughty seat

The Tory MP Anna Soubry was sitting with the cabinet ministers who filled the front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions, although she occupies only the lowest of ministerial ranks, as a parliamentary under-secretary, and usually sits at the back. Given the embarrassment David Cameron suffered when Ed Miliband taunted him about the all-male front bench, no one was likely to turf her off.

Afterwards, she told Radio 4’s World at One programme: “I’m not sure I’m allowed. I thought ‘Sod this, I’m going to sit on the front bench.’ I normally sit where the naughty boys and girls sit.”

Sally Bercow does it again

Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail’s camera-shy editor, must be pleased with the stalwart service his columnist Andrew Pierce provided on Tuesday, upholding and defending the newspaper’s coverage of Harriet Harman and the 1970s link to the Paedophile Information Exchange.

However, Sally Bercow, the wife of the Speaker, was not impressed. “You are a truly obnoxious human being,” she informed Pierce, via Twitter. “And a *cough* journalist who survives by smears & insults, rather than stories.” In a separate tweet, she added: “Sick up your venom. U banned from Speaker’s House events coz you bigoted, offensive arse & trading off that fact.”

Soon afterwards, Mrs Bercow closed her Twitter feed altogether. She has left the site once before, after she expensively libelled the former Tory party treasurer, Lord McAlpine. This time, she may have had second thoughts about the wisdom of using Twitter to announce that someone she dislikes is banned from the prestigious grace-and-favour house that goes with her husband’s position.

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