Andy McSmith's Diary: Have you heard the one about the Tory whip and the ambassador? I have

 

The former Tory MP Jerry Hayes has a book out this week, in which he tells a jolly tale: “Sir Spencer Le Marchant was a legendary Tory whip. His job was to ensure that his MPs stayed to vote. One evening, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a Tory MP creeping down the steps to slink out of a vote. This seriously angered the old boy – and he aimed a kick which sent the MP flying, with the shout of ‘and you can fuck off, you lazy bastard’. 

“However, there was a slight problem. The ‘kickee’ wasn’t a Tory at all. Nor an MP. It was the Peruvian ambassador on his way home from a drinks party…”

Compare that with a story previously told in the book, A Long Lunch, by the late, great Simon Hoggart: “Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport was a Tory whip, and had a brusque, no-nonsense approach to his job. Seeing a Conservative MP leaving the Commons when a vote was imminent on a three-line whip, he ordered him to stay. The man refused, so Bromley-Davenport kicked him, hard. Unfortunately, he was not a Tory MP but the Belgian ambassador.”

Same anecdote – different whip, different ambassador. Most people will trust Hoggart as a raconteur more than they will trust Jerry Hayes, but I happen to know that on this they were both wrong. Actually, the offending whip was Sir Tufton Bufton, and the victim was the Ruritanian Ambassador, Don Keeko Miarce.

You’ve got to hand it to Ed

The Tories have carried out a textual comparison between Ed Miliband’s response to this year’s Budget and his speeches of previous years. This year, for example, he said: “It’s a classic Tory con. Give with one hand and take far more away with another.”

Last year, he said: “The Chancellor is giving with one hand and taking far more away with the other.” The year before: “All he is doing for ordinary families is giving with one hand and taking far more away with the other.” And the year before that: “Let me tell you what the Institute for Fiscal Studies told us this morning: ‘there is an awful lot of giving with one hand and taking away with lots and lots of other hands’. It’s the classic Tory con.”

He is becoming what was known in the old days as a stuck record.

Sir Peter’s silent history

Sir Peter Tapsell, the veteran Tory MP, had geeks reaching for back numbers of Hansard when he claimed during the Commons tributes to Tony Benn that he is the only current MP who was there in June 1963 during the passage of the Peerage Act that allowed Benn to renounce his hereditary viscountcy and return to the Commons. He said he “voted” for it, but “supported” would have been the more accurate word, because in the end it passed unopposed.

Tapsell was also there on another day in June 1963 when Harold Macmillan reported to the Commons on the Profumo scandal. According to Hansard, Tapsell rose to speak, there were shouts from other MPs of “sit down”, and down he sat. We shall never know what he was going to say.

Eagle pounds Lib Dems

The proposed new dodecagonal pound that will look like a pre-1971, 12-edged threepenny bit has a fan in Angela Eagle, shadow Leader of the House.

She told MPs: “It was good to see the Liberal Democrats’ role in the coalition memorialised with the new pound coin. It has about as many sides as they have members and it has two faces, just like them.”

Spoof success

The Government website Universal Jobmatch is “hugely successful”, the Work and Pensions minister David Freud felt able to assure the House  of Lords.

“But are you not just a bit embarrassed that it has about a third of a million bogus jobs on it, such as ‘M16 target elimination specialist’ or ‘International courier for Cosa Nostra Holdings’?” Lord Dubs asked.

Not at all, replied Lord Freud. Some of the entries are spoofs, he conceded, but they are fewer than one in 1,000.

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition