Andy McSmith's Diary: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s actions speak even louder than his words

 

Speeches in the House of Commons by the Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg are an erudite comedy turn. As MPs debated the European Union (Approvals) Bill (Lords), which writes into British law two draft regulations passed by the Council of the European Union, only he thought it necessary to read into the official record part of what one of the regulations actually said.

His chosen extract was: “A horizontal dimension of the programme should ensure the valorisation and transferability of results for enhanced impact and long-term sustainability…” As he approached the climax of this golden prose, he accidentally let go of the sheaf of documents he was holding, scattering them across the green benches. “This is how European documents should be treated: tossed in pieces around and about,” he remarked, in his confusion.

A portrait in poor taste

In the wake of the Evening Standard’s revelation that Parliament has spent around £250,000 on painted portraits of MPs, a long-serving member of staff tells me that what is really offensive is not the cost, but that in the corridor of Portcullis House, close to the Margaret Thatcher Room, there is a montage of scenes from the Commons smoking room in 1987, in the middle of which there is an unmistakable portrait of the late Cyril Smith, Liberal MP for Rochdale.

It frequently happens that parties of schoolchildren are shepherded past this image of a man who has been posthumously exposed as a disgusting paedophile. As my informant remarked: “If that was Jimmy Savile, they’d have taken it down.”

Norman’s big fat view

When Norman Tebbit was chairman of the Conservative Party in the 1980s, his role was to make Margaret Thatcher look like Mrs Nice Person, and at the grand age of 82, he has lost none of his abrasiveness. His contribution to the great national obesity scare was to tell the House of Lords: “People ought to know that if they stuff themselves silly with high-calorie rubbish foods they will get fat. It is their responsibility. All the forums and other nonsense are merely trying to divorce people from the consequences of their own stupid actions.” There is a part of me that says he has a valid point.

Bad taste proves sketchy

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, respectively editor and cartoonist for Private Eye for almost 30 years, gave an interesting exposition at a lunch organised by The Oldie magazine today on bad taste and how cartoonists can get away with it. Examples they brought along included a drawing of a bishop looking at two rows of choir boys and saying to himself “God! It’s like everyone I’ve ever slept with is here” and a Taliban careers master asking a pupil: “What would you like to be when you blow up?” Newman reckoned: “You can get away with very, very black subjects if it’s drawn in an attractive way.”

Strangely, the cartoon that seems to have landed him in more trouble than any other was not really in bad taste at all. Drawn immediately after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it showed the gates of heaven, and on the wall nearby a ladder, on top of which there was a photographer with a long-lens camera. He said that after it appeared in Private Eye “hundreds” of subscriptions were cancelled.

A Freudian slip too far?

David Freud, a Work and Pensions minister, cut a lonely figure in the House of Lords as he defended the so-called “bedroom tax”, which he helped to devise. A minister under pressure can usually count on support from his own side, but on this occasion, Lord Freud had to field 10 hostile questions while his fellow Tories sat behind him in silence. It is as if they have started to think that the entire policy might be a Freudian slip.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'