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.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
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
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era