Andy McSmith's Diary: Low-paid Commons staff a redemptive cause for Jim Sheridan


The Labour MP Jim Sheridan made a monumental ass of himself over press regulation, when he suggested that Parliament amend the decision made in 1803 to allow journalists onto the premises, to exclude those he does not like. However, to give the man credit, he is battling valiantly on behalf of Parliament's low paid staff, who are having their working week lengthened and their overtime and anti social hours payments cut.

What has exercised Mr Sheridan is that while 561 staff are getting a five per cent pay rise, or more, another 716 are expected to settle for 2 per cent or less. He claims that the biggest percentage rises are going to those who are already the highest paid. The Lib Dem MP John Thurso, who chairs the House of Commons Commission, says that is not quite right,  because negotiations do not include the staff right at the top, who have had their pay frozen for three years. He doesn't deny, though, that is a substantial number of staff being paid £400 or thereabouts for whom the pay offer is worth less than £5 a week.

Alastair Campbell in press office at No 10

Downing Street has a new senior press officer drawn from another part of the civil service. His name, I kid you not, is Alastair Campbell. This will cause confusion.

No replacement bus for PM when trains stop

It was no fault of David Cameron that his arrival in Ipswich yesterday did not quite go according to plan. A power cable came down on the track somewhere east of Ipswich, causing chaos on the rails. The Prime Minister's train ground to a halt in Manningtree, between Ipswich and Colchester, and his party had to disembark and continue by car - to the great disappointment of hacks waiting at his destination, who were very much hoping they would see him and staff arrive in a replacement bus.

Huhne’s great escape from Lembit

Now that Chris Huhne has been transferred to an open prison, the threat no longer hangs over him that he might be visited in Wansworth by Lembit Opik. The self-publicising walking Lib Dem disaster zone that is Lembit has told a friend: "Judging by the now highly lenient conditions of Chris's incarceration, I'm presuming it's more likely he'll be able to visit me than me visit him."

Groucho Club becomes grouchy about privacy

The Groucho Club, a London watering hole for the rich, famous and successful, plus a lot of media types, has issued a stern tho those who darken its doors: "The Groucho Club is a refuge and inner sanctum. No matter who you are outside, once you cross our threshold you're treated the same as every other member.

"Recently a guest approached a member and badgered them for a photograph. The member who brought in the guest did nothing to intervene, which resulted in their permanent suspension. We expect our members to appreciate the circumstances and supervise their guests appropriately."

So, all you rich and famous types, behave yourselves.

Mr President gets call from Oxford

The Oxford University Debating Union has drawn hundreds of famous or prestigious speakers to take part in its debates over the decades, ranging from prime ministers to Cheeky Girls. This year, they are aiming higher than ever. They have issued an invitation to Barack Obama, who will be in the UK in June for the G8 summit. I am also reliably informed that they have invited Beyonce, who will also in the UK during the summer term, as part of a world tour. 

But if Obama accepts, I wonder what motion they will ask him to debate, and who will they find to speak against him? Come to that, who would speak against Beyonce?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot