It can be said without fear of contradiction that the Sunday Mirror is not Nadine Dorries’ favourite read. Last week, a Sunday Mirror hack approached the Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire to ask why she pays her daughter £35,000 a year from her MP’s expenses to work for her when her daughter has a Cotswold home 96 miles from London and 89 miles from Bedfordshire.
The short answer is that she commutes, but her mother opted to reply at slightly greater length, tweeting: “Be seen within a mile of my daughters and I will nail your balls to the floor… using your own front teeth.” In a later tweet, she added that by “floor” she meant the floor of a prison. Gemma Aldridge, of the Sunday Mirror, had the temerity to speculate on Twitter how Dorries might react if a man were to direct a similar threat to a woman, which prompted this thought from the MP: “People who work for your paper are bottom-feeding scum. I would add lying to that.” Nice.
What the Dickens?
What links last month’s storms, which brought a crane crashing down on the roof of the Cabinet Office, with Charles Dickens?
The answer is nothing really, except in the mind of Fiona Mactaggart, Labour MP for Slough, who has obviously read the short, informative leaflet written by parliamentary researchers about the day when Parliament burnt down in 1834.
It ends by surmising that at the time people saw the fire as “a judgement from God for the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, against which Charles Dickens railed in Oliver Twist”. The reform denied what we would now call welfare benefits to anyone, no matter how poor, who was not in a workhouse.
Picking up on the theme in her column for the Slough Observer, Ms Mactaggart suggests: “In a more sophisticated age no one is claiming that the crane which blew on to the Cabinet Office was a judgement on the present Government’s assault on the poor, with cuts to disabled benefits and child support, but I think we could do with a Dickens to chronicle the cruel impact of what they are doing.”
If we are going to extend the Oliver Twist metaphor, whom would we cast as Mr Bumble, master of the workhouse? Surely not Iain Duncan Smith, our fumbling Work and Pensions Secretary.
MPs goulash out
The campaign to save one of London’s most famous watering holes is gaining pace. The Gay Hussar, a Hungarian restaurant founded in the 1940s, has a wall plastered in caricatures of its famous clients, who are mostly from the political left. Its owner, Corus Hotels, wants to dispose of it. A Commons motion calling for the restaurant to be saved was signed by 28 MPs, of whom 26 are Labour and none is a Tory.
A group of devoted diners has formed a “goulash co-operative” to bid for the business. But they need to find a lot of money in a short time, because bids have to be in by 5 December.
Hull’s culture vultures
Winning the title City of Culture 2017 seems to have turned the heads of Hull’s citizenry. During Hull City’s weekend match against Crystal Palace, the crowd was heard to chant “You’re only here for the culture”. They would have even more to boast about if their team had not lost.
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