Andy McSmith's Diary: No constituent left behind (as long as they pay for my toilet paper)


“Torridge and West Devon are two of the lowest wage areas in the country,” the local Tory MP Geoffrey Cox told the North Devon Journal last week. His resolution for 2014 was to make sure that those on low wages “are not left behind”.

This is most unselfish, because Mr Cox is not himself on low wages, by anyone’s yardstick. Indeed, as a QC who heads his own chambers, he makes the kind of money that makes other MPs’ eyes water. Over the Christmas break, he updated his entry in Parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests, in which he declared a princely £368,322 worth of payments he had received for legal work between June 2012 and August 2013.

That is on top of £313,543 he had already declared for work done over a slightly longer period. In all, that is more than £680,000 he has earned as a lawyer in less than two years. In between all this legal work, he found time to speak in five debates in the House of Commons during 2013, almost one every 10 weeks. Recently, Mr Cox claimed £3 on MP’s expenses for keeping his constituency office supplied with toilet tissue.

Ms McIntosh’s rotten apple

All 550 members of the Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association should by now have received their ballot papers so that they can vote on whether to re-adopt or sack their MP, Anne McIntosh.

She has support from on high, including an endorsement from David Cameron, who called her “one of the most assiduous MPs”. But some in her part of Yorkshire beg to differ. George Winn-Darley, who owns 7,000 acres of Yorkshire moorland, and Victor Buchanan sent out an open letter last week saying that “it is untenable to have an MP who cannot work with her local party.”

The plot appeared to thicken when a local journalist spotted that an email attached to their letter apparently came from Edward Legard, a barrister and Ryedale councillor, who has parliamentary ambitions. Mr Legard has denied that he is lining himself up to take Ms McIntosh’s place. He said the email was sent from a laptop he had given to his son.

Bride and prejudice

Congratulations to Thomas Gardiner, a councillor from Kilburn in North London, whom a court of law has found to have a mind of his own, rather than being ruled by his wife. The verdict came at the end of a long legal battle between the council and the owners of Spearmint Rhino, a lap-dancing club, who said conditions attached to their licence were too stringent.

The club’s application was dealt with by a council sub-committee, which split 2-2, whereupon Councillor Gardiner used his casting vote to make it 3-2. One of the other councillors who voted for rules to which the club objected was Maryam Eslamdoust, to whom Gardiner is married. District judge Robin McPhee, upholding the council’s decision, said: “I reject the suggestion that the chairman was exercising his casting vote to appease his wife.”

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