Andy McSmith's Diary: Respect MP George Galloway needs to work on his swing


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Indy Politics

George Galloway – never one to understate his  own achievements – was heard on BBC Radio’s Today news programme talking up his victory in  the Bradford West by-election. “We successfully won the biggest swing of the 20th century on mainland Britain,” he proclaimed.

The swing from Labour to the Respect party in Bradford West was indeed impressive. It was 36.6 per cent. But it was not as big as the 37.9 per cent swing against Labour scored by the SNP in Hamilton in 1967, or the 44.2 per cent swing from Labour to the Liberal Party in Bermondsey in 1983, or the 49 per cent swing from Labour to the independent, Peter Law, in Blaenau Gwent at the 2005 general election, or the 44 per cent swing from Conservative to Ukip scored by Douglas Carswell last October, so it would not have been the biggest swing in the 20th century, even if it had taken place in the 20th century, as Galloway seemed to think.

Nor is it the biggest swing of the 21st century.

Ukip Clacton needs EU aid

The people of Clacton will be pleased to know that the Government is going to be forced to take action to prevent inadequately treated sewage being pumped into the sea along its coastline.

There are European Union rules about this, and Clacton is one of four locations where the rules are allegedly being broken, so the European Commission is taking the UK government to the EU Court of Justice.

Ironic that Clacton should be protected in this way, only six months after they basically told the EU to get off their backs by making Douglas Carswell Britain’s first elected Ukip MP.

Bercow’s way with Tories

If anyone is wondering why the Conservatives loathe the Speaker, John Bercow, the language he used when telling the Tory MP Gregory Barker to calm down is an illustration.

“It is better to remain silent and look a fool than to speak and remove any lingering doubt,” he said.

Not long afterwards, Bercow heard himself being praised by Gordon Brown for his “unfailing courtesy to all sides”.

Courting media intrusion?

Aidan Burley, who arrived in the Commons as MP for Cannock Chase in 2010 with the promise of a brilliant political career, bowed out today on a sour note.

He complained that “unwanted and often unwarranted media intrusion” into his own and his family’s life had made him decide that it was no longer worth carrying on. If only he had not helped organise a Nazi-themed stag party and acquired a Nazi uniform for the groom to wear, perhaps he would have avoided that distressing intrusion.

Harman’s secret file

Politicians do not always like what is written about them, but it must be particularly frustrating when they know something has been written, but they do not know what it is.

Harriet Harman has been trying for decades to read the file that Special Branch compiled on her when she was involved in the National Council for Civil Liberties in the 1970s.

Today in the Commons she demanded an “assurance” that she will be allowed to see the full file. The Home Office Minister, Mike Penning, was jeered as he replied: “I would love to give you that assurance but I can’t.”

Succession for girls

Some good news for the unborn child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, should she be a girl: the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act finally became law, on Parliament’s last day.

It means that she will not lose her place in the line of succession to any younger brother she may have, as Princess Anne did, and she can marry a Roman Catholic.

This law now applies everywhere where the Queen is head of state. That is Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.