Andy McSmith's Diary: Salmond should mind his language around Anna Soubry

If Salmond wants to bully women into silence, I can only suggest that he looks for a softer target, because Soubry can give as good as she gets

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Indy Politics

Alex Salmond has invited trouble with the language he used to try to silence a Tory opponent. He was giving a speech on a subject that fascinates MPs, even if nobody else cares – who will sit on the Commons select committee on Scotland?

The normal rule is that the majority party – that is, the Conservatives – have a majority of seats on each committee, but the SNP argues that the Scottish committee should be the preserve of Scottish MPs, which would mean that they would hold virtually every seat while the Tories would have none.

The Treasury minister, Anna Soubry, did not think much of his speech, and called out to him to get a move on, which Salmond did not like at all. “The Treasury bench should behave better in these debates,” he remarked. “She should be setting an example to your new members, not cavorting about like some demented junior minister – behave yourself, woman.”

If Salmond wants to bully women into silence, I can only suggest that he looks for a softer target, because Soubry can give as good as she gets. She once described Nigel Farage, on live television, as a man who “looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it”.

When Michael Cockerell shot his recent television series in the Commons, the camera caught Soubry barracking Ed Miliband – though she denied calling him something that rhymes with Jeremy Hunt.

It did not take her long to hit back at Salmond. She tweeted: “Alex Salmond seems to think women should be seen not heard. His attitude belongs firmly in the 19th century,” and “Salmond can dish it out but he can’t take it!”

Garnier’s bad timing

I hear that the Tory MP Mark Garnier is giving up his plan to run for the chairmanship of the Commons Treasury committee against the incumbent, Andrew Tyrie.

Garnier, a former hedge fund manager, vowed to use the position to end what he called “banker bashing”. The trial of the former City trader Tom Hayes, accused of fixing the Libor rate, came at a bad time for Garnier.

Corbyn hasn’t a chance

There are many reasons why Jeremy Corbyn, latest entrant in the contest to be Labour leader, cannot possibly win, one of which is that not even the Labour Party could ask the nation to vote for such a scruff. He is a three-times winner of the Worst Dressed MP award. I doubt that he knows how to tie a tie. And he has a beard.

Flirting across the floor

In what may be a first for the British Parliament, a member of Labour’s front bench was blatantly flirting with a right-wing Tory MP across the floor of the House.

Labour’s shadow Culture Secretary, Chris Bryant, who is gay, was carrying out the usual ritual of welcoming the new ministerial team to their posts, and claimed to be so pleased that Tracey Crouch had been appointed sports minister that he wanted to give her a hug. He also mentioned that Ed Vaizey is back in his old job as arts minister.

“Does he get a hug?” Peter Bone called out from the back benches.

“No, he does not get a hug,” Bryant replied. “If he really wants one he can ask for one later, and so can you.” As Mr Bone pulled a face, and other MPs got noisy, Mr Bryant added: “Easy tiger!”

Peter Bone has been an implacable opponent of any extension of gay rights. The idea that the law should recognise gay marriage is “completely nuts”, he once told the Commons.

He also has a habit of quoting his wife, Jeanette, as a source of homespun wisdom at every turn. An MP less likely to hug a gay man would be hard to find.

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