Andy McSmith's Diary: Sir Malcolm Bruce - so many years in Parliament, so little of interest to say

 

Somebody should compile a compendium of “Interesting Things Sir Malcom Bruce Has Said in his 30 years in Parliament”. It would be a labour of love, a challenge, involving hours and hours of research, but not many results.

Don’t misunderstand: I am not suggesting for a moment that he has not contributed to Parliamentary life. Even now, as he approaches what is to be his final year as an MP, he is on his feet addressing the Commons two or three times a month, and in his younger days he said a great deal more. Everything he said is sensible, and lacking in malice.

But being interesting was not his strongest suit. The best I could find by way of an interesting Sir Malcolm Bruce quote was that he once said: “I probably suffer fools too gladly.” At a time when The Teletubbies were all the rage, and Sir Malcolm was Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems – arguably the most important role he ever held – he did inspire a memorable one-liner from Tony Blair.

Invited during Prime Minister’s Questions to comment on Sir Malcolm’s claim to have found £190m available for spending on public services, Blair remarked that “Tinky Winky would make a better economic spokesman for the Liberal Democrats.” But being the butt of a memorable put down is not the same thing as actually saying something that someone can remember.

Anyway, congratulations to Sir Malcolm on being elected this week as Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, beating the younger, livelier Lorely Burt, who would have been the party’s first female deputy leader. As some wag said, that would have been Lorely.

The name of the game is…

A fun new game, pioneered by political wonks from Nottingham University, is to type a simple question into Google consisting of the word “Is…” followed by the name of a Cabinet minister, to see what word or phrase Google suggests to complete the sentence.

For the Prime Minister, it offers “Is David Cameron Scottish?” For Theresa May, more mysteriously, it is “turning into Cara Delevingne?”

This peaked my curiosity about what might happen if you tried the same exercise on Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. For Ed Miliband, the list of most searched queries is topped by “Is Ed Miliband rich?” followed by “white?”, “a communist?” and “English?” For Ed Balls the top one is “an idiot?” For Yvette Cooper it is “married to Ed Balls?”, for Rachel Reeves “pregnant?”, for Hilary Benn “related to Tony Benn?” and for Peter Hain “Welsh?”

Several of the others are so invisible they do not produce any questions at all. Douglas Alexander is an exception. Type his name, and up comes the query “Who is Douglas Alexander?”

Why so vague on Hague, PM?

“I’m very lucky that I’ve had the same Home Secretary, the same Chancellor, the same Education Secretary, the same Welfare Secretary all the way through this parliamentary term,” David Cameron told BBC Radio 2’s Wright in the Afternoon programme. The fact that he has also had the same Deputy Prime Minister throughout must have just slipped his mind. And why no mention of William Hague?

Such a bad call, councillor

An Edinburgh councillor, Cammy Day, has been fined £100, with three points on his licence, for having a mobile phone in his hand while driving. As well as being Labour’s candidate in Edinburgh West, a seat they hope to take off the Lib Dems in 2015, Mr Day is a Cabinet member on Edinburgh Council, responsible for community safety. Tut!

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?