Andy McSmith's Diary: Tory tea-tree salesman is a shining example of longevity


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David Tredinnick, MP for Bosworth, is not the smartest Conservative there ever was. In the 1990s, he is reported to have lost £750,000 as a Lloyds underwriter, but he is open to ideas about healing the sick. He is the first, I believe, to draw Parliament’s attention to tea tree oil.

This substance comes from a species of tree unique to Australia. Its medicinal qualities are being laboratory-tested at the University of Western Australia. A note on the university's website points out that tests are critical “if tea tree oil is to be accepted as an antimicrobial agent”.

But there is no “if” about it, to judge by Mr Tredinnick’s latest remarks in the Commons. Stressing the importance of preventing infection in A&E units, Mr Tredinnick urged the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to “remember that nature has its own remedies, such as tea tree oil”.

Mr Tredinnick is an Eton-educated former Grenadier Guard with no obvious scientific qualifications, and a member of the Commons Science Committee and Health Committee. One of his previous Commons speeches was a hymn of praise to homeopathy as a cure for an “endless” list of ailments, including HIV, TB, malaria, urinary infections, diarrhoea, skin eruptions, diabetes, epilepsy, eye infections, intestinal parasites, treatment from pregnancy to childbirth, cancer, gangrene, toxaemia and general injuries. In another debate, in 2001, he asserted that “science has worked out that pregnancy, hangovers and visits to one’s GP may be affected by the awesome power of the moon”.

Not the least remarkable fact about Mr Tredinnick is that he is, even now, an MP. In 1995 despite insisting that he refused a cheque for tabling a question, he was suspended from the Commons for 20 days for being prepared to take cash in return for asking parliamentary questions. No other MP dealt with in such a manner has survived beyond a general election. Tredinnick has been a backbench MP for 27 years.

Maid to measure

The magnificent Baroness Trumpington appears to regret the occasion when she let on how, when she was young and pretty, that old goat David Lloyd George tried to measure her all over.

“People got so excited about it. It’s really very boring and I was very young. I mean, I’ve no idea why he did it. I suppose he was bored and there was a tape measure around…” she has told Total Politics magazine. Anyway, she is not expecting any more trouble of that sort. “Nobody’s going to grope me at 91,” she snorted.

Loach’s antique pleasures

Ken Loach has confessed in Shortlist magazine to a “guilty pleasure” – he watches Antiques Roadshow. And why not? Considering it is 48 years since he directed that seminal television drama, Cathy Come Home, he is himself something of an antique.

Blair thanks beautiful game

Tony Blair would never have been Prime Minister had he not known shown some interest in football, says a new book by a leading Blairite, Jim Murphy, a down-table member of the current shadow Cabinet.

He brought out a book yesterday about football matches that changed history, which includes the tale of a young Tony Blair turning up in 1983 in County Durham where there was one last Labour seat up for grabs, introducing himself to John Burton, a stalwart of the local party, and then having to put politics aside while the football was on.

Murphy asked Blair what would have happened if the occasion had gone badly. “I wouldn’t have been Prime Minister,” he replied, “because I wouldn’t have got into Parliament until the next election in 1987. To be blunt about it, Gordon would have been, you know, so far ahead there wouldn’t really have been any doubt about it.” How different things might have been.