Andy McSmith's Diary: Try as you might, you can’t keep Goodman down


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Indy Politics

Helen Goodman, Labour’s shadow media minister, is in trouble again. Last time, it was for not knowing where she was; this time, it was for putting out a sweeping insult of all the women Tory MPs promoted by David Cameron in his latest reshuffle.

Many MPs objected when the Daily Mail reported on the reshuffle as if it were a fashion parade, naming the employment minister, Esther McVey, “Queen of the Catwalk”. The Green MP Caroline Lucas, for instance, tabled a Commons motion deploring “the objectification and sexualisation of women”.

But Ms Goodman thought this was foolishly giving David Cameron the coverage he wanted, and tweeted what was meant to be a counter-blast. The Mail’s treatment of the women was “fair”, she wrote, because “all are puppets who’ll change nothing and their appearance really is the most interesting thing about them”.

The Conservatives had been relatively quiet about the original Daily Mail article, not wanting to alienate a powerful Tory newspaper, but Ms Goodman had now presented herself as a soft target for pent-up outrage. The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan called her tweet “disgraceful”. Anna Soubry, the defence minister, demanded an apology. Sarah Newton, the Conservative deputy chairman, wrote to the deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman demanding Ms Goodman be disciplined.

Ms Goodman deleted the offending tweet, replacing it with an apology for what “I intended... as a light-hearted remark” – but that did not stop the onslaught.

Last month, she landed herself in it after she asked someone doing work experience in her office to research a village she was due to visit in her Durham constituency, called Ingleton. She used the information in the research note in her speech to the bemused villagers, unaware she was talking about Ingleton in North Yorkshire.

On the side of the angels

“He spent four years travelling the world. He has rubbed shoulders with Angela Merkel; hobnobbed with Angelina; and now he is stuck with Commons Angela,” – with these words, William Hague, was welcomed to his new job, the Leader of the Commons, by his Labour shadow, Angela Eagle.

Figuring it out

At the end of the trial of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, certain journalists took a wild guess at the prosecution costs and plucked £150,000 from the air. The correct figure has now been published. It was £150,710.88. Not a bad guess then.

Commons sense

The Speaker, John Bercow, rebuked a Tory MP, Robert Halfon, for telling a Labour MP who was barracking him to “keep his trap shut”. That was “tasteless”, said  the same Speaker who, according to Wednesday’s Hansard, told the Clerk of the Commons Sir Robert Rogers, in front of witnesses, to “f-*-*-* off”.

Rage against the machine

In a market town called Frodsham, near Chester, there lives a man called Frank Pennington, who has been a councillor for 39 years. He does not like the way the council is run. In one outburst, he described it as “worse than the Second World War and Hitler”.

A member of the public complained. Councillor Pennington was told to apologise. He wrote to the clerk saying sorry. His fellow councillors decided that he must say it in person. He refused. He was banned from all committees and working groups.

He has told the Chester Chronicle that he is consulting a lawyer to see if he can take the town council to court. This hot weather must have melted their brains.