Andy McSmith's Diary: What next for Danny Alexander's constituents after tax breaks and cheap fuel?

Ourman in Westminster

Two months ago, Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was accused of 'pork barrel politics' because of the remarkable way that his Inverness constituency has benefitted from government largesse. In the time of austerity, his seat has received state funding for a tourist railway,  bailout for the London-Scotland sleeper train, tax break for ski lifts and a generous number of exemptions from the so-called 'bedroom tax'. “This is very fishy indeed,” Labour's treasury spokesman Chris Leslie told the Financial Times.

Today, the treasury announced that, subject to EU approval, petrol stations in seven Scottish and three English towns will benefit from a 5p cut in the fuel duty on a litre of petrol because they are in rural areas where there is very ;little by way of public transport, making people dependent on their cars. All seven of the Scottish towns are in areas where the local MP is  Liberal Democrat, and two are in the Badenoch and Strathspey area, in the Inverness constituency of Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Salute to a Lady of refined tastes

Something will be lost on the day when the House of Lords is wound up and replaced with a chamber full of career politicians. For instance, I fear there will never be an elected politician quite like the Countess of Mar, who is - uniquely - a female hereditary peer, whose title dates from 1114, making it the oldest in the UK.

She is a farmer who asks questions about specialist stuff that most of us know nothing about, such as government-funded research into earthworm diversity. Were it not for a question along those lines, tabled by the Countess of Mar, myself I would never have known that there had been a research project with the gripping title “Stress in a hot place: Ecogenomics and phylogeography in a pantropical sentinel inhabiting multi-stressor volcanic soils.” Now I know, I feel that much better.

Perry gives Izzard a dressing down

Asked by Time Out whether he would consider running for Mayor of London, like Eddie Izzard, Grayson Perry's response was: “You can't have two transvestites standing for mayor. Actually, I think Eddie Izzard should have his licence ripped up - he's not a tranny any more. I haven't seen him in a frock for ages.”

Search for subsidies

Brian Binley, a Tory MP, has tried to find out from the government the amount of subsidy that goes into renewable energy, which seems a relevant enough question given the furore around the fast rising price of gas. He has been unable to find out the answer because, as the Tory business minister Michael Fallon told him in writing, “there is no single definition of 'subsidy'.”

That being so, how will the Conservatives abide by the pledge set out in Section 10 of the coalition agreement that they will allow new nuclear power stations to be built “provided that they receive no public subsidy”?

Purple reign for MPs

As a friend was on his way to the Roundhouse, in London's Chalk Farm Road, for a live concert by Deep Purple, a rock group formed so long ago that it would take a geologist to date it accurately, whom should he encounter but the Tory MP John Whittingdale.

Mr Whittingdale, who chairs the Commons Culture committee, which is responsible for the continuing welfare of opera and other high art forms, revealed that Deep Purple is his favourite band. The Tory Mike Weatherley, and the Labour MP, John Robertson were also spotted in the audience.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Network Infrastructure Technical Lead - up to £45k DOE - Surrey

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Technical Architect - Surrey - £35k-£45k DOE - Permanent

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths NQT needed for a Fantas...

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week