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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot