Andy McSmith's Diary: Who needs two seats? MEPs vote to scrap their travelling circus

Our man in Westminster

Nothing happens quickly in the EU, but slowly, slowly common sense is beginning to prevail over the ridiculous costly arrangement under which the European Parliament meets in two different cities, more than 200 miles apart. Most of the functions of the EU are concentrated in Brussels, but Parliament's official seat is more than 200 miles away in Strasbourg, in Alsace, close to the German border, where MEPs are obliged by treaty to meet at least 12 times a year for sessions lasting an average of four days each.

Leaving aside the question of how annoying it is for MEPs to have to traipse from one city to another - for which we can assume minimal sympathy - the whole exercise is a vast waste of money. The estimated cost is between £133 million and £174 million a year.

In a vote this week, on a resolution written in the oblique language of bureaucrats, MEPs voted 507 to 143 to “address the need for a roadmap to a single seat.” In normal language, that means they voted by a bigger majority than ever before to scrap the Strasbourg Parliament.

As would be expected, the biggest contingent to vote against this proposal was from France, and the second biggest from Germany. The only MEPs from the UK among those 143 were the Tories, Vicky Ford and James Elles. In Vicky Ford's case, it would appear to have been a simple mistake, because she changed her vote from no to yes later on, something MEPs are allowed to do.

Clegg picks on wrong pensioner

For some reason, Nick Clegg thought a good way to defend the government's austerity drive would be to query why a pensioner as rich as Alan Sugar should qualify for a free bus pass and free television licence. Lord Sugar was not impressed. “Calamity Clegg is talking rubbish,” he tweeted. “I don't have bus pass and I pay for my TV licence like everyone else.”

He went on to call Clegg an “embarrassment” and to ask: “Why doesn't Cameron silence this idiot Clegg?”

The Deputy Prime Minister attempted a reply on LBC, saying:  “He's slightly sort of thin skinned. He drives around in this great big Bentley on prime-time television, he wafts around the House of Lords in ermine and then he seems to be very offended when I point out he has a bob or two.”

He missed the point of course. Lord Sugar was not objecting to it being said that he is rich. He objected to the inference that he is too mean to pay the fare, were he to travel by bus, and old enough to qualify for a TV licence, for which you have to be at least 75.

It's a quick change

The christening of Prince George took up nearly as many pages in other newspapers as it did words in this. While The Independent gave it 19 words, the Daily Mail gave it 16 pages of glorious colour pictures and detailed reporting, including this gem: “Just three hours after she was seen walking down the street in black skinny jeans and a brown polka dot pussy-bow blouse, Carole Middleton arrived at the Royal christening in style.” This woman can change her clothes in under three hours. Isn't that just amazing?

Naked ambition

Dean Perks, the brash young UKIP activist who hopes to be the next MP for Halesowen, is unembarrassed by the fuss he has caused locally by posting a photograph on Twitter of a naked woman leading a naked man by the genitals. He has posted a link to the Halesowen News story about it to his Twitter followers, he has boasted that they can still see the picture on his Twitter feed, and has told the Labour MP John Spellar, who objected: “Sort your own party out before advising others.”

Mr Perks, a self-employed builder, was previously in the news when he proclaimed that sharia law, and particularly the cutting of thieves' hands “works as a prevention.” He probably will not see this because he does not read newspapers. “Maybe loony lefties do, but not those who think for themselves!” he declared recently.

Speaking of gay marriage

When gay marriage becomes legal next year, one of the first couples to step up will be the deputy editor of PinkNews, Joseph Patrick McCormick and his partner James Hanson, who chose a distinctive location to begin their engagement. McCormick popped the question during a reception in the State Rooms, in the Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster. John Bercow then announced the engagement to the assembled guests, who included Nick Clegg.

A pigs ear

A mournful email arrives from the media office at Vince Cable’s Business Department: “The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that The English Pig, the venue for our drinks reception on 30th October, has closed down. So we are postponing the Media Reception until the New Year.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
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

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits