Village people: 17/10/2009


The minimum wage?


*David Wilshire, the latest MP devoured by the expenses scandal, was visited by journalism students just before his downfall. Echoing his fellow Tory, Alan Duncan, who spoke of MPs living on "rations", he is said to have told them: "I work 60-70 hours a week some weeks. When you look at what I earn over the year, it comes dangerously close to working out as the minimum wage."

...er, not quite David

The minimum wage rose this month to £5.80, which is £406 for a 70 hour week. An MP's basic salary is £64,766 – over £1,245 a week, if they work 52 weeks.

Cameron factor

Voters may be heartily sick of Gordon Brown, but they have not yet decided they want David Cameron. If you doubt that, look at what happened yesterday in Bedford, in the contest to replace the town's directly elected mayor, Frank Branston, an independent, who died in August. This a seat the Tories must win next year just to have more MPs than Labour, which is why David Cameron paid two visits to add a little of his personal magic to the campaign. And the winner was a heavily-bearded Liberal Democrat named Dave Hodgson.

The promise of youth

*Unnoticed, except in the Westminster village, Chloe Smith, winner of July's Norwich North by-election, delivered her maiden speech to the Commons this week. True to tradition, it was uncontroversial. Ms Smith, 27, is the youngest ever woman Tory MP. So when was there last a male Tory MP that young and full of promise? Answer: May 1979, when Stephen Dorrell, aged 27, became MP for Loughborough.

Next question. Authoritative sources say that Dorrell is still an MP, for Charnwood, near Leicester, though he left the Shadow Cabinet 11 years ago. What has he done since?

Answer: er, pass.

In need of a break

*Tory blogger Iain Dale hopes he will be on the path to political success today as the citizens of Bracknell choose a Conservative candidate. Dale, left, is the best known contestant, but he has not had an uninterrupted run of success. When he was a candidate in Norfolk North in 2005, the Tory vote there fell by 6.3 per cent. He was a major player in David Davis's campaign for the party leadership, which went from high hopes to defeat. He made a bid to be adopted as the Tory candidate in Maidstone, but that did not work out either. So, people of Bracknell, vote Dale – he needs a break.

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