Village People: 27/03/2010

Tory message fails to reach their man in EU

One of David Cameron's bolder recent pronouncements was his promise that a Tory government would unilaterally levy a charge on the banks – a levy known as a "Tobin tax". Another promise was that his government will not touch the overseas aid budget when it starts slashing public expenditure.

These two clear messages – "Tobin tax, good; overseas aid, also good" – do not seem to have reached the European Parliament, where Nirj Diva is Tory spokesman on development. Last week, he denounced a widely supported plan for a Europe-wide Tobin tax, to be spent on aid projects. It was "silly", "irrelevant" and would "hammer already weakened financial institutions in the West and give the money to a bunch of people who will probably steal it".

Odd man out in the three-way debate

When the three main party leaders appear together in televised debates, one sure winner is assumed to be Nick Clegg, who will gain from being seen up there with the big boys. But anyone who saw John Thurso, Liberal Democrat business spokesman, below, on Newsnight this week with Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke, above, must wonder whether the third party will get anything from these debates at all. The discussion lasted nearly 10 minutes. The first seven were taken up with a ding-dong between Mandelson and Clarke. Then Jeremy Paxman remarked: "Lord Thurso's been sitting here very quietly throughout all this ..." Mr Thurso (who is in fact an MP, although his father was a viscount) was heard in polite silence for precisely one minute on industrial policy, before Mandelson and Clarke returned to tearing lumps off each other.

Prostrated by prostate test

If you do not understand this story, I am afraid it is not within the remit of a family newspaper to explain...

One of the perks of being an MP is their periodic visits from a district nurse to check their health. During the latest session, a male MP was administered the standard test for prostate cancer. "Have you ever had this done before?" the nurse asked. "Never by a woman," he replied.

Stick to the point, Gorbals Mick

Michael Martin, the first Commons Speaker to be sacked in 300 years, has made his first speech in the House of Lords in his new role as Lord Martin of Springburn. A truly astonishing, rambling stream of bile it was, too.

The Government has taken heed of complaints from newspapers, book publishers, academics and scientists about the high cost of libel in Britain – 140 times the European average – and wants to reduce the fees charged by lawyers who take on libel cases on a "no win, no fee" basis. Lord Martin, right, as we must now call him, led the opposition. He wants lawyers to be allowed to charge five times what the Government proposes. In his speech, he complained that journalists had given him the nickname "Gorbals Mick", although that is not his native part of Glasgow; he complained about journalists ringing his doorbell at home; and he praised the "no win, no fee" lawyers who have defended poor Glaswegians suffering from industrial illnesses.

But, Your Lordship, calling someone "Gorbals Mick" is not defamatory, knocking on a door is not defamatory, and employment lawyers are not libel lawyers. So, next time, do try to keep to the point.

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