Village People: 29/05/2010

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Laws puts a new spin on jobs freeze

David Laws, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is the new Conservative pin-up because of the unflinching way he puts the case for cutting public spending, ignoring what his own party said on the subject before the election.

But there is a little corner of the Government where Mr Laws has committed himself to extra spending. He has advertised for a personal spin doctor, whose £58,000 salary will, naturally, be paid out of taxes. It is, suggests Gail Cartmail of the union Unite, "a lot of money to pay someone to peddle a glossy spin on what the public already knows".

Welcome, again

At this stage in a new Parliament, Commons debates are always peppered with maiden speeches by nervous new MPs. Politeness requires their more experienced colleagues praise their contributions. In that spirit, the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, heaped praise on the Labour MP Alison Seabeck for making "what was, if I may say, an incredibly informed maiden speech, albeit a highly political one".

Just one small point – Alison Seabeck was elected MP for Plymouth Devonport in 2005.

The expanding A to Z of the Commons

A little-noticed side-effect of Parliament's improving ethnic balance is that if you look down the list of initial letters of MPs' surnames, you find that they include more letters of the alphabet than ever before in the history of Parliament. With the arrival of Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South-East), Chuka Umunna (Streatham), Paul Singh Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) and Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford on Avon), that is the whole lot covered, except X.

Tory resentment goes nuclear

How does it feel to be a Tory MP who laboured for years in a thankless, unpaid role as a shadow minister, only to learn that the salary and chauffeur-driven car that you hoped would be yours have gone to a Liberal Democrat?

Only a month ago, the Tory MP Julian Lewis was a man with a future, as a shadow defence minister heaping contempt on the Lib Dem notion that Britain cannot afford to update its nuclear weapons. This week he could be seen silently fuming as the venerable former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell expounded what is now the agreed coalition line that Trident could perhaps be replaced by something cheaper. When Mr Lewis had his turn to speak, he roundly accused Ming of talking "facile nonsense".

"But he's on your side!" cried the Labour MP Denis MacShane.

"I am on the backbenches; I am not bound by this stuff," Mr Lewis retorted. No hard feelings then.