Village People: Eagle has (crash) landed
Saturday 30 April 2011
Sometimes it is a good idea to leave things to the spin doctors.
Bob Roberts, ex-tabloid hack turned Ed Miliband spinner, was straight out of his box after David Cameron told Angela Eagle to "Calm down, dear", accusing the Prime Minister of being "patronising and sexist" thereby generating a row that allowed Ms Eagle to sound measured and reasonable when invited to respond. But Harriet Harman could not resist weighing in with an over the top statement that allowed the right to accuse Labour of a sense of humour failure. As one Labour MP put it: "We overshot the runway."
A nice self-deprecating joke from Alan Johnson livened up the No to AV event this week. He remarked that on the platform were two party leaders – Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage – one future leader, Tim Farron, and an ex future leader – that was Johnson himself.
Clerk in shining armour
Paying tribute to the retiring Clerk of the House of Lords, Michael Pownall, the former Speaker Betty Boothroyd reminded peers what clerks are for. Describing a concert during a parliamentary visit to Trinidad, she said: "It was a black velvet, tropical evening and, on returning to our seats after the interval, and unseen by my colleagues, I fell through very flaky floorboards right up to my armpits, the remainder of me hanging in an abyss." At last she was spotted by the Clerk of the Commons, Bill McKay, who hauled her, shoeless and flustered, back to safety. As she thanked him, he replied: "Madam Speaker, think nothing of it; that's what Clerks are for – to get Speakers out of holes."
Deliver us from small talk
One consequence of Wednesday's rehearsal for the royal wedding was that MPs arriving at Parliament found there were no newspapers because the delivery van could not get through. "We ended up having to talk to each other," one irate Tory complained.
Man in tights in the right
In the Commons, that national treasure, the Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, made his distinctive contribution to a debate on tax and redistribution of wealth by remarking that: "Robin Hood is not as a good as he is made out to be... He stole from the church. I am not in favour of people pinching things from the holy mother Church." Rees-Mogg took his cue, presumably, from a book published last year, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar by John Paul Davis, which cited a passage from A Gest of Robyn Hode, a 16th-century ballad that alleges our hero relieved an abbot of £400. But it is also plain from the song that the abbot was a greedy moneylender. Why else would a man of the cloth have such a vast sum? I think Hood deserves an apology.
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