20 things your MP doesn't know about BSE

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The Independent Online
What is this new disease called BSE?

It is actually a very old disease, but it used to be called by other names.

What other names did it used to be called by?

Apoplexy. Choler. Wrath. Ire. Irascibility ...

What does BSE actually stand for?

Backbench Spleen Explosion.

Who are affected by Backbench Spleen Explosion?

Backbench MPs. BSE is also the initials of the headline which normally greets an outbreak: "Backbench Storm Erupts".

Good heavens. What form does this terrible malady take?

Well, typically it affects a middle-aged male MP ...

Just a moment. Is there any other kind?


Thank you. Carry on.

In a typical attack of BSE, a middle-aged male Tory MP who has been one moment quietly getting on with life - you know, just quietly drawing his pounds 100,000 consultancy fee from the Classic Car Corporation or harmlessly getting into bed with another middle-aged male Tory MP to save expenses - this middle-aged male Tory MP will suddenly start spluttering, and shouting, and going red in the face and saying things like: "This is absolutely impossible! This has gone too far! Heads must roll! Even better, I must go on Newsnight or Today and tell everyone how outraged I am!"

Good heavens. Poor chap. It must be awful. And what has caused this terrible attack of Backbench Spleen Explosion?

Princess Diana saying she is sorry for the homeless.

I'm sorry?

Princess Diana saying she is sorry for the homeless.

Why should Princess Diana being sorry for the homeless make anyone cross?

Well, medical scientists can find no logical reason for it, but the process may well be psychological rather than physiological. When a middle-aged Tory MP hears a young, beautiful princess saying that she is sorry for the homeless, he may well think that she is blaming him. Of course, what a middle-aged Tory MP would like more than anything else (apart from money, sex, trips abroad, more sex, being personally recognised in the lobby with a smile and a handshake from Michael Heseltine, and more sex)

Sex with Mr Heseltine?

God, no ... is to be approved of by a beautiful young princess. So when he hears Princess Diana being sorry for the homeless, and saying that we should cure the root causes of homelessness, he goes into a childish rage because he would like her approval, whereas it seems to him that she is saying that the Tory government, after all these years in power, should have done something to cure it, whereas they probably did something to cause it.

And that makes him angry?


But surely the Tories should have done something to cure it by now ?

Of course.

And most of it is their fault, is it not?


So why do they get so cross ?

Because mankind cannot bear very much truth.

Look, if Princess Diana says that we should do more about the homeless ...

It's not just Princess Diana. From time to time the bishops of the Church of England, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, will say that there is too much poverty or homelessness or unemployment, and this brings out the whole of the Tory backbench in a paroxysm of BSE. They froth, they rage, they fume, they squawk, they scream ...

Poor, dear things. Can any words be heard above the squawking ?

Yes. The average BSE sufferer usually shouts something to the effect of: "Don't interfere with politics! Keep out of politics! The highest in the land should never get involved with politics! Leave it to us!"

Leave it to a rabble of time-serving, self-seeking, smarmy, unqualified, besuited smoothies who are suffering from right-wing rage?


Who are constantly complaining that, although elected by the people, they never get near the levers of power?


And they want politics left to them?


They must be mad.

They are. I've just explained. It's called BSE.

More about this fascinating disease some other time.