From the Bercows to the Danczuks, which family is the hardest-working of all?

Let’s ask Vernon Kay to decide

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The Independent Online

If there is one issue on which those right across the political spectrum may agree, it is the need to reward hard-working families. Some might point out that George Osborne has penalised millions of hard-working families by cutting tax credits, although since those are poor families the objection is too pedantic to concern us.

The hard-working families we have in mind today are those who have a few quid, but wouldn’t say no to a few more – and in this category no families work harder to entertain us than the Bercows or the Danczuks. A frantic weekend for the clans found Simon Danczuk, the Labour member for Rochdale, telling anyone with a tape recorder that he hopes to be reunited with self-effacing Karen. The Patrick Demarchelier of her own breasts featured in various reports herself, meanwhile, including a Sunday Mirror story, which she has been forced to deny, about how, in her eagerness to escape a loveless marriage, Karen plotted to catch Simon in a honeytrap by hiring a lap dancer to seduce him for £1,000. Bless them both.

As for Mr and Mrs Speaker, John Bercow is reportedly giving Sally, his publicity shy missus who recently strayed from the marital bed, “one last chance”.

But how to reward these families? Here we turn for help to Vernon Kay, whose return to the political stage after appearing on a list of leading thinkers invited to Chequers by Mr Tony Blair, is so long overdue. Vernon must host an edition of ITV1’s All Star Family Fortunes in which the Danczuks and the Bercows battle it out for £100,000 and the title Britain’s Hardest Working Political Family. Which relatives the couples would choose to boost their teams to five members is anyone’s guess. Mine is that the Danczuk Family would feature Karen’s brother Michael, whom she reportedly continued to employ at her Rochdale deli when alleging to the police that he raped her as a child. And when we asked 100 readers which kinfolk they wanted to see on the Bercow team, the top answer was… John’s cuckolding cousin, Alan, the lawyer with whom Sally had her affair.

Corbyn has red-top appeal
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The possibility of Corbyn winning has excited some Conservatives

Should either family prove unavailable, the Corbyns would make fine late substitutes. Until his shock appearance among the Labour leadership candidates, Jeremy Corbyn and his kin were uncommon visitors to tabloidland. But with the endearing leftie mounting a serious challenge, his family is finally working hard. Piers Corbyn, his climatologist brother, enjoyed a cameo in the Sun on Sunday commenting on his brother’s various marriages, hinting at infidelity during the second, but relating that the third (to a Mexican coffee importer) is going strong.

Now that that’s patently clear, I remind anyone who for, whatever reason – respect for his decency; plain love of chaos and mirth – desperately wants Jeremy to win that it costs just £3 to get a vote.

Operating efficiencies

Hats off to Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, on his new report on health service funding. Keogh, who feels that up to 15 per cent of operations are unnecessary, identifies the lowering of the cataract surgery threshold as especially wasteful. No doubt eye specialists who think delaying this op is a false economy (treating denser cataracts and a resulting form of glaucoma being more expensive than the original procedure) will feel chastened by this implicit rebuke from a former heart surgeon. Sir Bruce also feels that prostate cancer is over-treated, so we wish him well when a patient denied a radical prostatectomy on budgetary grounds develops metastatic cancer in the bone.

IDS comes clean

Still on a post-Budget adrenaline high, Iain Duncan Smith boasts to the Sunday Telegraph that he has forced a pay hike for those who clean his department. “I bump into cleaners now who say: “Thank you, this is fantastic. I don’t have to do so many jobs now.” Although a few details would be nice – the contracted company’s name, by how much it raised pay, a testimonial from a cleaner talking directly to camera from behind the wheel of her new Maserati – I believe him. It’s hardly as if Iain is the legendary fantasist who, whatever his own civil servants said to the contrary, kept insisting his Universal Credit scheme was on time and budget.

Utley hilarious, Charles

With what he apparently mistakes for winsome mischievousness, Charles Moore relays news of a former colleague in The Spectator. “Virginia Utley, my secretary when I edited this paper, has written to Prime Minister and Chancellor,” he begins of a missive containing a novel depiction of gay marriage. Since she and her sister live together in a jointly owned house, Ms Utley has lobbied Messrs Cameron and Osborne to let them marry. “I am sure that you will not say ‘No’ to us when you said ‘Yes’ to all the others,” he quotes her writing. Having been likened to bestiality, gay marriage was bound to be compared with incest by one dunce or another. But it had Charles Moore summoning the ribcage repair kit, so swings and roundabouts there.

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