You might think that the Dorries family had done enough to annoy the Tory whips already, what with Nadine disappearing into the jungle for a month, leaving her Mid Bedfordshire constituents to fend for themselves. But her daughter, Jennifer, has now added to their displeasure by claiming that Mum was given permission to take a month off by Andrew Mitchell, who was Chief Whip at the time. Mitchell is emphatic that this is not true.
“Chief Whips do not normally comment on conversation with members,” he tells me, “but in this case I am happy to confirm that permission for a month off to go to Australia to appear on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here was neither sought nor given.”
Meanwhile Huw Irranca-Davies, a Labour MP whose Ogmore constituency is a long way from Mid Bedfordshire, tweets: “Just had request for help from constituent of Nadine Dorries: apologises for writing to me but ‘I do not seem to have an MP at the moment’.”
Well, somebody has to look after them.
Pirates show no Respect
Amid the deluge of election results on Friday I forgot to check how Respect did in Manchester Central, where there was talk of them following up George Galloway’s triumph in seizing Bradford West off Labour. For the record, they came ninth, with 182 votes, 126 fewer than the UK Pirate Party.
Old news on pay deals
Tonight's Dispatches programme on Channel 4 was a bit last year, raking over MPs’ expenses, when all the information is publicly available and independently scrutinised by IPSA. MPs’ salaries – £65,738 a year plus expenses – are not the highest in public life, by a long way.
For example, during Andy Duncan’s final year as Chief Executive of Channel 4 his total pay packet, with benefits, reached £1,481,000. The channel’s chairman, Terry Burns, was asked about this by the Commons Culture Committee, and confessed that it was on the high side. In mitigation he pointed out that Duncan’s successor, David Abraham, was on a much more modest basic salary of £490,000 a year. “I cannot see any circumstance in which we are not going to be recruiting people into the senior positions at salaries rather greater than that which the Prime Minister receives.
“That is just the commercial reality of life,” he added. Channel 4 is not publicly funded, but is publicly owned. Perhaps Dispatches should dig around and see if there is a story to be told here.
Davies off target with tweet
The Tory MP Glyn Davies reduced the entertainment value of contemporary politics in 2010, by taking the Montgomeryshire seat in central Wales off that lovable Liberal Democrat clown, Lembit Opik. He has tried to atone by running one of Wales’s liveliest political blogs, with occasional forays onto Twitter. He landed himself in trouble, however, when the Daily Mirror reported the furious reaction from the League Against Cruel Sports and others to a tweet from Mr Davies that said: “Beautiful antlered stag in the garden, browsing on the shrubs border… I just wished I had my 12 bore handy.”
Mr Davies is no lover of wild deer, as he confessed on his blog yesterday. Red and Fallow deer sneak into his garden, help themselves to the Aralias and bamboos, and spit out bits that they do not fancy digesting. The good news, from the deer’s point of view, is that a) Davies does not have a gun licence, and b) he is a rotten shot. “I have ‘shot at’ grey squirrels and a horrid feral cat with an airgun – always missed,” he admitted.