Never mind Julia Gillard, is there no end to the insults they'll throw at opponents Down Under?

Our diarist notes another conflagration among Australia's fiery parliamentarians, and watches anarcho-Tory Douglas Carswel, pictured, endure a public test of loyalty

Related Topics

I  used to think that the Australians were coarser, tougher and not so refined as us Brits, but I am beginning to wonder. Not only is there is the extraordinary furore around John McTernan, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Political Secretary, and one of Tony Blair’s former political advisers who was known in this country as a relatively diffident pleasant fellow but is seen over there as the High Priest of Negativity, a veritable Malcolm Tucker made flesh. It makes you wonder how the Aussies would cope with one of the really rough customers, like Alastair Campbell.

Now I read of uproar in the Victoria state legislature because one of its MPs is alleged to described his opponents with a word that rhymes with bankers. He claims that he actually said “whackers” – though video evidence of his accompanying hand gesture suggests otherwise. The point is that it caused a scandal, and he apologised. Meanwhile, in yesterday’s edition of the House of Lords Hansard, the former Defence Minister John Gilbert is recorded as having said that the A440M military airbus is “a complete, absolute banking disaster…” only he did not quite say ‘banking’, if you get my drift. And nobody reacted. Imagine if he had said that in Australia! Of course, it is possible that their lordships are all so deaf that no one but the Hansard shorthand writer heard him.

A countryside not in alliance

Challenged in the Commons yesterday to defend the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board, the Liberal Democrat environment minister David Heath replied: “The national minimum wage is doing a good job of putting a floor under wages in this country, and I see no reason to have extra bureaucracy.” That completely misses the point. The AWB is not a costly bureaucracy, but it sets minimum rates for farmworkers well above the national minimum wage - £9.40 an hour at the top end of the scale, compared with £6.19. Scrapping the AWB will not reduce the cost of the government, but it will give employers the legal right to depress rural wages. And Mr Heath has more than 1,000 farm workers in his Somerton and Frome constituency.

The MP who put paid to Thatcher

Whomever the Labour MP Tom Watson had in mind when he referred to a “senior aide to a former Prime Minister” being implicated in a paedophile ring, we know now that it was not the late Peter Morrison. His name was bandied around because of a reference to him in the latest book by the former Tory MP Edwina Currie. Morrison came from a very Conservative family. His father and brother were Tory MPs, as he was. It was widely known in Westminster in the 1980s that he was gay, and he is much despised by the Tory right - but not for his sexuality. He ran Margaret Thatcher’s leadership campaign in 1990, and was so complacent that he told her that it was in the bag. If only he had tried a bit harder, some think, she could have survived to lead the Conservatives to victory, or defeat, in 1992.

Carswell's new model to take on Cameron

The place not to be seen on Wednesday evening, should you be a Tory aspiring to high office was at a reception in London’s Hospital Club to mark the publication of a book by the MP, Douglas Carswell, entitled The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy. Carswell is an anarcho-Tory who believes that the free market and the internet will liberate the people from the grip of politicians and the “elite commentariat.” It was left to the Blairite Labour MP and historian Tristram Hunt to deliver the tribute.

He likened Carswell to John Lilburn, a 17th century Leveller who fell foul of Oliver Cromwell, claiming: “He stalks the back-benches with his iPad as Lilburne stalked Parliamentary Army tents with his pamphlets.” Lilburne, Hunt added, “was deeply concerned at the way in which a small, narrow vanguard could take over the governance of a country, showing incompetent disregard for the rank and file, ruling within a self-selecting clique, led by a self-absorbed leader... Now, no one is suggesting that Douglas sees any equivalence between the Cameroon Project and the worst excess of Cromwell’s New Model Army. The Lord Protector was far more pluralist…”

The fun bit was watching Carswell trying to hold a straight face through this outrageous attack on his Leader.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot