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: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The old 1,000 Greek drachma notes and current 20 euros  

Greece debt crisis: History shows 'new drachma' is nothing to fear

Ben Chu
David Cameron leaves Number 10 to speak at Parliament  

Tunisia attack: To prevent more bloodshed we must accept that containment has not worked

Patrick Cockburn
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue