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

Share
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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head  

London’s far too exclusive already, so don’t start charging people for the New Year’s Eve fireworks

Mary Dejevsky
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week