Sorry Susan, lords stay lords – thanks to Nick Clegg

Our diarist wonders if the Lib Dem leader could bear to meet one of his predecessors, and what Nick Robinson could (not) learn from David Dimbleby
  • @andymcsmith

Susan Elan Jones, a Labour MP for Clwyd South, made an idiot of herself during yesterday’s Commons debate on the North Wales child abuse scandal when she demanded that “any member of the House of Lords” found to be implicated should be “stripped of their peerage and taken out of the House of Lords for life”.

Apart from this cutting across the Home Secretary’s plea to MPs not to make remarks that might jeopardise any trial, Ms Jones ought to know that – thanks to the obstinacy of Nick Clegg – it is constitutionally impossible to strip a peer of his peerage.

The former Liberal leader David Steel proposed a sensible measure that would have sailed through Parliament that would make that possible, but Clegg would not hear of it. Ostensibly this was because he feared that a minor reform would weaken the case for abolishing the unelected upper house. Another possible reason is that he could not bear to see Lord Steel succeed when his own attempt at Lords reform had failed. Almost any day that the Lords is in session, Lord Hanningfield, who went to prison for fiddling his expenses, is back in the building and claiming attendance allowances.

Silly betting – and even sillier names

Nadine Dorries’s (above) decision to appear on I’m a Celebrity… produced the inevitable outbreak of silly betting yesterday, with Ladbrokes offering 10-1 on her taking a shower in a blue bikini. Meanwhile, the spectacle of the former Liberal Democrat MP and I’m a Celebrity… alumnus, Lembit Opik, coming to her defence, on and elsewhere, prompted an unkind retweet from the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael. He re-tweeted one @adahal, who wrote: “I was at university same time as Lembit Opik. He had second-silliest name there. No 1 was Rory Borealis.” Which prompts the irrelevant observation that there is a Rory Borealis working for Walsall Borough Council, whose job title is as exotic as his name: he is “Executive Director (Resources) and Working Smarter Delivery Lead”. Is there such an animal as a Non-Working Smarter Delivery Lead, I wonder?

The bald truth from Nick Robinson

I see from his new literary endeavour, Live From Downing Street, that in his early days at the BBC, Nick Robinson received this pearl of wisdom from David Dimbleby: “Television reporting was, he told me, a career you could carry on doing happily after your hair turned grey.” Assuming that you have any hair.

’Allo ’Allo! Heath’s Fronch cod be butter

Edward Heath, the former Tory Prime Minister whom most Tories now revile because he led the UK into what was then called the Common Market, used to think he was a great Europhile. He would sometimes speak French in public, but with excruciating effect, because he pronounced French words in the way he believed that they should be pronounced, which bore no resemblance to the way the French pronounce them.

Very like Officer Crabtree in the long running TV comedy ’Allo ’Allo!. It now transpires that this resemblance was not coincidental. Interviewed by the writer Richard Webber for his book 30 Years of ’Allo ’Allo, the actor Arthur Bostrom, who played Crabtree, pictured left, says he consciously based the character on Heath because “hearing him talk used to crack me up – the words were correct but there was no attempt at a French accent”. How typically British is that?”