Leading article: Laugh a minute

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The Independent Online

Did you hear the one about Lembit Opik? The news that the former Liberal Democrat MP is to try his hand as a stand-up comedian will no doubt prompt some to say they thought he always was one.

For all his 13 years in parliament, Mr Opik is probably best known for what popular newspapers always described as his "colourful" private life. There was his liaison with the ITV weather girl Sian Lloyd. Then an affair so public with one half of the Cheeky Girls that the Romanian singer's mother had the date that the couple first had sex marked on her fridge. Not to mention his advocacy of bum-touching and suggestion that the Earth needed a Star Wars defence system against incoming asteroids.

Within minutes of hearing he had lost his seat for Montgomeryshire with a 13 per cent swing to the Conservatives, he was vowing: "In the words of Arnie Schwarzenegger, 'I'll be back'." But his next public appearance was on Have I Got News For You where he quipped: "The great thing about losing my seat is that I can actually take a fee for this now instead of taking this kind of abuse for nothing." Clearly he has concluded that if you are a figure of fun, you might as well get paid for it.