Gordon likes a joke or two

Share
Related Topics
YOU may have read the jokes that Gordon Brown told a Westminster gaggle - should it be a gagging? - of political journalists at lunch last week. He left out two. Number one: "We have the servants now." (This sends up Tony Blair's post-election nonsense that "We are the servants now", itself a pastiche of post-war Attorney General Hartley Shawcross's remark that "We are the masters now"). Number two: "I went on a ministerial visit to the Maze prison in Northern Ireland. But there was no one in."

WATCH out Chancellor Brown! A woman is after your job. Fortunately for him, the gel in question is Julie Kirkbride, a new Tory MP who unwisely confessed her ambitions to her constituency association in Bromsgrove, Worcester- shire, whence they were leaked to the local paper. "I think I would like to be Chancellor," she simpered. "The truth is I would accept any cabinet job that was offered." Ms Kirkbride, aka Mrs Andrew Mackay (for she married the Shadow Ulster spokesman last summer), has been in the Commons only 11 months and is not likely to be offered any job in a Hague administration before she is in her late forties. Discretion forbids me to mention that that is nearly a decade off. Natural gallantry also prevents the diary from asking why she never made president of the Cambridge Union, as all her predecessors as vice-president did.

FOREIGN Office minister Derek Fatchett, with responsibilities for rebranding abroad, says that the Gov- ernment wants to change the image of Britain as Buckingham Palace and "old smokestack industries".

Really? Can this be the same Del Boy who rode shotgun with a striking Yorkshire miner into enemy territory - the working coalfield of Nottinghamshire - during the great coal strike of 1984? Creevey remembers riding with him in a rather elderly Volvo. When the driver was duly lifted by police, Fatchett pursued him to Mansfield nick and got the fellow released without charge. There was no disparaging talk about "smokestack" industries then. The cool anthem was Coal Not Dole. O Tempora. O New Laboria.

A FURTHER footnote to the Blackpool affair. You will recall that New Labour has turned up its nose at the Lancashire resort. But it looks as though the MPs would give their false teeth to get back to Blackpool. Dennis Turner MP, chairman of the Commons Catering Committee, says the big hit in the Strangers' Dining Room regularly used by honourable members is fish and chips with mushy peas. You don't get those in snooty Brighton or boring Bournemouth. Wulvrumpton Dennis also tells members in his progress report that the Strangers' Bar is to be repainted magnolia "to give it a fresher feel" and new fans will be installed to get rid of the appalling clouds of cigarette smoke. Brother Turner laments the decline of the Members' Smoking Room. "This particularly fine room has been somewhat neglected over the years," he says, "and the committee feels that it is in some need of refurbishment." The same may be said of some of its habitues, including some very fine Grade II listed trade union MPs, many with original architectural features.

THE queue to succeed diminutive Ian Hargreaves in the editorial chair at the New Statesman is already snaking round the Park Lane penthouse block of proprietor Geoffrey Robinson MP. Of course, he has nothing to do with the decision, being a minister whose interests are in trust. The front runners are Peter Oborne, a gee-gee fanatic and political columnist with the Express. Being a Tory is held to be his chief difficulty. Jonathan Freedland, a scribbler with the Guardian, is also mentioned, as is Kevin Maguire, political editor of the Mirror, who knows Labour from the inside yet remains an independent-minded fellow. It is preposterously bruited that Philip Bassett, aka Dame Bassett, husband of Foreign Office minister Lady Symon of Vernon Dean, might be roped in. Surely his role in the Downing Street Strategic Important Chaps Unit precludes that idea. And where is the woman candidate for this rather plum job, commanding pounds 180,000 a year? It is suggested to Creevey that the Independent's own firebrand, Anne McElvoy, might be New Hargreaves. But will she have the nerve to fire John Lloyd, the ultra-left turned ultra-Blairite associate editor whose head is approaching the platter?

THE dressing-down continues relentlessly. Chris Smith (never Christopher, notice, any more than Tony Blair is Anthony, or Cook is Robert, his given name) last week asked the diary to a bash in Oxo Tower Wharf on the Thames south bank to celebrate the presentation of this year's Sainsbury Scholarships. The invitation stipulated "casual dress". As one does not own a pair of jeans, one was not able to go. What will the summer bring? Invitations to ministerial functions that require the wearing of Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts and flip-flops, no doubt.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales & Marketing Assistant

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This UK based B2C and B2B multi...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive - Opportunities Across The UK

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Injection Moulding Supervisor

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy moulding company requires ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Teenagers make a request to vote at a polling station in Stanwell Village, west of London in the 2005 General Election  

If teenagers were keen to vote, it could transform Britain

Peter Kellner
Crocuses bloom at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew  

From carpets of crocuses to cuckoos on the move, spring is truly springing

Michael McCarthy
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003