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

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

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: The spurious Tory endorsement that misfired

Oliver Wright
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence