Village People: 27/02/2010

By Andy McSmith
Saturday 27 February 2010 01:00

Baby-talk casts bad spell over the Tories

*It was more than 35 years ago when Helene Hayman, a 20-something Labour MP, scandalised fellow politicians by demonstratively breastfeeding her infant in the House of Commons as a protest against the absence of any facilities for young children anywhere in Parliament.

Last December, it appeared that the problem was finally solved, when the Commons authorities agreed to invest more than £400,000 in a crèche for the children of MPs, peers and others employed in the Village.

But we are not quite there yet. Christopher Chope, pictured, a Conservative MP who dates from the Thatcher era, is fired up because the new nursery is to be located on the site of what is now Bellamy's Bar, where MPs have slaked their thirsts since Victorian times. Mr Chope has sent round an email soliciting signatures for a petition he is presenting on Monday night. "Neither the fire service nor the Administration Committee where (sic) consulted as to the sighting (sic) of the crèche before the House of Commons Commission made its decision," he complained.

Not quite the family-friendly Conservative Party that David Cameron wants to project.

Not all right on the knight for Rawnsley

*Gordon Brown's spokesman Simon Lewis made an odd slip of the tongue during a briefing for lobby journalists this week, when he referred to "Sir Andrew Rawnsley". Mr Rawnsley may be grand but after all the trouble that his forthcoming book, The End of the Party, has caused Gordon Brown, a knighthood is not in prospect. Indeed, Mr Lewis quickly corrected himself by saying: "I think that may be unlikely."

Read all about it. Or not...

*On the subject of The End of the Party, you might think that after all the publicity it has had, it's a cert to leap into the bestseller lists. Actually, that is not a given. People do not flock to buy books by or about politicians, no matter how well-publicised.

Inside Out, the kiss-and-tell memoir by Labour's former general secretary Peter Watt, enjoyed a veritable orgy of press coverage last month, after the serial rights were sold to the Daily Mail for a reputed £75,000. Yet, according to the authoritative BookTrack website, in four weeks since it went on sale only 1,164 copies have been bought in bookshops.

The Labour MP Chris Mullin, left, has done better with his diary, A View from the Foothills, which has sold 5,693 copies since it came out in paperback seven weeks ago, having already shifted 14,462 of the more expensive hardback. It is the way they are written that makes the difference.

Fangs for the memory of a nasty party

*According to a piece in the current issue of the Spectator, David Cameron's leading advisers met recently in despair to ask themselves why their opinion poll lead is shrinking when Gordon Brown is so unpopular. Part of the answer may be that their strategy of drawing in voters by persuading them that their party is not the "nasty" party any more is putting off people who liked it the way it was.

The first reader's letter in Thursday's Daily Mail began: "I'm a life-long Conservative voter who won't be voting for Cameron." The next was: "I'm a 68-year-old Englishman who, for 50 years, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Tory Party but in this election, I won't be voting." The third was from someone who has voted Tory since the 1970s, but "not this time".

Dave, some people actually want the party of their choice to be "nasty".

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