Village People: Priti Patel is hung out to dry for supporting the death penalty


Andy McSmith
Saturday 24 September 2011 00:00 BST

Essex MP Priti Patel, whom it is customary to describe as a "rising star" of the Tory party, made her first appearance on BBC's Question Time this week, and set off a Twitter storm.

Just hours after the execution of Troy Davis, in Georgia, she issued a call to bring back hanging.

If we take her words literally, she would see others, as well as murderers, swinging from a rope. She mentioned rapists three times, and paedophiles once.

When Private Eye editor Ian Hislop pointed out that there have been cases of people being wrongly convicted of murder, adding "it's not a deterrent killing the wrong people", Ms Patel conceded that when trying capital crimes, courts would have to make a special effort to convict the real culprits.

The Labour MP Paul Flynn called it "one of the impenetrable mysteries of politics" that the Tories ever allow Ms Patel on to the mass media, because her hard-line views on crime and punishment, Europe and other matters mean she is no Cameroon, but more an ideological descendant of the rant-ing right-wing Tories who attacked Edward Heath in 1972 – the year of her birth – for giving sanctuary to Asians fleeing persecution in Uganda. Her parents were Ugandan Asians.

There is a simple way for the Cameroons to rid the party of Ms Patel, because her seat, Witham, is marked for abolition under the proposed boundary changes.

But how dreary the Commons would be if all the hard-core Tory hangers and floggers were removed, and what an interesting addition Priti Patel is to their ranks. Time was when most of them were purple-faced retired army officers.

If anyone wants to launch Bleeding Heart Liberals' Priti Preservation Society, I'll sign up.

Sir George offends the culture club in the Outer Hebrides

The Government, in the person of Sir George Young, right, Leader of the Commons, has said sorry to the good folks of the Outer Hebrides for an e-petition which should never have been allowed to go up on the Downing Street website. It suggested: "All rioters and looters from the recent troubles in English cities should be banished to the Outer Hebrides for five years... Being forced to live with none of the comforts of English city living e.g. running water, electricity, decent food, culture and shopping, will put them on the straight and narrow.

Many local people there look after sheep part-time, so they can earn a small amount of extra money looking after rioters and looters as well."

The party's over for News International

A yawning gap has opened in the social diaries of the politicians, hacks and other politicos who do the rounds of party conferences. One of the most coveted possessions in previous years was the piece of white card that meant admission to the News International Party, where you would see our political leaders supping champagne in the company of flame-haired Rebekah Brookes or bespeckled James Murdoch. It was such a prestigious event someone had to be on the door to bar those who were not important enough to be invited. That task would often fall to the somewhat self-aggrandising executive director James McManus.

But not this year. In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, the News International party was in danger of becoming the one that everyone avoided. Rather than face talking to one another in an empty room, or having to roam the corridors trying to inflict invitations on innocent bystanders, the NI top brass have called it off.

"It was just going to be embarrassing," said a company insider. "It was clear that anyone who was anyone was going to stay away so we decided to cut our losses and abandon them. Hopefully we'll be back in 2012."

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