Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Siôn Simon MP

This evening I have been writing a column about yesterday's Commons debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Act for Liberal Democrat News. It will appear here on Friday. (Please, form a queue.)

One aspect that I have not had room to discuss is the figure of Siôn Simon, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington. It is not just that he looked odd, with his long hair, his rather too colourful tie and the way he obsessively stroked the underside of his long chin. It was his intervention on the timetable that was really strange.

Opposition MPs were complaining about the short time that was being allowed for such a serious measure - someone calculated that there were two minutes for each amendment that had been put down. Simon intervened once on Dominic Grieve to ask how long he wanted if two minutes were not enough and was brushed off.

He tried again:
I am not being silly about the numbers of minutes. According to the analysis of the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), eight minutes is fine, but two minutes is wrong. Conservative Members are being childish and ridiculous.
The odd thing was that Simon said this in a whining, sing-song voice that had to be heard to be believed. (For the written record click here, but you really had to be there.)

Silly? Childish? Ridiculous? I suspect there is a law that people accuse others of the faults they most fear in themselves, much as those who make most fuss about homosexuality are supposed to be repressed homosexuals themselves.

So it was that silly, childish and ridiculous precisely described Simon's performance on Monday.

Researching him further, I came across this tribute to him on the Wales Watch site. Its interest dates from the days when, styling himself "Siôn Llewellyn Simon" he was after a safe seat in the valleys.

Wales Watch commemorates in particular his time as a restaurant critic:

Boudin of guinea fowl was served perfectly warm, with a slice of foie gras on top, and a cep vinaigrette so beguilingly sophisticated that one was tempted to dab it behind one's ears.

Clearly Mr Simon is a figure to watch.

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