Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Junior Whip: Lines 53 to 55

My 10th Whipped column for Ad Lib magazine.

Regular readers will know how that I have long coveted the Chief Whip’s job. Sitting there telling other people how to vote? I I would be good at that.

At least I thought so. After Glasgow I am not so sure…


The Chief Whip had been ringing and texting a certain Liberal Democrat MP without success. “Get him in the hall for lines 53 to 55,” he snarled. “I don’t care how you do it, just get him in there.”

So I rushed around the conference centre until I spotted a familiar face.

“It’s lines 53 to 55,” I panted. “You’ve got to go into the hall now and vote for them. Or maybe it’s against them. Or maybe someone wants a separate vote. Anyway, you’ve got to get in there and vote.”

“I’d like to, son, but I’m a bit busy being the catering manager at the moment.”

Then I really did see the MP.

“Lines 53 to 55? I’m meant to be speaking at two fringe meetings now as it is. One’s on human rights in the Southern Sahara and I’ve no idea what the other one’s about. But if you do them for me, I’ll go in and vote.”


“…and I can’t be in two places at one time,” I finished triumphantly.

“Nonsense,” said the Chief Whip, “I do it all the time. Go back out and get him to vote.”


On reflection it didn’t turn out so badly. I am now a member of the all-party group on Human Rights in the Southern Sahara and, though I have no idea what the second meeting was about, my speech went down well. Keep saying “fairer economy” and “stronger society” (or something like that) and you will go a long way in this party.

Better still, the catering manager voted the right way on lines 53 to 55.

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