Friday, February 27, 2009

House Points: Quentin Davies and his new friends

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News.

Reality show

There are mornings when Quentin Davies forgets. He rises, shaves and enjoys the eggs and b. He congratulates himself on being MP for the beautiful town of Stamford, thinking fondly of its five Medieval churches and 600 listed buildings. If ever there were a safe seat...

Then it hits him. He is no longer a Conservative.

As the scream rises in his throat, he remembers that in June 2007 he crossed the floor. He recalls the statement Labour’s spin doctors wrote for him. It said Gordon Brown was “a leader I have always greatly admired ... who has a towering record, and a clear vision for the future of our country which I fully share".

He bangs his head on his desk. It is not a dream.

On Monday he managed to forget even while he was at the dispatch box. Answering questions as under-secretary of state for defence, he referred to the Labour MP Stephen Hepburn as “the honourable gentleman”.

How the Tory benches laughed! Davies had to correct himself. Hepburn is now his honourable friend.

Friend? Davies must have recalled that he never used to have friends like Hepburn. He sits for Jarrow. I sit for Stamford. He went to a local comprehensive. I went to the Dragon School, Oxford. He was a building worker. I joined the Diplomatic Service. He became a trade union official. I later worked for Morgan Grenfell. He will have a seat after...

When you add to all this the current opinion polls, Oscar Wilde’s verdict on the death of Little Nell comes to mind. Considering Davies’ current predicament, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

Davies’s boss is the pompous John Hutton. Sir Peter Tapsell – another Lincolnshire Tory grandee, but one who has had the sense not to cross the floor – raised the conflict in Afghanistan and asked what “the continuing justification for sacrificing more British lives in this unwinnable war” is. Hutton replied: “I reject the hon. Gentleman’s defeatism, which has no place in this House.”

But quite what this government is seeking to achieve in Afghanistan is one of the great mysteries of our age. If you can’t raise question in the Commons, there is little point to the place.

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