Friday, July 24, 2009

House Points: The Olympics, school choirs and Samuel Danks Waddy

Today's House Points arguable finds me a little demob happy. This is my last column of the parliamentary season.

Incidentally, when I was at primary school in Hemel Hempstead we sang for no one more eminent than Potten End Women's Institute. We got a good tea, though.

Bercow's big tent

Bad news from Olympic questions on Monday: Tessa Jowell is talking about “investment” again. And we all know what that means under Labour.

This time the government is making good the shortfall in private sector contributions to the media centre and athletes’ village. It all comes out of the contingency fund, apparently, so it doesn’t really count.

Still, if anyone can make a mess of selling property in London – assuming it will be possible to sell houses again by the time the Games have taken place – it is national government.

A clue to the mind-set of those putting on the Olympics came in a Spectator diary written a few weeks ago by Roger Mosey, the man in charge of the BBC’s preparations. He blithely wrote: “£9bn is a lot of money, but the government is offering £220bn of gilts to cover our debt in this financial year alone.”

So spending £220bn on bailing out the banks means we need worry less about the cost of the Olympics? If they gave medals for bending logic....


John Bercow passed one early test. As part of the campaign against water companies’ higher charges on community groups for surface water drainage, some brave soul decided to bring 100 cub scouts to Westminster. But the Commons authorities said no because cubs are too young to vote. Bercow lifted this ban and allowed them to meet in Westminster Hall.

On Monday we learned of a new challenge. For the past four years school choirs from Hemel Hempstead have entertained MPs, and staff over lunch in the run-up to Christmas. In future, says the local MP, this will be banned as it inconveniences people.

Youth groups in Hemel are having a bad run. Last Christmas a shopping centre banned Brownies from carol singing because they are a “fire hazard”. Yet I know of no evidence they are any more flammable than the rest of us.

Mr Speaker should overturn this ban too.


This has been a depressing political season, but Liberal history always cheers me up. In recent days I have become interested in a gentleman who was MP for Barnstaple 1874-9, for Sheffield 1879-80 and for Edinburgh 1882-5.

The reason he makes me so cheerful?

It’s his name: Samuel Danks Waddy.

1 comment:

crewegwyn said...

If Mr Waddy was active today I wonder what contortions our campaigners would achieve in trying to prove he was "the local candidate"?