Friday, October 23, 2009

House Points: Granny Tredinnick’s Old Country Remedies

What with the postal strikes and everything, today's Liberal Democrat News may not have reached you yet. Here is part of what you are missing.

Crucial Astro Tools

At the close of most days in the Commons there is a short debate introduced by a backbencher. They are known as adjournment debates – the idea being that the topic is so urgent that the House should not rise until it has been dealt with.

The subjects MPs choose build into a scrapbook of individual enthusiasms and local concerns. In recent days we have heard about power cuts in north-west Kent, children’s dental health in Nottingham and the Todmorden Curve.

This last turned out not to be a dance craze sweeping the discos of the West Riding. It is a short stretch of track whose reinstatement would allow fast trains to run between Burnley and Manchester.

But the most remarkable adjournment debate so far this season was the one on complementary and alternative medicines called by David Tredinnick, the Tory MP for Bosworth.

Whenever Tredinnick raises this subject – which is often – you feel an urge to consult the register of members’ interests. Tredinnick? Surely you find Granny Tredinnick’s Old Country Remedies on sale in National Trust shops among the tea towels, luxury shortbread and pot-pourri?

It turns out you don’t, but his speech last Wednesday was still full of exotic things. We learned that Chris Patten employed a Chinese astronomer and astrologer while he was the last governor of Hong Kong. That scientists’ scepticism over alternative medicine is based on “superstition, ignorance and prejudice”. And that “as with healers who can do remote healing”, it is no good saying that something does not work just because we cannot prove it.

Tredinnick told the House that astrology has been around ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian times. But he also showed mastery of a thoroughly modern tactic: the argument from offence. “It is part of the Chinese, Muslim and Hindu cultures. Criticism is deeply offensive to those cultures, and I have a Muslim college in my constituency.”

He also said he had looked into astrology in detail. To be fair to him, he has. In June the Leicester Mercury revealed that David Tredinnick had claimed for £210 for software and £300 on tuition service from the firm Crucial Astro Tools.

As Confucius probably said, it takes all sorts. Now for a cup of Granny Tredinnick’s camomile tea.


Richard T said...

So when Mars is aligned with Uranus, does Tredinnick talk out of it?

dreamingspire said...

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius

(Sorry, I'm in a lyrical period, although it was the music of Hair that drove me to this one)

oldrailwayman said...

That Tredinnick may be bonkers is his own concern.

That he uses public resources to exercise that state of bonkersness is a wider issues.

My apologies to any bearers of the noble name of Bonkers who may be offended by the above.

The Todmorden Curve may allow trains to run between Burnley and Manchester via a more direct route. Whether they would be fast ....

{Such an initiative would also depend on renegotiating the terms of the TOC agreement, securing access agreements into Manchester Victoria, identifying available stock to form the trains, and - in today's extraordinary railway set-up - would probably require an alignment of Pluto with Mercury ... on a Thursday}