Friday, November 20, 2009

House Points: Pork Pie Poujadist or Stilton Stasi

I am posting this from the first class lounge at Euston. I shall fulfill a long-held ambition and catch a sleeper train later this evening, waking up in Edinburgh for the first Lib Dem Bloggers Unconference.

Meanwhile, here is this week's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

The Queen's Speech

They’ve gone again. Only four weeks after the end of the summer recess, the Commons had a break before this week’s State Opening. Some observers seethed about MPs’ long holidays; cynical old hands reasoned that at least it limits the damage they could do.

But the real problem is that, however long they spend at Westminster, there is little MPs can do to hold the government to account. And few with only a few months left until the election, there is little the government can do either.

Which is why Nick Clegg was right to call for the inevitably electioneering Queen’s Speech to be abandoned (David Cameron forecast it would be “shameless”, which conjoured up an unwelcome vision of Frank Gallagher on the throne) and the remaining time to be devoted to some reform of the Commons itself.

If you doubt that reform is needed, listen to the Labour MP Kevin Barron speaking in a health debate in Westminster Hall last week:
Members of Parliament are sent to the House because our constituents want a representative of the state. That is the whole point of the exercise and why we are sent to Westminster, whether we are in government or opposition ... We are the state's representative in our constituencies.
You could say that he was just being a socialist, but MPs of all parties have to be careful not to fall into this trap. They must always remember that they are not at Westminster to speak for the government or their party: they are there to represent the electors who sent them there.

Which is why I have some sympathy for the Norfolk Tories – the very term “Turnip Taliban” is redolent of metropolitan contempt for the provinces – who felt Liz Truss had been wished upon them by Conservative Central Office and that they had been told less than the full truth about her.

Imagine their chagrin when they discovered she had conducted an affair with a married Tory MP and –worse – was a former Liberal Democrat who used to write rude articles about the Royal Family.

And if that identifies me as the East Midlands equivalent of the Turnip Taliban – a Pork Pie Poujadist or a member of the Stilton Stasi – then so be it.


Lavengro in Spain said...

For a Spanish view of Norfolk I refer you to my blog:

Tim Leunig said...

Liz Truss was one of more than 100 approved Tory PPCs to apply for the seat. SWN Tories selected a shortlist. SWN Tories then selected a candidate from that shortlist. She declared the affair when she applied to be on the list. SWN Tories could have asked her anything they liked.

She wasn't wished on them, she has already moved into the constituency.

Indeed, it seems just like a LD selection to me - the local party choose a shortlist from a list of approved candidates, and the full membership choose again from the shortlist. Then, if the candidate is not local, they move in asap.

I don't see that they deserve any sympathy, and on the contrary I have considerable sympathy with Liz - who won more than 50% of the vote the first time, and around 80% the second, and who has to deal with people like Sir Something Bagge who says he likes women because they make his dinner. I mean, really, what can you say about people like that?

crewegwyn said...

Hope you enjoyed your first sleeper journey, but London to Edinburgh REALLY isn't ideal!

Try Paddington to Penzance; enjoy your morning tea and biscuits in bed, watching the Cornish countryside passing by your window.

Or Euston to Inverness or - perhaps even better - Fort William. Seeing deer from your bed takes some beating!