Friday, January 04, 2013

My second Whipped column for Ad Lib

Whipped: From the desk of the Junior Whip

I never tire of this place. From the rotting piles in the Thames mud to the bat-chewed pinnacles that pierce the Westminster sky, I have explored it all.

On these wanderings I have found the rifle range and the chained Beast in the wine cellars. Legend has it he was once a Conservative backbencher who voted the wrong way over Gladstone’s Home Rule bill.

There are those who believe the Palace of Westminster needs modernisation. Let me put that more accurately: the place is falling down. 

The plumbing and wiring are antiquated and the building is riddled with asbestos. Some MPs have to work in offices with no windows – or ‘cells’ as like to call them in the Whip’s Office.

One Labour MP has even complained of urine pouring into his office. (It isn’t easy crawling through those roof spaces, you know.)

Then there is the subsidence. The authorities talk diplomatically of a ‘very slight tilt’ to the clock tower. 

Which is another way of saying the next ’Bong!’ could bring it crashing down.

That, incidentally, is why the Chief Whip has taken to wearing a hard hat. There is no truth in the rumour it’s because he fears revenge attacks from disgruntled backbenchers.

The answer, of course, is to shut the place for several years so all the necessary work can be carried out. But that is never going to happen

 Because, say the old hands in Strangers Bar’ over their subsidised pints of Smithson & Greaves Northern Bitter, no Speaker will dare be the person responsible for spending untold squillions on MPs own comfort. 

The Junior Whip spoke to Jonathan Calder. No MPs were harmed in the making of this column.

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