Saturday, June 01, 2013

My seventh Whipped column for Ad Lib

Whipped: From the desk of the Junior Whip

The Chief Whip has been in the papers. Not because of a scandal, but because of his friendship with the drummer from Keane. In the feature Richard Hughes spoke of their shared opposition to the death penalty and described the Chief Whip “an easygoing, funny guy”. (I bought two copies to check this quote.)

I’m not sure this appearance was a good idea. There’s nothing wrong with being associated with Keane – ever since Tony Blair politicians have had to pretend they like rock and I am sure the Chief Whip really does. But the more timid backbenchers will have been surprised to discover he is opposed to the death penalty.

And then there was Nick Clegg’s visit to the Chief Whip’s constituency. I had the Leader’s office on the phone asking about the giant wicker man he had seen there. I assured them it was a traditional way of welcoming distinguished visitors to the islands. I hope that was right.

Back here at Westminster, the Conservative Party has been busy going mad. They allowed Nadine Dorries to take the whip again and she rewarded them by immediately calling for a pact with UKIP.

Then 114 of their MPs voted for an amendment to the Queen’s speech. And now they are getting exercised about gay marriage – I have a sneaking feeling the less intellectual Tory backbenchers fear the new law will oblige them to marry each other.

The truth is that there are two parties in the coalition and one of them is united and disciplined and fit for government. And that party is not the Conservative Party.

I doubt that anyone could lead it now because its MPs have become such a rabble. As I heard one Tory backbencher bellowing down a corridor the other day: “It’s time Cameron showed some leadership and gave in to all our demands!”

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