Monday, May 27, 2024

The soft man of Brexit? Steve Baker goes on holiday during the election campaign

Steve Baker, who had a majority of 4214 over Labour in his Wycombe constituency in 2019, has flown off to Crete for a holiday, despite the general election.

The Mirror reports:

Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker defiantly told The Mirror that he had continued with his holiday plans despite Rishi Sunak calling a snap election. He said that before he booked his break, he and fellow MPs were assured by the PM that it would be ok to head off to the beach this week.

Baker has also complained that Sunak's National Service policy was sprung on ministers and MPs by special advisers without being properly discussed.

But let's stay with his holiday because it gives me an excuse to quote one of my favourite passages from one of my favourite political memoirs.

Here's Julian Critchley in his A Bag of Boiled Sweets:

David James, who retired from Parliament as Member for Dorset North in 1979, was dotty. His reputation for eccentricity dated from 1964 when as Tory MP for Brighton, Kemptown, he lost his seat to Labour by seven votes. 

When, a few days after Alec Douglas-Home's defeat (and my own at Rochester), I went to Conservative Central Office to interview the then chairman of the party John Hare, I murmured some words of sympathy. We had, after all, just lost a general election after thirteen years in office.

"It's all that silly bugger David James's fault," cried Hare. "The fool spent most of the three-week campaign in Scotland looking for the Loch Ness Monster." Indeed, he had, and the tabloid press had been full of it. 

The papers claimed that every so often a cable would arrive from some godforsaken Scottish village addressed to the Kemptown Tory agent "Have almost found the Monster. Hope all goes well with the campaign."


Tom Barney said...

As a naval officer in WW2, David James escaped from a prison camp posing as a Bulgarian naval officer, and wearing his own uniform. He thought the crowns on his buttons would give him plausibility as Bulgaria was then still a monarchy. And it nearly worked: he got as far as the Baltic before being stopped, and then only because of a small flaw on his forged pass.

Jonathan Calder said...

I believe he called himself Lt Buggeroff too.

The thing I like is that after losing Brighton Kemptown he was adopted by the Tories in North Dorset and returned to the House. In those days having had "a good war" counted for a lot.