Saturday, 8 May 2010

Out with the publicists and hypocrites!

The election was not a good night for former Home Secretaries. Charles Clarke, a persistent thorn in the side of Gordon Brown, lost his Norwich South seat to the Liberal Democrats’ Simon Wright. Wright secured a narrow majority of 310 votes. Clarke who was defending a notional majority of 3,023, said: “I blame my loss on the fact that we were not able to make our case.”

It was also gratifying to see Jacqui Smith close to tears as she lost her Redditch constituency. Swept in with the Labour landslide of 1997, the Blair Babe enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks. If her political obituary ever comes to be written it will be adult films and second homes that will play a prominent part. It was her claim for her cable television package, and two adult films, that propelled her into the headlines rather than her role as the first female Home Secretary. Her husband apologised, but the damage was done.

Criticised for designating her sister’s house in London as her main home rather than her residence in Redditch, an arrangement for which she claimed more than £116,000 over six years, she was found to have broken the rules on expenses and ordered to apologise to the Commons. She stood down as Home Secretary last June: on election night her humiliation was complete when her majority of 2,716 was turned into one of 5,821 for her Tory opponent Karen Lumley.

Another casualty of the evening was the colourful character and shocking (to say the least) self publicist Lembit Öpik in Montgomeryshire, who finally had that stupid smile wiped off his face. He and ITV weather presenter Siân Lloyd appeared on Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? on 15 April 2006, winning £64,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Action for Children.

Öpik later become involved with then-24-year-old Gabriela Irimia of pop music double-act The Cheeky Girls after dumping Lloyd. He announced his engagement to her in a popular magazine, after proposing in Rome. They split up in July 2008 after a "difficult period" in the relationship. In 2009, tabloid newspapers reported he was dating model Katie Green. Öpik and Green denied the rumours while appearing on Sky News, clarifying that they are just friends who share an interest in "campaigning against the fashion industry's continued use of too-thin models".

Mr Öpik, who will also be remembered for his fear that a giant asteroid will hit the Earth and destroy mankind, and his colourful love life, was destroyed not by a large lump of extra-planetary rock, but by Glyn Davies, who turned a Liberal Democrat majority of 7,048 into a Tory one of 1,184. I don’t think the Lib Dems will miss him much somehow.

But as the results showed, the reassuring proverb that pride comes before a fall does not apply only to MPs.

Esther Rantzen believed that by sheer force of celebrity she had a chance to win over the voters of Luton South and show that a presenter who made her name on a programme starring talking dogs was an ideal choice to succeed Margaret Moran, the MP who claimed £22,500 for a home 100 miles from her constituency. The voters thought otherwise: Ms Rantzen came fourth, garnering only 1,872 votes. Serves her right, seems to be the fate of self publicists and hypocrites in this election.

As to hypocrites there is surely none worse than Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, there was no doubt. He was brought down by scandal. The DUP leader lost his East Belfast seat to the Alliance Party in one of the biggest upsets of the night.

His defeat came in the wake of damaging revelations about himself and his wife Iris, nicknamed the Swish Family Robinson after reports that they claimed more than £500,000 a year in salary and expenses. Mr Robinson was forced temporarily to stand down as First Minister in January to address claims that he knew that his wife had failed to declare her role in obtaining £50,000 for her teenage lover’s business but did not report her to the authorities. The DUP leader took office again after claiming that an independent legal adviser cleared him of wrongdoing.


  1. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to see people humiliated to the point of tears, but that bloody woman Smith deserved every bit of it. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind being humiliated if, having been caught out with breaking the rules on Housing Benefit and diddling the country out of over £100,000, I didn’t have to pay a penny back. Odious thief of a woman. And she volunteered to pay back not a penny.

    Charles Clarke thought they didn’t get their message across? For pity’s sake what does he think has been going on for the last 13 years?

    Certainly a talking dog or a misshapen carrot would have been a better deal as an MP for Luton South that Lazy lying bitch Margaret the Moron. I mean neither of these would have claimed money to do up their boyfriend’s house, and they couldn’t have made a worse job of being an MP than the Moron. But old Esther isn’t a popular figure, and she you can’t help thinking that her campaign was more about Esther than Luton.

    It’s certainly not been a good year for old Peter Robinson, bless him. He’s been cuckolded by his wife and a lad young enough to be their grandchild, oh yeah, and with the lad’s father too (the words salt and wound come to mind), and has been shown to be a greedy chancer, not to mention the fact that his “wife” (well, sorta) has been diddling on building projects with her kiddy boyfriend. There are too many dodgy things to mention about this muppet family. The amazing thing is that he is leader of a party that bases its philosophy in Christian Protestantism. And very strict, cold and unforgiving Protestantism at that. Bloody hypocrite. I expect he will be chucked out when the NI elections come along next year. Fortunately for the Robinsons they will never be cold and hungry despite being out of work, and that has less to do with the Christian charity of their friends than with the massive sums that they have stuffed the tax payer for.

    What a bunch of cheesy second raters. And then there are all the ones that are still there but deserve to be binned....

  2. Then why is it that ah still feel a wee bit robbed? Thursday night didnae bring the satisfaction that ah wished it tae. Mibbe it had somethin' tae dae wi' the fact that dozens o' the worst o' them had already gone, scurried aff intae the undergrowth, like the sleekit wee animals they are.

    Ah wanted mair. Mair than jist Jaqui an' Shahid Malik. Ah wanted Hazel, an' the Balls. Ah wanted real blood. Ah wanted revenge.

    Mibbe ah was jist expectin' too much. The build-up o' the campaign got me excited. The resultant shenanigans since hae been thrillin' an' unpredictable. But Thursday was jist a bit flat fer an election night.

  3. You should know by now Sophia that whatever your expectations of the London parliament, you will ALWAYS end up feeling cheated, let down, short changed and p***ed off!

    Actually, I feel exactly the same way.

    I wanted Moron and Balls, and the Bleary Chipmonk wee dyed ginger scalp. I wanted Duck House and Moat and Balmoral.

    I wanted to shout at the telly... aye, damn you, who's gonna pay tae clean yer whatsit moat now you theiving git...

    Instead I got to see Jacqui Smith greet, and Peter Robinson look like he'd eaten a live frog. (He was probably calculating his drop of salary and working out how he was going to make it up).

    Big disappointment. I say have another election now and let's have some proper Portillo moments.

  4. Over 200 new MP's perhaps it will make a difference, I have my doubts though, the place attracts the corruptible.

  5. It seems that it was the tactical voting election where the English voted to get rid of Labour and Scotland voted to keep out the Tories. Hardly a healthy electoral situation where the majority of people voted for a candidate they did not really want. So much for the vaunted constituency link principle and the benefit of a local candidate of the electors choice. An argument for the single transferable vote system where choice is maximized because electors are given choice between parties and between different candidates from within the same party. Wasted votes are minimized are those in excess of the necessary quota to get a candidate elected are redistributed to the other hopefuls. And the opportunities for tactical voting are very much reduced as it is never easily clear to predict how hopefuls will fare in the subsequent counts and it’s nearly impossible to concert preferences in order to skew results. It can be done but requires a detailed knowledge of what’s going on and the relative popularity of the various hopefuls. Most ordinary voters just would not be prepared to put in the sort of effort required for this and any party or expert telling people how to do it should be illegal.

    I suppose I should outline the main problems with STV now that I have sung its praise. The main one is it is very complicated to understand what is going on and to count. This is a result of the need to set a quota which when reached means a hopeful is elected. And the need to transfer that candidates excess votes above the quota to the other hopefuls. Also eliminated candidates votes have to be redistributed as well. Numerous formulas exist for both of these which to be honest I find very hard to understand. As far as I understand excess votes can be redistributed to next choices down the line by random sample or by attributing votes a numerical value. If I am wrong please correct me.

  6. QM: I'm inclined to hope you're right, and at the same time doubt it as much as you do.

    Politics seems to attract the corrupt. And before anyone sues me, I know that there are good and decent people in it.

    But over half of the MPs at Westminster had claimed expenses for things they had no right to, and in any other organisation would have been thrown out.

    The decision to employ so few staff to deal with so many expense claims indicates that scrunity was not foremost on the minds of the employers, who were, the MPs themselves.

    I bet they weren't to nuggardly with taxpays' money when it came to employing waiters and bar persons. No doubt there are plenty of them!!

    But then we give them power and as the Baron Acton said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

    Although not all bad men are great men Mr Acton.

    Perhaps then, it is a trait.

  7. Munguin:

    It sounds impossibly complex, but doesn't it work in Ireland?

  8. Tris: Yes it does and in New Zealand and Australia and Germany and they are hardly weak countries. But we don't have to go that far to see it in action. It is the system we use right here in Scotland to elect our local councils.

  9. Charles Clarke aka Big Ears

    watched his elegiac farewell in which he accepted the right of the people to elect someone else.

    Good of him eh!

    And i bet he still cant understand why they booted him out.

    The one thing in this election which has come out 'STRONG' is the north south divide.

    I fear Cleggy is to much of a Toff at heart to resist all the what is best for the 'NATION' and the opportunity to kiss her majesty ar#e claptrap.

    And will sell out the once in a lifetime chance to achieve electoral reform...

    I hope I'm wrong as i have been transcendently happy since the election of a hung Parliament.
    And the thought of a fairer electoral system
    which obviously leads to the Torys being out of power for all eternity.

    You see fairness is always and everywhere the antidote to the Tory menace its like sunlight to a vampire they are unable to live with it.

  10. Mr MixedPickle: Once in a lifetime chance to achieve electoral reform? What have Labour been doing about electoral reform since 1997? We were promised a referendum on it in your 1997 manifesto and you set upm the Jenkins Commission in 1997 which reported that we ought to have PR. So what happened then? Tony Blair realised that forst past the post suited him and so PR got the heave ho! Until now when PR again might keep Labour's three wheeled waggon on the go its back on the cards.

  11. Munguin

    you explain beautifully why its now(while the Tory beast is muzzled) or probably never to go for Electoral reform.

    Because mark my words the Torys secret cabinet committee are already plotting how and when to stab the lib-dems in the heart and off load them into the Thames..(its in their nature )

  12. Mr MixedPickle: that would sure make a change from Labour stabbing them in the back. Ramsay MacDonald did in the 1920s when he realised that FPTP would suit him and Labour, so PR, which Keir Hardie had wanted, was ditched as were the Liberals. And Tony Blair did the same in 1997- remember the suggestion that Paddy Ashdown might get a cabinet seat and the promised referendum that we never got. If we want to see hypocrisy we don't need to look further than Labour. And where was Labour cooperation with the Liberals in 1974?

  13. munguin


    Typical Nationalist big fat chip on your shoulder from years ago........Cameron and Cleggy were slagging each other a few days ago what should they do live in thier past grievances .

    Silly question really as a Nationalist you would expect them to do no other.

    Do you know what i remember when i was two years old and that Rory took my ball........I'll never forgive him and i will never forget its just something you can never get over you understand dont you.

  14. Also 1997 Mr M you forgot that

  15. Despite a host of well known names losing their seats and others like Esther losing her deposit, I thought the actual election night was rather flat in terms of government casualties

    We all new Labour were going to lose the election and I honestly was expecting some big names like Murphy, Darling and other cabinet ministers to be ousted which would had made the election more exciting but in the end Labour were left, well at least at cabinet level, pretty much intact.

    I remember election night 97 when big names like Forsyth, Lang and Hamilton were all booted out but this election had no real big meaty casualties.

    Oompic loompic to give Lembit Opik his Welsh name was a disaster waiting to happen. Flirting about with young birds in the Valley's was never going to go down well with the locals.

  16. I'm not reading any of Mr Irish Alphabet's comments until I insure my computer.

  17. Munguin.

    Labour are hypocrite's right enough.They only started to think about political reform when the polls were showing a shift away from them.

  18. Allan don't tell Mr MixedPickle that will you. They can often be found under the sign of the double cross where PR is concerned. No doubt Mr M is off with the one-eyed Scottish Cuckoo to have a weep in Katmandu.

  19. Allan. I was hoping for some big scalps. It would have been a lesson to them that thievery doesn't pay!

    Alas however, I was disappointed.

    BTW talking of thievery, weren't the three stooges due in court on May 6?

    Anyone know if they were remanded in custody?

  20. Munguin

    Lol and I'm sure I saw Brown's fingers crossed behind his back when he was promising Clegg the world on PR.

    I hope Downing street have got rid of that 59 year old squatter from number 10. I was thinking of putting an offer in for the property and turning it into a Celtic supporters club.

  21. Tris.

    They were due in court on May 6th right enough!

  22. Anybody been over to the tory diary

    A flavor

    reply to Andrew...

    Rubbish, the Union was a Whig idea, they rammed it through the English parliament before any Englishman could have a say about it. Most of the opposition to the Union came from the Conservatives.

    I believe on Conservative MP said of the Whig Union, 'when you lie down with beggars you get fleas' , little did he realise that England would not only be fleeced of its cash, but the Union would make free born Englishmen second class citizens.

    Bol#o#ks to offering the

    the Scottish a referendum on whether they want to stay, a referendum should be offered to the English to ask whether we want to keep them.

    And the asnwer is......... NO!!!

    Get the Scottish 'Sword of Damocles' off English heads

  23. If they didn't much like us before, the bloody well hate us now Niko.

    If it weren't for the oil we'd be gone tout de suite.

    The Times is saying more or less the same thing. Cut Scotland loose to get a fair vote.

    Of course they are right. They vote Tory and we spoil it for them. Then we have a vote on all their stuff, and they have no vote on ours. Then we are better managed than they are, because, whether Liberal/Labour or SNO governments, the ministers in Edinburgh are interested in running Scotland, not the world, not Iraq, not Afghanistan.

    McConnell or Salmond, they gave their time, effort and energy to Scotland, and to be fair so do the other parties. They don’t have to worry about being a main player. So they worry about hospital beds, and drains and farming and fishing and ..... on and on.

    London ministers are worried about Obama, and Hu and whether they will get to sit at the top table or be in the first row of the picture and on and on....

    You really can't blame the English for not liking us much.