Thursday, 18 February 2010

Keeping it real

Well, who saw that coming? This week Nick Herbert, Tory front-bencher and out and proud back-bencher, spoke at the Cato Institute in Washington DC about gay rights. His speech to the libertarian think tank outlined his views about the next Conservative government's likely approach to civil partnerships and gay marriage.

In a twist that would have M Night Shyamalan OMG-ing, Herbert argued that the Conservatives were particularly sympathetic to churches such as the Quakers, who would like to perform gay wedding ceremonies but are forbidden by law. Given the Tory's horrendous record on gay rights (or lack thereof), this is quite an about-face.

Still, anyone thrown into a tailspin by Herbert's shocking revelations can rest assured that the devil needn't strap on those ice skates just yet. Because, where the Tories are concerned, the more things change the more they stay the same.

So give it up for Sir Nicholas Winterton, the kind of old-school Tory who kept a whole generation of 'alternative' comedians gainfully employed throughout the 1980s. Speaking to Total Politics magazine about the expenses scandal, he suggested that MPs had every right to travel in first-class train carriages, in order to keep them away from members of the public. You know, the oiks who get to pick up the tab.

Infuriated by the very impertinence of those who suggested he should rub shoulders with the plebs, he argued "They are a totally different type of people. They have a different outlook on life. I very much doubt whether they are undertaking serious work and study, reading reports and amending reports which MPs do when they are travelling."

Of course, the problem is that commuting from his constituency in Macclesfield to London takes up a lot of time. Time that could be spent in quiet contemplation with his reports. It's just a shame that he couldn't make more use of the London flat his children owned, especially given the fact that he and his wife had expensed over £80,000 in rent on the property.

Oh dear, I think I'd better stop writing before I start quoting the taxpayer's alliance.

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