The Herald

Your MPS do love you and vouch they ain’t misbehavin’


RECENT days have seen unasinous Conservati­ves suggest the less well off should make meals for 30p, work harder, and get better paid jobs if they want to survive the cost-of-living crisis.

At the tail end of the democratic burlesque that is Scottish Questions, the SNP’S Mhairi Black – or “Murray Black”, as the Speaker calls her – was addressing that very subject when she was interrupte­d by the Prime Minister arriving to the usual droning cheer.

Undaunted, Ms Black asked Ian

Stewart, Scotland Office Minister (of course you know him): “Does the minister have any equally useless advice to add to that of his colleagues?” And a supplement­ary: “Does he not agree that it’s about time his department lifted a finger?”

Silly question. The Tories always lift a finger to the poor.

The aforementi­oned PM, Boris Johnson, got Prime Minister’s Questions under way by wishing Rangers luck in a European footer tournament. He was wearing a green tie.

Still, if he doesn’t know much about football, or Scotland, at least he knows what a woman is. When Labour Opposition Leader Keir Starmer asked him to define where he stood on taxing North Sea energy company profits, Boris reminded the House “that the right honourable gentleman struggled to define what a woman was”. Ouchy.

Boris also knows how to define Conservati­ves: they are “not in favour in principle of higher taxation”. Unlike Labour: “they love it.” They have a “lust to raise taxes”. It’s all sex with Tories, isn’t it?

Forget rumpy-pumpy. Sir Keir asked: “When will he stop doing the hokey-cokey?”

Boris put his right foot in his mouth as he sought wriggle room: “Of course, we will look at all the measures that we need to take.” Voice of Alan Partridge (Lab): “Ah-ha!”

Sir Keir listed business leaders who backed a windfall tax, comparing them to one languid toff: “And, on the other side, the member for North East Somerset, when he’s not sticking notes on people’s desks like some overgrown prefect, is dead-set against it.”

That was James Rees-mogg, who also opposes people working from home, as the Prime Minister does.

Boris said he was building “a platform for growth”, indeed, an entire railway: it had been “fantastic”, he beamed, to see the Queen the previous day opening the Elizabeth Line of Crossrail.

If you’ve never heard of it, Crossrail is a £19 billion suburban passenger service crossing London from west to east. It will “benefit the whole of the UK economy”, said Boris. Will it, aye?

Mr Johnson tested our knowledge: “Who was the mayor of London when Crossrail was first starting to be built?” This was more Mr Toad than Mr Johnson. Boris considers his mayorship of London to have been a golden age.

Throwing a shroud of darkness over the PM’S effulgent heid, SNP Westminste­r Leader Ian Blackford returned to the cost of living, averring: “As always under the Tories, the poorest are punished the most.” He accused the PM of concocting an Aesop’s Fable, possibly The Belly and the Other Members.

However, the most intriguing question from the SNP benches was asked by Richard Thomson, who wanted to know why a private Learjet flight to Moscow was allowed to leave Inverness airport on February 26, after a ban on such flights had come into effect.

Despite being informed of the flight, UK Government agencies made no attempt to stop it. Mr Thomson wanted the House to be informed “as soon as possible” who was on it and why the Government hadn’t stopped it.

The PM was unusually ill-prepared for the question, or just avoiding it, when he replied: “I don’t know the answer.” But he promised to keep the House “properly informed”. Watch this airspace.

Another SNP member put the PM on the spot by quoting words of his (Boris is a martyr to his quotes) about the “precious principles of public life” enshrined in the Ministeria­l Code.

“Can the Prime Minister tell me,” asked Hannah Bardell, “on a scale of one to 10, how he’s doing on keeping to these principles?”

“Ten out of 10,” replied Boris, before adding this tear-jerking paean: “There is a lot of attacks on MPS, on what goes on in this place, and I think it is always worth stressing that the vast majority of people who work in the House of Commons, Members of Parliament, are doing a very good job, and working very hard, and are not misbehavin­g.”

The claim brought to mind Fats Waller’s song, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and its sentiment that MPS are savin’ their love for you.

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