‘Events, dear boy, events’. The problem with keeping a half-arsed blog on the election is that stuff happens. So I decide to go for an epic three-parter on dirty tactics over three days, when some more dirty tactics avail themselves and suddenly the piece scheduled for that day looks out of date. So I’ve decided the two pieces I’ve got written will go better later in the campaign: by this time, the examples of their application will be depressingly multitudinous.
So let’s have some bang up to date news, straight from our own MP. Let’s start by asking a hypothetical question:
Does Anna Soubry actually want to win in May?
It seems a daft question. I’ll credit Soubz with this: she has worked hard to be noticed in Westminster. Her rise up the ranks has been quite masterful, using a deft combination of strong presentation skills polished during her time as a TV presenter. She is a strong loyalist, rarely stepping away from the party line and supporting it wholeheartedly; even defending bungling oaf Lord Freud when he suggested the disabled should work below minimum wage.
She loves Westminster, clearly. I had something pointed out to me earlier that shows this in clear view. If you check out her newsletter, and her website, their are testimonies to her work as an MP solely comprised of London based lobby journalists. Not a single constituent, Broxtowe group or local ANYTHING. This is the circles she feels most in need of approval from, not the little people over in NGs 9 to 16.
Into the wilderness?
It looks increasingly likely that the Tories won’t get a majority in May, and will most likely be forced into opposition. If this happens, and Soubry clings on to her seat, what then? perhaps a shadow cabinet post? Possibly, but as the party will lurch rightwards to finally try and quell the Eurosceptic attacks, her moderate, pro-Europe views will not be in favour. The most likely scenario will be a fade to obscurity on the back benches, with the occasional ‘Whatever happened to…?’ piece rolled out from time to time in political sketches.
So maybe relinquishing her seat, and then what? Well, it seems she has an exit strategy.
It seems Soubz has been promised a seat in the Lords, as a vocal frontbencher. I’ve heard from sources that this is already more or less a certainty, given the present polling. It will be a gift to loyalty, and give the Tories a strong voice in the other chamber.
This would suit her to the ground. The role is permanent; unanswerable to the pesky electorate who do such inconvenient things such as vote against her. It also means she doesn’t have to do the dull constituency stuff, the dogshit and the potholes. She doesn’t have to hold surgeries where she either looks utterly bored or utterly dismissive. She doesn’t have to answer letters from constituents asking if she’d not support the bedroom tax, NHS privatisation, badger culling. She’d be free to clock in every day for £300 a pop. She could take roles with arms firms and private health care providers: her kudos with working in both ministeries looking nice on the letterhead. She wouldn’t have a ‘fucking blogger’ write about her. Everybody would be happy.
Of course, Soubz can’t show this on the surface. She has been seconded a load of staff (as well as bringing on board Councillor Richard Jackson, contrary to her promise in 2010 never to use Tory councillors in her office). Party ‘faces’ will be wheeled up here on a rotating basis soon. You’ll barely be able to move for Tory MPs. Expect Eric Pickles to be seen in the Crown Inn, large pork pie in each hand, guzzling. Grant ‘Michael Green’ Shapps on the high road pontificating (before dashing into Beeston Bookshop to see if he can offload a job-lot of his book ‘MAKE A BILLION WITH YOUR PC IN JUST 42 MINUTES’. Michael Gove outside Roundhill School demanding passing kids tell him the precise date and details of the Battle of Plassey. Brace yourselves.
Money – and thanks to some lovely hedge fund chaps, the Tories are awash with this stuff – will be poured into the seat with abandon. Yet Soubz own attempts to win seem, well, a little lacklustre.
I have been told by local members of her own party that she isn’t exactly popular among them. Her abrasive manner is not just confined to those on the Left. My sources have told me that while they’d dearly love Broxtowe to go blue on a Borough level, they are less fussed about the constituency going red. They’re not too impressed with her failure with the local government settlement: how we came to get the lowest in the UK, with all the leverage Soubry had over Pickles, is extremely concerning. She is seen as a liability to their campaign, rather than a boon.
So if Soubry comes to your door, and after banging out the party line leans in and whispers ‘We will bring in a policy on compulsary kitten-kicking’ , before tipping you a wink, you’ll know why.
Sherwood’s Spencer Calls For IDS To Be Sanctioned. Sort of.
Over in Sherwood, MP Mark Spencer, who isn’t counted as one of the Tories best intellects, got into a spot of bother recently when he defended the draconian, suicidal benefit sanctions scheme. If you’re not au-fait with the scheme, it’s a way to punish the poor by withdrawing all money from them, for an open-ended amount of time, if they fail to comply with strict rules. For a read of some of the most maddeningly ridiculous, click here. The Government loves sanctions. It keeps the sanctioned jobless off the unemployment stats, and shows the rapid right-wing of their party that while it’s actually illegal to kill the proles now, you can at least drive them to kill themselves.
Later, it was revealed that Benefits Overlord Iain ‘In Deep Shit’ Duncan ‘IDS’ Smith visited a Lancashire job centre but arrived 70 mins late.
Now, IDS is a man paid by the state: our taxes. Just like a jobseeker claiming their subsidence. Mark Spencer claimed:
“If they are late for their employment, they might be sanctioned by their employer.
“It is important that those seeking employment learn the discipline of timekeeping, which is an important part of securing and keeping a job.”
Now, following that logic, IDS should face a severe sanction. As Spencer was talking about a case where a highly-vulnerable claimant was sanctioned for being just 4 minutes late, IDS should perhaps be hit with a six week sanction on his wage. Taking just his basic ministerial salary of £134,565, that would equate to a tax payer saving of £15,526 : enough to pay a nurse for over 6 months. IDS has previously said he could live on £53 a week, so perhaps it’s time he showed that proud Tory steel and was tough on himself. If Mark Spencer is reading this, have a sit down, chap. I imagine it’s got a bit confusing for you.