Which is uglier: Plymouth or Dudley?
Beauty, John Bercow was at pains to point out yesterday, is in the eye of the beholder. Or at least that was his polite way of not getting too involved in a spat between two MPs over whose home town was the ugliest.
Tory MP Gary Streeter started it on Tuesday, declaring it “absolutely disgraceful” that English Heritage had decided to list Plymouth’s civic centre “when it is probably the ugliest thing outside Dudley”.
He added: “Have I got myself in trouble there? I think I probably have.”
Yes, he had. Step forward Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley and as an ex-spin doctor for Gordon Brown has an eagle eye for getting some good publicity in his local paper. So he went running to the Speaker yesterday to ask:
“Is it in order for the hon. Member for South West Devon to describe Dudley as ugly? Why should a place which boasts the UK’s first national geological nature reserve, a fantastic castle, a beautiful town centre which traces its roots back to mediaeval Britain, and the award-winning Black Country living museum be sneered at by somebody like him? Should he not come to Dudley and see these gems for himself? Would you like to come to Dudley, Mr Speaker, so that you can see how wrong he was?”
Bercow would only say “there is no point in arguing about taste” and was merely “inclined” to travel up the M40 to see Dudley for himself.
And he did Austin’s street cred no good at all, when he revealed the pair were at university of Essex together 30 years ago.Tagged in: Gary Streeter, Ian Austin, john bercow
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