Christopher Chope, MP: a visitor from the past

Andy McSmith

Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch, is like a specimen preserved in formaldehyde from a time when Tories were Tories. Gay rights: he has consistently voted against. Hanging: he has voted to bring it back. The House of Lords: he voted to keep the hereditary peerages. The poll tax: he pleaded with John Major’s government not to abolish it. Local government: when he was leader of Wandsworth council in the 1970s, he sacked 2,000 staff. They called him ‘Chopper’ Chope. Childcare: when the Commons administration proposed to close one of its subsidised bars to make room for a creche, Chope fought a rearguard action to keep the bar.

No surprise then that Chope referred to staff who wait at the tables in Parliament’s dining rooms as “servants”. What he said was: “Last week I dined on all three nights in the dining rooms and almost nobody else was present, but the service was absolutely fantastic because there was three to one service: three servants for each person sitting down.”

‘Servants’ is what they must have called them in Victorian times.

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