Owen Paterson has his fish finger on the pulse, and other stories
When it first emerged that Findus had been selling horsemeat lasagne, the cry went up “Where is Owen Paterson?” Downing Street claimed that the Environment Secretary was working in his office, when he was in fact in his Shropshire constituency. He eventually showed up in London almost 24 hours after the scandal broke. On Monday he reported to the Commons. One thing he told MPs, to illustrate how busy he had been, was “I talked to the UK chief executive of Findus on Saturday.”
But Findus has no ‘UK chief executive’, as Labour’s Tom Watson was quick to point out. “I can confirm,” said the minister, in reply “that I spoke to Mr Leendert den Hollander.”
According to the Findus website, Leendert den Hollander has been Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood, a subsidiary of Findus, for the past two years.
Good to see the minister on top of the problem.
David Ward ticked off
David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP who made a highly insensitive comparison between the Holocaust and the way “the Jews” have treated Palestinians got a very public rebuke from Nick Clegg yesterday. He told the Commons: “I am unambiguous in my condemnation of anyone, from whatever party, including my own, who uses insensitive, intemperate, provocative and offensive language to describe that long-running conflict. People have strong feelings on one side or the other, but everybody is duty bound to choose their words carefully.”
A rash retweet
One of the dangers of retweeting whatever catches your eye is that it can be taken to mean that you agree with the sentiments you are retweeting. Dr Rachel Frosh, a Tory councillor and deputy police commissioner for Hertfordshire has had to backtrack frantically after passing on the comment of another Twitter user which said “Dear #Socialists, embrace your inner #Nazism.”
“I didn’t agree with tweet and I have made it clear that I don’t agree that the Nazis are either socialists or left wing or right wing,” she insists. “I’ve now made it clear that a retweet does not represent any kind of endorsement. I didn’t think it was necessary but clearly it was.”
Poor crestfallen wannabe Urquarts
Michael Dobbs has been recalling the reactions 20 years ago to the original, highly acclaimed BBC dramatisation of his novel, House of Cards – now adapted for US television, starring Kevin Spacey. At the time, several politicians imagined that they were the models for the villainous central character, Francis Urquart. “The only people I ever upset were the people who said ‘Francis, that was me wasn’t it?’ When I said no they were terribly crestfallen,” Lord Dobbs told yesterday’s Daily Politics programme.
A house divided
It is to be hoped that all is harmonious in the Neill family of Long Eaton, in Derbyshire, where Ian Neill will be running as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the county council elections in May, and his daughter Clare will be contesting the same seat as the Labour candidate. They can’t both win.
Fatboy Slim to do a Common gig
If the main divide in politics were between obese people and thin people, the ideal name for a politician would be Fatboy Slim. Instead, it is the stage name of the DJ and producer who used to be called Norman Cook, who is to be the first DJ ever to perform in the Palace of Westminster. He has been booked for a gig on 6 March on the House of Commons terrace in support of House the House, a charity that aims to inspire dancers to get involved in community action. “I’ve played some exciting and unique places around the world from Bondi Beach to The Great Wall of China to an Igloo but playing in the House of Commons might be the most unique to date,” he says.
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