Rebel MPs are where?

We need a Parliament of rebels, and we need it now.

The political class of this country are like the passengers of a Russian sled, hissing late at night through the moonlit forest. The ponies are exhausted, and behind them the wolves are in full cry.

One by one the leaders of all parties are hurling their colleagues over the back, in the hope of placating the ravening pack. Tory grandees, Labour Cabinet ministers – no one is safe. Now, in an act of political brutality not seen for 300 years, the terrified MPs have turned on Mr Speaker himself, and with a fearful Glaswegian oath the substantial form of Michael Martin has thudded into the snow.


I have lost count of the number of times I have sat through debates, after which my colleagues have begun their speeches with the words, “This has been an excellent debate”, and I have wanted to shout, “No! It hasn’t been remotely excellent.

“It has been a collection of cut-and-paste Lego-brick speeches in which people have been speaking not from the heart or direct knowledge of the issue, but because the whips have suggested it would be a good idea to speak.”


If we had fewer MPs, and they were forced to concentrate on what they were actually doing, we would have much less legislation, and I can’t think of a better way of saving us all time, trouble and money.

[The full article can be seen as first printed in the Daily Telegraph on 25 May 2009]

32 thoughts on “Rebel MPs are where?”

  1. This is an absolutely brilliant article. Whenever I read how the Labour whip and Gordon’s henchmen are bullying and bribing LAbour MPs to vote the way he wants them to, my blood runs cold. Is this democracy?

    The next step will be standing the kids of MPs on the banks of swirling riverbanks or blackmailing MPs with photos of illicit liaisons to ensure their obedience, like they do in SPOOKS. (Adam Cartwright made one of his colleagues stand on the 20th floor of a high rise building with the little daughter of someone he wanted to influence). Bribing them with the promise of vast expenses must have crossed someone’s mind.

    The most important thing in the world is to make your own mind up about everything, to be an independent thinker and I can’t think of that many anymore who are MPs. Instead of bullying MPs into voting for them, what happened to brilliant rhetoric?

    To read Boris’s article in its entirety,

    I love the description of the public as slavering wolves, fangs flashing, muzzles blood red in the moonlight!

  2. If we had less MPs, an even greater percentage of them would be minister, junior ministers, deputy junior ministers, whips, or their umbrageous counterparts. The number of placemen would stay the same, but the number of independent MPs would fall. Somehow we have to reduce the power of the executive over Parliament. Reducing the number of MPs would increase that power.

  3. Your analogy of the wolves was inspired, and as usual you have hit the nail on the head, Boris. Keep stirring them up, they need it!


    From the Tory Blue Blog, David Cameron lays out his ideas for giving power back to the people.

    Boris Johnson has already set out his plans for devolution to the London boroughs, giving Londoners more control over the police, GPs’ hours, etc. Mr. Cameron is formulating a plan for the whole country, outlined in link.

  5. The Sun today calls for an end to the shocking Brussels gravy train which lets grasping Euro MPs rake in fortunes from the taxpayers. MEPs can claim £363,000 a year expenses each and become millionaires in a five year parliamentary term. AND they do NOT have to account for every penny of it. No wonder the whole Neil Kinnock clan ( husband, wife, son AND daughter-in-law have jumped on the Euro gravy train, too !

    Read more and have a heart attack:

    We do need to do these greedy MEP Pigs in as well, folks. Bloody grasping pigs they are! That our hard earned money they are stealing there.

  6. Bach, it is, but (a) it is not all MPs, (b) certain expenses are reasonable. It is not like they are being unreasonable to claim anything at all, it is not wrong to claim for a second home. It is accepted that MPs are underpaid, so we shouldn’t go mad at the mention of all expenses.

    On the bright side, nobody has claimed for plastic surgery. I’m just saying.

  7. Maybe the Telegraph should make it clearer what MPs are entitled to claim, instead of just saying what they did claim, as though it all should not be allowed. I agree it is reasonable to claim for second homes, and other expenses seem reasonable as well. Obviously flipping and paying for for flats for relatives are out, and those people should be punished.

    David Cameron and Gordon Brown have such important and stressful jobs, it is penny pinching to criticise their expenses. They could both earn far more in industry, Moaning because Gordon paid for a cleaner is pathetic. However much money David Cameron has already, he is entitled to a salary and expenses like everyone else, is he supposed to work for free?

    when people criticise the ones who beaver away on second jobs, but are doing a brilliant job with their main job as well, I really lose my rag. If they want to work extra hard, great!

    1. Catherine: sensible and even as ever. Not sure about ‘penny pinching to criticise’ as a phrase as open-to-honest-audit expenses are fine. I don’t really care if it is mowing the family lawn (formerly done by self), or getting granny to the shops (formerly done by self) – if the job means that people cannot do their normal personal/civic job then they need recompense This country would not be the UK if people rich or poor had to give up on public service because they could not afford it.

  8. Yeah, wise move getting out of there when you did by the looks of things Boris.

  9. I do agree mostly with Catherine on this one. The criticisms of Gordon’s Brown’s cleaning arrangements and his gardening bill were utterly unfair. Much as I detest the man’s policies, he is probably jeopardising his health doing one of the most high stress jobs in the country, and the salary is hardly munificient, if you think what stock brokers and bankers are pulling in.

    If Cameron has private means, what is that to do with anything? He is entitled to be paid for the job he does, which is also stressful and time consuming.

    I am disgusted at people who have built up property empires through bending the rules, who have flipped or who have bought property for relatives, but many of the items “exposed” by the Telegraph do seem reasonable to me. Ken Clarke buying a book on computers for example (The Dummies guide to Windows) – surely that is an acceptable buisness expense? Likewise the media course that Harriet Harman went on, that seems a fair claim.

    In the public interest, and to prevent democracy being fatally damaged, would the Telegraph consider publishing a clear explanation of exactly what it would be reasonable to claim, were MPs to stay strictly within the spirit of the rules, and as far as i am concerned, that does not mean they get no perks. They should get a few.

  10. On the point about second jobs…. if MPs, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and the Mayor are doing a good job in those roles, I would go so far as to say it is their democratic right to spend any free time they has as they wish. If that includes lecturing, writing, being a financial advisor, all power to them and nobody has the right to say them nay. William Hague’s speech making probably enhances his role as a Shadow Minister.

    There is a strong argument anyway, for saying that it is vital that the Mayor writes his columns. He is a brilliant communicator, and no-one could possibly convey his ideas and policies as well as he can himself, the columns and articles are a vital asset for his role.

  11. Simon Heffer has thrown down the gauntlet to his local MP, Sir Alan Hazelhurst. “Either resign Sir Alan,” says Heffer, “Or I shall stand against you at the next election!”

    Simon Heffer seems awfully sure that if he stood, the result would be a done deal. I know that Sir Alan has overclaimed, but Simon Heffer is a very uncharitable man. That result is not a done deal, by any means……

  12. As the man in the country with the largest popular vote, and having written an article like this, you should be leading a rally at No. 10 or at the gates of Buck House calling for a general election NOW! After all, an immediate general election is conservative party policy, no? At the same time, I would like to hear you take up Mr. Cameron’s offer to make candidacies available to ordinary people by identifying a suitable seat within your mayoral constituency for which you would offer yourself as Tory candidate, without resigning as Mayor. Let’s have some lateral thinking as to how to move Mr. Brown out of the road he’s blocking – he doesn’t seem to have read the usual “No Parking” signs. L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!

    1. I admire the view, Derek, but can you see the headlines in, say, Scotland? Perhaps not the easiest sell despite the honesty of the intent and the demonstrable inclusiveness of Boris.

      Political parties need huge kick in backsides to get engagement working. Round here, Labour is literally unknown, LibDems still a bit beans-n-sandals loony (sorry, veggies – it’s only shorthand!). Fringe parties shove out glossy paperwork when everyone else has nodded to ‘eco’, and Conservatives surprise me by grass-roots connecting despite the pie-crust-n-pearls image.


    Both Margaret Moran (Labour) and Julie Kirkbride will be standing down at the next election.

  14. David Cameron is right to demand fewer MPs. For a small country we have a lot of ruling thieves. Our Commons has 646 thieves,the Lords has 738 thieves, the Scottish Parliament 129 thieves, the Northern Ireland Assembly 108 thieves and the Welsh Assembly 60 thieves. All those 1,681 thieves all have assistants, secretaries and expenses.

    America, 20 times our size, has a mere 535 members in its two-house Congress. Why do we need 1,681 ruling legislators-cum-thieves to run-cum-steal Britain?

    ( Fergus Shanahan, columnist, The Sun )

    Note to North Korean communist dictator Koo-Kee Berry Junior:

    Don’t think because I’ve been busy trying to sort out these thieving MPs and Lordies and you could have a crafty fart, I mean a crafty nuclear weapon test, without being noticed!

    Quiz: Why did communist dictator Koo-Kee Berry Senior hand power to his only perma bachelor son Koo-Kee Berry Junior before he went to meet Satan without any elections because he wanted to save his country money not having to stage a costly election?

    Why does 3 foot 4 inch tall Koo-Kee Berry Junior always wear a perma perm, Spice Girls platform shoes and Chanel female oversized shades because he wants to look like a 4 foot tall fashionable Chinese lady?

    Google search: MAO’S PRIVATE LIFE – China | Facts and Details

  15. What did the alien say when he landed in London and heard that Simon Heffer might be standing as an MP?

    “Beam me up snotty!” (Joke)

  16. Tory MP Chris Fraser has also announced he will not stand at the next election.

  17. “Time is the justice that examines all offenders.”

    As You Like It. William Shakespeare.

  18. I’m sorry, I am bursting to say this, and if the Editor feels I should be edited out, that is fine, I understand totally.

    How can Simon Heffer be so hypocritical when as a journalist he let his editor carry the can for an article he had written on the city of Liverpool? That is not a very honorable thing to do, is it, let someone else take the blame for your writing, when there is a backlash? To my way of thinking, that is a pretty cowardly way to behave, and even worse, instead of being grateful to the editor, Mr. Heffer slagged the person off when they were running for Mayor. Not exactly MP material, is he?

  19. Gordon Brown on Andrew Marr insists that he is going to clean up the mess and is very serious about doing that. Ed Miliband on Politics Show says he did not claim for accountants expenses, and will not comment on individual cases.

    David Cameron also vows it will all be sorted.

    However bad things have been, it is a huge step forward that profligacy over expenses can never happen again. The lid has been blown off the issue and there is no going back to the bad old ways.

    It is Global Prayer Day today, supported by the Mayor. I am Praying that our leaders find the strength to sort this matter in the proper way.

  20. Ex singer David Van Day from the pop duo dollar wants to be an MP. When asked what he knew about politics, and why he considered himself qualified to be an MP, David said that he watches Question Time.

  21. This avarice
    Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
    Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
    The sword of our slain kings.
    – Macbeth (Macduff at IV, iii) [Avarice]

  22. Being an MP isn’t just claiming vast expenses, flirting with constituents and propping up the Bar at the Commons. You have to have your picture taken as well!

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