Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Labour Member launches another pre-emptive strike
Anyway, last Wednesday saw an Opposition Day debate on Acute Hospital Services and things proceeded pretty much to form with the usual 'oh yes you did' 'oh no we didn't' charade that is the meat and drink of British democracy. Thankfully things started to get a bit spicier when Ian Austin, the Labour Member for Dudley North, got called. Here is a man who takes an enormous amount of joy in winding up the Tories, often getting a warning from the Speaker for his joie de vivre. It was a lively speech and he was in his element slating the Tories for preaching one thing when anyone with half a brain (a memory would also suffice) knows that under a Tory Government there would be massive health privatisation (even compared to this Government) and substantial cuts to public spending. After a brief intervention by Laura Moffat, Austin continued saying that not one Tory had intervened on him because they knew they could not refute what he was saying. At this a few Tories started mumbling and guffawing, one of whom was Mike Penning. Now Penning is to political philosophy what deep-fried pizzas are to a healthy diet, so Austin called his bluff:
Mr. Austin: I did not notice that, but I did notice that not one of them has got up to deny that the effect of their policies would be to cut public spending, which is what they believe in. They cannot deny that. It is an absolute fact that the effect of the proceeds of growth rule would be to cut public— [ Interruption.] Well, if the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) would like to intervene on me to deny that the effect of the proceeds of growth rule would be to cut public spending, I would be more than happy to give way. Does he want to— [ Interruption. ]
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. May I suggest that the hon. Member for Dudley, North (Mr. Austin) should not tout for business in that way? I must also ask the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) not to make any more sedentary interventions.
To put this in school-bullying terms it is like picking on the weedy, speccy kid wearing his older brother's ill-fitting hand-me-downs. What Hansard failed to convey was that Austin actually sat down, leaving the Plato of Hemel Hempstead looks even more limited than usual. Of course any other Tory could have jumped in, it would have been impossible not to accept the intervention but they didn't. Any why didn't they? Because they had nothing to say, they had been rumbled, their flush was busted.
I saw Ian and had a bit of a laugh with him about this and then talk inevitably turned to subjects about which we differ (i.e. Trident replacement) and then he went back to calling me a "dirty Trot". I have enjoyed his acquaintance for a good couple of years now. By now he should know flattery gets him nowhere.