Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

In the Souses of Parliament

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

In the Souses of Parliament

Article excerpt

On the night of the long drinks in the Souses of Parliament, a snout muttered, a confused Ken Clarke marched into the Labour whips' office demanding to know when the Budget vote would be. The Justice Secretary was told that he had mistaken the opposition lair for the government suite across members' lobby. The flustered minister took a little persuading, I hear, before he would concede his geopolitical error. Your correspondent fully accepts the assurance of Clarke's special adviser that not a drop of liquor had passed Clarke's lips. However, some would say that it makes the Con-Dem Justice chief's bewilderment all the more disturbing.

Labour whips resorted to subterfuge over the Budget's second reading. An invented 6am timetable was typed and left in the members' cloakroom. Within ten minutes the bait had been swallowed, and the document disappeared. So, what a coincidence when Patrick McLoughlin--the government chief enforcer who worked night shifts as a miner, but now likes his bed--complained that he'd "heard" the sitting would last until dawn. The vote was just after 2am, but Labour is enjoying opposition. Perhaps a little too much for whoever wins the leadership race.

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A notice declaring "For elected members only" appeared on the tearoom seat favoured by fearsome Lord "Tommy" McAvoy, the pub-owner-cum-MP who swapped the Commons for the House of Cronies. Brave, very brave. The one-time Hoover factory storeman isn't to be trifled with. …

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