Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bill Jacobs in the House

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bill Jacobs in the House

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bill Jacobs

Disturbing reports have reached me that since his elevation to number two in Labour's election campaign team, North East MP Fraser Kemp has taken up a healthy lifestyle.

The convivial Government whip has been a regular fixture in various House of Commons bars as he keeps an eye on what his flock are up to.

But since Alan Milburn returned to the Cabinet to take charge of preparations for the crucial poll and appointed the Houghton and Washington East MP to be his deputy, there has been a dramatic change in behaviour.

Health Secretary John Reid, who yesterday announced a strategy to make Britain fitter by cutting down on smoking and drinking, would be proud of Mr Kemp.

He has reduced his presence in the bars and alcoholic intake to an almost Puritan level as he concentrates on winning Tony Blair a third term and possibly Mr Milburn the chance of a first one, if he takes over in Downing Street.

One senior Government figure said: "It's certainly true Fraser is no longer a frequent visitor to Strangers bar, where most Labour MPs drink, and seems to have virtually given up booze."

Another remarked: "Poor old Fraser. Since he got promoted he has become a boring so and so."

Mr Kemp was unavailable for comment in any of his normal watering holes at Westminster but he rang me to say: "I get a fax of the morning newspapers at 6am and I'm into Downing Street to meet Alan Milburn at 7.45pm.

"So it's early to bed and early to rise for Fraser Kemp in his new job."

But there are concerns his new fit regime is causing him to lose weight dramatically.

One fellow MP said: "I'm worried about Fraser. He is looking almost skeletal."

But one cynical observer of Westminster affairs wondered whether Mr Milburn, who ran a left wing bookshop on Tyneside called Days of Hope, known locally as Haze of Dope, had finally given up smoking cigarettes.

When he became Health Secretary, before quitting to look after his family, he promised to give up the weed. Since then he's been known as a serious consumer of what is known among smokers as `OPs' - other people's. …

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