Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

Sharing naughty habits of MPs could ‘harm national security’, claims Parliament

Commons porn block

Tony Blair famously said one of his biggest regrets as PM was introducing the Freedom of Information act. In his memoirs, he reflects on the Bill: “You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.”

In that spirit, a hobby of diarists has been inquiring about the most embarrassing topics imaginable.

A month ago, Sir Arbuthnot wrote to Parliament asking about the porn habits of those working on the estate logged into the wifi.

Bearing in mind even Downing Street has acquiesced to such a request before, the presumption was Parliament would fess up to the adult viewing pastimes of MPs, Lords and aides.

No such luck. According to the Commons, while they do have the exact data requested, they refuse to hand it over as they somehow believe that disclosing it “would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime” and could “undermine the safeguarding of national security”.

This is an odd excuse, given Downing Street – a building much more directly associated with national security – happily admitted that advisors and civil servants had visited hardcore porn websites 1,700 times between 2016 and 2019.

Time for an email to the information commissioner…

Question of the week…

Which prominent Tory MP asked if the party could swap the start date of their Autumn conference because he happens to be busy that day? He even went so far as to put the request to Greg Hands himself…

The end of Workington man

It is with a hint of regret that Beachcomber has learnt of the passing of “Workington man” – that horny-handed, working-class man of the north who helped deliver the Conservatives their famous victory in the Labour Red Wall in 2019.

Apparently, after the boundary review, Workington will no longer be its own constituency and its MP, Mark Jenkinson – who embodied so many of the qualities of the description – is off to the much posher enlarged constituency of Penrith and the Borders.

Jenkinson, who worked at Sellafield nuclear power station, was reminiscing about the day back in 2019 when the bodies at Conservative headquarters decided to release their “Workington man” target voter prototype.

“It was my turn to drive to work that day so I ignored my phone but when I arrived it had completely exploded with messages from all around the world,” he said.

Apparently, nobody from CCHQ had thought to warn him of his impending fame.

Jenkinson was featured on TV interviews from stations all over Europe and as far away as Japan as the world’s media tried to learn about this new voter.

Sure enough, he won a seat which had almost always been Labour in 2019 but now the focus is elsewhere.

Labour has identified “Stevenage woman” as the key target instead. Somehow it doesn’t have the same ring…

Sunak’s photo finish

There are few things which annoy Beachcomber more than people blocking the way and taking selfies in the street. It’s a particular problem in Westminster as the pavements are packed full of tourists wanting their grinning mugs taken in front of Big Ben or the Abbey.

But the other day as I was sauntering past Parliament to get to my usual bar stool at the Red Lion, the entire pavement was blocked by Carriage Gates as the police prepared for the Prime Minister to leave.

“It’ll only be a couple of minutes,” said the copper.

We waited. The crowd on the pavement gathered with passholders not even allowed into parliament.

Ten minutes later the rather chagrined-looking police officer updated us: “Won’t be long. The Prime Minister is just having some selfies taken with people.”

If I had been a Tory MP at that moment my letter to Sir Graham Brady would have been winging its way.

When good neighbours become good friends

A Tory MP aide – admittedly from the centre wing of the party – recently realised that her neighbour is none other than that vaccine-bashing, Tory-defecting MP Andrew Bridgen. She moaned: “How unfortunate to see this face both at work and on my street.”

To make the situation in this staffer’s patch of London even more awkward, none other than vaccine supremo Chris Whitty is also a nearby neighbour of hers, and – by extension – Mr Bridgen.

Given Mr Bridgen and Mr Whitty couldn’t have more heterogeneous views on the efficacy of Covid vaccines, it could very well make for an awkward encounter in their local Tesco…

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