Choc tactics: a Cadbury’s employee protests outside parliament ahead of its takeover by Kraft in 2010. (Photo: Getty)
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Commons Confidential: parliament’s soaring chocolate bill

While former cake-hater David Amess MP beggars belief.

The late Bob Crow was as combustible at football matches as he was in pay negotiations. A few years ago, a match at Dagenham was halted while stewards warned the RMT leader that he would be ejected if he continued to abuse the then Morecambe FC boss, Sammy McIlroy. Crow, who was sitting behind the dugouts, described his rants as “lively banter”. McIlroy called him “a total arsehole”. As so often, Crow had the last laugh. He left with the match ball. RIP.

Trouble at t’mill. The TUC’s plans to merge its northern region with Yorkshire and the Humber are going down as badly as any pay cut. The head sister, Frances O’Grady, has her work cut out amid talk of protests, subs’ strikes and even disaffiliation. My informant muttered that the Yorkshire TUC secretary, Bill Adams, had been warned that he would be out of the door if he didn’t move to the West Midlands, the joint job earmarked for the northern TUC’s Beth Farhat.

Keir Starmer’s quest for a Labour seat looks as if it starts and ends in Holborn and St Pancras. The onetime DPP will be guest speaker alongside the retiring MP, Frank Dobson, at a £25-a-head fundraiser, hosted by Labour’s Bloomsbury and King’s Cross branch. Sir Keir never uses his title. It doesn’t go down well with the comrades, apparently.

Rent-a-quote David Amess isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. The Southend West MP fell for a Brass Eye spoof about a drug called “cake”, appearing on the show in the T-shirt of a fictional anti-drugs body, FUKD & BOMBD. Now I hear he wants to know how many beggars appeal against convictions. They don’t have the money, Dave.

I spotted Nick Clegg travelling second class on the train from London to the Yellow Peril’s spring jamboree in York. His cash-strapped party bought the ticket. If it’s considered safe to travel with hoi polloi as Lib Dem leader, why do taxpayers pay for the Deputy PM to go in first class? I hope he isn’t taking us for a ride.

Clegg the self-declared patriot will have enjoyed the Lib Dem conference more than Simon Hughes. The (in)justice minister had a face like thunder when he wasn’t called during a debate, despite repeatedly waving his arms at the chair. The worry might have been that the Bermondsey Bore would stupefy an audience barely conscious at the best of times. Hughes could drone for Britain and frequently does.

Factlet of the week: the Commons authorities spent £39,920 on chocolate last year to stock shops, cafés and restaurants. The £164 cost of answering the parliamentary written question tabled by the Lib Dem John Thurso to find this out could have bought 234 more Mars bars. 

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 12 March 2014 issue of the New Statesman, 4 years of austerity

Photo: Getty
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RMT poised to rejoin the Labour Party

The transport union is set to vote on reaffiliation to the party, with RMT leaders backing the move.

Plans are being drawn up for the RMT (the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) to reaffiliate to the Labour Party in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s significant gains in the general election, the New Statesman has learnt.

The union, which represents tube drivers and other workers across the transport sector, was expelled from the Labour Party under Tony Blair after some Scottish branches voted to support the Scottish Socialist Party instead.

But the RMT endorsed both of Corbyn’s bids for the Labour leadership and its ruling national executive committee backed a Labour vote on 8 June.

Corbyn addressed the RMT’s annual general meeting in Exeter yesterday, where he was “given a hero’s welcome”, in the words of one delegate. Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, praised Corbyn as the union’s “long-term friend and comrade”.

After the meeting, Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary at the RMT, posted a picture to Facebook with John McDonnell. The caption read: “With the shadow chancellor John McDonnell arguing that we should affiliate to the Labour Party after consulting fully and democratically with our members”.

The return of the RMT to Labour would be welcomed by the party leadership with open arms. And although its comparably small size would mean that the RMT would have little effect on the internal workings of Labour Party conference or its ruling NEC, its wide spread across the country could make the union a power player in the life of local Labour parties.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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