Desperate for a British platform to promote her political and economic failures, rumour is that No 10 reject Liz Truss is the latest MP fancying a presenting gig on GB News. Tongues are wagging after she appeared at a small parliamentary soirée thrown by the Union Jack-waving broadcaster. GB News already hosts shows by Jacob Rees-Mogg and right-whinge couple Esther McVey and Philip Davies, with “30p Lee” Anderson poised to join on £100,000 a year – or 333,333 of his fantasy meals. Truss would be in bad company.
Desperately seeking reassurance and finding none is Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow (in)justice secretary fighting a lone battle to legitimise controversial posters that portray Rishi Sunak as being soft on prison sentences for paedophiles. The dearth of questions at a 24-minute meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party didn’t reflect private conversations. The party’s equivalent to Charles Bronson in Death Wish is finding zero support and much hostility.
The peer Sayeeda Warsi is happy to call out Tory cruelty, recently branding Suella Braverman unfit to be Home Secretary because she keeps “dragging [Rishi Sunak] to the gutter”. But the former Conservative chair is no stranger to controversy herself: in an explosive New Statesman interview in 2010 she claimed voter fraud in the Asian community had cost David Cameron three seats in the general election, and had to pull out of a Question Time appearance in the furore that followed.
[See also: The identity politics of the coronation quiche]
Divine intervention may yet save Giles Watling in Clacton. The man who played vicar Oswald in the TV series Bread became the latest Tory forced to plead with the party congregation after failing to be automatically readopted. With the recent wave of Conservative MPs in deselection jeopardy, jealous Labourites are contrasting the lack of media coverage with the feeding frenzy that ensues whenever one of their own faces a similar threat.
It wouldn’t be parliament without a conspiracy theory. The latest rumour is the calorie counts of House of Commons meals – healthier denizens of Westminster judge them suspiciously low. Weightier issues obsess most MPs, yet the notion that the figures are sparing the blushes of heavier, hungrier members is chewed over.
Reform UK is still nibbling at Rishi Sunak’s right. The party, which stood aside to give Boris Johnson a clear run against Corbyn’s Labour in 2019, isn’t looking so clever after trumpeting one-time Tory recruits. Reform’s two prominent positions are hatred of the EU and love of electoral reform. Their poster-woman, Ann Widdecombe, remains a diehard first-past-the-poster. Oops.
This article appears in the 19 Apr 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Axis of Autocrats