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14 March 2014

Commons Confidential: parliament’s soaring chocolate bill

While former cake-hater David Amess MP beggars belief.

By Kevin Maguire

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.

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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