Here at Central Bylines, we have been tapping our foot impatiently. Our East Midlands Tory MPs (on whom we generally rely for a regular supply of comedy pratfalls) have been suspiciously quiet of late. Luckily, the imminent arrival of silly season seems to have prodded them into life. All of which we have faithfully recorded for your entertainment and general betterment.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first, shall we?
Lee Anderson, Ashfield
Mr Anderson provoked widespread ridicule last month when he announced that he would not be watching his ‘beloved England team’ playing their matches during the Euros.
He objected to the team’s taking of the knee before each game, seeming to agree with the Home Secretary’s dismissal of the anti-racism demonstration as ‘gesture politics’. As the tournament – and the England team – progressed, Mr Anderson’s own petulant gesture looked sillier and sillier. The Labour party gleefully labelled him ‘England’s jinx’ and asked him to stay away. The MP was even awarded the tribute of his own parody twitter account.
But we all know what happened next.
England lost the final and the black players on the team were subjected to a tsunami of racist abuse. The non-stop Tory whistling had indeed brought all the dogs to the yard. As multiple commentators pointed out – what did people expect to happen?
The Home Secretary has attempted a reverse ferret on her position in the last two days. Mr Anderson, however, has said nothing.
Andrew Bridgen, North West Leicestershire
Mr Bridgen wins the distinction of being the only MP to warrant two mentions in this bulletin.
His own dog-whistle rivals even Mr Anderson’s. In fact, Bridgen doesn’t so much whistle as brandish a damn great placard making his position clear.
Whilst being interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy for Channel 4 news last week, the MP declared that the indigenous population of the UK will not tolerate immigration. He appears to disdain coy euphemisms these days, preferring to go straight to open prejudice.
Meanwhile, the MP has also found time to pick fights with the British Medical Association (BMA). The doctors’ union has been loud in its calls for the continued wearing of facemasks in some settings after July 19th. Mr Bridgen has cast doubt on the integrity of their position.
During an interview with LBC on 3rd July, he insinuated that the BMA’s pro-mask stance has been influenced by lobbying from the PPE industry. Six days later, he found it necessary to make a public apology. Although, in truth, it’s a pretty poor effort. If we were the BMA, we’d hand it back to him with corrections and demand a rewrite.
Darren Henry, Broxtowe
Over in Nottinghamshire, Darren Henry has been further cementing his reputation as the quietest man in politics. He clearly feels, like Ronan Keating, that he says it best when he says nothing at all.
In June, East Midlands Railways (EMR) abruptly cancelled dozens of services on the line from Nottingham to Matlock, leaving commuters and leisure travellers with little option but to take to the already over-crowded roads. EMR offered a wholly-insufficient explanation for this sudden axing of services, saying only that the timetable had failed to ‘perform to expectations’.
Concerned constituents wrote to Mr Henry asking for help or at least for some explanation of what was going on. As a response, the MP merely sent back a copy-and-paste of EMR’s wholly insufficient explanation with no further information.
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Heather Wheeler, South Derbyshire
The MP for South Derbyshire recently went up against Sir Graham Brady in a fight for the chair of the influential 1922 committee. Ms Wheeler’s precise motives for standing against Sir Graham are not known to us.
However, there is a general feeling that the Prime Minister supported her candidacy as he has become exasperated with the veteran leader of the committee and would like somebody more amenable in the chair. Wheeler has previously served as a junior minister in Johnson’s cabinet and it is well known that he selects for loyalty rather than effectiveness.
But the problem with ineffectual loyalists is that they tend to be… well, ineffectual. True to type, Ms Wheeler lost the election and the considerably-less-malleable Sir Graham remains in charge of the committee.
Just remember kids, these MPs are paid for by you and me. Do they really represent value for our hard-earned money?