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Wild, wild West

 

 

 

 

 

As a former First Sea Lord and, arguably more pertinently, a minister in Gordon Brown’s government, Lord West is quite familiar with the importance of peacemaking.

The skill proved handy when he defused a potential incident with the Occupy protesters on Parliament Square.

West recounted the events to the Lords yesterday:

“When I was being driven past in my car in my full uniform, they [protesters] came and stood in front of the car and I managed to stop an incident because my Royal Marine driver said, ‘Shall I re-educate them, sir?’ and I said, ‘Not today’.”

Home Office Minister Lord Bates almost seemed in awe to West as he responded quickly:

“The noble Lord is absolutely right— I fully agree with him.”

Move over Dave! Top Tory hopeful James Cracknell is also stumped by the F word (and so is his wife, apparently...)

The debate rages on over David Cameron's refusal to wear a pro-feminist t-shirt.

Nick Clegg did it. Benedict Cumberbatch and Ed Miliband did it too. And today Harriet Harman was wearing the very garment (emblazoned with the phrase: "This is what a feminist looks like) at Prime Minister's Questions.

Take that Dave!

How did we get here? Last year, Cameron was asked by the women’s magazine Red whether he was a feminist. He paused, before replying: "I don’t know what I’d call myself… it’s up to others to attach labels."

The PM later told Channel 4 News: ‘When I was asked that question, what I should have said is, if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist."

This week, Lorraine Candy, the editor-in-chief of Elle said: "We asked the Prime Minister five times if he would wear the Fawcett Society’s iconic This Is What A Feminist Looks Like slogan T-shirt and send us a snapshot... Five times, he declined. This is a shame on so many levels."

Since then No 10 has refused to say whether the Prime Minister has any plans to wear the T-shirt, but instead said the PM is focused on policies in Government aimed at better equality for women.

The whole tale may prove to be a salutory lesson for ambitious Tories destined for greater things. So what does former Olympian and Tory hopeful James Cracknell think of the F word?

In a recent interview with the Evening Standard, Cracknell would not define himself as a feminist. And he said that neither would his wife, Beverley Turner. He told the paper:

“Erm. I don’t know if Bev is either. She has an incredibly strong sense of justice, as do I.”

Cracknell was speaking to the Standard just a few days before the Cameron t-shirt furore broke out. Obviously.

The PM and the 'jogger'

A member of the public ran into David Cameron as he left a meeting in Leeds. After member of the PM's security team intervened, the man was bundled away and the prime minister got into a waiting vehicle. See the video here via ITV News

 

Gove's dog-whistle politics

The long weeks of campaigning are over and the results are finally in.

Rob Flello's Diesel is said to have been “delighted” by his victory in the Kennel Club’s MP Dog of the Year competition today.

Michael Gove’s Snowy came in second place and even earned a mention in the House of Commons for his trouble.

Labour’s Kevin Brennan was poking a bit of fun at Gove during the Business Statement and pointed to his recent Francis Urquhart impression and Game of Thrones tribute to suggest that the Leader of the House should be concerned by the “attention-seeking antics” of the Chief Whip.

When the Snowy news broke, however, Brennan took the opportunity to correct the record with a point of order.

“May I take the opportunity to apologise to the Leader of the House for suggesting during the Business Statement that he was wrong when he said the Government Chief Whip was gainfully employed? I understand the Government Chief Whip and his dog Snowy have just come runners-up in the Parliamentary Dog of the Year competition so I withdraw the implication that he hasn’t got much to do with his time.”

Cats and dogs

 

Cat lovers in Parliament have been having a tough time of it today.

Not only have dogs been soaking up the limelight at the Kennel Club’s Dog of the Year show, there’s also little hope for a new influx of cats to Westminster take on their other mortal enemy: rodents.

Tory MP Anne McIntosh raised the potential for some mousers to deal with the rats and mice on the estate that is “spiralling out of control”.

But John Thurso, speaking for the House of Commons Commission, rejected bringing in a new squad of felines.

“Given the scale and size of the estate, it would be necessary to have a great number of cats to make any real impact. And having a herd of cats on the Parliamentary Estate would present a number of difficulties. I’m advised by my own chief whip that herding cats is quite difficult.”