PoliticsHome | Only the latest five entries on the PhiWire are visible to non-subscribers
- Sign up to see last 24 hours
Dont have an account?Sign up here
Wednesday 17th October 2012 | 14:17
Just as the PM was hoping he could finally draw a line under the Plebgate affair, here's another 'toff minister' row brewing.
Lord Marland, the millionaire former Tory treasurer-turned-trade minister, tried his hand yesterday at a spot of stand-up comedy that looks like backfiring.
Joking about today's trade mission to Mozambique, he told peers: "I am just trying to keep the sun tan up."
As if to rub it in, he responded to praise from a fellow peer by adding: "I shall be bathing in sunshine tomorrow and I am now bathing in sunshine here.."
This is perhaps more tricky for the PM than Plebgate, in that Marland is a friend (he was at Marland's 50th birthday, below) and long-standing backer.
Even some Tory eyebrows were raised when he got a ministerial post in the reshuffle last month, particularly given his lack of political experience (the closest he came to Parliament was being beaten by David Heath in the 2001 election). "Another DOM [Dave's Old Mates] gets a job, while non-DOMS don't," said one at the time.
Of course, Marland has sported a Peter Hain-style tan for a long time and may have simply been trying to be self-deprecating. But it is taxpayers' cash that is sending him on his trade mission and the perception that it will be a jolly holliday will not help the Coalition's image.
Funnily enough, I am told that Baron Marland's nickname down the Lords is....Lord Flashheart. That's Flashheart as in Blackadder's arrogant, boisterous swashbuckler who often yells "Woof!"
Flashman, Flashheart.... it's not a good look.
UPDATE: Only last week, Lord Marland underlined his Flashheart reputation by suggesting he drank a bit too much.
Marland, greeting his new opposite number Lord Mitchell in the Lords last week, said: “I was looking up earlier his great achievements and, of course, in addition to business and technology, I noticed that one of the things he is interested in is alcohol abuse.
“And I must say, following what I did last night, I’m thinking about putting that down as one of my interests.”
UPDATE: Downing Street have now reacted.
The PM's official spokesman said: "I think he was making a joke. Clearly improving our trade performance and taking trade missions to other countries is something that the Prime Minister considers to be an important priority for this government and something that he himself has invested a lot of his personal time and effort in progressing."
FURTHER UPDATE: The Daily Mail have mysteriously pulled the Matt Chorley piece. This probably has absolutely nothing to do with the friendship between any newspaper proprietor and Lord M. Absolutely nothing at all. Did I make that clear enough?
Be briefed for £1.50 a week...PoliticsHome PRO Find out more