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The teenage mother of all Parliaments

Today marks the beginning of Parliament Week and it starts with the annual Youth Parliament, which sees bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngsters replace MPs in the Commons for one day only.

And who better to welcome the youngsters to their places than William Hague, the man who began his political career at 16? After a brief introduction from Speaker Bercow, the Leader of the House used his own backstory to hit back at some of the sneering and criticism thrown the way of Parliament.

“If somebody asked me today, 37 years later, would I do it again? I would say yes... you can achieve things in Parliament and politics that you cannot achieve in any other way.”

Pointing to his own piloting of the Disability Discrimination Act under the Major Government, Hague just about managed to resist mentioning Russell Brand by name as he said: “Those people who tell you not to bother, not to vote or not to take part can never achieve anything like that or achieve any positive change of any kind.”

Natascha Engel, the chairwoman of the Backbench Business committee, spoke on behalf of the Labour party and contrasted Hague’s early start in politics with what she was doing at that age:

“While William was wowing his party conference, I was busy parting company with my school on not very good terms.”

With Stephen Benn, also known as 3rd Viscount Stansgate, looking on, the floor was handed over to the young people for debates on the living wage, exam resits, careers advice, mental health provisions, and lowering the voting age.

In case they were worried their voice would not carry beyond the chamber today, Hague had a word of warning for his ministerial colleagues, saying he would ensure that they were fully appraised of today’s comments “whether they like it or not”.

Salmond to be burned in effigy - the internet reacts

Clegg's cheesy grin

 

Undeterred by the criticism that followed his tequila-laden appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch in the summer, Nick Clegg has been back in the kitchen this morning.

Unfortunately, the DPM’s ITV performance may yet raise questions about whether he can be trusted to cut profligacy and waste within the Government.

It started off well enough. Clegg was handed a knife and a carrot or two. “The chopping’s going fine,” he bristled when he was asked if he coping ok.

Clearly aware that this was a man who was not used to receiving praise (he does spend a lot of time with Tory ministers who aren’t exactly his number one fan), Lorraine Kelly and the chef James Tanner sought to reassure him of his skills.

“Mr Clegg’s wonderful carrots,” beamed the chef. “Gorgeous,” commented Kelly. To Dot, they looked rather like carrots.

Then he moved on to the grating and Clegg went at it as if it was the head of a right-wing Conservative rather than a block of cheese that he was shredding. So much so that Tanner needed to stage an intervention.

“Sorry Nick, that’s great.”

“I was just carrying on until you told me to stop. Is that too much?”

“There’s four of us,” Tanner said, the chef scarcely able to see his guest over the Himalayan swathes of cheese ribbons laid out for two potatoes.

Next up was basil. Like a dog revisiting past mistreatments at the hands of his owner, Clegg ventured: “Too much?”

“No, no. That’s good,” Tanner replied. “That’s good. Ok, you can walk away now.”

By the end of the meal, it was clear that the time had come to rebuild Clegg’s confidence. As Miriam González Durántez was invited over to assess her husband’s contribution, Lorraine, almost pleading said: “I have to say the cheese was done so well.”

Durantez (having earlier said Clegg’s cooking was not his strongest suit) commented on the “nicely chopped vegetables”; Tanner added in: “And lovely cheese. Fantastic.”

Job well done, Nick. Job well done.

Photo opportunity

 

An open letter to Private Eye

Sirs,

Interviewing Ed Davey on the Sunday Politics this week, longstanding host Andrew Neil pressed the Energy Secretary on whether he had worn the 'This is what a feminist looks like' t-shirt so in vogue among Westminster's fashion elite of late.

Mr Davey replied:

"I haven’t and no one asked me to. Maybe they couldn’t get a size big enough for me… You’re often pictured in a t-shirt as I understand?"

I wondered if you might be able to substantiate this claim with anything from the archives?

Best,

Dot Commons

 

 

Whatever it is, I fear the Moldovans...

 

 

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant”, David Cameron said once, and the Government has today published its quarterly transparency returns.

Just in case you don’t have the desire to wade through the documents yourself, here are a few of the interesting bits:

- Tory Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin was given a gift worth more than £140 of “Traditional Tea Pot and Cups” by Chinese property giant Wanda Group. Letwin has decided against buying the gift and so it is currently being held in the British embassy at Beijing.

- David Cameron bought shoes worth £279 from Oliver Sweeney.

- Moldova’s prime minister gave Cameron wine worth more than £140 which was then used for official entertainment;

- The President of Afghanistan offered a “trinket box and coat” to the PM which is currently being held;

- Interpol is also in the business of handing out gifts, apparently. The police cooperation body gave a £150 watch which the PM decided to purchase. 

- Nick Clegg was given “food items” from Lord Alliance worth more than £140. Hopefully they weren’t perishables because they are still being held by the department.