No not the BBC c-word, the Labour one – Champagne. Tempers were frayed all day yesterday, with touchiness from both sides of the House. Eric Pickles had a fairly light jibe at Labour MP Joan Ruddock, suggesting she might not be feeling the cuts because “I know she lives a champagne lifestyle — but £60 million is a lot of money.”
He seems to have hit a nerve, and received a pretty unnecessary reaction:
“I think you will know that I have been in this House long enough to take the rough and tumble of Parliamentary debate but the Secretary of State today, in response to an intervention I made, made a remark about ‘the hon. Lady’s Champagne lifestyle’ – It appeared to be directed at me. I find that really offensive and rude.”
Guido thought it was just the Tories that banned champagne, but it’s clearly a touchy subject in the new new Labour Party.
Bercow’s interjection riled the Tory benches as he helpfully pointed out that “I travelled to a number of places around the world with you and colleagues and I cannot recall you consuming champagne at any stage.” No wonder tempers boiled over in a showdown between the Tory Chief Whip and Bercow later on. Guido will let you be the judge, but there are signs that the Tory high command are not happy… either.