Climate Trillions, Tories To Go, Outbreaks Of Commons Civility, Administrative Contempt, And The Silliest Remark Of The Week mdi-fullscreen


The “global majority” is now asking for climate reparations in the sum of trillions of dollars, paid annually.

Trillions sounds just two levels up from millions, so consider this handy guide to scale:

  • A million seconds is a few days.
  • A billion seconds is a few decades.
  • A trillion seconds is 31,000 years.

Apply that to money and see where you end up.


Up to 80 Tory MPs are said to be considering resigning rather than going through the process of losing their seat. We know already of nine – some veterans, others relatively young, all have had enough.

Two mechanisms come into play when a critical mass of MPs decide they aren’t standing.

1) Resignation announcements accelerate as colleagues realise the advantage of looking for other work before the job market is glutted with ex-MPs.

2) More seriously for the Tories, 80 constituencies will lose the advantage of incumbency. Election veteran John Mann puts the advantage of incumbency “for a good candidate” at 3,000-4,000 votes. This can only add to Central Office woes. There are very many seats where that sort of margin will be decisive.


There is a terrible reality MPs should face before they decide to bail out. The only thing less popular than a sitting MP is an ex-MP. One scarred ex-Member reminisced:

I lost my seat and for various reasons couldn’t get back to my office in Parliament for two weeks to clear out. My work phone had been left there for that time so I put aside a morning to reply to the messages. I went in. I turned the phone on. Dialled into the message service. Heard the recorded voice saying: YOU HAVE– NO – NEW MESSAGES. Not one. Not a single person had rung to offer condolences, good wishes, advice or contacts. Nothing.

The MP, who was well-regarded and pretty well off, had spent far into five figures on entertaining his friends, colleagues and contacts over his time in Parliament.

Not. One. Message.

All the businesses who flattered and feted you mysteriously fade away. Headhunters patronise you. They may tell you to attend careers fairs, like an intern. You say your key job skill is “advocacy”. There are no takers. You turn down jobs because you are “worth more than that”. A moment comes when you realise there are ex-MPs running sweetshops in the Black Country.

Sensible advice: Try a discreet headhunter interview before making any announcement. 


Guido was wandering around the basement level of the House of Lords when a middle-aged man asked in an affirmative way, “Can I help you?” (It meant, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”) It turned out he was a peer of some sort and he told a cautionary tale to explain his have-a-go challenge.

He had once left his pass in his office, and when asked by a security guard made the mistake of responding with the words, “You don’t know who I am?” He said that the guard replied, “I don’t care who you f*cking are. I’m holding you until someone can vouch for you.”

The idea, a decade ago, of a security person talking like that to anyone in the Palace of Westminster is inconceivable.

How the status of our political leaders has collapsed. It’s not just the expenses scandals, not just the rise of social media. They are reduced in significance at every corner they turn on the Estate. To the outside world, they were the mysterious caste of legislators. Now they are a nuisance that obstruct the real business of the Palace – asbestos-removal, masonry-repair, mid-shift breaks, rubbish disposal.

Their sacred spaces have been democratised. Even on the Terrace, MPs have to rub shoulders with kitchen staff in their whites, journalists, administrative officers, policemen with machine guns, builders in camouflage trousers, lobbyists, consultants, engineers in hi-vis jackets. Groups of ancillary workers chat in the corridors, sometimes in other languages. A cleaner with a giant, bulging bin bag half as big as herself was seen exiting from the MPs’ special lift.

On the one hand, MPs are “reduced to social workers” and on the other their privileges are taken away year by year. No wonder the calibre of candidates is diminishing at the same rate.



This is so odd it may not be true. There will be different views on it, but the rancour of a decade or two seems to have gone out of the Commons. There is still a lot of noise at PMQs, but to Guido’s ear it sounds recreational rather than revolutionary.

How could this be?

  • The new Speaker will be part of it. An example of good humour encourages the same in those below.
  • Keir Starmer has told his troops that they can’t win a general election without Tory votes, so they should go easy on denouncing conservative-minded civilians for their cruelty, greed, selfishness and bigotry.
  • The Tories have realised that they really need friends.

As a result, there is quite a bit more of, “I say gently to the hon. Member.” And, “I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Lady.”

And also, the one-word answer has been repurposed into a discipline for moderation and better humour. A minister will listen to a point being made and try – apparently try – to find a respectable answer. If, however, the question is, as Richard Burgon’s: “Would not another round of austerity be an act of Government vandalism punishing the poorest areas in our country?” Then the minister (in this case Michael Gove) will deliver the one-word, “No” and sit down.

It does point up the fatuity of the rhetorical party point, and makes those who frame their questions like that look a bit dim. It may be why there are fewer of them.



Several submissions warned that place-based cultural policymaking needed to avoid gentrification (perceived or otherwise) by forming part of inclusive, long-term planning that focuses on making small-scale, aggregate improvements over time.

From: Reimagining Where We Live: Cultural Placemaking and the Levelling Up Agenda (DCMS Report)



I have been convinced that unless we do something really radical, life on this planet will be extinguished.

Barry Sheerman (Lab/Co-op)

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