At the time of going to pixel,
Conservative Labour MP Christian Wakeford is about to head to the boozer for a few pints to see off his Friday afternoon. Wakeford, who has previously called for higher drink taxes, has taken to holding surgeries directly from the bar in the last few weeks, making a tour of local pubs in his constituency. It is recess, after all – bottoms up.
Unfortunately there appears to be a lack of due diligence in choosing the establishment of the day. Co-conspirators hoping to knock back a lager or two with Wakeford this evening will find him in… “The Crooked Man”.
A blue-on-blue row has broken out as Tory MP Simon Clarke slams fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen over his decision to take up the anti-vax mantle in parliament. Despite his Commons suspension this week, he’s continued tweeted about vaccines, this morning taking his attacks a step further and accusing the vaccine rollout of being the “biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust”.
This is disgraceful. https://t.co/Q983MZ8fVf— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) January 11, 2023
Former Tory MP Christian Wakeford also joined in, saying to make such a comparison during the month of Holocaust Memorial Day “is despicable” and asks “When is it enough for the Tories to withdraw the whip?”
No.10 tells Tom Harwood that the PM hasn’t seen the tweet in question, and “any disciplinary processes are a matter for the whips”. The Whips office are keeping schtum for the moment…
The road to Damascus gets shorter every day, as Christian Wakeford has yet again proved in spectacular fashion. The Conservative-turned-Labour MP for Bury South, who once attacked the “woke agenda” only to “proudly wear” that agenda’s “badge” just two years later, has now read the runes on the migrant crisis. In just under 18 months, he’s gone from saying this…
“These asylum seekers aren’t just travelling through one safe country, they’re very often travelling through many safe countries – essentially having a shopping trolley as to what they want, economic migration…”
“I want to go on record and say what I said 18 months ago was wrong and I am sorry for saying it. Every week, government uses scapegoats and as we continue to see even yesterday, asylum seekers have been one for this government for far too long. I am sorry for playing into that narrative. These people aren’t arbitrary numbers for newspaper editors to froth at the mouth about and stoke the fire of intolerance. They are human beings who have hopes and dreams, for them and their children, they want a good education, to live life without fear of persecution.”
Thereby completing his total ideological transformation in near-record time…
The rising cost of living is pushing many into making cuts and savings wherever they can, although in Christian Wakeford’s case, Guido would recommend he splashes out on a new calculator. In a tweet shared last night, the Labour opposition whip had a go at contextualising the crisis for youngsters:
By Guido’s maths, this would suggest an 18-20-year-old working on the minimum wage earns just over 11p per hour.
The actual minimum wage is £6.83, rising to £7.49 next year. Wakeford has since deleted his tweet and had another go, this time avoiding the maths altogether – just in case…
The disparity of pay for young people in the workplace isn’t right. Many do the same role as their elder counterparts and do the same work but can be paid up to £5 less per hour.— Christian Wakeford MP (@Christian4BuryS) November 28, 2022
Proud to support @GMBLondonRegion campaign. Young people deserve better #DemandFairPay pic.twitter.com/7dqIn2Zb2F
UPDATE: A co-conspirator gets in touch to point out Wakeford is Chair of the APPG on Alcohol Harm. Complaining how much a teenager has to earn in order to buy a pint seems rather odd in that context. Not that it did Guido any harm when he was a school boy…
MPs from both main parties have given speeches at events in the House of Commons organised by the British Bangladeshi Community Alliance (BBCA), a political organisation which campaigns against alleged human rights violations by the Government of Bangladesh. The BBCA’s self-proclaimed chief adviser is Mozaquir Ali, who speaks at these events, seated prominently and usually introducing the other speakers. Mozaquir Ali was jailed for 18 months after being caught falsifying dozens of proxy votes, whilst a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Burnley.
The Judge said that his “corrupt practices” were part of a “culture… which accepts that rules may be bent to maximise votes”, and that his crimes “revealed the exploitation of the unsophisticated, uneducated and in some cases confused people”.
Arguably confused MPs from all parties speak at his events, including Government Whip Andrew Stephenson and Shadow Minister Chi Onwurah, with one event chaired by Christian Wakeford, the Bury MP who defected from the Conservatives to Labour in 2022. Other MPs speaking alongside Ali at these events have included Bob Blackman, Sara Britcliffe, Afzal Khan, Apsana Begum, Anthony Higginbotham, Robbie Moore and Debbie Abrahams. It is not a good look for MPs to be at events chaired by a man convicted of vote fraud.
The BBCA’s Secretary, Foyzun Nur, has posted highly offensive remarks on Facebook offering a “salute” to Jeremy Corbyn for remarks he supposedly made where he “defended ISIS and Islam and described Israel and the Jews as the main source of global terrorism”. Real charmers these campaigners…
One of the many rumours doing the rounds in Westminster last night was whether any further Tory MPs might look at the dire state of the party’s electoral fortunes and copy Christian Wakeford in crossing the floor to Labour. Wakeford himself was seen holding court on cloud nine, and acknowledged said defection rumours, as Sir Keir visited the terrace to drink with MPs. Something a media source says has been happening increasingly frequently.
How substantive are the rumours? Guido’s heard a few names over the past week, among them Johnny Mercer. In a new interview with Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor addresses the question head-on. The answers might not reassure Wendy Morton…
Campbell: Okay. Imagine they were to say to you, ‘Johnny, do you think we would be better off under Keir Starmer’s Labour or Liz Truss’s Tories?’ What would you say?
Mercer: [long pause]
Campbell: That is a long pause.
Mercer: I don’t know what to say. I’m not a libertarian. The Tories can go in that direction, but I don’t have to.
Mercer: What do you think I should do?
Campbell: Off the record?
Mercer: On the record.
Campbell: Well, you came into politics not knowing whether you were Tory or Labour. You decided Tory was closer to what you think. You’ve achieved a fair bit of what you wanted to, but you’ve been stiffed badly by one Prime Minister, and even worse by his successor. I think you’re more likely to achieve what you want to by going the whole hog and saying to people, ‘If I can get Labour to do this, I will back them and get other people to back them, too.’ That is what I would do.
Mercer: You would do that if you were me?
Campbell: I would. You’re not a tribal Tory. I admit to a vested interest here as a Labour supporter. But I really do believe the best way to achieve what you want is to get Labour to commit to what you’re asking for.
Mercer: That would certainly make my life difficult – if Labour committed to my defining reason for being in politics, while the Tories remained where we are.
Despite this eyebrow-raising interaction, Guido understands Mercer has no plans to defect, his preferred style being to go down with the ship. Can the Chief Whip be sure all Tory MPs hold the same noble view?