The WCB advent calendar: one of our region’s MPs lurks behind each door!

Image by Sadie Parker

Day 25: Happy Christmas!

Just to be clear, we have no party affiliation or loyalty here. We just like politicians who tell the truth, don’t line their own pockets, don’t support crazy, harmful projects like Brexit, abhor corruption and generally behave with decency and integrity. It just so happens that our region is absolutely dominated by Conservatives and the general election in 2019 saw moderates Oliver Letwin and Sarah Wollaston vanish from the scene.

The standout old school Conservative in a sea of Blukip has been Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, albeit without a completely clean slate. He speaks out against corruption, against the madness that is Brexit – describing Frost as a man ‘who could cause a row in an empty room’ – and rebelled against the government to vote for giving parliament a say on future trade deals and enshrining food and animal welfare standards in law. He also voted against letting Owen Paterson off the hook and doing deals with countries suspected of committing genocide. But just when you get a nice warm feeling about him and think he’s in the wrong party, he toes the line to break the manifesto promise on national insurance and supports all the hideous bills that are flooding out of the Home Office. Still…where there’s hope…

Rumour has it that this is Ben Bradshaw’s last stint as an MP and the majority of people in Exeter will be mightily sad to see him go. A former journalist and BBC Berlin correspondent ( he speaks fluent German), he won the former Conservative seat of Exeter in 1997 after a nasty campaign in which his Tory rival, on the religious right, attacked him for his homosexuality.

A critic of Corbyn, whom he described in an article in 2016 as being ‘a destructive combination of incompetence, deceit and menace’, he supported Owen Smith’s failed attempt to replace Corbyn as leader. He was the first MP to call out Russian interference in the EU referendum and continues to articulate his serious concerns about the threats to our democracy from the Kremlin. A europhile, he campaigned for a second referendum, seeing it as the only way out of the Brexit deadlock.

He can often be seen cycling round Exeter and he has consistently claimed amongst the lowest expenses of any MP in Devon or Cornwall. He’s a good guy and people like him.

Luke Pollard is another strong constituency MP, elected to Plymouth Sutton and Devonport in 2017, and the first Plymouth native in the seat since Michael Foot (1945-1955). Passionate and energetic in his defence of farming and fishers in the face of the appalling damage inflicted on them by Brexit, he, too, was an advocate for a People’s Vote.

During the 2019 election campaign, his offices in the centre of Plymouth were vandalised with homophobic graffiti on two occasions, but Pollard impressed with his dignified and generous-spirited reaction to the attacks, inviting the perpetrators to come and talk with him about why they did it.

He recently called on his fellow MPs in the region (all Conservatives bar Ben Bradshaw) to work together to oust Boris Johnson, saying on Twitter:

“Boris Johnson is unfit for office.

“Here’s my open letter to all Conservative MPs in the South West, asking them to put our region first and remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.”

He was recently replaced as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in order to allow him to concentrate on constituency issues following two tragedies which left the city reeling – a mass shooting and the murder of a teenage girl. He remains committed to defending the interests of the farmers and fishers but has also started to campaign hard on a manifesto of “First homes, not second homes’ to address the region’s growing housing crisis.

Again, likeable and approachable, his down-to-earth style reassures us that there are politicians who care and who want to do the right thing by their constituents. But, goodness, do they have to be such rare beasts?!

Surely we deserve better than most of the people behind the doors of our advent calendar?

Day 24: Ms 24 will probably be forever remembered for two things. The first was a speech in the commons in July 2012 in which her delivery modulated from enthusiastic sh0ut to hyperactive scream – worth a watch:

2) for the suspension of the whip for describing the threat of a no-deal Brexit as “the n*gger in the woodpile.” She apologised profusely, but unfortunately the remark had come only a few weeks after her then partner and agent had pinned the blame for poor educational outcomes entirely on “non-British born immigrants and their high birth rates”.

She has a flat in London and a house in Surrey, but claims expenses for the rental of another flat in London – a legal but optically-problematic practice.

She’s an ardent Brexiter but also claims to be a big fan of small businesses. Maybe she thinks they’ll benefit from Brexit in 50 years’ time, Rees-Mogg’s timescale for the Brexit payback.

Give her a gold star, though, for being one of only five Tory rebels who voted with Labour on their amendment to extend the free school meal programme through the Easter holidays. Given that more than 23 per cent of children in her constituency are living in poverty, it was the least she could do. Pretty much everything else she votes for increases the inequality gap.

It seems she is no longer a big fan of Johnson (she backed him in the leadership contest), saying recently that there were questions around his competence.

She used to be one of the worst-rated MPs in Devon for responsiveness to constituents but she appears to be making more of an effort and ranked 149 out 650 in the most recent Change People Power index. Maybe her local initiative of a small business buddy system has boosted her image?

Anyway, here is Ms 24: Anne-Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 23: Another buy one, get one free offer for which you get the longest serving sitting MP in Devon and the most south-westerly MP in the country. The former was a pragmatic remainer, the latter a leaver, despite his constituency containing England’s largest fish market.

They both offer glimpses of a capacity for independent thought and a willingness to put the country or their constituents before the party, but it isn’t sustained for long enough for them to be described as thoroughly or even mainly good eggs. As an example, our Cornish subject voted against sewage dumping first time around but then capitulated when it came back to the house with the token amendment…and he’s the co-chair of the APPG on ocean conservation , for goodness sake! I know we go on about the sewage vote when there are much more horrifying bills getting support from our Conservative MPs, but it does (like Brexit) encapsulate the sense of their willingness to actively damage their own environment and the vitally important tourist industry ‘purely’ out of party loyalty.

As with so many of his colleagues, our Devon MP exhibits a whole host of contradictions, making it hard to get hold of who he really is and what he stands for. He started his political career as a Social Democrat councillor but he turned Tory (maybe because that was the only route to getting elected down here?) and won his first seat in 1997. In 2013, he called out the swivel-eyed loons calling for a referendum, pointing out how divisive the infighting was. He supported Esther McVey in the leadership contest and then switched to Sajid Javid when she lost in the first round. He was ennobled in 2019 and said he hoped it came in recognition of his work as the chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on Christians in parliament and yet his voting record on issues such as immigration and welfare looks pretty un-Christian, with only the smattering of abstentions leading one to hope that he retains some compassion. He described the Paterson corruption vote as ‘not our finest hour’, but then he merely abstained. Limp.

Our Cornish subject is a little bit more of a rebel, only sometimes it’s by accident as in the case of the recent vote on ending the triple lock on pensions. He voted against the government by mistake and then went through the lobby again to correct his error, voting twice. Doh!

He has been campaigning hard to get ‘ornamentals’ (commercial growers of garden plants and flowers etc) included in the seasonal worker visa scheme in an attempt to mitigate the damage wrought on Cornish daffodil growers by the very Brexit he campaigned for. And although he stood alongside Neil Parish in giving Kevin Foster a hard time over the threats to farming from labour shortages, it’s hard to take from a Brexit supporter. One cannot imagine that the fisherfolk of Newlyn will be feeling very warmly towards him or his party.

Sadie’s meme sums it up, really. What kind of men are they?

Sir Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon and Derek Thomas, MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It’s another ‘meh’ from me!

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 22: It’s a shame that, by and large, this man follows the pattern of politicians who turn their back on their roots or previous careers. You might have thought that a GP would stand up for the NHS, but no… party first and last.

He’s had a rather chequered political career, having achieved notoriety as the MP with the biggest overclaim in the 2009 expenses scandal and, therefore, the one with the biggest sum to pay back. Then he had to resign as defence secretary in 2011 because he took a lobbyist mate with him on official overseas trips and let him have access to the ministry. So far, so crony.

Mr 22 backed Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership contest in 2019 and he has been banished to the back benches ever since, Johnson being such a vengeful creature. Our subject has had two cracks at the leadership himself, in 2005 and 2016. In the most recent bid, he got culled in the first round having come bottom with 16 votes.

He’s a Brexiter and vehemently anti freedom of movement. In July 2019, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in his capactity as trade secretary, he made the now legendary, vainglorious boast that:

“The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.”

Well, that aged well!

But, let us give credit where it is due. In June, he introduced ‘A [Private Member’s] Bill to make provision about meeting the needs of persons with Down syndrome; to place a duty on local authorities to assess the likely social care needs of persons with Down syndrome and plan provision accordingly; and for connected purposes’.”

The new legislation, which looks likely to be passed, will be a great source of comfort for Down syndrome citizens and their families and he is to be commended for sponsoring a move which aims, amongst other things, to remove the stigma attached to the syndrome and to ensure people have access to lifelong care.

So there you have it. Dr Liam Fox, MP for North Somerset. Tally-ho!

Stop press: We should have made mention of this MP’s extensive outside interests: Why is he doing this?

Payment of £10,000 expected from WorldPR, Humboldt Tower, East 53 Street, Panama City, Urb. Marbella, Republic of Panama, as a six-month retainer fee covering 1 September 2021 to 28 February 2022. If required, I will provide advice on Business and International Politics, and payments will be listed below. Hours: none to date. (Registered 15 September 2021)

They work for you

What this does not say is that he is one of a three person Sovereign Advisory Group and that those seeking his advice will include ‘corporations, strategic actors and ultra high net worth individuals.’ Hmm. When are they going to start demanding their money’s worth and for what?

And what does Alexander Temerko, Ukrainian-born Russian energy tycoon and major donor to the Conservative party, think he’ll get for the £10,ooo he donated to Fox in March of this year?

It’s worth recalling that Fox was one of 59 Tory MPs who signed the notorious Leadsom amendment to get their corrupt mate Paterson off the hook. The scent of a fox is strong , but the stench of corruption is stronger. Are we catching a whiff of it here?

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 21: Still with us? Hope so! Got some goodies to come. I mean real goodies, too. But back to today. Today we have yet another Johnson-backer. And a Brexiter. Sigh. Another one who must take some responsibility for the decimation of Cornwall’s funding…and another one who won’t. So wearisome!

He doesn’t rebel. He employs his partner as a part-time secretary. He votes for sewage. he says he doesn’t want leisure centres in Cornwall closed but, doh, Brexit has knee-capped Cornwall. But he’s a junior whip , so there you go. Climbing the greasy pole.

In 2016 he went on a boat trip with Johnny Mercer. Rather than admit that he could not swim, he jumped in the water and then had to be rescued from drowning by his colleague. I find that rather worrying. There’s rather a lot of ‘rather than admit’ stuff going on with this government.

The sad thing is that he did start out in 2015 seemingly with some good ideas for local democracy and in 2018 was actively anti sewage. Now he’s just another line-toeing, Brexit-loving, Johnson-backing clone. The right MANN for Cornwall (his Facebook page!)? He’s having a laugh!

Scott Mann. MP for North Cornwall. Not delivering.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 20: Oh dear. Yet another Remain-supporting MP who is now as strong a Brexit-damage denier as the worst of them. Mr Day 14 (Neil Parish) tore into Mr 20 last week, accusing him and his department of failing to engage with farmers over the desperate need for labour, and then delaying implementing measures to ease the shortfall through the creation of work visas for butchers and poultry workers. Look at him b*llsh*tting before Neil Parish absolutely blasts him for a Brexit-created situation which has led to the cull of tens of thousands of pigs.

Mr 20 tried to blame pig farmers themselves for failing to sponsor work visas, saying only one major firm had applied for a licence. A lie. He has been given until Jan 5 to explain himself. He is not the farmers’ friend.

He is not the refugee or asylum seekers’ friend either, despite having the horrendously inappropriate title of Safe and Legal Migration Minister…yeah, in a government which has closed all the safe routes for desperate people and whose Nationalities and Borders Bill reaffirms, amplifies even, the UK’s hostile environment. Words are cheap, Mr 20. You and your boss, Priti Patel seem to hold the lives of these vulnerable humans very cheap, too. The 27 lives lost in the channel were the outcome of your department’s policies.

And now we learn that the Home Office is reneging on the promise of a warm welcome for Afghani refugees, tightening the criteria for application to a scheme which has taken far too long to come into force.

Complacent, condescending and complicit in a very ugly era for the Home Office. He has been compared to Macron because he is married to a woman 28 years his senior. That is where the comparison ends. Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 19: I don’t know about you, but I am getting a wee bit exasperated…no, make that disgusted by the endless parade of MPs who either act in the best interests of their sponsors/mates/corporate backers or who bring some sort of expertise or experience to the table which they conveniently forget out of political expediency, betraying those whose plight you would think them best placed to understand. Take Rebecca Pow and farming for example, or Sheryll Murray and fishing. Mr 19 is just such, passing by on the other side of the road whilst the erstwhile fellow musician begs for help, shut out as he is from the concert halls of Europe by Brexit.

Mr 19 knows full well how important freedom of movement is to performing artists, yet he voted to end it. He voted for leaving without a deal. He backed Boris Johnson’s leadership bid!

On the plus side he was one of only five Conservative MPs to rebel in 2016 and back the Dubs amendment to take refugee children in from the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, but, given his recent record on voting on immigration and asylum issues, that little flicker of compassion appears to have been extinguished. Now, like the vast majority of our region’s MPs, he slavishly follows the whip, only rebelling recently against the Plan B covid measures and thus aligning himself with the Steve Bakers of this world.

He does the other stuff many of his colleagues do…employs his wife (says it’s great value for the tax-payer), forgot to declare a corporate gift and got a slap on the wrist, and has a meaningful stake in the family property development business, though, to be fair, it is pretty much dormant.

He was the highest rated MP in Somerset according to a national survey carried out in 2019 to assess MPs’ availability and responsiveness, coming in at 300 out of 650, way ahead of Rees-Mogg at 555 and Marcus Fysh at 606, for example. It’s just disappointing to see someone who is probably, at bottom, a perfectly OK bloke, supporting such appalling policies and leadership. And voting for sewage in breach of a promise to the volunteers trying to protect the River Frome? What was that about?

Can David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome, not change his tune? The band is breaking up. Which faction will he side with now?

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 18: Known as something of a loose cannon in the party, this peerless exemplar of democracy (just kidding, obvs) had to step down as trade secretary in 2020 having used his position (and House of Commons notepaper) to attempt to intimidate a member of the public. He picked up a 7 day ban for the offence – lucky for him Johnson didn’t intervene or there might have been a by-election!

In 2018 he was investigated for racist remarks against travellers and he has a nice line in defending the Kingdom of Bahrain against accusations of human rights abuses as well as enjoying all-expenses paid visits out there. He chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Kingdom, but one assumes there is never the slightest whiff of a conflict of interest.

He scoops £10,000 a quarter as a consultant for Trant Engineering in Southampton in exchange for ten hours of his time every month. That’s probably well below minimum wage for your average two-job Tory.

Of course, despite his reputation, he has not rebelled during this government: he’s a Johnson loyalist and a Brexiter… and a heavily-involved one at that, as Byline Times revealed when investigating Steve Baker’s dodgy transatlantic links:

‘Cherish Freedom is a UK-registered non-profit company with direct links to Cambridge Analytica, the disgraced data analytics firm which was accused of planting fake news to influence elections [and the referendum]. From 2015 until 2019, one of its directors was Conor Burns MP.’

Byline Times

Burns was also a trustee of Cherish Freedom Trust up until 2019 when it fell foul of the Charity Commission:

‘According to The Times, the trust was supposed to be raising funds to build a ‘Margaret Thatcher Centre’ to record her life and public achievements, which instead were spent on “events, consultants and fees” as well as “a transatlantic exchange programme for students, including sightseeing and political briefings.”’

Byline Times

Nothing is ever straightforward with these guys, is it?

Born in Belfast and now minister of state for Northern Ireland, he must have to go through all sorts of mental contortions when he sees how much better off Northern Ireland is thanks to the Northern Ireland Protocol, not to mention how Brexit has advanced the cause for the unification of the island of Ireland.

Come on, Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, your wee Brexit and Johnson are both banjaxed, so they are!

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 17: A few memory issues with this one. Does this make him an eccentric in the traditions of one of his ancestors who rehearsed his own funeral so he could ascertain whether appropriate levels of grief and solemnity were in evidence from his staff or does he just suffer from that convenient, selective memory loss whch seems to beset so many Conservatives?

An ardent Brexiter, this extremely wealthy individual has been described as living the Downton Abbey lifestyle in his Dorset pile with wife number three. Six previous members of his family had been MPs for the now defunct constituency of Wareham, so it would appear that the role of MP is part of the family legacy.

The poor unfortunate has to contend with the knowledge that the vast bulk of the family wealth came from plantations in Barbados, though it does not appear to bother him overly except that rivals will bring it up as if he was involved in the exploitation of slaves personally and that miffs him. There’s an interesting situation regarding the future of the eponymous Hall and sugarcane plantation on St George now that Barbados is leaving the Commonwealth. Some Barbadians are calling for reparations and for the 250 hectare estate to be open to the public.

He’s been a rather naughty boy when it comes to declaring his various property and financial interests and filing accounts, completely forgetting about said plantation and a great lump of land in Swaledale and a £4m holiday let in Sandbanks. Ah, well. These things are wont to slip one’s mind. His constituents will have every sympathy, for sure, setting aside their own concerns with child poverty and the housing crisis.

So here is the man who , despite his name is neither a rocket scientist nor a Bond villain, but a very wealthy ex-soldier and journalist who voted against gay rights and marriage and votes against measures to control Covid. Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, MP for South Dorset, your regular, common or garden local plantation owner. Tug that forelock!

Day 16: What is it with these MPs who seem to have some relevant experience or sound insights gained from their pre-office lives and then happily toss these aside to drink the Kool-aid and implement or champion policies which actively harm those they professed to understand and care about? Why does it seem that these people have undergone some kind of integrity bypass? Day

Here’s another. A farmer’s daughter, in favour of remaining in the EU, a self-proclaimed environmentalist – hell, she even won a Green Heart Hero award from The Climate Coalition! And yet, it is clear, that political ambition trumps all when it comes to voting as she consistently votes for measures that will damage farmers and against those that are designed to combat climate change. And for sh*t in the rivers, naturally. She talks a good talk, but it’s all so much blah, blah, blah if she doesn’t also walk the talk.

She supported Boris Johnson in the leadership campaign of 2019. Does anything else need to be said of Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane and environment minister?

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 15: Three…err, not three kings, sadly, but three grouchy Grinch-types. The first is a serial objector whose catchphrase is, suprise, surprise – “Objection!”. You name it, he objects to it, and he takes great delight in holding up parliamentary proceedings whilst the things he objects to are debated, sometimes to the huge annoyance of colleagues on his side of the house. This was certainly the case with the Owen Paterson corruption scandal, where his objection ensured that the whole sordid affair got another airing to the shame of all concerned.

Ennobled in 2018, he was chairman of the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward group, which tells you pretty much all you need to know.

He hit the headlines in the 2009  expenses scandal, when it was revealed that he had claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses in 2007–8, including £881 to repair a sofa. He has been sitting comfortably in his seat since 1997 and was. amazingly, one of only two Conservatives to flip a seat in the midst of the Labour landslide. Did he rebel against wearing masks and vaccine passports? Yes, of course he did!

Our second grumpalump is a curious cove with a sense of humour and a penchant for speaking his mind. He’s another of those Conservative MPs who has Jekyll and Hyde characteristics. During the disastrous floods of 2014, he famously lost his rag with David Cameron and with the then chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, calling him a “little git,” a “coward,”  and saying he’d like to “stick his head down the loo and flush” for not bothering to visit the flood-devastated region. He prides himself on putting his constituents first but, like most of his colleagues, he almost always votes with the government.

One wonders what his great, great, great grandmother Queen Victoria would have made of him? Would she be amused?

Our third, ennobled in 2017, is a Brexiter, Euro and covid-sceptic (or should that be septic?) and a committee member of the appropriately-named Covid Recovery Group. since its aims seem to be to ensure that Covid is given every chance to stage a resurgence whenever it looks as though steps might be taken to stamp it out. In this respect he is a ‘rebel’, voting consistently against any measures to control the virus.

As an ex-pupil of Colston’s School in Bristol he was asked whether the school’s name should be changed to distance it from the eponymous slave trader; justifyng his ‘no’, he appeared to exonerate Edward Colston by saying that he hadn’t enslaved people, merely sold them. So that’s alright then! He went on to imply that the appalling treatment of slaves was only shocking by today’s standards and that poor old Colston was just a cog in the system. I think we can safely assume he is “anti-woke” and will probably love Dominic Raab’s plans to dismantle our human rights. Nice.

His constituents complain that he is another of those all-too-frequent Missing Person MPs; since he is happy to vote for sewage in the rivers and coastline of his Dorset seat and toe the line on all the other horrors being rammed through, some of them might wish his absence to be permanent. However, like so many of the region’s Conservative MPs, he is sitting on a nice fat majority and in a constituency which boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the whole of the UK.

Here they are: three grumpy, late middle-aged men: Sir Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch; Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset; and Sir Robert Syms, MP for Poole. Enjoy!

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 14: It’s hard not to feel profoundly frustrated by this one because he is, at bottom, a decent enough man who genuinely cares about animal welfare, democracy in Africa and foreign aid (he is still banned from Zimbabwe for speaking out against Mugabe back in 2008, for example).

What’s more, he actually knows his onions (and other agricultural products) and, as an ex-MEP, absolutely gets what we’ve lost by leaving the EU (even if he shut his ears and eyes to it after the referendum). Yet on many, many occasions he acts as though he, too, has drunk the Kool-aid, defending the indefensible or responding to constitutuents with the central office copy and paste.

Today, he finally appears to have lost his rag over the disastrous impact of Brexit on food and farming in the UK but, as often happens, his justified fury peters out into a tame exhortation to the minister to ‘look at’ arrangements for agricultural workers.

We are in a sorry mess on multiple fronts partly because the few remaining rational, knowledgeable and basically decent MPs largely stay silent and the opinionated nutters and anti-democratic ideologues speak out and dominate the agenda. Come on, Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton! Stop being the back end of the horse in this pantomime government and tell it like it is and then VOTE the right way, too! We’ve seen that you can and will rebel. Keep it up.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 13: Unlucky for two…As the pack of Conservative backbench hounds bay for Johnson’s blood and the freedom to roam unmuzzled, will this unlikely duo manage to whip them into line? They aren’t exactly ept (if that’s the antonym for inept). The first of today’s featured MPs left his suitcase outside the office he shares with Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall and caused a bomb scare. Well, at least it’s something in Westminster that the Met will investigate.

Another right little charmer, he claimed that Cornish children lacked aspiration. We think you’ll find that should be spelled and pronounced “OPPORTUNITY”. And opportunity will be in short supply in the future, as Cornwall wakes up to the damage inflicted by Brexit (of which this guy is a big fan). A paltry £3million of funding does not meet the promise to match the £100million lost when we left the EU, no matter how you spin it. Another case of levelling down…

Our second subject is tricky. What we write here is all based on fact, but there’s so little to say about this individual that we might almost be driven into fiction to fill the space. Perhaps there’s a reader out there who can tell us something interesting or amusing about him. He’s a Brexiter (naturally) , trained as a lawyer and once made an appearance playing in minor county cricket during which he neither batted nor bowled. Says it all, really! Oh, and he has a page on his website patting himself on the back for work he does with refugees…but guess how he votes when it comes to Patel’s hostile environment measures?

And of course, they both voted for sh*t in the sea, despite having constituencies heavily-dependent on tourism.

Here they are: a gruesome twosome of Party whips: Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay and Michael Tomlinson, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole. Tweedledum and….err…Tweedledummer?

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 12: Oh dear. Yet another individual with an important mandate which he singularly fails to fulfil. You would be forgiven for thinking that an anti-corruption tsar might be ever-so-slightly queasy about supporting a colleague found to have acted corruptly. But no. Party loyalty comes above all else. Besides, there’s the tricky issue of living in a glass house, married to a woman who presided over one of the most shocking examples of abject and eye-wateringly expensive failure – Test, Track and Trace. And how did Dido Harding, best mates with Matt Hancock, get the job of making £37 billion pounds vanish with little to show for it, we all wonder!

He’s quite close (!) to the betting and gambling industries who have been responsible, in part, for the dire juvenile gambling addiction problems in towns like his – Weston-super-Mare.

He took a hard line on hungry schoolkids, saying that ‘chaotic parents’ were to blame for children turning up in the morning with empty tummies.

And what is it with MPs of coastal, tourism-dependent constituencies and sewage? Are they now inured to the stench after eleven years in power?

Anyway, here he is: the anti corruption tsar and MP for Weston-super-Mare, John Penrose.

Meme by Sadie Parker

You can read more about him here.

Day 11: Another double bill. Another brace of line-toeing newbies. The first achieved notoriety by sniping at restaurants in her area offering free meals to the schoolkids she and her colleagues had voted to leave hungry. 80,000 people read our article covering the story (and in only the third month of our existence!). She’s another who, despite miles of golden sands and surf and an economy heavily-dependent on tourism, happily waved through sewage-dumping, but then she’s also a Brexiter and happy to support the damage that it has wrought on fishing and farming.

In September she was promoted to the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), so we can expect to see lots of pics of her standing in fields near cows, whilst she and her party dismantle small farming enterprises and eviscerate animal welfare and food standards to curry favour with Australia and the like. 

Her partner for today has not rebelled once. She’s from Scarborough, North Yorkshire so a ‘foreigner’ as far as the Cornish are concerned, which just goes to show how dominant is the urge to vote for a blue rosette. In another example of cognitive dissonance, she is now co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ocean conservation. Does she think the ocean benefits from the regular addition of human waste or that the millions of tourists who flock to Cornwall want to be dodging floaters? Seems she does.

We’ll cut her a little slack as she has endured personal tragedy in 2019, but where’s the empathy, the compassion in her voting record or in any Conservative MP backing this government’s agenda?

Hey ho. It’s a funny old world. Here they are: Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon and Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 10: Another absentee MP, whose offices are on an Exeter trading estate (not in the constituency) and who lives upcountry. Wealthy, compliant, complacent? True, he stood up for those excluded from Sunak’s Covid-19 support but to no avail and it doesn’t really compensate for his failures in connection with the Loan Charge legislation back in April 2019. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) looking into the unfair and intimidatory tactics employed by HMRC to bully people into paying charges for which they were not liable, was less than impressed by his refusal to give evidence to them, saying:

“Mel Stride has given partial and misleading answers to parliamentary questions” and “given deliberately misleading answers to journalists”

The report continued:

“by refusing to acknowledge both the suicide risk and actual suicides of people facing the Loan Charge, including on the floor of the House of Commons, we believe his conduct with regard to the Loan Charge has fallen below the standards expected of Ministers and thus is a breach of the principles of the Ministerial Code”.

Maybe that is why he lies low? One does wonder, though, what is the point of MPs who just toe the line no matter what horrors are beng pushed through and who happily endorse policies which make life ever more difficult for their rural electorate? Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon is just a bit…meh.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 9: Sigh. The man with a stake in a giant health insurer who recommends ‘Australian-style’ healthcare insurance in the middle of the National Insurance hike debate. Failed to mention the vested interest. Of course.

Happily inferred that Somerset’s inhabitants were too thick to understand the referendum on the re-organisation of the county’s local government and, as a consequence, shouldn’t be allowed a vote.

He’s a rabid Brexiter and, surprise, surprise, anti mask and anti-vax for children, wanging on about freedom etc when he happily votes for the draconian, liberty-curtailing bills Patel is ramming through parliament…presumably because he assumes they will never affect him, unlike the ‘torture’ of Covid-19 restrictions.

Ignorant and opinionated – a dangerous combination. On Radio 4’s Today programme he made the entirely bogus claim that @CMO_England and SAGE “have a history of overegging the data and choosing and picking out data points that suit their narrative”.

He’s cool with poo in the rivers, too.

Marcus Fysh, MP for Yeovil, purveyor of weapons grade codswallop.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 8. Should today’s subject have been featured on day 7, the day of rest? After all, perhaps that is the day that the individual in question allocates to ‘doing’ his second job as an MP!

This former Attorney General (AG) is (in)famous for having nearly blubbed when Nadine Dorries pleaded with the house not to vote in support of the contempt of parliament motion in December 2018 – to no avail. The government was found to be in contempt of parliament for the first time in history following the refusal to publish the AG’s full legal advice to government on its EU exit deal.

But that’s all forgotten now because of the big story which will define his parliamentary career…his lucrative ‘second’ (first?) job advising the likes of the Britsh Virgin Islands on how to deal with a corruption probe instigated by the UK Foreign Office! You can read all about it here.

Anyway, we give you: Sir Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, moonlighter extraordinaire. You can’t send him back until the next election…

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 7: And it’s another twofer! The first is ever so slightly proud of his body, honed as it was by his army career which included three tours in Afghanistan. He was paid £20,000 for a showergel commercial made whilst he was on benefits…oops! He had tended to toe the party line like a good boy, but he has been extremely outspoken on the shambles in government and the appalling handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan; he clearly cares deeply about the impact on those we shamefully left behind. He champions the cause for the Army and its veterans (having resigned as minister for vets in disgust over undelivered promises and reduced budget), saying that recent cuts to numbers had “gone down like a cup of cold sick”.

We had rather written him off as a compliant careerist but, who knows, he could really start showing that he is prepared to do the right thing. Need to see a bit more evidence in his voting, though.

His doorway is shared by another ex-military man, who served twice in Afghanistan. He backed Raab over his dire blunder in refusing to take a call on the Afghanistan withdrawal crisis whilst on holiday, an error of judgement which could well come back to haunt him following the revelations of a whistleblower on the evacuation fiasco.

He’s yet another line-toer…used to following orders, we assume. He has never rebelled against the current goverment and, as the minister for the Armed Forces, he is scarcely likely to break that habit.

So, here you go! Day 6: Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View and James Heappey, MP for Wells. “We was only following orders…”

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 6: Where to begin with this former UKIP, Brexit fanatic? As Peter Roberts wrote in a recent article,

So much for the Government’s – and Eustice’s – affront at the EU’s treatment of Cornish and other shell-fishers! So what? Eustice is a Brexiter! Let’s make him … Environment Secretary! Who cares that one of his first acts was not to rule out imports of chlorinated chicken under that always-imminent and forever-world-beating US Trade Deal.

Who cares that he’s consistently voted against green legislation in agriculture, emissions targets, transport, housing standards, carbon capture and sustainable electricity generation?

And who cares that last week the UK’s Environment Secretary – as if to mark the UK’s return to full sovereignty – rejected amendments to the Environment Bill that gave more protection to ancient woodlands and placed a legal obligation on water companies to reduce the sewage they pump into rivers?

Who cares? The real Brexiters don’t. It’s what their “sovereignty” – and it is their sovereignty – is all about.

Meme by Sadie Parker

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Day 5: These two were part of the new intake in 2019, Johnson-backing clones in the main. One appears to be the more ambitious and profile-hungry than the other but commits serious errors of judgement by guesting on Farage’s roadshow in Brixham (famously Brexity and with a fishing industry absolutely wrecked by Brexit) and smirking as Farage dissed the previous incumbent, practising GP Sarah Wollaston.
In fact, Anthony Mangnall (MP for Totnes) is so prolific on social media that we’ve ended up with a series of articles puncturing his vainglorious bubble…

His quieter colleague Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, claims to be a big fan of local journalism but doesn’t like anyone commenting on his social media. He’s a bit quick to block. Thin-skinned? Both men have a dismal voting record. They (sometimes) talk the talk but then back the government. Mangnall got suckered into voting to get the corrupt Paterson off the hook. Jupp had no vote recorded. Is there a smidgen of decency there or was it just a pairing issue? Either way, just look at the voting record overall and ask yourself if there is any hope that either of these two might act in the best interests of constituents.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 4: Elected in 2010, she was this constituency’s first female MP and quickly achieved notoriety by reputedly getting drunk and disorderly in the House of Commons bar shortly after her win. She subsequently argued for a crackdown on the press…hmm. A Brexit-lover, she has made a massive impact on Cornwall by helping to wreck the fishing industry, despite her late husband being a trawlerman. She has not helped with the climate crisis either, jetting off recently for visits to Bosnia (courtesy of Lockheed Martin) and San Marino (paid for by the Principality). She pretty much toes the party line, happily voting for sewage dumping, the bedroom tax and the creeping (galloping?) privatisation of the NHS.

Without a shred of irony or shame, she recently celebrated the tenth birthday of the Callington foodbank. Foodbanks have boomed under the Tories, as has poverty. Her household income is boosted by paying her husband £40,000 a year as her office manager, a practice banned for MPs elected after 2017.

Her South East Cornwall constituency contains the location of several former borough constituencies which were abolished as ‘rotten boroughs’ by the Great Reform Act, 1832. Maybe Sheryll Murray is into history in a big way?

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 3: This former Royal Green Jacket, who grew up in Bonn and Vienna, has a reputation for decency and courage. It was he who tried valiantly to save PC Palmer after the terrorist attack on Westminster in 2017. Bizarrely, he was accused by one of Trump’s associates of being a spy against Trump (which would have been a badge of honour in our eyes if it had been true).

He endorsed Matt Hancock (oops!) and then Rory Stewart in the 2019 leadership contest and is an outspoken critic of Johnson, giving him a good roasting in defence committee meetings and speaking out against the appalling mismanagement of the Afghanistan withdrawal. MP for Bournemouth East since 2005, he appears to be one of the last of the dying breed of moderate and more tolerant Conservatives, but his inconsistent voting record fails to cement this impression and he often disappoints expectations.

Is Tobias Ellwood a future leader? Never going to happen in a party that has been infiltrated so profoundly by the very definitely right of centre… Time to speak out, Tobias. You know it.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 2: This cracker of an MP suggested that people stop panicking about there being no milk in the supermarket or food on the shelves and just go back to the time when the milkman swung by at dawn or you could potter off to the farm at the end of your road! What is it with these guys’ version of the ghost of Christmas past? Maybe they should just rebrand as the Nostalgia/Empire party and have done with it.

Have you guessed who it is, yet? It’s another MP from a constituency with a glorious coastline which he is happy to see besmirched by raw sewage! Oh dear!

Mr Number 2 is Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset.

Meme by Sadie Parker

Day 1: The MP for North East Somerset and Leader of the House is sometimes referred to as the honourable member for the 18th century, though he is perhaps better-suited to the Dickensian world of the workhouse and the debtors’ prison.

He’s in the news today! Under investigation by the parliamentary standards committee for ‘forgetting’ to declare some pesky offshore soft loans. Lucky old him being able to borrow up to £2.94 million a year from his Cayman Islands-linked company. You can see how that might slip one’s mind…

By the way, can you imagine Jacob in Cayman, languishing under the palm trees, cocktail in hand as the turquoise ocean wavelets scamper up the snowy white sand to pay homage at his feet? No? Nor can we! He’s happier in a muffler and top hat, cruising past the undeserving poor on his way to vote to deprive them of some more desperately-needed support. Gawd bless you, Guv’nor!

Meme by Sadie Parker

You can read more here:

Jacob Rees-Mogg: the six-million-quid man

Sadie Parker

Any parallels drawn between Lee Majors’ six-million-dollar man of the 1970s and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s six-million-quid man of the 2020s can only be for the purpose of highlighting polar opposites. While the six-million-dollar man was intent on doing good, six-million-quid man — let’s call him “Squid” for short — seems wholly focused on filling his boots […]