The Young Vulgarian: Men prove they’re pants at governing

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 June 2018

Environment Secretary Michael Gove during a visit to the Data Science Institute at Imperial College, London, where he launched the government's Clean Air Strategy.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove during a visit to the Data Science Institute at Imperial College, London, where he launched the government's Clean Air Strategy.

PA Wire/PA Images

This week our columnist Marie Le Conte, aka the Young Vulgarian, questions whether men should be allowed to govern if they don’t have the maturity to behave well.

The Young Vulgarian has long thought that men should only be allowed to legislate if they prove they can behave, and recent developments haven’t filled her with confidence about the current crop of parliamentarians.

On May 10, SNP MP Pete Wishart tweeted about “the great House of Commons underpants mystery”, along with a picture of some men’s underwear on the floor.

“These have now been lying uncollected and unattended for the past month in the Member’s cloakroom. In the Ogmore to Plymouth section”, he wrote. “Will it ever be resolved?”

On May 17, again: “Week 5 and the great House of Commons underpants scandal shows no sign of being resolved. Still unattended and unclaimed in the cloakroom.”

Worried about the lack of action from parliamentary authorities, The Young Vulgarian decided to take matters in her own hands and attempt to find the culprit.

Of the ten male MPs in those constituencies, four of them replied. “I’m afraid that style of pant is not my style. Good luck with the hunt. If you find out whose it is please ask them to take it home and give it a wash,” said Plymouth Sutton & Devonport’s Luke Pollard.

“I can confirm for the avoidance of doubt they do not belong to me,” replied Chris Elmore from Ogmore.

A staffer in Orkney and Shetland’s Alistair Carmichael’s office strongly denied they were his boss’s, and an assistant to Jim McMahon simply replied “blimey, I don’t know Jim that well!” and turned down the polite request to ask him about his pants.

This leaves Gavin Newlands, Johnny Mercer and – more worryingly – frontbenchers Jo Johnson, James Brokenshire, Andrew Stephenson and Rory Stewart as the potential pants menace. How can you be expected to run the country if you can’t even dispose of your underwear? This wouldn’t happen if women were in charge.

With Amber Rudd out of the way, it is worth checking in on those pesky cabinet members who might well have leadership ambitions of their 
own.

Eyebrows were raised when Michael Gove got involved in – and spoke at the launches of – the Centre for Policy Studies’ New Blue essays and new Tory think tank Onward this month, but the Young Vulgarian simply applauds the secretary of state for keeping the government up to date with latest Conservative outfits.

Still, it is nothing compared to everyone’s favourite Francis Urquhart tribute act Gavin Williamson. In the past month, the defence secretary has spoken at a journalists’ event at the Irish embassy, the Churchill War Rooms for the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Welsh Conservative party conference, public affairs outfit Hume Brophy’s spring bash, and the Conservative Progress conference.

What stamina and dedication to making sure that every corner of the political bubble knows about the wonders of Theresa May’s government!

Oh, and a cursory glance at social media shows that in the past three months Williamson has spoken at four local Conservative association events, with a Tory pal getting in touch to say that unlike some of his cabinet colleagues, the Staffordshire MP always stays around and works the room after his speeches.

Really, the prime minister must feel incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated ally.

Do take a minute to think about poor Nick Timothy. First, the architect of the Conservatives’ electoral triumph last year had to delete his Twitter account after landing Theresa May in it while not even working for her any more. Now he might lose his newsletter.

On January 30, a group of handpicked Tories received an email from the former No 10 adviser, gracefully explaining: “It has been suggested to me by a few people that I should keep an email list of people who might want to receive my columns direct on the day they’re published. So I have, and you’re on it.” You can only applaud the self-awareness.

Still, he’d added: “If you don’t want be on the list, would prefer me to use a different email address, or want to suggest others who ought to be on it, please get in touch.”

Since then, he has faithfully been sending his weekly Telegraph column to people whether they want him to or not, but the end might be near. The newsletter has no opt-out option which, as you will all know given the countless emails everyone has been receiving recently, doesn’t comply with GDPR. The EU-wide policy came into force on May 25, and though Timothy sent his column over on May 24, there was no trace of a message asking people to confirm whether they want to remain subscribed or not.

Depending on how vengeful some Conservatives might feel, this could end up with Beardless Nick landing a hefty fine.

We always knew he was a Brexiteer, but this will give the man one more reason to shake his fist at Brussels...

Why has David Cameron not finished writing his autobiography? The New European’s Mandrake column reported recently that the release date of the former prime minister’s memoirs had been pushed back to 2019 as he wanted to stay out of the Brexit mess. But the delay might be caused by something altogether more trivial.

Do you remember the £25,000 designer shed Cameron bought last April and intended to write in? The Young Vulgarian hears that he’s been complaining about it to pals – the second the weather becomes acceptable, it apparently gets too hot to even be in. Get your tiny violins out, everyone.

It is no longer enough to cope with bitter infighting, plotting and incessant media attacks, along with the day job: next month, Labour staffers will have to spend a Saturday in the mud in Zone 3.

Labour LIVE, the festival nicknamed ‘JezFest’, is happening on June 14 in Tottenham and is already struggling to attract crowds.

Due to a split in opinion on whether the event was a good idea or not, the party decided to spend as little as possible on performers, leading to a glittering line-up including – try not to get too excited – Reverend and the Makers and the Magic Numbers. Grumbling about the festival looking like a disaster-in-waiting has now spread to Labour parliamentary assistants, some of whom have been told that they will be expected to work at the festival.

To (sort of) quote Jarvis Cocker – “Oh is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel?

“Or just 20 angry staffers standing in a field…”

Follow Marie Le Conte @youngvulgarian

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