Shock horror – many MPs take dinner at 8


            Pastygate is a such a load of nonsense.

            A Labour MP is out to  say that because some top Tories have not recently bought and eaten a pasty they are uniquely out of touch with how others live. They say that Francis Maude’s ownership of a dining room makes him very middle class.

              Let me explain a little about the MP  lifestyle. The Commons meets in the evenings. It has dining rooms where you can buy a silver service dinner whilst waiting for a 10pm vote. I often see Labour MPs doing just that. At 8pm they sit down and tuck into three courses and coffee as their main meal of the day. It is modelled on country house life in the England of the 1930s, and similar to Oxbridge High table or officers’ mess dinners in the military.

               I daresay many Labour MPs also own detached houses which still sport dining rooms, or were originally built with such features. MPs who say some MPs are out of touch because of their  lifestyles should remember their own. On a minimum of £65,000 a year no MP shares in personal experience the money worries of someone on £10,000 or £20,000 a year facing the current inflation rate.

                 Living an MP’s life on an MP’s income does not, however, prevent a good MP understanding how others live and representing them well.  I felt best represented by a female Prime Minister. She could not experience any of the male  feelings and  wishes, yet she represented my outlook better than her male successors. A good MP or PM has sensitivity to the position and feelings of others. He or she has intuition and perception about how others live and what they are seeking to achieve. For much of the day you are dealing with the problems of others which are not your problem, which often gives you a better impartiality and fairness of judgement. You call on empathy. You think yourself into the position of the constituent.

                Modern life is thankfully far less class based than 1930’s Britain. Those same MPs who eat dinner at 8 in the Commons, might well buy a pasty and pint or  a sandwich on the run another day at a different time. Let’s break away from the old class stereotypes. By the way I have not bought a pasty for a long time. I do not think that prevents me from representing the pasty eaters. I  deal with both motherhood and apple pie, though I will never be a mother and have not bought a shop apple pie for months.


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  1. Alan Wheatley
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink


    • outsider
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Agreed except for one thing: pensions. If MPs were in the same boat as private sector workers, instead of having civil service pensions, I am sure that neither party would have allowed private pensions to be so utterly destroyed since 1997 and still now. For instance, I note a recent 90 minute debate about Big Ben but nothing on the effect of QE on annuities.

      • Ted Greenhalgh
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        Almost exactly what i was about to write.

    • Disaffected
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      The politics being caviar is free from VAT and a pasty is not.

  2. Kulgan of Crydee
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Whilst we are on about being ‘Out of Touch’ perhaps John Redwood is the MP to take up the cause for the hard-pressed taxpayer. He could be the MP to do something to help the taxpayer. I hope so as the cause seems to fall on deaf ears.

    John Redwood, please take up the mantel for this cause. Get the taxpayer subsidy of £5.8m a year removed from Houses of Parliament food & drink. The thought that a taxpayer on any wage, but let’s use the national average of £26k a year having that tax being used to subsidise MPs’ food & drink who earn minimum of £65k is morally reprehensible.

    Reply: I disagree with subsidies and will indeed make that point

    • Kulgan of Crydee
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink


      Thank you for a prompt reply and support. I have mentioned to quite a few MPs & for some reason they don’t seem to reply or engage on the subject. Funny that.

      I realise that it will not make the MP to put this forward very popular but this subsidy is wrong.

      • David
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Well done for making that point.

        I will now write to my MP about it an see what response I get.

        (And thank you to John for your positive response).

        It is things like this – which whilst small, annoy people intensely because of the unfairness of it.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          If the country were well run would you begrudge them a penny of that subsidy ?

          My point here is that 65k isn’t very much for an MP who does their job diligently. Aside the responsibilities, the amount of hours worked would make for a modest hourly rate.

          There should be no subsidy of alcohol and consumption should be limited prior to debates – for the purpose of clear headedness on matters of importance.

          • Bob
            Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            “If the country were well run would you begrudge them a penny of that subsidy ?”

            Not at all.
            In a private company, if there are retained profits, then the shareholders can declare a dividend.

            Perhaps the cabinet should be offered a similar deal, if the treasury is in surplus then the ministers get a bonus.

            I can’t see any of our existing ministers living long enough to see that happen based on current projections, but their appetite for spending on foreign aid might be diminished.

          • Disaffected
            Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            Hang on, there are many who do not attend very often and put their second jobs first. £65,000 is very well paid for what they do and too much for many of them. There are many other perks besides.

            John is dedicated to his role and has access not only to his own constituents but the rest of us who visit his site. He is an example how other MPs ought to be in touch with their voters. Sadly, this is not the case. Well done and thank you.

          • lifelogic
            Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

            It is about £65,000 plus a pension contribution of about £50,000 PA plus tax free expenses plus other jobs and consultancies that often pay more than this – so not too bad.

            Then again I would hate such a job because the system prevents you achieving much of any use and almost forces you to lie to the voters in order to be elected. Also you can rarely tell the truth to electors without offending one other other of them.

          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            The caveat was that they had to be ‘diligent’.

            (To all who responded)

    • Disaffected
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      The £11.5 billion on overseas aid as does the £45 million a day to the Eu when we are told there is no money.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Is that £5.8 million subsidy just to fatten up MPs and peers, or does some of it go to the staff employed by Parliament?

      It seems that there are about 1700 people employed by the Commons, and then there’ll be another lot employed by the Lords, and I suppose they must also have facilities for eating and drinking?

      Unless they prefer to pop out for a pasty …

      Reply: I understand the policy is to cut the subsidy by putting up prices, which they done recently. Now all depends on how much is eaten.

  3. Kingbingo
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Of course it’s nonsense, as is about 90% of modern political discourse.

    And why is the vast majority of political discussion just a stream of patent nonsense? Because all power has been shifted to entrenched bureaucracies. Today the most even a Prime Minister can do or more likely has the will to do is tinker with minor matters.

  4. Caterpillar
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I agree it is not a class issue, we have all seen the PM on his TV’ed walkabouts seemingly unable to resist eating anything – perhaps the Chancellor was concerned about his neighbour’s health.

    But seriously the area of VAT on food does seem to be a mess (having just read HMRC Reference:Notice 709/1 November 2011), specifying a difference between hot by coincidence and hot by intention. Nonetheless I suspect VAT & food needs to be better thought through and the Chancellor perhaps need to take another look, it is good to not price people out of eating.

    I can understand the intention of closing a loophole but there are some who buy a supermarket hot chicken to avoid turning the oven on, or to reduce preparation (arthritis) etc., and just simply there is a GREEN scale advantage in bulk cooking. Yes the class argument is stupid but the spillovers may not be.

    • Bob
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      “the area of VAT on food does seem to be a mess”

      A lot of people’s jobs depend on it.
      If you simplified the tax rules it would throw tens of thousands of people out of work!

      • Caterpillar
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        I did say “the Chancellor perhaps need to take another look” meaning there are consequences to the action.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Francis Maude may or may not be “middle class”, I care not, but he is incompetent, as he showed vividly this week, and this bothers me greatly. The fact that he has so many cabinet colleagues similarly lacking in competence is very disturbing and the fact that we have a prime minister who keeps them all in office speaks volumes about his own competence.

    • outsider
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Any society in which the term “middle-class” is an insult is doomed.

      • Bob
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        “Any society in which the term “middle-class” is an insult is doomed.”

        Have you ever noticed how MPs relish the opportunity to declare “I represent one of the most impoverished constituencies in the country” ?

        It’s treated like a badge of honour. I think they would be mortified if their constituents suddenly found the motivation to go out and achieve some level of prosperity for themselves.

        I suppose MPs feel more secure with an uneducated state dependent electorate, it’s easier to manipulate.

        Hence the abolition of the schools that actually educated their pupils in favour of homogenised daycare farms.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. His and Cameron’s advise to fill up your car and a Jerry can with petrol has resulted in panic buying, creating chaos around every petrol station. It’s not helpful to try to prevent panic buying caused by a strike by encouraging panic buying now.

  6. Disaffected
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Today Cameron makes bold comments how he is tearing down the state to give control to local people. How do these bold empty comments relate to last October when he prevented us local people from having an EU referendum????? How do these bold comments relate to him tearing down HRA as he promised. A person resigned from the commission he set up recently because of claims that Clarke was obstructing any change. How do these bold claims relate to the Kelly report and cleaning up politics????? Moreover how about tearing up the state and giving the local people the Right to Recall ASAP.

    Cameron and Osborne have lost the trust of the public and it is time for them to go. Cameron’s characteristically bold language is followed up by a quiet U turn on all big issues. Us little people from humble backgrounds, whose only purpose is to vote for these cretins, have had enough of Cameron and Osborne and the Blair mark 2 scheme. Perhaps it is time for Mr Osborne to board those yaughts again to tap up more funds for the Tory party he appears on his performance to date incapable of little else. Mr Osborne has clearly shown he is unable of running the Treasury in these economic times and he is also unable to run the Tory party in the direction its supporters want.

    As for the Captain Mannering script yesterday concerning the possible tanker dispute:”Don’t panic”. Inexperienced boys.

    Wake up backbenchers the clock is ticking.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      More important to me is that thanks to OTT health and safely nonsense nearly all food is now served close to freezing point. Who on earth wants to eat tomato and cheese iced sandwiches at railway stations or have frozen cheese boards at a restaurants.

      Anyway they should just get out of the EU, change the idiotically complex VAT system to a British sales tax and put it on everything (save rent on interest) food hot or cold.

      Much simpler for everyone.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Cornish pasties have anyway been spoiled as to get the EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) they seem to have forced everyone to put a lot of nasty swede or funny yellow turnip in them. The EU seems to spoil everything even Cornish Pasties I see.

        You are far better off with a nice hot meat and potato “Wigan Pie” (with no nasty swede in it) any day. I have not been to Wigan & Hinkley for a while but I hope the fresh Pie (and the Clog Makers) are still going strong.

        • backofanenvelope
          Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Writing as someone who lives in Cornwall, I would never eat a pasty from a shop. The pasties we eat are made by our Cornish neighbours or by our local butcher. Who knows what is in the others?

        • Disaffected
          Posted March 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          The Eu is killing our farming industry by the day and either Mr Cameron and chums do not care or they are happy we will import all our food from the EU. After all, the EU has the lions share of our fishing stocks.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        People freeze food because it lasts longer. Were it to be kept at room temperature it would need to be thrown out after 90 minutes to prevent people getting food poisoning.

        Also I’m fairly sure that the current VAT system is the fault of the UK, not the EU, and that the EU isn’t preventing the UK introducing sales tax.

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

          Nonsense: “90 minutes to prevent people getting food poisoning” – It is amazing everyone survived before fridges long enough to ever have children and how do all the animals survive without fridges?

          • uanime5
            Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            Given that in the past most people didn’t live beyond 40 and most wild animals have very short life spans you haven’t chosen very good examples.

            People also used to avoid food poisoning by cooking their own food and eating it soon after (heat kills bacteria); preserving their food using salt or vinegar (prevents bacteria growing); or eating food that bacteria can’t live on such as honey (too sweet).

            Just because you don’t like these regulations won’t change the rate at which bacteria grow on food or the danger these bacteria pose to humans.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        This how did we survive mentality is for the birds. You do not ever hear about the ones that did not survive, because they did not survive!
        Maybe you could explain how OTT safety nonsense applies to petrol? How for example would it be possible to safely store a gallon of petrol ‘sensibly’ in a small flat with two small children? What procedures need to be followed to be ‘sensible’ in this this storage. without being ‘absurd’. Lets face it in the old days everyone stored parrafin, had coal fires and smoked in the in the home and that never hurt anyone. Did it?..

  7. javelin
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I don’t eat pasties because I dont want to grow obese and have a heart attack.

    I believe a salad from M&S is better for me.

    Perhaps Labour MPs should NOT be encouraging obesity among their voters.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink


      Perhaps we should keep that to ourselves. (for tactical purposes)

    • uanime5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      You’ve got to be careful with salads. The ones from (named company) contain more fat that their burgers because of all the mayonnaise they contain.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      A salad from M&S is better for me. What sort of lightweight attitude is that?

      • Bazman
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Probably also drinks bitter shandy in a half.

  8. Jose
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I suspect one of the reasons they appear to be ‘not in touch’ is the fact that they display a complete lack of common sense. Do they believe, including the staged pasty-consumption by Miliband, that these performances make them more acceptable to the ‘man in the street’? It simply goes to prove that they feel they can get away with treating us all like idiots and are surprised when we object to their infantile ways.
    God help us all if these are the standards we have to accept from our government; the sooner we get rid of half of the HoC and their perks the better.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Intuition, empathy,yes.

    But both yourself and Mrs Thatcher had humble beginings if I am not mistaken, hence you have some of your parents genes, and perhaps just perhaps something in common.

    Perhaps that is what is missing in some others, the humble begining gene, the working class background gene, the commonsense gene, the value for money gene, the b.llsh.t awareness gene ?

    Where do we start, where do we end ?

    • outsider
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      It is more about character and breadth of spirit than class origins. Some of the old patricians like Macmillan and Baldwin had perspective from experience (eg in war or industry) or even noblesse oblige. Mr Osborne does not appear to have either. At the other end I have found that many of those who have worked their way up from the very bottom by hard work have nothing but contempt for those left behind.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Nobody wants to go back to the ghetto.

  10. waramess
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Responding to such crass nonsense does no more than provide some credibility to the originators. Perhaps saying nothing reflecting contempt might be a better response.

  11. Cliff. Wokingham
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink


    I agree with you completely.

    I wonder why Labour feel the need to ressurect the old class war; It has been over for years and the majority won.

    Many of us have dining rooms. Many of those that live in council houses also have dining rooms; does that make them middleclass too?
    I personally would like to see a return to more formal eating arrangements where children learn table manners sat around a dining table rather than sat pigging it in front of the television with a tray balanced on their laps.
    Sometimes when I eat out, I am appalled by some of the table manners or lack of, that I witness.

    Regarding the subsidized eateries within the Palace of Westminster; personally I have no problem with it. Many people enjoy subsidized meals whilst at work, before I retired, I was a nurse and worked in both the NHS and private hospitals and was provided with subsidized meals in the NHS and free meals whilst on duty in the private hospitals. Perhaps, within the Palace of Westminster, the level of subsidy is high and full silver service etc should not be expected. Perhaps the meal subsidy should be capped at what one would expect to pay at a mid range local resturant; I don’t know.

    There is a general perception amongst the general public that many of the political elite are out of touch with them and lack empaphy.
    Perhaps we take too many straight from full time education into the Westminster bubble, rather than insisting they have experience here in the real world.
    Those from the Oxbidge universities do appear to be over represented but, perhaps that is because Oxbidge provides the best education and the cream rises to the top.

    I do fear that if we do go down the road of forcing quotas etc to make parliament and indeed boardrooms more representitive, we could be dragging and dumbing our society down even further than we already have.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Well as Samuel Beckett once said

      “Dublin university contains the cream of Ireland: Rich and thick.”

      I feel that this is the same for the cream of other universities.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      A dining room with a serving hatch. You really are middle class then.

  12. sm
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    If a debate is taking place..why are MP’s not present..and why have votes at 10pm. Surely better ways of voting can be designed.

    Indeed one could argue the electors in each MP’s area should have an equivalent vote on the subject. MP’s could then be measured, their actual votes versus his electorate view versus the party line.

    Lets say a significant variance springs up, this could then trigger a local election.

    Reply: You could indeed shift to a direct democracy from a representative democracy. There are no plans to do so. The UK system rests on the idea that the electors delegate their power to MPs to exercise for them for up to five years. The electors than make a judgement on how well they have done.

    • Bob
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want to delegate power to politicians any more.
      I want direct democracy.
      The politicians have abused their power.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

      To reply: “The electors than make a judgement on how well they have done.” but only have one or two alternative people to vote for, on a basket of countless issues. People who are almost the same and will promise to do things they will not do anyway if elected and who respond mainly to the party that gets them elected rather than voters.

  13. stred
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    As someone who used to work in the private sector, I have never enjoyed a silver service military style dinner. I used to eat a pasty for my working lunch while driving, but this has become dificult since some plod nabbed a driver for eating a Crunchy bar.

    Also, you should make clear to American readers that in the UK it is a pastry-wrapped meal and not the things which American strippers use to whizz around. A US citizen told me about this. The spelling is the same.

    • A Different Simon
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Those US citizens are very good at reminding you if you forget to tip them .

  14. David
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Further to the comments above on the MPs Food & Drink subsify, this is the text of the letter I have just sent to my MP.

    She is quite assiduous in her replies and will report back on the response.

    I wonder, if all MPs hold the same view as John, then would it actually change?

    I am most concerned about the £5.8m Food and Drinks subsidy provided to MPs in the House of Commons.

    The government repeats the principle of fairness as the basis for many policies.

    The government talks about this policy or that policy being the “right” thing to do,

    This is grossly unfair and the “right” thing to do is to scrap it.

    It is unfair because MPs already earn £65,000 per year and can well afford to pay for their meal out of this. Why should taxpayers pay for this?

    Please can you let me know your position on this, and make representations on my behalf in the strongest possible terms.

  15. Mike Fowle
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I believe it was Enoch Powell who said that politicians who complain about the media are like sailors who complain about the sea, but really the last few days have shown just how shallow, irresponsible and mischief making the media are. Tuesday the front page of just about every paper was plastered with headlines about the tanker drivers’ strike, petrol stations to close, a political strike (i.e. unlikely to settle quickly) and reminders of the chaos of 2000 etc. Then having caused panic buying, the media tell us on Wednesday it was all the fault of ministers! If you asked a sample of drivers filling up on Tuesday or Wednesday why they were buying petrol what would they say? It’s the news, innit, there’s going to be a strike; or, well the advice of the PM was to fill my car up. I think I shall soon stop reading newspapers altogether or listening to the radio/TV and just log on for more intelligent comment.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      I seem to recall that in 2000 Blair advised people not to panic buy, by contrast the Conservatives are encouraging it. I can’t help but feel that the current Government’s actions, despite no strike date being arranged, have made the problem worse.

      • Mike Fowle
        Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        If the government advised people to top up their cars, there would be panic buying. If the government told people there was no need to panic there would be panic buying. I don’t think it makes the slightest difference what the government says – people react to events, at least how they perceive them. A lot of it is down to how they are reported.

        • uanime5
          Posted March 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

          The advantage of telling people not to panic buy is that you don’t get blamed when everyone decides to panic buy because you can claim you were trying to stop the situation getting worse. Telling people to panic buy just makes you look responsible for all the panic buying.

  16. Karl Jenkins
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    You’ve used the phrase “take dinner”. No-one ‘takes’ dinner. The only reason you want to ‘break class stereotypes’ is because you’re at the top of the tree.

    I should very much like to label this article ‘poor form’.

    reply: Good – you get the spirit of it at the end!

  17. Max Dunbar
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Well said for saying positive things about Thatcher.
    Just about everyone below a certain age has been brainwashed to hate Thatcher visceraly, particularly in Scotland. Even the so-called “Tories” here do not dare to defend her. They have been cowed and intimidated – virtually gone native. It sickens me. Ruth Davidson your Scottish leader did not have the decency to defend Thatcher when a “member of the public” put a question to her via Brian Taylor of the BBC. The question included the statement “Thatcher dictatorship”. Perhaps Ruth Davidson was being pragmatic but is looked more like expediency (cowardice).

  18. Alte Fritz
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    One the pleasures of my winter is pheasant. My wife and I like it and can buy a bird for £3.50 which suits our economic circumstances. I am not a toff. Where do I fit in?

    reply: You sound like a prudent person with aspirations.

  19. norman
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    We’re not stupid, we do realise that MPs lead very different lives from us, and the likes of Osborne, Miliband, Cameron, Clegg, et al have been brought up differently from us, no problem with that whatsoever. Even their multi-millionaire status, we’re comfortable with people being rich. The fact Cameron probably can’t remember when he last filled up a car at the garage means nothing (don’t ask him, he’ll say he does it every week then make an ass of himself talking about the price of four star).

    What grates is when politicians put on faux shows (Cameron buys pasty at Leeds rail terminal, err.., wait, maybe he didn’t, we’ll have to check but we’re pretty sure he has eaten one at some point) to try and persuade us that they know what it’s like to be an insignificant worker ant.

    We don’t care. Really.

    Just do a good job of putting decent rules in place that don’t intrude too much and leave the rest to us, there’s a chance we’ll turn out not to be as useless as high bred politicians think we are.

  20. forthurst
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    When will we see Mr Maude sitting on his sofa tucking into his takeaway chicken tikka masala washed down with his tube of artificially price-uplifted Tesco lager whilst avidly watching the latest episode of Eastenders on his 84″ Panasonic HD telly? John Selwyn Gummer needs to be co-opted as Conservative food photo-op consultant, if Pastygate is to be contained and confidence in our politicians is to be restored.

    “I have not bought a pasty for a long time.” A truly shocking admission.

  21. Matthew
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I often see a cabal of Labour MP’s sitting in first class on the East Coast line King’s Cross to Newcastle, with a few drinks and good luck to them.

    Who on earth cares if Conservative MP’s eat pasties – or if they get their provisions from Harrods’s food halls?
    It’s just an attempt to wind up the old class war that labour seeks to gain benefit from.

  22. Jane
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I agree and it shows how out of touch MPs are if they think that class matters in the real world. Pursuing this will most certainly backfire. I actually feel insulted by many politicians. John Mann on Newsnight was amusing and Chris Leslie has done a u-turn on the principles he held under Tony Blair. Francis Maude was wrong to say stock up petrol supplies but it was rather refreshing to hear an MP say something which many of us were considering.

    As to pasties – this is pathetic. To see opposition MPs queueing at a place called Greggs (I have never been anywhere near such a place)to try and persuade us that this is their normal “fare” is insulting. Neither am I interested in an MP’s wealth. I live in a rural area and the community would collapse without the charitable input and community involvement of wealthy landowners. In my experience, wealthy people believe in public service too. I am amused at the direction of the Labour Party (I say this as I supported them for 40 years until they removed Tony Blair) given the assets of many of them.

    The media have had a field day but many of us pay little attention to trivia and are not influenced by journalists. Such a shame that our headlines are being dominated by nonsense. The calibre of journalism as reflected in testimony to the Leveson enquiry is abysmal. No wonder newspaper circulation is falling.

  23. Susan
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood it is not about class and certainly it is not about pasties, although it gave the public quite a laugh at the politicians expense watching the antics of both Labour and Conservative over this issue. You see what Margret Thatcher knew was that she would not be liked by all her voting public but she was going to be respected by them. The people where left in no doubt that it was her love of Country which drove her actions. There was also this confidence that when she made decisions they would be, in the main, what was right for the UK. She would not mess and meddle with silly policies to try to make herself popular with minority groups, the big picture was all she really cared about.

    A leader can either inspire and be liked or they are disliked but respected, this is their connection with the public, Mr Cameron does not fit into either. He just cannot connect with the public, the same is true of George Osborne. The only way in which their background fits into this is that they are giving the impression to the public, that they have been so removed from lifes realities that they are ignorant of how ordinary people live and because of this they make massive mistakes. What people wanted at this time, was a good leader who would see them through to better times, they are not confident that Mr. Cameron can. Don’t get me wrong Ed Miliband would be far worse. David Cameron needs to stop meddling with things like gay marriage, and interfering in how we live our lives and concentrate on giving the Country a vision for the future. Mr Cameron seems to think that if he rolls up his sleeves it will make me look like an average guy that the public will instantly relate to, this is not what they want from a leader.

    For goodness sake start explaining to the public why the Conservatives are making the decisions they are, you are allowing the Lib/Dems to run away with the complete agenda.

    • rose
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      I agree with much of this Susan except the assertion that the PM cannot connect with the public. I think he can and does when he is not being misled by opinion poll politics. His instincts strike me as sound and decent, in the way Mrs T’s were. But then he suddenly seems to lose his nerve and go back to trying to be a listening government. That is fatal, as a government can only govern in the national interest, not try to please first this group and then that group, until eventually everyone is annoyed, and an appearance of weakness and drift has been given.

      I think his achilles heel may be his fear of the class hatred which the BBC love to whip up. He should rise above it, simply be his own well brought up, well spoken self, and get on with governing. Boris never lets it bother him, though the media had a jolly good go at unnerving him in the same way, and it hasn’t done him any harm. Rather the reverse.

      • Susan
        Posted March 30, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink


        I wish I could agree Rose because I do like David Cameron particularly when he shows his dislike of Speaker Bercow who I absolutely loathe. Seriously though, I want Mr. Cameron to do well, I really do, after all I waiting a long time to see the Conservatives back in power after the terrible years under Labour. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he makes the connection with the public that is necessary, especially when the Country is going through a financial crisis when good leadership is so important. You point to one of the problems yourself really, when you say he allows himself to be unnerved by bad headlines etc, Mrs. Thatcher would never have let that happen to her. I could never put David Cameron in the same league as Mrs. Thatcher because lets face it, love her or hate her, she was the best PM Britain has ever had apart from Winston Churchill. I don’t think we can imagine now, how difficult it must have been for a woman to achieve what she did and I admire her a great deal, though it seems it has become unpopular to say these things even in the Conservative Party.

        As to Boris, its the old story really, hes posh but has the common touch and he uses it very effectively. Although I think we all know that he plays the bumbler, underneath is a very intelligent and ambitious man. You see everyone can imagine just sitting down and having a burger with him or in this instance a pasty maybe.

        Reply John Bercow is a good Speaker, rebuilding the office and doing much to make Parliament a more important means of holding government to account. He regularly allows Urgent Questions to keep debate topical and to get the government to talk about what needs to be discussed, and gets many more MPs into each question time or debate.

        • Susan
          Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          Mr. Redwood thank you for your reply. I have no doubt that John Bercow is a very good Speaker and in any normal job this would be all that is required. What the public see of Mr. Bercow however is probably quite different to what you see. It is his arrogance I object to never more obvious than in his kaleidoscope speech.

          • rose
            Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

            I too thought his performance marred a most happy occasion at which everyone else behaved with perfect taste.

        • rose
          Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          Susan, I agree with all you say about Mrs T, and it cannot be said enough, especially now that her history is being rewritten as entertainment; but in the end the media brought her down, by convincing her own people she couldn’t connect and couldn’t listen. So, (Mr R and a very few others excepted – including Francis Maude don’t forget) they stabbed her in the back, in blind panic, even though she had never been defeated at the ballot box. Even now they won’t admit the damage their media-led misjudgement did them and that they still haven’t recovered from it.

          The young Cameron took all that in, and the terrible media bias against his three predecessors. They just weren’t allowed to connect with the public. At times Michael Howard wasn’t even allowed to speak on programmes like Newsnight. Cameron was there, watching and learning. He knew the damage a hostile media can inflict, and he is learning again now.

          Take Maude’s bullish approach to the strike: we can take these people on together if we are prepared, was all he was saying. Not like the last lot who rolled straight over in the face of the very first attempt at national blackmail since Mrs T stopped all that.

          How has it been spun? Right down to the BBC and Sky’s triumphant reporting of an accident with petrol, the story they were salivating for all along.

          If UNITE and their toyboy Ed now decide to put off the strike till after Easter, who should take the credit? And isn’t it a good idea for people to know what lack of petrol can do, rather than be taken unawares should an all out strike take place?

          The Media can be lethal as well as utterly trivial, irresponsible, and always on the wrong side of every question, is all I am saying. So although it is infuriating to see our PM paying attention to them in a way Mrs T disdained to do, it is difficult to blame him for it. He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

          Like you, I wish he would just let them do their worst, broadcast and be damned, now he is in office, and face them at the election.

          On the question of Boris being unphased by the problem of class envy, I think the clue to his lack of guilt lies in his having been a scholarship boy at Eton, which Cameron, though easily clever enough, wasn’t. Cameron connects just as easily with people when he meets them, but he can’t seem to defy the chippy hacks on the subject of his superior education, and that is how they get him to appear less easy in public.

          I was appalled by Mr Osborne’s Estuarian English this am. It won’t do him a bit of good and he should snap out of it. But that is what this destructive concentration on the wrong things in a politician’s background has brought us to.

          • rose
            Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            PS Media-led misjudgement induced the Conservatives to ditch Lord Home in favour of Mr Heath and look where that took us. Lord Home did far better at the ballot box than the electoral cycle suggested he should. but hat was all drowned out in the pathetic media-inspired “We must get rid of the Grousemoor image.” These pasty and petrol smears are in the same vein and intended to have the same weakening effect on the party.

  24. AJAX
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Why should elected representatives who are in receipt of wages from the taxation of their constituents of £65K p/a (3 x the average salary in the private sector in England, which generates the nation’s wealth that they are drawing their renumeration from) receive taxation subsidised cheap food & booze in Parliament?

    Why are the already thin measures cobbled together in the Rotten Parliament to try to stop expenses pilfering already being dismantled after sustained aggressive attack by elements amongst MP’s?

    Why are so many MP’s in receipt of “consultancies” & non-executive directorships in the corporate sector when they leave office, having no professional experience or qualification in that particular part of industry other than they took decisions when in possession of the ministerial & political posts that were to that company’s financial gain?

    What is the true nature of the burgeoning lobby industry encamped & expanding at Westminster, why does it thrive so?

    • A Different Simon
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      MP’s earn over £100k p.a. when you include the value of their pensions contributions .

      I don’t begrudge them that but wish they would not claim that they only earn £65k because it’s not true .

  25. Rollo Clifford
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Very restrained but spot on! Rollo

  26. Phil Richmond
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    John – This is another example of how the Labour “chip on the shoulder” class warriors are firmly back in control of their party.
    Its almost back to the 70s. Now if we could only ditch the reincarnation our our own wet/green EUSSR loving Edward Heath for a Conservative then I think a large majority is there for the taking! (plus more importantly turning this country around)

  27. Demetrius
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Let them eat cake, depending of course on its meeting the relevant EU regulations and taxed at the level permissible in the codified guidance to retailers and service providers.

  28. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Have they let Francis Maude out of the cupbaord again?
    (see comments to your blog here John:


    He’s clearly totally out of touch with reality as are many of the young breed of Tory MPs.

    But you are making a coherent point about the Labour MPs – pot – kettle.

    One of the biggest problems we have in politics is that we have a huge surfeit of MPs who don’t really understand communities and how they are at the heart of British life. They need to live and raise families in real communities. It’s such a wonderful thing to do. We need a lot more MPs who have done this and had experience in a wide variety of professional areas in Britain before they enter politics. They don’t all need to have done this but it’s important a substantial proportion have so that those who haven’t can be kept in touch with reality by those who have.

    • rose
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Try listening to him without prejudice, Rebecca, to him, not the BBC’s doctored version of his words. You might then understand what he was saying. He speaks clear, plain English, in a clear, plain way. Perhaps that is what is considered to be “out of touch” now.

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        I’m afraid I’m prejudiced to dislike arrogant ignorance.

        I think you can tell he was at Cambridge before they let us northern state school women in. We would have knocked a few corners off him.

        • Rebecca Hanson
          Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          Let’s look at the evidence:

          John I know you don’t like moderating YouTube’s but it’s only 36seconds and it’s good….

        • rose
          Posted March 30, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          But who sent you out into the world thus programmed, Rebecca?

          A nasty, aggressive prejudice evinced here, etc etc

          • Rebecca Hanson
            Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            Let’s pick this up on today’s blog where the same issue is relevant.

  29. Neil Craig
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I entirely agree. It is a total non-story (but good advertising on the BBC for Greggs).

    It shows how devoid of real political debate our “democracy” is, that this sort of nonsense is top opf the headlines. Can one imagine of, when Chamberlain had returned from Munich the papers had concentrated on asking him about the Bavarian beer?

    But no polutician is willing to say so – indeed Cameron, the froth and air Tory leader dived right in

  30. pipesmoker
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I agree but those of us who lived throught the war years and rationing know how to feed ourselves on modest incomes and if it was not for the EU we could do even better!

  31. BobE
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I always remember that the meat that is in products where the filling can’t be easily examinined is usually the mechanically extracted remainder of the animal after the good stuff has been removed. Its the easy way to make yourself avoid pies, pasties and meat filled pastries.

    Reply: You are slandering a lot of pies. Many good ones have good quality meat in them.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      I did some joinery work in a pie factory near Glasgow a few years ago. The smell put me off pies for about two years.
      They are, however, still very popular here in Scotland. Some people smell of pie. They are not the sort of people you want to be stuck in a lift with on a hot day.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      libel, surely, Mr. Redwood?

      *pedantry over

  32. peter davies
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree – I am tired of hearing the same old clap trap particularly from labour MPs who try to make out to be of the ‘working class’ to make themselves appear in tune with voters when we know most of them are purely ‘champagne socialists’ and live and enjoy the same lifestyles as their torie counterparts.

    How on earth can a dining room make you middle class?

    Surely if they can’t think of more constructive ways to carry out their duties rather than gibering on about something so trivual then one has to question how Labour can ever be fit for government.

  33. rose
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    You put your finger on it as usual, Mr R: Mrs T, though the same sex as I, came from a very different social and religious background, yet she represented me much better than any of the men at that time who were from my background and part of the world. David Cameron often manages to represent me, despite being of the opposite sex, from only a slightly different background, but very much better off, as well as living in both London and the country, which I don’t.

    As for being out of touch with ordinary people, whoever they be, I would say the most undesirable thing is to be out of touch with the governing class, as New Labour were when they entered office.

    If they had known people in power when they were younger, they might not have come up with that dangerously deluded Ethical Foreign Policy that has poisoned our lives. They might not have inflicted a second wave of mass immigration on us without thinking of how to cater for its needs in the future. They might have made some arrangements for our future energy. They might not have muddled up tax and welfare, making a cats cradle of both, and spawning an even more bloated bureaucracy to maladminister it. They might have known that economic activity is cyclical. They might have understood that in peacetime you still need strong defence. They might have realized you need to save in good times, because bad times are always just around the corner.

    I am sure you can add to this list but I will leave it there for now.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Labour did try to build some power stations but they were defeated by nimbyism, for example a tidal power scheme that would generate energy from the Severn estuary was abandoned due to objections from surfers and conservationists.

      • rose
        Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Good point, but they never took the future seriously enough in their 13 years to deliver. The same on transport.

  34. Normandee
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s all just getting too silly, and it’s going to end in failure. This Government snatched a coalition out of the jaws of victory, and has done nothing that is going to come anywhere near winning an election on it’s own. no wonder there is already talk about actually trying to go as a coalition at the next election. How desperate can it be when you choose the Limp dems as life partners ? This is pathetic, you have a cabal of clowns in opposition, and you are the ones getting laughed at. By the next election we will probably have been delivered gift wrapped to Europe, leaving labour to do nothing for 5 years apart from fill their pockets like they did last time.

  35. Credible
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink


    Funny you should mention Franis Maude. He’s certainly excelled himself in the last couple of days. Have you tried to buy any fuel?

    Modern life is less class based than in the 1930s – true – but it’s heading back in that direction vey quickly.

  36. Bob
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to government the petrol price is at an all time high and there is not a drop to be had!

    How did they manage that?

  37. Adam5x5
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Not eaten a pasty recently?

    I’m shocked and appalled, shocked I say!!!!

    Now that’s over can we all get back to the things that matter. The deficit and ever encroaching state which needs significant reduction.

    This is how things get worse – cover up the big problems by making a big thing of the inconsequential.
    Who gives a f*** whether the PM eats pasties? or at MaccyDs? or dines on caviar all week?
    It’s of no importance whatsoever – I just want someone competent running the country…

  38. Trimperley
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Pasties, petrol and the big increase in the price of stamps have made this government a laughing stock. When the country wakes up from the good weather and Easter holidays and takes stock, how are you going to turn things round? Many small businesses are living on their wits and (diminishing) savings at the moment. If things don’t improve soon it will be carnage.

  39. A Different Simon
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    The ruling class is still ruling just as it was 200 years ago .

    Democracy is merely a way of making the rest of us responsible for the debts they run up .

    Plus ce change .

  40. Christian Wright
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    John Redwood wrote: “They say that Francis Maude’s ownership of a dining room makes him very middle class.”

    The Socialists say he is what?

    Middle class? Middle class? A man born with a silver foot in his mouth, who not only managed to confirm that yes indeed, this IS a plutocracy, but that he, Francis Anthony Aylmer Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, was so unconsciously (following questionable conduct-ed), that he thought that was just fine?

    That Francis Maude?

    Never heard the like. Who ever heard of a middle class plutocrat, anyway?

    ‘Word in your shell-like, dear boy: consider that if there is one name right now that defines “toxic Tory” to the Great Unwashed, it is that of the inestimable Mr Maude. Better he is not mentioned in polite company, for a while.

    ‘Nough said, old fruit?


    Reply: I was taking it from media reports. Upper class aristocrats usually have titles, inherited estates, and do not need to work to pay the bills. Mr Maude is not in that group.

    • rose
      Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Nor was his father.

  41. backofanenvelope
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    As we are all in this together, perhaps the tanker drivers could strike against the 64% of the cost of petrol that is tax?

  42. Jon
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    On Newsnight there was a Labour MP who was suggesting that the already taxed hot foods were for “toffs” as he put it and this was an attack on working class. Since when is a bacon buttie or a bag of chips food for “toffs”.

    I hadn’t realised bacon butties were taxed but as they are it seems right to bring others in line.

    I really am dissapointed that the BBC allows this old form of bigotry to air, the last time I heard bigotry against people from council houses was in the 1980s but its okay to carry on about “toffs” in 40 years on. Like other forms of bigotry it should be treated as suck and not tolerated, the MPs who peddle it should be hung out to dry in the media just as would other forms.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Bigotry against toffs? That downtrodden and vulnerable part of society there because they have no choice.
      Only Tory toffs could come up with a hot food tax. This is is in line with getting the population to work for food money then taxing it.
      Make no mistake future elections are going to be fought on class. This idea that we are all in together is clearly false.

  43. Jon
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    The other point Labour boasted was they they new it was unpopular so didn’t introduce it themselves. That was teh problem with Labour, so many reforms that were needed weren’t done and the new government had so many to catch up on. Not just things like the reforms to coatal rescue services but they left proper pension reform to public services, they ignored the escalating salaries of the public sector because they were also unpopular to deal with.

  44. lojolondon
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    John, this is all about the media and Labour’s mastery of the BBC and Guardian. When something small happens to your side, they blow it up, when Miliband has a blooper, they gloss over it. I wish you could see and take action.

    I see that ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ is coming back on telly – just to prove my point –

  45. James
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I have written to my MP several times regarding the catering subsidy. He replied that
    it is a matter for the House of Commons Commission.

    Sadly there are many more like him in the House of Commons.

  46. Bazman
    Posted March 31, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Feed your face, don’t give them a second course.
    The pasty and it’s tax represents the fact that Cameron and Osborne not to mention Maude have never felt the cold they have never been short of money and have never had any problems pay everyday living expenses and like many others supported by vast fortunes or at the very minimum the middle class social security system like to pretend they can get down with the plebs and at the same time know what is best for them. Cameron bluffed about his pasty eating habits which got him laughably bang to rights. Tax simplification in pasty form by Osborne. Front of the queue hot from the oven 20% tax. Back of the queue cold. No tax and infinite variations on this. High paying job or rich the self employment laws are used to lower tax. Poor paid job and poor. The self employment laws are used to rip the person off. Maybe he could have looked at this with as much zeal?
    Maude was under the impression that everyone has an outbuilding to store petrol or maybe they could get the chauffeur to store it in his shed? At the very least he and his advisors are breathtakingly arrogant about the dangers and flammability of petrol. It is scary stuff to handle and million of non technical people having a gallon or more at home is just plain stupid. Not to mention the smell. Anyone of the anti elf and safety people like lifelogic care to say different?
    Keep it to yourself, but I have heard there will be beer and pasty shortages tonight so will be panic buying in the pub before stocks run out.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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