Saturday, May 09, 2009


Barbara Follett – This Poor Needy Millionaire Needs Help

My Internet connection’s frustratingly knackered this week, but while I’m actually online for a moment, spare that moment for poor Barbara Follett. One of many Labour ministers whose expenses have been exposed today through the Torygraph’s backhanders to the criminal fraternity, she’s a tragic case. Why, the Fees Office even churlishly refused to pay all the £528.75 for repairing her much-needed Chinese needlepoint rug (no word on how much we all paid for it in the first place, but worth every penny, surely), which must have been heartbreaking, and who can begrudge her £25,000 in public money for private security?

Apparently, she was mugged, you see, and no-one would know better than a Labour MP that you can’t trust the police in London, can you? I imagine she’s standing on a platform of rolling out £25,000 private security for every one of her constituents who’s been mugged, starting with her, of course, because at least one of her several homes is in her constituency. Funnily enough, I was once mugged the night before I stood at a selection meeting, but I neglected to add £25,000 of private security as part of my personal platform. Must have been the shock, I suppose; that, and being too busy making the case of what my priorities were for spending on other people.

Twelve years ago, I stood against Barbara in Stevenage (coming an heroic third). She was a frail, needy thing there, too, at a huge disadvantage; yes, it’s true that she was a millionaire and I was unemployed, and as her husband had a new book out he’d helpfully plastered the town with “FOLLETT” posters, but every time she opened her mouth, you could tell she needed help. When she told her stories of her hard-luck background as a landowner in South Africa, I could always see Labour members with tears in their eyes. When she told at a hustings of the tragedy of the brain drain, because all our best designers were being lured overseas and you couldn’t get a decent frock in London, journalists were so moved that they ran from the room. You see, Barbara’s problem has always been the reaction she gets from anyone who ever meets her in public. And in that context, a £25,000 private security detail to keep them from her, and in so doing to save all of us from having to hear anything she says, seems a small price to pay.

In other news, Labour Minister for Keeping the Darkies Out and Appeasing the BNP Phil Woolas has issued a furious response to the Torygraph’s allegations about his expenses. ‘No to immigrants!’ he snarled. ‘Be afraid, be very afraid, that they will rip you off – and that’s my job!’

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Very funny!
Wow. I haven't felt this much sympathy for the affluent since reading about the TARP wife who wrote (anonymously) lamenting her loss of social status in Condé Nast Portfolio. (BTW she's no longer anonymous; she was identified as the wife of the CEO of the CIT Group money management company.) You might think that the part where she compares the perception of her fellow bailout recipients to "Mao frog-marching intellectuals into China's countryside" is intended as satire, but no. She's serious.
Thanks Paul, and thanks Alex, for that heart-rending story of near-poverty in the billions!
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