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Boris, bishops and other gossip from the Spectator Parliamentarian awards

21 November 2012

Justin Welby, the nominated Archbishop of Canterbury, accepted his Spectator award for Peer of the Year (in recognition of his work on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards) by conceding that, after the General Synod rejected women bishops yesterday, he has achieved the rare distinction of losing a vote of confidence without having assumed office. This joke was the start of a masterful comic performance in what was, clearly, an off-the-cuff speech.

He went on to correct the Spectator: we had described him as a former banker when in fact he is a former financier of an oil firm (Treasurer at Enterprise Oil). ‘I learned to hate them then,’ he said with twinkling jest rather than righteous indignation. ‘But we forgive,’ the Archbishop-elect said. ‘It comes with the territory.’ Then he added that he didn’t mean any of that, again with wonderful comic timing. He ended his self-deprecatory homily by remarking that he is still learning not to say things. Then he added that he enjoys working with Nigel Lawson on the commission. Things are looking up for the Church of England, even at this dark moment. At lunch, the Bishop was asked whether he intends to use his new powers to campaign against these greedy bankers. “Actually, I’m more interested in God,” he replied. The table was silent: a bishop who believes in God?

Liz Truss, crowned Minister to Watch, was resplendent in retro seamed tights with a bow detail. She thanked her boss Michael Gove, saying “he hasn’t gagged me, he hasn’t tethered me in the department” to much guffaws from the audience. “Yes, Tory governments aren’t what they used to be,” said Fraser Nelson afterwards. Gove also accepted non-resignation of the year on behalf of Lord Hill, another one of his underlings.

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It has been a busy afternoon for Sir George Young. The Chief Whip began by travelling to Buckingham Palace, where he accepted the Companion of Honour, awarded for, he said, ‘leaving the government’. Then he proceeded across the damp West End to the Savoy in order to collect his Spectator award of Resurrection of the Year, given for, as he put it, ‘re-joining the government’. The paradox appealed to him.

Boris Johnson made a muscular speech, asking for a ceasefire on press regulation. He compared himself to a bewildered shepherd staring at the crossfire in the night sky. It all started, he said, with the Daily Telegraphs making inquiries about he financial origins of Michael Gove’s sofa (from Oka, on expenses). It ended in a cycle of reprisals which may end up sacrificing Britain’s 300-year-old tradition of press freedom. “MPs, don’t you for one moment think about regulating a press that has been free in this city for more than 300 years,” he said. The “very feral fearlessness and ferocity” of the press “ensures that we have one of the cleanest systems of government anywhere in the world.” Gove applauded loudly.

As for Gove, he had earlier taken a swipe at Lord Leveson:

“It’s … a pity that His Honour Brian Leveson cannot be here so he could receive the Bureau of Investigative Journalism award for commitment to truth-telling for his wonderful comments: ‘I don’t really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don’t’.”

As our own Rod Liddle put it: “yes you do, Brian me ol’ son, yes you certainly do.” As Boris left, he clutched his award and said “I’ll accept this award on behalf of… em… em…” Yes, we get the message Boris. The glory is all yours.

Andy Burnham accepted his award for Campaigner of the Year on behalf of the 96 families of the Hillsborough Disaster. He said that the award might make his mum buy the Spectator, which would, he predicted, push sales of the magazine on Merseyside into double figures. Special mention goes to Margaret Hodge who revealed that, unbeknownst to the people sitting at Mr Steerpike’s table, she had been born abroad (in Egypt to German refugees in 1944, as it happens) and had undergone a British naturalisation process in the 1950s. She felt that her award for Inquisitor of the Year, won for her leadership of the stirring Public Accounts Committee, would have pleased the immigration officers she encountered all those years ago because it represented quintessential Britishness. Mr Steerpike can think of no higher compliment.

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  • mediawatch

    Interesting that comments are being censorred on the Low Life column. Lord Justice Leveson would be proud!

  • Sarah

    What was Michael Gove wearing?

  • HooksLaw

    ‘refugees’ ?
    Hodge’s father was in fact an Oppenheimer and in the metals trading business in Egypt.. She went to a UK private girls school and has shares in the 6th largest company in the country in private hands.

    But don’t worry she is quote normal and not at all posh and knows all about ordinary people – not least those in care in Islington. She is a ‘refugee’ after all. And Labour.

    • Jingleballix

      Yes – one of those ‘rich, but grounded and moral’ Labour people.

      I do so love them.

  • Cassandra1963

    As they congratulate each other, back slapping all round, hugs an kisses and warm showers galore, as they give each other their usual ego hand jobs they seem to somehow forget that this parliament and these supposed defenders of British democracy have managed by their efforts to turn a free sovereign independent mother of parliaments into a pathetic powerless rubber stamp stooge of a foreign and alien EU. These self satisfied prats will still be deluding themselves as they are carted off in tumbrils to face the people they have betrayed.

    As they swap houses to grub more money from the taxpayer, they feel good about increasing foreign aid to obscene levels, no thought about maybe using that money for a valid sovereign defence and set up a space programme to rival NASA, the effects on our high tech and higher education would lead to tens thousands of jobs, but oooh no, handing hundreds of millions to one of the worlds most corrupt and largest oil producers among others makes them feel good about themselves, funny how handing out other peoples money is an aphrodisiac.

    A self referencing inbred eye wateringly hypocritical elite showering vast amounts of money not only sustaining a bloated state gravy train but expanding it, trust in our political class at an all time low as they serve up their mad cap plans like police kommissars we didnt want and deny us a poll on the EU nearly all of us want. Politicians like the multimillionaire Hodge allowed to persecute companies that deliver tens of thousands of jobs while she gets rich from a company paying almost no tax at all. Influential politicians in the pockets of defence contractors and windmill fraudsters and PFI looters.

    As this political class live the high life the distance between us and them widens by the day, do they realise just how distant from us they have become? They live in a bubble far removed from us, they vote on issues they have no understanding of and frankly couldnt care less about, they attend a powerless parliament that has become a farce and they are to blame. They are a bunch of worthless pimps peddling the agenda of a tiny minority and usually getting a hefty slice of the action like Yeo, they can hand each other awards and shiny baubles but they mean nothing to us in the real world.

    • Julian Kavanagh

      So why not stand for office yourself? Because that’s a lot harder than writing these long, tedious and whingeing posts that presumably make you feel better but make everyone else think you’re mad or just very, very bored.

      • HooksLaw

        Long tedious and whingeing covers a lot of posts however.

      • Cassandra1963

        Dont like the thought of free speech? Of course not, the plebs should STFU and be grateful to the political class, we plebs dont know how great our politicians are do we? Dont like my post? Then may I suggest you simply scroll to the end, nobody is forcing you to read my posts, I write for those who see some truth in my humble words, someone like yourself isnt going to stop me, in fact your post confirms my determination to comment on any event I feel strongly about.

  • EndOfTrolls

    Any chance of a special Hypocrite of the Year award, also to Margaret Hodge, for being filthy rich and avoiding taxes whilst attacking the err, filthy rich and those who avoid taxes. And on which planet is Alistair Darling Backbencher of the Year? The man should be in debtor’s prison for the mess he made (with his fellow English-hating Scot Brown) of our economy. And the Spectator should be awarded the Best Guardian-imitator of the year for its transmutation into a left-wing comic. You may as well give Sally Bercow an award for the best Twitter Political Commentator of the Year.

    • HooksLaw

      Please do not start me off on an appropriate award for Sally Bercow.
      In fact isn’t she married to one?

  • Stepney

    Given Ms Hodge’s magnificent performances skewering tax avoiders whilst squirreling away large lumps from her ‘tiny, tiny, tiny shareholding’, seemingly untouched by Messers HM and RC, this award may well go down as, how shall we put it? A grave accident of timing.

    Events dear boy, events…

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