LOOKING FOR a cheap last-minute holiday? Your MP probably isn't. MPs are too busy signing up for 'fact-finding' freebies. One group of MPs are off on a £100,000 trip to Florida, to investigate the effects of all those lovely sun-rays on pensioners' skin.
Shadow chancellor Michael Howard is off to the paradise island of Mauritius on a ten-day trip. When his office was asked the purpose of the trip the reply was, 'I think it's something to do with the Commonwealth.' The Home Affairs Committee are jetting off to the Costa del Sol to check out crime links.
South Africa is the chosen destination of the Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Donald Anderson MP. They are going to investigate the 'political climate' there. Around £1 million will be spent on finding out all these important facts. Funny how no one needs to find facts somewhere cold, dark and miserable. Around 40 percent of British people do not get an annual holiday.
Scrap the public
THE government has staked its reputation on improving public services. But according to the government's People's Panel public satisfaction with most services is falling. Satisfaction among tenants about council housing, for example, has dropped from 73 percent to 49 percent.
The People's Panel was hailed as proof of New Labour's commitment to public involvement. But if the public get it wrong, politicians can always scrap the public. The People's Panel has now been axed. The government complained that members of the panel were becoming too 'interested and knowledgeable'.
POLITICIANS in the US like to pose as the great defenders of democracy. But after George Bush's debacle during the presidential election come Anthony Williams's celebrity nominees. Williams was the Democratic mayor of Washington.
He was planning to stand for re-election this autumn. Among those signing the petition to enter him as a candidate were US secretary of state Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair. The actor Dudley Moore was so keen that, despite being dead, he signed twice.
MALE golfers at a club frequented by the Duke of York have been given a hard choice. A magistrate has told them they must either give women voting rights or lose their licence to drink alcohol.
Major Nigel Carrington Smith, club secretary, remained calm in the face of this assault on male chauvinist piggery. He said, 'I doubt the women will bother to vote. They are very happy with the way the club is run.'
How to spend your money
HERE IS some advice for readers worried about their stocks and shares. If you had bought $1,000 worth of Nortel stock a year ago, it would now be worth just $49. If you'd chosen to invest in Enron, the same $1,000 would now be worth only $16.50.
Even worse, if you'd bought into WorldCom-again $1,000-you'd be left with less than $5. However, if you'd spent $1,000 on beer and returned each can for a 10 percent deposit, you'd have $214. Our advice is to forget stocks and shares, drink heavily and always recycle!
Thanks to Richard Price in Gloucester.
Caring face of Tories?
IAIN DUNCAN Smith claims to want an inclusive, caring Tory party. Yet Duncan Smith has just promoted a far right winger to work in his whip's office. She is Angela Watkinson, who was one of the MPs Duncan Smith forced to resign from the far right, pro repatriation for black people Monday Club.
Another ex-member of the club is Tory MP Andrew Hunter. He was until very recently a patron of the Right Now! magazine that brags of its links to Jean-Marie Le Pen's Nazi National Front. Hunter was an enthusiastic supporter of Iain Duncan Smith's campaign for the leadership of the Tories.
EAST Midlands Parkway is a new railway station between Nottingham and Derby, and the East Midlands train operator has scheduled trains to stop at the station. The only problem is that the station hasn't actually been built yet.
Trains have to hang around for a few minutes because of the phantom station.
Thanks to readers in Derby.
Bureau of fit-ups
THE FBI claims to be leading the fight against terrorism. But a leading attorney denounced the FBI in a US courtroom recently. 'It's clear that its intention is not about fighting terrorism, it's about suppressing dissent.
He was prosecuting a case brought by two environmental campaigners. Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were taking part in non-violent direct action. Their car was blown apart by a bomb. Bari's pelvis was shattered in ten places, but she and Cherney were arrested for possessing explosives. The case was dropped, but only after the women had been smeared as terrorist bombers.
They sued the FBI for libel and, after ten years, the women were awarded $4.4 million.
Things they say
'DESPITE the ramblings and spoutings of the overexcitable and scarcely rational children in Central Office, the nation is not possessed by an overwhelming urge to fill the shadow cabinet with 25 year old black lesbians and homosexual, asylum-seeking Muslims.'
LORD TEBBIT on why he believes the Tories are turning voters off
'THIS WOULD risk a potentially serious adverse impact on significant interests of the US, including interests directly related to the struggle against international terrorism.'
US state department adviser explains why he is trying to crush a human rights lawsuit brought by Indonesian villages against the Exxon Mobil oil company
'When we go into a village and see a farmer with a beard, we see an Afghan farmer with a beard. When the Americans go into a village and see a farmer with a beard, they see Osama Bin Laden.'
Former member of Special Forces with a US coalition partner in Afghanistan
'THERE ARE just so many performance targets all over the place that it is very hard for officers on the street to get a grip on what is expected of them next.'
KEVIN MORRIS, president of the police superintendents' union, on why police fail to meet 75 percent of crime targets
'BYERS IS really going for it. He sees it as a springboard to coming back into government in a year or two's time.'
Insider on Byers's attempt to win chairmanship of the influential Friends of Israel group