Keeping up with The Times

Another feature of The Times Guide to the House of Commons 2010 – not found in its predecessor volumes – is reference to MPs’ sexuality and relationships other than marriage.  Whereas one used to find reference in previous volumes to, for example, ‘married with two children’, in this volume there are references to ‘in civil partnership’, ‘has a partner’ (no mention of which gender),  and ‘lesbian, with a partner’.  One or two MPs are referred to simply as ‘gay’, which has no relevance in itself to a relationship.  Given that the volume now includes subjective thumbnail sketches, it is not clear whether this information has been supplied by the MPs in question or has been included by the decision of the editors.  Some ‘out’ MPs are not listed as gay whereas others are.

My listing in my previous post of some of the thumbnail sketches of MPs has already provoked some readers to suggest the names of the MPs covered by the descriptions.  I offer a few more for those readers wishing to attempt to identify who is being described:

‘Archetypal pin-striped, plummy-voiced Edwardian Tory’. 

‘Diminuitive left-winger with gnome-like demeanor.  Active member of the Socialist Campaign Group.’

‘Intense, intellectual historian. Worthy and solid, he is an also-ran of politics – a born Minister of State.’ 

‘Plain speaking, rarely misses a passing bandwagon’.

I don’t necessarily endorse the descriptions – I think the third is rather unfair – but it will be interesting to see if readers identify any or all of those described.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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11 Responses to Keeping up with The Times

  1. ladytizzy says:

    This is hilarious! I’ll get back with some ideas…

  2. ladytizzy says:

    At the risk of unknowingly ‘outing’ an MP here goes:

    a) I’m thinking Simon Hughes? No, David Cameron.
    b) Gnome-like – must be Jeremy Corbyn.
    c) Male, intellectual, Minister of State. Unfair description, says Lord Norton. Hmmm. William Hague?
    d) That has to be Eric Pickles.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I don’t think Simon Hughes or David Cameron would take too kindly to being described as pin-striped, or indeed as Edwardian Tories! Of the four listed, only one is presently a minister. Two are Labour, two are Conservative.

      • Croft says:

        I’m not sure what an Edwardian Tory would look like – Churchill? – though Cameron does have something of Noel Coward about him.

  3. Chris K says:

    No real ideas. My suggestion for the plummy pin-stripe would be Rees Mogg.

  4. Carl.H says:

    “and ‘lesbian, with a partner”

    And if you`re lesbian without a partner?… You`re not lesbian, you are asexual ?

    What next ? A Perv. MP – Into cross dressing and bdsm ? Oh come on, I thought The Times was better than this type of grubby innuendo ! What if they get it very wrong ? Can they afford to ? Have they the pictures to back up their statements ?

    Surely their sexuality ranks with their colour or creed ? It`s an attempt at seperation, racism, sexism….It`s just wrong.

  5. Lord Norton says:

    I think I may have to give a clue on the first one. The sentence about the Edwardian Tory is followed by ‘Octogenerian’.

    There is also a link with the question setter. That’s a sort of ‘Round Britain Quiz’ type of clue.

    • Chris K says:

      The only one I can think of is the Father of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell. Wouldn’t really describe his accent as plummy, though it’s certainly something.

      Was a question on University Challenge on Monday: “which unofficial position in the House of Commons has been held by …, Sir Edward Heath, …Alan Williams”.
      Is it unofficial?

      • Lord Norton says:

        Chris K: If you don’t think Sir Peter’s voice is plummy, you may need to take it up with the editors of The Times Guide as that is indeed a description of Sir Peter Tapsell, who has the good fortune to represent Louth and Horncastle.

        On your question about the Father of the House, the answer is yes and no. The position is an unofficial one, even though the longest continuously serving MP who is not a minister (that is, the Father of the House, unless he is a minister) presides over the election of the Speaker – hence Sir Peter’s moment of fame at the beginning of this Parliament.

  6. Lord Norton says:

    I think I had better reveal the answers. They are:

    Sir Peter Tapsell
    Kelvin Hopkins
    David Lidington
    John Mann

    Surprised no one got them all!

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