Who do you think you are kidding Mr Tory?


  Chris Bryant was in fine form in the Commons yesterday:

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): It is an enormous pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), who referred to me as his hon. Friend; coalitions are building, but I do not think that they are going quite that far. It is a delight to see him, because despite his absolutely ludicrous, nonsensical opinions on Europe-and nearly everything else under the sun-he is quite a nice guy. Indeed, we have shared many a pint, and several bottles of wine, which I think I always paid for, in Les Aviateurs in Strasbourg. I wish him well. The hon. Gentleman follows on from a very fine Member of Parliament, who was much respected across the House; he had much more sensible views than the hon. Gentleman, I fear.

I should explain to new hon. Members that the normal course of an EU debate is that we have exactly the same people along to every single one for about 15 years, and they deliver their single transferrable speech, which they have delivered at every previous such debate. It sometimes reminds one a bit of a sitcom-“Dad’s Army” springs to mind. There is always somebody-normally it is the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash), who does not seem to be in the Chamber at the moment-who is rather irritating, and just ever so slightly pompous, but whose heart, we know, is really in the right place: the Captain Mainwaring of the House. We always have the immensely suave Sergeant Wilson, who is of course the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr Walter). I am not suggesting that he resembles Sergeant Wilson in any other regard, incidentally.

We always have someone who has to say, “Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring! Don’t panic! It’s all going to be okay!”, and that is normally my hon. Friend the Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins), who on these matters, unfortunately, never agrees with me about anything.

Mr Davidson: Get on with it, Pike!

Chris Bryant: I am glad that my hon. Friend is piping up, because we always have Private Frazer, “We’re doomed, Captain Mainwaring! We’re doomed!”, and he is always played by my hon. Friend.

Then, of course, we always have someone who is immensely sanctimonious- [ Interruption. ] And lo and behold, the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) has arrived in the Chamber. Such sanctimony, I hope, will be a thing of the past from the Liberal Democrats. If there is one thing that they must have learned on becoming members of the coalition, it is that sanctimony must be a thing of the past for the Liberal Democrats. I can see that several Conservatives who were Members in the previous Parliament agree, and the hon. Gentleman is surely the vicar from “Dad’s Army”.



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