Mark Andrews: Weapons of mass distraction, porn in Parliament, and be grateful we're not in France

Mark Andrews takes a wry look at the week that was.

Angela Rayner – a distraction?
Angela Rayner – a distraction?

It's been a strange week, the airwaves filled with angry debate about a Sunday newspaper report claiming Labour's Angela Rayner uncrosses her legs to distract the Prime Minister.

Some MPs have even called for an inquiry. Of course they have. Is there any problem in the world that politicians don't think can be solved by a two-year talking shop and a retired High Court judge?

The normally sensible Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle rather pompously summoned the editor concerned to appear before him. The editor was too busy washing his hair, or something like that.

Time was when such a trivial story would have been just a footnote in a 'diarist's column', read by a handful of people and met with little more than a few sniggers about the inmaturity of our governing class.

But it today's increasingly mad world, Mrs Rayner's seating arrangements not only warrant a big splash, but the coverage becomes the big hot-button talking point of shouty phone-ins up and down the country. Overshadowing the fact that the leader of the world's second largest nuclear power has just issued a veiled threat to blow us all to pieces.

* * *

Silly though the story may have been, the very idea that politicians feel entitled to tell a newspaper editor which stories to cover is sinister to say the least. A functioning democracy means a free press holding politicians to account. Not the other way round.

* * *

"But who holds the media to account?" the politicians will doubtless demand. The people who buy them, of course. MPs are up for election every four or five years. Newspapers are up for election every day of the week.

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Meanwhile, we also learn that one of the honourable members has been blatantly watching pornography on his phone during a debate in the Commons. I'm sure some of these debates can be frightfully dull, but what sort of weirdo is so addicted to online smut that they can't even wait until he gets home before indulging in such, ahem, entertainment?

* * *

Marine Le Pen

Still, on the positive side, at least we are not living in France. While our liberal intelligentsia revels in portraying this country as hopelessly divided because we had a vote on membership of a trade organisation, our supposedly more enlightened friends across the channel are split down the middle over whether they would rather be governed by an arrogant technocrat with small-man syndrome, or a raving right-wing extremist who appears nostalgic for the values of the Third Reich. The grass isn't always greener.

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