Peter Rhodes on a phone scam, yobbery in the Commons and why Keir won't sign

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Sir Keir Starmer

CURIOUS adventures in DIY. A couple of days ago I built a fitted wardrobe. It fitted.

I WAS targeted this week in a nasty phone scam. The caller was trying to sell me a device to summon help in the event of a medical emergency. It may sound innocent but go online and you'll find reports of these callers conning vulnerable victims into believing the device has already been bought for them by a relative, or even by their own GP, and demanding payment. I hung up. I'm not sure of the best way to deter this sort of vulture crime but throwing away the key sounds fine.

THANKS for your views on a proposed written constitution for the UK. It may sound a good idea but it is not a quick fix. In fact, it's surprising how a good idea can become a swamp. American judges spend many fractious hours re-examining words written by the Founding Fathers, trying to fathom exactly what they meant by phrases such as "the right to bear arms" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It's hard, especially when some of those grand old men wielding the quill pens 240 years ago saw nothing wrong in owning slaves.

WAS there ever a hope in hell of Labour supporting any amended version of Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement? Not if we believe the following tale. A few days back, Sir Robbie Gibb, Theresa May's former media adviser, described a meeting in Downing Street six months ago when Labour was invited to contribute ideas to May's EU plan. A discussion document was presented. Sir Keir Starmer, officially Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU but in reality a diehard Remainer, immediately dismissed the proposals as "totally inadequate." The PM's Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell replied: "These are Labour's own proposals. They have been literally cut and pasted from a document you submitted to us." Gibb says the response from the Labour delegation was "a knowing and embarrassed laugh."

SINCE that meeting, attitudes have hardened. There is speculation that things are now so bitter in Whitehall that Labour MPs wouldn't approve any withdrawal agreement, whether it was drawn up by Boris, Corbyn or even the saintly Mahatma Ghandi. But it now seems that even if the withdrawal agreement were drawn up by Keir Starmer, Keir Starmer wouldn't approve it.

THERE'S really no mystery about the yobbishness unleashed in Parliament over Brexit. The Commons is a reflection of British society which was once more genteel and ordered. As our society has become rowdier and more thuggish, so has Parliament. While most MPs are well-behaved, a substantial minority screech like yobs and fishwives. They bring the language and behaviour of the football terraces into the Chamber, and try to excuse it by claiming they are "speaking from the heart," as though they are champions of the people. Some champions. Some people.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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