Ben Dean-Titterrell

Tag: Labour

Parliamentary Roasts of the Week: W/C 16/07/18

Head image

Chamber of the House of Commons” by UK Parliament / CC BY 3.0 / Fire are 100 emojis placed upon original image

In an attempt to prove that the least appreciated of the UK’s age-old parliamentary conventions is MPs and Peers roasting each other, I’ve started a new project for this blog. Every week I’ll aim to bring you the best quips, one-liners, and straight fire roasts dished out in the Palace of Westminster.

W/C 16/07/18

We’re kicking off this week with a look at PMQs, one of the most reliable sources of Parliamentary roasts. This week, however, was a significant dissapointment. There wasn’t a single good joke in the exchanges between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The only passably decent jab from anyone in the whole session was from the SNP’s Ian Blackford.

“[…]a Prime Minister who is in office but not in power[…]”

This isn’t even good to be honest. In a regular week we wouldn’t even feature it, but this session was so devoid of good banter that this is the highlight.



It’s now Thursday and the new Brexit Secratary Dominic Raab is anwering questions from MPs. All fairly run of the mill until Conservative MP Chris Green unleashes what I’m sure he thought was a truly savage roast.

“Does my right hon. Friend agree that to have a second referendum would undermine the democratic process and that anyone calling in this place for a second referendum should perhaps step down, have a by-election and ask for a second opinion on themselves?”

‘Got em! You like second referendums, huh? Well how do you like second elections? Huh?! How do you like them apples?’ – Chris Green’s internal monologue, probably


Bonus House of Lords Roast

The Commons was so devoid of roasts this week that we’re forced to turn to the House of Lords to see if there’s anyone spitting fire in the Palace of Westminster. I was only able to have a quick look through, but I found one quip worthy of inclusion from Labour’s Lord Touhig on Monday on the NATO summit.

“However, to date transatlantic unity is undermined by the President of the United States. We never know what Mr Trump will say next—and, frankly, I suspect that nor does Mr Trump.”

It’s not imaginative; yeah we get it Trump’s stupid. But the delivery was good and, frankly, I’m clutching at straws this week. Lord Touhig’s our first Peer roaster, and until we have another he holds the honourary title of Lord of Roasts.



Roaster of the week

The last thing to do is crown our Roaster of the Week. He seemed so damn pleased with his effort that it would unfair to give it to anyone but Chris Green.

My time may not be particularly valuable, but it certainly is limited. If you’ve spotted a roast in Parliament that you think is worthy of being included in Roast of the Week, let me know by contacting me.

How to defeat Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbin

Jeremy Corbyn by Garry Knight / CC BY 2.0

Jeremy Corbyn is going to be on the Labour leadership election ballot. The National Executive Committee voted 18-14 to allow him automatically onto the ballot without the need for nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the European Parliamentary Labour Party. This puts Corbyn in a strong position to win the leadership race and reaffirm his mandate as Labour leader.

I realise Corbyn is likely to win. I’ve said endlessly that Corbyn getting straight onto the ballot means he’ll win and the Labour party will die as a serious political force. But I think it might just be possible to beat him.

Both Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have announced their bids for the leadership, presumably Eagle and Smith will agree that whichever one seems to be doing worse will drop out of the race and throw their full suport behind the other. Regardless of who ends up being the challenger to Corbyn, the strategy required to win remains the same in my mind.

The key step on the path to beating Corbyn is don’t make it Angela Eagle/Owen Smith vs Jeremy Corbyn. Do not, under any circumstances, make it a battle of personalities. If you make it Jeremy vs Challenger then you will lose, he will win and Labour will be doomed. The Cult of Jez will prevail if you try to defeat it.

Instead, make the contest Eagle/Smith’s full alternative front bench team vs Jeremy’s floundering shadow cabinet. With 172 MPs explicitly saying they don’t have confidence in Jeremy’s leadership you have an invaluable weapon. Use it.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Appoint an alternative shadow front bench team from across the party using the 172 MPs who declared no confidence in Corbyn. Use people from all strands of the party and make it clear this is a unity shadow cabinet.
  2. Make sure it’s a full team, shadow junior ministers and all. Literally an entire government in waiting needs to be prepared and don’t announce it until you’ve got every post filled.
  3. Do a photo-op, a really good one. All stand on a stage and look ready to govern the country. Plaster that image everywhere, show it to people at every oppertunity and talk about your alternative shadow front bench all the time.
  4. Contrast it with how Jeremy has a threadbare front bench team with people doing two shadow cabinet jobs. Corbyn cannot hold the government to account with his current shadow cabinet.
  5. Make the point that Labour is a parliamentary party and not a revolutionary party of protest. Make that point endlessly. Corbyn has made the membership believe Parliament doesn’t matter, remind them that it matters above all else.
  6. Most importantly, make it clear how you’re an alternative team not just an alternative leader. Jeremy Corbyn can’t be the leader alone, needs a large team behind him in Parliament and he just doesn’t have that.

This is, in my view the only way to defeat Corbyn and save Labour. There are a lot of minds that need changing in this leadership election. A lot of Corbyn loyalists that need winning over. With all due respect to Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, you’ll never develop the cult following that Jeremy Corbyn has. The membership won’t love you in the way they love him.

So be pragmatic. Come across as the sensible, capable majority of the parliamentary party that can construct a genuine government in waiting. That’s what the Opposition in the House of Commons should be. It will never be that under Jeremy Corbyn, and if you can get that message out there clearly and firmly to the membership then you might, might, win.

James Heappey weekly: No.13


Week 13 June – 19 June

In a week when Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed to death outside her weekly constituency surgery, campaigning for the EU referendum was halted for several days following the MP’s death, and the US suffered its worst terrorist attack since 9/11 when 49 people were killed and 53 injured during a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Heappey spoke twice in Parliament this week, both times in a Westminster Hall debate on electric and low-emission vehicles.

James Heappey first thanked fellow Conservative MP Glyn Davies for securing the debate and asked if he agreed that “the great advantage of electric cars is that they present a fantastic opportunity within the grid, which may help us to achieve our decarbonisation targets.” Mr Glyn replied that if, as he expects, their use develops quickly they “will be a major contributor right across the board to our meeting our decarbonisation targets.”

Later in the debate Mr Heappey spoke again to ask Robert Goodwill, a Minister in the Department for Transport, whether he would comment on how the Department for Transport and the Treasury intend to “compensate for the loss of petrol pump tax revenues as a result of an increased uptake of electric cars.” The Minister replied that the question may best be put to the Chancellor but said “falling duty levels from petrol and diesel because we have embraced new technology would be a very good problem to have.” Mr Goodwill added “Dare I say it, but I am sure the Chancellor and future Chancellors will come up with other, more devious ways of collecting tax from everyday people.”

Voting record

The MP for Wells voted five times this week, mainly on matters relating to the Policing and Crime Bill.

On 13 May Mr Heappey voted four times on the Policing and Crime Bill. He voted: against a proposed new clause, put forward by Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham following the Hillsborough inquest, that would introduce the principle of parity of funding between police forces and bereaved families and inquests; against a proposed new clause, also put forward by Andy Burnham, that would compel the Prime Minister to instigate an independent inquiry such as Leveson 2 into the relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest; against a proposed new clause, put forward by Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, to devolve the responsibility of policing to the Welsh Assembly; and against a proposed new amendment, put forward by Labour MP Sarah Champion, that would set out the duty of English and Welsh police forces to report to the Home Secretary on the number of Child Abduction Warning Notices issued and for the Secretary of State to publish an annual report on the issue.

On 15 May James Heappey voted once on a deferred division from the last Parliamentary session. He voted: for a motion to approve the draft West Midlands Combined Authority Order 2016, first laid before the House on 28 April.

Energy and Climate Change Committee

The Committee did not carry out any oral evidence session this week.