This mocking by the well-heeled Islington South and Finsbury MP illustrates the extent to which a metropolitan political establishment has allowed itself to become so detached from the electorate, and in particular those white, working class voters who exercised their disquiet by returning Tory defector Mark Reckless to Westminster as an Ukip MP.
It did not stop David Cameron from ducking questions about his party’s second successive by-election defeat to Ukip and maximising Labour’s discomfort. “What this means is that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party sneers at people who work hard, who are patriotic and who love their country, and I think that is absolutely appalling,” he declared.
Yet this result is likely to further embolden Mr Cameron’s Eurosceptic backbenchers ahead of the next election, and even before the Tory leader even begins to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels. To show Britain means business, he could do no worse than appoint Sir John Major as a senior negotiator – the former premier’s pragmatism in recent times has been refreshing and this could yield better results than hints, via Downing Street and Tory sources, that Mr Cameron might lead a campaign in favour of Britain’s eventual exit from the European Union.
Such sentiments are tilting at windmills – Britain’s economy and exports are intertwined with Europe. The problem, as highlighted by Ukip’s insurgency, is immigration, and the electorate’s exasperation with those eastern European migrants who move to these shores to take advantage of this country’s welfare system and key public services.
However there remains a world of difference between this relatively small minority and those brilliant, hardworking immigrants who contribute so much to the UK’s prosperity. Mr Cameron needs to address this difference while he still has the chance.
Evans own goal
Club still in denial about rapist
IT IS not just Britain’s political leaders who are out-of-touch with reality – the same charge can be levelled against those executives at Sheffield United who have allowed the club’s hard-earned reputation to become so tarnished by convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Even though the League One club finally bowed to public pressure on Thursday night and rescinded the right of Evans to use its training facilities, the Blades still managed to score another avoidable own goal by expressing surprise at the public’s reaction and blaming the media, amongst others.
Sheffield United only has itself to blame for allowing this affront to public opinion to escalate to such an extent that Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill felt the need, along with sponsors and other influential supporters, to withdraw their support if Evans rejoined their club.
If it had been prepared to put principles before points on the pitch, it would have severed all ties with Evans when he was jailed for raping a drunk 19-year-old girl and the club would also have refused to countenance any possibility of the shamed player using its facilities.
Such a stance would have sent out a powerful message that fans have the right to expect certain standards of ethics from footballers, and their clubs. Perhaps the greatest regret is that Sheffield United did not recognise this. After all, this is a club that could be rightly proud of the strength of its community links – until now.
Cart before horse
£4,500 bill takes some beating
IF EVER there was a prima facie case of politicians putting the cart before the horse, it is those councillors and officials who sanctioned such a reckless spending spree at Keighley Council. Even by standards of local government profligacy, the £4,500 spent on two horses to pull a historic cart at the town’s Police Museum now takes some beating.
A first horse, Sampson, was sold at a loss of £2,000 because he was “skittish around children” while his successor, Bella, had to be sold because she was not strong enough to pull the contraption. Not only do the council’s procedures require greater scrutiny, but it also begs this question: why did it not think to seek the counsel of Grand National-winning couple Harvey and Sue Smith who train in the vicinity and have a lifetime of experience with horses?
They would have put them right at half the price.