If ever there was a tell-tale sign of who won the Great War between the Speaker and the Clerk of the Commons, it was today’s Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards. Sir Robert Rogers picked up the top prize, declaring: ‘Common sense and good governance will prevail before very long’. Mr Speaker failed to show up.
The guest of honour, Home Secretary Theresa May, delivered her own comedy turn making jokes about George Osborne’s haircut. She had a point. Her barbed comment that her ‘special advisers had told her’ this would be a ‘good idea’ had a particular resonance given her starring role on the cover of this quarter’s edition of Spectator Life; a profile that features her advisers heavily.
Wasting no time, May attacked both of her obvious future rivals for the Tory crown. She alluded to Osborne’s dark secrets and pointed out in her ill-fated slide show that Boris lived in Islington: ‘presumably he will be moving to Uxbridge now.’
Alex Salmond droned on, quoting the Bible as he picked up Politician of the Year. He also misjudged the crowd by calling them ‘sore losers’. But his ‘respect’ for his cross of St George hanky did get the crowd going. William Hague hit the spot with his declaration of love for Parliament despite his imminent departure, as he collected his Lifetime Achievement Award at a more tender age than most: ‘I gave the best speech of my life aged 16.’
The former Foreign Secretary had some words of encouragement for the Labour leader too:
‘Ed Miliband doesn’t know he’s been born. I wasn’t suffering a fall from 40pc in the polls; I was 40 per cent behind… ‘
The real star of the show, however, was the current front runner for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. Jim Murphy was brilliantly self-deprecating as he collected his award from the Savoy:
‘The parties were too close to the establishment in the referendum, so this award will help me greatly.’
‘Thanks, you bastard’, was his parting shot to our editor Fraser Nelson. With that, everyone retired to the bar, while Salmond headed toward the waiting TV cameras. Some things never change.