Friday, 24 February 2012
It's alleged the Falkirk MP Eric Joyce, started a rammy (brawl) in the Strangers Bar in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday night. He is said to have attacked the Tory MP Stuart Andrew, several other Tory MPs and a Labour colleague after complaining the bar was 'full of Tories'.
The police were called and Eric Joyce was held overnight at a London police station on suspicion of assault. It is reported he left the police station last night after being charged with three counts of common assault.
I've no wish to comment on Joyce's behaviour because it would appear, throughout his careers, he's encouraged animosity amongst his peers and superiors, but I would like to highlight the hypocrisy of the political classes.
All food and drink (including alcohol) supplied within the Palace of Westminster is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer; the catering subsidy for the financial year ending 31 March 2011 was £5.8m. That fact alone irritates me particularly when the governments of the UK and Scotland are attempting to bring forward legislation which will increase the price of alcohol to those of us who aren't privileged enough to have it subsidised.
All the bars in the Palace of Westminster and Holyrood should be closed unless hotel prices are implemented. Alcohol and work don't mix and the excuse for having bars within parliament buildings has long gone. The House of Commons seldom sits late into the night and Holyrood has never had the need. Cafes can supply a varied selection of non-alcoholic beverages and there are plenty restaurants and eating houses for politicians to enjoy the best quality food.
If this event had happened anywhere other than Westminster by anyone other than an MP it would be an example of the disgraceful 'yob' culture infecting these islands and followed by politicians calling for action.
One journalist shows sympathy with politicians because 'most MPs drinking there are doing so because they haven't really got anywhere else to go...Sometimes they just don't want to go 'home' to a London flat they find lonely'. I find Mr Kirkup's empathic article somewhat outside the real world. There are many thousands of people who have to leave their families on a weekly or longer basis in order to do their work. Few have the luxury of taxpayer-funded 'homes' or 5 star bars and restaurants.
For some years I travelled regularly and yes, I did find it lonely, because I was in a different part of the country each time, but I was able to entertain myself during my off duty hours. An MP's London workplace is the Palace of Westminster which caters for their every whim. The whole of London culture and entertainment is on their doorstep so there is no reason for any MP to be in their workplace outwith their working hours.
One fact of life is certain. Eric Joyce will remember yesterday morning's hangover for a very, very long time.