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Thursday 18 February 2010

A Man Apart

Cheshire has a number of constituencies that are solidly Tory: apart from Tatton, now back in the hands of the Tories after the indiscretions of one Mostyn Neil Hamilton, there are the adjacent strongholds of Macclesfield and Congleton. Here, although their tenure is to end soon, the Wintertons hold sway: “Sir” Nicholas in Macclesfield, and wife Ann in Congleton.

And Nicholas Winterton is not a fan of the trains that serve his manor: he has gone on at length about Virgin Trains’ new Pendolino fleet, whose carriages are indeed smaller inside than their British Rail designed predecessors. But, over time, he seems to have toned down the criticism, which may have something to do with the faster journey times benefiting the people of Macclesfield, and the complimentary food and drink provided at the seat of every First Class passenger (including alcoholic beverages Monday to Friday).

But the idea that MPs should now consider travelling standard class – we in the UK don’t like to call it “second” class nowadays – has caused Old Nick to froth and rant once again. He appears to be genuinely dreading the idea of having to rub shoulders with a cross section of real people, putting forward a number of not altogether convincing reasons for retaining his seat in the upmarket end of the train.

In standard class, Winterton says there are “a totally different type of people”. Sounds grim. He clearly doesn’t relish the prospect of mixing with them. But then, perhaps the folks in the less pricy seats would rather not entertain him: Winterton is renowned for his ability to drone on endlessly and loudly, rather in the manner of the pantomime Tory candidate for Monty Python’s North Minehead by-election.

Fortunately, this outburst is no problem for Young Dave, as Winterton characterises the so-called “bed blockers” that his younger and more jolly excellent Tory Party wants to sweep away. It is, therefore, no surprise that Tory HQ has dismissed the remarks as “the out of touch views of a soon to retire backbench MP” [my emphasis].

And on this point I agree with the Tories: Winterton has spent an agreeable 39 years at the Club, he’s going to get an equally agreeable pay-off, and would serve the public purpose well by shutting up and shuffling off.

Yes, there goes “Sir” Nicholas ... on his way ... out.

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