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Thursday 9 December 2010

Quentin Letts? Let’s Not

There is no finer example of the smug, overmonied and sniffily sneering hack than the appalling Quentin Letts, who from time to time comes down from his appropriately lofty perch and scribbles copy for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail.

And there is no finer example of Letts’ turgid copy than today’s attack on Commons Speaker John Bercow. Letts tells at length of an exchange that took place late on Monday between Bercow and Tory chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, where the two were clearly of divergent opinion.

Letts describes how Bercow summoned McLoughlin back into the chamber and “yelled at him like a displeased Cairo rickshaw wallah”, which might sound jolly good until you realise that rickshaws aren’t called rickshaws in Cairo, and the term “wallah” does not mean in Arabic what it does across India. The impression is given that this is less about being factual and more about character assassination.

Which may explain Letts’ dalliance on the question of MP’s expenses: Bercow is accused of “milking the system like an udder-sucker in a mechanised dairy”. So which one was he? Duck house? Moat? Wisteria? Well, no. Neither was he possessed of a second home in Southampton, multiple flips, or claiming for blue movies. So more character assassination, then.

But Letts ploughs on, and cannot resist the urge to trash the reputation of Bercow’s wife, whom he calls “dreadful”, and talks of “the crass behaviour of his Labour-supporting wife Sally, filling almost every waking hour with impolitic tweets”. Sorry to have to break the news, Quent, but her choice of party and use of technology is none of your business.

So what is Letts’ problem? As ever, the answer is there in among the Phil Space verbiage: at one point, the great man tells that “To be Speaker of England’s great House Of Commons was, once, to lick ambrosia on the very slopes of Mount Olympus”.

Quite apart from the schoolboy error – we don’t have an English Parliament – this flannel leaves the reader with one clear and very obvious conclusion: Quentin Letts is full of crap.

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