After she said that working with MPs from other parties was fine, but that she would not be socialising with those representing the Tory Party, Laura Pidcock, who was elected to represent North-West Durham in last June’s General Election, will have known that she had, just by making that statement, made herself a target for the Labour-hating right-wing press, which in the UK means most if it.
So it will not have surprised her to see first the Daily Mail, and then the Murdoch Sun, enter the rapture as they caught her not at the Commons for a debate on the controversial subject of Universal Credit. Ms Pidcock and her partner, who is a teacher, have been on a half-term break to Venice. By doing this, she had incurred the Mail’s displeasure.
“Labour MP who is an outspoken critic of Universal Credit is accused of hypocrisy after 'she skips key debate to go to Venice’” thundered the headline, with readers reminded that this alleged discovery (note the quotation marks) “Comes after Labour criticised a Tory MP for missing a similar debate last week”. Bang to rights, or what?
And the friendship line was wheeled out immediately: “Laura Pidcock, who famously claimed she would never be friends with a Tory, was in Italy during the welfare reform emergency session”. Would a Tory like to take a pot shot at her? “Tory MP Andrew Percy said: ‘This is the sort of hypocrisy that gives politics such a bad name - but is not surprising from an increasingly nasty and personalised Labour Party who say one thing and then go and do the opposite themselves”. As if you need to ask.
Having made sure they refer to Ms Pidcock as “Miss”, the Dacre doggies sneer “When a reporter attempted to phone her on her mobile, it had a foreign ring tone”. Oh, how ghastly - a foreign ring tone! The shame of it all! And the Sun went one better.
After chucking in the phrase “La Dolce Vita” (that film was set in Rome, Murdoch goons), readers are told “Fellow MPs were incensed after Laura Pidcock never turned up to work yesterday”. The Sun also had a proper Tory headbanger to comment. “Last night Tory MP Andrew Bridgen blasted: ‘The only thing that’ll smell more than the Venice canals is the scent of universal Labour hypocrisy’”. Yes, Mr “HS2 ate my fortune” is at it again.
But the reason Ms Pidcock was in Venice was rather more prosaic, and the circumstances those which many of her constituents would understand. As she told, “Several months ago, my partner bought me flight tickets to go to Venice for three nights as a 30th birthday present. He didn’t know that there was going to be a General Election, nor that I was going to be an MP, at that point”. And there was more.
“My partner is a teacher and so I promised I would ask permission from the whips to go in half term … I was always aware there might be a chance that I would have to cancel the break … on Thursday, however, the whips granted me two days off from the House”.
The Daily Mail and Sun, as well as Andrews Percy and Bridgen, didn’t bother to get that information before shooting their mouths off. That’s because Laura Pidcock had made herself a target - and they were after her. There’s our free and fearless press for you.