Smug. But in a limited and specific way
As to why he wears that expression, one can only speculate. Perhaps it has something to do with winning a seat in Labour territory; perhaps it signifies the knowledge that he has put one over on all those who took the piss out of him at school; maybe it’s part of that debating society demeanour that was on display yesterday at Westminster.
It certainly irritated Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner. She had led a debate on the subject of continuing free school meals for those children least well off through the half-term and Christmas holidays, and here was Tory Boy Clarkson, wasting time sneering at her party colleague Andy Burnham for the heinous sin of sticking up for Greater Manchester’s less well paid workers as a Tier 3 Covid-19 lockdown loomed.
Here was Clarkson, getting on his debating society high horse, determined to rubbish the idea of Government doing something to stop kids going hungry, while trousering his MPs salary - including a monthly food allowance of around £400. And there was Ms Rayner, who had just lost an aunt to Covid-19, and wanted desperately to help the disadvantaged.
Something clearly snapped. “Did the Rt Hon Lady just call me ‘scum’?” leered Clarkson. The deputy speaker admonished Ms Rayner; she later apologised. For Clarkson, though, this was insufficient: to waste a little more time, he wrote to her formally. That would show those Rotten Lefties™ who were not in power not to mess with him!
Maybe he has not indulged in unparliamentary language himself, but others on the Tory benches certainly have, and much of it has been directed at the likes of Ms Rayner. She has also had to cope with a Covid-19 infection. Now she has seen a succession of Tory MPs obstruct a move to ward off hunger, with one of them getting righteous with her.
Well, if Chris Clarkson thinks he’s been hard done by, perhaps he should mug up on his recent political history. Including a speech at Manchester’s Belle Vue Hotel, given in July 1948 by Aneurin Bevan, just before the NHS came into being. He did not mince his words when recalling Tory attitudes and policies of the 1920s and 1930s.
“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation”.
Tory obstruction of relief for those at the bottom of the pile is nothing new. The only novelty yesterday was the willingness of some within that party to not merely obstruct a move to bring relief from hunger, but to accompany it with the sneering and dismissive attitude that proved too much for the usually sanguine Angela Rayner.
Chris Clarkson’s contribution will be remembered. But maybe not in the way he would like.
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