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Old flames clash in commons

Michael Crick | 16:35 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

It was amusing to hear the Universities Minister David Willetts being questioned in the Commons today by the former Labour minister Helen Goodman.

How could Willetts have just published a book about the unfair advantages given to the baby-boomer generation, she teased, and then "burden" the next generation with high tuition fees instead of placing the burden on "those of us who had such an excellent free education"?

Thirty years ago, when these two particular baby-boomers were both high-flying young civil servants in the Treasury, Willetts and Goodman were boyfriend and girlfriend.

They had the same party affiliations then as they do now, and very different views.

Indeed it was great fun to have them round to Sunday lunch, as I did more than once, as one was always assured of a great ding-dong round the table.

On another occasion the couple attended a fancy dress party together. David Willetts went as Joseph Chamberlain (a Birmingham hero of his) whilst Helen Goodman dressed as the great socialist intellectual Beatrice Webb.

What made it all the more amusing is that in real life Webb was once Joseph Chamberlain's mistress.

Alas, no photos seem to exist of the fancy-dress party. If I'm wrong, you know where to contact me.

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