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Heard the one about the stoat and the prawn?

Michael Crick | 09:22 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

I thought Gordon Brown got the slight edge over David Cameron in Wednesday's Queen's Speech debate.

But the Conservative leader got an excellent laugh when he pilloried Mr Brown's Government Of All The Talents - the so-called Goats - distinguished outsiders who were brought in as ministers in the Lords without ever standing for election or getting their hands dirty in politics.

But five of the Goats - Digby Jones, Mark Malloch-Brown, Stephen Vadera, Stephen Carter and Ara Dharzi - have now all left ministerial office.

"The only jobs this prime minister has created are for his cronies," said Mr Cameron, "all of whom have repaid his generosity by leaving his government at the first opportunity - but of course keeping their well-upholstered seats in the House of Lords.

"Never has so much ermine been wasted. Never have so many stoats died in vain. Never mind jobs for the boys - under this prime minister it's stoats for the goats".

It was a variation on a wonderful 17-year old joke by Michael Heseltine from back before the 1992 election, when he taunted Labour leaders Neil Kinnock and John Smith for trying to woo the financial community with a series of lunches and dinners in the City of London - what became known as the prawn cocktail offensive.

"All those prawn cocktails for nothing," Mr Heseltine told MPs. "Never have so many crustaceans died in vain. With all the authority I can command as secretary of state for the environment, let me say to the Labour leader 'save the prawns'."


  • Comment number 1.

    How tired will I get with all this early electioneering?
    It is not close to Christmas and so on and so on, lights, decorations and all that.

    How about a 3 week campaign? Any thing outside of that a fine, or on a TV style show as we are in now a MP gets left out of the election with no replacement.
    That would liven things up!!

  • Comment number 2.

    My initial impression was that Brown did better than Cameron.

    However, this morning it is the complete reverse. Kelly's intervention was key; Brown has been exposed as not wanting to deal with the expenses issue.

  • Comment number 3.

    no doubt then cameron would support reform of the house of lords to an all elected chamber and an elected head of state and a new national oath and new words to the anthem?

    or does one have to be of a certain class to have ermine?

  • Comment number 4.


    Might that be rhyming slang for YAWN?

  • Comment number 5.


    I stood for Parliament in 2005, and on the back of that, I am here, launching my campaign for 2010 - not to be an MP you understand, but to awaken the good Burghers of Newbury to the charade that is Westminster Party Politics.

    This is an invitation to tag along, Michael. Of course, if I spot you trying to make me look stupid (perish the thought) you're dismissed.

    The election campaign starts here.

    PS As I have no party-affiliation and will not be standing, there is no call for balance. Let us go forward together - unbalanced and proud of it.

  • Comment number 6.

    as time goes on and Tory policies unravel it can only get better for Labour and they have the added bonus of the knife being weilded in early January, enjoy your Christmas Gordon, after you have gone, Labour can get down to business.....

  • Comment number 7.


    Stephen Vadera should read Shriti Vadera or Baroness Vadera to you!


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