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Tom Tugendhat was in his element as the harmonious figure, like one of those ‘good Germans’ in a World War 2 film: QUENTIN LETTS watches the discussion on MPs’ safety

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During a purple discussion of MPs’ safety, that sensitive bloom John McDonnell, the Pericles of Middlesex, lisped ‘we have to be careful in our language’. McDonnell! He’s the chap who talked of lynching the Tories’ Esther McVey. Now he was auditioning to replace the puppy in the Andrex advertisements.

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Hands clasped, he adopted the soapy voice archdeacons use when about to announce a discreditable decision. To be fair to the old brute, he did admit he had ‘had to learn lessons over time about the nature of the statements I’ve made’. That may be as close as we will get to a McDonnell mea culpa.

The Commons had just heard security minister Tom Tugendhat make a statement on ‘the security of elected representatives’. This is Westminster’s latest obsession. It was invoked last week after Sir Keir Starmer bullied the Speaker into bending the rules in his favour ‘out of safety fears’. The safety of his own career, that is.

More persuasively there was the recent decision of Mike Freer (Con, Finchley & Golders Green) to quit politics owing to thuggish threats. There are tales, also, of MPs, particularly black women, being menaced by racists and religious extremists.

Even Andrew Gwynne (Lab, Denton & Reddish), mildest of minnows, had faced trouble. Okay, he has a voice that whines like an electric shaver and you can see how that might become annoying but he is hardly a lightning rod. The most animated he becomes is when discussing bus connections in the Denton and Reddish conurbation.

‘Just as World War II films often have a ‘good German’, centrist Tom Tugendhat (pictured) likes to present himself as one of the Government’s more harmonious figures’, Letts writes

'With the House in rhubarbish consensus mode, Mr Tugendhat was in his element,' writes Quentin Letts

‘With the House in rhubarbish consensus mode, Mr Tugendhat was in his element,’ writes Quentin Letts

He dropped his voice as low as it would go and talked about ¿freedom of speech and thought¿ and told troublemakers ¿we will go after you, we will get you¿

He dropped his voice as low as it would go and talked about ‘freedom of speech and thought’ and told troublemakers ‘we will go after you, we will get you’

Nonetheless he had received a death threat and had to have his daughter escorted to and from college. With the House in rhubarbish consensus mode, Mr Tugendhat was in his element.

Just as World War II films often have a ‘good German’, centrist Tom likes to present himself as one of the Government’s more harmonious figures. On TV he’d be played by Bernard Hepton.

He dropped his voice as low as it would go and talked about ‘freedom of speech and thought’ and told troublemakers ‘we will go after you, we will get you’. He did well to make sure that ‘get you’ didn’t sound remotely like Alan Carr.

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His performance received hear-hears from various Leftwing women who are martinets for political correctitude and try to close down viewpoints with which they disagree. Can we now take it they will never again complain about impertinent parliamentary sketchwriters? ‘We will not be cowed, we will not be silenced, we will not be bullied,’ averred Sir Winston Tugendhat.

His Labour opposite number, Dan Jarvis, was better equipped for the task. Ex-Army officer Jarvis has a left eye that almost closes when he is being statesmanlike. A cross between Herbert Kitchener and Popeye, he said it was startling anyone should try to ‘intimidate or harass MPs’.

Someone should tell Sir Keir. Members of the Government and Opposition whips shifted guiltily on their bottoms, too, for their whole lives are devoted to terrifying MPs. Meanwhile, I tried to work out whether or not I would eat Mr Jarvis’s left eye if I found it like that in a bowl of moules mariniere. They say you mustn’t touch them when they are completely shut, but just slightly ajar can be okay.

Stella Creasy (Lab, Walthamstow) said she’d been saying this sort of thing for years. Dawn Butler (Lab, Brent Central) tried to make it all about the Tories and Islamophobia, whatever that might be. Drawling super-snoot Dame Caroline Nokes (Con, Romsey) flared her nostrils and had a gratuitous swipe at Liz Truss. La Nokes is Rowley Birkin in an Armani pencil skirt.

And then Beth Winter, the Cynon Valley Corbynite, moaned there was nothing wrong with pro-Palestine marchers and Mr Tugendhat finally tired of all the pompous unity baloney and bit her head off. Much more like it.

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Source: Daily Mail

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