with apologies to the great man for borrowing the title of his book of poems, top title though, hein?
Mr Salter actually spoke in the Chamber this week. He prefaced his remarks with this:
It is a pleasure to follow Tony Baldry. I can give him some comfort. I have just done a quick count around the Chamber and a clear majority of Members did not vote for the Iraq war. Let us glory in our purity for a few moments.
That may have been the case on the day. Mr Salter himself certainly did not vote against the Iraq war, despite telling everyone who would listen that he had, and informing the Reading party: "I walked through the No lobby with the full mandate of this party".
He continues later:
We also considered the election of Select Committee Chairs. In 2001, a fiasco occurred within the parliamentary Labour party because of the Executive's attempts to determine who their scrutineers were and to decide that Donald Anderson and Gwyneth Dunwoody were too good at their jobs and would therefore be excluded from the list of people put forward for the Select Committee. The parliamentary Labour party for once was not a poodle, and it rose up. As a result, we brought our internal democracy into that process, and the elected Back-Bench Members in the PLP had a say in the names put forward.
That did indeed happen, and I voted to remove the whips from the appointment of Select Committee chairs, and received a message of thanks from the late Gwyneth Dunwoody. Mr Salter omits to inform us that on that occasion he voted the other way.
Towards the end of his remarks he says this:
The farce of private Members' Bills is currently an exercise in using up time. We march the non-governmental organisations and lobby groups up to the top of the hill, and an inordinate amount of time, paper and rain forest is wasted in debating matters that will never get through, because a Government Whip can stand up on a Friday morning and shout, "Object." For goodness' sake, we have to be better than that.
Er, Martin, how often have you actually turned up on a Friday? Or on any other day? The whips don't stand up to shout "Object". They do it from a sedentary position. Do try and keep up. You've only had 12 years to try and learn how to be a parliamentarian.