speculation is mounting about what the whips have done to Mr Salter since his "bloke in a dress" remarks about His Holiness Pope Benedict. He hasn't blogged since last week, nor has he voted in the House, and as the Home Affairs Committee is not on a visit anywhere he has no reason to be absent. My source tells me that he has been sent back to the constituency (Reading West we hope) and told to keep a low profile until the fuss dies down. Labour MPs are out for his blood, especially in the west of Scotland where the Catholic vote is significant, but not only there, as he is a vice-chair of the Labour Party and thus was deemed to be speaking for the party when he made his savage personal attack on His Holiness, who will be visiting the UK this year. He wasn't at the last PLP meeting either, having found out that there were members ready to tear him limb from limb and brief the media afterwards.
Even the usually mild-mannered Reading Chronicle has weighed in, with an editorial titled "Handcart for Mr Salter". The Reading Evening Post is doing its best to protect him, but with very limited success so far.