Party Lines

Daisy Waugh eavesdrops on the chattering classes

Daisy Waugh

Thought I should give you a quick call. Just to say — hope you’re bearing up.

You’re sweet. I must say — telephone’s been awfully quiet. Times like this you certainly learn who your friends are…

How are you feeling? How’s Robert?

Chastened. Eating lots of humble pie.

Yes, I suppose.

He’s sent out a letter of apology to the constituents. The kids and I were hand delivering them over the weekend.

That’s nice.

It’s the least we can do. God knows…

The trouble is, I suppose, when everyone’s doing it…You can sort of forget — how it might look to the outside world.

The kids are getting teased at school.

God. It’s not their fault!

People simply don’t understand.

Of course not.

What kills me — what kills Robert — I mean we’re all in this together — is the damage it’s doing to the country…To our democratic system. To everything we all value so much…

Yes. It’s —

Meanwhile, soldiers are being killed in Afghanistan. Or Iraq. You know. Serious things are happening. But — trust the press — if it’s trivial, they’ll be on to it —

I don’t think it’s completely trivial.

It’s a witchhunt, really…Can’t get at Jade Goody any more. Might as well get the MPs.

Well —

Because while they’re banging on about who bought what pet food on expenses…

Mmm — but it’s not just pet food, Laura…It’s the sort of not paying capital gains, or stamp tax, or any other kind of tax…And the claiming for mortgages that don’t exist…And — I don’t want to mention moats…

But — that’s my whole point! It’s hardly even a moat. Not by “moat” standards.

Isn’t it?



Meanwhile, as I said to Robert, and Robert said to me — our democracy is crumbling. The BNP is knocking at the door. And when push comes to shove — what’s it all about? Some silly member for somewhere putting in a receipt for Tampax when he shouldn’t…

Except it wasn’t just Tampax-

Of course. But people just don’t understand.

Well —

If you compare how much Robert gets paid, you know, to a GP or something. A bloody GP!

Before or after expenses?

People have no idea how hard these MPs work. No idea how dedicated these guys are to the public good.

Long holidays…

Robert’s working ten-to-15 hours a day.

So he says.

Why the hell shouldn’t he be rewarded for it? Why the hell shouldn’t he claim a few things?

Yes but —

It’s one of the perks of the job. Deselection, my foot. Take away our expenses, chum — I said to Robert — we’ll deselect ourselves, thank you very much. Because without the perks —

Oh dear…

What the bloody hell’s the point?

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