+I’ve just been to London for a couple of days’ art gallery hopping. There’s no better time than during a pandemic. Largely deserted galleries encourage lingering looks at things normally shrouded behind groups of tourists with selfie sticks. But one wonders how long galleries will survive if this goes on much longer. I have written more on my visits to Whitechapel, Tates Modern and Britain, the National Gallery and the ICA (all reports appearing soon) under their respective headings in ’Perambulations.’ There is a common theme of these reviews and it is ‘Black art.’ Some phenomenal stuff.
+I also chanced across an event in the Conway Hall. This was dedicated to the ‘Heroes of Labour.’ Naturally I assumed that this would be a celebration of the lives of Ramsay MacDonald, Hugh Gaitskell and Peter Mandelson, comrades who never flinched in the face of capitalists’ calumnies. But sadly I was sorely mistaken, it turned out that this was an evening devoted to people who had been expelled or suspended from the party in recent years for what the victims outrageously described as ‘specious reasons.’ What a disappointment. Some of these so-called comrades, who were so fairly identified by the party's beaks as bad ‘uns were astonishingly Jewish anti-Semites! One was even the infamous film director Ken Loach, whose films are regularly cited by Kier Starmer as classic testimonies to the shame of unequal, unjust Britain. After two hours of this ‘celebration’ I had to leave, vowing never again to innocently walk into Conway Hall off the street. Just as Sir Kier’s dynamism and charisma is beginning to drown out Johnson’s wiffle-waffle, taking the party to record leads in the opinion polls, we don’t need people organising events questioning what it’s all about.
+About once a year along with 359 other former members of parliament I get a letter from the House of Commons advising me that they are duty bound to release information under the FoI Act in response to a request regarding how many times our former member’s passes have been used. These passes give limited access to the Westminster estate. I assume that these FoI requests are press fishing exercises to see if the passes are being abused, and indeed it appears that in the past some former MPs have abused the privilege. I have to confess: I have used mine two or three times to have a pint in the Strangers’ Bar. This is an offence because it is often said that every drink and bag of nuts in the HoC is subsidised by the taxpayer. All I can say in my defence is that if that is so, I’d be better off staying in Yorkshire where pints are so much cheaper. My pass expired last year and I can’t say I’m much bothered about renewing it. Judging by a story in today’s Guardian the press should keep their focus on current MPs – their particular story considered allegations that a Tory MP was chasing Saudi employment to top up his MP’s poverty wage (school fees are such a burden).
The lesson here is that once an MP, always guilty (mainly by association).