Bob Marshall Andrews MP - Hero
Bob arrived in the Commons as a mature politician and wit. He speaks with an enviable aplomb and authority that destabilises frontbenchers equipped with their prepared ill-understood scripts.
His election was unexpected in this safe Tory seat. He has shown an admirable repeated disdain to pleas to remain ‘on-message.’ He is a frequent interviewee on the Today programme reinforcing the view that there is still a small niche in politics for those who always tell the truth.
He founded the ‘Old Testament Prophets’ inspired by the surprising revelation by Tony Blair that the origins of New Labour were in the Old Testament Prophets. They meet occasionally in Amigo’s Restaurant and they attracted Simon Hoggart and Michael White as speakers.
Journalists selected Bob as the most promising newcomer. The whips may have exacted a traditional retaliation. They allowed Bob time off from parliament to attend a final case in Hong Kong. The news and an estimate of the fabulous fee was leaked to the press. The whips are the only suspects.
In his maiden speech in June 1997 he said,
"So many hon. Members have made maiden speeches tonight describing so many parts of the United Kingdom that it occurs to me that visitors from abroad who are in the Strangers Gallery might have saved themselves the cost of a guide book."
Of his Medway constituents he said "They do not, and would not, subscribe to the small-mindedness of view and the smallness of vision that sometimes masquerades as Euro-scepticism."
Declaring an interest as a lawyer he said that conditional fees would " ...lead to an avalanche of litigation and a bonanza of work for the legal profession. This is wholly undesirable. They will be able to enrich themselves and take their income from the damages awarded to the poorest people in society."
In September '98 Speaker Boothroyd tried to slap him down.
MADAM SPEAKER: Order. I am quite capable of reading the Bill, which is now available in its final form. He has every right to do so, but at the right time. Will the hon. Gentleman take his seat until I have given him a little guidance?
Most new members would have sought a hiding place under the benches. Bob came back with "I am not talking about the merits of the clause from which I quoted; I cannot do so, because I cannot decipher it. Having spend a great deal of time trying to read it, bringing to it what legal experience I have, I find it completely incomprehensible."
In February 2, 1999, he successfully incited mutiny among fellow free thinking backbenchers with his opposition to the Government’s Bill to reform the Lords.
He said "My reservation about that Bill is that it is far too long. The single important clause reads:
'No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage.'
I should prefer a shorter Bill, which would read:
'No one shall be a member of the House of Lords.'
If that is felt to be too succinct, I would be prepared to widen it so that it read:
'No one shall be a member of the House of Lords or anything remotely like it.' "
He described himself as an "unashamed, intractable, practising unicameralist. In a modern elective democracy there is no purpose in having a second Chamber, be it elected, partly elected, appointed, partly appointed, anointed, semi-anointed, or even driven in haphazard groups from the street to form the people’s second House.
To reform this House and the Palace of Westminster, we do not require the expense of the members of a royal commission; we require a gang of bricklayers. They should be told as a matter of urgency to wall up the entrance on the other side of the Central Lobby."
He is the Commons most precious new rarity.