Sunday 14 August 2011

Your MPs: they work for you - in Belize

Definitely not the Rt Hon Matthew Offord, MP, fighting terrorism, drugs & hurricanes in Belize

The strange silence from our local Tory MPs during moments of crisis here in Broken Barnet is quite extraordinary, don't you think?

We are still waiting, for example, for any comment whatsoever from any MP on the scandalous revelations of the MetPro affair. Mr Freer, Ms Villiers and Mr Offord have all been struck dumb by the very thought of what the outcome of these investigations has uncovered. Odd, isn't it?

During the recent riots, very little was seen or heard from any of them, until after it was all over, of course. Worst culprit of the three was Hendon MP Matthew Offord, whose resounding silence and absence from the recall of parliament on Thursday was eventually explained by the fact that he was in Belize, allegedly enjoying a diving holiday with his wife. Other members of the House of Commons and even the Lords travelled long distances to return to London this week: even Mayor Boris Johnson eventually managed to tear himself away from his Rocky mountain jaunt, but apparently not Mr Offord.

Yesterday, a most amusing story appeared on the local Times website. It was confirmed that Offord was on holiday, but as he claimed:

"he has also been engaged in Parliamentary business helping the South American country prepare for hurricane season.

He says he has also been working with coastguards fighting terrorism and the drugs trade, but is unable to say anymore about that side of his trip before he returns on Saturday next week.

He said: “I certainly have not just gone off on holiday. I’m engaging in Parliamentary work in a third world country.

“It’s not the cocktails on the beach that some people like to think it is.

Cocktails on the beach, with you, Matthew? There's a thought.

Mrs Angry wonders if perhaps you might have meant 'developing' country, btw, Mr Offord, but she is pleased to see that you have eschewed the sybaritic temptations of a beach holiday for a top secret mission on parliamentary business. Thank God we have MPs (and their wives) who are willing to undertake such selfless tasks. We look forward with great pleasure to seeing further details in your parliamentary declarations, of course.

There are some very important and interesting links between the Conservative Party and Belize, you know. Former deputy party Chairman, and favourite Tory benefactor, billionaire Lord Ashcroft is awfully fond of the place, and its generous tax arrangements. Remember Ashcroft: the one who was made a peer and supported the Tories financially, but was exempt from paying UK tax on such a substantial part of his enormous wealth? He hasn't always made himself very popular with politicians in Belize, either, as seen by the following remark by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, reported in the Guardian in August 2009,

"Lord Michael Ashcroft is an extremely powerful man. His net worth may well be equal to Belize's entire GDP. He is nobody to cross. But this is our house, this is our country, here we are the masters. And with the full weight of that sovereignty we must now put an end to this disrespect, to this chance-taking, to new age slavery."

Ashcroft is a generous philanthropist, we are told. He started up Crimestoppers, did you know? And gave some VCs to the Imperial War Museum. To his credit he also contributed to and campaigned for the long overdue memorial for Bomber Command crew, which might even appear sometime before the last surviving member passes away, you never know.

Oh, and in the past Ashcroft has been reported to be remarkably generous in giving donations for Tory campaigns in marginal electoral constituencies.

Of course, our Mr Offord probably has never met Lord Ashcroft, and there is no suggestion of any connection with him. But if I were you, Matthew, I think I might introduce myself, while I'm in town.

Belize has a long history and a rich, complex culture, you know: there was the Mayan influence, and centuries of slavery, trading in mahogany, the fight for independence ... and the nation boasts a wealth of fascinating folklore too.

Local mythology tells of 'Lang Bobi Suzi', for example, a female monster who is inclined to whip naughty boys with her giant breasts if they misbehave, or tell her fibs. Oh dear, Matthew: do be careful. And then there is 'Tata Duende', a dwarf who has his feet on backwards and lures unsuspecting victims into the forest, never to be seen again ... Visitors to Belize are warned not to anger Tata Duende, as his wrath can be deadly. Rather like the curse of Mrs Angry.

Bearing in mind Matthew Offord's own long history of unfortunate accidents - breaking his wrist in the bathroom on honeymoon, being attacked by mugs flying out of kitchen cupboards, one can only hope and pray that he returns intact to his grateful consituents as soon as possible.

I suppose if he gets lost, they can always send in the coastguard. Or not.

Not bothered, really, are you, citizens? I think the last week has proved we can survive a crisis without his assistance, or, for that matter, the support of any of our hapless local Tory MPs.


Mrs Angry said...

er 'a reader' says he can't leave a comment: let's see if I can ... maybe Tata Duende was not amused ...

Mrs Angry said...

what you on about baarnett: tut tut, may have to report you to Lang Bobi Suzi ...

baarnett said...

Mrs A: You should email all the Belize bloggers you can find - here are SOME - and ask them to find him, to see what he is really doing.

It would be like that long-gone newspaper feature of the inter-war years, where the public identified a mystery man at holiday resorts to receive a reward, but you had to approach him and say the proper phrase.

In his case, it would be:
"You are the Honourable Member for Hendon, and I claim my free tin of Carrot and Coriander!"

Mrs Angry said...

glad to see you worked out the little technical hitch, baarnett ... I think you are referring to 'lobby lud' or something - you must be much older than I thought. Good to see a silver surfer keeping up with blogging etc, well done.
I did look at the link, but I'm afraid I got distracted by the hotel features: looks lovely - wish I was there, or anywhere else, rather than battle torn Broken Barnet. Oh well. Let's hope our Mr Offord has enjoyed his er parliamentary work, anyway.

baarnett said...

There was a similar newspaper character, I remember, when I used to take the waters down in Brighton. Such fun! The Prince and Beau Brummel were a riotous crowd, searching the while resort for him. Causing such damage!

Of course, we didn't have coriander in those days.

Mrs Angry said...

plenty of coriander in Brighton these days old friend, and a lot more besides ... did you see a lot of Councillor Marshall, down there, in those days? In Brighton, I mean?

Mr Mustard said...

Is it April 1 again Mrs Angry?

I don't belize what our MP is supposed to be doing. The pudding may have been over-egged.

Mrs Angry said...

I think you are becoming far too cynical for your own good, Mr Mustard. Take a leaf out of Mrs Angry's book, and try to remain sweet natured, innocent, and think only nice things about your elected representatives. I am sure that Mr Offord's suitcase does not contain even one pair of speedos, or flip flops, and is stuffed full with parliamentary reading material.