Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Oona King 'The Bridget Jones of the Commons'

Oona King has announced she wants to be Mayor of London. I had a look on the web, one of the first things to come up was the article below. Rather than me discuss her good and bad points she does the job herself.

Just look at the title. And why write for the daily mail? And why call yourself Oona King - 'The Bridget Jones of the Commons'? No mention of being only the second black female MP.

She has some odd things to say. Listening to a speech from Gordon Brown is better than sex!
She quotes Tony Blair describing her speech as: "Brilliant zit."! She 'was shocked when George Galloway announced he was standing against me, but then I realised it could be a blessing ? I could escape the biggest constituency caseload in Britain. In fact, maybe I should deliver his leaflets.'

February 16, 1998. 'Bloody Whips wanted me to vote to bomb Iraq. I didn't.' No mention of her voting for the Iraq war. Which surely is why she lost to Galloway.

Unlike the rest of the country, in the recent election London went for Labour; perhaps as a response to Boris. So Labour should have a chance to be the next Mayor. But with Oona?

'The Bridget Jones of the Commons' By OONA KING 01 September 2007
It is 9am and I am searching for pornography on my parliamentary internet account.
It's essential I find some pretty sharpish. I'm due in hospital for IVF treatment this morning and we need a sperm sample.
Neither myself nor my Italian husband, Tiberio, has ever felt so turned off in our ten-year relationship.

I suggest porn, but am taken aback when Tiberio says he doesn't have any.
I thought even nice men always had a secret stash.

The 1997 General Election was like being rushed into political Accident & Emergency. Unlike candidates selected years earlier in other constituencies,
I didn't have to campaign endlessly before the starting gun in April. I took Bethnal Green and Bow with a seemingly impregnable majority of 11,285.

May 6, 1997.
First day at school. I walk into the Chamber, gobsmacked to be standing between the famous green benches.
Three male Tories walk in, such a bizarre species with their upper-class accents and public-school striped ties.
They are in two minds about calling security. Then they see my Member's pass. They look at me as if I've gatecrashed their private club.

July 1, 1997.
Today I made my maiden speech. There was a man and his dog in the Chamber.
Well, maybe a dozen MPs. You could see the few still awake saying to themselves: "Oh my goodness, it seems she can actually string a few words together."

February 16, 1998.
Bloody Whips wanted me to vote to bomb Iraq. I didn't.

November 11, 1998.
Got in from the Commons after midnight.
Tiberio told me I'd left the bedroom a mess and that our marriage was pointless because we never saw each other.
Went to bed at 4am, alarm went off at 6.30am. Meetings all morning. After Prime Minister's Questions, I was summoned to the PM's parliamentary office.
Inside were the people who ran the court of Tony: Alastair Campbell, Sally Morgan and Anji Hunter.
The door to the main office was ajar and Tony was at his desk poring over papers. He nodded in my direction.
"We need you to pen an article," said Alastair.
"Ken Livingstone."
"Well, as you know, he's trying to undermine the Labour Party."
"What sort of article?"
"An article saying he can't be trusted."
I wasn't a cheerleader for Ken but I didn't like the way Blair had tried to prevent him becoming Labour candidate for Mayor of London.
It was a democratic process and we shouldn't undermine it.
Pathetically, the first words out of my mouth were: "Why me?"
"Well," said Anji, playing her good-cop role without irony, "you're considered independent-minded."
"And you're an ethnic minority MP," said Alastair, "you're held in high regard by the black community who make up a large proportion of London's electorate. We need you to get the message across."
"Thing is," I said, "I don't go in for personal attacks. And the other thing is, I don't agree with the strategy."
"Look," said Sally. "He's out to destroy the Labour Party and we have to respond."
"But you see, Sally, I don't agree that he's out to destroy the Labour Party.
"He just has a different point of view."
"B*******!" Sally slammed the desk with her fist. I jumped involuntarily.
A booming voice in my head was saying: "Backbencher under attack. Mortal danger. Must retreat."
"Look," said Alastair. "This is a direct request from the Prime Minister. Is your answer yes or no?"
"If you need an answer right this second ... "
"Yes we do."
"Well then...I know it's the end of my political career, but the answer is no."
Alastair replied: "It's not the end of your political career, Oona. Just the next five years. You can go now."
Alastair was sort of joking and sort of not. Their demeanour was deadly serious. That's why they are good at their jobs. They have to be nasty so Tony can be nice.

December 11, 1998.
Karen Buck and I, as executives of the London Group of Labour MPs, have a meeting with the PM to discuss immigration.
Two days beforehand I get a message from Sally Morgan telling me not to come. I ring her to find out why the meeting is cancelled.
She said: "The meeting with Tony hasn't been cancelled. It's just that on reflection we decided it was better if you didn't come. Immigration is a highly sensitive issue. We can only have people we trust."
In medialand I am described as a Blairista, but in the real world, in No 10 they don't trust me as far as they can throw me. There is no love lost.

April 16, 1999.
My constituency surgery lasted six hours. As usual, I saw loads of desperate people.
A woman sat at my desk, alone, petrified, disabled with lupus, clutching her crutches.
No family, no friends, no money. Anthea was 21. Apart from £5 to get a taxi home, she was penniless. I gave her £20.
On the way home I stopped at the bank. "Available balance £6.10," said the cash machine. Just £6.10 to last until payday in two weeks.

September 4, 1999.
Samos. Four hours left of our four-week holiday.
There was crisis in May when Tiberio sort of asked for a divorce ("You're married to the constituency, not to me"); the constituency was bombed [the Brick Lane attack that formed part of a campaign to target ethnic minorities] and I had death threats from extreme Right-wing groups.
I now feel stronger, but not fit. Tiberio on the other hand is a vision of taut, rippling muscles. It's like being married to Kate Moss, except he is Italian and looks like an Indian prince.

January 9, 2001.
Left Parliament, got into our new car at midnight and crashed it.
Arrived home at 4am, when I noticed my pager had a message from Tiberio asking me to ring him at about 1.30am.
Tiberio calmly told me he wanted to leave me because he'd had enough of waiting for me all night. He is going to find out if his office can move him to Italy.

January 12, 2001.
We've arranged to go away for the weekend, to Suffolk to try to stitch our marriage back together. Tiberio packed food and a nice bottle of wine.
Anji Hunter was making arrangements for Blair to visit my constituency on Monday. I had to ring her the minute she paged me.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find my mobile. We were 40 miles out of London and I went to double-check my pager.
Then I realised I'd left it in a petrol station. The only thing worse than leaving my pager in a petrol station when the PM's office is trying to get hold of me would be to tell my husband that he's got to drive a 100-mile round trip to find it. I thought: "I'll send a message [to the pager] saying, 'I've left my pager with you, could you please ring me back?'"
About three minutes later this nice petrol-station attendant rang me on Tiberio's mobile.
"Thank God you've got my pager," I said. "I'm really grateful because I was expecting an urgent call." "Oh, yes love," said the attendant. "You did get a call about five minutes after you left. It was from an Anji Hunter. The message said to ring her urgently."
I tried to meditate.
"Oh, don't worry love," said the man. "I rang the number."
"You what?!" I was almost screeching. The petrol attendant had rung No10.
I rang Anji to apologise and explained we'd be at the house soon. But there was a power cut, Tiberio's mobile had no signal and, worse, there was no heating.
We got candles from a pub and Tiberio worked out which fuse had gone. I rang Anji and she was relaxed. It's obvious why she's the PM's assistant: she's happy to deal with any old rubbish at midnight on a Friday.

January 21, 2001.
Tiberio says he's leaving me again because the one night I get home early to see him, I go to sleep.
I often work a 90-hour week. It's a terrible thing when the person you love says they don't like you any more; not even they don't love you.
That's why I think I'm close to a breakdown. He says: "You're a politician, I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth."
I'm f****d whatever I do. Either I stay in my job and lose my husband or save my marriage and lose my job.
I've wanted to be an MP since I was five. How can you give up your dream when you come that close to being in government and having influence to change things for the better?
So few people have this chance, and no other young black woman has this chance in the Commons right now.
To come this close and say: "Er, actually, it's not for me. No thanks."
It makes me want to cry. But it will have to be my job that goes because Tiberio is more important. I've decided to resign.

May 14, 2001.
Campaigning after foot-and-mouth crisis delayed General Election. It's nice to see yellow "Vote For Our Oona" stickers appearing in windows.
However, I'm sick of my own voice. And if I get one more f******* question about burning cows...

June 10, 2001.
Was re-elected just in time for Tiberio's birthday ? the worst present I could give him.
He hasn't seen me for months. Still, my share of the vote went up from 46 per cent in 1997 to 50.4 per cent.
That's the sort of thing MPs get really excited about.

August 26, 2002.
To celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary we went our separate ways ? to Greece as always, but to different islands.
Tiberio spent a week thinking about our relationship and decided that, in fact, he loved me.
I reluctantly agreed to six months' relationship counselling. Roles reversed. He wanted to save the marriage, I no longer did.
The counselling was helpful because it allowed us to ask the questions in a rational way. We stayed together.

January-April, 2003.
I wrote virtually no diary entries during this time. I spent months agonising over the vote for war in Iraq. Five years earlier I had argued against military action in Iraq.
I had asked for Saddam Hussein to be given more time to comply with UN resolutions.
As the vote in 2003 approached, I felt I could no longer do that.
But had I known then that the American government had not one scrap of post-conflict planning in place, and that their stupidity would condemn Iraq to endless war, then I would not have voted to invade.

June 13, 2003.
It's the Cabinet reshuffle today. As usual, I haven't got a promotion. Devastated.
I cannot think of any other workplace where I wouldn't have made a bit of progress. That's Westminster for you. And once you cross these guys, that's it.

December 2, 2004.
Watched Gordon Brown deliver his pre-Budget report. He wiped the floor. The Tories hardly bother to attack.
No disrespect to my husband when I say that listening to Gordon at his best is better than sex.

April 4, 2005.
Today was the day the PM didn't fire the starting gun for the Election because, the night before last, the Pope died.
All parties suspended political campaigning as a mark of respect. Except Respect.
I was shocked when George Galloway announced he was standing against me, but then I realised it could be a blessing ? I could escape the biggest constituency caseload in Britain. In fact, maybe I should deliver his leaflets.

May 5, 2005 ? Election day.
I've lost to Galloway. I feel deep, deep shock. But then again, I don't. It's not the end of the world.
I walk down the steps of the stage and hug Tiberio. It's almost 5am. Almost time to start a new life.

November 13, 2002.
Big day in Parliament for me today.
I seconded the Queen's Speech. My speech went well. I got loads of letters from MPs saying they liked it. Unfortunately, you can't read their writing.
Gordon Brown wrote: "Congratulations on your great speech on the Mormons." Translation: Commons.
From Jack Straw's letter:
". . . Combining great humus with some onions. So my sinuses lung rabulation." Translation: Combining great humour with serious points. So my sincere congratulations.
The letter from the PM read: "Brilliant zit." In fact he'd written, "Brilliant. It is a difficult speech but you did it superbly."
The Leader Of The Opposition, Iain Duncan Smith's response in the Commons was really funny.
He said: "I gather that when the Hon Lady was a teenager she said she wanted to be both Prime Minister and an air hostess. There is consistency in her ambition: air hostesses and the Prime Minister spend their days repeating the same pre-prepared and utterly predictable announcements before jetting off around the world."
Then, bizarrely, I listened to IDS quote me talking about Tiberio: "He is Andy Garcia-gorgeous, speaks five languages including Japanese, has a black belt in karate, does all the shopping and cooks the most fantastic Italian food."
"Now we know," continued IDS, "why she has campaigned for so long and so hard to change the hours in this place: she wants to get home earlier."
He is so right.

The Oona King Diaries: House Music, by Oona King, is published by Bloomsbury on September 17, priced £12.99. To order your copy at the special price of £12.99 with free p&p call The Review Bookstore on 0845 606 4213.

Comments (1)
Since losing her seat as an MP, Oona King has been on TV at every available opportunity proving in my view that it was the fame/media attention associated with her position that she loved above all. Please Oona I'm sure you're a lovely person but go away - just for a little while at least. Please?
- Ollie, London, England, 03/9/2007 10:08

1 comment:

burgun said...

"I've wanted to be an MP since I was five."

Scary. I dont want this woman as London's mayor.