Lady Brady joins a low-energy bunch

Karren Brady

For services to West Ham, women in business and The Apprentice, Karren Rita Brady, hereafter to be known as Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge, stood robed in ermine before the Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, to be formally introduced into the House of Lords.

Presumably, her services to the adult entertainment industry, in which she worked with some distinction as David Sullivan’s right-hand woman, were not considered, though some might think there was an overlap between that and being George Osborne’s warm-up at the Tory conference.

Brady was flanked by Lord Feldman, one of the prime minister’s closest friends, and her fellow Apprentice reality star Lord Sugar, his own best and only friend. Sugar was on his best behaviour; his hair was newly corrugated and he did his best to look solemn. It can’t have been easy for him to let someone else hog the limelight. The tight-lipped Brady read out her oath of allegiance and scuttled off, leaving the money shot to Baroness Trumpington. Her look of horror at who the Lords had now hired was priceless.

Over in the Commons it was an energy saving day with everyone going through the motions. Shadow leader of the house Angela Eagle used to enjoy her weekly spats with first Andrew Lansley and, more latterly, William Hague at business questions but now she looks as depressed as everyone. It was bad enough when only Labour MPs knew how desperate Ed Miliband’s leadership was but now it’s an open secret, Eagle cannot bring herself to take on the Tories single-handed. She used to tease; now she just stands up and says: “What are you up to, then?”

Hague did his best to coax her out of her depression but she didn’t even bite when he mentioned some statutory instruments. “They are very big instruments,” he snarfed. Eagle remained impassive. Hague looked disappointed, pleading with her to smile: or at the very least display a post-feminist flash of anger. Nothing, except a lowering of the head. He then listed all the Labour media own goals of the past couple of days, including those of Thomas Docherty, the shadow deputy leader who was sitting beside Eagle. Nothing again. Hague tailed off. This wasn’t even fun for him. Eagle ended the session, sobbing quietly in a corner, begging to be put out of her misery. But no one had enough energy to do it.

Appropriately, the least energy on display was to be found in energy questions. The government’s one passing nod to climate change is to nod off when it is mentioned. It is also one of the few sessions where some of the lesser lights on the backbenches get time to practise their remedial reading lessons by reciting their questions. Lib Dem Tessa Munt has yet to complete a sentence that anyone in the House can recall. “Rooftop er solar er is er silent er and er invisible,” she began as other MPs started their own conversations.

David Rutley talked about “extreme weather” – by which he seemed to mean winter – while former junior minister Greg Barker had his own extreme hissy after failing to be called. He marched off to have a word in Bercow’s ear and eventually got his way, but it wasn’t worth the wait.

Meanwhile, the new minister of low energy Matthew Hancock – who doesn’t generate too much electricity between his synapses at the best of times – bobbed up and down until his battery ran out. Then the lights went out.

Powered by article was written by John Crace, for The Guardian on Thursday 6th November 2014 17.53 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010