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What is Sir Stuart Bell for?

If Sir Stuart Bell had any ordinary job, he’d be out of a job. As it is, he is MP for Middlesborough and paid an annual salary of £65,738 to serve as the town’s MP whether he turns up to work or not. He also claimed £82,896 for staffing costs last year, which includes the salary of his wife, Lady Margaret, who is paid more than £35,000 to work as his office manager. The local paper, the Middlesborough Evening Gazette, exasperated by the claims of members of the public that he often does not reply to emails, letters or calls, decided to investigate:

The Gazette made a total of 100 calls to Sir Stuart’s two published telephone numbers during weekday office hours between May and July, when Parliament broke up for the summer.

We used a variety of different Middlesbrough landline numbers and mobile phones – to conceal the fact that the calls were coming from this newspaper – and a log was kept of exactly when each call was made.

No one ever answered the phone. All calls rang out to an answering machine.

There are other aspects of Sir Stuart’s performance which are worthy of attention:

  • He hasn’t held a surgery for 14 years.
  • He has rarely spoken in the Chamber since the General election – just four speeches.
  • He isn’t a member of any parliamentary committee.
  • He has voted in parliament roughly half as often as the average MP in this session.
  • It is suggested that he actually lives in France.

Ed Miliband is reported in the Independent as treating the allegations against Sir Stuart with the “uttermost seriousness“. If they are proved, their source added, “the Labour whip could be withdrawn. Pressure could also be put on Sir Stuart’s local party to deselect him.”

Sir Stuart yesterday told the Independent that the Gazette‘s campaign was politically motivated following a campaign against him last year by his Tory opponent, John Walsh, in which he was described as the “absentee MP”, but that is hard to accept given that the Gazette was at pains to compare his performance with other local Labour MPs.

It is true, however, that the Tories helped bring the matter to the attention of the Westminster village. Guido Fawkes drew attention to the Gazette’s report yesterday, as well as to a video about John Walsh’s rather juvenile “Bell End” campaign.

Schoolboy behaviour, however, is not limited to the Tory candidate in Middlesborough. Sir Stuart is himself the author of a work of “erotic fiction” entitled Paris Sixty-Nine. Interested would-be purchasers will be disappointed to learn that only one used copy is available at Amazon for £77.55 in a condition described as “acceptable”. Perhaps, in a work of erotic fiction, “acceptable” may not be acceptable enough.

5 Comments

  1. James says:

    Without the attention of Guido and the Tories – would you be bringing this story to the attention of your readers?

    Thought not…hence the need for Tories to highlight which is the nature of political accountability. Unlike some less than honest political discourse – looks like they were bang on the money with this one.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      James: Yes, you’re right, that’s the justification for multi-party democracy.

  2. Andrea says:

    I suspect he will be soon told to retire at next GE

  3. Phil Bates says:

    Actually Daily Mirror journo Kevin Maguire
    Tweeted this story with a link to local
    Gazette article the day before Guido who is
    generally is sluggish with anything breaking
    these days. Do keep up :o/

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