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The Weekly WHIP: 29 March 2012

The Weekly WHIP: 29 March 2012

Assisted Suicide

In a short week in parliament before MPs headed back to their constituencies for the Easter break, the first debate on assisted suicide in the House of Commons since 1997 took place. MPs rejected calls for a relaxation of the rules, and backed the Director of Public Prosecutions in the guidance that he has produced.

An amendment tabled by Fiona Bruce calling for better palliative care was backed as the debate came to an end. During the discussion one MP shared about how his father had chosen to take his own life. Care Not Killing welcomed the decision to support palliative care rather than changes to endanger lives by changing the law.

Donor dinner dates

The Sunday Times (yes I know it's paywalled) had the scoop at the weekend that the Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was promising access to the prime minister and influence on policy for big donations - if you've got the cash, apparently £250,000 is the magic number.

Despite his own apparent influence Peter Cruddas was soon relieved of his position without so much as a cold sausage role for his troubles.

This was the start of a tough week for the Conservative Party, but 'donorgate' as it unsurprising became labelled did at least distract from the mounting disapproval of plans to cut tax relief for pensioners in the future.


If it's not called a 'gate' it at least gets a hashtag. And this week Cornish pasties got one of their own.

It came in a part of the budget George Osborne presumably thought no one would read, and if they did it would be between recalibrating their calculator and voting for their favourite pie chart. But someone did read it and after floundering in response to when he last ate at Gregg's a full blown political crisis was underway.

The problem is this: when you buy food in a restaurant or from the fish and chip shop you pay VAT. When you buy food from a shop you don't. Simple? No.

The problem is that some shops sell hot food, for example Gregg's and other purveyors of Pasties and sausage rolls. So soon there'll be a price hike if you want to grab one for your lunch. David Cameron's spokesman spent most of Wednesday discussing with the press whether the prime minister's last pasty was at Leeds or Liverpool station

Jerry Candering

While it doesn't appear that anyone aside from politicians eager for a photo opportunity is rushing to stockpile pasties, stamps and petrol could soon be scarce. The news came this week that the cap on stamp prices was to be lifted with the price of a first class stamp jumping to 60p.

Plans by petrol tanker drivers to strike caused greater disruption, especially after government minister Francis Maude suggested motorists might like to fill an extra jerry can to help them through the strike. Queues soon formed at petrol stations.

A minister named Francis Maude
Advised petrol-buyers to hoard
But experts disparage
The use of a garage
When flammable stuff's being stored

All this seems to miss the fact that there is currently no date for the strike, and they have to give seven days warning. But maybe it's all just a very clever ruse to push money into the tills, nudging economic growth before the first quarter closes out.