Shropshire Star

Ryanair fly in to help Shropshire MP

Owen Paterson was thankful to be able to spend two nights in the same bed this week when last night's vote on increasing university tuition fees kept him in London for the second night running, writes Westminster blogger John Hipwood.


Owen Paterson was thankful to be able to spend two nights in the same bed this week when last night's vote on increasing university tuition fees kept him in London for the second night running, writes

Westminster blogger John Hipwood


The Northern Ireland Secretary had just experienced a particularly frantic period of to-ing and fro-ing between the province, his constituency and Westminster during which he had cause to be thankful to Ryanair.

He was due to fly out from Liverpool to Belfast's Aldergrove Airport on Saturday morning for the funeral of Tern Hill-based Ranger Aaron McCormick, of the Royal Irish Regiment, who was killed in Afghanistan on November 14.

However, his flight was delayed for 90 minutes, and Ryanair came to his rescue by squeezing him on to one of their flights to Derry at the very last minute.

"I was so grateful that Ryanair stepped into the breach because I was desperate to get to the funeral, but not to cause a fuss by turning up late," said the North Shropshire MP.

"I shall be writing to Michael O'Leary to thank him for the efforts of his staff."

Mr Paterson was due back in Northern Ireland last night but Government whips wanted all ministers on hand at Westminster to take part in the tuition fees vote.

"It was nice to be able to sleep in the same bed for two nights running," said Shropshire's own Man in a Suitcase.


Mark Pritchard slipped away from Westminster on Monday evening to do some monkeying around in very good company.

The wildlife campaigning MP joined primate experts at the Lyceum Theatre for a Hope4Apes event hosted by Britain's best known conservationist, Sir David Attenborough.

The evening was organised by the Ape Alliance, a combination of charities, to highlight the plight of primates around the world.

It came at the beginning of a week when Mr Pritchard was due to raise questions with ministers in the Commons over his efforts to ban the trade in primates for keeping as pets.

The Wrekin MP got chatting at the Lyceum to Bill Oddie, and the conversation inevitably turned to birds and Mr Pritchard's Wild Birds (Protection) Bill, which seeks to give extra protection to British birds and their nests.

"Bill said he knew The Wrekin quite well, and I invited him back to take another look at Shropshire's impressive bird life," said the Conservative MP.

"We talked about the decline in songbirds and my concern about the disappearance of song thrushes and the effects of another hard winter on the bird population," Mr Pritchard added.

The MP has joined Shropshire wildlife groups in urging the public to provide extra food and fresh water for garden birds during the freezing conditions.


Gordon Brown's Nemesis during the general election campaign, Gillian Duffy, was in the House of Commons on Monday, and she was feted at least by Conservative MPs.

The then Labour leader apologised to Mrs Duffy during the campaign for calling her a "bigoted woman" after he had been collared by the pensioner in Rochdale and asked a perfectly reasonable question about immigration.

Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski said: "I gave Mrs Duffy a kiss and a hug, and we all had our pictures taken with her.

"We treated her like a star, which, of course, she is," added the Tory MP.


Perhaps it was Mrs Duffy's presence at the Commons which kept Mr Brown in Scotland on Monday where the heavy snowfall forced him to cancel an interview with ITN's Mark Austin.

The ex-premier did manage to catch up on his interviews later in the week to publicise his book about how he saved the world during the financial crisis.

Mr Brown is now forecasting the demise of the euro unless eurozone countries come up with a wide-reaching bail-out plan for their banks. But are they listening to a man who allowed British banks and borrowers to let rip when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and later when he was First Lord of the Treasury?


Young children (and the quality of the music) left me out of touch with the rock scene in the 1980s, so, in retrospect, I could never understand the popularity of The Smiths.

David Cameron has spelled out his devotion to the band, however, and has met with a very cool reception from frontman Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr.

Quoting one of the group's hits, the Prime Minister said: "I'm sure when Morrissey finds that he's getting an endorsement from the leader of the Conservative Party, he will think Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now."

He was dead right.

Marr tweeted: "David Cameron, stop saying you like the Smiths. No you don't. I forbid you to like them."

This was followed by a 1,200 word supporting statement from Morrissey explaining his dislike for the Tory leader and his policies, especially his support for hunting.


Overheard in my local paper shop yesterday . . .

Elderly man, referring to the snow and ice on the roads and pavments: "They don't do nothing about the snow, do they? But they still want us to pay the poll tax."

Warning to Nick Clegg & Co: Memories are long when it comes to policies people don't like (the poll tax disappeared in 1993). It's only four years to the next election for students to forget their anger over the increase in tuition fees.

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