David Howarth, MP, Front Bencher, Stages A Different Sort of Sit-In

My friend David Howarth, MP for Cambridge City, is getting a good press:

Sofa, so good for MP who is winning battles large and small:THE best moment of David Howarth’s six months as Cambridge MP came on Wednesday when the opposition parties and Labour rebels came within one vote of defeating the Government over their Anti Terror Bill.

Only David Blunkett marching through the “aye” lobby just hours after quitting the Cabinet saved Tony Blair’s bacon over a new offence of glorifying terrorism.

Mr Howarth told me: “That was undoubtedly the best moment of my time at Westminster. I was very surprised.

“When I came here I thought voting would just be a way of registering a protest and a challenge to the Government. I never thought we could get the majority down to one.

“In the previous two parliaments the lowest it got was three, over tuition fees.

“But now we appear to have got the Government to change its mind about aspects of the Terrorism Bill. We’ve got to keep up the pressure.”

The strangest thing that has happened is the attempts of the House of Commons’ authorities to claim back the sofa in his office. Perhaps they think that the offending pieces of furniture encourage unwanted intimacy in Westminster offices.

But Mr Howarth is having none of it: “I share an office with Cheltenham MP Martin Hallwood. We have a desk at either end and two armchairs and a sofa in the middle.

“They keep coming round to try to get the sofa but we just sit on it until they go away. They’re not having our sofa.”

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