hp sauce

No 1: Jo White
New Girl… , Issue 1628

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BASSETLAW BREAKER: New MP Jo White, aka Lady ‘Mystery’ Mann
CONGRATULATIONS to new Labour MP Jo White, who wrested the parliamentary constituency of Bassetlaw from Tory incumbent Brendan Clarke-Smith with a 13.2 percent swing and a 5,768 majority.

White honed her political skills as a local councillor for 12 years, serving as deputy leader of Bassetlaw district council and cabinet member for business and skills – and as a director of two underperforming council-backed commercial ventures.

"Jo will fight like a lioness for you, your family and our community", according to a rousing endorsement on her campaign website from one "John Mann, former MP".

Er, he should know: for Baron Mann of Holbeck Moor, as the previous Bassetlaw incumbent-but-one is now known, not only employed White as his part-time office manager while he was himself the local Labour MP, but also happens to be married to her.

Low profile
Curiously, however, White didn't mention her husband's name on her election website, and she is vague on her LinkedIn profile as to which MP's office she managed for 17 years. Why so coy?

Perhaps Lady Mann, as White is entitled to style herself, felt that trumpeting the association might have been unwise. A critic of previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mann was ennobled by, er, the outgoing Tory prime minister Theresa May in 2019 for services to undermining the Labour party and repeatedly voting for May's Brexit deal.

Mann stepped down from parliament that year having accepted a job as a government "antisemitism tsar" offered by May on her last day in office; his elevation was reported to have been queried by the Lords appointment committee for having the appearance of a bribe.

Mystery Mann
Embarrassment aside, Mann was previously spotted campaigning for his wife, handing out leaflets purportedly inviting Bassetlaw voters to visit parliament – causing the then-incumbent Clarke-Smith to complain to the Lords standards commissioner about improper use of parliamentary privileges, though this was dismissed as not being within its scope to investigate.

Undeclared in White's campaign literature and LinkedIn profile, though not her Bassetlaw district council register of interests, is her recent employment by Mann via his company Suilven Communications, a consultancy through which he receives financial support for his work on antisemitism.

With Mann having retaken the Labour whip as soon as the general election was called and White's position now secure, she may now feel more relaxed about acknowledging his existence in public.



DANCING QUEEN: Education minister, Strictly contestant and New Labour veteran Jacqui Smith.
…And Old Girl
No 1: Jacqui Smith


"WE HAVE the opportunity and the responsibility to put an end to a politics that has too often seemed self-serving," Keir Starmer proclaimed in his first Commons speech as PM. So how does that square with parachuting New Labour veteran Jacqui Smith into the Lords as an education minister? Smith was home secretary under Gordon Brown from 2007-9, when her ministerial record included trying, but failing, to introduce authoritarian measures like a national ID card or 42-day detention without charge for terror suspects.

But Smith is best remembered for revelations during the parliamentary expenses scandal that she had claimed public money for her cable television, telephone and broadband package with non-work related "entertainment items, including paid-for films" – including, humiliatingly, two pornos for her husband.

She also had to apologise to MPs for using the parliamentary second-home allowance to fund her family home in Redditch, while maintaining that a house shared with her sister in London was her principal residence.

Paint job
Smith was forced to resign as home secretary in 2009, then lost her seat in the 2010 election. In 2011, it emerged that two prisoners on day release had spent their work experience painting Smith's West Midlands home.

The Prison Service said this was a "mistake" as "offenders should work on projects which help the whole community", not individuals. Smith made a donation to the charity which arranged the work.

Healthy career
In 2013 she was appointed chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, although she took temporary leave in 2020 from this key health job to appear on Strictly Come Dancing while her hospitals struggled with Covid and faced a porter's strike.

Shortly afterwards, in 2021, she became chair of Barts Health NHS Trust in London. Around 700 support staff outsourced to Serco, including porters and domestics, ran a programme of protests because Barts denied them the NHS Covid bonus; strikers demonstrated outside ITV's Good Morning Britain, where Smith was a regular talking head. The strikers won their bonus this month, shortly before Smith rejoined the government.

Down to business
Since October 2023 Smith has also cashed in on her political links by working for lobbying firm Flint Global. Flint tells its corporate clients – who include Uber, Meta, Airbnb and Amazon – that it will "provide advice at the point where government and business meet", boasting that Smith brings "experience of government as a minister at the top level".

Who better to demonstrate Starmer's willingness to put an end to "self-serving" politics!

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1628 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 1st August 2024
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More top stories in the latest issue:

GROWING PAINS
The job of Treasury financial secretary – aka "growth minister" – goes to Lord (Spencer) Livermore, former New Labour adviser and, alas, PFI enthusiast.

PRINCE CHARMLESS
Is there a new MP in Birmingham Yardley after all? Worker's Party of Britain's Jody McIntyre seemed under that impression, despite losing to Jess Phillips.

MIND OVER MIATTA
Orthodoxy beckons for self-described "heterodox" economic thinker Miatta Fahnbulleh, MP for Peckham and newly anointed energy minister.

BASILDON BONDS
"The revolt against the establishment is under way" according to Reform UK's Nigel Farage. So who exactly are his party's revolting new MPs?

SLIPPERY POLLSTERS
Amid the blizzard of polls this election, one company stands out: Redfield & Wilton. But whose money has it been spending?

SNATCH & VOTE GRAB
Nigel Farage's gung-ho spirit goes awry as he arrives on Clacton Pier not in a tank, as news reports claimed, but a (notoriously useless) Snatch Land Rover.

HOUSING NEWS
Work on a target of 1.5m new homes over the coming parliament, or 300,000 a year, is already under way – and why might that sound familiar?

BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Major reforms will not be a priority for either the new European Commission or Keir Starmer, despite both sides saying all the right things about a "reset".

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