Monday, July 24, 2006

Husky Loving MPs Get Ready to Polish Brass Monkeys

An intrepid cross-party group of Members of Parliament is about to embark on a challenge of a lifetime by husky dog sled. Far from the comfort of the Palace of Westminster, the MPs will travel 400 kilometres across the Arctic Circle to raise cash for charity.

Taking place next February, the Westminster Arctic Challenge is the first expedition of a new cross-party organisation called The Westminster Challenge, which launches today. Established by a group of young professionals from across the political divide, The Westminster Challenge aims to engage politicians directly in the work of charities in the UK and plans to run two MP challenges during each Parliament.

Nick Clegg (LD), Tobias Ellwood (Con), Emily Thornberry (Lab), Ed Vaizey (Con), and Jenny Willott (LD) will be donning their snow-suits and trekking through Finland, Sweden and Norway to the Tri-nations Border to raise much-needed funds for Crimestoppers, Cancer Research UK and The Children’s Society. Each MP will also nominate a constituency-based charity to benefit.

This trek is no easy feat for those taking up the challenge. Not only will they endure temperatures reaching as low as minus 40 degrees, they will be expected to feed, clean and care for their team of husky dogs, build igloos and ice huts in which to sleep and catch their own fish to survive.

Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield, Hallam, representing the MP team, said: “This is such a fantastic opportunity and we are very excited about the trek. We know it is going to be gruelling and that our fitness and stamina will be put to the test, but it’s worth every aching muscle and chilblain because the money raised will go to help a number of good causes. We will be spending time with the benefiting charities before the expedition to gain a better understanding of their work in the community.

“We believe it is crucial that Parliamentarians get behind charities and support the work they do and we will be encouraging our fellow MPs to do so.”

Richard Stephenson, Founder of The Westminster Challenge, said, “We are delighted to have received a great deal of support from senior members of both the Houses of Parliament and the corporate world to date. The idea behind The Westminster Challenge is to bring politics and charities together. Engaging MPs in charitable work, and encouraging them to get out there and raise funds, is something that will benefit and complement the fantastic work charities already do. We are very excited to be launching our first expedition, which will do just that. ”


ian said...

And who will be representing their constituents while they are sodding off to the arctic?

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Didnt you fancy the trek then Iain? I could see you behind a team of dogs shouting Mush Mush!!!

Iain Dale said...

Ian, congrats, you win the award for most predictable comment of the day... but you do have a point!

Jonathan, I have never stood behind a dog in my life!

Anonymous said...

Vaisey and Clegg eh? Wonder what they could think to talk about?

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Ian - I have - but that was just in the queues at a few of the night clubs I used to go to when at University in York. Boom Boom - how un PC of me!

Anonymous said...

Quite approve of charity, but in this case please excuse my cynicism. It's only 'intrepid' if there's no support team, hangers-on, TV cameras, scribes for the local rag, local dog-mushers, guides, etcetera, et-bloody-cetera. Otherwise it's just another parliamentary jolly.

Now if they were entering the Iditerod, then I'd be impressed.

Sled dogs aren't exactly docile pets, so with a bit of luck they may get savaged literally instead of just metaphorically. Oh, good.

'Course, the Synod won't approve - the travel, the Artic covered in dog shit, the whips... it'll definitely be a metaphor for western imperialistic hubris of one stripe or another.

Tip: tell 'em to load up on Imodium; a dose of the trots in such circumstances is very embarrassing indeed: "I'm just going outside - I may be some time."

ian said...

Is there a prize?

I look forward to the "Tobias Ellwood, Ed Vaizey, this is where you should be" posting come February.

Curly said...

"Eight Below?"

Anonymous said...

bt - I like your thinking.

This makes me sick and makes my blood boil even in zeroF temperatures. These people have no experience with sled dogs. They have no idea of how to care for them en route or how to order these teams to work. The Alaskan Ididerod only allows very experienced handlers to take part in the race, otherwise dogs may die needlessly, get frostbite, become confused, get angry because they work as a team and Dave doesn't know how to give commands.

This angers me and I don't want to see it continue. I don't care about "cross-party" publicity seekers and adventure fantasists. Racing huskies is gruelling. If you read anything from someone who's been on the Ididerod, you will know that the "cross party" MPs racing Huskies through the Artic are not of that calibre.

These highly intelligent, well-trained athletes (the dogs) are going to be at the mercy of well-trained Westminster party poodles. The Finnish or Icelandic, or whatever, SPCA ought to step in and stop this horrible circus. I cannot tell you how angry such exploitation makes me, and I'm not even a dog person.

Anonymous said...

Verity - yup, they'll be passengers with occasional photo-ops, is my bet. Never mushed huskies myself, though I know some that have - and it's very definitely not for amateurs, a poor driver can cause a lot of problems for the mutts.

Now if they want a challenge, how about a desert expedition on camels? I'd pay to see that - the heat, the flies, the haemorrhoids, the flies, the intractable beasts, the flies, the scorpions, the monotonous food - oh, and don't forget the flies.

Make the buggers suffer - they have no compunction in inflicting misery on us.

Anonymous said...

"And who will be representing their constituents while they are sodding off to the arctic?"

George Galloway?

Anonymous said...

bt - I like the idea of camel racing. All the things you mention, plus cooking over camel dung fires for that extra desert piquancy. Yes. That might be amusing for the viewers.