Sunday, August 13, 2006

Help on Political Gaffes

Thanks to all those who suggested political gaffes I could include in my EDP article, which I am now in the middle of writing. Just a couple of things. Can anyone remember the detail of Tory PPC Orlando Fraser calling Devon women 'dogs' or what Roger Freeman said that was so insulting to secretaries? I can't find internet references.

UPDATE: Thanks for the help on the above - now I need a LibDem one. I suppose I could use Simon Hughes "I am not and never have been a homosexual" (paraphrasing) but it's not very funny.


Mikey said...

I think that Roger Freeman's comments were trying to promote the supposed benefits of rail privatisation, ie that the new companies would tailor their services according to their perceived audience. Therefore, you could have a luxury service with all the trimmings for business people, and a cheap and cheerful one for typists (probably not his exact words, but the impression given was that secretaries are less deserving of comfortable travel).

Paul Walter said...


The Roger Freeman thing I can remember a bit about. He was a Transport minister I seem to remember. He was trying to talk about the benefits of rail privatisation (this was well before privatisation but it was being designed and prepared). He said that one of the benefits of rail privatisation would be, for example, that different types of trains could be put on for different types of people. For example, he said, cheap and cheerful (I don't think he used those words - it is all from memory and I am parphrasing) trains could be laid on at 8am for secretaries to go to work. Then there could be more (plush - implied I seem to remember) trains for managers and the toffs coming in at 10am.

He realised his gaffe the following day at apparently arrived at the Department of Transport laden with chocolates and flowers for all the secretaries he had offended.

Chris Whiteside said...


If my memory is not playing tricks on me, Lord Freeman had a transport portfolio at the time, and he suggested that public transport could have different grades of service for different prices.

What caused the offence was that he described the economical version as "Cheap and cheerful" and suggested that it might be suitable for people like secretaries.

Anonymous said...


You can find a copy of the article that caused Orlando the problems here

The bit about him is near the end

MJS said...

"They are all notoriously hideous’ - Orlando Fraser, prospective Tory candidate for North Devon (and likely to remain so), when asked if he would marry a local girl"
Wrapping up the year
Sunday, December 21st, 2003 in blogging
and to start it off, here’s something from The Observer

Things they wish they had never said

Theo Spark said...

Every time Cherie opens her gob!

strapworld said...

Nick Harvey's office will supply you with all the details of Devon Dog Women.

Anonymous said...

It was Nicholas Ridley who in 1987 referred to his junior minister as being "our pilot" and then observed that he wouldn't have his bow doors open. Amazingly insensitive remark but of course not the most insensitive of Ridley's career - the one that got him the sack insulted a whole nation.

What about Ed Matts and his photoshopping?

Anonymous said...

Did Simon Highes ever say IANAHomosexual? I thought it was all in the 1983 Bermodsey by-election ("straight choice")

Anonymous said...


That's probably a book rather than an article.

Paul Walter said...

Well there was the whole Jeremy Thorpe thing and the whole MArk Oaten thing, but I find it very difficult to think of any spectacular spoken gaffes as such. The only one that springs to mind is Keith House's career limiting interview with Newsnight before the Eastleigh by-election.

And there was Charlie boy putting our tax policy through a speech scrambler.

You are sure you've got all the Jeffrey Archer stuff, aren't you? "You wait til I'm mayor - you'll find out how tough I am" for example?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if is true but I heard a story about 1994 Eastleigh by-election when LD David Chidgey was exposed as putting a Focus leaflet out in one part of the constituency saying he opposed any expansion of Southampton Airport because of noise and in another part that welcomed Airport expansion proposals because of new jobs.

Can anyone else cast some further light on this?

Paul Walter said...

Got it. David Steel: "Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government".

Much lampooned. Spitting Image did a skit where Steel started with that statement, then thought better of it and said something like "Go back...and prepare to have a jolly good go at forming the next government"...then thought better of that and again and again until he said finally with great boldness: "Go back to your constituencies and look forward to winning the odd council seat here and there" (or something like that).

And of course, Boris Johnson said after he was first elected at 4am: "Let's go back to our homes and prepare for breakfast".

Anonymous said...

Iain, what about Robert Oulds, the Bruges Group Director and Tory PPC in 2005 who was photographed with guns and was subsequently sackey by Micheal Howard after the photos appeared in The Sun under the headline "Would-be Tory MP is gun-nut". How about that tale???

Sir Compton Valence said...

Needs a bit more research but I have a vague recollection of Paddy Ashdown going to meet a local activist and saying: 'Oh, hello Mrs Gas' when her name was Mrs Bag. Might have the names back to front.

Anonymous said...

LD gaffes? How about Jenny Tong's 'If I was a Palestinian living in the occupied territories I might be tempted to become a suicide bomber' comments? They earned as much wrath as Cherie Blair's 'no hope but to blow themselves up' comments, and led to her sacking from the frontbench.

Anonymous said...

"UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom has been quoted as saying "No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age". He goes on to add other gems like "I want to deal with women's issues because I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough" "


Mr Man said...

Lib gaffes?

"Go back to your constituencies and prepare for thirty years of humiliation and snide remarks from Labour and Tory members alike."

Anonymous said...

1 - Charles Kennedy being unable to explain the Lib Dem Council Tax plans before the last election and then blaming it on the baby

2 - Charles Kennedy denying he had a drink problem

Anonymous said...

Iain, I love your blog, but I don't like your comment about Simon Hughes. My limited understanding is that he is more of the Cliff Richard religious persuasion, so may be celibate.

Whilst we can all find that amusing, and like satire,I'm not really sure that a snide remark is called for.

Leave that sort of thing to Guido, who I'm sure you will soon be thrashing in the ratings purely because he often stoops that low.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, I don't think it was snide! Simon Hughes did an interview with the Independent saying exactly that - and later came to regret it. Anyway, I didn't use it in the article. Too many other funnier things!

Anonymous said...

Over the weekend, i remember two from my patch (the NE0 and my Party

1) A meeting of the Association of North East Councils when it was explained that the new inspection regime for LA's would mean 'peer review' and one old boy from a Co Durham district council saying that no bugger from the House of Lords would be telling him how to run his council


2) A LP Rally in Gateshead back in the 1980's where the chair (an old Councillor from Gateshead) told us all 'to welcome the star speaker, a man of real vision, i give you David Blunkett.....'