At the end of some films there is an outtakes section describing funny or surreal moments. Parliament, and 2011 generally, has certainly had some of them: here's a flavour
- Most interesting politician: for sheer unreconstructed love of life and refusal to abide by others perceptions / rules, it has to be Simon Burns, MP: he is the health Minister who likes a drop, is often found having an early morning cigarette, or several, when I arrive by bike in Westminster, and who confessed to me, "I have always loved Hilary Clinton." He was mortified when I said she might have had a small amount of plastic surgery.
- Biggest regret: missing out on meeting Barack Obama as I was ill. Getting to meet Bill Gates, Kevin Keegan, and getting to go regularly to 10 Downing Street are 3 good alternative consolation prizes.
- Future Prime Minister from the new intake: Stella Creasey for Labour, who is the star of their intake, and Nadhim Zahawi, who is the star of ours. Duncan Hames is best of the new Liberal MPs, although Gordon Birtwhistle is the nicest Liberal I have ever met, and I really hope he holds on to his seat in Lancashire.
- Best Moment in the House: either making my comeback at PMQs, which was petrifying but very exciting, or the Bowel Cancer Debate, which really advanced the screening debate and featured the famous incident when I cut my tie in two in the house [watch the debate below - it is lower down on the blog on the 30th november - there was a good reason].
- Most impressive MPs in the House: David Miliband is streets ahead of the rest of the Labour MPs - he gave a masterful speech in late November. Michael Gove is amazing at the despatch box, but Cameron's range of knowledge, stamina and speed on his feet has to be seen to be believed.
- Best office decoration: Michael Gove has pictures of Obama, Malcom X and one of my heroes, Martin Luther King, in his office: the King picture has below it the quote from the great man:
" The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Best Royal Wedding Moment: I watched the royal wedding from a front row seat in St Thomas Hospital in Westminster, when ill, dressed in loaned doctors scrubs.
Having been ill in 2011 health is the one thing I do not take for granted and I wish you all health and happiness this holiday. I am heading home to a Christmas surrounded by family and friends.