Political journalist of the year Quentin Letts was recovering from the loss of his “muse” – Commons speaker Michael Martin.
Letts said in his British Press Awards acceptance speech last month: “He’s the sketch writer’s muse. He’s absolutely useless at his job and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Those of us who had the temerity to question him early in his reign soon discovered the measure of the man. Shadowy emissaries arrived from camps deep within Martin territory to threaten our livelihoods.
“It was made clear to me, certainly, that unless I stilled my nib, unless I desisted from my impertinence, I could lose my parliamentary security pass. Thankfully the editor of the Daily Mail filed the protests under L for Loony.”
Letts also reveals that some MPs feel bitter over the role of journalists in the demise of Martin.
“A Fleet Street colleague who sidled up to two Labour Whips to canvas their views was left in no doubt about their fury. John Prescott, invited to comment by a broadcaster, said ‘are you a journalist?’ Yes, said the man. ‘Then sod off!’ snapped Two Jags.
“I was leading a delegation from China around the House of Commons today. The Speaker had announced his resignation and as can be expected, I was asked for comment from the media.
“I’d already politely turned down the BBC and Sky when a young man – he looked a bit inexperienced, I think they call them goafers – interrupted me demanding an interview. I was actually in the middle of explaining to my guests the day’s events.
“I asked if he was a journalist. He said yes. I told him to ‘sod off’.
“After returning from a meeting with the delegation, I got back to my office to discover that ‘sod off’ had somehow been turned into ‘Fuck Off you little c***’. Apparently, Tom Bradby had rang my office to demand an apology, quoting those exact words.”