Milligan's week: Sleeping rough

By Becky Milligan
BBC Radio 4's World at One


I am hearing quite a bit about IPSA at the moment.

I recall one prominent Conservative MP telling me that this will be THE issue in politics. (By the way, IPSA is the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, set up after the expenses fiasco.)

It was hard to believe at the time - I thought he might be setting me up.

You see, he was telling me this shortly after the birth of the coalition back in May.

It was sunny and warm, the new duo of Cameron and Clegg linked arms and everyone swooned (Well not everyone, but you know what I mean.)

However, later on I did remember the MP in question - who shall remain nameless - and decided to give him a call.

Once on the line, I confirmed that he was currently sleeping on his office floor. I was instantly instructed that I should tell no one at all.

So I launched into my fantastic idea and offered to keep him company with my microphone.

Commons sleepovers

We could go to the all night fluorescent-lit diner in Soho. You know, that lovely one where those boho people hang out.

Or what about an all-night cinema, or perhaps the 24/7 supermarket? That would be a help wouldn't it? Do the week's shopping? I thought I could do mine at the same time. Oh, the relief.

"Are you MAD?," he asked.

"Nooooooo, of course not. It could be so, so much fun and I want the listener to hear your story."

"What on earth is in it for me?"

I couldn't budge this MP. He said no. On reflection, I understood.

Although I did tell him I thought he was woefully unimaginative in failing to see how I could turn it into radio. He burst out in a hollow laugh.

Ah, well.

This week I heard about more MPs and their sleepovers. No money for the London pad, you see.

Death threat

Makes you wonder though, doesn't it?

Do these MPs wander the corridors late at night looking for company, in search of a bit of comfort?

What can it be like? Do they wear pyjamas? Invite their families to join them?

And what do they do when they hear the soft step of the health and safety officer.

They must be so looking forward to recess and a comfy bed.

The tuition fees madness still lingered in the air this week at Westminster.

I met up with a Lib Dem MP who had burst into tears when they had abstained in the crucial Commons vote.

Jean therapy

The MP pulled through, and told me, on Thursday, that they had received a death threat. Amazing. Someone had bothered to e-mail them and write to say that they should be "tortured to death."

Anyway, the MP went on to tell me that one of their friends, another MP, was waiting for some payment or other from IPSA and he had been forced to sleep over on friends' sofas and floors, like a student. Hmmm.

Afterwards, sitting in the BBC offices at Millbank, a friend tells me that there was a Point of Order about members wearing denim, yes denim, in the Commons chamber. (Slight mix up when I thought he meant Labour shadow minister John Denham. NO, he said, denim like in jeans.)

Can you credit it?

Someone else chipped in that he was fairly sure he had seen MPs playing solitaire during debates.

I suppose they must entertain themselves somehow, when the going gets tough, and they do at least stay in the chamber.

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