David Parkin on Northern wailers, Boris, Zippy and the Honey Monster

CALM down, calm down!

I know that was the catchphrase of Harry Enfield’s Scousers but you could currently apply it to quite a few people across the North of England.

Last night this rather agitated lot were shouting loudly from the rooftops and ringing church bells across the North country.

Well they weren’t, they were doing the modern equivalent and taking to Twitter.

On that social media platform many donned virtual sackcloth and ashes at news of the departure of Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry in the Government reshuffle.

The fact that the Minister has decided to quit a role that used to see him attend Cabinet meetings sent many to their phones to Tweet their dismay at his departure and  to proclaim that it signals Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to the North after his election triumph was an empty promise.

It seems Mr Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, who has held the role of Northern Powerhouse Minister since 2017, was offered a new role in the Foreign Office which required lots of international travel.

But he said with three children under the age of three he could not commit to it.

He has been replaced by Simon Clarke, the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, who, one report noted, is the second tallest MP in the House of Commons.

I like that kind of detail.

Anyway the cause of so much consternation on Twitter was that his role as Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and will not see him attend Cabinet meetings.

Cue wailings that BoJo has let all of us in the North down and his commitment to “powering up the North” is no more than an empty promise.

I doubt it.

Many are keen to portray the Prime Minister as a bumbling buffoon who stumbles from one calamity to another.

I’m not so sure.

Yes, his appearance and persona makes him easy to underestimate.

But that almost certainly suits him.

You don’t get to become Prime Minister by accident.

Well, unless you’re Theresa May.

Boris Johnson is no fool.

He knows his whopping 80-seat majority from December’s General Election was the product of winning many traditionally Labour seats across a swathe of the Midlands and North.

Yes, many voters in these constituencies did want him “to get Brexit done”.

But they also wanted to see the economy outside London improve with more investment channelled away from the capital.

And if Bozzer doesn’t show that he is delivering it by the time of the next election in less than five years’ time then they will turf him and his Tory MPs out as quickly as they voted them in.

The role of Northern Powerhouse Minister was created during the coalition government after 2010 by Prime Minister David Cameron in response to his Chancellor George Osborne creating the Northern Powerhouse as a title to encompass economic development in the North of England.

After the departure of the then occupants of 10 and 11 Downing Street, new Prime Minister Theresa May marginalised the role, one of her many misjudgements.

But the one consistent thing about those who became Northern Powerhouse Minister is that they were unknown before they got the job and haven’t done much after they left.

Andrew Percy, Simon Wharton and Jake Berry.

You could apply Kitty Muggeridge’s famous comment about broadcaster David Frost to them all.

They “rose without trace”.

And disappeared without any fuss too.

So before we lament the departure of another inexperienced, junior politician let’s get a little bit of perspective.

That’s my polite version of not repeating “calm down, calm down!”

Because the biggest news of the Cabinet reshuffle was the resignation of Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid.

And he has been replaced by his deputy, Rishi Sunak, who took over from former Conservative leader William Hague as MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire in 2015.

And so in losing a minister who attended Cabinet meetings by invitation, the North has gained a representative who is in a role deemed to be the second most powerful office in British politics after the Prime Minister.

And Dominic Cummings.

Some believe the new Chancellor is a puppet of the Prime Minister and his chief strategist.

But anyone who has watched his progress in business and politics and his media appearances, can see a bright, talented confident individual who will bring a sharp intelligence and insight to his new role.

While the sackcloth and ashes brigade whip themselves into a self-pitying frenzy, the rest of us will watch with interest to see what happens with the new Government and what it can deliver for a large swathe of the nation outside the South East.


FOR anyone who has visited America, you will know that most things are bigger, louder and more in your face than most of us are used to.

And I’m not just talking about the President.

I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that everything over there is better than over here.

But their business people definitely have more impressive names.

Take the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a man who is one of the biggest chicken farmers in the USA.

Step forward Zippy Duvall.

Ooh Geoffrey!


I’VE been away in Devon and Cornwall this week staying at a couple of hotels where my partner Harriet is doing some marketing consultancy work.

I carried the bags and took the dog for a walk on the beach while she went to strategy meetings with the hotel owners and management team.

From my research in the hotel bars and restaurants I can report that not many of the guests at these establishments are fans of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or his acolytes.

Over breakfast one morning, one chap on the table next to ours referred to Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey as “Rebecca Wrong-Daily”.


THE barman in one of our hotels was a chatty character who used to work in financial services and advise lottery winners on investing their winnings.

Before moving to the South West he lived in West London where his friends included an Irishman who did all the stunts for Roger Moore in the James Bond films.

Now that’s impressive, but it was one of his other friends I was more impressed by.

He was a voiceover artist who used to provide the voice of the Honey Monster in the Sugar Puffs adverts.

Tell ’em about the honey, Mummy.

I most certainly will.

Younger readers, and those of a nostalgic persuasion, may want to click on the clip below.

Have a great weekend.

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