Who’d be an MP? If they’re not being castigated for forgetting people’s names and significant parts of their manifestos, they’re being stung by the media in under-cover cash-for-questions scams.
Let’s just be clear about this: I expect cash in return for questions. I have never worked for the Foreign Office and I possess no special knowledge that could aid fictitious Chinese companies – but I very definitely expect cash for questions.
For example: on Thursday evening 5th March, my very first question for the panellists at the Star Sports Cheltenham Preview Night (in the Grandstand at Cartmel – tickets only £15 including a one-course meal) will be “Which David Pipe hotpot should we lump on at the Festival?”
The answer might be Ballynagour, as it was last year when Marten Julian tipped the 12/1 winner, in the Byrne Group Plate. Or it could be Gevrey Chambertin in one of the 3 mile handicap chases, Moon Racer in the Bumper or Un Temps Pour Tout in the World Hurdle. Either way, we’ll be expecting a big cash pay out.
Unlike politicians, who are meant to be diplomatic at all times (because even racehorse trainers are potential voters) the panel will be brutally honest. I’m sure they’ll tell us that Unique De Cotte, who holds three Cheltenham entries for the Pipe stable and is owned by legendary gambler JP McManus, jumps like a hairy yak whose fringe has fallen across his eyes. There’s no point in pulling punches at this stage of the season: Unique De Cotte can’t win and our hard-earned pennies should be invested elsewhere.
I expect the evening’s compere, John Sexton, will ask which is the better bet – Simply Ned in the Champion Chase or Eduard in the Ryanair Chase? They’re both lively outsiders ridden by Brian Harding - who selected Balthazar King, the 4/1 winner in the Cross-Country Chase, for us last year. Fortunately Brian is an excellent jockey as well as a tipster – because he rides this week’s selection: Glingerburn in the Premier Hurdle at Kelso on Saturday.
Also on the panel is Mark Howard, an author and journalist – two of the most popular jobs in the country, according to a recent YouGov poll. While 60% of people stated that they’d like to write a book and 39% of people thought it’d be good to be a journalist, only 26% of people indicated that they’d want to be an investment banker – which just goes to show that money isn’t absolutely everything.
Who’d be an MP? Well apparently 31% of us said we’d enjoy the role – the same proportion that said they’d like to be a Hollywood movie star. Of the two, I'd prefer the one that allows me time off to watch the most racing.