Those pestilential vapours emitting from the House of Commons are more varied in number and subtle in energy than is widely acknowledged. The capital’s parliamentarians, for all their so-seeming shining health, ooze with a host of undetected maladies that have diseased our Body Politic.
Dame Margaret Hodge (Barking)
Mumps is an infection the primary symptom of which is that it causes the sufferer’s head to become vastly inflated. Whether it was her tenure as a notoriously interfering children’s minister, or publically chastising companies over their tax arrangements while maintaining shares in Stemcor, a company that paid 0.01% tax on profits of 2.1 billion in 2015 – there are few people more closely associated with big headedness than the MP for Barking.
Barry Gardiner (Brent North)
Racoon Roundworm Infection
Have you ever watched the Shadow President of the Board of Trade give an interview? You’re left feeling deeply confused but also a little dirty, soiled even, simply by being privy to the conversation. Raccoon Roundworm Infection results from close contact with dirt, in particular that produced by large, land-dwelling rodents (the sort which, for the record, Barry Gardiner himself bears more than a passing resemblance to). As such, it is a perfect fit for the skin-crawlingly unappealing MP for Brent North.
Harriet Harman (Camberwell & Peckham)
Polio is a disease that comes about through prolonged exposure to faecal matter, which is exactly what would happen if you went around with your head entirely inserted into your own sphincter. Harman unstintingly paints herself as a trailblazer who has revolutionised the role of women in the body politic. Given that she was sacked after only a year in her role as Minister for Women, Harman should rethink her self-portrait as a latter-day Barbara Castle. Polio withers limbs, leaving the sufferer unable to transport themselves effectively. As Harman has failed, despite being an MP for 36 years, to bring a tube station to her inner-city constituency, the comparison is all the more apposite.
Greg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham)
The Common Cold
The MP for West London’s gilded strip is the common cold. The whiny, omnipresent sort of infection that’s been lurking about government for years but shudders at the sight of a Lemsip. The sort of irritating busybody of a virus strain that would try to use the Grenfell Tower disaster as an excuse to achieve its long term aim of cancelling the Notting Hill Carnival. Greg Hands – the human runny nose.
Mark Field (The Cities of London & Westminster)
Foot and Mouth Disease
Pairing the MP for arguably the most urban constituency in the UK with that most rural of infectious diseases might appear to be a mismatch. However, not only does Mark Field have a perfectly agricultural name but he also had a long running affair with Liz Truss, a woman who enthralled the Tory conference with a speech about the farming industry – discussion of premiere pork products were presumably part of their pillow talk. Agricultural associations aside, Mark Field has made some past public pronouncements where foot and mouth have met firmly as one. For instance, he is on record as criticising AIDS charities, and is part of a one man campaign to enable MPs to earn more cash on the side. Foot and mouth is, therefore, the perfect fit for a man with the air of a villain in a Michael Morpurgo book – stony faced and dry eyed as the ashes of a thousand hand-reared lambs swirl around his head.
Kate Osamor (Edmonton)
Porphyria is a rather nasty infection caused by the buildup of substances under the skin. It was what caused King George III to be labelled ‘mad’ as one of its main symptoms is an inability to control oneself leading the sufferer to indulge in unpredictable public outbursts of strange and often violent behaviour. Being MP for Edmonton clearly has a similar sort of effect. Kate Osamor not only rather dubiously claimed not to know that her son (and communications manager) was a convicted drug dealer but also threw a bucket of water on a reporter who deigned to ask her about it, told him to ‘fuck off’, and then remarked that she should have ‘come down with a bat to smash your face in’.
Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington)
An infection that leads to embarrassing displays of public contortion, rendering the sufferer to appear as a thrashing wreck of ineptitude incapable of coherent speech.
Meg Hillier (Hackney South & Shoreditch)
Black Piedra sounds as if it’s an exotic and exciting disease. An infection as pregnant with swashbuckle and romance as it is possible for an infection to be. In fact, Black Piedra is a run of the mill fungal infection of the hair follicle. Such a disparity between expectation and reality also affects the MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch. It sounds like it should be a constituency with a zany, loose cannon of a democratic representative. Enter Meg Hillier. Is she cool Aunt Meg, who lets you smoke a spliff round her house when you’re fourteen? No. She’s a white, privately educated middle-aged lady. She’s fine. She’s safe. She’s Black Piedra.
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington)
It only requires the tiniest amount of Legionella bacteria to pollute entire bodies of water, infect vast swathes of people, and send sufferers crashing down with agonising muscle pains and high fevers. John McDonnell is the perfect fit for this feisty little infection – a rogue backbench MP for a nowhere seat, he has gone on to act as the brains behind an impressive coup that has basically left the Labour Party feverish, internally conflicted, and facing the real prospect of death.
Sir Keir Starmer (Holborn & St Pancras)
Sir Keir Starmer sounds like an absentee landlord in a Walter Scott story. As such, he deserves to be associated with the sort of archaic disease that might feature in an unreadable novel. Quinsy is a manifestly ineffectual disease – it is basically just a glorified sore throat. It’s the sort of disease that leaves the sufferer ineffectually rasping away in barely audible irrelevance while the nation careers into a new Victorian era.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
It was years ago now – a one-night stand, thrilling and sensuous at the time. One problem however: it was unprotected. The constitutional condoms of thresholds and primacy of the parliamentary party were left in the drawer this one time. But one time is, as the STI ads remind us, all it takes. Now you’re stuck with this disease for what certainly feels like forever. It’s a retro infection, it’s associated with insanity, it’s enjoying a surprise revival amongst the young, it’s probably something you’d encounter at Glastonbury. It’s syphilis. It’s JC.
Emily Thornberry (Islington South & Finsbury)
The problem with Emily Thornberry is that she’s really difficult to call – is she your mate’s fun step-mum who tells the dirtiest jokes ever after a few large Pinot Grigios, or is she just a convenient shill, throwing shade on breakfast TV while Seamus Milne draws up his list of kulaks to be liquidated? In this sense she is the MP most like herpes. Is that mark on your colleague’s lip an innocent cold sore or the sordid sign of a night of torrid sex? Is Thornberry a game laugh or a front for a group of mad racists? As with your colleague’s weird herpes mark, the answer is ‘probably both’.
Emma Dent Coad (Kensington)
It must be really grim to have salmonellosis – it’s sort of food poisoning on speed. Caused by salmonella, it results in uncontrollable noxious emissions from every orifice going. Similarly, it must be grim to have Emma Dent Coad as your MP, a woman given to repeated noxious emissions. Be it slagging off Prince Harry’s mental health, tweeting pictures of political opponents being hanged, or referring to a black candidate as ‘a token ghetto boy’ – EDC just doesn’t seem to be able to stop these things coming out her mouth.
Justine Greening (Putney)
If you ever find yourself complaining about having Justine Greening as your MP (and, let’s face it, if you do have her as an MP, you live in Putney – and so therefore senselessly whining about things is one of your primary hobbies) then stop immediately – you have nobody but yourself to blame. Ditto if you get botulism, it is almost certainly your own fault. If you go around eating meat cut from rotting whale carcasses or consuming vast amounts of out of date nacho cheese (both genuine examples from the United States) then it is not especially surprising that you end up ingesting unpleasant toxins. Greening barely held on to her seat in a close vote, only managing to do so because a chunk of the electorate presumably couldn’t be bothered to vote her out. Just as the ‘creative eaters’ who find themselves struck down with botulism, the people of Putney only have themselves to blame for their current MP.
Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park)
Many people who contract Lyme Disease think they’ve got rid of it only for it reoccur months or years later. They foolishly imagine that the constant headaches and aching joint pains are gone after the tick borne bacterium announced that it was a bit peeved about a runway at Heathrow and resigned. Then, one morning they wake up in their lovely leafy suburb, hazily check BBC News and find, to their surprise, that Lyme Disease is back and as painful and wearing as ever.
Chuka Umunna (Streatham)
It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for bird flu. Just a few years ago it was the infection du jour. The fashionable bet to be the disease that would finally bring about the world-ending pandemic that we were all gagging for. It was even talked about as the heir to the Black Death. Now look at poor old Bird Flu – sidelined by the rogue appearance of Ebola and now languishing behind good old fashioned self-inflicted methods of extinction like the possibility of the nuclear apocalypse. Bird Flu is yesterday’s pandemic, just as Chuka is yesterday’s man.
Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham)
Smallpox was declared officially eradicated by the World Health Organisation in 1980, 3 years after the last known case was diagnosed. The last known case of Vince Cable and his party, the Liberal Democrats, actually doing anything was in 2015, meaning that a declaration of eradication is surely only a matter of time.
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
Like Kate Hoey, rabies has a longer incubation period than many other diseases. You could have been walking about Vauxhall for any period of time since 1989 without realising that your MP was, in fact, a frothing lunatic. Rabies infects the nervous system after transmission – most usually via an animal bite (who knows – perhaps Hoey’s long standing enthusiasm for hunting comes from a rabid run in with a fox?). Next thing the sufferer knows, they’re foaming at the mouth whilst on a boat, accompanying Nigel Farage as he chucks fish at Bob Geldof.
David Lammy (Tottenham)
It’s almost impossible to turn on a screen and not see a preening David Lammy. Many is the bourgeois Facebook feed heavy with purring approval for his ‘amazing’ take downs of Brexit. He’s big on exposure – and, just as Lammy is all about exposure, so too is chickenpox. There can be few diseases so popular that people actively seek exposure to them, but chickenpox is one of them. Yet, as with Lammy, chickenpox is popular precisely because it is utterly ineffectual. Great, your speech in parliament got loads of shares. Marvellous, you survived chickenpox. Well done you. Unfortunately, neither one will protect you from one of the eminently nasty selection of diseases that are currently in control of your nervous system/ancient parliamentary democracy.