This article is from the April issue of Total Politics
Paul Flynn. First elected as Labour MP for Newport West in 1987, he’s now been stalking the corridors of Westminster for 25 years. He’s well known, both for his dogged backbench campaigns and his opposition to UK military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Babbo - an Italian just off Piccadilly that combines a luxurious menu with a relaxed Tuscan-inspired interior.
Starter Caprese salad with Burrata cheese, tomato and basil; beef carpaccio with Parmesan cheese, mustard sauce and capers.
Main course Lasagne with Chianina beef ragout; sea bass fillet with olives.
We drank A glass of Anselmi San Vincenzo red; Morsi di Luce dessert wine.
‘Ineptocracy’ It’s a word I’m trying to popularise. I keep using it in the House because it makes people sit up. It excites the brain and is a bit different from the verbal Polyfilla that people come up with. That’s going to be the coalition’s epitaph: ‘They were killed by their own ineptocracy.’
Mistakes My biggest mistake? Resigning from the frontbench. I was appointed by Neil Kinnock to the frontbench during the first six months I was in Parliament. I thought we were going to win in the 1992 election, but I resigned because I didn’t want the life of a minister; I wanted the life of a backbencher. In the start of my autobiography, there’s an anecdote from my wife, saying she gets asked whether I ever take her advice, and she said: “If he had, he would have been prime minister.” She didn’t want me to resign from the frontbench. It wasn’t a sensible decision, in retrospect.
Accusations of anti-Semitism It’s like saying Nelson Mandela is a racialist, or something. It’s the last of all the accusations that I’d expect to be made of me, fair and unfair. It’s a question of people looking for a story. It was The Jerusalem Post that raised the possibility of having a Zionist ambassador, not me.
I didn’t go on television, I didn’t deny it, on the grounds that I was feeding the beast. I eventually apologised because it was getting so big that nice, elderly people I know were asking me if it was true, so I had to climb back and say it could have been misinterpreted. It was just outrageous, the untrue accusation. I was publically elected for the first time in 1972. Someone would have noticed if I was a racialist anti-Semite!
David Davies Electing select committee chairpeople has really worked in some cases – like Andrew Tyrie – but really not in the case of David Davies [chairman of the Welsh affairs select committee]. He is my greatest regret in politics. When I was first elected in 1987, I went to a school in my constituency, and there was a stocky sixth-former who kept asking awkward, aggressive questions. I said to him that the best thing he could do was join a political party, which he did. He’s now the MP for Monmouth, and I wake at two in the morning and writhe with guilt that I unleashed David Davies on an unsuspecting Parliament. But there we are.
An indulgent and very Italian lunch. If you want to see an entire mozzarella on your plate, oozing deliciousness, this is the place to go.
Not suitable for
A quick bite or anyone who likes their food simple. The service is excellent but laid-back, and the chef does his best to elevate well-known Italian dishes to a new plane of richness and complexity.
A two-course lunch, excluding wine, is £19, or you can have three courses for £22.
To book a table at Babbo, visit www.babborestaurant.co.uk or call 020 3205 1099