Londoner’s Diary: ‘Build new parliament and turn Westminster into part of V&A’

·3-min read
Andrew Adonis (Andrew Adonis)
Andrew Adonis (Andrew Adonis)

THE Houses of Parliament in Westminster should not be refurbished, but instead transformed into “one of the most phenomenal tourist attractions in the world” as part of the V&A Museum, Lord Adonis tells us.

A new parliament should be built in either Birmingham or Manchester, he argues, as the projected cost

of restoration work for the Westminster site is estimated to be heading towards £14 billion. It may also take 20 years to complete. “Once people understand that and these facts get out into the public domain,” Lord Adonis tells us, “I think a debate will be unstoppable about whether it’s better to build a completely new building and treat the Palace of Westminster as a very distinguished and historic museum.”

He went on: “I’m not pretending that I’m surrounded at the moment by well-wishers”, but added he had seen stranger things happen. A bold plan.

Ding-dong! XR’s on your doorstep

Extinction Rebellion  march through the streets of London (AFP via Getty Images)
Extinction Rebellion march through the streets of London (AFP via Getty Images)

EXTINCTION REBELLION have had a tricky couple of years, but they’re planning for a “much bigger” year in 2022. And that might involve seeing them up close and personal at your front door. On their website the group promise more of their well-known “mass participation civil disobedience campaigns” but also say they will get back to their roots after the pandemic pushed them towards smaller events. Now they plan to roll out “a nationwide programme of door-to-door canvassing, talks, training”. Will door-knocks help or hinder their campaign to wrest back control of the news from coronavirus?

Hari turns focus back on critic

Johann Hari (Getty Images for Politicon)
Johann Hari (Getty Images for Politicon)

JOHANN Hari has hit back after writer and broadcaster Dr Matthew Sweet accused Hari’s new book Stolen Focus, which is about the impact of technology on attention spans, of “exaggeration” and “cherry-picking”. Author Hari, above, insists Sweet has been “persuaded by the scientists who argue that there is no attention crisis”.

“There’s a huge scientific debate about attention and focus, and I interviewed over 200 of the leading experts on this question. I was persuaded by the many distinguished scientists who argue that we are currently facing a serious attention crisis.

“To name just one cause - we sleep less than we did in the past, and there’s strong scientific evidence that if you sleep less, your attention gets worse. The leading expert on this at Harvard Medical School, Dr Charles Cziesler, told me that even if nothing else had changed, that alone would be causing a serious attention crisis - and that’s not the only change that has happened.

“I engage deeply in the book with the kind of arguments [Matthew Sweet] puts forward, and explain why I was not persuaded by them.”

Yesterday Sweet wrote: “Johann wants us to pay more attention... If we paid more attention, then weak and tendentious arguments with a sprinkle of plausible science would have less traction”.

Sweet also said that he had hoped to challenge Hari in a Radio 4 interview before the latter pulled out.


Diane Morgan, Ricky Gervais and Dame Penelope Wilton (Dave Benett)
Diane Morgan, Ricky Gervais and Dame Penelope Wilton (Dave Benett)

STARS Ricky Gervais, Diane Morgan and Dame Penelope Wilton were interviewed at the Southbank last night for the premiere of season three of Afterlife. Over in Hackney, chef Tom Kerridge was at a screening of the restaurant kitchen drama Boiling Point. One of the film’s stars, Ray Panthaki, and actor Ellise Chappell also made the event.


SIR Steve Webb, a former minister, was once so deep in the virtual world that there was a Lib-Dem conference event called “Steve Webb wrote on my Facebook wall” and he thought his gravestone would read: “He replied to emails.” But now he tells The House magazine he despairs of the “depressing” state of social media. Bring back the more innocent age.


MP Karl McCartney is one of Parliament’s petrolheads, so what did he make of the news this week about an electric Mercedes that can reportedly travel the length of Britain on a single charge? “It might tempt me to try it,” he tells us coolly. It seems green campaigners may have a way to go yet to convert the hard core.

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