Lynne Featherlite, Minister for Bubbleblowing in the LibDem Con Coalition, has received a 'severe dressing-down' from officials after posting a number of bizarre blogs and tweets revealing government policies, her opinions about ministerial colleagues, and comments about royal embarrassment Sarah Ferguson. These postings are understood to have alarmed senior government figures as they threaten the strict Ministerial Code of Conduct, writes Political Correspondent, Gerry Mandering.
Miss Featherlite, 58, the MP for Chatham-with-Awle, Norfolk, has kept a blog since 2003. Many of her blog updates are announced by tweets to her 3,800 Twitter followers.
As soon as she entered the government, Miss Featherlite began sharing her thoughts on the blog. On May 14th, hours after kissing black rod and being sworn in by the Chief Fop and Serjaunt-at-Barratry, she tweeted a link to her blog at midnight. The entry said: 'so thrilled and enchanted by it all. When I was told I had got the post of Under Secretary of State for Bubbleblowing (Home Office), it didn't sink in. Now I realise what an opportunity it is to make some serious changes. Just now, lying in my bath, tenderly caressing my still-firm breasts and soaping my intimate parts, it occurred to me how sexy I still am. But also, I can do something at last, now I am in government. The new coalition is really iffy, and there are bound to be fights, but we shall see. Just now, reaching for the loufah, I thought of George Osborne and his wallpaper Empire. I must speak to him about the wallpaper in the Commons. Room for change there.'
More worryingly, at midnight on 17th May, there was a posting about Home Secretary Theresa May: 'Theresa's record on gay rights is a concern. And the way she dresses. Well, I shall fight for change there. Just thinking as I lie back in my bath and soap my belly - the Maggie Thatcher Dominatrix shoulder-padded power-dressing look may have been fine in the 80s. But now? I must speak to her about softer tones. Flowers and flounces. The right sort of foundation on that ever so slightly hatchet face. Sorry, Theresa, or Miss May, as Nick and the boys call her. They love all that!'
Two days later, at 1am, came a link to the following blog entry: 'The old Speaker was such a bore. He only cared about Scotland and men's things. This new chap seems much nicer. He seems quite amenable to my thoughts re the decor. I must say I do like his shoes and his well-pressed trousers. You can tell so much by the trousers, I find. The House needs to change though. It would be much nicer if we said goodbye to all these horrid benches.
'I've a few rather radical notions involving break-out areas, pods, scatter cushions, brainstorming 'niches', and the whole workspace needs an infusion of flounces, curtains for doors, 'ideas clearings' where the seminar zone is ringed by green plants and attendant wholistic therapists.
And all that dry-as-dust terminology! I simply don't understand it. First names please guys! And lay off with the nasty legal stuff - this girl's head will burst one day! This is so exciting. Lying here naked drying my legs after the bathwater has drained out, I am quite aglow.'
On the 22nd May at midnight, Miss Featherlite announced a new policy before the government had made it public, and made adverse comments about the judicial system. 'This new bill will grant anonymity to anyone accused of using a domestic vegetable for sexual purposes without consent, unless they are found guilty. There is a big gap out there, between what's happening and our ability to bring justice to victims - only 60% of reported cases get as far as a conviction. This is crap. As a vegetarian, this is crap.'
The final straw for government chiefs appears to have been her tweet linking to an internet copy of an interview given by Miss Featherlite on Sky News, where she spoke to interviewer Adam Torymann about the Duchess of York. 'I mean, it was so shoddy, so shabby. Dirty. The wallpaper in that room where the interview took place. What was she thinking? But what do you expect from someone with her taste in men and dress sense!'
To compound the violation of the unwritten protocol prohibiting criticism of the Royal Family or its Hangers-On, Miss Featherlite had tweeted that she was going on the Sky News show, even before she had told Home Office officials of her plans.
It is understood that Top Mandarins have given Lynne Featherlite an official warning. It is also clear that she has been disciplined by the Home Secretary. Her tweets and blogs have become much more restrained, though there was a brief hint as to the disciplinary process she had undergone.
On 27th May at midnight, she tweeted a link to the following entry in her blog: 'Lynne is a chastened girl. I deserved it, and I certainly got it. I won't be sitting in the bath, or putting my poor bottom anywhere near a hard surface, for a day or two. Miss May certainly wields a rod of iron. In the shower just now (couldn't bear to sit in the bath as I say), I kept thinking about it. I didn't realise that discipline could be so exciting.'
Miss Featherlite is no stranger to controversy, having once exhorted women to enter politics as a way of meeting 'powerful rich men who appreciate a truly feminine but intelligent girl'. She achieved notoriety two years ago when she called 999 after burning some toast. In 2006 she tabled parliamentary questions after being informed about plans to open a betting shop and lap-dancing bar in the House of Commons. The plans were revealed to be a hoax, and she was dubbed 'a bloody gormless cow' by Labour MP Dennis Skinner.
A Home Office spokesperson, Minnie Malaprop, told us: 'Lynne Fetherlite has - like many Ministers - been boggling for many years, and is well-versed in Ministerial Pratcalls'.
We think we might have misheard some of that statement, but that is by no means certain.