Absolutely Fabricant: the sacked Tory vice-chair who’s whipping up a Twitterstorm
He?s the maverick, wild-haired Tory vice-chair who was summarily sacked this week, and has since whipped up a Twitterstorm. Rosamund Urwin asks where next for Mad Fab ? Strictly?
Keep your hair on: ?The REAL reason for my sacking was anti-blond bias in the party,? Fabricant claims
The debate was over the Twitter hashtag. Should Michael Fabricant?s sacking be referred to as #fabgate, #fabgeddon or #fabuloust? Given that the Conservative MP for Lichfield ? a maverick famed for his borrowed-from-a-fairy mane and loose tongue ? had just been sacked as the Tories? vice-chairman, in part for tweeting dangerously, it was perhaps inevitable that he would create a storm on the micro-blogging site complaining about it.
?Been asked to resign as vice chairman, refused, so sacked over HS2 and my views on a recent Cabinet minister,? he wrote on Wednesday night, presumably tugging his hair in irritation as he typed. That minister, of course, was Culture Secretary Maria Miller, of whom the 63-year-old had written: ?Well, about time,? when she finally KO-ed her own Cabinet career. Fabricant went on to say that if he were ever to be a minister again, he should ?be like [former immigration minister] Mark Harper. If in trouble, resign quickly and in a dignified manner?, an attack on Miller so unsubtle it could be spotted from space.
Westminster insiders say it is more likely to have been his opposition to the High-Speed 2 rail line (which goes through his constituency) that did for Flamboyant Fab. That and a personality clash between him and the party?s election expert, Lynton Crosby. Nonetheless, Fabricant went into full glasnost mode.
Typing at an RSI-inducing rate of about 20 tweets per hour, Fabricant saw the bright side of getting the boot ? his increased social media fanbase. ?The great thing about being sacked is that I have got 1,000 more followers on Twitter in just a few hours!? A lot more, he later pointed out, than he had gained after his dire appearance on Have I Got News For You (although perhaps that shouldn?t have come as a surprise).
Fabricant kept up the momentum yesterday. ?I look at it this way: now I can REALLY tweet what I think *screams of ?oh no? from Whitehall*? he wrote. Then, being the Tories? other blond buffoon, he joked that he was handed his parliamentary P45 due to a dark-haired conspiracy. ?The REAL reason for my sacking was anti-blond bias in the Party. Neither DC [David Cameron] or GO [George Osborne] are blond. Blonds everywhere unite!? Fabricant later claimed he had been asked if he would like to return to government only a fortnight ago ? he turned the offer down so he could keep publicly attacking HS2.
All through the episode he was retweeting messages of support, sometimes garnishing them with his own little jokes. To a Twitter user who said he?d happily have a pint with Fabricant, he replied: ?I?d have a drink with anyone! *hick*.? He agreed with another who suggested ?being Chairman of Vice wasn?t nearly as exciting as it sounds?.
Disappointingly, Twitter users didn?t start chanting FABRICAN FABRICAN, but they did proffer a few new career options. A hairdressing reality show. A turn on Strictly Come Dancing (he gamely retweeted ?Fabricant in sequins and lycra… *mind bleach*?). Writing the ?Wilderness Years? section of his memoirs. A suggestion he might go on I?m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here was swiftly rejected (THINK WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE HAIR IN THE HEAT, PEOPLE).
Fabricant?s Twitter biography includes the usual disclaimer: ?My views are strictly my own ? not the Government?s.? No wonder. He has form on social media. There was the time he asked on Twitter: ?Why is it not called a suck job?? (actually an interesting question: it might be a corruption of the Victorian slang ?below-job? or it?s simply facetious). Then there was the time when ? asked about his sexuality ? he joked about having an affair with a llama, adding: ?I will not reveal its sex? and tweeting a picture of Darren, a llama that once belonged to Times columnist Matthew Parris. Apparently, Lynton Crobsy was not amused. So it may have been a dig at the election guru when Fabricant wrote on Wednesday: ?Now free to speak openly about llamas (in-joke) and other matters.?
Sometimes, it appears Fabricant?s fingers move faster than his brain. In 2012 he angered rape charities after comparing the sexual abuse of minors by old celebrities to everyone smoking pot in the Sixties.
Fabricant has always been something of a wild card, what the tabloids like to call ?a colourful character?. If you go on YouTube, alongside a few of his TV appearances, you?ll find him singing ? if that?s not too generous a description ? at a 2011 ?Buskathon?. His choice of song seems fitting for this week: The Times They are A-Changin? by Bob Dylan.
Fabricant entered Parliament in 1992 (then as MP for Mid-Staffordshire, which changed name) and among his first campaigns was a battle to get a curry house in the Commons. His more amusing adventures include a trip to Colombia in 2008 where he was stopped by armed soldiers who believed him to be a drug smuggler. The white powder he was carrying was, in fact, dried milk. But over the years, only one question about Fabricant has preoccupied the parliamentary sketch-writers: is the platinum plume a wig, or would no one wear a hairpiece that so closely resembles an iridescent mophead?
In the Commons, Mad Fab has sometimes come across as a one-man PR machine for John Lewis. He?s gushed about Waitrose, its sister supermarket, and heralded the opening of a new store in Lichfield in his newsletter. If it seems odd for a Tory to be so enamoured of a business owned by its staff, an idea so Left-wing that the Financial Times calls it ?the people?s republic of John Lewis?, there?s a personal explanation. Fabricant is very close friends with Andy Street, the store?s managing director. The pair co-own a holiday home in west Wales, where they enjoy walking in the mountains. Five years ago, Fabricant wrote about this Snowdonian retreat on ? you guessed it ? waitrose.com: ?We now have eight ducklings swimming happily in the heart-shaped pond.?
There have been many Fab gaffes too. His appearance on Have I Got News For You was so excruciating that he tried to excuse himself. ?If I appear awful, it?s because all the good bits were cut out of the two-hour recording. That?s my story and I?m sticking to it.? On the show he was mocked by Paul Merton: ?The thing that amazes me about MPs is that they don?t seem to have any idea how embarrassing they are in public.?
But yesterday Fabricant wasn?t so much embarrassing himself in public as embarrassing his party in front of the public. He was also, as one follower noted, having ?far too much fun with this sacking thing?. The Lichfield MP was forced to agree. He may be minus a job but he remains, as ever, absolutely Fabricant.