Artwork in Portcullis House

Portcullis House, where the MPs now have their offices, is an excellent little building. Nice and airy inside, designed for people. We visited it yesterday as part of Open House London. Of course, we did not get to see the office space area.

There are lots of paintings on the first floor, people from Maggie Thatcher to Tony Benn (and there are at least a couple of Tony Blairs).

There is an Ian Duncan Smith, a William Hague and a Charles Kennedy. There is a very good Kinnock, a Tony Benn and a Nigel Lawson. The John Major was quite realistic. Michael Howard is conspicuous by his absence, and Boris Johnson is nowhere to be seen, despite his claiming that Male vanity is Vital.

Some of the paintings were excellent, some less so.

I couldn't help but wonder: who in the cut-throat world of politics gets to decide which paintings are used?

I could imagine that some people would be there by right.

For example, if I were making a policy decision on this, I'd choose something like the following:

1) The current PM as well their predecessors (no Ted Heath or Lucky Jim?)

2) The key figures in the previous election.

3) The leader of the opposition (maybe the conservative leader has changed so quickly that they never got round to Michael Howard?)

4) The longest serving MPs in each of the major parties (including independants), with a minimum qualifying time of 20years.

Paintings would be kept up until superceded, e.g. the 2001 election leaders would be left there until the 2005 paintings were ready.

However, why Kinnock and not John Smith? Why Lawson? Why the bust of Heseltine?

With egos the size of your average politician, there must be some way these things are decided - but I could not think of some fair rules which would have produced this selection of artwork. Nor can I imagine the partisan rules which would have given so much space to the opposition.

So... how are they chosen, does anyone know?