The News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch was up for re-election by shareholders last week. Tom Watson MP led a campaign, backed by commercial rivals The Guardian, to unseat him from the board. Tom travelled to Los Angeles (courtesy of union subs) to vote union pension fund proxy votes. Watson’s attempt failed with Rupert Murdoch getting 86% of the shareholder vote, which compares favourably to Watson’s mere 46% of the vote in his West Bromwich East constituency at his re-election (his share of the vote sank 9.2% at the general election). To add insult to injury, News Corp shares have rocketed up 16% this month alone. Hold on to those shares comrades, no one went poor betting on Murdoch…
Never mind, in consolation he got a night out partying on tequila and singing “Come on Eileen” in La La Land…
The CCHQ press office email press clippings and media snippets to MPs some four of five times a day. They don’t normally make for much of read, but their surprisingly candid verdict on today’s proceedings has brought a smile one chunk of the Tory benches:
Lead Story: David Cameron suffers biggest Conservative rebellion over Europe
Clips: PM, Nick Clegg MP, Adam Holloway MP (debate footage), Tim Montgomerie (Conservative Home)
Commentary: The PM says there is no bad blood or bitterness over Conservative Commons rebellion over Europe. Back bench motion prompted after petition signed by 100,000. In total 81 Conservative MPs defied three line whip voted for referendum. Mr Cameron said opposing vote right thing for the country.
The full briefing then quotes various pundits and hacks before concluding:
Verdict: PM loss
That would explain the “no bad blood, no rancour, no bitterness” bridge building then…
Straight after the 7pm vote in the House tomorrow, surviving Tory PPS Aidan Burley will redeem himself for his voting behaviour yesterday. He has tabled an Adjournment Debate on a favourite subject: “Funding from the public purse of trade union officials”.
Burley will get around fifteen minutes to speak and is guaranteed a Ministerial reply. Though the promise to end the practice of tax-payer funded officials was made at Tory conference, it’s not as if the government have had a good week for doing what they once said they would.
Good to see that the pressure is being kept on…
When asked after his speech this morning about yesterday’s promised repatriation of powers from Brussels, the Deputy Prime Minister stuck his oar in:
“We should stop tilting at windmills about threats and challenges which simply aren’t there right now… You don’t change Europe by launching some smash-and-grab dawn raid on Brussels…”
If Clegg promises something won’t happen, that means it will, right?
Last night’s vote has certainly made updating the Naughty or Nice list very easy for Guido. While taking a break from spinning for the government on the airwaves, Nick Boles popped into the debate. As the eagle-eyed Paul Waugh spotted at the time: “Nick Boles looks like he’s picking his nose and eating it as he sits behind Richard Shepherd. Surely not?” Well the camera never lies:
Nearly as funny as that other picture of Nick Boles. The one he still insists is a fake…
Given that the newspapers went to print before the votes had been cast, we’ll start with a little number crunching. Out of the assorted 111 votes for the motion last night, 81 were Tory and 19 were Labour. One LibDem – Adrian Sanders – stuck to his manifesto commitment and voted for a referendum. A further 15 Tories abstained, meaning over half of the parliamentary party that are not in government actively defied the leadership. When the message was being spread that even the Chief Whip was a little bemused by the insistence of a Three Line attendance, it was clear this was going to be a bloody nose for Cameron.
Though such a measure is only being joked about for now, it’s worth refreshing the memory of how easy it is to get rid of a Tory leader. 15% of the parliamentary party have to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee to trigger a vote. The 96 rebels and abstainers last night make up 31%. Is Cameron confident he would get 50%+1 to avoid a run off?
Probably, for now…