Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Speaker Watch: Bercow’s Clumsy Briefing

Odd to see the Speaker briefing against the outgoing Clerk of the House, given the treacle-drizzled eulogy he made at the time of his resignation. Steve Richards’ column in the Indy today has several passages that might have been personally dictated by the Prince of the Palace. Urgent Questions are reported to be a Bercovian innovation, greatly to his credit, shaking up the dusty processes of the House. Richards’ article also claims the applications were often resisted by the “bewigged” Clerk, using public school sporting metaphors. The wicket isn’t ready for play, sort of thing.

In the first place, the Clerk has no authority to resist the application for a UQ, the decision is the Speaker’s. More importantly, the idea of granting more frequent UQs was first proposed before the last Speaker elections, in a document detailing how the Commons’ procedures could be livened up using existing mechanisms. The author of the document? Robert Rogers, Clerk.

Brown UKIP Attack Attempts to Rewrite History

Unionists can pack up and go home: the Prime Mentalist has surfaced up in Scotland to launch Labour’s anti-independence campaign. McMental reckons he has worked out how to win round freedom fighters north of the border, laying into the party that has just won its first MEP in the country. Gordon told United With Labour this morning:

“I detest the politics of UKIP.”

That would be the same Gordon Brown who famously promised “British jobs for British workers”, a slogan deemed too politically incorrect for UKIP to copy. The same Gordon Brown who adopted the BNP’s “Gulags for slags” policy at Labour’s 2009 party conference.

He used to get up to far worse than what he is claiming to detest today…

All Gov Attacks on Labour Sums Must Be Cleared By Treasury

Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the Treasury PermSec, has fired the official starting gun on election season in a letter to Civil Service chief Sir Bob Kerslake. From now until May 2015, any government costing of an opposition policy will have to be signed off by the Treasury and pre-notification of the announcement will have to be given to Labour:

“I have personally committed to sign off all costings before they are provided to Ministers of Special Advisers for public use. Therefore, I would ask that the relevant permanent secretary’s office contact my office as soon as possible if officials in your department are commissioned to cost an opposition policy. They will be able to advise on the correct procedures to follow and the necessary clearances. 

I have also made a personal commitment to the Shadow Chancellor and the Shadow Chief Secretary to give them advance notice of the publication or release of any costing, in line with a similar agreement made to the Conservative party in 2009. This includes any briefing to the press or parliamentary questions. I take this personal commitment very seriously and therefore would ask that you also notify my office at the earliest opportunity if your department receives any FOI requests or Parliamentary Questions that could lead to the release of a costing. You should also be aware, and may wish to make your staff aware, that there are no exemptions under the FOI act which prevent us from releasing a completed opposition costing.”

Government SpAds are kicking off this afternoon, arguing that every time they brief the press about opposition’s spending plans they’re expected to phone up and seek civil service blessing. Though Treasury sources play down the significance of the move, suggesting that the Labour will simply be told it’s happening with no room for them to complain. It would help if they actually had some policies to cost…

Clegg and Cable Awkward Morning Drinking Session

Things have got so bad for the LibDems that they have had to turn to the booze at 11am in the morning. Either that, or Clegg is a little late to the Farage magic. If you can’t debate him, join him…

cab2

There hasn’t been a LibDem leader in the pub this early since Charlie Kennedy was in charge…

Via @theousherwood

No Gain for Payne

Spotted in Newark, a racing green Mini Cooper with a personalised numberplate spelling “MII PYN”. Might it belong to Labour’s local (government) candidate Michael Payne?

Quote of the Day

The Guardian isn’t very impressed with Labour’s messaging:

“Politics may be showbusiness for ugly people, but it also often boils down to the spectacle of supposedly clever individuals affecting to be stupid – and on this score Labour is excelling itself. Its website is fronted by the flatly strange line “A recovery made by the many and built to last” – which rather suggests a tipsy adviser messing about with a magnetic poetry kit. The big campaigning slogan, let us not forget, is “Hardworking Britain better off”, which yet again suggests that normal English is best left to other people, and that the only way to get anyone’s attention is to bin lofty ideals and promise more money. (Judging by the polls, Britain is far from convinced.)” 

UKIP Spin-Off Predicted Octopus Invasion

Just two months ago UKIP copycat party An Independence From Europe predicted in a campaign video that a giant EU octopus would destroy Britain’s democracy:

Even they could not have known how accurate that prediction would be. This is the scene in Oxford Circus this morning, as a lorry carrying an octopus breaks down and holds up commuters:

They’re coming…

Unions Buy Labour’s Support in London Taxi Wars

Guido’s London readers will know that the capital’s rival taxi firms have descended into open warfare in recent weeks. Militant black cab drivers are having a hissy fit about being priced out of the market by Uber, who use an app to calculate the journey distance and fee, relay the information to the driver and usually offer a considerably lower fare for the punter in a much nicer car. It is an example of the market working to provide the best price for the consumer. As the Institute of Directors points out:

“When the tide of new technology is coming in fast, it’s unwise to stand still and hope it stops at your feet. It’s all well and good to say that companies such as Uber must fit into the UK’s regulatory framework, but there’s a powerful case to make that the UK’s regulatory framework has been overtaken by digital innovation and, in some areas, is no longer fit for purpose.”

Guido understands that the GMB union has infiltrated the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, the black cabbies’ trade union, to lobby politicians against Uber. Indeed it was a GMB-sponsored Labour MP, Graham Morris, who tabled the Westminster Hall debate on this issue in April.

To little surprise, Labour have sided with a closed shop producer’s protection racket against consumers. Today, Labour have officially adopted the black cab position. Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh, who is also sponsored by the GMB, has launched an attack on Uber this morning:

“Labour welcome Transport for London’s decision to seek a High Court ruling on taximeters. Apps like Uber which involve a contract for vehicle hire must conform to the same high standards of safety, licensing and insurance as the rest of the taxi and private hire industry. It is neither black cab nor minicab, which is why it is vital that a court decides if it fits into the UK’s regulatory framework. The safety of the travelling public must not be put at risk.”

A Labour Shadow Secretary of State going back to the bad old days of formulating party policy based on the demands of her union paymasters. Not only that, Creagh is prioritising the vested interests of a party donor over the interests of the hard-pressed consumers her party is supposed to represent. Uber tell Guido that they go ‘above and beyond other operators in the industry in terms of safety’ and are confident that the High Court will agree with TFL. Guido thinks the rest of the industry should work out how they can bring their service up to scratch rather than trying to run a more competent rival out of town.


Seen Elsewhere

Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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