PMQs Live Chat: Pre-Budget Bout Edition

Microphone Madness

After Mrs Duffy you would think politicians would be a little bit more careful around microphones. Red faces up north for Labour MSP Frank McAveety who forgot to turn off his microphone while discussing his mid-committee meeting totty-watching:

“There’s a very attractive girl in the second row, dark . . . and dusky. We’ll maybe put a wee word out for her. She’s very attractive looking, nice, very nice, very slim. You know… the kind you’d see in a Gaugin painting. There’s a wee bit of culture.”

Extremely cringe-worthy, but find Guido a red-blooded male who hasn’t had a conversation like that.

Down under, fellow lefty Kevin Rudd had a bizarre press conference where he dodged an awkward question by giving an in-depth critique of a female hack’s choice of clothes: “Well, that’s a point of language which you have used which is dramatically consistent with the dress which you have chosen today. It’s a great tie, it’s a nice hat, I like it a lot” Cue predictable feminist outrage.

During the ten minutes of last night’s Newsnight hustings Ed Balls and David Miliband were muttering to each other, something Balls keeps doing at these gigs. Their little side chat was broadcast… Can anyone make out what they were saying?

Willie Free

There were raised eye-brows when former LibDem MP Willie Rennie was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Scotland Office just days after being rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Dunfermline. To his credit he did not ask for a salary as a SpAd, the parliamentary resettlement payment was quite enough. A close ally of Danny Alexander, it seems now his old boss has moved up the ministerial ladder the first SpAd is set to quit. He will be replaced by Ming’s old ginger speech-writer Euan Roddin.

Willie claims he wants to return to Scotland as he is separated from his family while in London. Coincidentally candidates are being picked for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections right about now…

Gordon’s Alive

Gordon has been allowed out today. Still not doing the job we actually pay him to do. He is being paid £1,264-a-week to stay at home recuperating in Kirkcaldy “writing his book”, if he wants to stay on as an MP perhaps we should see him at his place of work. He used to claim that he woke up every morning wanting to “fight for a fairer Britain”. Now those unfair Tories are in government he appears to have given up fighting for Britain. So far in over a month he has appeared fleetingly only once in parliament, to sign in, so he can be paid…

New MP Pat Glass Thinks the Gravy Train is “Fab”

Congratulations to Pat Glass, the newly elected MP for North West Durham. During her campaign she supported tough rules on expenses and promised to be transparent.

She tweets “Have got a fab new office in parliament, and a blackberry and a new flat, suddenly everything is coming together.” Maybe the tweet was an example of that transparency, or maybe it was genuine excitement at joining the gravy train. A salary triple the average national wage, a gold-plated pension, a six-figure expense account, rent-free accomodation, international junkets, cheap bars, subsidised restaurants, not to mention your new Blackberry and flat. Pat, the gravy train has truly pulled into your station, enjoy yourself. Try not to forget taxpayers are voters too…

Dan Dumps on the Hopey Changey One

Fresh from the news that Sarah Palin might be London-bound, the great and good of the right look to be gearing up for her autumnal arrival. It’s notable that today Dan Hannan has finally come round to the fact that he was way, way out with his endorsement of Barack Obama. The unlikely vocal advocate for the Democrat President is eating his words after witnessing a 30% increase in the size of the American state in just two years.

The full mea culpa is quite a read, bringing Hannan into line, entirely coincidentally, with a certain Obama-hating hockey-mum…

The Déjà vu Debate

It’s hardly radical to suggest the Labour Leadership contest hasn’t set fire yet. A flutter of excitement on nomination day, but the long summer of hustings and a few beer and sandwich sessions doesn’t exactly make for cut-throat stuff. But could it be about to be blown open by a TV debate?

Another day and another hustings, only this time it won’t be a sympathetic audience of wonks and left-wing media. Tonight the five candidates will be grilled not only by Paxman, but an audience of former Labour, and floating voters. People who won’t want to talk about internal party politics or electoral reform, but their wallets, immigration and the harsh realities of the current economic crisis. The whole thing will be going out live on Newsnight.

The chances of one of them coming unstuck, one of them “doing a Clegg”, or a bun-fight, is greatly increased tonight by the fact people, real voters, will actually be watching. For most of the television audience it will be the first time they have seen the candidates lined up and ready to be judged. If this doesn’t liven up the race, what will?

Ed Gets Taste of Poison

Despite the protestations of the Labour leader candidates that the days of spin and backstabbing anonymous briefings are over, the memo clearly hasn’t reached all the campaign teams yet as someone has been having quite the chat with the Mail’s Andrew Pierce. Ed Balls’s time as a member of Oxford University Conservative Association hasn’t gone down too well with a backbench colleague who was quick to twist the knife:

‘It’s astonishing that any Labour leadership contenders could have even considered paying money to join a Tory association in the mid-1980s. It’s sickening as he was paying them subs when Mrs Thatcher was wreaking terrible destruction on constituencies in the North of England that he represents. No wonder he is airbrushing his past.’

Sounds a lot like a man often used for rent-a-quotes. The justification was so that Balls could hear the likes of Michael Heseltine doesn’t really wash. Being a closet member of Oxford or Cambridge Conservative Association never did Nick Clegg any harm, just look where it got him.

Palin Coming to the Party

A flurry of articles this morning have picked up on Sarah Palin’s very excitable Facebook declaration that she was coming to London meet “one of my political heroines, the “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher.” The Guardian is predictably sneering. The Mail […]

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Vince Is Coming For Savers

The businessmen-funded Policy Diffusion group is drawing their battle lines over the proposed rise in Capital Gains Tax. This followed Cable around yesterday:

“This LibDem policy fails on every conceivable account. It discriminates against elderly savers, reduces economic growth, prevents […]

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The Younger is Gaining

Though caveated by the obvious fact this is hardly an independent poll, LabourList’s surveying of its readers shows some interesting patterns emerging in the otherwise still dull Labour Leadership race. Amongst Labour members David Miliband is, as expected, out in […]

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The Former Prime Mentalist

The rumour mill is in full swing this afternoon. There’s a whisper on the wind that some age-old speculation might soon finally be confirmed. Chatter is rife that Gordon Brown has been spending stints in a London hospital. For psychological […]

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Preston Council leader Peter Rankin explains rising anti-Semitism…

“You need to think why this anti-semitism is getting worse. It’s because of the actions of the IDF shelling schools and hospitals and killing and maiming thousands of men, women and children.”

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