Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Caption Contest (Frog Prince Edition)

Entries in the comments please…

Bercow Fails to Clear Up Pass Row at Second Time of Asking

The Speaker has finally replied to Rob Wilson’s detailed questions about the probity of his pass-for-donor arrangement, and once again he is choosing his words very carefully. The question of what access Farah Sassoon has to the parliamentary estate is particularly troublesome for Bercow. He claims that “this pass has restrictions on it which are tailored to the circumstances for which the pass is required and will not activate proximity readers inside the Palace.” As anyone familiar with parliament will know, a free run from an entrance all the way through to Speaker’s House would give the passholder significant access to wider parts of the estate. 

Bercow has now had two opportunities to explain himself, and still he has failed to do so. If Farah Sassoon has no commercial relationship with Sally, why is she going around parliament telling MPs she does? How is it possible for her pass to only grant her access to Speaker’s House and not the wider parliamentary estate? And does he think it is appropriate to award special access to parliament to a woman who is funding his re-election campaign? His evasive answers hardly set an example fitting for the Speaker…

UPDATE: The Telegraph have yet more questions for Bercow:

Donors, Aides, Cronies: New Peers in Full

Conservative Party

  • Karren Brady CBE – Vice-Chairman of West Ham FC; Senior Non-Executive Director of the Syco and Arcadia Brands; Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party; and member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Women in Sport Advisory Board
  • Martin Callanan – former Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England; former Leader of the Conservative MEPs and of the European Conservatives and Reformists group
  • Carlyn Chisholm – senior volunteer in the Conservative Party; Co-Chairman of the Conservative Candidates Committee; former nurse
  • Andrew Cooper – former Director of Political Operations to the Conservative Party; founder and Board Director of Populus
  • Natalie Evans – Director of New Schools Network, an independent educational charity established to provide free advice and support for groups wanting to set up free schools
  • Michael Farmer – Founding Partner of RK Mine Finance Group; Trustee of the Kingham Hill Trust; Treasurer of the Conservative Party
  • Dido Harding – Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC
  • Arminka Helic – government special adviser to William Hague; leading adviser to government on preventing sexual violence in conflict
  • Nosheena Mobarik CBE – businesswoman; former Chairman of CBI Scotland; founder and convener of the Scotland Pakistan Network; Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum
  • Sir Stuart Rose – former Chief Executive and Chairman of Marks and Spencer PLC
  • Joanna Shields OBE – leading technology industry executive and entrepreneur; the Prime Minister’s Digital Adviser; Chair of Tech City UK; and Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange
  • Ranbir Suri – businessman; former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs

Labour Party

  • Michael Cashman CBE – Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency; equality rights campaigner; former actor
  • Chris Lennie – political strategist; former Deputy Secretary General of the Labour Party
  • Dame Gail Rebuck – businesswoman, publisher, chairman of Penguin Random House UK

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Chris Fox – Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
  • Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport
  • Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher
  • Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council
  • Paul Scriven – managing partner for Scriven Consulting; former elected Member and Leader of Sheffield City Council; former senior NHS manager
  • Cllr Dr Julie Smith – elected Member of Newnham City Council; Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at Cambridge University; Fellow of Robinson College

There are now over 850 peers in the House of Lords…

Questions Mount Over Speaker’s Choice for Commons Clerk

“Bercow appears to have won his battle  for an outsider to run the Commons,” the Guardian’s political editor tweets.

No, no. The battle is very far from won.

Questions around the selection of Australian Carol Mills as Clerk of the House are multiplying.

Did John Bercow fly to the e-democracy conference in South Korea this May to meet her? Is it proper for the chair of the selection panel to meet candidates privately?  Did he give her information that would help her in the interview process?

Were there other irregularities in the interview process?

Was the fact that Carol Mills is the subject of an Australian parliamentary inquiry (for covert surveillance of staff and parliamentarians) disclosed to the selection panel?

Why was Margaret Hodge put on the panel? What is her relationship with the senior clerk David Natzler? Was she chosen because she was not favourably disposed towards him owing to a prior dispute?

Where is the letter nominating Carol Mills? It went to Downing Street a week ago. Has it gone to the Queen?

Sir Robert’s resignation takes effect at the end of this month. What happens if the nomination is not confirmed before the Commons returns at the beginning of September, will Natzler, as the highest-ranking clerk fill the role?

Who will be sitting in the Clerk’s chair when the Commons reconvenes?

It’s not a done deal yet.

PS: Will Carol Mills get a work visa? There are other able women who are British citizens who are better qualified for the job. Will she get the visa in time? Has the visa application been conducted properly, without undue influence from the Speaker’s office?

Welsh First Minister Embroiled in ‘Malvinas’ Row

Slow clap for the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, who for some reason thought it would be a good idea to get pally with loony tune Argentinian ambassador Alicia Castro this week. Predictably, the Argies wanted to score points about the Falklands. Less predictably, Jones went along with it. This is from the press release sent out by the Argentinian embassy after the meeting with a chirpy-looking Carwyn:

“Alicia Castro praised the integration of the Welsh community in Argentina as an example of the hospitality that Argentina affords British descendents, which refutes the propaganda from a sector of the Malvinas Islands’ inhabitants portraying Argentina as hostile, in an attempt to justify the UK government’s refusal to resolve the sovereignty dispute.”

Wonder how well this will go down with the Welsh Guards and survivors of the Sir Galahad bombing, which saw 48 men killed in an Argentinian attack…

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Today’s Outstanding Contribution to Statistical Excellence

It seems Guido has a challenger in the statistical excellence stakes. We suggest that Ally McCoist and Rangers FC nominate themselves for a Royal Statistical Society award next year:

Even the LibDems would be proud of that one.

Iraqi MP Breaks Down in Parliament Over Yazidi Slaughter

Worth reading Dan Hodges on the ‘new Rwanda‘…

Ellison Faces Public Plain Packs Backlash

plain

The final six week consultation on plain packaging for cigarettes comes to an end today. Pushy public health minister Jane Ellison is under pressure to take into consideration the 100,000 people who have signed a petition opposing plain packs, as well as the 50,000 who personally wrote to the Prime Minister rejecting the proposal. Ellison would never dream of ignoring 150,000 vocal opponents to her policy, would she?

Pic via @cjsnowdon.

Murdoch Reels From Bruising Takeover Bid

In what will surely become the most successful attempt at “owning” something since the Guardian owned the weekend, an optimistic new venture called Let’s Own the News has launched a crowd-funded bid to buy the Times and Sunday Times. Founder Laurie Fitzjohn, whose career in investment banking and venture capital must surely have been an unrivalled success, reckons: “Our politicians are still in fear of the press barons, scared to act. But now with crowd-funding we have a unique opportunity to collectively take action to defend our democracy”. Cynics might suggest Laurie’s plan for collective action may not have the people rushing to the barricades, but at least Peter Jukes thinks it’s a good idea. They are currently £99,888,050 short of their target…

WATCH: Galloway Rants About Banning Israelis From Bradford

This is a video of George Galloway, the MP for Bradford West, at a Respect Party meeting in Leeds at the weekend:

“We have declared Bradford an Israel free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”

Not exactly going to be thousands of Israelis making last minute changes to their summer holiday plans, but still…


Seen Elsewhere

The School That Proves Michael Gove Was Right | Toby Young
Full Jenkin/Beckett/Straw Letter to PM | Politics Home
The ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ is Cornered | Speccie
Coalition: The Movie | Indy
Lefties Moan About Messina Working For Cameron | MSNBC
Karen Danczuk V Louise Mensch: Round 48 | Sun
Jack Straw Slams Bercow | Sky News
Putin Shuts Down Red Square McDonalds | Telegraph
Paper Trail Suggests Ashcroft Still Funding Tories | Indy
Bradford Bun Fight Coming | Speccie
Former Minister’s Join ‘Canberra Caterer’ Outcry | The Times


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Westbourne-Change-Opinion hot-button


Lord Glasman tells it like it is:

“The first thing is to acknowledge that Labour has been captured by a kind of aggressive public sector morality which is concerned with the individual and the collective but doesn’t understand relationships.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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