Wednesday, October 29, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: “An Absolute Shar”

“An absolute shower,” (pron. “shar “) Cameron called them, the Labour leadership.

Perhaps he thought any more detailed attention would be to kick Miliband when he was down.

You shouldn’t kick your opponent when he is down. When your opponent is down you should gently bind him, place a careful foot on his croaking throat and  dismember him. Harvest his organs. Mummify him and keep him in your cellar. Your friendly smile should never lose its freshness while you work.

“An absolute shar” hasn’t had the effect Cameron was counting on since 1956.

There has never been a more ridiculous duo leading a major party than Ed Balls and Miliband. Their polling is pitiful. Their strategy woeful. They couldn’t be more insulated from their voters than if they were wearing gimp suits, boxing gloves and a This Is What A Feminist Looks Like T-shirt.

They are following in the tradition of Michael Foot’s Labour, “there will be no compromise with the electorate.”

That is no reason for assuming they won’t win the election.

(more…)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Carol Mills “Hit by a Bus” in Senate Finance Hearing

IMG_1595.JPG

The famous Carol Mills – John Bercow’s personal candidate for the position of Clerk of the Commons – was up in front of an Australian Senate finance committee this week.

An “excruciating process” (in the words of one present) extracted a number of admissions and confessions that undermine her reputation in the Commons as a “world-class administrator”.

· * Her department hasn’t had a Chief Financial Officer for 12 months.

· * While she chairs the Security management Board – a separate security panel was set up without her knowledge.

· * The threat level may have been fiddled to help justify a $400,000 cut in the security budget.

· * While cuts were being made and improvements to parliamentary facilities were being denied – she spent $3m on refitting her office (nearly twice the original estimate).

· * A contract for $30,000 to take 10 photographs was given to a friend and neighbour of hers from the same Sydney street.

(more…)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: Cameron Rubs Salt Into Bercow’s Wounds

The only really enjoyable part of PMQs came right at the end in a question on immigration, and time running out. The PM broke off his answer with an abrupt change of subject to congratulate ex-Chief Clerk Sir Robert Rogers on his peerage.

It had been an indirect attack on the Speaker to make the hated Rogers a peer, now a slightly less indirect way of rubbing salt into the open wound that sits in the Speaker’s chair.

The House loved it. And not just Tories. Witnesses inside the Chamber said the cheering came from both sides of the House and went on for a parliamentary eternity (about 15 seconds).

The Speaker busied himself in conversation with his secretary. He wasn’t taking on that mob.

Feelings about the Speaker are like a tsunami wave travelling a long distance. Out at sea the wave looks like any other. Only when the seabed rises approaching land does the wave rise and reveal itself.

That was one moment of the wave passing an island. Up it reared.

In every second of every cheer the House was saying, “We know what you’re like. You bullied, browbeat, berated, swore at a decent man until he couldn’t take it any more and quit the job that meant the world to him. You have revealed yourself. And we won’t forget it.”

The occasion passes, the wave resumes its normal height, but it’s still traveling with undiminished power .

(more…)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SPEAKER WATCH: A New Managerial Mess of Bercow’s Making

We’ve definitely reached peak Bercow. The poor fellow is running out in front of our eyes.

The ennoblement of Robert Rogers on Cameron’s recommendation is a marvellously indirect attack, recognised by everyone in the Commons. We all now know Rogers was hounded from office by the Speaker.

Less well known – the Speaker suffered a sharp set-back last week when the House of Commons Commission (which he chairs) voted to appoint hated, old Etonian David Natzler as temporary Chief Clerk.

Bercow voted against this – and lost.

Half the Commission is appointed by Bercow himself – his own people are starting to turn away from him.

But the position of chief executive is still vacant, as is the chair of the management board. Whom other top staff report to is unclear. It’s a managerial mess and entirely of the Speaker’s making.

Natzler is moving into the Clerk’s palatial office, and everyone underneath him has moved up as well.

Shifting them all back would cause a palace revolt.

This as much as anything makes Carol Mills’ appointment less likely than ever.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: Maybe Miliband Has a Chance

The Nolan principles of sketch writing – fairness, objectivity, kindness and so forth, I forget them exactly. Does he offer refresher courses?

Miliband today was, I thought, as bad as he’d ever been.

The face a mash-up of several untamed animals. The angry eight-year-old delivery. The whole package that of a bedroom boy locked away with his best friend, making economic models out of Lego. Not even worth breaking up for parts. And the drivel!

“Too harsh. He was quite good today,” one of his Labour enemies said.  “The big story is whether Freud will survive the day.”

What! No! Really? As a result of Miliband’s questions? But that must mean he did quite well!

Seriously?

(more…)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Clerk Panel Knew of Mills Before She Was Suggested for Job

Carol Mills was known to “some members” of the clerk selection panel before Saxton Bampfylde put her up for interview, it was confirmed last night. So where did her name come from? Out of the hundreds – thousands – of senior administrators in the Commonwealth’s public services, how and why did Saxton Bampfylde decide to pop Carol Mills on to their long list? One suspicion is that this eminent head hunting company was hired as a blind, to make respectable a decision that had already been made. Who on the panel knew whom?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Speaker’s Authority, Competence and Integrity Challenged

Last night, an advance in the Carol Mills story.

The House voted to set up a committee to consider the Governance of the House, including the role of the Clerk and chief executive.

Who thought procedure could be so exciting?

This is a decisive step forward. The remit is wider than expected. It allows, in theory, the source of yesterday’s Bully Bercow story to be called to give evidence.

“Governance of the House” includes control of the Speaker. When the Speaker is out of control, who controls him? That’s the essence of governance.

The Speaker’s bullying, abusive behaviour is within the remit of the committee. Allegations of committee-rigging, running candidates, planting questions, fixing appointments are all within the remit. How the dickens did he let that get through?

John Bercow will be pushing his candidates onto that committee as if his life depended on it (which it may do).

(more…)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SPEAKER WATCH: Bercow’s Panel Turns on Him

An answer from John Thurso to Michael Fabricant’s written parliamentary question has been made.

Fabricant asked whether the selection panel had been aware of the Australian Senate’s investigations into Carol Mills, and if so, at what stage they had been informed.

Thurso replied: “the panel was not made aware of the investigations before reaching its conclusion.”

Saxton Bampfylde, the head hunters knew. The Speaker must have known. The selection panel did not.

The Speaker, determined for reasons unknown to place Carol Mills in the job, must have withheld the most salient piece of information. All the evidence suggests he prevailed on the panel not to ask Saxton Bampfylde into the room in order that they should not find out about the Inquiries.

The panel has been carrying the can for John Bercow’s machinations.

They are starting to decide they needn’t carry it indefinitely.

(more…)

Exclusive: Former Employee Accuses Speaker of Violent Rages
Will Testify: Rages Were Extraordinary, I Was Hit, Sworn At

BERCOW-HIT-STAFF

A former employee of John Bercow claims today that he was the victim of violent rages at the hands of the Speaker, in a series of extraordinary allegations about the Speaker’s conduct. Speaking to Guido, the respected senior former staff member in Bercow’s office said:

“If I was asked was I ever hit? I’d say yes.

If I was hit by bits of a mobile phone he smashed in one if his rages? Yes.

Did I witness him telling untruths to accuse people of wrongful behaviour? Yes.

Was I sworn at? Very regularly.

I witnessed catastrophic losses of temper. The rages were extraordinary. Arms flailing. The loss of control.”

Would this person go on the record at a select committee?

Yes.

(more…)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bercow at Bay

On Monday, the Speaker was promising to “solicit views in detail” from Members about his controversial selection of Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. “People can express their views on the floor of the House,” he said. “I want to hear what people have to say.”

Now it’s – That’s enough of that. There is no point of order further to that point of order. Let’s move on. No , no, no, la-la-la, not listening, presentation of Bills what day?

He calls his accusers in that weary, ‘here we go again’ voice, encouraging Labour to jeer and call out “Keep your hair on!” to. Michael Fabricant. For the PLP Bercow is “Our Speaker” and for that reason Bercow addresses half his rebuttals to their side, seeking their support.

Fabricant told the Speaker he’d lied to the House. He said he had it from people on the panel that Saxton Bampfylde had indeed been prevented from coming and speaking to the panel and giving information about Carol Mills. “I wonder whether, under those circumstances, you might wish to put the record straight so that the House is not misled.”

He made an ancillary point. Would the Speaker lift the threat of litigation against Saxton Bampfylde so they could publicly set the record straight?

(more…)


Seen Elsewhere

Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian


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