Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: Ed, the Final Victim of Miller’s Resignation

Six questions on Maria Miller’s resignation, or five questions and a peroration.

Is that what’s meant by “holding the Executive to account”? It’s just as well Recall isn’t in place, Ed’s feet wouldn’t touch the ground.

He fired five blanks, got two potshots off and finished with a summary of his discontent in four disjointed sentences. Viz:

1) “He just doesn’t get it.” (Did someone shout Bingo?)

2) “He needs to learn profound lessons about how he runs his Government.” (Does he? From this, the passing zephyr of an insignificant minister?)

3) “The Culture Secretary went not because of her bad conduct but because of her bad press.” (This must have been a line left over from the pre-PMQs planning session.)

4) “He promised in Opposition to be an apostle for better standards and he’s spent the last week being an apologist for unacceptable behaviour.” (It was the big line. Apostle/apologist. Ed put the ass in assonance.)

It wasn’t an easy topic, and while friends and foes will have different reactions, objective observers will agree the Leader of HM’s Opposition made a complete **** of himself. Too strong? A complete @£$% of himself.

(more…)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SKETCH: The Committee of Double Standards

The trouble with calling it a trough is that you think it’s full of swill.

This one’s full of champagne truffles.

John Mann had his Urgent Question just before lunch.

He is the outsider’s outsider, widely disliked by his peers, a conspirator, a trouble-maker, a Savonarola. He talks to you out of the side of his mouth glancing over his shoulder, as though you were in a prison slops queue.

Among Parliament’s hothouse bonsais, he looks like something that grew out of the side of a bridge.

Who else might have asked for this Urgent Question? No one else wants it brought up. They find it a “screaming nightmare”. It’s hard to over-estimate the effect it’s had on MPs. Which makes it all the more surprising when another one, yet another one comes out with yet another scam.

Here we are again, with a fat sock of cash, an untalented, isolated minister, and a closing of a class round a colleague. It’s one of the most enjoyable opportunities for media indignation in years.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: Titanic Fights in the Commons

Cosy capitalism against Socialism, sir. Public versus private ownership. Primrose Hill versus the Playing Fields of Eton. Tax cuts versus the Collective. Labour bellowing versus Tory barrage.

My niche interest is the fight between Better Bercow and Bad Bercow.

The new iteration – I-Don’t-Hate-Tories – is a success. We should pay tribute to it, celebrate it rather than carp.

But Better Bercow can’t keep Bad Bercow in its kennel.

What must be going in that inner court of his, where he remonstrates with himself: “Your constant interruptions are just prolonging the proceedings. Your attention-seeking behaviour is childish, you need to grow up and the sooner the better. And the way you call Andrew Selous – the public detest it! Your electorate hate it! If you go on like this they’ll have you out after the next election!”

Good Bercow has been prevailing, but when provoked, Bad Bercow slips the leash.

We can thank Simon Burns for that. Or that corner where he sits with Alec Shelbrooke in a supporting role behind him. Anna Soubry, Tim Loughton and Keith Simpson, are all there or thereabouts, each of whom have had complex relations with the Speaker.

So, when Czaibhaggan MacDonagh fluffed her line about the “Bobby Tax”, it prompted heckling from the Burns Corner.

Out Bad Bercow slavered, fangs bared, to savage them as he only savages Tories: “Braying, and sneering and making rude remarks is the sort of thing the public despise!” he barked at them.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SKETCH: So How Many Royal Mail Shares Did Labour Buy?

Years ago, I felt a British decline in my bones, and an imminent currency collapse – lo, it came to pass.

Sterling almost went to parity with the US dollar and I said, with triumph, to a banker friend, “I knew that was going to happen.” He looked at me with admiration, “So, how much did you make?”

“Oh, I didn’t.”

Then what contempt! “So, you didn’t know,” he said, witheringly.

When Labour denounce Cable and Fallon for selling the Royal Mail too cheaply, at a knocked-down price, on firesale terms, with a guaranteed profit built-in – it is worth asking how many shares they bought?

Chuka told the Commons this afternoon that the Government could easily have got hundreds of millions more – it does beg the question, did he tell his investment planners, his analysts and brokers to put in for the maximum allocation? He could have donated the guaranteed, safe-as-houses profit to Labour’s election campaign.

Vince didn’t do as badly as Labour might have hoped. He had a neat answer as to why so many “long-term investors” got out so quickly. “They considered the price after the sale was over-valued.”

Some quiet, admiring laughter. Some yelps.

His other defence was Labour’s record in selling Qinetiq. That went for £125m, the civil servants and advisers got £107m, and the company was promptly valued at over 10 times the initial offering: £1.3bn.

There is much to jeer at in the Royal Mail sale, and much to criticize, no doubt. But it’s not absolutely clear that Cable and Fallon would, in China, be hanged as economic criminals.

(more…)

Monday, March 31, 2014

SKETCH:  Rage Against the Cuts – DWP Questions

Q1: Research by the think tank Rage, Rage Against the Cuts shows that long-term youth unemployment of seasonally-adjusted people in the north-by-north-west among people between five foot seven and six feet is reaching appallingly record highs under this incompetent government of part-time, insecure, zero-hour contract workers.
A: The rising rate of employment has never been higher for all young people as measured by the OBR in six of the seven warmest days in the last quarter. The party opposite never did anything about it when they were in power and their councils are the ones making employees work in shoes that are three sizes too small.

Q2: Why has the Government IT shambles learnt nothing from IT shambles when we were in Government? How many shambles make a shambles? It’s pathetic!
A: That’s easily said, but the facts are different and everyone knows the new program is saving £1m a day, it’s on time, it’s on budget, it’s saving lives, it’s getting people back to work and while it has been shelved, pending review, it is being rolled out now all over the North by North East.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PMQs SKETCH: Ed Enters Valley of Death

Reactions vary, but that looked to me like slaughter.

“A total demolition,” Ed Miliband said, and it was surely that.

His “energy price freeze” collapsed on itself like a factory chimney.

This morning, a power company announced it was holding its prices for 20 months.

That’s good news, they thought on Planet Ed. There wasn’t time to go through the consequences.

Ed led on it. Here it is, he cried, the very price freeze Labour has proposed.

His features took on a life of their own. He started to look like Tory Rory Stewart, who looks like a pre-op Miliband. It’s really not what prime ministers look like.

(more…)

SKETCH: Paul Flowers in Rehab on Newsnight

This Neo-Paxman, the non-judgmental, chastened, gently inquisitive human being – what late-life crisis produced him? Did Russell Brand overthrow him so completely?

His interview with Rev Flowers last night – it must be why people don’t watch Newsnight any more.

The nitwits who run the programme thought, “Let’s go beneath the media caricature of a drug-taking, bank-wrecking Labour supporter and find what’s really there. A martyr, probably.”

“What’s the last year been like for you?” Paxman probed.

Portly, plausible uncle Paul said: “There have been certain moments when it has been …” pause to consider, to contain himself, quietly to choose his word: “Hellish.”

Cutaway to Paxman flinching back, with an intake of breath.

“To find some professional support for the issues I was facing,” (issues, in his words last year, of being “trollied” on ketamine and rentboys,) “I booked myself into a very well-known hospital for four weeks,” to discover not just the superficial but “the deeper issues why people resort to addiction.”

That’s the penance over with.

“What made you think you were qualified to run a bank?”

“I didn’t,” he said. Everyone else did.

(more…)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SKETCH: Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Electronic Whiteboard

The liveliest moment in the Work and Pensions Budget debate came when Mark Harper named “the very well-known website, Guido Fawkes”. Shouts of protest from Labour. Wasn’t there some sort of rule, some guide to parliamentary language? What was the Speaker thinking?

Ah, Bercow’s campaign to propitiate the Tories is coming along nicely. He is considerably less loathsome in this new incarnation. Hardly loathsome at all, some say (Christians, mainly). If his backstage bullying has abated, that will suggest a complete personal refit. Any information welcome.

Mark Harper. He quoted the story (run below) revealing Ms Reeves’ raving red ambitions to offer hundreds of billions in universal benefits. Had she or hadn’t she said it?

Hers was the party, she riposted, that was prepared to take tough decisions.

She will need something dramatic to entice the electorate. Ms Reeves makes IDS look normal.

(more…)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gallery Guido: Labour is Becoming a Byzantine Family Dynasty

The hon-hon Tristram “Hereditary” Hunt in Education questions was followed by Chris Bryant defending the hereditary property rights of council house tenants.

Labour is becoming as much a Byzantine family dynasty as a political party.

In the Labour Shadow Cabinet, the leader is one half of a fraternal duo sired by a scion of the Left. He is followed, or complemented by… twin sisters, a husband-and-wife team, and Harriet Harman – who’s married to a Labour MP for whom she fixed a constituency, and who has a son, Joe, himself looking for a seat.

Then there’s Hereditary Hilary (with his niece Emily – if she makes it she’ll be the fifth generation of Benns in parliament).

Gone to the Lords is another hereditary Hilary, the ex-chief whip who inherited her seat from her father.

Tristram Hunt’s father is in the Lords, too, as we know, as is Lindsay Hoyle’s.

John Cryer’s mother and father were MPs (and he’s married to Ellie Reeves on Labour’s NEC – she is Rachel’s sister).

Keith and Valerie Vaz are brother and sister.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

BUDGET SKETCH: Miliband’s Privileged Few

A Budget of the, by the, for the privileged, Miliband said, and it certainly felt like that. If you count business-owners, export-manufacturers, pension-holders, tax-payers, theatre-producers, ISA-investors, beer-drinkers, Premium Bond-buyers, children-keepers, bingo-players, pothole-haters, car-drivers and people with a propensity to vote as privileged then it probably was.

You’ll also be happy if you support the Magna Carta Trust – they got a handsome grant. I couldn’t catch how much they were given, but Osborne declared he wanted to support the commemoration of a weak leader who betrayed his brother and was humiliated by unruly barons into signing on the line. That was worth the grant whatever it was.

Ed Balls came up with a new gesture. Waggling one hand with splayed downturned fingers and nudging his elbow sideways. My deaf friend said, “Before the watershed? That’s just disgusting.”

(more…)


Seen Elsewhere

From the IRA to Windsor Castle | WSJ
Coulson: Everything You Need to Know in 6 Seconds | MediaGuido
Mo Ansar’s Silence | Adrian Hilton
Gove Loses WWI Battle | Conservative Woman
5 Reasons Labour Likely to Win General Election | Sunny Hundal
Dave Surrounded By Topless Women | Sun
UN Loony says Britain Most Sexist Country | Sun
Farage is a Good Reason to Leave the EU | Dan Hannan
UKIP Blocked Expenses Questions | Times
NHS Showdown Coming | Paul Goodman
Sons of Brown | Telegraph


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Cathy Jamieson MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury minister, commenting on Treasury analysis of the economic impact of tax changes…

“If the Treasury is looking at the economic impact of tax changes, then surely it should examine the impact of the rise in VAT and cuts to tax credits? George Osborne’s £12 billion VAT rise knocked confidence, helped to choke off the recovery and has cost families £1,350 over the last three years.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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