Looks like it’s by-election time in the UKIP heartland of Newark. You read it here first…
Three weeks ago in his Sun column Guido revealed that CCHQ was bracing itself for a damning Standards Committee report into Patrick Mercer, with insiders saying the condemnation will be so bad he may be forced out of Parliament. The story was followed up in the Sunday Times this weekend. Several sources are now suggesting that the decision will come in the next 24 hours…
UPDATE: The Week reports that Mercer has been banned from parliament for six months. The Standards Committee is refusing to comment. Mercer isn’t answering his mobile…
Regular readers will remember Labour’s rent-a-gob Karl Turner previous run in with the authority when he nicked a newspaper from a first class train carriage. “A self-satisfied, obnoxious, patronising bully who can afford a quid for The Times” was one of the kinder witness statements. Well the passive-aggressive MP has been caught red-handed breaking House of Commons rules by trying to raise party funds using non-partisan parliamentary resources. Turner’s potential opponent in Hull East Mike Whitehead made the original complaint and had him bang to rights. The uninspiring Labour MP admits sending out invites to the £45-a-head fundraiser from a parliamentary account, in clear breach of the members’ code of conduct:
“It shouldn’t have happened and I have made sure it will not happen again.”
Local Tory MP Graham Stuart is accusing Turner of a “serious and ongoing error of judgment”, referring the “unapologetic” and “flippant” Turner to the Standards Commissioner. He says Turner sold the tickets “under false pretences”. An apology to the House is in order.
Most of the government is either on holiday or has ground to a halt, but Eric Pickles is still hard at work fighting taxpayer-funded propaganda newspapers in rotten boroughs. The Communities Secretary has given Greenwich Time, Hackney Today, the Newham mag, Waltham Forest News and the infamous pro-Lutfur Rahman Tower Hamlets paper East End Life two weeks to explain why they shouldn’t face action:
“It is scandalous that bloggers have been handcuffed for tweeting from council meetings, while propaganda on the rates drives the free press out of business. Only Putin would be proud of a record like that.”
Who could he possibly have in mind?
The Tories’ new code of conduct for their MPs is entirely voluntary, with the party distancing itself from having to deal with any complaints by making clear staff grievances are “entirely a matter for you to handle”. Which means if a staffer complains about their boss, the complaint is dealt with by… their boss.
Appendix A: Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers) and their employees: Code of Conduct
Rights and responsibilities of employees
All employees, whatever their role or level, are entitled to:
be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy by their employer, colleagues, House
staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public;
be valued for the work that they do;
be free from any form of discrimination, victimisation, harassment or bullying;
work in an environment free from unwelcome behaviour and inappropriate language.
All employees should:
conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner;
be fair and just in all workplace dealings;
listen to the views of others;
understand the difference between normal work disagreements and
All employees are responsible for ensuring they understand what behaviour is required of
them and that their conduct does not cause offence. Everyone shares a responsibility for
understanding the sensitivities and feelings of others and avoiding behaviour that could cause
offence or distress. Equally, all employees should be free to carry out their duties free from
unfounded allegations of discrimination, harassment or bullying.
Rights and responsibilities of Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers)
All Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers), like their employees, are entitled to
be treated with respect and dignity. They have the right to:
expect to carry out their parliamentary business free from unfounded allegations of
discrimination, harassment or bullying;
expect employees to be as helpful as possible, to act with honesty, probity and so
uphold the reputation of the House and of the Member as a member of the
In return, Conservative Members of Parliament (as employers) are expected to:
interact with their employees in a fair, reasonable and consistent manner;
use appropriate channels should issues relating to delivery standards arise;
fully co-operate with the Conservative Pastoral Care Team (CPCT) should a
grievance procedure be instigated;
ensure their employees act in accordance with the spirit and ethos of this policy in
their dealings with House staff;
lead by example to encourage and foster an atmosphere of respect and tolerance;
not use their position to bully, abuse or harass employees or assume a threatening or
intimidating style or discriminate against them.
If anything, this leaves staffers who are victims of handsy MPs in a weaker position than before…
Last night’s Channel 4 News investigation found that young men working in parliament were more likely to be sexually harassed than women, and specifically that there were a group of gay MPs who preyed upon men in Westminster. Back in January Guido publicly tipped off one journalist to the story on Twitter, he didn’t want to investigate, instead PoliticsHome’s Tony Grew said the allegations were untrue:
Today the story is on the front pages of two newspapers, has been heavily followed up by the rest and is dominating the airwaves on 24 hour news channels and radio, yet gets only a fleeting mention on PoliticsHome. They should have a word with their Lobby correspondent about his news values…
A Channel 4 News investigation finds that one in three people working in the sleazy booze-fuelled world of Westminster have experienced some form of sexual harassment at the hands of pervy MPs. One in five had witnessed some other poor young staffer being sexually harassed and over half said they had first or second-hand experience of hands-on politicians. Today’s Mail and Independent splash on the story.
The Tories have responded by ordering their MPs to sign a new code of conduct and implementing a grievance procedure for staff:
The code of conduct acts as a basic statement of what should be best practice in the workplace for Conservative Members and their staff. It explains the rights and responsibilities which are expected of both the employer and the employee.
The grievance procedure is available for staff to use if a grievance arises with their MP as employer. It protects both parties involved, brings with it consistency and fairness, and in doing so upholds the reputation of the Party and of Parliament. It is based upon a three stage process of mediation, grievance hearing and appeal. The process conforms to relevant employment law, ACAS guidance and HR best practice and is added as a schedule to the contract of employment.
They should get everyone at Number 10 to sign it too…
George Osborne must be furious that because of Maria Miller no one is talking about the IMF’s forecast that Britain will be the fastest growing leading economy this year. They have today announced their prediction that UK growth will reach 2.9%, the fastest in the G7, and then 2.5% in 2015. Also endorsing Osborne’s strategy for future growth:
“the government’s efforts to raise capital spending while staying within the medium-term fiscal envelope should help bolster recovery and long-term growth”
Yet because of one Cabinet minister grabbing all the headlines, this will go unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. As ConHome’s Mark Wallace points out:
“Ministers need to be able to get on with communicating the central messages that have the potential to deliver victory in 2015. If their interviews are constantly sidetracked into the question of Miller’s expenses, or their arguments are undermined by the presence in the cabinet of someone who demonstrably didn’t deliver the best value for the taxpayer, that becomes a serious problem.”
If Number 10 let this go on into recess it’ll be the only talking point on the doorstep for weeks…
UPDATE: Interestingly, Guido understands the IMF are refusing to let Olivier Blanchard, their chief economist who famously warned Osborne was “playing with fire“, be interviewed by Sky News. Surely they aren’t worried about him putting his foot in it again…
Harriet Harman Offers Less Than the Living Wage | Owen Bennett
Fallon’s Red Arrow Spin Unravels | Wings Over Scotland
What is the LibDems’ Problem With “The Jews” | Speccie
Image is the Least of Ed’s Worries | Speccie
The Most Politically Cynical Speech I Have Ever Seen | Dan Hodges
Full Sunday Sport Style Guide Email | MediaGuido
What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace
Feminist Lobby Killing Meritocracy | Kathy Gyngell
New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:
“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”
Christie Malry @fcablog
Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops