Meanwhile over in Brussels Finnish centrist Hannu Takkula has decided to stay in the liberal ALDE because presumably he remembered he isn’t a conservative after all and Lithuania’s Waldemar Tomaszewski has joined the Euro Conservatives / Reformists Group. So they are still an 8 nation group above the all important 7 nation threshold…
The Tories have accepted Gordon’s dividing lines on cuts versus spending. Gordon seemed to think that he could then just shout “Tory Cuts” and that would be it, 1997 all over again. Only problem being that the economy is in such bad shape there will inevitably be “Labour Cuts”. The Treasury knows it, the Chancellor knows it, Yvette Cooper knows it, Peter Mandelson knows it, the City knows it, the media knows it and the voters understand that it is necessary. Only Gordon thinks his delusional dividing line is plausible. This is why this attack video from the Tories hits the spot (though it goes on a bit too long):
Cameron at PMQs keeps on going at Brown’s credibility. It will succeed as a line of attack because it is true. Brown can’t help himself when it comes to fiddling statistics. The whole success of his chancellorship was based on massaging the numbers…
UPDATE : Politicshome polled 100 Westminster insiders and found that 74% thought that “‘the central ideas that make up Gordon Brown’s policy, political strategy and day-to-day tactics were all developed between 1992 and 1994. He hasn’t had an important idea since.” Which explains why he thinks the “Tory Cuts” line might still work…
At last night’s Spectator debate on grammar schools David Davis said he owed everything to the opportunity given to him by his grammar school. He described the failed forty-year comprehensive scho0l system experiment as a catastrophe.
“…out of this catastrophe there was only one winning group. Do you know who they were? Yes, the public schools. Who teach just 7% of the population.”
The handicapping of the intellectual capacity of the country has definitely given the children of the privileged who were able to buy a better education, great advantages. Can’t help thinking he has a particular public school in mind…
The government’s Bill introduced by Harriet Harman yesterday proposes establishing a body to be known as the “Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority” and an officer known as the “Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations”.
The five members of the IPSA will be
“appointed by the Queen upon an Address of the House of Commons. A motion may only be made only with the agreement of the Speaker for a candidate selected on merit on the basis of fair and open competition and approved by a Speaker’s Committee. Members will be removable only in response to an Address of both Houses. There will be requirements that one member of the IPSA should have accountancy experience, that one member should have Parliamentary experience, and that one member be a holder of or have held high judicial office.”
The Commissioner will be appointed the same way. There will, according to the Bill
“be a Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority charged with exercising the functions given to it under the Bill – in particular, approving the selection of persons to be members of the IPSA and the Commissioner.”
Do you see the flaw in this “independent” Comissioner and Authority? Members will be drawn from the establishment and their selection approved by the Speaker’s appointees. Would we permit criminals to choose their own judge and jury?
This is a stitch up, we don’t need more rules and self-selected regulators, we need reform of the expenses system, together with clarity, transparency and enforcement of the rules. The voters will kick out MPs if they can identify crooks, in this sense in a democracy voters are the ultimate regulator of politicians. This whole idea is ill-founded, we don’t need to intermediate democracy with another quango or committee, this approach has already failed.
We need only to empower voters with enough information so that they can determine the truth about those who seek to represent them. The truth is all we need, not redactions, not more quangocrats.
The sorry state of the economy has been off the front pages of late, but make no mistake the fun and games of electing a speaker should not distract us from paying attention to soaring unemployment and deteriorating business conditions.
Business conditions which suffer under the ceaseless curse of visits from our jinxed PM. The tragedy that follows any visit by him to any shopfloor is endless. A few months ago the Prime Mentalist was accompanied on his visit to the Contour Premium Aircraft Seating factory by Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan, the very next month they announced 40 job losses. Today another 240 jobs are going. The curse of the one-eyed son of the manse casts its shadow…
Andrew Gilligan and Paul Waugh have been digging into Ian Clement’s expense claims for restaurant meals charged to the public purse on a City Hall credit card. It appears he was taking out his mistress…
PR Week are holding a fancy New Media and Blogging conference this week with luminaries like DJ Collins from Google speaking (who incidentally was tapped to go spin do “strategic communications” for Downing Street, had drinks with Brown, told Google he was going, but backed out after a turf war with the bunker heavies before actually moving).
Draper has not withdrawn from the line-up the organisers say. Guido is loooking forward particularly to hearing from Draper how to “Get The Tone Right To Achieve Maximum Coverage” and how to “Perfect your blogger Outreach Strategy”. Also can’t wait to hear “How to Build Relationships with Bloggers”. Presumably by calling them racists.
Guido will also be speaking at the event on the subject of “sophisticated blogging”. Honestly.
UPDATE : It is sold out.
With the support of only 3 members sitting on the benches of the next governing party never in living memory has a new speaker so divided the house. Already the drum beat has started to undermine him. Don’t get Guido wrong, there is good reason to be wary of Speaker Bercow.
He is the candidate of a party on the way out. Like a drunk being thrown out of the pub they have spat on the floor before they got thrown out the door. Bercow is disliked intensely by those who know him best, the longer you have known him, the less you like him. He was championed by Julian Lewis, who fought a dubious and disingenuous campaign against the public finding out about house flipping by MPs. In the run up to his election Bercow called for a 60% pay increase for MPs. These are not good omens.
Putting aside Guido’s personal animosity, there are some good things to be said for Bercow. No one doubts his energy or his ability to articulate his views. They are not things that could be said for the last Speaker.
There is no point undermining him before we see how he actually performs in the job. There is now an opportunity for a great reforming Speaker to drive through reforms that regain for parliament the ability to hold the government to account and in check. Bercow has been elected on a manifesto promising to modernise procedures, strengthen democratic oversight of the government and make parlaiment more transparent. If he sets the course for great reform let him keep his job. If he fails, the next parliament should not hesitate to find someone else who can do the job.
UPDATE : Dale reminds Guido that Bercow promised that any minister who made an announcement to the media instead of the House first would be called to explain himself before parliament. Watch out for that, Guido’s money is on Ed Balls doing it first. Wonder what will happen if Mandelson does it…
Unless the LibDems en masse back Sir George Young, it is going to be Bercow. Labour will stick it to the Tories, there is no chance they will suffer an old Etonian Speaker and the prospect of an old Etonian PM. At least Guido will be a few hundred quid richer, if not happier…
Crick has just blogged:
“Considering how good at redacting they are,” suggests a senior Conservative, “why can’t they just blank them out!”
The only hard and fast promise Cameron made in his campaign for the Tory leadership back in 2005 was that he would take the Tories out of the EPP. He promised that under his leadership they would be out of the federalist EPP “within weeks”, then when he won it turned into “by Christmas” then it was “within months”. Three-and-a-half years later Dave got there…
Miliband warns with uncharacteristic wit that “the new grouping may contain nuts”. The Bruges group is ecstatic. No doubt there will be a few hiccups, political rivals will be keen to amplify any slip-ups. At least Cameron has finally delivered.
Now about that referendum promised by Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown…
UPDATE : Group members include
Belgium: Lijst Dedecker (LDD), with 1 MEP in the New Group
Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Party (ODS), with 9 MEPs
Finland: The Centre Party (Keskusta) sits in the Liberal (ALDE) group but one of its MEPs is now joining the New Group.
Hungary: Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) with 1 MEP
Latvia: Latvian National Independence Movement (TB/LNNK) with 1 MEP
The Netherlands: ChristianUnion (ChristenUnie) with 1 MEP
Poland: Law & Justice (PiS) with 15 MEPs
United Kingdom: The Conservative Party, with 26 MEPs in the New Group.
They have issued a group declaration:
THE PRAGUE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES OF THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
CONSCIOUS OF THE URGENT NEED TO REFORM THE EU ON THE BASIS OF EUROREALISM, OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEMOCRACY, IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR NATIONS AND CONCENTRATES ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY, GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS, THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS GROUP SHARES THE
1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.
If, as many reports suggest, Labour is now whipping votes for Beckett in the election for Speaker it dooms Bercow’s candidature, since he has no more than a handful of Tory backers.
It is a shame that Richard Shepherd is not in the running. A thoroughly decent man with a longstanding record of support for freedom of information who is also among the lowest expense claiming MPs. So he won’t win of course…
There is a myth put about that John Bercow’s supposed shift to the left is a result of him falling under the spell of a Labour supporting girlfriend who he subsequently married. Granted it is a better explanation than, for example, he is an unprincipled opportunist focused on self-advancement at any price who will do and say anything to further his career. If he can spin that it is love that made him jettison now inconvenient positions he held previously, all the better…
The truth is that when Bercow met Sally Illman she was a Tory activist, their relationship was encouraged by Julian Lewis MP (he was best man at their wedding). In reality her political history is almost as interesting as her husband’s past. In 1993 she spoke at the Conservative Party conference taking a commendably hard line on freedom of the press, telling Tory delegates
‘All of these stories should be known in a mature democracy. None would have been published under a privacy law . . . To gag the press by cumbersome statute would be wrong, damaging to the press, insulting to readers’ intelligence and harmful to democracy. It would be a foolish error of political judgement and we would pay a hefty price.’
Quite right. Wonder if she will still hold to that view after tomorrow…