Last Tuesday saw a rare Privilege Motion levelled against the SNP’s John Nicolson by David Davis for offences against the Speaker. Nicholson’s defence was so rebarbative that the Commons voted to refer him to the Privileges committee with only half his own party voting in his favour.
The following day, Nicolson’s vote on the Finance Bill was recorded as a proxy by his colleague Owen Thompson. A proxy vote, Parliament guidance says, is available for those with long term illnesses or childbirth issues.
Now Guido hears that someone bearing the most marked resemblance to John Nicolson was seen at the Sky party at the Garden Museum by Lambeth Palace early that very evening of the Finance Bill.
If we can rule out childbirth as a problem for the SNP’s most popular MP, Guido can only celebrate the revitalising effects of party-time as a magical, medicinal cure-all.
In a twist to the parliamentary habit of demanding futile apologies from each other, here is a story where an apology on the floor of the House would actually have had a useful effect. Instead, the SNP’s John Nicolson weaselled, wriggled, slithered and slalomed in self-justification – and still got referred to the Privileges committee. That doesn’t sound so serious – but if Parliament were a Glasgow bar, there’d be blood and broken glass, and Nicolson would walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
David Davis, from his spot high on the backbenches, laid out the case for the prosecution. In short – Nicolson had wanted to pursue Nadine Dorries over her testimony to the Culture committee on which he sat; the committee disagreed; Nicolson went to the Speaker to ask for a debate; the Speaker disagreed.
“He did not ask for a Division before the report was published; he did not vote against it; he did not publish a dissenting opinion.”
Instead, Nicolson took to Twitter to give “a partial and biased account” of his exchanges with the Speaker and in the subsequent pile-on, retweeted a post accusing the Speaker of “Ermine-pursuing theatrics” and that he had placed his “integrity above that of Parliament”. The integrity of the Speaker is a cause which unites MPs across the House. A Motion was put, to see whether Nicolson would be referred to the Privileges committee (sharp intake of breath)…
A vintage Commons dust-up today, as a furious Speaker Hoyle demanded a public apology from the SNP’s John Nicolson for leaking correspondence between the pair earlier this week.
Nicolson had written to Hoyle demanding he take action against Nadine Dorries for “misleading” the Culture select committee over the sale of Channel 4, with Hoyle ultimately deciding not do so, partly on the grounds that she was no longer a member of the government. Of course, Nicolson skipped that crucial detail when he revealed parts of Hoyle’s response on social media…
Hoyle insisted Nicolson stand up and apologise there and then for giving a “partial and biased account” of the letter… only for Nicholson to claim that while he deplored social media “pile-ons“, he wasn’t going to give in. Instead, he started banging on about “integrity“. Hoyle wasn’t happy:
“Printing the letter, but only half the letter is not integrity. In fact, far from it. It misled the people of this country, it certainly put me in a bad light by the people of this country, and I don’t expect that to happen as an impartial speaker. So if that was an apology, I don’t think it was very good”.
Proper parliamentary box office viewing…
SNP MP John Nicholson batted away claims that his party colleagues are considering replacing Nicola Sturgeon on Politics Live this morning:
“I’ve heard absolutely nothing[…] I think she’s an enormous asset. She’s head and shoulders above our competition, and people like her in Scotland […] It’s not true, I have not had a single conversation with any other MP about a successor.”
Sturgeon herself has insisted she intends to serve a full five-year term, and has no plans to step down. At any rate, it’d be rude to claim otherwise amid Labour’s reshuffle. Save it for later, John…
Yesterday Nadine Dorries made a highly-entertaining DCMS select committee performance. During the hearing Dorries took no prisoners, blasting her ‘left-wing’ critics and attacking the BBC. The SNP’s John Nicolson spent a large portion of his allotted time blasting Nadine over the content of her past tweets, and attacking her for using the phrase “leftie snowflake”. Ironic, then, that just 24 hours after the tense exchange, Guido calculates Nicolson has tweeted, liked or retweeted 168 different posts relating to Nadine Dorries. She’s clearly living in his head rent free…
Some of the tweets liked by Nicolson are arguably themselves verging on the exact abuse Nicolson lambasted Dorries for, including retweeting one post calling her “grotesque” and “thick as two short planks”. Other likes included tweets calling her “disgusting” and a “mendacious, vacuous Tory goon”. Meanwhile he had the gall to claim “Dorries’s record of online abuse is appalling”…
Some lighthearted patter from yesterday’s DCMS committee has been flagged to Guido, when SNP MP John Nicolson cross-examined Commonwealth Chief Creative Officer Martin Green:
Nicolson: Some of the Commonwealth countries, Martin, are the most homophobic countries in the world. Will there be a challenge at the Commonwealth Games over some of these policies? Will lesbian and gay people be able to express their views about some of the appalling homophobia that folk are subjected to in Commonwealth countries?
Green: Yes, they are some of the most homophobic countries in the world. Fortunately, this project is being led by one of the gayest men in the world.
Nicolson:Who is that?
Green: It is me.
As Nicolson pointed out, it brings a new meaning to “The Queen’s Relay”…