The two most thrilling reactions for MPs – as I understand it – are 1) a dense, party-wide Hear, Hear! which carries the speaker on the crest of approval. And 2) a sudden, still, congregational silence in the great chamber. In this version, the packed Commons holds its breath. Every listener is caught by the throat.
1) is hard, and rarer as the years have passed, but 2) is relatively easy. It is prompted by some “horrific incident” or “terrible tragedy” and strikes every person present into pious silence.
The Commons has got wise to it now, and the body count is rising with every passing PMQs. The signal that the trick is being played again is usually a name, a Christian name (Sh! Sh! the monitors go), then the fact of a child, a victim, a death.
Today, with names and details, we had a stillbirth, a death by dogs, three suicides and an air pollution fatality. Thirty-one deaths a day by breast cancer were referenced, though not by name (that’ll be next: “We shall never forget them.”).
The temptation, which the Tory Member didn’t successfully resist, is to dally in the spotlight. It’s a very fine line. One extra sentence and you look like you’re making a meal of it, fine dining in the sacred silence.
Better would be not to do it all; to find another way to demonstrate that politicians are human, that they share our concerns.
Guido can reveal a sixth Tory MP is putting their hat in the ring to chair the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, following the vacancy created by Tom Tugendhat’s promotion. Richard Graham, the MP for Gloucester, is joining Liam Fox, IDS, Alicia Kearns, Henry Smith and John Baron in the race – albeit at a significantly later starting date than his five competitors.
Richard Graham is campaigning on four points, the third of which is certain to raise eyebrows among Tory MPs:
A source close to one of the candidates revealed lots of SNP MPs are set to back Alicia Kearns, and no doubt many Labour MPs will also be putting her as first preference, meaning it’s likely she will be in the final two with either IDS or Liam Fox. Nominations close tomorrow and the vote’s on Wednesday…
While most politicking has been put on pause for the moment, it seems life goes on for some career-hungry MPs. The elevation of Tom Tugendhat to Security Minister means a prize vacancy as chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is up for grabs; immediately Tory grandees Liam Fox and IDS announced they’d be putting themselves forward. Guido understands their campaigns have been paused in light of the Queen’s death…
The underdog in the race is Alicia Kearns, a 2019 vintage Tory MP, who’s shown a keen interest in foreign affairs since entering parliament three years ago, as well as serving on the committee for the past two years. Unlike IDS and Fox, however, Alicia can’t afford to campaign on name recognition alone. Today in PCH according to a co-conspirator she was holding court lobbying passing MPs, Guido’s co-conspirator spotted Damian Hinds and Daniel Kawczynski getting their ears bent, despite the campaign halt while we mourn Her Majesty. No rest for the wicked…
After turning down Liz Truss’s offer to join the Cabinet as Leader of the House of Commons, Iain Duncan Smith has announced a new career ambition. Following the appointment of Tom Tugendhat to the Cabinet as Security Minister, IDS is planning to run for the now-vacant chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Speaking on LBC this morning the former Tory leader confirmed overnight reports by Steerpike and Politico that he’ll be going for the job:
“I am actually seriously thinking about standing for that, so there you have a first.”
IDS also claims he turned down the offer of Leader of the House because he felt it was not something to which he “could add any particular value”, leaving the job open for Penny Mordaunt instead.
Politico reports that Liam Fox will also be running, with the backing of DEFRA Committee Chair Robert Goodwill and former Trade Minister Mark Garnier. The additional chairman’s salary of £16,422 is not to be sniffed at during these trying economic times…
Throughout history there has been an ongoing battle between those who believe in the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression and those who would deny it for their own purposes. How did we get to where we are today? Is freedom of speech really under threat and if so from whom? How do we calibrate the defence of our essential values in an era of rapid technological change and protect both our freedoms and the safety of our citizens?
The Right Honourable Dr Liam Fox MP, Former Secretary of State for International Trade and Former Secretary of State for Defence, speaks at the Adam Smith Institute at 11 am today. Together they’ll explore the issues in civil society, law, and the philosophical battle over what we should be able to say, when, and where. Join Dr Fox, Ms Ginsberg, and the Adam Smith Institute live at 11 am UK Time, on Guido Fawkes.
In a point of order this afternoon, Liam Fox raised a Point of Order referencing the extraordinary intervention in proceedings in Scotland yesterday, where implicating the First Minister was censored from Salmond’s evidence against Sturgeon. Fox quoted Salmond as saying:
“the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party, and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.”
Describing the analysis as one that would be a damning indictment in a tinpot dictatorship, Fox asked Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing what could be done to “ensure the conduct of the Scottish Government does not bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into disrepute”.
Laing herself stressed the seriousness of the matter and how it affects “the bedrock of our constitutional settlement“, stressed her concern with “safeguarding democratic standards“, and went as far as almost encouraging him to bring it before the House once again. Guido gets the impression this is only the beginning…