Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind were caught having a frank exchange of views with their mics on on Sky. Here are a few choice moments:
Ken Clarke on Crabb: “I don’t know what Crabb’s views are on most things”
Malcolm Rifkind on Gove: “I don’t mind who wins as long as Gove comes third”
Ken Clarke on Leadsom: “So long as she understands that she’s not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she’s been saying”
Ken Clark on May: “Theresa’s a bloody difficult woman but you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher”
I’ve been trying to work out what that Clarke-and-Rifkind tape reminds me of and it’s basically Statler & Waldorf pic.twitter.com/uI7MyePE9O
— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) July 5, 2016
Jack Straw did not break parliamentary rules when he boasted he could use his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:
“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels … and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”
Malcolm Rifkind has also been cleared this morning. See the original Telegraph/Dispatches story here. Developing…
UPDATE: Despite Straw suggesting he could use his influence to have laws changed in exchange for payment, the Commissioner finds:
“The question of lobbying for reward or consideration simply does not arise”
On Straw boasting about how his reputation and contacts would be useful to a lobbying firm, the Commissioner says sympathetically:
“A Member’s reputation will be important to them and, inevitably, is part of the “package” on which they may rely when they later seek employment outside the House.”
On Rifkind, the Standards Commissioner explains he has let him off on a technicality:
“Had Sir Malcolm’s offer been taken up, particularly after the second meeting when it was clear that PMR were likely to have further questions relating to the possibility of employing him, Sir Malcolm might then have been in breach of the rules by using parliamentary resources for the purpose of boosting his employment prospects.”
The Commissoner says that while Rifkind made “errors of judgement”, “Sir Malcolm has suffered as a result of the allegations and inferences made, which were covered widely in the media”. Playing the world’s tiniest violin…
UPDATE II: The Telegraph and Dispatches get both barrels from the Standards Commissioner:
“the distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage… If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House”
UPDATE III: Channel 4 hit back:
“Channel 4 Dispatches stands by its journalism; this was a fair and accurate account of what the two MPs said. This investigation was in the public interest and revealed matters that were of serious public concern.”
Nothing like a political scandal to flush out some sloppy journalism. Malcolm Rifkind is standing down from Kensington. Not Kensington and Chelsea. The parliamentary constituency of Kensington and Chelsea does not exist any more: it was scrapped in 2010 when the seat was redrawn. What was once one of the safest Tory seats in the country now has a majority of just over 8,000. That hasn’t stopped national newspapers, broadcast journalists, lobbyists and assorted political hacks displaying a shameful lack of knowledge about their patch:
And as Malcolm Rifkind stands down, Boris cries a small tear as he compares the eateries of Uxbridge with those of Kensington & Chelsea…
— Francis Ingham (@PRCAIngham) February 24, 2015
— BetOnPolitics (@BetOnPolitics) February 24, 2015
Guido wouldn’t ‘bet’ on that!
Emergency selection meeting for Tories in Kensington and Chelsea. Bet Boris wishes he'd waited….
— John O'Shea (@politicalhackuk) February 24, 2015
But Boris has a bigger majority in Uxbridge, oh wise hack?
Sir Malcolm Rifkind will also step down as MP for Kensington and Chelsea at the general election.
— General Election (@UKGE2020) February 24, 2015
— Sarah Deech (@londonette) February 24, 2015
Kensington & Chelsea, Malcolm Rifkind's seat, is only constituency in UK with avg (mean) wages above MPs' £67k (they're £98k) @gabyhinsliff
— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) February 24, 2015
Kensington/Chelsea seat now in play with Rifkind quitting. Bound to be a big scrap over successor – Boris must regret taking Uxbridge.
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) February 24, 2015
Et tu, FT?
With Rifkind gone, Kensington and Chelsea could be a very snug fit for Boris Johnson.
— Jonathan Kennedy (@partialreporter) February 24, 2015
Partial reporter? Partial with the facts more like!
Never mind who will be chair for one month of ISC. Who is going to get the plum Tory seat of K&C?
— Tony Grew (@ayestotheright) February 24, 2015
Even self-proclaimed Parliamentary experts get it wrong.
Perhaps most embarrassingly the Indy even ran this terrible headline:
Don’t tell Peter Oborne, but there’s another subbing error in the Telegraph:
“None of your business,” Rifkind told Sky earlier when asked if he was going to resign…
Should Sir Malcolm Rifkind stand down to spend more time with the lifestyle to which he aspires?
George Galloway asks Hugo Rifkind for his view on the day’s events. He replies:
“Thanks for asking, George. I suppose I’d just say I salute my dad’s courage, strength and indefatigability. Hope this helps.”