PMQs SKETCH: Cameron ‘Frit’ of Farage, Not Miliband

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Eye witnesses in the press gallery had PMQs as a Miliband walkover, but television – reality, that is – told a different story.

You can tile up a number of screens on top of BBC Parliament and watch – say – lesbian spanking porn while listening to Ed’s voice and you can try turning over the words “Prime Minister Miliband”.

And it’s true – he has an engaging private voice. It’s got texture. It’s got a second, lower register. He can easily, gently, get down there. “Down there where the money is,” as Bing Crosby, the crooning seducer, had it.

And when he uses this voice, as he did, to talk about the Paris massacres… To put it as strongly as possible: I don’t deny it’s not impossible to think of Miliband as a prime minister.

But before the lesbian delinquents had been properly corrected, Ed had finished with Islamic maniacs threatening our civilization and started in on the TV debates.

Face flying, finger working, eyes darting to and from his script, mouth ballooning, and the voice wailing up into the altosphere.

Prime Minister Miliband. Suddenly it’s like Unsinkable Ship. Something that’s impossible, and if it does happen, sinks.

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PMQs SKETCH: Holy Warrior of the NHS

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If the NHS is Labour’s religion, the immanent, unknowable reality that nurtures its people, Ed Miliband is its holy warrior. It’s an old-fashioned, unreformed religion based on medieval inspiration and badly in need of a reformation but it still has a mystical grip on the people.

It is a bit of a sect, and its jumping jihadist is described – even by his supporters – as something of a cult, but the current crusade is to honour the teachings of the donkey-jacketed prophet Michael Foot.

Like any jihadist, he doesn’t quite match up to the inspiration.

As an ideological warrior, he’s driven by power rather than holiness. He’ll do any damage to his beliefs, as long as it damages his enemies more. He talks in such sectarian language there’s no conversation possible. He’s totalitarian in his edicts. He surrounds himself with a palace guard or he’d be torn to pieces by the wider following. And he lacks a beard. No beard! With teeth like his you need a beard.

The transcendental nitwit stood up at the despatch box and accused the Tories of manifold wickedness. They must have been blind. Are they still blind? Maybe that can be arranged. Branded and blinded for their filthy blasphemies against the holy of holies.

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PMQs SKETCH: Maso-sadism

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Our prime minister introduced this thrilling concept into PMQs just now, an entirely new sub-genre of the mainstream practice. What an exquisitely-tuned sensibility Eton produces in these matters.

He had been mocking Ed Balls, quoting his plan to be “tough on the deficit and tough on the causes of the deficit.” And as he was one of the main causes of the deficit, this was an example of “maso-sadism.”

Exactly how it differs from sado-masochism remained a tantalising mystery.

Labour erupted into a furious communion with itself and the House. What did he mean? What was this fascinating variation that only the elite have access to?

The Speaker attempted to calm his constituency. “We all know what he meant,” he said in a world-weary way. But it was unlikely he did know. Maso-sadism is strictly a Pop, P2, Order of the Garter sort of secret from which the Speaker will always be excluded (hence his loathing).

Perhaps realising he had given away more than he should, Cameron corrected himself. (That’s level one in M-S.) He laughed it off. He meant ordinary masochism. “I always said he could dish it put but he couldn’t take it. But I think he likes to take it as well.”

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PMQs SKETCH: E.D. Phone Home!

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Good old Brooks Newmark, he hath done the sketch some service.

On a question about the inner workings of the penile system and afflictions of the testicles there he was, lounging behind the questioner in his paisley-coloured dreamland. He’s certainly in touch. He definitely gets it.

Unlike – oh how very unlike – our friend who speaks for the Labour Party on these occasions.

Ed Miliband brought his finger to the fore. Long and odd, as you’d expect in an alien. It’s an open secret, isn’t it? The Labour leader is not of this world. He belongs in the basket of a little boy’s bicycle. We’re all waiting – I mean literally everyone is waiting – for the Miliband  fingertip to light up and for him to croak, “Home!” Oh, the relief in his party on that joyful day.

For his weekly turn, Ed let out six fluent streams of static, six bursts of passionate telemetry. It’s a language Geiger counters understand well.

Decoded, it appears he wants us to believe that the NHS in crisis. Which it may very well be.  Cameron’s complete answer consists of: 1) Labour wanted to cut its funding. And 2) The country needs to make the money before it can be spent on health.

That is the only answer necessary and one he gives every week. For all his other-worldly intelligence, Miliband hasn’t found a way round or through it.

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Speaker Watch: Lansley Wounds Bercow

The wheels of a Parliament grind slow but they grind fine.

Andrew Lansley’s evidence to the Governance committee this week is very damaging to John Bercow’s prospects.

The committee was set up to look at the Speaker’s (disastrous) handling of the appointment of chief Clerk of the Commons. As Guido pointed out early in the year, it was clear that Bercow was operating a policy of Diminish and Rule to increase his suffocating grip on Commons life.

Abolishing, or massively diminishing, the office of Clerk would give him unrestrained access to the powers and budgets of department heads.

Andrew Lansley confirmed in evidence that Bercow ran the recruitment as if it was his own personal process (in our view, to appoint the one person he had in mind from the outset).

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PMQs SKETCH: Ed the Unready Uncounselled, Ill-Advised, a Leader Surrounded by Fools

Up he stood with one prepared earlier by nitwits unknown.

Faced with prolonged Tory cheers, the ones he gets every week, he said, “Let’s see if they’re still cheering on Friday!” (Laughter)

The Rochester by-election is set to give the Tories a rollicking. That much we have known for a fortnight, all through Ed’s leadership crisis.

But it’s usually a mistake to chaff the prime minister. “I make one prediction,” he said in his easy, Eton house-room way, “the people behind me will still be cheering HIM on Friday.”

True.

The news on Friday morning may be shocking enough to revive Labour panic. What happens if they poll 15 per cent? Tory failure has been priced in – has Labour melt-away? How will the 100-odd Labour MPs feel when their vulnerability is dramatised for them? When they look ahead to the loss of their precious seat?

Because it’s all about Ed. Presidential Ed. The teeth of the campaign. The big brain behind it. The single greatest weakness of the party is given the greatest prominence. Who thought that was a good idea?

Ed!

It isn’t a confection of the right wing press: voters look at Ed and shudder.

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SKETCH: Out of Touch Ed Canters Into the Valley of Death

Ed listening is a sight for sore eyes. He crouches slightly and goes very still, pointing his face at the questioner, concentrating his whole being in their direction. He may quiver slightly, like a greyhound.

It’s what people who don’t listen do to show they’re listening.

He speaks human too. “I want some gender balance,” he said, taking questions. “There’s a lady over there.”

She didn’t say, “How dare you talk to me like that!” But how did he dare?

“I want some ethnic balance, you sir with the headgear, and the um, the you know,” (Rubs his hands in a circular motion over his cheeks). He knows you can’t do that, at least.

He didn’t actively empathise with anyone, God knows how he would have done that and who would have cleaned up afterwards.

A journalist got hold of a microphone and asked if Ed would accept there was a crisis of confidence in his leadership.

He said, “My answer is no.”

Straightforward denial of reality. Very important quality in a leader. If you can describe Ed as a leader.

He said they were going to “change the way the economy works.”

Big job, that.

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PMQs SKETCH: How Have Labour Got Themselves Here?

The weekly pleasure of Ed Miliband in action.

He’s like an eight year old boy unused to fighting running into a fight. Wild face, arms windmilling, making strange noises, not punching but slapping like a girl.

He ran at Cameron six times. Six times Cameron put a hand on the lad’s forehead and watched the arms flail, the hands flap, the teeth dance in his mouth.

It was Europe. Would Cameron repeat what he said two years ago and say he’d campaign to stay in the EU?

A week is a long time in politics. Two years is time for an ice age and its inter-glacial period. Nonetheless, Ed insisted Cameron repeat his ancient undertakings.

Cameron had a perfectly serviceable  – if swervy – answer.

He wanted to stay in a reformed EU. That was the plan.

There really was nothing to see there. Did Miliband move on to the Treasury shambles following the EU’s £1.7 billion demand? Or to a forensic dissection of Cameron’s impossible task?

No, Miliband kept coming back to Cameron’s personal position on the forthcoming campaign, and kept getting the serviceable answer. His rhetorical climax was: “He’s the Don’t Know prime minister.”

At that point, twenty or thirty female Labour MPs could have posed for Munch. A mass Scream.

scream

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PMQs SKETCH: “An Absolute Shar”

“An absolute shower,” (pron. “shar “) Cameron called them, the Labour leadership.

Perhaps he thought any more detailed attention would be to kick Miliband when he was down.

You shouldn’t kick your opponent when he is down. When your opponent is down you should gently bind him, place a careful foot on his croaking throat and  dismember him. Harvest his organs. Mummify him and keep him in your cellar. Your friendly smile should never lose its freshness while you work.

“An absolute shar” hasn’t had the effect Cameron was counting on since 1956.

There has never been a more ridiculous duo leading a major party than Ed Balls and Miliband. Their polling is pitiful. Their strategy woeful. They couldn’t be more insulated from their voters than if they were wearing gimp suits, boxing gloves and a This Is What A Feminist Looks Like T-shirt.

They are following in the tradition of Michael Foot’s Labour, “there will be no compromise with the electorate.”

That is no reason for assuming they won’t win the election.

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Carol Mills “Hit by a Bus” in Senate Finance Hearing

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The famous Carol Mills – John Bercow’s personal candidate for the position of Clerk of the Commons – was up in front of an Australian Senate finance committee this week.

An “excruciating process” (in the words of one present) extracted a number of admissions and confessions that undermine her reputation in the Commons as a “world-class administrator”.

· * Her department hasn’t had a Chief Financial Officer for 12 months.

· * While she chairs the Security management Board – a separate security panel was set up without her knowledge.

· * The threat level may have been fiddled to help justify a $400,000 cut in the security budget.

· * While cuts were being made and improvements to parliamentary facilities were being denied – she spent $3m on refitting her office (nearly twice the original estimate).

· * A contract for $30,000 to take 10 photographs was given to a friend and neighbour of hers from the same Sydney street.

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PMQs SKETCH: Cameron Rubs Salt Into Bercow’s Wounds

The only really enjoyable part of PMQs came right at the end in a question on immigration, and time running out. The PM broke off his answer with an abrupt change of subject to congratulate ex-Chief Clerk Sir Robert Rogers on his peerage.

It had been an indirect attack on the Speaker to make the hated Rogers a peer, now a slightly less indirect way of rubbing salt into the open wound that sits in the Speaker’s chair.

The House loved it. And not just Tories. Witnesses inside the Chamber said the cheering came from both sides of the House and went on for a parliamentary eternity (about 15 seconds).

The Speaker busied himself in conversation with his secretary. He wasn’t taking on that mob.

Feelings about the Speaker are like a tsunami wave travelling a long distance. Out at sea the wave looks like any other. Only when the seabed rises approaching land does the wave rise and reveal itself.

That was one moment of the wave passing an island. Up it reared.

In every second of every cheer the House was saying, “We know what you’re like. You bullied, browbeat, berated, swore at a decent man until he couldn’t take it any more and quit the job that meant the world to him. You have revealed yourself. And we won’t forget it.”

The occasion passes, the wave resumes its normal height, but it’s still traveling with undiminished power .

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SPEAKER WATCH: A New Managerial Mess of Bercow’s Making

We’ve definitely reached peak Bercow. The poor fellow is running out in front of our eyes.

The ennoblement of Robert Rogers on Cameron’s recommendation is a marvellously indirect attack, recognised by everyone in the Commons. We all now know Rogers was hounded from office by the Speaker.

Less well known – the Speaker suffered a sharp set-back last week when the House of Commons Commission (which he chairs) voted to appoint hated, old Etonian David Natzler as temporary Chief Clerk.

Bercow voted against this – and lost.

Half the Commission is appointed by Bercow himself – his own people are starting to turn away from him.

But the position of chief executive is still vacant, as is the chair of the management board. Whom other top staff report to is unclear. It’s a managerial mess and entirely of the Speaker’s making.

Natzler is moving into the Clerk’s palatial office, and everyone underneath him has moved up as well.

Shifting them all back would cause a palace revolt.

This as much as anything makes Carol Mills’ appointment less likely than ever.

PMQs SKETCH: Maybe Miliband Has a Chance

The Nolan principles of sketch writing – fairness, objectivity, kindness and so forth, I forget them exactly. Does he offer refresher courses?

Miliband today was, I thought, as bad as he’d ever been.

The face a mash-up of several untamed animals. The angry eight-year-old delivery. The whole package that of a bedroom boy locked away with his best friend, making economic models out of Lego. Not even worth breaking up for parts. And the drivel!

“Too harsh. He was quite good today,” one of his Labour enemies said.  “The big story is whether Freud will survive the day.”

What! No! Really? As a result of Miliband’s questions? But that must mean he did quite well!

Seriously?

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Clerk Panel Knew of Mills Before She Was Suggested for Job

Carol Mills was known to “some members” of the clerk selection panel before Saxton Bampfylde put her up for interview, it was confirmed last night. So where did her name come from? Out of the hundreds – thousands – of senior administrators in the Commonwealth’s public services, how and why did Saxton Bampfylde decide to pop Carol Mills on to their long list? One suspicion is that this eminent head hunting company was hired as a blind, to make respectable a decision that had already been made. Who on the panel knew whom?

Speaker’s Authority, Competence and Integrity Challenged

Last night, an advance in the Carol Mills story.

The House voted to set up a committee to consider the Governance of the House, including the role of the Clerk and chief executive.

Who thought procedure could be so exciting?

This is a decisive step forward. The remit is wider than expected. It allows, in theory, the source of yesterday’s Bully Bercow story to be called to give evidence.

“Governance of the House” includes control of the Speaker. When the Speaker is out of control, who controls him? That’s the essence of governance.

The Speaker’s bullying, abusive behaviour is within the remit of the committee. Allegations of committee-rigging, running candidates, planting questions, fixing appointments are all within the remit. How the dickens did he let that get through?

John Bercow will be pushing his candidates onto that committee as if his life depended on it (which it may do).

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SPEAKER WATCH: Bercow's Panel Turns on Him

An answer from John Thurso to Michael Fabricant’s written parliamentary question has been made.

Fabricant asked whether the selection panel had been aware of the Australian Senate’s investigations into Carol Mills, and if so, at what stage they had been informed.

Thurso replied: “the panel was not made aware of the investigations before reaching its conclusion.”

Saxton Bampfylde, the head hunters knew. The Speaker must have known. The selection panel did not.

The Speaker, determined for reasons unknown to place Carol Mills in the job, must have withheld the most salient piece of information. All the evidence suggests he prevailed on the panel not to ask Saxton Bampfylde into the room in order that they should not find out about the Inquiries.

The panel has been carrying the can for John Bercow’s machinations.

They are starting to decide they needn’t carry it indefinitely.

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Exclusive: Former Employee Accuses Speaker of Violent Rages Will Testify: Rages Were Extraordinary, I Was Hit, Sworn At

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A former employee of John Bercow claims today that he was the victim of violent rages at the hands of the Speaker, in a series of extraordinary allegations about the Speaker’s conduct. Speaking to Guido, the respected senior former staff member in Bercow’s office said:

“If I was asked was I ever hit? I’d say yes.

If I was hit by bits of a mobile phone he smashed in one if his rages? Yes.

Did I witness him telling untruths to accuse people of wrongful behaviour? Yes.

Was I sworn at? Very regularly.

I witnessed catastrophic losses of temper. The rages were extraordinary. Arms flailing. The loss of control.”

Would this person go on the record at a select committee?

Yes.

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Bercow at Bay

On Monday, the Speaker was promising to “solicit views in detail” from Members about his controversial selection of Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. “People can express their views on the floor of the House,” he said. “I want to hear what people have to say.”

Now it’s – That’s enough of that. There is no point of order further to that point of order. Let’s move on. No , no, no, la-la-la, not listening, presentation of Bills what day?

He calls his accusers in that weary, ‘here we go again’ voice, encouraging Labour to jeer and call out “Keep your hair on!” to. Michael Fabricant. For the PLP Bercow is “Our Speaker” and for that reason Bercow addresses half his rebuttals to their side, seeking their support.

Fabricant told the Speaker he’d lied to the House. He said he had it from people on the panel that Saxton Bampfylde had indeed been prevented from coming and speaking to the panel and giving information about Carol Mills. “I wonder whether, under those circumstances, you might wish to put the record straight so that the House is not misled.”

He made an ancillary point. Would the Speaker lift the threat of litigation against Saxton Bampfylde so they could publicly set the record straight?

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Gallery Guido: Will Bercow Chair Debate on His Own Conduct?


And that’s the end of the matter, the Speaker told the House. “Til Monday!” Michael Fabricant cheerfully called out.

Clerkgate has a long way to go yet.

William Hague, the new Leader of the House answered Simon Burns’ question about the status of the Mills appointment letter. He revealed that the Speaker had written to Downing St earlier in the week to ask for a further delay.

The Speaker didn’t quite conceal his feelings that his private correspondence was being aired like this.

Because it’s not what he told Burns yesterday “with crystal clarity”. He had said instead that it wasn’t for him to withdraw the letter.

His legalistic wriggling is such that the House is entitled to question everything he says.

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SPEAKER WATCH: Split the Role of the Speaker

In the FT yesterday, the Speaker developed his project to paint the outgoing Clerk Robert Rogers as a dusty old reactionary with his nose in Erskine May and wholly unsuited to managing £240m worth of public money. Therefore, his argument goes, the managerial functions of the Clerk should be taken away and given to a professional.[…] Read the rest

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