Yesterday’s order paper showed Keith Vaz being discharged from his position on the International Trade select committee, just three months after he joined. Vaz is being replaced by Tom Watson’s old flame Stephanie Peacock. Sources say Vaz hasn’t been seen much around the House recently, and he hasn’t voted since 18 October. A few months back Momentum were coming for his place on the NEC; surely he isn’t now being lined up for a frontbench job? Wonder what he’ll do with his newly free time…
The police forensics officer who examined a computer seized from Damian Green’s parliamentary office has given an interview to the BBC. Neil Lewis says the First Secretary’s claim that it wasn’t him who watched the porn is implausible, and there is “no doubt whatsoever” in his mind that porn was accessed by Green:
“The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name. In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents… it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it.”
Green still denies the claims. Worth noting Lewis also says the material was not extreme – it could be a case of the coverup being worse than the crime here. Could Sue Gray’s inquiry finally release its findings today?
The LibDems’ youth wing has condemned Vince Cable’s defence of Lord Rennard yesterday. Cable told the BBC he didn’t regret having the pervy peer help out on his campaign and rather unwisely told LibDem women to “move on”. Unsurprisingly that has gone down like a cup of sick with the Young Liberals:
“We at Young Liberals are disappointed to hear Vince Cable defending Lord Rennard’s involvement during his election campaign this year. Alistair Webster QC, who conducted an earlier investigation into the Rennard allegations on behalf of the party, made a statement saying “let me be clear from the outset that the evidence suggests that Lord Rennard’s behaviour has caused distress to a number of women, so much so that they came forward several years after the event in question”.
As part of Young Liberals Policy, Lord Rennard is banned from attending all Young Liberals events, and our members can refuse to work with him without fear of disciplinary action.”
LibDem insiders say the truth is doddery Cable is totally out of touch with the modern world on sexual harassment and doesn’t understand why LibDem women have a problem with Rennard. They say Vince has to be strong-armed into making any critical noises about Rennard and had to be talked down from giving him an official job. LibDems have been depressed by Cable’s tin ear on this issue…
Vince Cable has told BBC 5 Live’s Emma Barnett that he does not regret having Lord Rennard help out on his campaign in Twickenham in June. Confronted with Guido’s story that Rennard was in Vince’s campaign office on polling day, went leafleting outside Twickenham station and posed for photos with Cable and his constituents, Cable admitted:
“He did come as a volunteer. I had hundreds of volunteers. He’s a party member; he came along and did some canvassing and supported us, as he did with other MPs and candidates. I don’t regret he came as a volunteer. The position is, he’s an ordinary party member, he comes and helps and knocks on doors like hundreds of other people, and he came and supported my campaign.”
Cable also backed Rennard’s continuing LibDem membership, saying the party should “move on”:
“He clearly is the focus of a great deal of critical comment. I want the party to move on… I don’t want every conversation to go back to what happened 10 years ago with him. His position is not a comfortable one, but he is still a party member and I think that’s where it should rest.”
Not sure LibDem women will be particularly impressed at being told to “move on”…
Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said “explicit” sex manuals should be given to 13 year-olds to help them “embrace the joys of sex”, Guido can reveal. In a extraordinary letter to The Guardian newspaper, mother of three Dent Coad wrote 13 year-olds should be encouraged to take part in “heavy petting” and taught “the delights of prolonged snogs, slow caresses, fumbling through clothing.” She said:
“Whatever happened to heavy petting? Teenage sex, according to the government, your own editorial and all current debate centres exclusively on penetrative sex. Have we forgotten the delights of prolonged snogs, slow caresses, fumbling through clothing? An explicit manual on heavy petting could be given to all 13-year-olds. Embrace the joys of sex; avoid the dangers.”
Guido has repeatedly put this to Dent Coad over the last two days. She has declined to comment. It’s another Jared O’Mara case – Labour clearly didn’t vet this candidate, and now the people of Kensington have ended up with a fruitcake for an MP…
Daisy Goodwin, creator of ITV series Victoria, says a senior Downing Street adviser put his hand on her breast when they met at Number 10 between 2010 and 2016. Goodwin tells the Radio Times the aide was a few years younger than her, so likely to be in his forties:
“The official, who was a few years younger than me, showed me into a room dominated by a portrait of Mrs T and we sat at a table carved, he told me, from one piece of wood. Then to my surprise he put his feet on my chair (we were sitting side by side) and said that my sunglasses made me look like a Bond girl.
At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast. I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said: ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’ He dropped his hand and laughed nervously… I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross, but by the next day it had become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10.”
Former Downing Street aides have been speculating which of them can’t be left alone in a room…