Monthly Archives: June 2009

Jim Pickard

No one knows who will be the next Speaker of the House of Commons. Anyone who claims otherwise is deluded.

But that doesn’t mean the corridors of Parliament aren’t buzzing with speculation about the outcome of this afternoon’s vote.

All 10 candidates have made it through the first hurdle; that is, collecting a dozen names apiece to back them. Speeches begin at 2.30pm and will be followed by a series of votes. If the results are close the rounds could go on late into the evening. Read more

Jim Pickard

Some cynics seem to think that Britain joined the Iraq invasion primarily to maintain close ties with the US administration. Cherie Blair won’t have helped dissuade them in this interview in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph:  Read more

Jim Pickard

Peter Davies is the newly-elected English Democrat mayor of Doncaster. This transcript was on a couple of blogs over the weekend but I couldn’t resist sharing it again……

Toby Foster (BBC Radio Sheffield): Thanks very much for joining us. I said that we didn’t see it coming – did you see it coming? Did you expect to win?

Peter Davies: Well, well not really. A great friend of mine told me the night before I was going to get a great shock, and that I would win. I was thinking of saving the deposit at the time.

TF: I can imagine. What was it you think that made people vote for you? Read more

Jim Pickard

The only Commons business today is the election of the new Speaker:

The backlash against Beckett as well as Bercow gathers pace Read more

The punters are abandoning John Bercow in the race to be Speaker. He’s slipped to second favourite on Betfair, the online betting exchange, behind Margaret Beckett. Sir George Young is making up ground as well. Here’s the chart of the day to day betting since the race began. Remember Betfair works like a market — the chart reflects the money being placed on each candidate, not just the views of one bookie.

Jim Pickard

You may remember back in March that Unite suspended three senior officials without explaining why it had done so. Britain’s biggest union hasn’t exactly been vocal since about what happened to the trio.

The suspension of Kevin Coyne, former north-west officer for the Amicus wing of Unite, was seen as an act of revenge after Coyne stood against Derek Simpson for the leadership of the group. (In the end he came third, behind Simpson and Jerry Hicks).  Read more

Jim Pickard

How Labour MPs channelled £235,000 to a computer consultancy firm based at Labour HQ

From the sublime to the ridiculous: a litany of curious claims by MPs Read more

The Tories are still piling pressure on Gordon Brown to execute a “proper U-turn” on the Iraq war inquiry.

But if David Cameron is so keen to make the proceedings public, why doesn’t he commit to it himself? His word may have as much force as Brown’s. Read more

Jim Pickard

My last post gave a link to the list of 185 MPs who have repaid money so far:

Here are the most hilarious token repayments I’ve spotted: Read more

This may be our favourite of the day. We salute you Jonathan Djanogly and all your publicly funded jams.

Jim Pickard

It’s an astonishing number. 185 MPs have repaid nearly half a million pounds: £478,617. Here are the full details if you want to check out your own MP.

The Guardian meanwhile has a worthwhile tale about MPs paying rent to their own parties, courtesy of David Hencke.

Jim Pickard

It seems a tad unfair to pick out one person from the morass of information published today by the Commons’ authorities. Read more

Jim Pickard

I have it on good authority that John Woodcock, one of Brown’s two spokesmen, is to quit; the move could come soon.

Apparently he wants to stand at the next general election as candidate for Barrow and Furness, John Hutton’s seat. The latter resigned as defence secretary amid the reshuffle excitement of two weeks ago. Woodcock used to be Hutton’s special adviser. Read more

Jim Pickard

David Chaytor has more questions to answer about his expenses

Alastair Campbell has a pop at Ed Balls over the latter’s call for a more public Iraq inquiry Read more

Jim Pickard

The BBC is reporting that Brian Binley will not repay his expense claims even if asked to by David Cameron. The Tory MP is under pressure after renting a flat from his own company.

This raises the interesting prospect of Binley losing the party whip, which is the ultimate punishment if he is ordered by the party’s scrutiny panel to pay the money back and refuses to do so. Read more

Jim Pickard

He had been ridiculed and forced from his grandiose office. Not surprisingly, Michael Martin wanted to send a message to his critics in his parting speech. Read more

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown really believes his “Mr 10 per cent” jibe at David Cameron is working. He really, really, really wants it to work. And he spent PMQs trying to hammer home the point. Again. Again. And Again. Read more

Jim Pickard

Unison is unhappy with Labour and threatening to withdraw funding

Patrick Hennessy is bemused by Labour’s newfound resilience in the opinion polls Read more

Sir John Sawers, the UK ambassador to the UN, is to become the new head of the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6. Most of the coverage tomorrow is likely to focus on how unusual it is for an outsider to be appointed chief – or “C” as it is still called. But that’s not the only interesting thing to say about this highly gifted and well respected diplomat. Here’s my own little CX report on the new “C” (we, of course, apply all the usual intelligence caveats).

1) His nickname in the Foreign Office was “Jonny Blue Eyes”. He was a popular chap. Read more

The John Bercow for Speaker juggernaut keeps rolling on. He is the 9/5 clear favourite and his odds just keep on shortening. But will this last? Surely a “Stop Bercow” candidate will emerge? Won’t they?

Many MPs are aghast at the thought of a Bercow era in the chair. The reaction of Bercow’s colleagues on the Tory benches is unprintable. They don’t like his style, mannerisms, his political journey from the hard right to squishy centre, or his “new best friends” on the Labour benches. With feelings so strong you would have thought the alternative would be clear by now. But the stop Bercow camp are still waiting for their saviour. Read more