And the winner of PMQs is ... Boris Johnson
The best part of PMQs came just after it ended, in the form of an irate Boris Johnson. "I am sure the Prime Minister inadvertently misled the House when he said I want to cut spending on the Metropolitan Police".... Brown was walking out the door, to Tory roars. "I'm the only one who has to stay and listen to it" says Michael Martin. Boris had just done what the other Tories should do all the time: refuse to put up with falsehoods said by the Prime Minister.
A Visit to PMQs
I had the pleasure of being in the public gallery for Prime Minister's Questions today, first time I'd been in there, and an experience I'd recommend.
All the normal cliche's probably hold true, the chamber is much smaller than you'd imagine, for example, but the more important things are probably the more subtle. Cameron looked nervous when the cameras weren't on him, and I thought he talked nothing but nonsense, Nick Brown is clearly still a very influential figure for the PM despite not having a cabinet position, he stood behind the speaker keeping an eye on the Labour benches, presumably for any errant Blairites wearing the wrong expression, and Osboune and Cameron do look like two kids who've found themselves with the best toys, constantly sniggering to each other.
Round one to Ken
London elections 08: Despite the acres of newsprint and months of research, the campaign against the mayor doesn't seem to be working
Who will lead the reform?
Now that Derek Conway is out of the way, MPs can turn their minds to the "what is to be done?" question. A consensus is emerging that the status quo is not an option. Even traditionalists accept that the "one bad apple" argument won't wash. The Commons must now bring itself into line with accepted practices in the public and private sectors. But who will take the lead? David Cameron has wisely taken a first step by ordering his MPs to answer questions about family members on the payroll and how much they are paid. The Lib Dems have done the same. We wait to hear from Labour. Some say it should be up to the various Commons housekeeping committees. Others point to the work done already by Kenneth Clarke and Andrew Tyrie.
Conway: "I've Become A Distraction"
Henryconway"It can't go on," a forlorn Derek Conway told me shortly before Tory HQ issued a statement announcing that he is to stand down from Parliament at the next election. "I've become a distraction. I've done nothing wrong and some of the press coverage has been unfair. But we can't carry on like this." Derek Conway's view of his demise is not shared by many of his colleagues on the Tory benches in the Commons. I have been struck by how the attitude of many Conservative MPs towards him has hardened in the past 48 hours.
Con-way Parallels: More Like Old School Tory Felony
Iain Dale covers the announcement by his bessie mate Derek Conway MP that he will not be contesting the next election. We can only hope that he'll still be in jail then and there will be a by-election before too long in Bexley Heath and Sidcup. In justifying his decision not to "diss on" (sic) his friend Iain suggests that none of Wendy Alexander or Peter Hain's friends were calling for them to resign. But I'd say that at least some of their blogging friends were covering the case.
Relatively Working For MPs
So Derek Conway has resigned. He really had no choice after the revelations that he had employed both of his sons at the taxpayer's expense for minimal work, and Cameron withdrew the whip from him. Personally, I appreciate Iain Dale's stance on Derek Conway: he's a friend, so anything he wants to he'll say to Derek's face. Simple human decency. It appears to be a dying breed.
Who else is on the payroll?
Are there more family businesses such as "Conway PLC" earning tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money from working in the House of Commons? The answer is we do not and cannot know. The reason for that is the House of Commons, led by the Speaker, has consistently blocked attempts to reveal basic information such as the names of the staff MPs employ, whether they are their relatives of their employers and what they are paid (see this story from September 2006).
Why isn't Brown acting?
As Andrew stressed earlier, the European response to the credit crunch has been anaemic (How anaemic? Check out the footage below of Gordon Brown and his EU compatriots agreeing the "way forward for [the] global economy"). By contrast, the Americans have been the very model of proactivity - introducing sharp interest cuts and proposing massive tax relief programmes. What's holding the British Government back? I suspect it's a combination of economic and political motivations.
Smithson’s view: A Hung Parliament? – Don’t bet on it
I asked a professional gambler recently – someone who made a decent tax-free living from his betting – if he could offer me some tips that I could follow. One of his suggestions, which he said had proved to be a sure-fire consistent money-earner, was to bet against the draw in cricket test matches. He brought up a pile of statistics on his lap-top to show that the odds you can usually get on this option are better than the chances of it happening. The reason was simple – cricket punters have a long-standing record of over-estimating the chances of draws which in the modern game have become much less likely. Thinking about this, it is the same with hung parliaments.
Since I called yesterday for a Conservative MP to be hanged in Parliament Square, let’s redress the imbalance this afternoon by regurgitating a Conservative Party press release practically verbatim. It concerns a little remarked-on side effect of the national ID card scheme which will make life a small misery for tens of thousands of people in rural and outlying areas of the country, and particularly Scotland.
Housing gem from the Tories
With the furore over sleaze, it's easy to forget that some serious policy work is going on in the Conservative Party and it's during weeks like this that quite significant hints slip by unnoticed. It's a shame that the Tories' new idea on housing may go unnoticed There is a real gem today on Conservativehome from Grant Shapps, the thoughtful shadow housing minister. He proposes that communities might be offered lower council tax, or have local services boosted, if they accept a major housing development in their area. It's a radical and interesting idea and a really innovative solution to the problem of Nimbyism.
Jack Straw's prison shame
Let's be totally clear about it! The British Government's prison policy is a total disaster. Of course, there are those who should be imprisoned, primarily as a result of violent deeds that have been committed in the past. Some such people are a threat to the safety of the public.
John Moir: The big lie underpinning the Northern Rock rescue plan
John Moir, retired accountant and former financial director of Lloyds of London, argues that the Northern Rock rescue plan is the biggest financial rip-off in history. There are a lot of facts surrounding the Northern Rock disaster that are being withheld from the public, i.e, the taxpayer or, in its simplest term, “us”). These facts, some of which I will enumerate below, would be embarrassing to the Government and would probably scupper the latest ingenious plan (i.e, con) to get the Government off the hook. This does not excuse the official lies and deception.