Friday 27 February 2009

Inside story on the DNA row...

There’s been a heated argument between MPs scrutinizing proposals to regulate the national DNA database.

At the centre is Notts MP Vernon Coaker, the Police Minister, who is being accused of trying to sneak through database regulation without giving Parliament a proper say.

Lobbydog first spotted the story in the Daily Mail today, and decided to give some members of the Policing and Crime Bill Committee a call to find out what really happened.

The UK is being forced to reassess its database after EU judges ruled in December it was unlawful to keep the records of innocent citizens.

Innocents make up one in five of those on the database.

Despite having known about the ruling since the end of 2008 the Government suddenly introduced an amendment to its Bill during recess last week.

That meant there would be just two committee meetings left, on Tuesday and yesterday, for opposition MPs to question that amendment.

The technical bit - the change means the Government will formulate its compliance with the EU ruling through statutory instruments (SI), not primary legislation.

Primary legislation goes through all the normal law making processes, being widely debated in the Commons, Lords and in committees.

But SIs are only debated in a special SI committee – in which Government whips are able to pack loyal MPs who won’t rock the boat.

The SI committee can approve the new rules, seeing them pass into law, without the issue being debated in the House.

Opposition MPs now expect the Government to try and stretch the EU ruling as far as possible in an attempt to maintain the size of the DNA database.

That is the kind of thing Ministers would be called out on if the rules had a chance to pass through the Commons.

Did anyone see 'Margaret' last night?

I read somewhere that the Iron Lady only slept four hours a night.

But if she drank as much as they showed her knocking back in this film she would have been out cold all day.

Overall I thought it was a decent watch though.

In the scene towards the end, when Thatcher hisses at Geoffrey Howe about his hair-cut, even Lobbydog admits a shiver went down his spine.

On a side note, did anyone notice the guy playing Dennis also played the evil emperor in Star Wars?

Thursday 26 February 2009

Vaz V Humperdinck

I've always thought Engelbert Humperdinck was made of strong political material, now it's been confirmed.

The singer is beating Keith Vaz and former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt in an on-line poll for who people would vote for in a Leicester Mayoral election.

But even the charms of Humperdinck haven't been able to halt the onslaught of votes for Filbert the Fox - Leicester City FC's mascot.

Big beast or mule?

Ken Clarke has been called a few things in his time, though being compared to a drugs smuggler must be a first.

A stinging attack was launched on the Rushcliffe MP – it came up while I was away but I couldn’t let it pass – in which he was compared to a Columbian drugs mule of all things.

The rather bizarre comparison was made by the usually smooth-talking Michael Gove in a Times article a few years back, and then regurgitated by Ed Balls in the Commons.

Gove apparently wrote:

For the Conservatives to return to power, the party must be seen to have learnt from its mistakes, rejected the arrogance, cynicism and pocketlining of the Major era.

Ken Clarke is sadly ill-equipped to do that job.

As John Major’s tax-raising Chancellor, British American Tobacco’s handsomely remunerated director, the Euro’s voter-rubbishing cheerleader and the tireless hammer of nurses and teachers, Ken carries more tainted baggage than a mule on Colombia airways.

After being confronted with the criticism of his now cabinet colleague, Gove told Balls his Commons speech was uncharacteristically witty.

Maybe someone else who is itching to attack Clarke was feeding him lines?

We sh*t on Russian gas

Bored of moaning in the usual ways, the Austrians have come up with new methods of expressing their contempt of the powers that be.

These two holiday snaps show carnival floats from a festival in the village of Gratkorn earlier this week.

The first refers to the Russian gas crisis. Notice the pipe coming out of the man’s trousers.

Roughly translated it means "We sh*t on Russian gas - that's why were collecting every fart."

This one is sardonic saying "payouts are only for bankers". But the word "bankster" is a play on the word "gangster".

Seems there is one thing, anger at folly, which unites the EU after all.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

I need cash to get home!

Dear Mr Straw,

My name is Lobbydog and I am a British journalist stranded in Europe.

I was walking around Austria when my wallet was stolen and so I have not been able to access my bank.

Please can you rescue me by sending £2billion as quickly as possible - cash rather than shares in any banks would be preferred.

See you in the morning lobbydoggies...

What's to hide?

An insight into the kind of thing Jack Straw maybe doesn't want us to know about is given in Peter Stothard's book '30 Days,' which Angry Ferret is reading.
On the day the Iraq ground attack begins, Straw goes on the Today programme.
According to Stothard, Straw, then Foreign Secretary, came back after it bright and breezy, saying, "It was amazing. They allowed me to speak."
"And I got in three sycophantic references to the Prime Minister, one to Gordon Brown and none to the International Development Secretary."
Surely similar kinds of conversations weren't recorded in Cabinet meetings?
If so, I can't believe steely-eyed Jack would care, he's weathered many a political storm.
But what Gordon said, and did, maybe a different matter.

Known unknowns!

Nottingham MP Alan Simpson was spot on with his withering comments during the Freedom of Information debate.
People understand there are some things they shouldn't know, but that wasn't the message being sent out by Jack Straw's decision.
"The public will believe that in refusing to clarify whether the Cabinet were among the deceivers or the deceived, nothing is being protected other than their own interests," said Simmo.
The subject reminded me of the infamous quote which netted the US Defence Secretary, and my favourite politician of the second Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld a 'foot in mouth' award from the British Plain English Campaign...
"As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know," said Rummy.
Are these minutes destined to remain known unknowns or unknown unknowns?

Angry Ferret

Let Wogan run the banks!

FSA chiefs get a grilling today and one of the questions will rightly be - how do we stop ourselves getting into this situation again?
I suggest... bring in Terry Wogan.
He saved Radio 2, perfect training to save the country.
Unlike most of the big chiefs in the banking industry, Tel has got a banking qualification.
'After leaving college Terry went into banking where his innate ability to separate half crowns from two bob bits soon marked him down for greater things,' according to his BBC profile.
Five years' experience.
Sounds overqualified doesn't he?
What do you think?
Would it be worth having a complete clear-out and replacing everyone with Radio 2 DJs?
Steve Wright roads and rail, Janice Long health, Russell Brand... Social Services?

Angry Ferret
PS Thanks for your kind words subrosa, but I've heard LD is less likely to need Factor 25 and more likely to be slobbering over some strudel...

Tuesday 24 February 2009

House of Straw

"There is a balance to be struck between openness and maintaining aspects of our structure of democratic government."
Absolutely right Jack - and the reason those Iraq minutes should be released.
Who was it who said that while Freedom of Information was "inconvenient and at times embarrassing," it was right because, "government belongs to the people, not to the politicians."
Step forward, Gordon Brown.
Obviously a very differnt style of government from the Cabinet government which Jack Straw believes would be serious damaged by the publication of these minutes.

Thought it was too good to be true!
Angry Ferret.