Friday 6 March 2009

Quantitative Easing? What idiot called it that?

Ken Clarke has been typically outspoken while talking to a reporter from the Manchester Evening News.

A few moments in to an interview he said:

"The Bank [of England] is going in for quite drastic measures of an unprecedented kind, which some idiot has called quantitative easing."

Watch the video here.

Hat tip to Centre Right.

Labour MP: The party can’t let go of power

That was what Labour’s Sherwood MP Paddy Tipping told Lobbydog when we were chatting about Regional Select Committees.

“All Governments that are in power find it difficult to let go of the reins and give up the control,” he said frankly.

To his credit he told me he thought the opposition had a fair point about the political make up of the committees.

He said there was a case for reviewing rules so that those regions which did not have a Labour majority in Parliament would also not have one on their committee.

The fact that he is prepared to admit what the Government hasn’t is striking.

Leila Deen 2 Labour 0

It turns out the 29-year-old who chucked green slime over Mandy this morning is the same woman who protested at Geoff Hoon's speech earlier this week.

Hear her let off a claxon during the Transport Secretary's speech.

See her slime Mandy...

Hat tip to Fido for the vid

Mandelson gets greened

A protestor has chucked a cup of green custard in Lord Mandelson's face.

If you want to see it turn Sky on now! I'll try and bring you the video later.

UPDATE - Lord Mandelson said afterwards:"She was so busy throwing what seemed like green soup or something in my face that she failed to tell me what the protest was about but, as you can see, thankfully it wasn't paint and I've come through it intact."

Thursday 5 March 2009


For those among you demanding an apology from the PM this might keep you going for a while.

Sorry From Gordon is a website set up by the Tories which allows you to write an apology on the PM's behalf and send it to friends.

My favourite option is:

“I really do have a cunning plan to save Britain. It involves…

a) fluttering my eyelids at Barack and hoping he saves me.”

b)running round like a headless chicken.”


c)standing aside and letting Harriet Harman have a go.”

Hoon "fails" lie detector test

"Sorry, there's a lie detector in my bag. I thought I'd turned it off," joked the activist who interrupted the Notts MP's speech with a claxon.

It was a protest by Plane Stupid at an event yesterday, about the Transport Secrtary's aviation and climate change policies.

I thought I might try and write something funny here but the recording is enough on its own.

OBAMA: I just need to, er, go to the toilet

I did cringe when Brown tried to make small talk about sport at the Obama sort-of-press-conference-thing.

But it’s only now, reading the script back, that I realise just how dire it was – it’s like a bad conversation at a party which one breaks away from claiming to need a wee.

"I don't think I could ever compete with you at basketball," said Brown, "perhaps tennis."

"Tennis? I hear you've got a game," said the President.

"Yes, we could maybe have a - have a shot," said Brown.

"We haven't tried it yet," said the President.

"I don't know," said Brown. "I think you'd be better… but there we are."


“I just need to, er, go to the toilet,” said the President.

Ok. I added the last sentence - but it fits perfectly doesn’t it?

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Darling can't just say "this is all b*ll*cks!"

“Alistair is afraid everything might be getting pinned on him and he is looking to separate himself from what’s happening.”

That’s what a Labour MP said to Lobbydog earlier, while chatting about Darling’s comments on politicians showing humility.

“If you are a Chancellor you can’t just say ‘this is all bollocks’,” he added.

“But you can stand back, try and separate yourself from what is being done and say ‘look this isn’t all me’.”

Interesting in the light of PMQs today – Darling seemed to enjoy watching Harman deal with accusations she was manoeuvring for the Labour leadership.

Harman V Hague

David Miliband had been possessed by Kenneth Williams and looked like he might at any moment shout “ooooohhhhhh maayyytron!”

The Foreign Secretary’s lips were circled into a tight “O” and his eyebrows were raised so high, it was as though they were trying to re-unite themselves with his carpet-like hairdo.

The bizarre expression was a response to Harriet Harman’s smug disclosure that William Hague, whom she was facing at today’s PMQs, had received £30,000 from RBS for speaking at two dinners.

It was Harman’s bright point in what was one of the liveliest clashes I’ve seen for sometime.

The glorious highlight, however, was watching the expression of various Labour plotters as Hague poked fun at Harman’s leadership ambitions.

Harman kept steely faced, Johnson let a faint smile play around on his lips, Hain grinned and Miliband went through more facial contortions than a woman in labour – that’s giving birth, not the party.

“Why doesn’t she now step in?” asked Hague mockingly.

“When Chamberlain lost his party’s confidence Churchill stepped forward. When Eden crossed the Atlantic exhausted, well, SuperMac came forward. This could be her moment.”

After droning for a while about some schemes Harman later responded... “Whilst he focuses on political gossip we focus on fighting for Britain’s future.”

Hague: “Mr Speaker, she shouldn’t describe her leadership campaign as political gossip. That is not how to go about winning the leadership of her party.”

Tory MPs were already in hysterics, but at this point the Labour benches erupted pointing at Hague and shouting “you know!” – referring to rumours that he himself wants to come back as Tory leader.

Hague responded: “I do know about that. I’m only a deputy now, but at least I’m a loyal one.”

Why has Caroline Spelman had such an easy ride today?

It’s almost £10,000. Ten-thousand. She used tax-payers’ cash to pay for her nanny.

There are two paragraphs in the Sun and six or seven paragraphs on page 17 of the Mail.

The Telegraph carries nothing – but sees fit to put something in about Julie Kirkbride being pestered by male admirers.

I've heard mutterings that it was all to do with the timing of the story's release.

Either way, a poor show.

RBS letter on Fred the Shred

This is an extract from the letter sent by RBS to the Treasury Committee answering questions about Fred the Shred's pension.

Good info on who knew what when. Click on it to read the whole thing.

Special briefing

For those that didn't see it. Brown will also be addressing congress later.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Brown and Obama's sort of press conference thing

I'll leave the full coverage of what was said to the papers.

Suffice to say Obama said Britain was America's closest ally and that he hoped the PM would call him a friend. There was appropriate chumminess.

On a side note - anyone who watched it on Sky will have noticed the camera was shaking round all over the place and that sound was tinny.

I suspect the speed at which things were set up meant there was either no time to place all Camera tripods or no space in the available room.

Again, the lack of mics going round and the bad acoustics in the place they had chosen all suggest it was a bit of a hotchpotch press conference.

Why wasn't there a full briefing in the programme?

Again this is speculation, but I suspect the Brits went to Obama's team and told them something televised was needed or it would look bad - and so it was knocked up in a rush.

Still. The PM had his moment in the sun and got a couple of plugs in for the G20 summit - which, as we were reminded, is in London.

Obama and Brown WILL do press conference... well sort of.

Number 10 has just announced that Obama and the PM will, in fact, take questions from hacks at 5.30pm our time.

The announcement follows some severe snubbage – when it was revealed there was to be no official "we stand together" type press conference.

Imagine, all those hacks buying plane tickets out there for nothing.

Considering this was meant to be Brown's moment of 'make or break' for the world economy, Obama's team doesn't seem to be treating it with quite the same gravitas.

The big press conference still won't happen, but even this afternoon's little event has been arranged hurriedly.

Tories and Lib Dems will boycott new committees

The new system to make regional quangos – like development agencies – more accountable will consist of them being scrutinized by Labour-only groups of MPs.

The bizarre situation has arisen from a spat – which should erupt in the Commons today – between the three main parties over proposed ‘Regional Select Committees’.

Lobbydog predicted there might be a problem when the committees were approved last year.

The difficulty is that all select committees must reflect the political make up of the Commons – meaning they have a Labour majority.

That seems fair when the committee is dealing with nationwide issues, but things change when you’re dealing with a specific area of the country.

The South West, for example, is mainly represented by Lib Dem MPs in the Commons, but under these proposals its Regional Select Committee would still have a Labour majority.

Livid Lib Dems and Tories are going to boycott the new bodies and refuse to nominate any members.

From speaking to Labour MPs I get the feeling the committees will go ahead regardless.

Monday 2 March 2009

Lobbydog gets thumbs up

Lobbydog broke into Wikio's top 100 political blogs in February.

We've had 10,000 odd visitors so far - not much compared to the big boys, but not bad considering we've been going less than six months.

Thanks to everyone who keeps coming back - especially the lobbydoggies.

I'll keep trying to bring you the best I can.

Brown's puss-filled zit

Harriet Harman is becoming like a big, puss-filled zit on the PM's face.

She's distracting the public from what Brown wants them to look at.

But he can't squeeze her to get rid of her because it'll only make things worse.

I just got back from the morning's lobby briefing where PM spokesman Michael Ellam was bombarded with questions about Fred the Shred's pension.

They included:

- Whether the Government would change the law to get back his pension (see below).
- Whether any law change would be retrospective.
- Whether they were ruling out a law change.
- What the PM thought of Harman's comments.
- What Harman might have meant when she said the Government would "step in".

Pretty much every hack who asked was simply told the Government had "asked lawyers" to explore every legal option to address the issue.

It totally overshadowed Brown's visit to see Obama. No doubt Harriet will be smirking.

She's taking PMQs on Wednesday in Brown's absence. Expect Hague to have fun with it all.

Harman's position: "I'm not positioning"

The PM is apparently “sick to the back teeth of Harman” and her plotting ways.

Brendan Carlin did a bit in the Mail on Sunday suggesting Brown was even considering sacking her due to recent comments, interpreted as positioning for a leadership contest.

Harman has denied it of course.

But that was on the same day she suggested the Government might change the law to get back Fred the Shred’s pension – that’s much tougher talk than the PM has ventured.

Mandy loses grip

Lobbydog’s observations about the direction of the Mandelson Vs Clarke battle seem to be playing out in the polls.

This site said Mandelson’s absence from the Commons – and Clarke’s trampling of his underlings – would damage Labour.

Now the Telegraph’s YouGov poll results are suggesting the public would vastly prefer Clarke as Business Secretary over Mandy.

Some of it might be down to the general balance of support for the two parties, but not all.

The difference between the approval ratings of Brown (34%) and Cameron (43%) is far less than the difference between those of Clarke (48%) and Mandelson (just 17%).

Mandelson needs to come out fighting – with the Royal Mail issue promising to get nasty things are only going to get harder.