Thursday, 11 June 2009

Vaz stand-off

Mr Vaz and I found ourselves at a security door which required a pass-card to get through – I had mine, but he’d forgotten his.

“Ah, you have your card,” he said. “You can let me out.”

“Of course,” I replied, “how about a comment in return.”


“Come, on,” I waved the pass card around, “something for the readers – they’re your voters.”


Soon two other hacks had gathered for the spectacle and I decided it best to release Vaz.

He might have needed the toilet and the carpets along committee corridor are exquisite.

For the Evening Post Lobby Correspondent's full column pick up the paper tomorrow. I'll link in next week.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Big Brother watches Labour MPs

During PMQs John Heppell was sitting in the upper-gallery with what looked like a list of Labour MPs.

It seemed as though he was checking the Government benches to see who was there, before marking them off with a blue highlighter.

It may be that the former whip, Nottingham East MP, has been pulled back into doing some work for Labour Chief Whip Nick Brown.

Either way, it comes on a day when the Government will face an opposition motion calling for a general election.

Perhaps the Government aren’t quite so confident they’ll get the numbers in to vote against it?

UPDATE 11/6/09: It's confirmed that Heppell is back in the whips' office after two years in the wilderness.

Naked picnic at Anthony Steen's house

Genius. Steen was the Totnes Tory MP who claimed bundles of cash for his country estate.

Someone who can nail David Cameron...

Now that I have a chance, this is what Labour rebel Graham Allen told Lobbydog after the PLP meeting the other night.

“The cabinet and the parliamentary party had an opportunity to choose someone who was a better communicator, someone that could nail David Cameron and take the argument to the public, but they didn’t choose to take it.”

He said he’d decided to take part in the plot to topple Brown after considering the impact a Tory Government would have on his constituency.

“I’ve been there before, as a Labour MP under a Tory Government, and it’s very difficult to get your voice heard and to get things done.

“Under Labour we’ve been able to build new schools and bring things like the family nurse partnership to Nottingham and that ability is something worth speaking out for.”

He added: “I made my point of view known publicly and I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself had I not. But we are all grown ups here and now this issue is history.

“Gordon made a good speech – he wasn’t vindictive about people not on his side. Now I’ll get back to working hard for the people of Nottingham and I’ll support the Government of the Prime Minister.”

Note that he said he'd support the Government of the Prime Minister, rather than the Prime Minister himself.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Any dream will do

Is it me or does our new Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw (left) look a bit like he could be the lead out of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (right).

It's something to do with the hair - as one lobby colleague commented last night - it's just so thick and glossy.

You're a shambles...

Predictably there's been a whole bunch of these short films made since Alan Sugar was appointed to his new Government role.

Actually scratch that, it's a role 'with the Government' not a Government role.

Anyway, this one dealt with a couple of issues rather than just being a slagging fest – it's worth it just for the shot at the end of Brown leaving the boardroom.

Support or suffocation

I've never seen a room quite so full as Committee Room 14 was last night for the Labour meeting.

The doors, which opened inwards, were jammed shut from the inside - too many bodies pushing against them - a full ten minutes before the thing began.

Then ten minutes later there was a long banging noise from inside.

People said it was MPs thumping the tables in support of Gordon Brown.

But it crossed my mind that they might actually all be banging on the door to get out in a last ditch attempt to avoid suffocation.

Just a thought.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Here y'go Vern...

Vernon Coaker is getting shunted across from the Home Office to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

A position dealing with schools might suit him better given that he's a former teacher.

He'll probably enjoy it more than being Police Minister for two reasons:

1) He won’t find himself talking about unruly youths all the time…er, actually scratch that one.

2)He won’t have to deal with a huge, monolithic group of public servants, who believe they’re overworked, underpaid and working in an impossible system…oh. Scratch that too.

It’s apparently a reward for the Notts MP’s loyalty to Gordon. The ultimate bonus is that he gets to work under Ed Balls now – something we’d all give our right arms to do.

Never thought I'd write this in a story intro...

DAVID Blunkett has vowed to return to Westminster this week despite suffering injuries after being charged by an enraged herd of Derbyshire cows.

A spokesman for the MP said today: “Given the critical nature of the political circumstances at the moment, he is going – albeit extremely slowly – to be in London this week, doing his job.”

Never a quiet day.

Is this the worst organised rebellion or what?

It looks like Brown will make it through. Amazing when you think about it really.

The resignations of both Blears and Purnell were direct challenges to the PM.

Several junior ministers have stood down and there is a desire among some back-benchers for Brown's head.

As one paper said this weekend "they couldn't organise a colostomy bag in a sewage works."