Thursday, 6 August 2009

Mandelson's Doh!

I imagine Lord Mandelson’s face might be redder than a baboon’s bottom this morning.

Rolls Royce – the firm he praised last week as among the “best in British manufacturing” and handed £40m of his department’s money to – has been shafted by one of his cabinet colleagues.

Bob Ainsworth’s Ministry of Defence has decided not to buy up Rolls Royce fighter engines instead opting for a cheaper American model.

The Telegraph reports the move means Rolls Royce could shed up to 750 UK jobs.

A proverb about the left hand and the right springs to mind.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The mysterious duality of Sadiq Kahn

Has anyone ever seen that film, The Prestige, in which a wily illusionist somehow appears to be in two places at once?

Well it seems Transport Minister Sadiq Kahn has performed a similar feat.

A member of the Lobby was chasing Kahn for an interview about a tricky transport issue – but he was told the minister was on holiday and would be for the next few weeks.

Then – low and behold – Kahn pops up today to announce £30m of transport investment in a statement put out by the Government PR machine.

I guess it might not be magic. It might be that, filled with civic duty, Kahn actually announced the funding from his holiday destination – “the beach can wait, people need their roads!”

That must be the case because I’m sure the minister would never try to avoid being interviewed on the tricky issue, and have a PR underling lie about him being on holiday.

I’m also sure the PR underlings wouldn’t just put out a statement saying he was announcing the investment today to get good publicity, when actually he was away.

Totnes primary

The Tories announce who will replace Anthony Steen as their candidate for Totnes today, having held an open primary in the Devon constituency.

Steen was the MP – now stepping down – who spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash doing up his country mansion, before accusing people of being jealous when confronted about it.

The idea of an open primary – where everyone can vote regardless of party membership – appeals to Lobbydog’s democratic soul.

Plus it’s a good move from a local party which needed to do something to divert attention away from the PR monster that Steen had become.

But the idea may fall dead if no-one has bothered to vote. It’s hard enough to get people to vote for their own parties in a general election, let alone someone else’s during a primary.

Eric Pickles says a turnout of 15% – about 10,000 people – would be considered a success. The result should come out at around half past midday.

UPDATE 1.25pm: There were 16,497 votes cast, a turnout of 24.6%. Quite a stunning figure.

The Hamster Wheel

…or to put it in slightly more detail – displacement activity to justify a presence.

That was how Paul Goodman described what MPs do in Parliament these days. It is why he says he is quitting the House at the next election.

It is a harsh conclusion, but one that will ring true with many MPs. Even the ones that don’t agree will admit Parliament has less ‘umph’ than it used to.

You only need to look at the questionable ‘all-party groups’ that MPs are members of – these are interest groups set up to lobby on particular causes.

Many are in support of admirable causes, but then there is also an all-party slimming world group, the all-party golf group and the all party yacht club.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Leadership musing

As silly season comes around, so do stories about leadership manoeuvring at the top of Labour.

The funniest one is all about the Mandy/Harman “dream ticket”.

I’ve no doubt Harman has the desire to be at the top, but I suspect Mandy knows he has too many skeletons in his closet.

Plus many Labour MPs I speak to would rather bite one of their own fingers off than let Mandy run the party.