Friday 18 September 2009

A very British farce

"I could’ve been absolutely stark naked and no-one would have said anything, but if you’re not wearing a jacket everything stops,” said Alan Simpson about the bizarre events of the East Midlands Grand Committee.

The Mail on Sunday noted how the MP almost got chucked out of the committee because he wasn’t wearing a jacket.

When he was told to put a jacket on he apparently mouthed to the chair that he didn’t have one, adding that the meeting would have to end if he left.

Under regulations you need at least 15 MPs for the committees to commence and there were only 15 present, including Simpson (pictured without jacket).

“Even if the world was going to come to an end, if it was World War Three, then the only thing that would have been raised at that point was the fact that I wasn’t wearing a jacket. It was a very British farce.”

That aside, the story reveals the utter pointlessness of these ‘Grand’ committees. Every MP in a region, that’s 40 odd in the East Midlands, has the right to sit on them yet they have trouble getting 15 to attend.

They have no powers to call witnesses, to carry out inquiries, write reports or make recommendations.

As Simpson deftly puts it: “If the meeting were cancelled because of the jacket, it would have meant we couldn’t have decided all the things that we had no rights to decide.”

Spanish delivery

Mrs Lobbydog was unhappy today after her birthday present failed to arrive again – meanwhile my excuses are starting to sound laboured.

The problem was part with the company I ordered it from weeks ago, but it has been exacerbated by strikes at Royal Mail.

So a little bit of foam appeared at the corner of my mouth when I read in The Telegraph today about “Spanish” practices postal workers use to slack off.

They include “cutting off”, finishing a round early and then refusing to work anymore or “job and finish” – finishing a round and then going home.

The one that really took the biscuit was: “One worker boasted of how he wasted time by filling in 739 forms – which tell anyone who is not at home that they have a parcel to collect – while still at the sorting office, rather than on the doorstep once he had checked whether the recipient was at home.”

Can you imagine doing something like that at a private firm?

Thursday 17 September 2009


To his credit Brown runs over to rub the boy's head better pretty quick.

Lib Dem crime pledge a bit iffy

I suspected for a moment that Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne (pictured) might be forming some sort of crime-fighting duo.

A yellow Batman and Robin perhaps, or even a Lib Dem Cagney and Lacey.

The thing is they’d promised to solve an extra 82,000 crimes a year if elected, and I couldn’t work out how they could do that without getting on the front line.

It turns out their figure is a rather dubious one worked out from their pledge to get an extra 10,000 bobbies on the beat. Their thinking being:

10,000 extra officers X the average no of crimes solved by each UK bobby = 82,265 extra crimes solved in England and Wales.

The idea that an injection of cash from Westminster would definitely translate into crimes solved has to be ridiculous – there are just so many different factors at play.

I’m pretty sure, for example, that even the Lib Dem’s powers of persuasion wouldn’t be able to win over criminals into playing along.

And there’s more – the pledge to provide the extra bobbies will apparently be paid for through scrapping ID cards, says Lib Dem HQ.

Isn’t that the same cash that the party’s treasury spokesman Vince Cable has already earmarked to help pay off UK debt?

Yes, say party HQ – but actually they’re expecting the ID card scheme to yield more savings than the Government is admitting and so it might be able to cover the police scheme and pay off debt.

Hardly a solid foundation for major parts of finance and home affairs policy.

Back for now...

What’s Westminster coming to when you can’t go away for a couple of days without the political battle-lines being totally re-drawn.

Terribly inconsiderate of Osborne not to wait for Lobbydog’s return before revealing that leaked document – anyway back into the fray.

Sounds like the story I would have enjoyed most were I here was Ken Clarke thinking Phillip Hammond’s name was actually “Phillip Holland”.

Monday 14 September 2009

Lobbydog in Latvia

Dear readers,

I’m popping off to eastern Europe for a few days.

Don’t ask why.

Back soon.


BECKETT: I’ve still not been told why I got the chop

Margaret Beckett has revealed to LD some details of her final moments as Housing Minister.

After having the job for just seven months she said she wasn’t expecting to get the sack when she went to Downing Street on reshuffle day in June.

“It was a bit of a surprise, yes. But these things happen in politics because there are always more good people than you have room for,” she said.

“It was extremely brief. It was something like, ‘I’m afraid I’ll have to let you go’ and then some suggestion that there might be other things in time.

“I’m not the kind of person to think, ‘how awful, he should have said more’. It’s the decision that matters, and if that’s the decision, then that’s the decision.”

At the time she told me that the PM had made a rather bemusing little speech but had given no clear reason as to why she was being pushed out.

Asked whether things had become clearer she said: “I still don’t really know to be perfectly honest. I presume his planning assumptions changed and the shape of decisions he wanted to make.

“He found himself in an extremely tough position – they hadn’t expected James [Purnell] to leave. The top priority was to get things sorted out and settled.”

Asked if Mr Brown had been in contact since, she said: “I haven’t seen him for a while now. But you don’t see him very often, he’s the Prime Minister.”