Thursday 20 May 2010

Thin on the detail......

Having had a read of the full coalition document I’m not sure I feel much more enlightened about what the Government will do exactly.

Throughout the paper the words “we will” appear over and over again at the start of sentences, but they’re often followed by statements which we have heard many times before.

Crucially, there are a lot of manifesto-style pledges that simply lack detail and so lack credibility too. For instance…

"We will ensure that people have the protection that they need when they defend themselves against intruders."

My personal favourite is this one…

"We will give councils a general power of competence."

I suppose as this coalition never had a manifesto as such before the election, it is entitled to have something resembling one now.

However, I was craving at least a small increment of detail today – not about what they want to do or what they believe in, but about how they are going to do it.

That full list of bar bills....

In case you're interested, here is that full list of MPs' bar bills that went unpaid for months. It was published by the Commons Authorities last night.

MPs' Personal Catering Credit Accounts as at 1 September 2009
Sums outstanding for more than 90 days and up to 6 Months as At 1 September 2009

Abbott Diane 154.50 Paid
Amess David 219.67 Paid
Anderson Janet 764.45 Paid
Barker Gregory 310.00 Paid
Bryant Chris 141.20 Paid
Buck Karen 60.44 Paid
Cable Vincent 70.40 Paid
Cameron David 12.80 Paid
Carmichael Alistair 720.15 Paid
Carswell Douglas 258.23 Paid
Cash William 3.65 Paid
Cawsey Ian 103.13 Paid
Chope Christopher 286.18 Paid
Cormack Patrick 422.50 Paid
Crabb Stephen 125.92 Paid
Denham John 37.75 Paid
Dorries Nadine 263.68 Paid
Ellwood Tobias 6.20 Paid
Gillan Cheryl 92.25 Paid
Goodman Helen 225.85 Paid
Grayling Chris 195.05 Paid
Greening Justine 93.88 Paid
Hamilton Fabian 154.50 Paid
Hammond Stephen 35.10 Paid
Harman Harriet 96.15 Paid
Harris Evan 155.50 Paid
Harris Tom 107.25 Paid
Hendrick Mark 71.77 Paid
Hendry Charles 354.93 Paid
Hosie Stewart 49.25 Paid
Hutton John 32.30 Paid
Irranca-Davies Huw 19.50 Paid
Jones Lynne 2.00 Paid
Joyce Eric 125.95 Paid
Keeble Sally 31.70 Paid
Keen Ann 259.40 Paid
Keen Alan 112.40 Paid
Keetch Paul 570.40 Paid
Khan Sadiq 35.65 Paid
Knight Jim 275.23 Paid
Knight Greg 362.91 Paid
Lammy David 319.97 Paid
Leigh Edward 156.53 Paid
Linton Martin 66.75 Paid
Mactaggart Fiona 10.30 Paid
Main Anne 31.88 Paid
McCarthy Kerry 76.55 Paid
McDonagh Siobhain 71.05 Paid
McIsaac Shona 39.55 Paid
McNulty Tony 120.00 Paid
Moran Margaret 2.55 Paid
Mountford Kali 107.00 Paid
Mudie George 7.95 Paid
Robertson Laurence 413.15 Paid
Ryan Joan 62.05 Paid
Salter Martin 184.25 Paid
Shaw Jonathan 413.30 Paid
Sheerman Barry 434.25 Paid
Smith Geraldine 48.05 Paid
Soames Nicholas 10.50 Paid
Tami Mark 19.50 Paid
Vaz Keith 1,729.61 Paid
Wallace Ben 157.00 Paid
Ward Claire 78.05 Paid
Waterson Nigel 18.95 Paid
Watson Tom 496.20 Paid
Younger Ross Richard 19.50 Paid

Sums outstanding for more than 6 Months as At 1 September 2009

Abbott Diane 1.60 Paid
Anderson Janet 364.30 Paid
Cable Vincent 321.55 Paid
Carmichael Alistair 2,483.62 Paid
Carswell Douglas 1,855.46 Paid
Cawsey Ian 2,669.46 Paid
Chope Christopher 283.85 Paid
Cormack Patrick 672.53 Paid
Denham John 2.98 Paid
Dorries Nadine 1,200.69 Paid
Goodman Helen 535.65 Paid
Greening Justine 98.78 Paid
Hall Patrick 689.40 Paid
Harman Harriet 1,035.45 Paid
Harris Evan 6.45 Paid
Heath David 99.75 Paid
Hendrick Mark 193.87 Paid
Hendry Charles 735.15 Paid
Hosie Stewart 400.40 Paid
Hughes Simon 82.55 Paid
Hutton John 93.30 Paid
Irranca-Davies Huw 44.05 Paid
James Sian 302.95 Paid
Joyce Eric 889.30 Paid
Keeble Sally 64.40 Paid
Keen Ann 8.40 Paid
Keetch Paul 3,929.95 Paid
Khan Sadiq 19.20 Paid
Knight Jim 582.30 Paid
Knight Greg 286.56 Paid
Lammy David 733.83 Paid
Linton Martin 1,102.05 Paid
Mahmood Khalid 8,200.60 Paid
Main Anne 8.47 Paid
McCarthy Kerry 121.15 Paid
McDonagh Siobhain 598.00 Paid
McDonnell John 15.55 Paid
McNulty Tony 3.65 Paid
Mountford Kali 1,430.35 Paid
Murphy Jim 260.25 Paid
Ryan Joan 178.35 Paid
Sheerman Barry 1,808.50 Paid
Simpson David 12.90 Paid
Smith Geraldine 128.85 Paid
Tami Mark 763.20 Paid
Wallace Ben 1,381.50 Paid
Watson Tom 843.07 Paid

Wednesday 19 May 2010

MPs told how to give first speech

Ah yes, freedom of speech in our Parliament of Parliaments is alive and well.

Unless, that is, you are a new MP giving your maiden speech in the House of Commons, in which case there are, of course, certain “conventions” that need to be adhered to.

After all we couldn’t have anyone saying anything that might raise eyebrows or be ‘unparliamentary’. To that end new MPs have been given this guidance from Members’ Services.

“A maiden speech is usually uncontroversial, fairly brief and includes a tribute to the Member’s predecessor in the seat, irrespective of party, and favourable to the constituency.

“It is also a tradition that a maiden speech is heard without interruption and that the next speaker praises the new MP’s first contribution.”

Let’s all give ourselves a big pat on the back shall we.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Leadership race hots up...

Lobbydog understands that Ed Balls will launch his leadership campaign tomorrow.

I was wondering what was taking him so long.

Before I’d heard the most recent whispers about tomorrow’s launch, several people had been enthusiastically pledging support to his cause.

They included former minister Chris Leslie – the man who ran Gordon Brown’s campaign to be Labour leader.

Leslie, former MP for Shipley, was re-elected to Parliament as the MP for Nottingham East on May 6.

He told me: “The reason why Ed Balls has the edge is that I think he has a better sense, a finger on the pulse if you like, of what’s going on in the country at large.”

“There are several things you need to be a leader – one is to be media savvy, another is that you need to be able to perform in the Commons.

“But crucially you need to be able to connect with people north of Watford.”

No opposition to speak of

With the Lib Dems and Tories locked in coalition Labour is the only party with potential to be a voice of opposition in the UK at the moment.

Problem is they can’t really be effective until the distraction of the Labour leadership is out of the way.

I suppose I never expected them to get it done that quickly – the contest will not finish until September – but it does mean that the Government will get a very easy ride in the Commons until then.

In terms of getting out a coherent message, of slipping out stories which will damage opponents and generally taking control of the media narrative – it looks like the coalition will have a free pass for the summer.

Beckett has a dig at New Labour...

Last night Lobbydog had a long chat with the old war horse Margaret Beckett about what went wrong with Labour and where she thinks it needs to go next.

She still remembers how it felt when the party lost power in 1979 to Thatcher – she also lost her Lincoln parliamentary seat that time round.

Her contribution to the post mortem on the party's demise up to 2010 is that for too long the Labour machine mistakenly discouraged people from talking about things it was doing for the vulnerable in society.

“It was part of the philosophy of how New Labour presented itself that even though it was doing things for the more needy, like tax credits and so on, we didn’t talk about it a lot,” said Beckett.

“That side of policy and of Labour was deliberately played down for a long time.

“There seemed to be a fear that if you constantly reminded people what you were doing to help the most vulnerable then you might appear not to be on the side of mainstream families.”

Meanwhile Beckett's dislike of that side of New Labour seemed to slip out again when talking about who was going to be the next leader. She did have something to say about the front runner.

“There are people round David’s campaign who seem to be suggesting that everyone knows who the next leader is going to be already and that isn’t right,” she said.

She did happen to mention that Ed Balls was rather capable - but wouldn’t commit to anyone just yet.