For the police to hack the Mail on Sunday is a national disgrace and an affront to the freedom of the press

5 Oct 2014 at 10:24

Apart from the appalling news of the savage and senseless murder of a thoroughly decent man and the more encouraging reportage of British Imams speaking with one voice in condemnation, there is a worrying news story which is not being picked up. It is the Mail on Sunday splash that during the investigation of Chris Huhne’s perversion of the course of justice and against the order of a judge the police hacked into a Mail on Sunday telephone. ‘So what?’ Some might say. ’What’s the big deal?’ Enquire others.

Well, the deal is very big indeed. It is an affront to the freedom of the press that the police use legislation (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) designed to combat terrorism and organised crime to trawl through contact numbers and hack phone calls to worm out a source that a judge ordered should be protected. Sensibly, Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select committee is equally outraged and will investigate. Keith is nobody’s fool. He knows when to smell a rat and will run it to ground.

But do the general public care? Probably not. We live in an age where we imagine a paedophile on every corner and a terrorist in every mosque. But they should be very worried indeed. An election is looming. Politicians throw common sense to the wind and surf on a tsunami of hyperbole. And it will get worse as the polls narrow and the parties become more panicked and jittery. And desperate.

Theresa May is a great Home Secretary and a shrewd politician who deserves credit for keeping us safe. She has deservedly become a Big Beast. But I do worry about the the resurrection of the Data and Communications Bill dubbed the snoopers charter. We are told that it is vital for national security that our guardians are able collect all of our emails, our texts, our phone calls and our web browsing. They won’t be able to use them, of course, unless a judge rules that they should be. Nothing to worry about then.

Well if you believe that you might as well prepare a note for Father Christmas and a carrot for the Easter Bunny. Just look at what has happened to the Mail on Sunday. Just look at the actions of some local authorities who have used anti terrorist legislation to spy on those wicked parents who may have told a few porkies about where they live to get their kids into a better school. Hardly matters of national security and these abuses were not by the shadowy figures who run our security services.

The Mail on Sunday hacking story should send alarm bells ringing for anyone who believes that our love of freedom and democracy gives us the moral high ground over those who are dedicated to destroying our way of life. I hope a few other papers pick it up tomorrow.



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If only Cameron could tell the Rampton Wing of the Tory party to fuck off and join UKIP

1 Oct 2014 at 08:39

Why anybody wants to be leader of a party, let alone Prime Minister is beyond my comprehension. Your private life is subjected to an unhealthy scrutiny by a carnivorous and mischievous media. You have to react immediately to a crisis with an instant and popular plan. You are obliged come up with vote winning policies which will please all the wings of your party. And whatever you say, do, or even think, you will either be accused of dithering, being too weak or too strident. You are out of touch, in touch, man of the people and devoid of reality all at once. There are those who hate you because you haven’t promoted them. Those who despise you because to sacked them and those who harbour grudges because of some perceived slight years ago.

But the worst part of the job must be having a quiet chat with a Cabinet colleague whom you know is whispering vitriol into the ears of the press and would dance on your political grave. So you realise that you can’t trust most of your Cabinet and surround yourself with a few close friends who would lay down their lives for you. This is denounced as a Chumocracy and those who wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire resent the fact that they are not included in your inner circle. And when you hold your nose and wine, dine and listen attentively to the cranks, greasers and chancers who infect your party, rather than be thanked and given a little credit for having to put up with their ghastliness you are accused of being patronising.

So today David Cameron will try and unite the warring tribes that make up the Conservative Party. Whatever, he says he will either be accused of lurching to the right, pandering to the Kippers or not being robust enough on the EU. But nothing he says or does will satisfy the Rampton Wing of the Tory party. John Major once said that it was like feeding crocodiles. You throw them a bun and they still slither in the swamps demanding more. These people are a lost cause. They don’t represent the majority of decent people who swell the ranks of the party. Today Cameron must talk to the nation not to his party. He must not make the mistake of Miliband whipping up cheap applause from the converted. He should speak to those having their tea who are worried about jobs, security, their children’s education and whether their parents will be treated with dignity and compassion in their final years. That should be his audience.

I wouldn’t have David Cameron’s job if you paid me a kings ransom. As he looks round his audience this afternoon I wish he could say to those Cabinet Ministers who brief against him, those backbenchers who despise him and those fickle donors desperate for gongs, influence and prestige, ‘and as for you lot why don’t you just fuck off and join UKIP. Be gone and good bloody riddance’. There would be an outcry. Owen Patterson, Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith would go into meltdown. But the Tory Party would return to being the decent, caring, competent Party that used to win elections.

David Cameron is a great Prime Minister who wants to do ‘the right thing’. His instincts are right. He could win the next election if only his party would let him. Whether they have the collective good sense to unite against the real enemy is something that delights Ed Miliband and terrifies me.



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Self Control is always more satisfying than premature ejockulation. Time for a Royal Commission to look at the collective whinges of the UK

19 Sep 2014 at 06:36

Well, they think it’s all over; but it has just began. All party leaders have been damaged by this. Cameron is accused by the usual suspects of selling out England. Miliband of being as of much use as a cat flap in a submarine. And Salmond of conducting one of the most bad tempered and dishonest political campaigns in living memory. Only one politician crawls out of this cess pit with an enhanced reputation and that is Gordon Brown. I wish he could have been as magnificent, passionate and compelling when he was Prime Minister. The saving of the Union will be his footnote in history. And he deserves it.

But now we have to pick up the pieces. For Cameron it will be easier than Miliband whose ratings in Scotland are even lower than they are down south. There will be anger and despair that the working class vote are now deserting to the SNP. There is nothing new in this since Socialism was killed off by new Labour. But yesterday’s vote merely rubbed salt into the wound. And a new enemy was born. Not the Tories. Not the English. But that evil and mythical beast called Westminster. Westminster has caused the poverty. Westminster has wrecked the health service. Westminster is a poison that is causing the great democratic deficit that the public feel so bitter about. Listening to Salmond you could be forgiven for forgetting that he has been running Scotland for the last seven years. He has successfully created a new windmill to tilt at. But now he is at risk. The SNP adopted an iron discipline during the campaign because they thought that they were going to win. Their conference is in November. There will be one question. Is he a lame duck First Minister or a dead one?

So what is meant by the democratic deficit? I suspect that it means that some parts of the UK are better able to screw more money out of the Treasury than others. The total hypocrisy of the Lederhosen Wing of the Tory Party has amazed even me. Are they really telling us that they have just heard of the Barnett formula of redistribution of taxpayers’s money on the basis of population? The little dears have been voting in favour of it since the 1970s. The formula was no more than a clever bribe to the nationalist parties to prop up Calaghan’s minority government fiasco. It didn’t work as they predictably stabbed him in the back. Even Joel Barenett thinks that his formula Is outdated.
And Devo Max than Cameron is accused of writing on the back of a fag packet has been knocking around for years.

The sad truth is that there are a myriad of pockets of disgruntlement spread across the UK. Just about every community one hundred miles from Westminster feels that it is not getting their fare share of the cake. How on earth do we satisfy them all? The sad truth is that we can’t. The old chestnut of an English Parliament is a wonderfully warm and fuzzy idea, but that is as far as it goes. A family in Cornwall doesn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with a family in Sunderland in terms of sharing the same problems.

And it is just another talking shop, another expensive tier of bureaucracy. If politicians are the problem why create more of them? And don’t we have an English Parliament already? Out of 650 MPs only 118 aren’t English.

My only criticism of Gordon Brown is that he promised a Command Paper and legislation to deal with Devo Max by January (and there is still no agreement as what this really means). Rushed legislation is usually bad legislation. The most sensible solution is a Royal Commission. This will take time but it must address the collective whines of the UK as a whole. Self control is always more satisfying than premature ejockulation.



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Who will speak up for the raving bonkers?

17 Sep 2014 at 11:55

These are joyous times for all Cameron haters. Andrew Rosindell, Graham Brady and that towering interlectual that is Owen Patterson must be creaming in their cavalry twills. Tomorrow is their big day because whatever the result that wicked, stuck up wealthy toff and his chums are to blame!! If it’s a YES Cameron must do the honourable thing and resign. He should have told that slimy little Jocko Salmond to shove his referendum up his kilt. If it’s a NO Cameron must do the honourable thing and resign. Those bloody layabout obese, Scots with their disgusting smoking, drinking and eating habits are costing the hardworking English taxpayers a small fortune. This is a national disgrace. The good, struggling people of Clacton are fed up with the Scots eating into their hard earned savings. Enough is enough. That Bastard Cameron after selling us out to the garlic reeking scum of Brussels is now filling the ungrateful Scot sporran with gold. Our gold. Will nobody speak up for England? Why can’t we have our own Parliament and tell Johnny Foreigner to scuttle back though the tunnel. And don’t talk to me about the Welsh. Come to think of it that channel tunnel is a disgrace. We are an island nation. We should never have built the damn thing in the first place. Poor Maggie was forced to agree to it by the Foreign Office, the French and traitors like Clark and Heseltine. Any sensible Englishman would brick it up. Will nobody speak up for the raving bonkers? That Cameron should do the honourable thing and resign. If only Enoch was alive today.

Whatever the result tomorrow certain Tories will be frothing at the mouth, biting the carpet and blaming Cameron. If they had any sense they would carefully contemplate where the real blame lays. And it’s not the Tories. Labour has treated Scotland as it’s personal fiefdom with them as it’s Sepp Blatter. They have been responsible for a sustained scare campaign over the privatisation of the NHS and the destruction of the benefit system. All Salmond has done is exaggerate these false claims even more. Labour is now in the embarrassing position of having to admit that what they have been saying is simply untrue. When the dust has settled and national politics resumes Andy Burnam is going to find himself in a more difficult position than he is now. Miliband has shown him the yellow card already I just wonder how long he can remain in post.

Now what of David Cameron? The right have had a fatwa out on him for so long that I suspect he really doesn’t care anymore. To be honest I am not sure what more he could have done. Tory leaders in Scotland tend to be the kiss of death for any campaign. So he was wise to limit his public involvement and let Labour and the ethnics sort it out. But this has been a bitter and divisive campaign which has opened deep wounds and sectarianism. Whichever side loses is going to cry foul. And if it is going to be as close as many predict the lawyers will have a field day. But what will forever stick in my mind are the beery Nat faces contorted with hatred and rage, shouting down opponents and spitting venom at any journalist who dares question the Dear Leader. These wounds will take a long time to heal.
It will be interesting to see how the Kippers play the English Parliament card. My gut reaction is that they will milk it for all it is worth, particularly in Clacton. It is one of those delightfully attractive concepts which is difficult to argue against until you start measuring the cost and effectiveness of it all. Dear old Redwood is gloriously predictable.

And the West Lothian question? It will never be solved unless the Scots do it for us. So on Friday the United Kingdom will know which of the two outcomes the people have chosen. Will it be disaster or catestrophe ?



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When my family go to Aberdeenshire at Christmas to lay flowers on my father's grave and visit my mother at her care home will we be viewed as Foreigners in a strange land?

14 Sep 2014 at 11:01

For the very first time in all the years that I have been involved in politics I am scared. Scared that on Thursday the good people of Scotland will vote with their hearts rather than their heads. Well, how does it affect we English? Will it be along the lines of the politically illiterate rantings of that great Tory thinker Nadine Dorries of ‘why should be pay for them to eat their deep fried Mars bars’ ? I suspect that these sort of views will be held by a vociferous minority. The majority down south will shrug their shoulders in sorrow rather than anger and as the months roll on will witness Scotland descend from prosperity to a ghetto of unemployment, spiralling debts and failing public services. But it will not just be capital that will be evaporating faster than a snowball in hell, but that amazing pool of talent that has made the Scots one of the most innovative and talented people in the world.

This has been the the most ill tempered political debates that I have ever witnessed. The SNP leadership and their outriders are a deeply unpleasant bunch. The chilling words of former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars about a day of reckoning, although disassociated by the leadership, lifts the veil over the dark reality of Salmond and his cronies; they are very, very left wing and vindictive. To see the delightfully reasonable Jim Murphy being shouted down on the stump as a traitor, a paedophile and every other revolting insult they could muster was troubling. The nationalist agit prop have cast a dark stain over this debate which will be remembered for years.

It is not worth rehearsing the arguments of the the improbability of Scotland keeping the pound, joining the EU and NATO. Nor the flight of capital, jobs and aspiration. Does Scotland really want to be transformed into an intolerant Socialist state, where there will be hardly any rich left to make their pips squeak? If so fire up the Quattro now and send for President Hollande. Or maybe they could be a client state of Russia.

What saddens me is that when my family visit Aberdeenshire this Christmas to put flowers on my father’s grave and visit my mother in her care home will be be foreigners in a strange land?



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Is Boris the next Enoch Powell?

13 Sep 2014 at 09:14

I am beginning to wonder whether Boris Johnson will be the next Enoch Powell. A distinguished classicist, self publicist and boat rocking irritant. Both were disillusioned with their parties, both were dangerously unpredictable and had leadership ambitions. To be fair to Powell he at least was consistent even if dangerously wrong about so many things and even more dangerously consistent and right about everything else. Powell was a loner. So is Boris. Powell used to send shivers of dread down the spines of party leaders at election time. What will he say? What will he do? So does Boris. And when canvassing, the party faithful in 1974 would be treated with the usual refrain of ’ I agree with every word that that Mr.Powell says.’ Boris hasn’t quite got there yet, but he might.

But that’s where the comparison probably ends. Powell was an intellectual, a deep thinker who could dazzle his opponents with crystal towers of logic. We knew what he believed. We knew where he stood. You got what was written on the tin. We know what is written on the Boris tin, ‘I want to be Prime Minister.’ But what is actually in it? I haven’t a clue. And I doubt whether he does either.

So here is his problem. Boris wants to replace the man who his enemies believe is a slick PR man, stands for nothing and has departed from the true Tory path. And Boris? I am not entirely sure which path he follows at all apart from the garden variety of which he consistently and elegantly leads us up. On Europe he started off as rather pro until he realised he could impress his editor with some delightfully amusing but very flaky anti EU copy. And a true Tory (whatever that is)? Mmm, from a man who nearly joined the SDP? So the crude difference between Cameron and him is that one is a pragmatist the other an opportunist. Although to be fair, in politics there is absolutely no shame about the latter as long as it is practised in moderation. Not perhaps a Johnsonian trait.

Well, we’ve got him now, how do we best utilise him? General elections like any good ballet have to be meticulously choreographed. And the Tory Chef de ballet is that old bruiser Lynton Crosby, who must pondering how on earth to keep Bozza reasonably on message and not trapped into divisive quotes apart from hallucinogenic drugs or physical restraint. I suspect it will be a lot easier than we think. Firstly, it is not in Boris’s interests for Cameron to lose the election. The hard, demeaning, hopeless job of being Leader of the Opposition doesn’t fit his psyche. The best chance of becoming leader is one of two options. Option one; the figures are so tight that another coalition is inevitable which is scuppered by Tory backbenchers and Cameron is forced out Boris takes over and fights an election. But that is not as easy as it seems. Nowadays Tory backbenchers don’t chose the leader, there has to be a vote by members of the party. This takes time and if the Queen is waiting to appoint a government she will not want to be hanging about for a couple of months whilst the Tories are sorting themselves out. And a coronation will not be tolerated by Osborne or May.
Option two; Cameron loses the referendum on the EU and resigns. This is Boris’s best chance.

So if he wants to be leader he must at least pretend to be loyal simply because it is in his interests that Cameron wins the election with an outright majority.

And after recovering from the heady glow of being selected for Uxbridge (I wonder if he thought that it was Oxbridge?) the first thing he should do is take the Boris circus down to Clacton and knock nine bells out of the KIPPERS. And this is where he is most useful; the destruction of Farage. He can out Heineken him any day.

So Boris the politician who pretends he isn’t, might well be the Nemesis of Farage the politician who pretends he isn’t. What a funny old world we live in. But fun.

Oh, and just in case you have forgotten Enoch Powell, despite all the hype, never led his party.



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Why is it that Tory backbenchers can be led to slaughter but never made to think?

7 Sep 2014 at 15:21

If I was Michael Gove, the Chief Whip, I would summon four people to my office on Monday morning. Jacob Rees Mogg, Adam Afriyie, Andrew Brigden and Jackie Doyle Price. The first three I would accuse of craven, snivelling cowardice and rip them each a new arsehole for their crass stupidity and total disloyalty. I would then give them a stark choice. Either drop this damaging lunacy or fuck off to UKIP and expect extermination at the general election. Discipline has to be restored and Gove is the man to do it. Of course, they will squeal and moan to the press about how hard done by they are and that nobody listens to them. But there is a damn good reason for that. They have divided the Tory right and are destroying any chance of a Tory victory.

And Jackie? I would go down on one knee, shake her by the hand and thank her for her courage and common sense. I would also make sure that somehow she was rewarded. Jackie is a feisty little fighter. She has a majority of just 92 and her seat of Thurrock is a breeding ground for the Kippers. Does she moan? Does she panic? Does she want to do a deal with these ghastly people. No bloody fear. She fights them. She takes them head on. And if there is any justice in this world she will win. In politics the easy option is rarely the best. Do Mogg, (maj 3,000) Brigden (maj 7,500) or Afriyie (maj 19,000) give a toss about her? Of course not. If she’ll have me I would be proud to campaign for her as I spent my formative years in Grays. And I like a fighter.

Let’s look at the mechanics of all of this. At the next election UKIP will probably poll about 10%. They will not win Clacton and may not have a single seat. Two cabinet posts? Farage as DPM? It is politically illiterate.

And then what would be the deal? Farage, would get to nominate who the leader of the Tory Party will be, or rather who it won’t be. He will demand a referendum before the election and further demand that the Conservative Party campaign for an exit. Considering the opinion polls consistently show that the EU doesn’t appear within the top ten of people’s concerns this borders on the Psychotic.

Mogg, Afriyie, and Brigden are not stupid men. Far from it. And personally I like them. But judging form this recent act of self immolation in calling for a deal with UKIP and offering Farage two cabinet seats they are in need of medication and put into a place of safety. The kippers are not part of the Tory family and never have been. They make the Adams family look remarkably normal. Just because a number of Conservatives have crossed over to the dark side it doesn’t mean we want to welcome them back on their terms. Conservatism is about tolerance and fair play. UKIP is BNP lite mood music. It is loud and deeply unpleasant. And resonates with the sort of people I wouldn’t particularly want as next door neighbours.

Ken Clarke once said that the reason the Tories kept losing elections was because they were obsessed with placating 30% of the electorate. Now some want to narrow this to 10%. It is almost beyond belief.

There are two winners here. Miliband and Farage. Farage wants him to win so the Tory party is split and the right join his happy little dysfunctional family. He wants to destroy the Conservative Party. We mustn’t help him.

Why is it that Tory backbenchers can be led to slaughter but never made to think?



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It is time that decent Conservatives and those who believe in social democracy stand up and fight those parasites who are infecting our party

31 Aug 2014 at 10:31

Is Mathew Parris the only sensible commentator to appreciate that Douglas Carswell is a complete and utter fraud? For weeks he has been exasperating Eurosceptics by refusing to rebel and for going on record as saying that Cameron’s European stance was one hundred percent correct. He even gave a lengthy interview to the Spectator’s splendid Fraser Nelson saying at length why he could not join UKIP.

So what has caused this volcanic volte face? What, apart from hardening his position on Europe has Cameron actually done to turn Carswell so violently against him? The answer is absolutely nothing. This act of treacherous vanity must have been bubbling away on the back burner for years. Carswell is not the great knight in shining armour selflessly sacrificing his career on the altar of greater Parliamentary democracy. His motivation is purely selfish. If he had sat down with all the other serious Cameron haters and worked out a strategy to damage him and his party they couldn’t have had come up with anything more toxic. And more helpful of putting Miliband into Number 10.

And this is the dilemma that confronts the Cameron haters. Do they loathe him so much that any chance of a Tory victory at the election is shattered in a poisonous explosion of bile? Do they despise him so much that any hope of a referendum on the EU are dashed? The alarming answer to these questions appears to be yes. In same dark and dangerous parts of the Tory back benches the hatred of Cameron borders on a psychiatric disorder. But there is a strict apartheid. Those willing to press the self destruct button and destroy all the economic success that the hardworking people of this country have sweated blood for are in the fortuitous position of having safe seats. If these obsessives have their way they will throw onto the scrap heap a goodly number of thoroughly decent colleagues in marginal seats. They don’t give a damn about them. A wicked betrayal.

But we are told that the likes of Carswell are men and women of great principle, fearlessly fighting for our rights. For, God’s sake please pause while I am violently sick. We are told that they are Libertarians. Well, up to a point. Provided you don’t have the effrontery to want to marry the person that you love.

And now there are mutterings by some Tories that they could not possibly campaign against him as he is a true Conservative. What bollocks. Carswell and his type may have jumped into a lifeboat marked ‘Conservative’ to get elected in the first place. He is as much a Conservative as I am a Muslim.

So Clacton is a chance for everyone who really cares about this country, every decent Conservative and those who believe in social democracy to fight the squalid self interested hypocrisy of UKIP and Carswell. I will be there at the first whiff of political cordite.

Many of us are fed up with our party being infected by these dreadful people. And some of us will fight.



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Dover for the continent Clacton for the incontinent. To win Clacton the Kippers will have to re nobble the care homes

28 Aug 2014 at 13:35

I would love to say how we e all predicted that Douglas Carswell would doggie paddle his way to the Kippers. But it would be a lie. Particularly as his close chum, the alarmingly wild eyed MEP Daniel Hannan, rejected Nigel Farage’s heavy petting.

I thought perhaps that it might be the constituency boundaries. I rather assumed that he had taken over Dick Body’s old patch (he of the flapping white coats) of Boston. But no, that is Rwandan enthusiast, Mark Simmonds’ manor. Carswell represents Clacton, the exciting scene of Mods and Rockers riots in the 1960s. Now only exciting thing about Clacton on the Peter Bruff pier, named after that lovely old Archie Andrews radio vent act where poor old Bruff was exposed on TV as someone who moved his lips.

In fact Clacton is a redrawn Harwich, which is God’s waiting room as there are so many care homes. I remember going to speak on behalf of Sir Julian Ridsdale who was their MP during the eighties. I am not sure why I was invited as my audience, appearing to be enjoying formaldehyde cocktails, whilst being a triumph of the mortician’s art who were were far more interested in the bingo game. The real power was Julian’s wife, Paddy, who was Ian Fleming’s inspiration for Miss Moneypenny. Julian had a wonderful way of dealing with questions. ‘My dear, Paddy will have a word with matron.’ A question Number 10 strategists will be pondering.

But they do have Frinton, not perhaps in the forefront of the digital revolution. There was outrage when their first pub licence was granted a few years ago. And when a fish and chip shop opened? Well, not quite pitchforks and burning effigies, more Zimmer frames and curare tipped knitting needles.

So Clacton is a constituency ripe more for Mogadon rather than Kipperdom. I remember a rather unfair slogan many years ago, ‘Dover for the Continent, Clacton for the incontinent.’ Unfair but true.

I would not bet my pension that the Kippers are necessarily going to be shu in. The writ will probably be moved when the clocks have gone back. So canvassing is going to be horrendous. Old people do not open their doors when it is dark. This election is going to be won on the postal vote. And unless Carswell has managed to get hold of old voting lists, he will be in a bit of trouble. The nursing homes are going to have to re nobbled if UKIP wants to win.

And then there is Jaywick. It would be unkind to say that this is like a massive open prison. But supermarkets mark their produce when it is past their steal by date. As the Kippers are the scourge of scroungers they are not their natural supporters. But as most live in beach huts they are unlikely to be on the electoral roll anyway.

So why did Carswell light the touch paper to his thermo nuclear squib? As I am not a Psychiatrist therefore I am unqualified to say. However, the whips do have classifications to assist them in their assessments of their little charges. ‘Shit, absolute shit, insane’. I suspect that dear old Douglas is way down that list.

But enough flippancy. This is a distraction. The economy is leaping ahead, unemployment is falling and labour has been a dead duck for so long they will soon get a telegram from the Queen. It will put the Tory backbenchers in their default mode. Blind panic. Prepare for more ludicrous talks about doing a deal with Farage. No way. No how.

Hang on, as I sip my dry martini in the Servis air lounge in Aberdeen I see that Bill Cash is on the BBC saying that Carswell is guilty of a terrible misjudgement. From the man who invented the word. Joyous.


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For those Tories who want to get rid of Bercow keep a low profile. Labour will finish the job.

22 Aug 2014 at 10:58

John Bercow has nearly reached the point of no return over the appointment of Carol Mills to succeed Sir Robert Rogers as Chief Clerk of the Commons. The Speaker is going to have to decide whether he wishes to remain in his job or be given the pearl handled revolver and bottle of Whisky. The worst scenario for him would be to insist on her appointment without Parliamentary scrutiny and stand for re election after the election and lose.

As leader of the House William Hague is right not to intervene. This is a Commons matter not one for the executive. There is no love from the Conservative side for Bercow or rather there is a simmering loathing for him. They see him as partisan, patronising and condescending. Whether this is true is not really the point. The Tories never wanted him in the first place and can’t wait to see the back of him. Any manoeuvres from them look party political, which they would be.

But the dynamics have changed. The very people who put him there, heavyweights and former Leaders of the House, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett are calling for Mills to be subject to a Parliamentary appointment by a select committee. Bercow would be committing political suicide if he doesn’t accept this face saver. After all, he made a speech a couple of years ago urging such a process.

Jack Straw should never be underestimated. He is one of the few surviving big beasts that labour has left. Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Minister of Justice and finally Leader of the House. When Jack speaks all parties listen with respect. And he doesn’t shoot from the hip. When he accused Bercow of a politically correct stunt there should be a sharp intake of breath at Speaker’s House. And when Betty Boothroyd, probably the finest Speaker in living memory, weighs in it really is time to take stock. She was right. The Speaker is the servant of Parliament and not the other way round. And when it comes to a pissing completion the Commons will win.

My advice to the Tories who want to get rid of Bercow is to keep a low profile. Leave it to the party who really elected him.

The other day I read a rather disturbing piece by my old friend Steve Richards Who seemed to suggest that in Rogers’ early days the Clerks of the House had a distain for MPs. Well, I was there. Nothing could be further from the truth. I found them and Rogers in particular, spectacularly, bright charming and helpful who truly regarded themselves as servants of the House. Nothing has changed.

I don’t think anyone has any objections if an outsider is brought in to run the services of the Commons. It worked particularly well when a top class administrator was appointed to run catering back in the late eighties. But the job of the House of Commons Clerks is to understand procedure and ensure the smooth running of business. To have the top job you are sitting directly in front of the Chair and would have to advise at a moments notice, then and there. His is the High Priest of Hansard.

And there probably lies the problem. Bercow fancies him self as an expert on Parliamentary procedure and knows the book inside out. And it is not a boast. He is and he does. Perhaps he resented having the opposite side of the argument politely put to him.

And here comes the irony. Michael Martin was kicked out of the Chair because he was regarded as incompetent and kowtowed too much to the wishes of members. Bercow might go because he is too competent and won’t kowtow to the wishes of members.

But it may be too late for a dignified exit as Labour have clearly turned against him. The best he can hope for is a promise of tenure until the election and a seat in the Lords. His chances of being re elected are slender.



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