In praise of Jackie Doyle Price for giving the Kippers the swivel finger in a seat that would think Ghengis Khan was a dangerous lefty

5 May 2013 at 12:08

The electorate have spoken. Or rather the thirty percent who bothered to get off their backsides and vote have.

But what were they saying?

Was it that nice Mr. Farage has got some very sensible well thought out and costed proposals which will get this economy moving? Sadly, not

Was it that nice Mr Farage has made some very well thought out proposals for us to make a structured exit from the EU whilst preserving our trading position, promoting growth and creating jobs? Ahem.

Was it that nice Mr. Farage speaks his mind, listens, speaks to us in our language and is not a normal politician? Now we are getting there.

The delightful irony of all of this is that the coalition have got robust and sensible policies to limit immigration without damaging the economy. The trouble is that UKBA is such a basket case that nobody (particularly ministers) believe a word that they say. Labour are in turmoil and the Kippers have suddenly realised that their policy is unworkable. It is now, as they say, “under review”.

To her credit Theresa May has grasped that the immigration problem could be the making or breaking of not just her but the government. She is single minded, determined, utterly ruthless and realises she has about fifteen months to get it right. If she doesn’t Tory votes will haemorrhage to UKIP and install the most left wing Labour policies since Michael Foot. That really has to be the prime focus of Lynton Crosby, to implant in the mind of the electorate that a vote for UKIP is not a wasted vote, it is a dangerous one. Nigel Farage is Miliband’s little helper. Socialism by stealth.

I have been rather impressed that the backbenches have remained so relatively calm. The usual suspects have been calling for local deals with the Kippers. This is hardly the politics of high principle, but of funk. And David Davis has been doing what he does best.

Bayoneting the wounded with a twinkle in his eye.

Quite what the electoral asset is of firing all advisors who went to Eton has escaped me. It is all rather Mc Carthyite and rather unpleasant. It also very strange as the sort of people who think that this is a good idea tend to be Worshippers at the holy Shrine of St. Boris of Eton. Well, there’s nowt so queer as folk.

One backbencher that I have been particularly impressed with is Jackie Doyle Price the MP for Thurrock. She has taken on the Kippers directly and castigated colleagues, in particular John Baron of Billericay, for giving subliminal messages for a pro kipper vote.

Thurrock is an interesting constituency. Apart from a brief aberration between 1987 to 1992 it has been a Labour stronghold since 1945. But the electorate are very right wing. In 2010 UKIP scored 3,390 to the BNP’s 3,618.

Jackie has a majority of just 92.

So when all of these foolish an opportunist backbenchers ( usually with majorities so large that they have to be weighed )start bleating about local deals, think of Jackie working her backside of for the people of Thurrock who has the courage and determination to give the kippers the swivel finger. I hope that CCHQ give her all the support that she needs and David Cameron gives her credit.

But Thurrock has always been this weird phenomenon of natural Labour supporters voting for the far right. Many would regard Ghengis Khan as a dangerous lefty. We used to call it the Alf Garnett vote. Iain Dale calls them UKIP Labour. Which means that unless Labour gets its act together Margaret Hodge’s seat of Barking could be a problem. She may have run the BNP out of Dodge last time who knows what will happen in 2015.

So many Tories could learn a lot from the good sense of Jackie Doyle Price. Take the kippers on for what they are and give them no quarter. They won’t like it up them.

The Price is right. But not with a capital R.



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UKIP's gains will be illusory and short lived. Remember what happened to the SDP

2 May 2013 at 18:38

It would be very helpful if some of our more excitable backbenchers before they do a very passable corporal Jones of not panicking took a deep breath, poured themselves a large scotch and read a little history.

In 1981 the SDP was born. They broke the mould of British politics. If you include Bill Rodgers and David Owen, thirty Labour MPs defected. And there were fevered rumours that twenty five Tories were about to join them as between 1981/2 the SDP was the most popular party in Britain with a staggering 50% in the opinion polls. As it happened only one Tory, Anthony Brocklebank Fowler (who became a man of the people by renaming himself Chris Fowler) jumped ship.

This was at a time when Labour and the Tories were horribly split. Michael Foot had reclaimed his party for the left. And Conservative backbenchers were conspiring to oust their horribly unpopular leader, Margaret Thatcher. The attractive USB of the SDP were that they were by and large decent middle class professionals who had never been involved in politics before. They were fed up with the divisiveness of the main parties. They wanted to adopt a middle way. A pragmatic non political answer to our ills. Their policies were sensible, their candidates reasonable and they stormed the town halls. They won by election after by election.

And at the 1983 election they polled 25.4% compared to Labour’s 27.6%. The informed political wisdom was that this was the death knell of the major parties. How wrong they were. The SDP Alliance fizzled out in 1988 after another Thatcher landslide in 1987.

Now compare this with whatever happens with the Kippers tomorrow. No matter how successful they are, no matter how many council seats they gain they won’t even be a foot note in the shattering performance of the SDP.

Lets have a look at why. The message of the eighties is that the public despised polarised politics, unless as in 1987, they can see some financial benefits for themselves and their families. The Kippers are a ragbag of the flotsam and jetsam of British politics. When scrutinised their candidates have two years of nasty tomfoolery to show just how unprepared and unpleasant they really are. Their economic policies make Labour’s look like a model of prudence and good sense. Their success will be their downfall simply because the electorate will wonder how on earth their lives can be improved. And the tabloids, not just the broadsheets, will have a field day. They will feast on the incompetence, the closet racism and general barminess that elected so many people out of a sense of angst and anger rather than deliberation.

In a few months Farage will graduate from being a fad to a farrago.

Ken Clarke has been of great service to the Tories by calling the Kippers a bunch of clowns.

I have always found clowns to be rather sinister.

So now is the time for Lynton Crosby to set his attack dogs to work scouring for every off colour tweet and every dodgy comment from those new councillors carrying the Kipper banner. It is time to expose and time to reveal them for what they are. A deeply unpleasant rabble of malcontents trying to tap in and exploit the worries and insecurities of those who are suffering from thirteen years of Labour financial incompetence.

There will be only one winner tomorrow. Apathy.

Don’t be too surprised if Nadine Dorries after reading the runes has a political death bed conversion. She still is deprived of the Tory whip and can’t yet stand for re selection. She may not have much of a choice.

But compared to the SDP in the early eighties any victory the kippers have will be illusory and short.

And a message to our excitable back benchers who will be calling for an accommodation and probably the head of David Cameron? Be careful what you wish for.

Keep calm and carry on.



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Grayling's proposals for the criminal law are anti choice anti small business and will lead to the destruction of a world class justice system.

28 Apr 2013 at 11:54

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the imbecilic Chris Grayling is hell bent on destroying the independent criminal bar and ethnically cleansing family solicitors from the high street. I warned that consultation would be a farce and that legal sweat shops who won’t give a damn about standards and who think that ethics is a place where you sell dodgy cars, get a fake tan and drink cocktails so sweet as to send you into a diabetic coma, will be our sole gatekeepers to justice.

I was wrong.

Grayling’s plans are far more sinister, damaging and financially foolhardy than I had ever dreamed of. Without a shred of evidence he has concluded that by reducing the number of providers (solicitors) from fourteen hundred to four hundred the taxpayer will save £230 million a year. Now I am no mathematician but if the number of cases remains broadly the same where does this figure come from? Ah, says Grayling, actually the number of cases before the courts is falling.

And he is right. Not because of a massive drop in crime but because of an insidious practice where offenders are very often not even charged. Why, because they are not guilty? No. To save money. The SUN has reported the massive increase in police cautions over the last few years. Many for hardened criminals and some for serious sexual offences. I am aware of serious frauds which are regarded as far too expensive to prosecute. This is not just a national disgrace but an affront to every decent law abiding citizen who deserves to feel safe in their homes and on the street.

It is not Conservative.

We have been told that the bar will be excluded from competitive tendering, but it makes no difference. Solicitors will have to compete for a franchise against really big business most of whom have had no legal experience nor training. It sounds like a sick joke but G4S could well be a major player in this. So what happens to a small/medium sized but efficient firm of solicitors who offer a decent service? They will be thrown to the wolves. And what choice will the public have? Now this you will love as it is so Sir Humphrey. None. There will be a bureaucracy who will determine whom your legal representation will be. So far nobody has worked out how much they will cost. And the legal corporations will not instruct skilled and experienced barristers. They’ll keep the cash and send a kid to court on the cheap.

So what do we have? A government that believes in law and order but lets criminals off to save cash.


A government who believes in choice in education and in health but not for someone who could wrongly have their reputations trashed or wrongly imprisoned.

A disgrace.

A government who believes in small businesses who will be throwing a thousand efficient and cost effective firms to the wall. And losing generations of skill and expertise.


But there is something even worse. We are told that there will be a financial incentive to lawyers if their clients plead guilty. I believe in incentives for the guilty to put their hands up at an early stage. But to offer us more money if they do will certainly lead to dodgy advice from the new corporations. We’ve had casino banking, welcome to casino law, where the house will always win. And justice always loses.

Has anyone thought through where the new generation of judges will be drawn from? It’s too far down the road so I doubt it. But after the independent bar is dead and buried and high street solicitors ethnically cleansed it will be from the legal sweat shops manned by under qualified and underpaid nine till fivers. So the next plan will be for the judiciary to be a separate career structure.

God help us.

In the next few weeks of “consultation” barristers and solicitors will be deciding how we should react. We are not demanding more money, nor asking for the swingeing cuts to our fees to be reversed. We just want to warn the public that they are about to lose something very precious.The right to a fair trial. The right to be properly represented by those who will give unbiased advise which will be in their clients interests not those who want to make a fast buck.

Can you imagine the uproar if a nurse accused of assaulting a patient or a teacher having sex with a child was given legal advice by an inexperienced under qualified lawyer. And then wrongly advised to plead guilty because the lawyer will earn more money for his corporation? And can you imagine the pressure that these young lawyers will be under to give only the advice that earns the most cash?

Soon it will be the norm unless the public wake up to what is happening.

These proposals were put forward under Labour and I hear whispers that they have realised they made a colossal mistake. Sensible Tories like Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, are troubled. But what of Nick Clegg who should be a champion of justice?
And what of David Cameron for whom I have nothing but admiration?

These policies are anti choice, anti small business and will turn our world class and well respected criminal justice system into something that would cheer Putin or Mugabe.

These are not Conservative polices and should be strangled at birth.

As it appears none of this requires primary legislation there is a good chance that none of this will debated in Parliament. Please sign the e petition
e petitions.
It says, “the MOJ should not succeed with their plans to reduce access to justice by depriving citizens of legal aid or the right to legal aid or the right to the to representation of the solicitor of their choice”.



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Bojo or Jojo who has the biggest mojo?

26 Apr 2013 at 11:42

One of David Cameron’s greatest assets is luck. At a time when it looked as if his party would tear itself apart because of selfish tantrums of the right paralysed with fear over UKIP and trainspottingly obsessed with all things Brussels, nobody seemed to notice Labour’s steady march to the left.

If the Tories could just pause from stabbing each other in the back and look at the hopeless mess that is Labour, many of those with slender majorities have a fighting chance of being returned at the next election.

In many ways the political death of David Miliband and the real one of Margaret Thatcher are interlinked. David’s departure was more symbolic than anything else. It showed that the Blairites have given up and that Ed really is in charge of the sweet shop. And the death of Thatcher was a terrifyingly
graphic reminder of how dangerous and intolerant the left can be when they take control.

So it must have put a spring in Cameron’s step to hear Red Len McCluskey, the delightfully Jurassic leader of Unite, gloating over his £25 million strike war chest. And then to hear him calling not just for the the ethnic cleansing of the party and the expulsion of any living Blairite but to dance on any dead one’s grave. Of course it is political suicide.

This gives Cameron and Shapps day after day of open goals. This is serious clear blue water. There are dragons to be slayed and clear issues that will resonate with the electorate. Labour is totally on the wrong side of the benefits argument and its economic policy a shambles. What does it want do to about immigration? God knows. All they can do is admit they cocked it up last time round. It should not go unnoticed that when Thatcher was asked what her greatest achievement was her reply was simple: “New Labour”. Well, that lot have been put into cryogenisis and there is not much hope of a defrosting in the near future. Miliband hasn’t learned the lessons of Benn and the Thatcherite purists. The moment the party becomes a cult the electorate switch off life support.

The trick is for Tory backbenchers to keep their nerve when the Party gets a drubbing from the Kippers next week. Cameron and Osborne are used to these local difficulties. Cameron forged in the fires of the economy going into meltdown with his Chancellor making a stormy resignation and Osborne grounded in the stinking funeral pyres of infected cattle. Most people forget that he was Douglas Hogg’s Special Advisor. Both men have perspective and are reassuringly unflappable.

In politics it is the window dressing that is far more interesting than the policy. Some of the most recent appointments to the non jobs in the lifts have fascinated me. John Hayes as the great Poobah of Parliament must be a very sophisticated joke. So intricate that I still haven’t got it. But the real cracker is setting up this new policy board with sensible old stagers as Peter Lilley, probably the most effective Social Security Secretary that we have ever had.
If Labour play this as a lurch to the right they would be very mistaken. Peter is a thoroughly decent and compassionate man. He also know which policies will fly.

But what do we make of Jo Johnson’s lift off to the political stratosphere? Some are putting it about that this is designed to rile Boris. Others say this is the beginning of another political psycho drama where there is a real possibility of fratricide on the menu. The trouble is the Johnson clan are almost psychotically competitive.

And loyal.

It may be a beautifully cynical Mandelsonian plan to embarrass Boris, but I doubt it. Mind you if it works I have no doubt that Number 10 will anonymously put it about that this is a cunning plan. Already there have been unkind comparisons that Jo is much cleverer and nicer than Boris. And that his personal life is squeaky clean. I suspect that will not go down well at Boris Towers.

But my, are the subeditors going to have fun with this one. It is a gift to the red tops. Bojo, Jojo, Mojo and if the News of the World was about there would have been a reasonable chance of Blowjo gracing the front page.

So let’s assume (although the Sundays won’t) that JoJo was appointed on merit. But if it all goes tits up there is always the Monty Python way of dealing with things.
“Smear him in chocolate and throw him to the lesbians”.

God, we are going to have some sport with this.



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Thatcher must be relishing that fact that her death has lifted the lid off of Real Labour. Even from the grave she can strike a fatal blow.

13 Apr 2013 at 13:43

I wonder when it will dawn on Ed Milliband that until the Labour Party appreciates how great a leader Tony Blair was they can never be elected. Sadly it won’t enter his head as he is precisely the wrong person to make such a judgement as during the Blair years he was plotting and scheming with Ed Balls, Damian MacBride and Charlie Whelan to undermine everything Blair stood for. While the country was rather enjoying Thatcherism with a heart and a sense of humour Brown’s gangsters were planning for that wonderful day when he inherited what was rightfully his. And on that glorious day the sun shone, angels trumpeted and the left became all misty eyed that that they had at last reclaimed their party.

But what has always mystified me is why on earth they all thought Brown was going to do such a stunning and spectacular job when those of us who used to bump into this brooding and driven figure in Westminster corridors realised that the poor fellow was devoid of any social skills. In the clubable atmosphere of Westminster he only wanted to club his enemies. And they weren’t on the Conservative benches. The only time I ever saw him genuinely smile was when I tipped him off that a very pretty member of the lobby was desperate for a shag. I never asked him whether he accepted the invitation.

The similarities between Thatcher and Blair are quite remarkable. She was treated as an outsider by her party as was he. She was treated with deep suspicion by the old guard and Blair was regarded as a cuckoo in the socialist nest. Both were accused of hijacking their parties and both achieved almost mythical status. The legend that will be Margaret Thatcher passed down from generation to generation will be serious fairy tale material. Some of the stuff one hears from kids on the back benches most of whom were at school when she was in her prime must make the likes of John Whittingdale and Ken Clarke either smirk or cringe. She will be always be viewed through the prism of the Falklands war and Blair through the fog of Iraq. In that I feel rather sorry for Blair. His legacy was to make the public less frightened of Labour and to carry the compassionate Thatcherism of John Major to another level. He skillfully distanced himself from the trade unions and had the courage to ditch Clause 4.

Yet if it hadn’t been for Barabara Castle another determined, opinionated and feisty fighter, Margaret Thatcher, would probably never emerged as a leader at all let alone a great one. Castle realised that the power of the union barons was a millstone around the neck of not just the Labour Party but the economy.

You really have to be over the age of fifty to remember those days when if the print unions didn’t like a piece of reporting they wouldn’t print it. When annual pay increases which industry could not afford but was blackmailed into paying by the threat of strikes boosted inflation to over thirty percent. It wasn’t Thatcher who destroyed our industrial base, it was the greedy, bullying unions with unrealistic wage claims and Mickey Mouse jobs which made us the Sick Man of Europe. And Barbara Castle had the courage to try and do something about it. She tried to introduce sensible trade union reform in a white paper called In Place of Strife. This was so secret that not even her minister of State Harold Walker knew about it until print unions leaked it to him. After all they printed it. I remember him telling me the story of his bust up with Barbara. At a ministerial meeting she flatly denied that In Place of Strife existed, Harold reached into his briefcase and threw a copy on the table. That was the end of that as the unions and backbenchers went ballistic.

And that was the end of an historic opportunity to reform our bizarre trade employment laws until another courageous woman picked up the mantle. The irony should not be lost. The strong arm of the unions that pulverised In Place of Strife spawned their nemesis.

But back to Milliband. The death of Margaret Thatcher could not have come at a worse time for him. Generations are learning for the very first time of the horrors of the 1970s. And the jackboot of the unions on the nation’s wind pipe.

They will be reminded on Wednesday that the left and all their intolerance and genuine nastiness are still in the Labour Party and not a figment of the fevered imagination of the right. The sleepy and laid back majority would have been rather perturbed at the death parties and the sheer delight at the death of a frail old lady. And they will be particularly troubled at a time when everyone fears for their jobs that the unions are contemplating a general strike. Utter, utter madness.

Of course you can’t blame Milliband for any of this. He is probably as horrified as anybody else. Even the Blairites found him more approachable than any of the other Brownites. Ali Campbell called him the emissary from planet fuck. The trouble is that Milliband would have been at meetings where those uncivilised sentiments would have been joyfully aired. And they are not isolated.

If Tony Blair made us less afraid of Labour then poor old Ed is sleep walking into making us begin to wonder whether we should feel a chill in the political air.

Blair got it right. Labour can’t possibly win if it is just the party of protest. And next week is going to be very ugly indeed.
The Lady would have loved it all. She will be relishing the fact that her death has lifted the lid off of Real Labour. Even from the grave she is inflicting a fatal blow to the Labour Party.



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Today we witnessed the passing of a phenomenon within a whirlwind: thoughts on Margaret Thatcher.

8 Apr 2013 at 13:24

The reaction to the death of Margaret Thatcher will be a game of two halves. The unedifying, intolerant and thoroughly nasty whoops of joy from the left and rather alarming prostrations of grief from her worshippers.

The truth of the matter is that Thatcher was not the ogre who despised the poor and ground their faces into the ground as she slashed public expenditure to the bone. And nor was she some sainted figure who could do no wrong. She was a determined, single minded woman who tapped directly into the aspirations of ordinary people. People who did not want the country run by the unions. People who were fed up with Soviet exchange control laws that only allowed them to take £100 out of the country. People who wanted themselves and their families to better themselves and their children to have equality of opportunity. People who wanted to buy the council houses that they had lived in all their lives. In short people who were fed up by being told by the state how to run their lives.

To her credit Margaret Thatcher stuck up two fingers to two shibboleths; the class system and ratchet socialism. And the cosy political elite did not like that one little bit.

If you think that Cameron is having a bit of a rough time with his backbenchers it was as nothing as to the venom that was poured upon her by not just her backbenchers but by her cabinet. In the early days she would be seen sobbing in the Whips office. Even during the Falklands war there were those both in Cabinet and the backbenches praying she would fail.

Her real legacy is that she changed the way Britain thought about itself and the way the world thought about us.

So let me explode some of the most popular myths. She did not cut back public expenditure. It increased in real terms by approximately 30 percent except for transport and defence which were cut by 3 percent. Neither did she expand the armed services. She cut them to the bone so much that there were ministerial resignations.

And Europe? She was not anti European at all, just wanting a just settlement for the UK. Ironically, Thatcher gave away more powers to Brussels in the Single European Act than ever before.

To be honest although I admired her single minded determination I always found her difficult, probably because she was devoid of any sense of humour. In the 79 campaign ITN’s Mike Brunson interviewed her in a hardware shop where she picked up an enormous drill and said without any understanding of why the camera crew were in hysterics, “this is the largest tool I have ever had in my hand”. And then sitting astride a large field gun after the Falklands war turned to the crew enquiring, “do you think this will jerk me off?”

I remember when I was first elected in 83 I was asked to join her with a crowd In her office behind the Speaker’s chair. As will all trooped in she put us at our ease by shouting, “whatever you do don’t queue up”, and going over to Giles Shaw who was Minister of State at the Home Office and asking how things were in Environment, to which he replied that he was actually in charge of the police. She gave him a glare and in full Lady Bracknell mode exclaimed, " don’t be ridiculous" and moved on.

And once when I had been called into Number 10 for a bollocking she rolled up ten minutes late. This was the time when there were thoughts that we would allow the USA to bomb Libya using our airbases. The party line was that this was not an option. So in an effort to ameliorate the handbagging that was to come I towed the party line ( for once). The lady gave me a steely stare and informed me that the reason she was late was because she’d just given the bombers the order to head for Tripoli. Oh, dear.

My favourite story was when I was on a boat with her organised by the City of London for her to light up the newly cleaned up Tower Bridge. The champagne was flowing and the Remembrancer sidled up to me in a terrible state. "She’s in a foul mood, positively spitting tacks, what should I do? " When I asked him what he was offering her to drink and his reply was champagne I came up with a solution. “At this time of night she prefers to drink whisky. Get a police launch to head for the nearest Bottoms Up and get a bottle of J and B.” He did and the rest of the evening was sweetness and light.

There will now be a debate about whether there should be a state funeral. The simple answer is that she deserves one but it would divide the country. Far better to have a family funeral and then a massive memorial service so that the world’s leaders can pay their respects.

Poor Margaret, life without the wonderful Denis must have been unbearable.
Today we have witnessed the passing of a phenomenon within a whirlwind.

It was a privilege to have known her although I won’t pretend that it was always easy.


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I feel sorry for the Youth Czar but not for wingeing Tory backbenchers accusing George young of blackmail

7 Apr 2013 at 10:00

There are two instructive and fascinating stories that grace the Sunday newspapers this morning. The hilarious tale of Paris Brown the seventeen year old £15,000 Kent Youth Czar who has entertained the twitter sphere with her rants about drugs, gays and booze. And the allegation that Chief Whip, Sir George Young has been trying to silence Tory rebels on Europe and gay marriage by hinting that their expense claims might be a little embarrassing. I suspect when George reads this over his muesli this morning he will find it rather amusing as not one of the so called rebels wished to be named.

But back to the youth Czar. What first amazed me was that anyone could be dumb enough to appoint a seventeen year old to speak on behalf of the needs of young people in the criminal justice system. Until I read that it was an appointment of the Police Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes. A former teacher from Merseyside who made some interesting remarks before her election which are worthy of repeating. “Electing police commissioners would be naive and disastrous….a wilful waste of money……could lead towards a confrontational model of governance.” A year before she beat the Tory candidate into second place.

I actually feel rather sorry for Paris. She seems a bubbly, full of life seventeen year old with all the angst, issues and uncertainties that comes with that age. And teenagers like to show off. Making daft claims about sex, drugs and booze is pure Inbetweeners and I suspect that she will be ashamed of her remarks about “fags” and “wanting to cut everyone” and be rather embarrassed about bizarre claims about drugs and drunkenness. All well and good if said in a smoke filled bedroom with other kids. The trouble is that the social media puts these youthful indiscretions on the record. Forever. And this morning the Mail on Sunday gave her the full treatment. The pressure and horror of the media in full primal scream is terrifying for even the most hardened politicians. For a seventeen year old kid it must feel that the earth has swallowed her up and vomited her into the depths of hell.

And then its time for the rent a quotes to be put on parade. Keith Vaz the viscous chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee was frothing with outrage and demanding resignations. The Tories so far have kept quiet. But it won’t be long.

I know, I know, Paris is in a quasi public position and deserves everything she gets you might say. Well you might, but I don’t. She is still a seventeen year old kid who has been rather stupid. At that age I would have bitten off anyone’s hand for fifteen grand asking me to represent my peers. I have no doubt that I would have behaved like a total twat.
The real culprit is Commissioner Barnes. What on earth did she think would happen? When she said in 2011 that electing a police Commissioner would be naive and disastrous I doubt whether she thought how prescient she was.

And now to the poor misunderstood flowers on the Tory backbenches. A few weeks ago some were moaning that rather than the whips telling them how to vote they should be sitting them down for a cup of tea and listening to their woes. Yes, I know, it really does make you want to weep. To regard the Whips office as some kindly bunch of church of England vicars on hand with tea and sympathy rather misunderstands their role which is to get the government’s business through the Commons. To be fair if an MP has a serious personal problem they will help. But not at the expense of government business.

So what is the terrible crime dear old George is meant to have committed? Well, according to the Mail on Sunday he had the temerity to mention to a few MPs that they really ought to play ball with IPSA and pay up or face the prospect of loosing their seats. That’s hardly blackmail. Rather some useful advice. But skins are rather thin recently.

Now these kids don’t have the excuse of extreme youth as Paris does. They need to grow up and grow some.



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That MPs should receive a £15 handout for dinner is bonkers. That they should moan about it is insane.

4 Apr 2013 at 09:02

What a bizarre topsy turvey world we live in. At a time when it has just dawned on a complacent nation that the juggernaut of the dependency culture has to be seriously slowed if not stopped our esteemed tribunes of the people have got their finger on the pulse of the mood of the nation. They are moaning about their dinner allowance.

But what shocked me was that there was any sort of food allowance at all. Back in the day the Commons restaurants were subsidised so we could have reasonably cheap meals. Not a cash handout from the taxpayer but from the tourist shop.

I hadn’t a clue until I picked up the Telegraph this morning that MPs are allowed £15 a day towards dinner if the House sits after 7:30. Labour MP Kevan Jones seems incensed at the injustice as some civil servants get £24 a night and “according to one of his colleagues” serving soldiers get £29. The delightful irony here is that Jones didn’t know what soldiers allowances were. And why should he? He is only Shadow Minister for Defence!

I am not one of those who are of the view that MPs should wear hair shirts and swear a vow of poverty. Although chastity and silence is worthy of consideration. However, at a time of national austerity, apart from Premier division footballers, Russian Oligarchs and the directors of Barclays Bank everyone is feeling the pinch. Why should MPs be any different?

Look at it this way. If the House sits after 7:30 Monday till Thursday hungry MPs can claim £55. More than job seekers allowance. What sort of message does that send out?

Being an MP can be hard work and rather tedious. Quite rightly they should have a competent properly paid staff to help them. Quite rightly they should have their accommodation and travel paid for. And reasonable office expenses. Most important of all IPSA should work fairly and properly. It doesn’t and that is a justifiable grievance.

When I was elected in 1983 my salary was £12,000. My secretary was paid for but office equipment apart from stationary was not. I remember buying a second hand Olivetti golf ball typewriter. Travel home and to the constituency was paid for as were housing costs. And that was it. Did we moan? Of course not. Because we were elected to serve our constituents and try and sort out their problems.

Where Parliamentary allowances really took off was at precisely the same time as the dependency culture was booming. Brown rolled over and had his tummy tickled by GPs and consultants who had money and mouthwatering pension deals thrown at them. And did healthcare improve? It was when the Mid Staffs ethos began.

It was also the time when there was the perverse financial incentive to claim rather than work was at its zenith.

MPs do not earn a great deal of money in the great scheme of things. But I always thought you went into politics in this country to improve other people’s lives. Not your own.

And to set an example.

Silly me.



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George Carey and Justin Bieber's pet monkey vie for the front pages for who is the most out of control primate

30 Mar 2013 at 11:16

I suppose there is a delightful irony that a former Archbishop of Canterbury and Justin Bieber’s pet monkey vie for the front pages this morning as to which is the most out of control primate. I think George Carey wins by more than a whisker. And he is far more of a menace than the monkey who is now spending the night in Munich monkeydom.

Carey has got form for being a first class pain in the arse. Anyone who has worked with him (and I know a few) roll their eyes heavenward when the great man’s name is mentioned. The trouble is he got there by some divine joke. He was the guy the Commission put forward who was so utterly hopeless that their preferred choice would shine through and be chosen. The trouble is Thatcher didn’t quite understand these clerical shenanigans and picked the patsy.

And when after a few years of blithering idiocy at the helm of the Anglican Church everyone breathed a sigh of relief when he hung up his mitre and retired to DunPreachin. But oh no. He became the Daily Mail’s clerical rent a gob and has been a thorn in the side of every successor to the See of Canterbury, giving a whole new meaning to a bishopric. Whether it be helpful remarks about gay marriage, women priests or whatever the loons on the Mail backbench dream up, our George will offer an opinion, which is invariably wrong. Which I suppose means that he is at least consistent.

Personally, I have never been one of those politicians who knock the clergy for attacking government social policy. The Church is meant to be the champion of the poor and vulnerable and they have a right to give us their view even if it is often wrong. So I don’t criticise Carey for that. But what really irritated me beyond belief on Stephan Nolan’s show in the early hours of this morning was the MAIL splash that Cameron was persecuting Christians.

Not only is this utterly deluded it is an insult to those men and women who are imprisoned, tortured and killed because of their faith. He then went on to say that two thirds of Christians felt marginalised. Really? This rather mystified that rather sensible guy from the Christian think tank Theos who appeared on the show.

It appears that the Carey angst centres around government lawyers arguing in the European Court in Strasbourg against the absolute right to wear a crucifix at all times. And for once the judges reached a sensible compromise. Faith should always be about thought word and deed. From the heart. Not some physical manifestation.

And then we had the usual rant about gay marriage. The most ludicrous gripe being that the Commons under croft (known as the crypt) will soon host multi faith services opening the door to gay marriage. Well, the under croft has never been exclusively Anglican. Both my children were baptised there by a Roman Catholic bishop in a Roman Catholic service in the 1980s. If Jews, Muslims and Sikhs want to take take part in multi faith ceremonies it is something that should be welcomed. And if a couple of the same sex want to be blessed or married there (provided its not an Anglican ceremony which is forbidden by law) why not?

But to accuse Cameron personally of presiding over the persecutions is quite bonkers. Anyone who goes to his parish church of St Mary Abbots Kensington, will know that the Cameron family have been part of the Anglican community for many years. He once described his faith in a way that would chime with most of us, “It’s like Chiltern Radio. Sometimes you get a very good signal whilst at other times it fades.”

Come off it George. Christians are not being persecuted in Britain and if some feel they are being marginalised it’s because they have been banging on about what to the rest of us see are pretty marginal issues. And not very Christian.



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The departure of David Miliband is a hammer blow for Labour's chances of re election and marks a distinctive lurch to the left

27 Mar 2013 at 10:37

The resignation of David Miliband is a hammer blow to Labour’s chances of re election. There will be whoops of joy from the left, champagne flowing in the trade union bunkers and horror and despair amongst the Blairites.

If anyone is deluded enough to be believe that this will heal the gaping fissure that divides Labour they deserve to be taken into a place of safety. David Miliband represented the electable wing of his party. He no longer is the fantasy figure that will pick up the pieces after the walking catastrophe that his brother represents. It means that Red Ed has returned. And if the Tories have any sense they will milk this for all its worth.

There will now be a period of trauma for the Blairites. Who on earth can be the standard bearer of common sense and electability who is still in the Commons? At the moment nobody springs to mind. Andy Burnham? A busted flush and far too nice. Think Andrex puppy. And the Mid Staffs horror story happened on his watch. Alan Johnson? To old and too lazy. So who is in the running?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see a lot more of Chuka Umunna on our television screens in the next few months. He is close to Ed as he was once his PPS, he is untainted by Brown and is fiercely ambitious. I am not suggesting for one moment that he would replace Miliband before the next election. Even if the party wanted it (which they don’t) the Byzantine election process would stoke the flames of the slow burning civil war that has riven Labour since the fall of Brown.

There must come a time when Miliband must realise that his economic strategy is an electoral disaster and that Ed Balls is pure poison. The the opinion polls published in the Guardian yesterday must have made terrifying reading. The public trust Cameron and Osborne to steer the economy through these troubled times more than the two Eds. Sacking Balls and replacing him with Umunna might just turn the tide. The trouble is the policy would have to change and be Osborne lite. The left would go mad. Balls would mobilise the unions and once again there would be the omnipresent fighting for the soul of the party.

It’s what Ed needs to do. But I would be amazed if he did.

If you think that Cameron has problems on the back benches from his right wing, Miliband’s lefties are just beginning to flex their muscles. That vote on benefits last week saw over forty MPs defy a three line whip. This is just the start. These are the opening shots of a genuine lurch to the left. Lynton Crosby take note.

But the South Sheilds by election is a potential disaster for Labour. The Tories who trail them by about eleven thousand are going to be wiped out. Not because of the unpopularity of the Coalition but because of tactical voting. Remember the BNP racked up nearly two and a half thousand votes in 2010. If Farage has the courage to stand there could be a major upset. In Eastleigh the kippers took votes from Labour too and Farage has made it quite clear that he is now gunning for Labour.

This could be very interesting.

Oh, and prepare for Mandelson to go on manoeuvres again. He and Blair will not stand by and allow their beloved project to end up as a cracked and forgotten monument in a graveyard of expectations.

The next few weeks are going to rather good fun.



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