“You can’t be a Trot(skyite) and an allotment holder …”!

Ex Social Democrat/Lib Dem politician David Owen on Corbyn becoming PM:

I think it’s certainly a possibility. I believe he is different person from the old Trotskyist that people thought he was. Thirteenth law of British politics, you can’t be a Trot and an allotment holder. They share things; they share their seeds and their spades and they have this narrow strip of land. And I think he has shown a likeability.


“Government accused of “sidelining” parliament by boycotting key votes”

“MPs will hold an emergency debate tomorrow in a bid to stop the Tories “sidelining” Parliament by boycotting key votes.

Theresa May was accused of “running scared” of democracy when she ordered her MPs to skip Labour bids to freeze tuition fees and give nurses a fair pay rise last month. Her majority of just 13 led to fears she would lose the non-binding votes in an embarrassing defeat. So instead she boycotted the ‘Opposition Day’ motions, meaning they passed but were not officially a defeat for the government.

Tonight Commons Speaker John Bercow granted an emergency debate on the tactic after a request by the Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael. Mr Carmichael said it had “long been the practice of governments” to respect Opposition Day debates, adding: “The government is seeking to treat this House as talking shop.”

He said the government having to prop itself up with the hard-right DUP was historic, adding: “It’s a moment for us to assert the will of Parliament, not to see it sidelined.”

The debate will last three hours and begin late tomorrow morning.”


Fake News: “I have the support of my Cabinet”

This phrase is fake news at any level – let’s take it at national and local level as an example

1. As with the national government where May chose her Cabinet, so does the Leader of EDDC. They choose people closest to them and the ones most inclined to do their bidding – it would be foolish to do anything else.

2. Cabinets are not chosen for quality – they are chosen for obedience. It’s no use May saying she tolerates Boris for not being a “yes man” as it is precisely that which has endangered her. A foolish “strategy” to follow if, like her or any other Leader, you want to cling to power. See Trump and Kim Jong-Un. You upset Trump, he fires you; you upset Kim … let’s not go there.

3. It pays to choose weak and feeble Cabinet members if you are their Leader. It strengthens your position. The downside is that you then have to forge VERY close relationships with your civil servants and officers as they are the route to getting your agenda fulfilled (or, in the case of the current government, a very close relationship with the DUP forged with a £1 billion bribe).

4. As soon as anyone hits a Cabinet, they get a vastly increased taste for power – it’s like a drug. They spend days and nights thinking about how THEY could make a better job of things. There is no such thing as loyalty to a Leader in a Cabinet.

So, when any leader says they have the full support of their cabinet – FAKE NEWS!

Where’s Hugo and Neil? Hugo adored Boris’s speech and doesn’t think politically uneducated 16-year olds should be allowed to vote, Neil is worrying about farmers and plastic bottles

Anyone caught sight of Swire or Parish at the party conference? All we have from Hugo today are a couple of tweets on his Twitter account but they could have come from anywhere – Saudi, Maldives, Mid-Devon … and tweets on protecting farmers, plastic bottles and a desperate hope for a last-ditch meeting about Axe Valley college.

But we DO know Hugo adored Boris, as he re-tweeted:

“The most barnstorming speech of the conference so far. You’ve got to give it to him!”


He doesn’t like the idea of 16 year old voters unless they learn what’s best for them in school:

“Against 16 yrs old voting but might be prepared to look at it if politics and constitutional history were compulsory subjects in schools.”

So what’s different about 17 and 18 year old voters who didn’t get inculcated at school?

Looks like the education cuts and teacher shortages mean he won’t be changing his mind soon …!

And Neil?

His tweets today have been on:

Protecting farmers:

“My piece for @politicshome @housemagazinecz on food, farming & Brexit talks. @CommonsEFRA will be ensuring @DefraGovUK stands up for farmers”

Toadying to Gove on plastic bottle deposits

90% of plastic bottles are recycled in Denmark & Germany. We need a bottle deposit scheme here too. @michaelgove is right to be in favour.


Shutting the door after the 6th form horse has bolted at Axminster Academy which has announced closure of its 6th form:

“Urgent meeting set up with @AxeValleyCC & now writing to @JustineGreening . We must find a solution for A-Level Axe Valley pupils locally.”

Conservative party severs links with all its university groups, tells you gsters to join with oldies

“The Conservatives are set to sever links with every Tory university group in the country in a bid to detoxify their brand.

A confidential internal Tory report seen by HuffPost UK calls for “risky student politics” to be moved completely out the party structures.

The recommendation comes after a series of embarrassing incidents involving student groups, including a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association burning a £20 note in front of a homeless person and Tories at St Andrews setting fire to an effigy of Barack Obama.”…


MP getting £3,000 per month from a lobbying, that’s fine – isn’t it?

David Mitchell nails it in The Observer:

“The Tory politician James Duddridge pockets £3,300 a month from a lobbying company, but don’t worry. If it were a problem, it wouldn’t be legal.

What is the advantage of letting sitting MPs work for lobbying firms? What are the pluses of that, for the country? Because we do allow it, so I’m assuming there must be some upside.

After all, there are clear advantages to many things we don’t allow: smoking on petrol station forecourts, for example. Allowing that would mean, if you’re addicted to smoking, or enjoy smoking, or think smoking makes you look cool, you could do it while filling your car with petrol, polishing its bonnet, going to buy snacks, checking the tyres and so on. You wouldn’t be inconvenienced by either the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal or a hiatus in the image of nonchalant suavity that having a fag in your mouth invariably projects.

And the same goes for those essaying auras of Churchillian defiance and grit, or Hannibal from The A-Team-style twinkly maverick leadership, to which a lit cigar clamped between the teeth can be vital, particularly if you’ve got a weak chin.

Similarly, if you’re a pipe-smoking detective of the Sherlock Holmes mould and are, perhaps, investigating a crime on a petrol station forecourt, or merely passing across one while contemplating the intricacies of a non-forecourt-related mystery, you wouldn’t have to suffer a lapse in the heightened analytical brain function that you’ve found smoking a pipe crucial to attaining. Interrupting such processes to buy petrol may cause murderers to walk free.

And then there’s the possibility that allowing smoking at petrol stations will marginally increase overall consumption, and therefore sales, of tobacco products – all the Holmeses and Churchills and Bonds will be able to get a few more smokes in before they die of cancer – which would slightly improve trade and GDP, and so create jobs.

Maybe Duddridge just pops in once a month and is a master of clearing photocopier jams.

Nevertheless, I am not, on balance, in favour of allowing smoking on petrol station forecourts. The manifold advantages are, in my view, outweighed by the several disadvantages: passive smoking for non-smoking users of the forecourt, nicotine staining of the underside of the canopy, and various others I can’t currently bring to mind.

But you’d think, in a system that flattered itself as non-mad, as I believe the British one still does, practices that are legal would be bristling with more boons for the community than those that aren’t. That’s got to be the vague rule of thumb, right? So then, what are the good things about allowing sitting MPs to take paid work from lobbying firms? What are the upsides to that?

The downsides are as hard to miss as a few hundred thousand litres of subterranean petrol suddenly exploding. Let’s take an example from the news last week. It was reported that James Duddridge, a Tory MP who was minister for Africa from 2014 to 2016, is being paid £3,300 for eight hours work a month by a lobbying company called Brand Communications.

It’s one of the few lobbying companies not to have signed up to the industry’s code of conduct, which prohibits employing sitting MPs. You may say that makes it a nasty firm, but I don’t blame it. Why would it sign up to extra rules if it doesn’t have to? That’s like volunteering to observe a lower speed limit than the one prescribed by law.

The law is absolutely fine with Duddridge’s little earner. Former ministers’ jobs just have to be approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, itself described by the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as a “toothless regulator” (these committees are so bitchy!), since it has no statutory powers of redress. Then again, as its rulings are almost invariably “That’s fine”, what powers does it really need?

Duddridge himself says it’s all legit because Brand Communications is “not a public affairs company”, but the company’s website says “James will bring his deep knowledge of Africa, experience of operating at the highest levels of government and extensive networks to Brand Communications”, which sounds a bit public affairsy to me.

But I don’t know: maybe it’s fine. We can’t know it’s definitely not fine. Admittedly, according to the Times, the head of one of Britain’s leading lobbying firms called it “an appalling example of bad practice”, and the chairman of the Association of Professional Political Consultants said, “MPs should not be lobbyists. It is wrong to be a lobbyist and make the law at the same time,” but maybe it’s still fine.

Maybe James just pops in once a month and is incredibly helpful in ways that don’t conflict with his public duties. Maybe he’s full of creative ideas, a huge boost to office morale and a master of clearing photocopier jams. And then he pops back to parliament and doesn’t think about Brand Communications until the next month, no matter what issues concerning their interests cross his desk as an MP and member of the Commons International Development Committee. Yes, maybe it’s fine.”


Tory MP doesn’t want to pay maintenance for his kids and asked questions in Parliament about his matrimonial issues

“With a taxpayer-funded MP’s ­salary of £80,000 a year, Andrew Bridgen is hardly poor. But the bleating Tory moaned to a judge about having to pay for ­Remembrance Sunday wreaths out of his own pocket so he can honour Britain’s war dead. And he reckons a bitter divorce battle with ex-wife Jacqueline, 40, has left him virtually penniless – while it is claimed he manages to pay high rent on a £2million property and lavishes gifts on new partner Nevena Pavlovic.

The 52-year-old asked a court to stop a monthly £1,100 maintenance payment to Jacqueline for their two children. He said: “On Remembrance Sunday I buy five wreaths for the five main services, I will attend three and I will read the names at all of them. “It is now de rigeur that MPs can’t put in claims for wreaths or travel. £175 on wreaths it will cost me, £200 [including travel] to be the MP of North West Leicestershire on that ­Remembrance Sunday. “Something I do gladly but which is not appreciated by the general public. “So the remuneration of an MP is not the same as if I was working for the Co-op. There are huge costs to being an MP which can never be claimed for. I have not had a holiday this year.”

But his griping sparked fury at a time when the Tory party has plunged millions of ordinary people into poverty with crippling austerity and cuts to public services and the military.

Labour MP John Mann said: “He should stop moaning. It’s a privilege to be an MP. His attitude just brings all MPs into disrepute. “He’s an embarrassment and a disgrace. I’d call on Theresa May to withdraw the Tory whip, for him to make a public apology and announce
he’s resigning.”

Colleague and Afghan war veteran Clive Lewis added: “Tory cuts have hit the armed forces hard, our servicemen and women who are suffering under the public sector pay cap probably won’t have a lot of sympathy with a Tory MP who voted for austerity having to pay for a wreath. “This just adds insult to injury.”

Bridgen, of Coleorton, Leics – who married 38-year-old Serbian opera singer Nevena in April – made his pleas of poverty during a family court hearing to try to stop ­maintenance. He claimed the split from trainee teaching assistant Jacqueline cost him more than £1million in payments to her and he had to sell his £2.2million mansion at a cut price. And he said he has forked out more than £500,000 in legal fees on the divorce.

The court heard Bridgen’s brother has frozen him out of his family farm ­business, which had netted the MP £110,000 a year. And his income fell after he lost ­chairmanship of a select committee. He said: “My personal assets run to less than £20,000 and that would be if I sold all the furniture in the house I rent. I have no car, no house and a bad credit rating. Until I am paid I have less than £200 in the bank. “My income has dropped by 70%. I fought two general elections in the last two years, where I could have lost my job, and, who knows, we might be fighting another one soon. “There is no more insecure ­employment than politics.” But that won no sympathy from District Judge Richard MacMillan who told him: “You chose to go into ­politics, Mr Bridgen.”

And Jacqueline told the hearing at Nottingham crown court her ex “chooses to live a luxury lifestyle to the detriment of our children” and she cannot bring them up properly without ­maintenance payments. She also claimed he recently bought a £3,000 ring for Nevena, transferred £2,500 to her account and spent thousands visiting her in Serbia.

She added: “The court should put the needs of our ­children above his needs. His income is ­approximately £4,000 a month and he chooses to spend over half on rent for a property that is way beyond his means. “My income is £8,000 a year while his is 10 times that. Frankly without that money I don’t know how I’m going to manage each month.

“I have spent the last 20 years being bullied and controlled by Mr Bridgen, there is no one more desperate than me to be out of his control. However, I still need the support of spousal ­maintenance payments so I can meet the needs of our children. “I have to sit here and fight and listen to the foul things Mr Bridgen has to say because I have no ­alternative to provide for my children.”

Throughout the two-hour hearing, Bridgen continually interrupted his ex-wife’s evidence. Judge MacMillan finally lost patience with his outbursts and told him: “We are not in the Commons now.” Bridgen even tried to stop the Mirror attending the hearing on Friday. But the judge said he saw no reason to exclude the press “however embarrassing it may be”.

The MP had applied to have around £5,000 in maintenance payments given back to him by his ex. Judge MacMillan refused but agreed he was not obliged to hand over £7,673 of payments he had missed this year.

The couple married in 2000 but had an acrimonious split around five years ago. The court heard Jacqueline is now living with a Mr Gittins at an address in Packington, Leics, meaning her circumstances had changed.

Perjury query weeks before court date

Andrew Bridgen wasted Government time asking questions about family courts weeks before his maintenance hearing. On September 4 he asked the Justice Secretary David Lidington : “How many people have been prosecuted for perjury in the family court in each year since 2007, by gender?”

When told the answer could only be got “at disproportionate cost”, he asked on September 14: “How many (a) men and (b) women were prosecuted for perjury in the family court in 2016?”

Outside court we asked the MP whether tabling Government questions on personal matters called into question his impartiality. He said: “It’s perfectly appropriate. I have a personal and professional interest.”