Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Media foxed by 'police brutality'

The inherent middle class prejudices of the media were highlighted today by the treatment of the pro-hunt protesters. Sky have described the protests - which climaxed with thugs smashing champagne bottles over the heads of officers - as overwhelmingly peaceful. The fresh-faced (white) men who broke into the Chamber will also no doubt be praised for highlighting the lax security in the Commons. Reporters have described their disdain for the police overzealousness in dealing with the protesters. Funny, these sorts of sympathies are not expressed when the (much scruffier) protesters are demonstrating against issues that actually matter - such as the war or globalisation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Women's Lobby Football

The woman in the lobby have come up with a name for their team: the Polichix. They may not be much good on the pitch but they still deserve a medal for tolerating gags about whether they swap shirts after a game.

Changing Rooms

The Daily Mail's political editor, David Hughes, is handing over the reigns to the Telegraph's Ben Brogan.
Where does that leave Paul Eastham, his current,er, eccentric deputy?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Safety up for auction

An insider has told WestminsterSpy that the tickets given to the Fathers 4 Justice attackers were in fact obtained through a charity auction.

So the well-meaning Baroness Golding sold off the tickets to the highest bidder - not realising she was auctioning off our safety.

Although those briefing said it was against all parliamentary rules to flog tickets to the gallery, it has apparently been standard practise and was perfectly acceptable under the old rules.

Purple Rain

What a climax to a cracking good PMQs. It was already shaping up to be one of the more exciting jousts when a couple of brainless protesters chucked two 'missiles' into the Chamber. The pair were from Fathers 4 Justice - but the one who hit Tony Blair square between the shoulder blades from some considerable distance would be better fielding for England cricket.

Purple powder descended on Labour MPs and Ministers as Blair bowed his head. His spin doctor claims he wasn't shaken - or even stirred. His parting shot to Howard as he left the Chamber was, "Michael, I promise you I didn't arrange that. " While Howard hit back, "For once I believe you."

Labour MPs who claim that Howard was too frightened to continue with Prime Minister's Questions are just causing mischief.

Pity Baroness Golding though who has to give an apology to MPs and explain to the Speaker why her guests launched an attack in the Chamber.

IDS was railing that the security procedures were bonkers. We should have all been kept in there in the Chamber, with the doors sealed, in case it had been a chemical attack.

David McLean, on the other hand, was waving his arms and cane about in the Chamber, yelling at everyone to get out.

It will be a shame if this triggers further restrictions for public access to the Commons.

So much for security screens.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Get ready for jobsharing MPs and e-voting on Bills

Labour's Swindon South MP, Julia Drown, has suggested that the MPs be allowed to jobshare to entice more women to the Commons.

There would still be one vote per constituency but the two MPs could 'just work it out among themselves' as to who got to vote on what. Drown insists that most MPs agree on '90 per cent' of policies. Really?! Does Iraq, tuition fees or foundation hospitals ring a bell?

Drown also suggests that MPs be allowed to vote electronically so they can spend more time in their constituencies or at home. Has she read a copy of the Foreign Secretary's speech? Jack Straw will tonight point to Estonia - one of the first countries to conduct Cabinet meetings via teleconferencing.

What will they think of next to lure more women to politics? A request to allow breastfeeding in the Chamber? Er, she suggested that a few years ago too. Deputy Speaker John McWilliam put forward a compromise - why not allow the lactating MPs to engage in debates via a live videolink?

Eyebrows were raised about just what kind of telly McWilliam liked to watch in his spare time, but he assured smutty minded sceptics that images of breasfeeders would not be beamed into the Chamber.

Adam Ingram - Can't Shoot the Messenger

Beleagured Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram is under pressure to explain why he - perhaps inadvertently - misled MPs when he denied ever seeing reports from external agencies about British troops' treatment of Iraqi prisoners.

Could this be why he is due today to announce a 'programme of events' to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar - although the actual 200th anniversary does not fall until next year? Punters are putting their money on Mr Ingram announcing an extra Bank holiday for next year.

And who can sack a Minister who announces that? Especially just weeks before an election in which Labour are expected to get a pasting.

The feel good factor may be shortlived as Ingram is expected to face the Commons to explain why he did not believe he had read any reports about British troops behaviour - despite signing a thank you note to Amnesty International for their warnings.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon kindly volunteered him to front up, although yesterday Number 10 said Ingram had already explained that he had been referring to the Red Cross report, which he genuinely had not read, and had already explained this in a letter to his Opposite number...

With a summer reshuffle coming up, it could be curtains for (Buf)Hoon.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Number 10's afternoon briefing to Lobby hacks was lively as ever today with journalists demanding to know who knew what when following Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon's admission that no ministers were present at a meeting with the International Red Cross.

Downing Street dutifully put their briefings on the PM's website every day, (albeit hours after the event) although they claim that they do not produce verbatim accounts due to resource constraints.

It will be interesting to see what version of events they give for today's afternoon briefing. A huddle was held in the press gallery, with a Number 10 press officer holding a microphone up to the PM's official spokesman. It appears the arm ache was for nothing as he had forgotten to press the record button.

The red-faced press officer was forced to ask hacks for their tape - or rely on their accounts of the briefing.