Cabinet Ministers in the Lords should face questions in the Commons, says the new Speaker, John Bercow. Good on him. September recess should not be sacred, he adds. I agree with that too – my committee has met twice in the last month.
Entries from September 2009 ↓
“In an exclusive Evening Standard interview, the former home secretary said Mr Brown should consider standing down, perhaps citing ill health, adding: “I think his own dignity ought to look to that kind f solution.” says Joe Murphy in the Evening Standard.
I don’t want to disappoint Joe but the only thing that would actually make this story a;news and b; exclusive, would be if Charles had given an interview begging Gordon Brown to stay.
The first date I could find an newspaper story that had Charlie calling on Gordon to go was 9th April 2008. Incidentally, it was a news story by James Kirkup in the Telegraph. James seems to have dusted down exactly the same story today. It’s made the front page lead story on the Telegraph web site (again).
A quick Google news search for the phrase ‘”charles clarke” “gordon brown” resign’ yields a mere 15,700 news stories relating to Charles Clarke calling on Gordon Brown to resign. I am not sure how many of these stories were exclusive.
Only 3020 of these news stories relate to Charles calling on Gordon resigning with dignity. 5,140 Charles Clarke/Gordon Brown stories mention resigning for the “good of the party”. 5,300 stories relate to Charles calling on Gordon to resign because “he’s not my friend”. I made that last one up.
I think it is fair to say that Charles Clarke would like Gordon Brown to resign.
It’s such a shame that the first genuine website to take the daily cross-party temperature on the issues of the day has had to effectively end this way. PoliticsHome has been bought by Conservative Party vice-chairman Lord Ashcroft, prompting the resignation, with honour, of Editor-in-Chief Andrew Rawnsley.
In Andrew’s words:
“I became editor-in-chief on the basis that PoliticsHome was dedicated to being a non-partisan site clearly independent of any party both editorially and financially,” said Rawnsley, who is associate editor and chief political commentator of the Observer.
“It was essential for users of the site that they could feel absolute confidence in the political independence of PoliticsHome. I do not believe that can be compatible with being under the ownership of the deputy chairman of the Conservative party.”
“I therefore greatly regret the decision made by Stephan Shakespeare, the chairman, to do a deal which places PoliticsHome under the ownership of Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party. The site has been folded along with ConservativeHome into a new entity in which Lord Ashcroft is the majority shareholder.”
I’ve resigned as a panel member too. I’m certain that I won’t be the only one. What a great shame.
I think I may have mentioned Brief Lives by Alan Watkins before.
There’s an hilarious passage on Auberon Waugh that I must share with you.
“He did his national service as a subaltern in the Royal Horse Guards and was sent to Cyprus. One day he noticed and impediment in the elevation of the Browning machine gun in his armoured car, and resolved to investigate it. He moved to the front of the gun, seized it and wiggled it up and down, whereupon it started to fire bullets into him. He survived, but lost a lung, his spleen, several ribs and a finger. As he was lying on the ground, waiting for the ambulance, he said to his platoon sergeant, a parachutist from Bristol called Chudleigh: ‘kiss me, Chudleigh.’ Chudleigh, however, did not spot the reference, and afterwards treated Waugh with suspicion and reserve…..It was believed by some that he had been fired on by his own troops – similar stories were told about his father – and also that he had lost a testicle, but both these tails were convincingly denied by Waugh”
I’m still laughing, days after reading that passage.
I mentioned that the government had decided not to take powers that might oblige political parties to use electoral imprints in the online space. Well Mark Pack has excelled himself in coming up with a draft set of principles for digital electoral imprints. You can find the draft proposals over at the Wardman Wire. I’m going to mention this to the General Secretary of the Labour Party next time I see him. It strikes me that if Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems sign up to a common set of principles it will have a positive effect on the type of online campaigns that are considered acceptable by voters and members of political parties.
Labour matters points to a recent news story by Cathy Newman of Channel 4 news. In it, she covers a speech by George Osborne describing how he is going to make “Tory Whitehall learn from Tory Town Halls” and points to Hammersmith and Fulham Council as an example.
Have a look at Ms Newman at about 1.14 seconds in the news story on the Labour matters web site. She’s talking about planning gains from the Westfield centre and is filmed in a new library saying: “It would have cost 2.2 million to build… but taxpayers didn’t pay a penny of that…. private developers paid for a new library and two new train stations…. Well this library’s proof, the Tories say, that the public sector can get more bang for it’s buck. And when you look at all the gleaming glass and steel and think that the taxpayers got all this for free, it’s very hard to complain”
Yes, very hard to complain. Except says Labour matters, the deal to build the Westfield centre was signed by a Labour authority. So, as Labour Matters suggests, either the Tories hoodwinked Cathy Newman when briefing her or she’s willingly broadcast a misleading story.
Has Nick Clegg asked the MPs for Montgomeryshire and Orkney & Shetland what they think about reducing the number of parliamentary constituencies to 500?
Yes, it’s true. Floella Benjamin is a Lib Dem. There goes another piece of childhood innocence.
As Steve Bell is bound to do it anyway, I might as well be the first to ask for the photoshopped images of Vince Cable and Nick Clegg and Big and Little Ted, Charlie Kennedy as Humpty Dumpty and Sarah Teather as Jemima. Not sure who should play Hamble though?
The best one submitted gets a copy of The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History (Oxford History of Art)
Those that know me will understand why I might shudder at reading the BBC report claiming that the electoral commission will not be able to police the expected explosion in spoof videos at the next election.
I think politicians can probably live with it, but there is a slightly more worrying matter.
Mark Pack of Lib Dem fame has recently highlighted the problem of electoral imprints when it comes to the internet and, in particular, social networking sites like Facebook.
As Mark says:
“….the general principles of election imprints on printed items are clear and widely followed, which is why you frequently see leaflets with wording such as “Printed, published and promoted by Mark Pack on behalf of William Woodings (Liberal Democrats), both at 17 Lever Arch View, London, N1 3AH”.
“However, it’s far from clear how these rules should be applied to the online world. The question of emails and websites is moderately straightforward, in that they have space for a full imprint and you can interpret the “printer” required on leaflets to mean the computer firm that hosts the website or provided the email server used to send messages.
“It becomes less straightforward for social networking services, where it is often either hard to find somewhere to put suitable information (e.g. is putting an “imprint” on the non-default tab on a Facebook page acceptable?) or where there are problems over the length of messages involved (e.g. you can’t really expect a full imprint in each tweet).”
The good news is that the law allows the Secretary of State to take powers that will allow rules to be drawn up to clarify what should be done with imprints in the digital space. The bad news is that six years after the electoral commission pointed out the problem, the powers have still not been used.
I’m going to write to Jack Straw to ask him to sort it out. It strikes me that between us, we could knock up a set of guidelines quite quickly. I nominate Mark to get the ball rolling with a draft. Anyone else got ideas?
This might not please my fellow scrutineers of the BBC on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee nor my friends in the Government for that matter, but I quite like it when the BBC flexes a bit of muscle. And that’s exactly what Mark Thompson has done today, with a no holds barred speech to delegates at the Royal Television Society in Cambridge this afternoon.
Here’s his opening paragraph on the Murdochs:
“I want to start with a few words in defence of that highly but also I’m afraid much and misunderstood public institution, the Murdoch family.
“In many ways, if your name’s Murdoch you can’t win. Every time you open your mouth, people start looking for a hidden agenda. Institutional self-interest. A secret plan to influence current or future political leaders. A lust for world domination.
“Almost no one takes what you say at face value. As Director-General of the BBC, I can’t imagine what that must be like.
“Well, in my view James Murdoch meant every word of his MacTaggart lecture. Admittedly, it can’t be a complete coincidence that every proposal in it is fully aligned with the economic interests of News Corporation. Nonetheless I’m quite certain that he said what he said not because of that, but because he genuinely indeed passionately believes that his ideas, if adopted, would lead not just to a better media sector but a better world.”
And here’s his opening riposte to Ben Bradshaw:
“There was much in what Ben said last night that I could agree wholeheartedly with. His pride in the public service journalism he’d been involved in himself – and which he knows audiences here and around the world still trust and depend on. His scepticism about whether market-solutions alone can deliver the quality, range and plurality that the British public deserve. His determination to build a strong and balanced creative sector for the UK.
“But there was plenty that was frankly puzzling as well. He set out a long list of the current BBC public services. By the way, I don’t know many broadcasters who haven’t launched multiple services over the past decade. But with one or two exceptions, these new BBC services weren’t approved by the BBC Trust. They were approved by the Government of which Ben is a member. Indeed, the Government asked the BBC to launch a range of new services to help with their policy of encouraging the public to move to digital television and radio. Ben’s surprise at these services is itself surprising.”
I don’t agree with everything the BBC does but I admire their spirit for the fight. I also find these debates insular and a little cliquey. Still, once you’re in a fight, you’re in. And the BBC is now well and truly, in.
The Beeb have written up their own story about plans to encrypt certain information from set top boxes. They’ve quoted my blog post for a few days ago. For completenes, I feel should say that I should have added an update to the blog a few day ago. I never got round to it and didn’t expect the issue to become a news story today. So, I’ve updated the post that you can read again here.