Diary: Gordon Brown misses the boat on radioactive issue


It has been suggested Gordon Brown has not done much since returning to Parliament as a backbench MP. I am not one to join in this Brown baiting. For the record, he made two speeches in Parliament during 2011 – one, in July, on Rupert Murdoch's bid for BSkyB, and the other in November, on Dalgety Bay , in his constituency, where there is radioactive contamination.

And there is more. He tabled 16 parliamentary questions in 2011, almost one every three weeks. This year his output has increased to three in five weeks, all about Dalgety Bay.

The most recent was to ask the Defence Minister, Andrew Robathan, who was due to visit Fife, whether he would include the contaminated sites in his travel plans. I quote Mr Robathan's reply in full: "I am, at this date, at Dalgety Bay and am visiting these sites. My office notified the Rt Hon Member's office of my visit on 19 January."

Clarkson's ex emerges from his shadow

As if, after yesterday, Westminster has not had enough of dramas arising from marriages gone wrong, they will hear more on Monday. Alex Hall, the ex-wife – and allegedly also ex-post-marital lover – of Jeremy Clarkson, is to give evidence to the Privacy and Injunctions Committee about the super-injunction he took out against her when she decided to write a book about her life in his shadow.

The absurdity of allowances ... part 2

Days after the story emerged of a Tory councillor in Surrey who picked up a £1,133 allowance for attending a single meeting, an even more egregious case involving a Labour councillor in Darlington comes to light. It is worth saying, first, that if local democracy is to work, there has to be an allowances system that recompenses councillors for the hours they put in. Some councils pay per meeting attended, but that is an incentive to invent unnecessary meetings. Others pay a flat rate, which can also produce strange results.

Darlington pays a flat rate. Mark Burton was re-elected as a Labour councillor last May, and turned up to a meeting a few days later, which lasted half hour. That was sufficient for him to claim £6,689.16 in allowances, the Darlington Advertiser reports.

Mr Burton has not been to a meeting since, because days later he was arrested for sexually abusing a schoolgirl. The police then discovered a hoard of child pornography on his computer. He has spent more than half his time as a re-elected councillor under suspicion, but his allowance was not stopped until Wednesday, when he entered a guilty plea in Teesside Crown Court.

The council leader, Bill Dixon, has called on him to pay back the allowances.

A man used to being obeyed?

Nick Clegg is not completely incapable of exerting his personal authority, to judge from the interview he has given to the current issue of The House magazine. Invited to comment on how to be a good parent, the Deputy Prime Minister replied: "I have not got tips to give because I fail on every single argument. I've got quite disciplinarian about no computer games during the week at all. So I kind of won that battle, after weeks of attrition."

He also revealed that he has just finished reading The Somnambulist, by Essie Fox – an interesting disclosure from the man who, some might say, is sleep walking his party to electoral disaster.

The wrong week to be sleeping rough

This cold spell came at a bad moment for Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes with an eye for publicity. She had arranged to spend last night sleeping on the floor of St Mary's church, in Devizes, to help raise money for the church's drop-in centre for the homeless.

"I am digging out the warm sleeping bag," she told the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. As you read this, they are probably chipping the ice off that sleeping bag.

An MP who offers unusual allegiances

John Horam is the only living person who has sat in the House of Commons as a member of three political parties. He arrived in 1970, as Labour MP for West Gateshead; he switched to the short-lived SDP in 1981, and fought and lost the subsequent election as an SDP candidate. In 1992, he popped up again as Conservative MP for Orpington. He stood down last year, aged 70. Yesterday, he re-emerged as a newly appointed commissioner of the Electoral Commission. "He brings a wealth of first-hand political experience," said Jenny Watson, head of the commission. She can say that again.

No hanging for Fawkes yet

If you were hoping to sign the blogger Guido Fawkes's petition on the Downing Street website calling for the restoration of hanging, you can't. The petition closed yesterday, 73,674 signatures short of the 100,000 it needed to have a chance of being debated in the Commons.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape