Andy McSmith's Diary: Ed Miliband loses control of his MPs – but few notice

 

Amid the tsunami of coverage this week of the controversies over press regulation and the Budget, the national newspapers and broadcasters missed the fact that Ed Miliband temporarily lost control of his MPs.

He and the Labour Shadow Cabinet had agreed to back a piece of retrospective legislation rushed through by the Government after two claimants who were forced to do unpaid work, the science graduate Cait Reilly and unemployed lorry driver Jamieson Wilson, won a court judgment against the Department of Work and Pensions, which could have cost the Government £130m in rebates to a quarter of a million other jobseekers.

But 44 Labour MPs defied Miliband to oppose the legislation, and they were not all "usual suspects". They included the former Chief Whip Nick Brown and John Healey, who took second place in the 2010 Shadow Cabinet elections but is now on the back benches. One of the older rebels, who never stepped out of line during the Tony Blair years, said: "Ed Miliband is the leader and I'm loyal to him, and when he is good, he is good: but this was shocking. It shows very bad judgement."

Miliband can thank his good fortune it all happened when the pack of political journalists had its attention focused elsewhere.

A gay old day with Robert Mugabe

The batch of papers released today by the Margaret Thatcher Archives Trust offer an entertaining insight into the changing meaning of words. Among them is a handwritten letter to Thatcher, dated May 1982, from Winston Churchill's son-in-law, Christopher Soames, saying: "Thank you for including us in your luncheon for Robert Mugabe. We had a fairly gay table, under Denis's auspices.…" A younger man would not have put it like that.

He's the man with no name

Ed Balls is the latest to fall foul of that odd rule that MPs are not allowed to address one another directly or refer to each other by name in the debating Chamber. Jim Sheridan, the Labour MP who wants "parasite" journalists banned from Parliament, was ticked off a few days ago for saying "you" when he should have said "the Prime Minister". Today, it was the shadow Chancellor's turn to be rebuked, for saying "a long line of past Chancellors. Philip Snowden, Norman Lamont, and now George Osborne."

He apologised and corrected himself, saying, "Philip Snowden, Lord Lamont and now Chancellor Osborne", whereupon he was shouted down by Tory MPs, and had to apologise anew. With the third attempt, he got it right.

A distinct odour on the front bench...

There was a mysterious message on Twitter today from the Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, deputy Leader of the Commons: "Relieved to hear that the smell on the front bench isn't caused by corpse of friendly Commons mouse but the result of a scout being unwell." Enough information, I think.

A second run of sorts for Lord Archer

There have been rave reviews for the play This House about the antics of the whips' office in 1974-79, which recently moved from the Cottesloe to the Olivier auditorium at the National Theatre. Jeffrey Archer was spotted at the Olivier this week. While others in the audience roared with laughter at the sharp one-line gags, Lord Archer sat quiet, unmoved, and did not so much as titter. Yet there must be something about the play that he likes, because he has seen it before – when it was on at the Cottesloe. If the young Archer had been a better businessman, he could have been in the Commons through the period that the play covers. He was elected a Tory MP in 1969, but gave up his seat at the October 1974 general election when it appeared that bankruptcy loomed. Perhaps it was sorrow over what he missed, or maybe it was relief, that stopped him laughing.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living