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.
Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...
£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experie...
£100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...