Andy McSmith's Diary: Durham miners tell Yvette Cooper to go jump in the river

 

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn, as we know, was on stage at the Durham Miners’ Gala at the weekend. The other three leadership candidates were also in town, but did not appear on stage. This was not because they were tongue-tied: it is because the organisers did not want to hear them.

The Morning Star reports that a request that Andy Burnham be allowed to speak, made via an adviser, was turned down, and that an aide who made the same request on Yvette Cooper’s behalf was told: “If you swim across that river, underwater, right to the other side and you come up alive, you still won’t get an invite to the Durham Miners’ Gala.”

Dave Hopper, leader of the Durham miners, has vowed that “as long as I’m general secretary of this union, there’ll be no right-wingers here”.

Tartan Army isn’t barmy

The regimental discipline of the 56 Scottish Nationalist MPs is awesome. There were two examples in one day. On fox hunting, they announced that they would deliver 56 votes against the Government in a free vote on a matter, and the government whips, seeing that this was no idle threat, backed off to escape defeat.

Then Mhairi Black, the 20-year-old MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, delivered her maiden speech in the Commons, and the entire SNP contingent turned out in support. It was a reasonably good speech, confidently delivered, with one good joke, in which she quipped that her MP’s housing allowance made her the only 20-year-old in the UK to get help from the Chancellor finding somewhere to live. She sat down to uproarious applause, for which her SNP colleagues got a ticking off from the Deputy Speaker, Eleanor Laing.

Social media was then bombarded with SNP messages lionising the speech as if it were one of the greatest parliamentary perorations of all time. Thus a star is made, by party solidarity. One MP from that chaotic organisation that calls itself the Labour Party exclaimed enviously: “They’re a Leninist party!”

Gala pie in the face

Jeremy Corbyn, as we know, spent part of his weekend on stage at the Durham Miners’ Gala. The other three leadership candidates were also in town, but did not appear on stage. This was not because they were tongue-tied: it is because the organisers did not want to hear them.

The Morning Star reports that a request that Burnham be allowed to speak, made via an adviser, was turned down, and that an aide who made the same request on Yvette Cooper’s behalf was told: “If you swim across that river, underwater, right to the other side and you come up alive, you still won’t get an invite to the Durham Miners’ Gala.” Dave Hopper, leader of the Durham miners, has vowed that “as long as I’m general secretary of this union, there’ll be no right wingers here”.

The thought was there

“I will call a House of Commons Greek solidarity meeting of Labour colleagues this week,” the Labour MP Jon Trickett promised on Twitter. I hear the meeting was all set up, only to be cancelled when the Greek government acquiesced in the deal forced upon it in Brussels.

Where’s that again?

Jess Phillips, newly elected Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, is not impressed by the strange customs of the House of Commons, such as the rule that MPs never address each other by name but by the constituencies they represent. She told Huffington Post: “All that stupid ‘Right Honourable Gentleman’. It’s designed to make you feel like when you get it wrong, you’re some sort of stupid newbie. I don’t know where half the constituencies are, let alone who represents them.”

A return to the fold

As the Lords considered the Cities and Local Government Bill, which would create elected mayors in regions such as Greater Manchester, the Government suffered a series of defeats on points of detail. They lost one vote by 219 to 162, another by 224 to 158. What makes these votes unusual, however, is the fact that they both included Lord Hanningfield.

Hanningfield has only recently been allowed back in the building, after he was caught by a tabloid photographer going into the Lords to sign on and claim his £300-a-day tax-free allowance, and coming out 20 minutes later.

To see him actually voting is a rare privilege. On the website Theyworkforyou, the last recorded occasion on which he voted was in October 2006. That was before he was sent to prison for fiddling his expenses.

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