Village People: Clegg's remote control
Saturday 12 February 2011
Nick Clegg earned plaudits from the former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown for his masochistic decision to appear in a television debate with an audience of 20 students.
The Deputy Prime Minister stayed calm and conciliatory as the young people, who face leaving university with debts as great as the annual fees at Westminster School, where Clegg was educated, accused him of not knowing what it was like to carry such a burden. But Lord Ashdown has said privately that he was less impressed by the way Mr Clegg reinforced the impression of remoteness by being filmed leaving in a chauffeur-driven limousine.
Drivers get the flak
The Political Scrapbook website has turned up a shocking statistic buried in a report called the Civil Service People Survey, published this month. It shows that across the entire Civil Service, the group of employees who have complained most about bullying or intimidation are the drivers who chauffeur ministers and senior civil servants hither and thither. No fewer than 23 per cent say they suffered harassment at work in the past 12 months. Who are these vile-tempered beasts venting their frustrations on their drivers?
Tale of two Oscars
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, sought to disarm the veteran MP and former star of the screen Glenda Jackson with flattery as she laid into the Government over the closure of children's centres the other day. "The Lady is passionate and I do not doubt her commitment," he said.
"Don't patronise me!" came the cry from across the Commons floor.
"The Lady has won an Oscar for being successfully patronising to others," said Gove. "Two Oscars!" came the retort. Get it right, minister.
Balls has memory slip
The shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, came over all respectful of parliamentary niceties this week as he rebuked George Osborne for announcing on the Today programme that he is taking £800m from the banks, instead of saving the announcement for the Commons. "He's trying to distract attention away in this rather unusual announcement at 7.30 in the morning, but I don't think he's going to succeed," said Mr Balls. Could this be the same Ed Balls who was chief adviser to a previous shadow chancellor, Gordon Brown, who created a political sensation in January 1997 when he announced that a Labour government would not raise the basic or top rates of income tax – on the Today programme?
Just good friends
But respect is due to Mr Balls for his absence of cowardice in describing Eric Illsley as a "good friend" on the day that the former Labour MP for Barnsley Central was sentenced to a year in jail for expenses fraud. No one in the Westminster village came forward to say anything similar about the sad ex-MP for Livingston, Jim Devine, convicted of fraud on the same day. Devine stepped into a dead man's shoes in 2005 when the former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had a fatal heart attack. There doesn't seem to be anyone who thinks he was anything but a poor substitute. One of the most scathing verdicts came from Margaret Cook, whom Robin abandoned to marry his secretary. "He was never a great favourite and I didn't feel he did a lot for Robin as his agent over the years. Jim didn't match up to Robin in any way," she told the Sunday Mail.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 3 Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 4 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 5 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Sarah Vine on Jack Monroe being a lesbian mother: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Ferguson riots: The most powerful images to emerge from protests over Michael Brown killing
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...
£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...