The French speaking cuckoo in the nest who refuses to play to the Tory right

Our diarist on the curious influence of the Attorney General

Share

Dominic Grieve, the assiduous and serious Attorney-General, is threatening to supplant Kenneth Clarke as the Tory politician most loathed by the right. Yesterday, when confronted with two emotive issues, he failed to give answers which play to the popular mood.

One was the peculiar case of the imprisoned SAS soldier Sergeant Danny Nightingale, in which Mr Grieve said it would be “inappropriate” for the Government to pre-empt the decision of a Court Martial Appeal Court. That was not what the right wanted to hear.

The other was over whether prisoners should be allowed to vote, as instructed by the European Court of Human Rights. David Cameron has said that the very idea made him feel sick, whereas the Attorney-General warned MPs that defying an ECHR judgment “would be a serious matter, because it would place the UK in breach of its international obligations.” He is obviously a cuckoo in the nest, this Mr Grieve. What is more, he speaks fluent French.

Answer the phone at your peril

Gus O’Donnell, the recently retired and ennobled former head of the civil service, remarked during a presentation at the Office of National Statistics that the most important lesson for people in his position is to learn not to answer the phone. He cited the case of Sir Howard Davies, former head of the Financial Services Authority, who made the error of answering the phone last year. Now Sir Howard is chairing the commission on the future of London’s airports. What conclusions he reaches will either infuriate the airlines, or people living near the airports, or both.

The Corby MP and the Bibleless oath

A detail about the arrival in the House of Commons of the new Labour MPs Andy Sawford, for Corby, and Stephen Doughty, for Cardiff South. With hand on Bible, Doughty took the standard oath of allegiance to the Queen; but Sawford did not. He affirmed. This is interesting only because there was a persistent story during the Corby by-election that Sawford is the godson of the former Corby MP, Phil Hope. He could not be anyone’s godson for the same reason he did not take the oath: he was never baptised. It was something his Protestant father and Roman Catholic mother could not agree on.

Bercow Twitter feed: a feminist principle

One of Westminster’s most widely read Twitter feeds suddenly went off air yesterday. Those longing to share the thoughts of Sally Bercow were directed to a message saying “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist.” The tweeter in the Speaker’s house has been bedevilled by legal problems. She is being pursued for libel by Lord McAlpine for naming him on Twitter during speculation about whether there was a paedophile in the Lords, and she breached a court order by naming a child involved in an impending case. The final straw was that she was hacked in the middle of the night. It was the hacker who forced Twitter users to cope without their daily dose of  @sallybercow, though only temporarily. Her brief disappearance wrought many expressions of regret, including an over-the-top reaction from former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who wrote as if Mrs Bercow were dead – “Sally Bercow was not the Speaker. The Speaker is defined by his own actions, and his wife by her own actions…she lived out an important feminist principle.”

Sally Bercow’s Twitter musings are fun, unless you are Lord McAlpine, and she writes things her husband would never say, but whether that makes her the Mary Wollstonecraft of our time is another matter.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Business Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Buyer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
Rachel Reeves is the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary  

What are we voting for? No one knows

Stefano Hatfield
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor