Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Gordon's trickery backfires on him

Share
Related Topics

You could tell Gordon Brown thought he was being particularly cunning by that smile he can't quite suppress. We've seen it twice recently.

First when the Chancellor announced they were matching Tory inheritance tax plans (that worked well, as we remember). The second was prompted by Gordon's declaration there would be days and days and days of scrutinising the European Treaty. He assumed he could rerun the Maastricht debates which damaged the Tories so.

As ever, when Gordon gets tricky it backfires on him. Jim Murphy was the poor fellow who failed to carry the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill through committee. Both oppositions dismantled his arguments and dismantled him a little in the process. It's happening again, a bit.

He's such a nice fellow we had to watch parts of it between our fingers. He was so far off-beat that he managed, as William Hague said, to effect a reconciliation between Ken Clarke and Bill Cash (shouts of laughter from all parts of the House, even from the minister).

The Government's promises for unparalleled opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny were, frankly, demolished by both sides. Gwynneth Dunwoody's question dominated the next two hours. Why was there nothing particularly about transport?

Why was so much time being given to these nebulous themes and so little to amendments?

Committee procedure had been reversed. It was this that gave Ken Clarke common cause with David Heathcote Amory. There was going to be no line-by-line scrutiny of the treaty; instead there would be long, windy, all-over-the-place discussion on these wretched "themes". Yes, Bill Cash came in. Amendments deal with the implementation into UK law, and these general discussions were concerned with policy. "In committee we are not concerned with policy." Cash, Clarke and Heathcote Amory. The Tories revive the three-in-a-bed scandals of yesteryear.

The cunning scheduling has reduced scrutiny from 20 days to 14 and, in theory, steered potential embarrassment from the Government to the Opposition. But their programme motion seems to have pushed the Liberal Democrats on to the Tory lobby. That is the scale of Gordon's achievement.

The cunning plan took a further battering on the question of the suspension of Standing Order 24. There's not enough room here to plumb the full depth of my ignorance on this subject. Suffice it to say it passed powers from Mr Speaker to the Government and was "a very severe erosion" of parliamentary power. Civil servants scribbled, notes flashed to and fro, points of order were raised in all parts of the House, and poor old Jim could only gaze calmly out over the shambles of Tory solidarity.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried