Village people: Conspiracy corner at the Queen's Speech?

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The Independent Online

It was not Gordon Brown who called in Sir Christopher Kelly to report on MPs' expenses and staffing arrangements, but the whole traumatic business has increased the longing among some Labour MPs for a leader in whom they could have more confidence. But how can Brown be removed?

Someone who is not a "usual suspect" but a serving government minister has offered this scenario. When the Queen's Speech is put before the Commons in two weeks, large numbers of Labour MPs will fail to be there for the vote, so many that it will be defeated, Brown will have no parliamentary programme, so he will have to go.

Yes, well, there have been other conspiracies that required less co-ordination. This would be sensational, if it happens.



Ousted spouse

*There were long faces all over the Village the day Sir Christopher's report landed, but one MP, incongruously, was to be seen in the Members' Lobby, report in hand, and a beaming smile. "Everything has a silver lining," he said. "I can sack my wife. No more getting double booked for lunch by Mrs ..." To fill in the name would be cruel.

Straw and stress

*The Tories have been showing a tender concern for the special advisers employed by the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, fearing that he is exploiting them. Straw's shadow, Dominic Grieve, even put down a written question asking if the advisers had waived their rights under the European Working Time Directive, which protects employees from being overworked.

"I am told," ran Straw's written reply, "that working for me is pure pleasure and stress-free. Given how much they enjoy working for me, they have not felt the need to sign waivers." Mark Davies, one of Straw's advisers, has texted to back his boss, claiming that Straw's office is a "stress-free pleasure dome". Yeah, yeah.



Natural slap

*Years ago, when the Tory MP Eleanor Laing was speaking in the Commons in favour of lowering the age of consent for gays, she was interrupted by that grand old cauldron of moral indignation, Sir Nicholas Winterton, who demanded that she explain how anyone could justify the "unnatural" things gay men do "in terms of Christian morality".

Sir Nicholas, now 71, and due to retire after a flood of revelations about his expenses, has been outed as the Tory knight of the shire who slapped a woman MP on the bottom in a crowded Commons tea room. Kerry McCarthy, who revealed the incident, has Twittered to say the woman took "a hearty slap".

The woman says that she does not want to make any more of it, dismissing Sir Nicholas as "a silly old man". Sir Nicholas has told the Daily Mirror that he could not "categorically deny" administering the slap but he would have remembered if she had taken offence.

Nothing unnatural there, then, that requires justifying "in terms of Christian morality".

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