Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Gentleman's Club

Ben Macintyre's article in today's Times is one of the most accurate sumaries of the current expenses scandal:

The first time I went to the HOC, I remember my boss (an MP) offering to buy me a coffee and cake. I was worried, thinking my longing for a caramel short was about to put my employer down a tenner (pathetic I know!) My fear was rather shortlived when it cost less than £2, around 70% cheaper than the market price - don't you know!

On a serious note, this always struck me as odd because ultimately, it was a subsidy that the House made but it seemed to be part of a wider culture that reminded me instantly of University, where by bending the rules and knowing the right people in the Union could save you a few pounds here and there.

What I do find remarkable is the 'astonishment' the Telegraph is now projecting across the media landscape. Surely the lobby have been aware of this for years and indeed have on many occassions benefited from MP's expenses, on a scale higher than a caramel shortbread, I bet!

In 'What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics, John Lloyd accused the media of damaging the legitimacy of parliament and therefore democracy. In my eyes, the Telegraph's main aim is to destabilise the House until there has to be a change of the guard - a new, David Cameron led Parliament.

This misses the point made by Macintyre, the fact that all MP's are culpable but what he doesn't admit is that ultimately only Labour will suffer. Now you will tell me that Tories have had it just as bad, from Moats to Gardens and the the Lib Dems have too and...rubbish - we all know that it's not who is named but who it has the greatest effect on.

People may cry 'parliament is the true loser' but power will be retained and unaffected in the Palace, people will move on. The anachronistic system will modernise and Labour will be forced to cross the Chamber.

The 'Gentleman's Club' has been like a bloated game of pass the parcel and it's Gordon who won't be able to find a seat.

At least he can grab a cheap cake though if he goes quickly enough...

Friday, 15 May 2009

You will just feel a little prick...

Pitching for new business is a funny thing. Sit there with the brief and you can often draw a blank. Sit with your wife wilst she watches a programme about men's penis enlargement and you get inspiration.

Yes, it is for a prospective client in cosmetic surgery!!

Thanks honey...I think...

Monday, 11 May 2009

A dog of a day

Unusual day today to say the least. I nearly tripped up David Blunkett's dog (by accident). As some sort of doggy karma, I then fell down the escalator at Victoria.

I would like to point out that the dog was unharmed and I only suffered dented pride...

Met with a rather forward thinking 'old school' Labour MP, who talked a lot of sense about the problems Ministers have with communicating and making decisions. He said that to get policies changed, Ministers are often the last people to 'talk' to as they are so tied by their position and party line. It's a simple point often missed by lobbyists and PRs and it makes a lot of sense.

So how could this situation change? I think select committees should be given more powers and increased scope to question Ministers and hold them to account, as this could help unshackle Ministers and proivde a better insight into the workings of the Cabinet. At the moment, Ministers can just dance round them as they know thwy are ultimately powerless. The govt should also be forced to answer Committee reports within 8 weeks. I could go on but the point is Committees are one of the few mechanisms of parliament not damaged (most of the time) by party politics.

Anyhow, you will be glad to hear that the MP didn't offer me a drink and that has saved the taxpayer £1.80 in expenses...

Monday, 4 May 2009

Crunch time for Brown

Gordon Brown needs to regain control of his party before Summer recess, or he will not make Christmas. The dissenting voices are now into the realms of embarrassment and when you have Blears and Harman putting you down in public, it really is game over.

Although, as WRM says in the Times today, Labour may not have the balls to change:

I think they need a safe pair of hands to limit the damage. As a LP voter, I am all too aware that the party will lose the next election but they need to ensure public opinion isn't so badly damaged that they spend the next 3 Parliaments in the wilderness.

Sadly for Gordon, a seemingly intelligent man, that means relating to public perception - something all the Brains in Britain can't buy. That is the PM's major failing, a poor ability to judge and guess the public mood. Thus he is left to react to events whilst never truly being in control of the political or news agenda.

It should be an interesting month ahead.