Category Archives: Labour

MP tells Commons: “I’m a practising fruitcake” in mental health debate

A debate on mental health yesterday saw brave speeches from both sides of the Commons. But the quote of the week has to go to Tory MP Charles Walker, who described his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder to his colleagues as follows:

“I am delighted to say that I have been a practising fruitcake for 31 years.”

He continued (full speech):

“I operate by the rule of four. So I have to do everything in evens … I have to wash my hands four times. I have to go in and out of a room four times. My wife and children often say I resemble an extra from Riverdance as I bounce in and out of a room.”

Walker was joined by Labour’s Kevan Jones, who revealed his difficulties with depression (full speech). Both were praised for their “historic” speeches by mental health campaigners.

Doubtless some MPs still have something to learn, however, with allegations of anti-disability mockery directed at Ed Balls (for his stammer) and Paul Maynard (cerebral palsy) in recent memory.

Theresa May announces investigation into Olympics security company

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) have launched an investigation into a company contracted to supply fire marshals for the Olympic games, Political Scrapbook can reveal. In a letter (below) to John Prescott, home secretary Theresa May said that Close Protection UK (CPUK) would be probed after unpaid workers were forced to sleep rough in central London before the Jubilee river pageant.

Prescott had argued that the revelations about the company and its owner Molly Prince appeared to show a breach by CPUK of 2.4.2(f) of the SIA Approved Contractor Status Terms and Conditions of Approval, which states a contractor can have approved status removed if it is “found no longer to meet the fit and proper person criteria applied by the SIA.”

Speaking to Political Scrapbook, Prescott said:

“I now await an urgent response from my letter to LOCOG requesting an investigation into how CPUK were appointed to a reported £850,000 fire marshalling contract for the Olympic venues and the company’s competencies to deliver it.”

“I believe the safety of spectators, staff and competitors is of the utmost importance and we need to be assured that CPUK can deliver this.”

This is further to an existing inquiry by the Prospects Group, the company responsible for running a government workfare programme in South West England, into both CPUK and the charity Tomorrow’s People which was involved in organising the jubilee workfare placements with CPUK.

But a report commissioned by the SIA into their Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) showed that it was a laughing stock within the industry. Security managers were quoted saying that the tick-box system was unenforced and “incredibly easy” to pass, with one saying: “To apply for ACS all you need to do is cut and paste from [security companies] G4S and Mitie and you’ve got it.”

The report may also offer some explanation as to why 2012 organisers went with the CPUK bid — thought to be “significantly more competitive” — when it only provides fire marshals in comparison to trained firefighters offered by competitors:

“Small companies can now go into a tendering process with a tick next to SIA licences and a tick next to ACS, which are the same ticks as [Company X]. Whereas in reality [Company X] is much better. So contracts are going to the cheapest companies.”

The gold medal for cutting corners goes to …

Read Theresa May’s letter in full »

Dodgy statistics minister Grant Shapps proves that he can’t count

Grant Shapps has been accused of misleading parliament and breaking the ministerial code by making up  housing statistics as he goes along. His series of blunders include claiming housing stock decreased by 45,000 under Labour, then saying it was 200,000.

Spinning Shapps also told parliament the number of new builds in England rose by 25% in 2011 compared to 2009 — attempting to cover-up official figures showing they were actually down 4% from the previous year.

Taking to Twitter to hit back at Jack Dromey MP, who has complained to the UK Statistics Authority, the best Shapps could do was bleat that a Labour Party press release had referred to him as “minister for Daybreak.

Perhaps the publicity hungry minister should have checked his own Twitter account, where he has bragged about being on the programme at least three times:

David Cameron’s inability to count is obviously contagious.

Candidate photoshops his Jewish mother out of leaflets for non-Jews

A United States congressman fighting for re-election has been caught photoshopping his Jewish mother out of a picture on leaflets going to non-Jewish voters. Voters with Jewish surnames in California’s 27th congressional district would receive a leaflet with Brad Sherman’s smiling mother — but others received a version in which she had been digitally removed.

The cynical gaffe recalls an incident in 2007 in which the culture secretary James Purnell was (badly) edited into a photo call. Purnell turned up too late for the photoshoot outside Thameside hospital — so agreed to, erm, pose for a snap which would be merged with the original.

If only government ministers could be airbrushed away so easily.

Angry Cameron calls Ed Balls a “muttering idiot” during PMQs

David Cameron was reprimanded by the Speaker during PMQs this afternoon — after calling Ed Balls a “muttering idiot”.

“… using our hard-won credibility, which we wouldn’t have if we listened to the muttering idiot sitting opposite me.”

Marking the return of his Flashman tendency, opprobrium heaped on Cameron has been greater as Ed Balls suffers from a stammer.

Naturally, the Chancellor led the boorish cries of “More, more!”

Leveson Inquiry QC asks questions about Political Scrapbook

This morning saw Political Scrapbook raised at the Leveson Inquiry, with Tom Watson forced to deny he was part of the “management” of this website — a ridiculous notion to anyone with knowledge of the UK blogosphere.

The questions asked by Robert Jay QC were put to the inquiry by a core participant — an individual accorded special rights to view witness statements and suggest lines of questioning.

The bizarre exchange left the Scrapbook office wondering which core participant we have offended such that they would put these questions to the inquiry.

We’ve obviously been ruffling some feathers somewhere.

More: Full list of core participants »

Speaker orders Jeremy Hunt to face Parliament over BSkyB fiasco

John Bercow has effectively skewered Jeremy Hunt’s weak delaying tactics over his BSkyB bid fiasco — in which he has attempted to use the Leveson Inquiry as a ruse to dodge awkward questions from MPs.

Harriet Harman raised the following point of order in the Commons moments ago:

“it is in order for the Secretary of State to say that he won’t answer questions from Honourable Members because he’s going to tell Leveson”

“whether  it is in order for the Secretary of State to say he won’t place documents in the Library because he’s giving them to Leveson.”

The Speaker has spoken: Jeremy Hunt is accountable to Parliament and not Leveson.

More: Clegg backed delaying tactics this morning »

Ed Miliband dodges the bullet

Miliband’s opponents on both sides of the chamber were hoping that today would be the moment things got very sticky for the Labour leader (see this cartoon from ConHome).

But with the SNP failing to snatch Glasgow City Council and and Ken Livingstone’s defeat balanced by a strong showing on the London Assembly, Miliband-aligned Labour sources are digging their heels in: “None of those looking to destabilise Ed can deliver the change the party needs.”

Or as one Glasgweigan MP put it:

“This is astonishing. The SNP have been well f**ked!”

No wonder David Cameron wants to talk about porn.

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