Category Archives: Westminster village

Spectator’s £26 Gateshead event proves Tories don’t get the north


Later this month The Spectator brings the latest in its series of highfalutin Debate events to Gateshead, which as many of you will know, is in the north-east of England. The event sets out to answer the question:

“Labour has failed the north-east. Why does the north-east keep voting Labour?”

Scrapbook is happy to announce that the good people of Gateshead need not bother turning up to the meeting, because the advert for the Spectator’s hilariously out of touch event adequately answers the question.

First of all, admission to the event will cost non-subscribers a whopping £26 - which in a region with the lowest average wage in the country – £50 a week below the national average – is not to be sneezed at.

As event sponsor, the right-wing magazine couldn’t think of a better choice than City of London investment firm Brewin Dolphin. Still, we expect they do a lot of business oop north.

But the final, most serious insult – sure to enrage the residents of Northumbria and Tyneside to the point of public disorder – is their arbitrary inclusion of a huge chunk of Yorkshire in their map of the North East.

Where's the North East again?

UPDATE: Scrapbook is reliably informed that Brewin Dolphin actually does have an office in Newcastle. And one in Leeds, which presumably counts as the North East, yes?

And they wonder why the Tories can’t get traction in the North?

Is Labour’s most fiercely defended seat…the BBC This Week sofa?

Labour's most fiercely defended seat

Diane Abbott’s return to the backbenches has drawn a great deal of comment from all sides, but few have been as biting as former Labour special adviser Mario Dunn, who tweeted:

Oof. But could it be that Mario has other motivations for his jibes? Shortly after, there was a telling exchange between Dunn and the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 15.10.40

Can you guess whose special adviser Mario Dunn was? That’s right, the #manontheleft, Alan Johnson.

Is any any trophy more coveted than a place on Andrew Neil’s sofa?

MP Eric Joyce in another punch up just six days after finishing sentence

Eric Joyce fight

Former Labour MP Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has apparently been in yet another Commons bar fight less than one week after completing his sentence for a similar incident. Joyce was given a 12-month community order on March 2012 — this expired just six days ago.

The Scottish MP has refused to stand down despite being expelled from the Labour party. A source familiar with the situation in his Falkirk constituency told Scrapbook:

“People have been trying persuade him to step down but he’s having none of it. He’s even been on about standing as an independent in 2015.”

Joyce seems to have taken the maxim “fighting for your constituents” literally.

Tory MP calls parliamentary catering staff “servants”

Christopher Chope

Right-wing Tory backbencher Christopher Chope is probably wishing he had chosen his words better at Business Questions this morning:

In contrast with Andrew Mitchell’s contested “pleb” outburst, there is no denying the parliamentary record.

Fireworks again? Chris Bryant and Cameron to clash again at PMQs

Chris Bryant is number five on the order paper for today’s PMQs. Here’s what happened two weeks ago:

The exchange should be one to watch …

What happened this week at PMQs »

Westminster Hall debate on ATOS disrupted by angry spectators

A Westminster Hall debate today on the work capability assessments conducted by ATOS was interrupted by shouts from the public gallery, as a newly-promoted Chris Grayling attempted to justify the tests.

Philip Hollobone, chairing the debate, threatened to clear the public gallery as members of the public repeatedly shouted such slogans as Shame on you!andAtos kills, so do the Tories!

ATOS, as the contractor with responsibility for the work capability assessments, has borne the brunt of criticism over the high numbers of people classified as fit to work, only to win on appeal. Almost 40% of appeals, since the test’s introduction, have been successful.The firm’s sponsorship of the Paralympic games has also come under heavy criticism.

Any hopes that Grayling’s departure for the Ministry of Justice will mean a let up for the disabled are probably misplaced, as his former boss IDS will remain at the DWP.

Bad day for Osborne: reshuffle strengthens chancellor’s rivals

Despite holding onto his office in the face of massive public unpopularity, George Osborne is being counted as one of the losers of the reshuffle raffle.

The Chancellor’s goodwill amongst the Tory right has been severely flagging of late, so the strong positions of Grayling and IDS will not be welcomed in Number 11, especially after they have proved resistant to the idea of further departmental budget cuts. Additionally, Ken Clarke’s apparent “oversight” role could be seen as a threat to Osborne’s economic primacy.

Poor Gideon probably thought today would be a bit easier, compared to his night out at the Paralympics.

Stephen Pound to Sarah Teather: “You’re getting sacked tomorrow”

As the cabinet reshuffle rolls onwards, keeping the Westminster journalist pack busy on a Tuesday morning, Paul Waugh reports an interesting tidbit from yesterday’s House of Commons sitting:

And it looks like Pound’s powers of precognition are right on the money, as it seems she’s being replaced by fellow Lib Dem and disgraced former minister David Laws, at Michael Gove’s Department for Education.

Scrapbook is surprised that Teather’s razor wit wasn’t enough to save her from the chop.

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