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  • Bilal Mahmood | As the PPC in Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency, Ed has taught me two important l...

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Having a pop at Popat

After making remarks last week that put him at odds with the Conservative party, the government whip Lord Popat appeared to have mispoken in the House of Lords today by calling the HS3 rail line a "floating idea".

Lord Popat made the comments in response to a written question by Lord Holmes who asked a question about the high-speed line.

"We need to unlock the economic potential of our northern cities, the cities of the north are individually strong but collectively not strong enough and therefore the floating idea of the chancellor to have an HS3 was something welcomed but we have a lot of work to do on that."

Baroness Farrington was quick to call out Lord Popat on his minor gaffe:
"The noble lord the minister confused me a little by referring to a floating idea. In the north, we like straight yes or no. Is the government committed both the Department for Transport and the Chancellor and the whole Government to meeting the needs of the north, or could it float away again after the General Election?

This is not the first time the peer has mispoken in the chamber; last week he said exit from the EU was "not an option".

 

French baiting in the Lords

How to win public support for spending money on Parliament’s artwork?

It’s a tricky question, but the House of Lords may have come across a good answer today – bash the French.  

During a question on the restoration of the murals in the Royal Gallery, which include depictions of the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar, peers decided to have a bit of fun at the expense of a certain Francois Hollande. Lord Cormack suggested inviting the French president along as guest of honour for a ceremony to mark the restoration of the works of art – an idea that got plenty of support from the rest of the House.

Sadly, Lord Sewel, the chairman of committees, said he would “tread lightly” on the plan.

Labour’s Lord West rued the focus on the Anglo-French conflicts, instead calling for a commemoration of the Battle of Jutland.

“I have noticed around the Palace of Westminster that nearly all the paintings of battles seem to be us defeating the French, which seems a little mean, considering we have fought most nations in the world.” A fair point, really.

Lord Sewel offered a very honest response: “I’m certainly going to duck that one.”

Politicians try to hit the right note with alternative bands

"I remember clearly when I first became aware of Jacques Brel's music," begins Alastair Campbell in a piece published in today's Guardian in which the former spin doctor professor his love for the French singer.

On the day of Brel's death in 1978, Mr Campbell, then a foreign exchange student in France, remembers his songs being played on a constant loop on the radio as he hitch-hiked to Nice alongside a blubbing truck driver.

Mr Campbell is of course not the first political figure to declare his admiration for a painfully hip pop star.

Tom Watson managed to disseminate the street cred of garage rock-band 'Drenge' by recommending them to his boss Ed Miliband in a letter resigning from his position as Chairman of the Labour Party.   

Tories have tried to gain to cool points with their music taste too. David Cameron has declared his affection for Lana Del Rey and The Killers, although on announcing his love of The Smiths, he was admonished by guitarist Johnny Marr who "forbid" the Prime Minister from liking the band.

Mr Campbell's former boss Tony Blair was more guarded about showing off his taste in music while in office.

The former front man of Oxford University band 'Ugly Rumours' told Shortlist that he didn't have a favourite song and lets his kids put all his music on his iPod.


 

You're my first, my last, my Energy Secretary

Dim the lights and turn on some Barry White, Lib Dem Voice blogger Paul Walter has some tender words to whisper in the ear of the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.

"On Saturday, while much of the country was enjoying the sunshine, I spent two hours studying and listening to The Right Honourable Edward Davey MP FRSA," the latest blog post from Mr Walter begins.

He then describes listening to Mr Davey at the Social Liberal Forum at Amnesty International HQ and thinking to himself: "Hey, this guy is doing fantastic, long-term stuff. Why the heck haven’t I heard about it before?”

So far, so ordinary, but the article then takes a turn reminiscent of a Mills and Boon book.

"Ed has the features of a bulldog – a big barrel chest, a thick-set neck and determined, prominent jawline. He certainly has the determination of a bull terrier, shown in the way he pursues his objectives. There, the canine similarities end," gushes Mr Walter.  

"Ed has a brilliant mind, and dazzles with a stunning recall of impressive facts, figures and arguments," the blog continues.

"In the interview, he turned a positively cherubic countenance to his questioners as he listened intently to the questions. I can imagine him going down well with civil servants in his department. He’s an extremely skilful Secretary of State."

It will be interesting to see if the Secretary of State, "cherubic countenance" and all, responds to all this flattery.

'sup JCJ?

And people thought David Cameron meeting Jean-Claude Juncker would be awkward...