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Balls' marathon effort

In what is fast-becoming an annual tradition, Ed Balls will don the leggings and run 26.2 miles on Sunday for the London Marathon.

Several of his parliamentary colleagues have sponsored him so far, including his political arch-rival George Osborne. Indeed, Osborne’s generosity might have an adverse impact on his own #longtermeconomicplan since he is claiming gift aid on his donation.

The Shadow Chancellor is raising money this year for Whizz-Kidz and Action for Stammering Children and he’s really talking up his chances ahead of the race, telling Daybreak: “I’m the slowest MP ever; but, I hope, the best fundraiser.”

The title of quickest MP is likely to be decided between Alun Cairns, who has expressed a willingness to turn to dirty tricks if it gives him an edge, and Jim Murphy, who may be well advised not to live-tweet this year’s race if he’s focusing on his time.

Dan Jarvis, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan complete Labour’s line-up, while Edward Timpson, Graham Evans and Jason McCartney are the other Tories taking part. The Evening Standard has the low-down on the MPs’ best times. 

Osborne and Leadsom: a brief history

Last autumn’s reshuffle was interpreted by some as the march of the Osborne-ites.

Two of the Chancellor’s allies climbed further up the Government’s flagpole today as Sajid Javid became DCMS and Equalities Secretary, with Nicky Morgan stepping up a rank in the Treasury and attending Cabinet as Minister for Women.

There could, however, be a slight sting in the tail for Osborne. Andrea Leadsom has been given Morgan’s old job in the Treasury.

Never one to be cowed, here are a couple of Leadsom’s best moments in the past:

On arch-rival Ed Balls’ demand for an apology from Osborne after he intimated the Shadow Chancellor might have had a role in the LIBOR scandal, Leadsom said: “I think obviously he made a mistake and I think he should apologise.”

And this Telegraph article speaks to a very robust working relationship between the Chancellor and Treasury Committee member:

“It was reported that Andrea Leadsom, the MP for South Northamptonshire, told Mr Osborne to “**** off” when he tried to dissuade her from rebelling against the Government on Monday night.”

Could this lead other MPs to take a more critical stance of ministers in the hope of joining their departments? Perhaps Peter Bone to be Nick Clegg’s No 2? 

UPDATE: 

All is forgiven... 

#CSScotland

Could this be a new feature of select committee hearings in the future?

At the beginning of today’s session with Sir Nicholas Macpherson on Civil Service impartiality and referendums, Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the PASC, kindly informed those watching that they could join the conversation by using “#csscotland”.

Watch out carefully to see if the European Scrutiny Committee pushes the #AnimalCloningtheuseofArticle352TFEU this afternoon.

How government works, by David Mellor

Nominative determinism and Cabinet appointments

It sounds like a rather strange student essay, but if one former Culture Secretary is to be believed, a person’s name is more influential than most would think.

David Mellor has just told Sky’s Murnaghan programme:  

“There is no reason to think Maria Miller knows much about culture, media or sport. She was put in, apparently, because she was going to be Welsh Secretary because she was born in Wales and they thought ‘Maria’ didn’t sound Welsh enough, it sounded more like the West Side Story. So a Welsh MP was put in as Welsh Secretary and she gets put into Culture, Media and Sport. I think at that point, you have to ask yourself: what’s all this fight about?”

Osborne goes cockney. Again.

“Yeah…. I think it’s gonna be great, innit?” - the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Second Lord of the Treasury.

Having dallied with a cockney twang last year, perhaps the sheer resilience of the new £1 coin overcame George Osborne when he was visiting the Royal Mint this morning.

ITV has the video in all its glory here