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Thursday 20th November 2014
Ministers have been advising councils to think creatively when it comes to dealing with cuts in government funding, but they probably didn’t have this in mind.
At today’s Business Statement, Tory MP Pauline Latham spoke of her disdain for one innovation from Labour-led Derby City Council: an answering machine message used to “smear” her party.
When a resident can’t get through, they hear: “Sorry we can’t get to the phone. It’s the Government imposed cuts.”
"I am appalled at this politicisation of a public service. May we have a debate on council funding and how it is used for party political purposes?" she asked.
William Hague suggested an alternative:
“Perhaps her council should have an answerphone message referring to the £5 billion that the Government have supplied for council tax freezes for five successive years in order to keep down council tax, which doubled under the previous Government. That would be a good message to send out to the whole country.”
Probably not quite as catchy.
Wednesday 19th November 2014
Nick Clegg made a mistake that politicians fighting the Rochester and Strood by-election have been dreading.
Called on his weekly radio show by someone from Stroud, Gloucestershire, the Lib Dem leader asked the caller about tomorrow's by-election - which is of course taking place hundreds of miles away in Strood, Kent.
Minutes later he conceded defeat in the by-election, telling listeners he didn't expect his party to "sweep to victory". Coincidence? Almost certainly.
Tuesday 18th November 2014
Are we witnessing a chill in one of the Coalition's more successful relationships?
Danny Alexander told reporters at a Westminster lunch today that his Tory boss, Chancellor George Osborne, keeps a lock on his fridge in the Treasury to stop people stealing milk.
"We do share things – but not the milk which to my amusement he still keeps under lock and key," the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said. "Yes, really the fridge in the Treasury kitchen is replete with a padlock – it must have been tough in St Paul’s."
But a Treasury source has attempted to cool the story, suggesting Mr Alexander may have (semi-)skimmed over some key facts. The source told PolHome: "The only fridge with a lock on is communal one - right next to Danny's office."
And now an adviser to former Treasury top man Gordon Brown has intervened with his own attempt to lower the temperature in what Dot is unilaterally dubbing #fridgegate.
"If I recall rightly, Kev put the lock on the fridge in the 2nd floor kitchen in 2006 to stop me nicking Gordon's Highland Spring," Damian McBride tweeted.
And, in what some Westminster insiders might construe as a bit of p**s-taking, the former comms chief added: "Come to mention it, Danny would've been on much safer ground if he'd said Osborne doesn't let him share his personal urinal."
Friday 14th November 2014
And who better to welcome the youngsters to their places than William Hague, the man who began his political career at 16? After a brief introduction from Speaker Bercow, the Leader of the House used his own backstory to hit back at some of the sneering and criticism thrown the way of Parliament.
“If somebody asked me today, 37 years later, would I do it again? I would say yes... you can achieve things in Parliament and politics that you cannot achieve in any other way.”
Pointing to his own piloting of the Disability Discrimination Act under the Major Government, Hague just about managed to resist mentioning Russell Brand by name as he said: “Those people who tell you not to bother, not to vote or not to take part can never achieve anything like that or achieve any positive change of any kind.”
Natascha Engel, the chairwoman of the Backbench Business committee, spoke on behalf of the Labour party and contrasted Hague’s early start in politics with what she was doing at that age:
“While William was wowing his party conference, I was busy parting company with my school on not very good terms.”
With Stephen Benn, also known as 3rd Viscount Stansgate, looking on, the floor was handed over to the young people for debates on the living wage, exam resits, careers advice, mental health provisions, and lowering the voting age.
In case they were worried their voice would not carry beyond the chamber today, Hague had a word of warning for his ministerial colleagues, saying he would ensure that they were fully appraised of today’s comments “whether they like it or not”.
Wednesday 5th November 2014