27 April 2012
The weekly WHIP: 27 April 2012
Leveson and Hunt
James and Rupert Murdoch's appearance before the Leveson Inquiry set the cat among the pigeons and the twittersphere went into a spasm hunting Jeremy Hunt. Emails between his advisor and the chief lobbyist for News International led to the adviser in question promptly resigning but Hunt maintains his own innocence.
Dennis Skinner in his own inimitable style harangued the secretary of state for culture media and sport when he appeared at the despatch box to answer the charges against him: "When posh boys are in trouble, they sack the servants".
This week's revelations appear to have dented Hunt's prospects as a future contender for leader of the Conservative Party, and even if he weathers this current furore, recent reports suggest he may not have a department for too much longer. What until recently may have been a cunning device to aid his promotion may now become an excuse to make him redundant.
Three years after the country formally clambered out of recession, it has slipped back in, with initial results from early 2012 showing the economy continuing to shrink. Labour politicians led by Ed Miliband attacked the government insisting the pain they are inflicting is not working.
Somewhat predictably the calls for Cameron to cutback on the cuts were countered by those on the right of his own party, suggesting more cuts were needed. Led by Liam Fox who, in his new found freedom having had to resign last year, called for a slackening of employment regulations, backed further cuts and blamed the Liberal Democrats for getting in the way of economic recovery.
Considering this is the last week of a two year parliamentary term you'd have thought the government have had all the opportunity they needed to introduce the legislation they wanted. The Olympics taking place this summer are hardly a surprise either. But in the last few days of the session, the government are using emergency legislation procedures to deregulate Sunday trading laws to maximise business when the games take place.
The Lords considered the measure this week and if all goes according to the government's plans, it will be completed on Monday. In the Lords debate the Bishop of Bath and Wells spoke out against the proposals; speaking about the need for a common day off he said: "The number of people who can share a common day of leisure forms a critical mass below which many of our voluntary institutions cannot survive".
Appearing in slightly unorthodox attire Russell Brand gave evidence to the home affairs select committee this week on drug decriminalisation. If the vest, chains and hat were not to your taste, his repost to the MP asking him to hurry up as time was running out may well have been his most valuable contribution: "Time is infinite. You can't run out of time."