Friday, 26 June 2009

The drinks are on you

HA! I told you so! Did you take my tip last week and back Tory MP John Bercow to be the Speaker? Monday was hectic with lots of rushing around, voting and lobbying around parliament. Eventually, John beat Tory George Young by 332 votes to 271. Mr Speaker Bercow promised to kick parliament into shape and he’s made a splash already. He’s already ditched the posh robes every other Speaker has worn for about the last thousand years. He laid down the law on MPs who shout during debates. And he chaired Prime Minister’s Questions firmly on Wednesday and dumped on the MPs who were disrupting proceedings. Most MPs have welcomed Speaker Bercow. Unfortunately, a few of his OWN party got the hump because they think he’s not, well, Conservative enough. Too bad. John will be good for parliament and good for the country. He’s got the skills and dedication to do this job brilliantly. And for those of you who stuck a bet on him —you owe me a pint.
IT’S been six years since our troops went into Iraq on the British government’s orders. It’s been a long hard slog and we’ve lost a lot of soldiers along the way. So, the government announced an inquiry into how we ended up in this mess. I back our troops 100% but I backed the government’s decision ZERO per cent at the time. It was clearly going to be a mess, but I suppose there is a benefit to hearing the sorry truth behind this decision. The inquiry will look at events leading up to the invasion and why Prime Minister Blair proposed war. Unfortunately, the government announced that parts —or maybe even ALL—of the inquiry will take place in PRIVATE. Why? What are they planning? Do they want closed sessions so they can sit round the table naked? Or tell dirty jokes? No. The reason for secrecy is that they don’t want to lose control of potentially very bad news. Announcing an inquiry but not allowing the public to follow it is like saying, “Lisa Marie Bourke is stripping behind that door, but you’ll just have to take our word for it.” This is one occasion when ministers need to realise that if it’s not in public it’s not credible. And as for the conclusions, some of us could see it was a loony and doomed idea from the start. There are no prizes for being right but, tragically, many dead soldiers for being wrong.
THEY do things differently in Australia, and I don’t just mean BBQs on the beach at Christmas or winning at cricket. Their parliament is pretty different too. It all kicked off in the Aussie Senate (like our House of Lords) over senators bringing their kids in. Sarah Hanson-Young, who represents the Green Party, brought her two-year-old daughter into a debate. When the senators started voting the mini-Aussie started crying and the President of the Senate (their version of our Speaker) had the toddler kicked out. But the argument has just begun. The senators will debate next week whether “little people” should be allowed into parliament. I think we should go one step further and let British MPs bring their girlfriends and pets into parliament. That way David Blunkett’s dog – who does come in - would have some company. And when the debate gets really dull, the Daily Sport girls will provide a refreshing incentive to stick around.
THE monarchy’s getting groovy. Over at the Palace, guardsmen — one of Britain’s best traditions in red coats and bearskins — work round the clock looking after the Queen. They’ve also got some spiffingly good marching bands. And one of them hopes to hit the Big Time. The regimental band of the Coldstream Guards has joined ABBA, the Scissor Sisters and Prince in signing with Universal Records. Despite being around for 200 years, this regiment is anything but outdated. Daniel Glatma, who managed boy band Blue, is organising the lads’ gigs and recordings. He’s in for a shock. Managing a boy band has to be different from managing a brass band. And what happens if they top the charts? Lily Allen will lose her Smile, and I guess it’s back to Warwick Avenue for Duffy — and I daren’t even think what will happen to Village People.

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