Justice for the Gurkhas!

Lynne Featherstone has just tweeted to say the government has been defeated on the Gurkhas vote! Back of the net!! 267 for the Liberal Democrat motion, and 247 against were the scores on the doors.

Sky report the news here:

A Liberal Democrat motion – not binding on the Government – was supported by267 to 246, a majority of 21.
It came only hours after he (Brown) explained ministers’ position that the right of residence should be restricted for Gurkhas who quit the service before 1997.
Sky’s chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: “This is an embarrassing and humiliating defeat for the Government and a great victory for the Gurkhas and those campaigning on their behalf.”


I am considerably bouyed up this morning. Indeed, one could say that my hoop is well and truly a-cock. I have received a communication from the Guardian Readers’ Editor (which in itself is cause for celebration) saying that she has checked with the Picture Editor and that they say that Alistair Darling was indeed breakfasting in No 10 Downing Street (not No 11 as printed in the caption) in the photograph on the centre spread in last Saturday’s Guardian. She will print a correction in the next few days – which will be the first time I have had a correction printed in the Guardian at my request!

Excitement, indeed.

Democrats within reach of Senate veto proof majority – again

This has been a bit of a “will they? – won’t they?” saga. That is, will the Democrats achieve a veto-proof (technically a “filibuster-proof”) majority in the US Senate and thus have a sweeping hand to implement their laws?

Last time I blogged about this, there was a possibility of a Senate seat vacancy in New Hampshire that might have gone to a Democrat. That possibility was ruled out when the vacancy became a non-vacancy.

Now Senator Arlen Specter has defected to the Democrats, so, if Al Franken finally takes his seat for Minnesota (which seems likely-ish, but the legal process to, hopefully, confirm him is painfully slow), the Democrats will get their 60 seats and veto-proofery.

You couldn’t make it up #957

Why on earth would you need some “file photos” of Air Force One anyway?

And if you wanted to show the plane flying over New York – why not photo-shop it?

Should US government money be used to involve a military jet and Air Force One on a major operation just to take a photo of it?

And if you are going to fly over New York, why the Sam Hill do it around the site of the former World Trade Center?

And if you tell the state and local authorities, why the heck wasn’t a warning broadcast to New Yorkers?

This really does come under the heading of thundering stupidity of the highest order.

Fist-waving Brown gets stroppy with opposition party leaders

A juicy account on that expenses meeting from Brendan Carlin:

Angry Gordon Brown shouted a ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatum at David Cameron over MPs’ expenses during an extraordinarily bad-tempered meeting between the party leaders last week.

The Prime Minister repeatedly waved his fist and stormed: ‘We have to get this sorted! We have to get this sorted!’

…Mr Brown’s outburst came at a strictly private meeting just hours after the Budget statement, attended by only the two leaders, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, and their respective Chief Whips.

To the Tory leader’s astonishment, Mr Brown said: ‘If you didn’t keep raising this at Prime Minister’s Questions, we wouldn’t be in this situation.’

According to sources, Mr Brown also tried to brand the Tory leader as a defender of the rich because he wants MPs to only get expenses for mortgage interest, rent and utility bills and not the infamous John Lewis list for furnishings.

Mr Brown told him several times: ‘Your proposals will only help people with big houses and big mortgages.’

Mr Cameron hit back by bluntly warning that giving MPs the same allowances but without any receipts was a disaster.

‘You will get slaughtered. You cannot propose giving people the same amount of money but with no receipts. You cannot take this to the country,’ the Tory leader replied.

After 35 minutes, to Mr Brown’s embarrassment, it was Mr Clegg who effectively called time on the meeting, saying: ‘We have been around this course enough times now – let’s stop.’

Mr Cameron left looking flushed and agitated. ‘Can you blame him? Gordon just wouldn’t listen,’ said a Tory source.

Lib Dem sources said that the Prime Minister’s manner had been ‘arrogant and bullying’.