Bernard Manning, R.I.P.

The Pakistani parliament mourns the passing of the politically-incorrent comic and David Miliband co

Of the Queen’s Honours list, Reactionary Snob noted: “If you listened very carefully you could actually hear Blair pulling out the pin of the hand grenade last week... this was going to cause a shitstorm, and a shitstorm it has caused.”

He was of course highlighting the decision to honour Salman Rushdie. Reactionary Snob goes on to take apart Pakistan’s religious affairs minister’s condemnation of the honour in language too graphic to be repeated here, though still worth a look.

Over at Times Online, Daniel Finkelstein called the decision to knight Rushdie a “bold and correct one” and has emailed a petition off to the Number 10 Downing Street website. He said: “I think it is important that we show that we are not prepared to be cowed by this sort of threat.”

The petition will be put up as soon as it is accepted and reads: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to accept our congratulations for recommending to the Queen that Salman Rushdie receive a knighthood.”

Iain Dale's reaction to the furore was entitled “Salman Rushdie Does Not Deserve a Knighthood But He Must Keep It” and concluded with a bold statement: “Perhaps our response should be to cut off all our millions of pounds of aid to Pakistan until this minister is sacked from the Pakistani government.”

Another controversial figure who made the blog discussion boards this week was Bernard Manning - who wrote in his own obituary he was pleased he was not going to the same place as “the po-faced, politically-correct brigade.”

Following Manning's death on Monday, Obsolete wrote: “On hearing of the sad news, the Pakistani parliament immediately adjourned the session and called for a motion on declaring an official day of mourning, which was passed unanimously. The Pakistan religious affairs minister, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, was one of the first to eulogise about Manning's demise:‘He may have been politically incorrect, but at least he didn't BLASPHEME like that bastard Rushdie. I call for any suicide bombers who might have thought of targeting Manning's funeral to instead hold their laughter.’”

David Miliband launched Defra’s Carbon Calculator this week, with a short movie explaining how it was done. He also honestly provided us with his results: “My individual footprint (for personal not ministerial energy, electrical appliances and transport) came out at a respectable three tonnes, though when the rest of the family were included we were a bit above average thanks to a couple of long-haul flights.”

Unfortunately, Defra seem to have under-estimated the amount of interest in carbon calculation as too many people tried to use it and the server crashed. I wonder if it can calculate just how much energy was wasted by PCs trying to access the site.

Alun Davies AM has been recruiting Welsh politicians for the annual Parliamentary Shield – a football match played between political representatives of the Home Nations, sponsored by McDonald's. Check out Blamerbell’s fantasy Welsh team here.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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The SNP thinks it knows how to kill hard Brexit

The Supreme Court ruled MPs must have a say in triggering Article 50. But the opposition must unite to succeed. 

For a few minutes on Tuesday morning, the crowd in the Supreme Court listened as the verdict was read out. Parliament must have the right to authorise the triggering of Article 50. The devolved nations would not get a veto. 

There was a moment of silence. And then the opponents of hard Brexit hit the phones. 

For the Scottish government, the pro-Remain members of the Welsh Assembly and Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, the victory was bittersweet. 

The ruling prompted Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to ask: “Is it better that we take our future into our own hands?”

Ever the pragmatist, though, Sturgeon has simultaneously released her Westminster attack dogs. 

Within minutes of the ruling, the SNP had vowed to put forward 50 amendments (see what they did there) to UK government legislation before Article 50 is enacted. 

This includes the demand for a Brexit white paper – shared by MPs from all parties – to a clause designed to prevent the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation rules if a deal is not agreed. 

But with Labour planning to approve the triggering of Article 50, can the SNP cause havoc with the government’s plans, or will it simply be a chorus of disapproval in the rest of Parliament’s ear?

The SNP can expect some support. Individual SNP MPs have already successfully worked with Labour MPs on issues such as benefit cuts. Pro-Remain Labour backbenchers opposed to Article 50 will not rule out “holding hands with the devil to cross the bridge”, as one insider put it. The sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas, will consider backing SNP amendments she agrees with as well as tabling her own. 

But meanwhile, other opposition parties are seeking their own amendments. Jeremy Corbyn said Labour will seek amendments to stop the Conservatives turning the UK “into a bargain basement tax haven” and is demanding tariff-free access to the EU. 

Separately, the Liberal Democrats are seeking three main amendments – single market membership, rights for EU nationals and a referendum on the deal, which is a “red line”.

Meanwhile, pro-Remain Tory backbenchers are watching their leadership closely to decide how far to stray from the party line. 

But if the Article 50 ruling has woken Parliament up, the initial reaction has been chaotic rather than collaborative. Despite the Lib Dems’ position as the most UK-wide anti-Brexit voice, neither the SNP nor Labour managed to co-ordinate with them. 

Indeed, the Lib Dems look set to vote against Labour’s tariff-free amendment on the grounds it is not good enough, while expecting Labour to vote against their demand of membership of the single market. 

The question for all opposition parties is whether they can find enough amendments to agree on to force the government onto the defensive. Otherwise, this defeat for the government is hardly a defeat at all. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.