Silliest of seasons?

Owen Walker charts some of the more frivolous offerings out there in the blogosphere

The silly season is well and truly upon us. Here is a collection of some of the more vapid themes across the UK’s political blogs:

Democracy is an odd thing. Dictators throughout history have warned of giving too much power to the masses and it was only a matter of time before the web – the most democratic platform to date – gave strength to that argument.

This week, Tim Ireland started a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for Gordon Brown to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream. More than 5,000 people have so far signed up.

Ever wanted to see a band of four MPs rocking out to Teenage Kicks with Feargel Sharkey? No? Well the web is full of wondrous things and you can see that footage courtesy of former whip Ian Cawsey’s Myspace page. Dizzy Thinks discovered this and other gems on the Brigg and Goole MP’s page, including apparently secretly-filmed videos of Blair’s last Parliamentary Labour Party meeting and the last meeting of the former whips.

The West Country often gets stick for not being as sexy as rest of the country, but the region’s residents must be pleased that at last political bloggers are addressing the real issues and giving them some publicity. Kevin Davis, a Conservative parliamentary hopeful in Yeovil, has begun his own campaign aimed at increasing the amount of public toilets. As a rallying call, Davis declares: “Wherever you go in the country it appears that the Lib Dems have something against public toilets. In Kingston they closed them and in Yeovil they are refusing to open them.”

Apparently Ming Campbell has more than 2,000 friends. Who’d have thought?
This figure could swell with the announcement by Lib Dem councillor Jonathan Wallace that he will only join Facebook when there are 100 people in the “Get Jonathan Wallace onto Facebook” group – so far there are 56. When he signs up he will join the largest political group on the social networking site, according to reports this week.

Steve Webb MP is using his recess time wisely and has found the Lib Dems are leading the way on Facebook. He concludes: “It is no surprise that it is Lib Dems who have taken social networking the most seriously. Lib Dem philosophy and our way of doing politics sits well with the Facebook ethos of being accessible, removing barriers to communication and reaching out to young people. As the figures show, it’s clearly not an exclusively Lib Dem thing, but it’s good to see our party leading the way.”

However, a closer inspection of the stats reveals Webb’s skewed form of proportional representation – typically Lib Dem – where he has reached his conclusions based on proportion of MPs signed up (Lib – 40%, Lab – 13%, Cons – 12%) rather than actual totals (Lab – 47, Lib – 25, Cons – 24).

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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Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell a minister

The move is revealed in Ed Balls' new book.

Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell, a sports minister. Campbell had served as Tony Blair’s press chief from 1994 to 2003, Ed Balls has revealed.

Although the move fell through, Campbell would have been one of a number of high-profile ministerial appointments, usually through the Lords, made by Brown during his tenure at 10 Downing Street.

Other unusual appointments included the so-called “Goats” appointed in 2007, part of what Brown dubbed “the government of all the talents”, in which Ara Darzi, a respected surgeon, Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly a United Nations diplomat,  Alan West, a former admiral, Paul Myners, a  successful businessman, and Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI, took ministerial posts and seats in the Lords. While Darzi, West and Myners were seen as successes on Whitehall, Jones quit the government after a year and became a vocal critic of both Brown’s successors as Labour leader, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

The story is revealed in Ed Balls’ new book, Speaking Out, a record of his time as a backroom adviser and later Cabinet and shadow cabinet minister until the loss of his seat in May 2015. It is published 6 September.