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Labour probes DCLG's Big Mac spending

Labour MP Jon Ashworth has served up a storm at the communities department, asking ministers how much they've spent on fast food since the election.

DCLG's response left him none the wiser, with minister Kris Hopkins responding that "The Department does not routinely provide take-away food for its staff, so this information is not centrally held in the form requested."

The local government minister had a barbed response for Ashworth, however:

"I would observe that during the time the hon. Member was a special adviser at HM Treasury from 2004 to 2007 under the tutelage of the Rt. hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Gordon Brown), a total of £125,020 was spent on hospitality for Ministers (as cited in 17 December 2008, Official Report, Column 824W). Based onThe Economist’s purchasing power parity index, this would have been sufficient to purchase 65,856 Big Macs. I hope the hon. Member got fries with that."

Ouch!

Still no word on whether DCLG ministers ask for extra Pickles on their burgers...

 


Prezza's 'Red Ed' slip-up

Ed Miliband's attempts to shake off his "Red Ed" moniker have been dealt a blow.... by John Prescott!

The Labour heavyweight helpfully used the nickname as he did the flagship 8.10 interview on Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

Prezza was attacking Government plans to introduce so-called English votes for English laws and commending his own leader's approach when he appeared to slip up.

He said: "Now how you have the accountability, whether it’s elected different regions, whether you actually have economic powers and resources within the elected people is a debate and discussion. And that’s why Red, Ed, is right to have a commission to look at these and not rush them through ready for the election which Hague is now doing."

Oops. The Red Ed nickname was adopted by the Tory-supporting press soon after Mr Miliband's Labour election victory in September 2010.

It largely disappeared later but was then temprorarily revived as a reaction to the Labour leader's 2013 party conference speech when he pledged to freeze energy bills.

Recently it has been dying a bit, despite the best efforts of Tory HQ. Did Prezza just bring it back to life?

Clegg's merry Christmas victory

With the Liberal Democrats averaging eight percent in the polls, it’s only fair someone gives Nick Clegg a break for Christmas.

So the Deputy Prime Minister will surely be overwhelmed with delight to hear that he is judged to have "won Christmas" with this year’s amusing photo-booth style card.

 

 

The year's effort is a classy shift from the cutesy cards of previous years designed by the Clegg children. In 2010, for example, Nick was portrayed as a gingerbread man glued to his phone, donning a Lib Dem yellow tie.

 

Meanwhile, David Cameron’s card shows the PM and his wife surrounded by the Chelsea Pensioners. With such patriotism on clear display, anyone might think Ukip was breathing down his neck...

 

Over in Primrose Hill, Ed, Justine and their two young sons are putting the last-minute touches on Labour’s 2015 manifesto with vital attempts to bring in the youth vote.

 

As for who lost Christmas this year?

Season’s Greetings, Chandler Bing.

Minister for This Morning

It’s no secret that David Cameron has increased the number of people attending the Cabinet table, but it’s just getting ridiculous now.

In a rare insight into the kind of lobbying operations that can secure ministers a spot at the top table, Phillip Schofield spoke with the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room in No 10 this morning for Good Morning Britain (the first ever live TV interview from there, incidentally).  

Schofield, who did the interview as part of a 24-hour live TV presence for the Text Santa charity, said afterwards:

“I am in a bit of a sort of takeover mood. I am feeling quite comfortable.”

Cameron, acknowledging he had been roundly outmanoeuvred by the ingenious power play, responded:  

“I'm staying right here.... You can stay on for Cabinet. See what really happens.”

 

White van SLAM

Congratulations to Ed Vaizey for – hopefully – giving the question of ‘does any of your family drive a white van?’ a humane ending.

Echoing fellow Labour MP Jamie Reed’s performance at PMQs today, Sadiq Khan took the opportunity to inform us that his nephew and brother drive a white van before laying down the gauntlet to Tory guest Ed Vaizey.

“I’m sure Ed has members of his family who drive a white van as well. Ed?” he poked on the World at One.

While he fell short of the rhetorical flourishes of Nadhim Zahawi, Vaizey made his point:

“My kids are too young to drive. They’re only eight and six. I think about my neighbours and I think about Sadiq’s family. I will from now on, anyway.”