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Thursday 13th September 2012 | 10:13
Is the PM settling scores while keeping his pals close? Buried on the Order Paper today is an item under Private Business which reveals that Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is being replaced on the Committee of Selection by Bill Wiggin.
Sounds very beltway, but stick with me. Clifton-Brown just happens to be the man who helped organise the rebellion on the Lords, doing a great job gathering the votes. Bill Wiggin just happens to be a former whip who was let go in the reshuffle.
The post on the Committee carries with it a nice little earner of £14,587. So it looks for all the world like a parachute payment to keep a sacked member of the Government happy.
Wiggin (unkindly dubbed 'Bungalow Bill'* by his critics) also got into a spot of bother during the expenses saga but was somehow brought back into the fold. The fact that he is an old Etonian - and direct contemporary of the PM - is probably totally irrelevant...
A Labour source tells me the appointment smacks of cronyism:
"This looks like David Cameron is effectively giving a bung to one of his old school chums. It shows not only how out of touch he is but also how little he cares about taxpayers' cash."
Tory backbencher Peter Bone has just weighed in during Business Questions...
"The Leader of the House could immediately improve scrutiny by making the chairman of the Committee of Selection an elected post. And wouldn’t it be absolutely absurd if the independent chairman of that committee was replaced overnight by a former whip?"
*FOOTNOTE. The nickname refers to someone who 'hasn't got a lot upstairs'.
As I say, very unkind.
4.30 PM UPDATE
Now, here's a thing.
Mr Wiggin's appointment to the Committee of Selection has been blocked today. It only takes on MP to object and Labour's Thomas Docherty did just that.
Which makes it all the more embarrassing that Mr Wiggin told his local newspaper yesterday that he was going to chair the committee.
Funnily enough, the following story appeared on the Hereford Times website at 3.40pm - just before Mr Clifton-Brown was sitting as chair for the final time (possibly unaware of his execution) :
Strangely, the above story was deleted and replaced with a new one (see here) which now carries the date stamp 5.30pm. And deleted the reference to his proposed new post.
Spot the difference....
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