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Clegg gets on the wrong train

Nick Clegg made a mistake that politicians fighting the Rochester and Strood by-election have been dreading.

Called on his weekly radio show by someone from Stroud, Gloucestershire, the Lib Dem leader asked the caller about tomorrow's by-election - which is of course taking place hundreds of miles away in Strood, Kent.

Minutes later he conceded defeat in the by-election, telling listeners he didn't expect his party to "sweep to victory". Coincidence? Almost certainly.

 

 

Danny puts Coalition on ice

Are we witnessing a chill in one of the Coalition's more successful relationships?

Danny Alexander told reporters at a Westminster lunch today that his Tory boss, Chancellor George Osborne, keeps a lock on his fridge in the Treasury to stop people stealing milk.

"We do share things – but not the milk which to my amusement he still keeps under lock and key," the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said. "Yes, really the fridge in the Treasury kitchen is replete with a padlock – it must have been tough in St Paul’s."

But a Treasury source has attempted to cool the story, suggesting Mr Alexander may have (semi-)skimmed over some key facts. The source told PolHome: "The only fridge with a lock on is communal one - right next to Danny's office."

And now an adviser to former Treasury top man Gordon Brown has intervened with his own attempt to lower the temperature in what Dot is unilaterally dubbing #fridgegate.

"If I recall rightly, Kev put the lock on the fridge in the 2nd floor kitchen in 2006 to stop me nicking Gordon's Highland Spring," Damian McBride tweeted.

And, in what some Westminster insiders might construe as a bit of p**s-taking, the former comms chief added: "Come to mention it, Danny would've been on much safer ground if he'd said Osborne doesn't let him share his personal urinal."

 

 

 

The teenage mother of all Parliaments

Today marks the beginning of Parliament Week and it starts with the annual Youth Parliament, which sees bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngsters replace MPs in the Commons for one day only.

And who better to welcome the youngsters to their places than William Hague, the man who began his political career at 16? After a brief introduction from Speaker Bercow, the Leader of the House used his own backstory to hit back at some of the sneering and criticism thrown the way of Parliament.

“If somebody asked me today, 37 years later, would I do it again? I would say yes... you can achieve things in Parliament and politics that you cannot achieve in any other way.”

Pointing to his own piloting of the Disability Discrimination Act under the Major Government, Hague just about managed to resist mentioning Russell Brand by name as he said: “Those people who tell you not to bother, not to vote or not to take part can never achieve anything like that or achieve any positive change of any kind.”

Natascha Engel, the chairwoman of the Backbench Business committee, spoke on behalf of the Labour party and contrasted Hague’s early start in politics with what she was doing at that age:

“While William was wowing his party conference, I was busy parting company with my school on not very good terms.”

With Stephen Benn, also known as 3rd Viscount Stansgate, looking on, the floor was handed over to the young people for debates on the living wage, exam resits, careers advice, mental health provisions, and lowering the voting age.

In case they were worried their voice would not carry beyond the chamber today, Hague had a word of warning for his ministerial colleagues, saying he would ensure that they were fully appraised of today’s comments “whether they like it or not”.

Salmond to be burned in effigy - the internet reacts

Clegg's cheesy grin

 

Undeterred by the criticism that followed his tequila-laden appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch in the summer, Nick Clegg has been back in the kitchen this morning.

Unfortunately, the DPM’s ITV performance may yet raise questions about whether he can be trusted to cut profligacy and waste within the Government.

It started off well enough. Clegg was handed a knife and a carrot or two. “The chopping’s going fine,” he bristled when he was asked if he coping ok.

Clearly aware that this was a man who was not used to receiving praise (he does spend a lot of time with Tory ministers who aren’t exactly his number one fan), Lorraine Kelly and the chef James Tanner sought to reassure him of his skills.

“Mr Clegg’s wonderful carrots,” beamed the chef. “Gorgeous,” commented Kelly. To Dot, they looked rather like carrots.

Then he moved on to the grating and Clegg went at it as if it was the head of a right-wing Conservative rather than a block of cheese that he was shredding. So much so that Tanner needed to stage an intervention.

“Sorry Nick, that’s great.”

“I was just carrying on until you told me to stop. Is that too much?”

“There’s four of us,” Tanner said, the chef scarcely able to see his guest over the Himalayan swathes of cheese ribbons laid out for two potatoes.

Next up was basil. Like a dog revisiting past mistreatments at the hands of his owner, Clegg ventured: “Too much?”

“No, no. That’s good,” Tanner replied. “That’s good. Ok, you can walk away now.”

By the end of the meal, it was clear that the time had come to rebuild Clegg’s confidence. As Miriam González Durántez was invited over to assess her husband’s contribution, Lorraine, almost pleading said: “I have to say the cheese was done so well.”

Durantez (having earlier said Clegg’s cooking was not his strongest suit) commented on the “nicely chopped vegetables”; Tanner added in: “And lovely cheese. Fantastic.”

Job well done, Nick. Job well done.