Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Brown Orders Hard Work, MPs Could Move to Oxford, and Speaker Bans Shirtsleeves

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Brown Orders Hard Work, MPs Could Move to Oxford, and Speaker Bans Shirtsleeves

Article excerpt

Exhausted Treasury and Trade ministers hoping for a quick getaway for the summer recess on 23 July have drawn short straws. Instead of jetting off to the sun, they must attend a meeting of the Gordon Brown Conspiracy in Warwick over the ensuing weekend. Perhaps that should read "Economic Policy Commission". The sole item on the agenda is Irn Broon's economic and business policy paper, for on-passing to the party conference. "Just what we need at the end of a hard year," grumbled one minister. "The stroppy tendency had better not try any amendments." But union leaders, including the Amicus lefty Derek Simpson, will be attending, so expect some bad-tempered exchanges.

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Senior Labour figures believe that the government may lose both by-elections on 15 July, despite defending majorities of 11,600 in Birmingham Hodge Hill and 13,200 in Leicester South. That would explain Tony Blair's indecent haste to hold the polls. The voters have a habit of punishing Labour when their MPs jet off to a cushy number in Europe, as Hodge Hill's Terry Davis is doing. David Marquand lost a mining constituency in Nottinghamshire in this manner.

MPs have been told by the Serjeant at Arms that if the Commons (or the Lords) cannot sit in their usual chambers because of terrorism, alternative locations are planned in London and the provinces. This has given rise to much speculation, with Oxford University as the favoured candidate. Absolutely, old boy. Much more agreeable than Warrington or Barnsley. …

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