Daily View 2×2: 22 June 2009

2 Big Stories

Whips accused of fixing Speaker vote
The Times reports:

The race to become the most powerful Commons Speaker in modern history is being undermined by party whips who are trying to install Margaret Beckett as their anti-reform candidate.

Senior Labour figures have been accused of colluding with Conservatives to ensure that Mrs Beckett is elected today. She was the only candidate not to endorse plans to remove the powers of patronage from the Whips’ Offices — so that MPs, rather than party whips, would choose the chairmen of select committees.

Her candidacy was pushed by Nick Brown, the Chief Whip, while she was still a minister. Two of his deputies, John Spellar and Tommy McAvoy, have been championing her to MPs.

The Times has learnt that the Labour whips, who enforce the Government’s will in Parliament, are also trying to limit reforms that would give MPs more power over Government and meddling with the composition of the parliamentary reform committee. Opponents fear that they are trying to water down its power.

This is the rancorous backdrop against which MPs will elect a successor to Michael Martin today.

Pressure on Blair to give Iraq evidence in public
From the Guardian:

The government has given its strongest indication yet that it may back down over plans to hold the forthcoming Iraq inquiry in secret.

Ministerial sources indicated that Gordon Brown is preparing to accept parts of a Conservative motion to be debated on Wednesday that the inquiry “should be wherever possible be held in public”.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, said yesterday that he would be prepared to give most of his evidence to the inquiry in public.

The prime minister announced last week that the inquiry would be held in private but was later forced to open up the terms of the inquiry after pressure from a broad coalition of former generals, former prime minister John Major and peers from all parties.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

Mark Thompson calls for a TV debate on electoral systems

The Prime Minister has called for a national debate. How can that debate be had properly if most people do not understand what the politicians are talking about?

Mary Reid explains how Kingston Led the way with e-petitions

…it was accepted in Kingston with a shrug of the shoulder – it just seemed an obvious extension of Kingston’s existing and well-used petitioning process, and fitted in well with our innovative e-government practices. Kingston had, and still has, a robust process for handling petitions which means that they are given serious consideration by both officers and councillors, so the online versions did not require any major changes in practice.

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