Something for the Weekend: Back for good

Welcome, one and all, to our second helping of weekend cheer free from any mention of you-know-what, as the race between you-know-who and you-know-who nears its end.

In this week’s bulging package: an impermissible donation for the Tories; some good news for Alistar Darling; why Mark Pack could be moving to Stockton; and more!

» Good Week

Jack StrawIt’s been a good week for Jack Straw, which is nothing to do with his current role in Government, of course. His honorary life membership of Leeds University Union, has been restored.

Back when he was a lefty student radical, Jack was President of the student union at Leeds University and then, like so many identikit New Labour MPs, President of the National Union of Students.

But he his life membership of LUU was revoked and he was banned from the union building in 2000 during his authoritarian reign as Home Secretary. The union decided to stand up for civil liberties – and I happily admit being at that meeting and voting for the ban.

» Bad Week

You have to feel for the sons of “lost” canoeist John Darwin. Having believed their father dead for five years, they now have to face the idea that he was been alive all along, that their mother found out but didn’t tell them, and that both of their parents are facing a fraud investigation.

John Darwin went missing off the Hartlepool coast in 2002. While this Reginald Perrin style disappearance may seem odd, if his plan was to pre-empt the Hartlepool by-election by making a clean break in advance, many of us would sympathise.

» Also in the news

A very promising report this morning that four of the five remaining British residents of Guantanamo Bay will be released. If true, it will be particularly welcomed by Sarah Teather, who’s been campaigning for the release of her constituent Jamil el-Banna – see the Guantanamo vigil video from January.

The Millennium Dome was insolvent “almost from the day it opened”, the BBC reports.

Glasgow Cathcart MSP Charlie Gordon has decided to stay on as an MSP after being embroiled in the Wendy Alexander impermissible donation case.

David Mitchell (Peep Show) and Liz Smith (The Royle Family) tooks the best actor and actress honours at the British Comedy Awards.

» More money for you, Darling

The press have been reporting that David Abrahams is unlikely to have his donations returned, despite Gordon Brown saying they’d be paid back. Instead, the Electoral Commission will want to see the money forfeited. Bad news for the heavily indebted Labour Party and Mr Abrahams, but at least if the cash goes to the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund, Alistair Darling will have a few more pennies to spend on public services – or to give a tax cut to the better off like the one announced in Gordon Brown’s final budget.

» Is Mark Pack house hunting on Teesside?

So Stockton North’s Labour Party has shortlisted applicants for the selection of their next parliamentary candidate. Sitting MP Frank Cook is having to fight to be reselected.

One of those shortlisted is none other than former minister Barbara Roche, who so dramatically lost her seat to Lynne Featherstone at the 2005 general election. Liberal Democrat Voice’s own Mark Pack was heavily involved in supporting Lynne’s campaign over the years. Rumours that he has been seen property hunting in Stockton ready to take a second safe Labour seat from Barbara Roche are as yet unsubstantiated…

» Who didn’t give the Tories £1,000?

Glancing through the Electoral Commission’s donation reports, out jumps an entry showing the Conservative Party was given £1,000 in October 2005 that was returned as impermissible the following month. The name of the attempted donor? One Gordon Brown.

Meanwhile, Colin Ross has spotted in the donations register that Bearwood Corporate Services (about whom I’ve also blogged in the past) donated nearly £6,000 worth of bottle openers to the Conservatives in 2006. I wonder if they send 659 of these – or possibly more if they bought in bulk.

» Facebook groups of the week

Two groups campaigning against an extension to pre-charge detention: NOT A DAY LONGER! and No to 42 day detention without charge. (There’s also a petition on the Number 10 site, as plugged here.)

In addition to last week’s Vince groups, you can also back our twinkle-toed Acting Leader by joining Get Vince Cable on Strictly Come Dancing.

» Coming up

Keep an ear and/or an eye out tomorrow for…

  • Vince Cable on Sunday AM on BBC One
  • Paddy Ashdown and Sarah Teather on Sky Sunday (not Ski Sunday, sadly) on Sky News
  • Lynne Featherstone on The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4

» And finally…

In honour of Liberal Democrat Voice’s favourite Conservative MP, Mr Grant Shapps himself, here’s the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, from BBC Three’s Comedy Shuffle. Beware, dear family audience – there are are a couple of rude words at the beginning.

* Something for next weekend? Drop us a line at [email protected]

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One Comment

  • “Rumours that he has been seen property hunting in Stockton ready to take a second safe Labour seat from Barbara Roche are as yet unsubstantiated…”

    considering her track record, she should hold SN 34% majority next time…and then lose it in 2014..

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