Something for the Weekend: The Sun Goes Down

It’s been an exciting week in the Westminster Village, with MPs pulled this way and that (it was the annual Commons-Lords tug of war) and a shocking House of Commons resignation (Andrea Simmons has stood down after fifty-six years as chair of the Palace of Westminster Parking Regulations Committee). Oh, and Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis (a man from the Paddy Ashdown school of BEING ABLE TO KILL YOU WITH ONE FINGER) has announced he’s going to fight a by-election in his own seat on the issue of 42-day detention without charge. So welcome to Something for the Weekend’s 42-Day Seaside Special.

The answer to the ultimate question of pre-charge detention

Members of Parliament voted this week to give police the right to lock up terrorist suspects for up to six weeks. There was a distinct smell of pork barrel politics in the air as the nine Democratic Unionist Party MPs voted with Government – turning a potential loss by nine votes in a majority of nine for Gordon Brown. The DUP insisted they voted on principle, but it’s not entirely clear which principle.

One of those DUP MPs was Iris Robinson, who is also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and is the wife of First Minister Peter Robinson. She is the chair of Stormont’s health committee, although the victim of a homophobic assault has called for her resignation after she called gay sex “an abomination”.

Robinson condemned the attack but said gay people should seek psychiatric counselling and that gay sex was disgusting, vile and nauseating.

If she finds gay sex disgusting, vile and nauseating, our best advice is that she refrain from taking part.

Sorry, we were supposed to be talking about terrorism, weren’t we?

Who speaks for the Government?

Minister Tony McNulty:

McNulty told BBC television late Tuesday that suspects who are held for 42 days but eventually freed without charge could be paid compensation of 3,000 pounds.

Or Prime Minister Gordon Brown?

Asked if the compensation was going to be £3000 per day, the PMS said that the Home Office had been making clear that those were not numbers that the Government recognised.

(Hat-tip, and also for Millions planning £3000 ‘I’m a terrorist’ scam.)

Strangers on a train

One reason the Government has yet to put forward for internment – sorry, detention without charge – is their own incompetence, but it’s surely only a matter of time. This week, they pulled off a perfect synthesis of Government data loss and Helping The Turrrists as top secret terrorism-related intelligence documents were left on a train. Two reports were lost: one on the security situation in Iraq commissioned by the MoD, and a joint Foreign and Home Office document on al-Qaeda’s activities in Pakistan. A passenger found the files and handed them in to the BBC.

Now, I don’t want to be too judgemental because I’ve left things on trains in the past. A lunchbox. A rucksack. About twelve umbrellas (not simultaneously). But these weren’t secret documents, and it was reasonable for them to be out in public in the first place.

The Metropolitan Police are carrying out an investigation. Into the security breach, not my missing umbrellas.

Quote of the week (1)

From the Telegraph letters page comes this gem about David Davis from Tony Jones of Eastbury in Berkshire:

We will have lost, too, potentially the best Home Secretary since Michael Howard.

Other news in numbers that aren’t 42


The number of jurors whose activities caused a drugs trial in Australia to be abandoned.

Lawyers at the trial were impressed with the diligence of the jury, whose members were seen regularly taking notes as evidence was being presented.

But when some jurors were noticed writing vertically rather than horizontally, the truth was revealed: the forewoman and four others were fighting the “boredom” of the trial by playing sudoku puzzles.

A new trial with new jurors will begin in a few weeks.


The number of times the letter S appears in the surname of the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Except on the front page of the Scottish Parliament website earlier this week. And in places on the Tory MSP’s own website, according to Paul Evans.

This comes with the usual “I shouldn’t mention this because I maintain websites too, but…” proviso.

2 (again)

The number of Miss Great Britain party candidates standing in the Henley by-election, stimulating the Acting Returning Officer:

By far the most exciting moment came when two young ladies from the Miss Great Britain Party presented themselves. As the Miss Great Britain Party is not registered as an official political party we advised them that they would have to stand as independents or with no official party label. You can find out tomorrow what they chose to do. Of course, as Acting Returning Officer, it was important that I asked some probing questions of the candidates, like were either of them really Miss Great Britain? The answer, slightly disappointingly was no, but they were both finalists.

2 (again)

The number of MPs knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. One of them is the longest-serving Liberal Democrat MP: arise, Sir Alan Beith. Congratulations to him. And now SurAlan can have great fun every time he has to recruit staff by setting candidates a range of irrelevant tasks, criticising them for failture, and dropping them one by one.

Congratulations too to Doctor Who‘s chief writer, Russell T. Davies (or Stephen Russell Davies, as he’s cited), who gets an OBE, and to Gerald Scarfe, the cartoonist responsible for the Yes, (Prime) Minister title sequence amongst other work, who is made a CBE.

We’re told with every honours list that the majority of awards go to “normal” people, so congratulations also on their MBEs to the President of the World Indoor Bowls Council (for services to Bowls in Wales), to Mrs Hawkes, the Housekeeper of the House of Commons, and Mrs Anthony (for services to Music in Guernsey).

The Government hopefully sees the irony of awarding an OBE this week to Roger Smith, the Director of JUSTICE, “for services to Human Rights”. Perhaps Labour have decided that if other organisations are doing the hard work of worrying about human rights, they don’t have to.

2 (again)

The number of timezones covered by the Henley constituency. For more sleep before starting to deliver leaflets on by-election polling day, head to the west of the constituency, where the sun rises an hour later.

Don’t believe me? Best go and see for yourself 🙂


The number of actual unicorns found in Italy this week.

Quote of the week (2)

The instigator of The War Against Terror was, of course, United States President George W. Bush. With his term of office approaching its conclusion (and the world preparing to breathe a collective sign of relief on January 20th next year if he lets us make it that far), the Commander-in-Chief is thinking of his legacy, and told The Times he is concerned that he may be remembered as a warmonger:

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”.


Facebook groups of the week

Against 42 Days is a Facebook group for people opposing 42-day detention without charge.

Youngsters may like to join the LIBERAL YOUTH Henley Hit Squad.

The National Staff Dismissal Register should be scrapped is pretty self-explanatory, as is I hate Big Brother – 1,000,000 people needed. I don’t know what they’re planning to do when they find a million people – hopefully all go and live in a very large house where we can all watch twenty-four hours a day. For those who don’t know, Big Brother is a TV show, and basically a voluntary way of being detained without charge for several weeks.

If you didn’t like the cut of Iris Robinson’s gib as reported above, you might join Lets tell Iris Robinson where she can stick it!

Coming up

Protests are expected tomorrow against George W. Bush on his visit to the UK.

Nick Clegg will be spending much of the week campaigning in Henley, and will be joined on Monday by former leaders Paddy Ashdown and Ming Campbell.

It’s the deadline next Saturday for putting your questions on video to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Ask the PM is hoping to be a YouTube PMQs. Submitted questions are voted on, and the top questions are will be put to the Prime Minister. You can submit a video or vote on other questions on the Downing Street YouTube channel.

And finally

Encapsulating what would be a pleasing result re the Murdoch press in Haltemprice and Howden, this is Level 42’s The Sun Goes Down. Byeeeeee.

* Something for next weekend? Email us at [email protected]

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