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Blog Exclusive: The World at One's Martha Kearney blogging live from Westminster

Eddie Mair | 10:57 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Martha is preparing for The World at One at Westminster...she will keep us up to date HERE with what she's hearing.

1449: "Avocado and crayfish salad. My lunch."

1400: "There is clearly plotting going on to oust Gordon Brown. I spoke off the record to one of those who organised the failed coup last September. Their view was that after the election results start coming through on Friday, there will be public calls for the Prime Minister to go. Others will sign a letter. Then a stalking horse challenger will emerge - probably from the left of the party. In those circumstances, my source continued, their expectation is that Alan Johnson would throw his hat in the ring. Another Labour MP told me that the Health Secretary would be press ganged to stand. Others hope that the Prime Minister will himself decide to stand aside."

1057: "Lots of "I have never seen anything like this", leadership coups at the weekend, fury at Blears"



  • 1. At 11:08am on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Nobody should trust Hazel Blears - she is entirely self serving.

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  • 2. At 11:14am on 03 Jun 2009, DI_Wyman wrote:

    Big Sister - Nobody should trust any of them!

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  • 3. At 11:18am on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    DiY: I disagree. Some are trustworthy. Unfortunately, you are not alone in making that assessment, and it will destroy democracy is we're not careful.

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  • 4. At 11:24am on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Martha, what's the latest?

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  • 5. At 11:31am on 03 Jun 2009, DI_Wyman wrote:

    Big Sister, please can I have an example?

    As far as I can tell not all of the facts have been revealed yet and there are a lot of them just keeping their heads down / out of the limelight just hoping they won't be 'found out'!

    DiY ;-)

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  • 6. At 11:48am on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DIW, doesn't it depend what one means by "trusting them"?

    I trust almost all of them to have been self-seeking and to have taken what they could whilst they thought they were walking the fine line between "obeying the rules" and "hands in the till".

    Wasn't someone saying on this blog t'other thread that Galloway and Benn haven't taken any expenses? So maybe we can trust those two not to have taken anything they ought not to have taken. Whether we should trust them in other things such as "not pretending to be pussy-cats" or "not making asses of themselves with silly cars" is a different matter, of course.

    I think I don't trust any of them not to try to dictate what I may and may not do and even think, but that's what they are there for, to tell everyone what to do and think.

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  • 7. At 11:48am on 03 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    I'd be really disappointed if Vince Cable emerges as one of the cheats. I respect him as one of the few who actually know what he is talking about and focusses on the issue rather than a partizan positioning.

    Anyone know about his status as of yet?

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  • 8. At 11:52am on 03 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    In the last few weeks, I haven't heard any MP's who truly seemed to understand the issues and implications of the expenses scandal. Neither do they seem in touch with the mood of the country.
    I've just heard the first one being interviewed on Radio 5. Someone called John Mann. Don't know which constituency. He cut right through the froth and frenzy. Understands the mood. Understands what needs to be done. Seems pragmatic. He's talking a lot of sense right now - whether he's done that in the past I don't know.

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  • 9. At 11:56am on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    DiY: I'd be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to any MP who publishes their own expenses (they are around). I'd be prepared to look favourably on those MPs who didn't oppose the motion to publish expenses.

    MPs are really no different from the rest of humankind - there is good, bad, and indifferent there. The expenses system has allowed the worst side of their nature to flourish, perhaps.

    I know of offices where employees routinely help themselves from the stationery cupboard - but not all of them.

    It doesn't do to condemn everybody, and in English Law, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.

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  • 10. At 11:57am on 03 Jun 2009, Dr Bee wrote:

    Wow! - I am pretty outraged by what has happened in the last 24hrs - timing is not just an assasination on GB, it seems to put a nail in the coffin for the labour party at the next election (as though things weren't bad enough for them).

    The thing that saddens me - is that imo there is no viable alternative - and if we have an election now, then I see the conclusion being a change of government - and a consequent avoidance of dealing with the underlying issues and the disquiet that the electorate have with the whole system. A very sad day as I had really hoped that the whole expenses row was an opportunity for real change to the parliamentary system.

    There is still time to vote for the petition for a NOTA option - really has to be the best chance of getting our (the peoples' voice) across.

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  • 11. At 12:05pm on 03 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Ref 10. Dr_Bee

    Voting or signing a petition for the NOTA option doesn't make sense to me, when there is a campaign for a referendum on the whole voting system. If that gets changed, you won't need the NOTA option. Google these two websites: 'Vote for Change' and '38 Degrees.'


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  • 12. At 12:06pm on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    I think Ms Blears needs to understand just how her actions of late have undermined the PM and that, in the circumstances, she was lucky to retain her Cabinet post. A month ago almost to the day, she was criticising the Government openly, and effectively ridiculed Mr. Brown for his use of YouTube. A few days later, details of her use of housing expenses to benefit herself emerged. Can she be surprised that the PM was not rushing to her defence? Now she chooses to resign because she feels the PM didn't back her up ..... Perhaps she needs a few lessons in psychology - or does she think different standards apply to her than to others?

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  • 13. At 12:16pm on 03 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I've one more idea regarding electoral reform that I'd like to suggest. Rather than hold the vote on a thursday, hold the election over a Saturday and Sunday. At the moment, it's too easy for people to say "I didn't have time to vote". It's only a convention that the poll happens on a thursday, after all. Plus, does it have to all be done in a day? Surely there's nothing so monumental about there being two days of a w/e where we don't officially have a government...

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  • 14. At 12:32pm on 03 Jun 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    FF (13):

    The trouble then is that people may be away for the weekend or just doing more enjoyable things.

    Voting tends to be quite simple on the way to/from work or the shops, but would you cut down a lie-in to vote?

    If you would, then I'd say your the kind of person who'd vote on a Thursday anyway.

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  • 15. At 12:47pm on 03 Jun 2009, DI_Wyman wrote:

    Big Sister re:-

    MPs are really no different from the rest of humankind - there is good, bad, and indifferent there.

    I totally agree, but as they are our elected representatives they all have to be 'squeaky clean'.

    So perhaps now is the time for letting some of the other parties have a go?

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  • 16. At 12:58pm on 03 Jun 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    Martha may know I am easily amused - so when when John Soapbox gets another Beeb talking head to introduce Mr Liam (Call me Johnnie) Byrne - I dissolve into laughter. Not helped by Ms Blears PPS assuring John Soapbox of her loyalty.

    I feel a couple of TV shows from the USA has stolen my thunder whilst we wait. Simon Baker and Tim Roth star.

    I watch faces and those around David Cameron were most remarkable by their lack of animation. That ministerial job is just there - hanging on that gift tree - and yet - and yet. Shadow Minister of this and that is soon to be history - and yet and yet.

    Well you look - during PMQT.

    How odd. What is going on?

    Disarray in Downing Street?

    Headline in my newspaper. Today is Wednesday but there were quite a few Wednesdays over two years ago too.

    Hazel Blears smile. I look at faces and that one - well think of Eddie Mair and my reaction to him! And double it! lol

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  • 17. At 12:59pm on 03 Jun 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Can I have a go?

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  • 18. At 1:05pm on 03 Jun 2009, DI_Wyman wrote:

    fJ, go for it!

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  • 19. At 1:07pm on 03 Jun 2009, Fearless Fred wrote:

    SSC (14)

    Voting tends to be quite simple on the way to/from work or the shops So that would be why so many people voted at the last general election. Oh wait, the turnout has been languishing around the 60% mark for some time.
    but would you cut down a lie-in to vote? No, but it's a lot easier for me to get to the polling station over the course of a weekend than it is in the 30 minutes before I have to leave for work or the two and a half hours in the evening when I'm also trying to fit in cooking, having dinner, shopping, etc.

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  • 20. At 1:16pm on 03 Jun 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    FF (19):

    "So that would be why so many people voted at the last general election."

    No, that's just lethargy/laziness/cynicism. You could have the polls open for an entire week, "24/7" as the Americans would say, and you still wouldn't get a better turnout unless you convince people that they have a responsibility to vote.

    I doubt there's much chance of that happening these days, never mind what I'd prefer, which is that people should feel they have to actually *think* about what they're doing, not just vote according to soundbites, or the way their parents always voted, or for the candidate with the best teeth etc.

    The only way the public at large is going to be enthused into voting is to hold "Britain's Got Members Of Parliament" on prime-time TV and charge people for premium rate 'phone-calls to vote.

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  • 21. At 1:20pm on 03 Jun 2009, DI_Wyman wrote:

    FF, good point and I have never really thought about it before. In my mind, having a whole weekend to vote would probably increase the turnout somewhat.

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  • 22. At 1:27pm on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Eddie: I somehow don't think Martha's quite got the hang of this yet, do you? ;o)

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  • 23. At 1:52pm on 03 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Eddie you were right - Martha's Blog is certainly 'Exclusive.'

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  • 24. At 2:07pm on 03 Jun 2009, Fifi wrote:

    7 : 2nd home allowance £0
    London supplement £2,812 (fixed rate)
    Office £21,333 (about average)
    Staffing £90,422 (ditto)
    Central stationery £1,152 (ditto)
    Stationery and postage £3,948 (wee bit high maybe)
    IT £1,255 (about average)
    Staff cover £0
    Comms £3,538 (low!)
    Travel £1,680 (low!)

    Total £126,140 (lower than most)

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  • 25. At 2:10pm on 03 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    SSC: "Best Teeth" - is Esther going to stand now?

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  • 26. At 2:31pm on 03 Jun 2009, eddiemair wrote:

    Now stop that you lot - she was VERY busy!

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  • 27. At 2:43pm on 03 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    I, for one, enjoyed the piece she submitted here on notable composer John Cage.

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  • 28. At 2:50pm on 03 Jun 2009, Big Sister wrote:


    We all love her, you know - but I think she needs a lesson on multitasking from the Master himself ;o)

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  • 29. At 2:59pm on 03 Jun 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Well! I bet Martha enjoyed that. Phew, what a scorcher.

    Top that, Eric!

    But while I enjoyed the cut and thrust of it all (as a news junkie), I do feel apprehensive about the fall-out for tomorrow's elections, for the future of the Parliament which governs us in this present economic crisis and for the effect it may have on voters.

    And on the young people who are our future voters.

    I'll be there voting, tomorrow, as ever; I've never missed the chance to vote in my life, whether or not I think 'my' candidate/s might win. It's my privilege as a citizen and my duty as a woman.

    Polling hours are 0700 - 2200, so I'm sure I'll squeeze that extra 15 minutes in.

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  • 30. At 3:07pm on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I forget now who was calling for it, but I don't think "you have a responsibility to vote" has a snowball's chance of getting people to do it. Responsibility is not a thing people want to know about (as in not wanting to know about responsibility not to wake up the world in the early hours with drunken revelling, the responsibnility not to cover the streets with litter, the responsibility -- oh, to blazes with it, we all have a list!).

    What is needed if you want to get people to do something is to make it to their obvious and immediate advantage.

    I suggest that every person who bothers to turn up and vote should be given a fiver at the polling station. That might make it worth their while. Call it a "travel allowance".

    What, *me*? Cynical? I can't imagine what you mean.

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  • 31. At 3:34pm on 03 Jun 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Chris (30)
    In ancient Athens they tried to overcome voter apathy by going through the streets with a rope covered in wet paint, driving people towards the assembly.
    They couldn't do that today - too many VOCs in paint...

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  • 32. At 3:39pm on 03 Jun 2009, Thunderbird wrote:

    Chris; On the 20th anniversary of the death of hundreds of people in Beijing who were desperate for democracy One would hope that is all the motivation anyone needs

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  • 33. At 3:47pm on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    vh @ 32, when I posted 31 I was joking, but the more I look at it the more it seems like quite a good idea. If there are what, 40 million people entitled to vote, the most it would cost to give each of them a fiver would be 200 million quid; that is probably peanuts when it is put against the cost of all the political broadcasts and leaflets and other such stuff that we pay for at elections, and I would bet that most people would rather have a fiver than be talked at for five minutes on the radio by people from each of the different parties. And I'm sure they'd prefer to have a fiver each than pay for MPs to have moats and palladian duck-houses and bathplugs at their expense!

    It does seem like a very simple and cost-effective way to rouse enthusiasm for the system. Not to mention getting money circulating, which is what they all say will help to pull us out of recession.

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  • 34. At 3:52pm on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Thunderbird @ 32, I apologise first for having got one out in my post-counting and attributed VH's post to you or whatever I did there...

    I don't think that the majority of the people who don't bother to vote in elections in this country would find the fate of a few hundred people in a foreign country a couple of decades ago to be any sort of incentive to do *anything*. I would like to think they'd know what was being spoken of if it were mentioned, but I wouldn't even be sure about that.

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  • 35. At 4:03pm on 03 Jun 2009, Thunderbird wrote:

    Chris. I agree, of the people who won't bother to vote, a large percentage will have never heard of Tiananmen square and I suspect wouldn't give a fig about the people who died.

    I wonder however how many of them would complain like mad if they was told that they couldn't vote.

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  • 36. At 4:14pm on 03 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:

    I keep returning to an uncomfortable place where I don;t want to vote.

    However i am conflicted being as I recognise the importance of voting, have always voted since I was old enough to, and urge others to vote and become involved in the political process.

    But I fear that tommorrow I will be standing there staring blankly at a piece of paper, desperately trying to figure out what to do for the best.

    Vote for someone I don't believe in, through a system I do not think is fair or representative, to continue to carry out discreditted activities which I do not want them to.

    Or waste my vote.

    Just what are we to do people?

    I am not apathetic, simply repulsed by the whole shebang.

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  • 37. At 4:21pm on 03 Jun 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    T8-eh-T8 (36):

    Is there really *nobody* on the list of candidates/parties for your area that you feel you can vote for?

    Not even a "least-bad" candidate?

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  • 38. At 4:31pm on 03 Jun 2009, T8-eh-T8 wrote:


    That is my problem. I could vote for the usual party I vote for. But I feel that the whole set up is wrong and flawed, even though these elections are nothing to do with the deceit of Westminster.

    I don't want to vote for the usual party any more. I feel compromised. I start to question whether or not I want to live my life knowing that I have contributed to such an affair, even in a small personal way.

    TBH I have been feeling like this for a while now. Pretty much since we invaded Iraq, regardless of either the public will, any legal premis or the morality of the situation. At least my usual party opposed that tragedy, albeit being steam rollered into submission.

    I feel like it doesn't matter any more. What I think and vote for makes no difference. I want to vote, but do not see any alternatives.

    Maybe this is voter apathy after all, not through laziness or disinterest, but through betrayed trust, a feeling of impotence in the face of corruption, and a realisation that ultimately it doesn't matter.

    I don't even want Westmister to have a spring clean. I want it to close and be replaced by something better.

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  • 39. At 4:31pm on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Thunderbird @ 35, well, that is another possibility. If being allowed to cast a vote were subject to conditions and were quite difficult to achieve unless you took a test, say, before you got onto the voting-list, I wonder whether it might be more valued.

    Well, no, I don't wonder: I am sure it would be. "What you get for nowt you value at cost price"; what we need is to make "Well, *I* have a *vote*" into a source of pride rather than something taken for granted. I bet that women who had fought for the right to vote didn't not-bother-to-do-it.

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  • 40. At 4:43pm on 03 Jun 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    He did it again? The Lord Ashcroft question? William Hague. Eddie picked up the non answer last evening - twice - and I cheered.

    And someone on Nick Robinson's blog site mentioned a similar vague Hague - allegedly on News Night. He tried to nutmeg Paxo too?

    What is it with MiLord Ashcroft that a simple question of his status cannot be grappled with an equally simple answer?

    I live in Great Britain. I have British status yet I am NOT allowed to try and influence the local and European elections with open views.

    So Lord Ashcroft - what do you do Sir?

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  • 41. At 5:30pm on 03 Jun 2009, bright-eyedwendym wrote:

    What a strange lot in this blog. I'm afraid that GB has lost the plot, is in denial etc etc. Liam Byrne is one of the most ambitious and self serving of all of them. Haven't you seen the timetable he sent round the cabinet office detailing when he likes soup and when he prefers cappuccinoand so on? There was a note telling those in the office to give him only a summary of the main points of anything he was meant to read. So this is what we're left with in cabinet while GB hangs on in there propped up by Mandelson. Happy days.

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  • 42. At 6:12pm on 03 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    bright-eyedwendym @ 41, I don't quite understand why the behaviour of the PM and some other politician should be taken as showing that we in this blog are a strange lot? Or did you mean that the blog threads are strange?

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  • 43. At 6:14pm on 03 Jun 2009, biltonian wrote:

    Notice seen on Brinklow village newsagent's door.

    'Only 2 M.P.s allowed in this shop at any one time.

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  • 44. At 6:31pm on 03 Jun 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Ref 33. Chris_Ghoti :

    This is an exceptionally good idea. It has many benefits and only a couple of minor disadvantages.

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  • 45. At 7:40pm on 03 Jun 2009, truity wrote:

    I have come to understand that being a public sector worker means being looked after by the public. Silly me I thought it was the other way around.

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  • 46. At 7:47pm on 03 Jun 2009, RJMolesworth wrote:


    A fiver may get more people to the polls but that would not change the outcome. Of the tens of millions who vote, less than 1 million have the opportunity to decide which party will form the next government and what its majority will be. The fiver may make that 1.1 million who get to make that choice but, to me, it is still a waste of money.

    When every alternative has been investigated, I still think you are left with real democracy as the only alternative to stimulate voters.

    I know the English, in particular, loath the responsibility it would place on them but, albeit kicking and screaming, they need to be dragged into the 21st century "for their own good".

    If the Scots and the Welsh can accept the responsibility of living in a democracy then so, in good concience, should the English.

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  • 47. At 8:49pm on 03 Jun 2009, truity wrote:

    I promise that I will vote for anyone who stand up and say that we need pay cuts especially in the public sector and as the government have behaved badly they should be the first to have cuts.
    I promise I will vote for anyone who talk about hard issues such as getting young people back into the work place, not offering them lots of money on the outset but offering job security and to take pride in what they do plus a decent pension when they retire.
    Lastly I promise to vote for anyone who will take steps to get rid of our greedy culture.

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  • 48. At 09:06am on 04 Jun 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    Poster Number 41!

    "What a strange lot in this blog." Unquote!

    So kind. So kind.

    And the gentleman you mentioned so unkindly has been fully assessed over the many months and unlike the USA Republican Party - who allegedly have gone back to Boston Tea Partying - we tend to talk about "Today" here. And the more recent Past.

    No one Party got out clean yesterday either in my opinion.

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  • 49. At 09:57am on 04 Jun 2009, jonnie wrote:

    Well so much for Martha and her live blogging!

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