BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

It's Friday: Who's in charge today?

Laura Kuenssberg | 11:58 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

Harriet Harman's brief spell in Downing Street, whether it delighted or upset you, is over for now.

Her office says that she's now on leave. Downing Street has just told us that Lord Mandelson has since taken over the day-to-day running of the government. The slight problem with that, you might think, is that Lord Mandelson isn't yet actually back from his own holidays or even in the country.

But a spokesperson said: 'the prime minister is in charge if any urgent issues arise".

Kennedy Space Center 8 August 2007 in Cape Canaveral, Florida

While the PM, as we know, is taking his short break in the UK, some MPs are off to much more exotic destinations. The top prize among those listed in today's Mirror has to go to Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley.

Reportedly, he hopes to watch a friend blast off into space at Cape Canaveral.

Update 1508: Now, I hope that cabinet ministers all have their mobiles and smartphones turned on. We've just had another "clarification" on who's really in charge of the government today.

Apparently, it's a job share! A No 10 spokesperson has just updated us saying that Lord Mandelson hasn't in fact taken over the day-to-day running of things yet, and it is in fact a "number of senior ministers who are all helping out".

They are all, apparently, available via mobiles and BlackBerries. So until Monday - when Lord Mandelson returns from Corfu - it seems no one person is in charge.

PS: For those who have been asking, colleagues who have more knowledge of these things tell me the image above is of the space shuttle Endeavour on 8 August, 2007.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Well Brown is reportedly in Scotland doing "charity work". Didn't do much charitably for this country did he?

    Mandelson is a lover of exotic and champagne socialist type leisure but I doubt if he would be seen on a yacht again.

    Now, David Cameron last year went to the West Country. Laudable. Exemplary.

    Nobody in charge of the country? Nothing could be worse than Prescott playing croquet in former years now could it?

  • Comment number 2.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1
    Now, David Cameron this year is going to France. Shameful. Wrong.

  • Comment number 5.

    I used to work with a scientist who was "booked" onto a space flight for scientific reasons (Kodak) - Dr Padday. However, I think the flight before blew up killing those on board and Dr Padday's plans were put on hold and, as I remember, never quite realised.

    Hopefully Nigel Evans' friend will have a safe and fruitful voyage.

  • Comment number 6.

    3. At 12:26pm on 07 Aug 2009, sagamix wrote:
    so H has been sacked, has she? ... too good at the job, was that it? ... you know, showing up all the useless (male) empty suits?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------She's on leave grumpy

  • Comment number 7.

    4. Pop - why wrong? He is not yet in charge of the country.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Poprishchin wrote:
    #1
    Now, David Cameron this year is going to France. Shameful. Wrong."

    Now be fair France isn't that bad some bits of it are quite nice!

    Personally I don't really care where MPs go on their super-long holidays. If they spend the time building sand castles on the Cornish coast then it is just a publicity stunt anyway. At least if they fly off somewhere then they are not trying to treat us like fools.

    Last year when DC spent the holiday on the beach it wasn't because he was cutting back because of the recession or trying to promote the UK as a tourist destination it was because of how he thought it would look to the public. After the expenses scandal it would look even more fake IMO.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is it just me who finds it deeply scary that we have an unelected person currently running the country?

  • Comment number 11.

    Interesting picture is it challenger or Columbia (I have great admiration
    for lost that were lost on these flights, so no afence to them )

    could that be the fait of Zanu-labour or the UK economy.

    Did we have such long recesses in WWII ?
    Did WSC have a long holiday during this period then ?

    Given the mess we are in ,worst since the dawn of time,think there should be clear leadership at the helm and they should have given up on there holidays

  • Comment number 12.

    It beggers belief that with the time available over the summer recess that they couldn't organise it for 'one' person to stand in while Gordo is on leave. It's not that hard is it? I'm sure those who post on this blog who either run their own companies, or simply manage a team, ensure there is some continuity of control when they are away on their holiday.

    On the other hand, nothing surprises me with this lot.

  • Comment number 13.

    As many on these blogs have said before, Mandelson has been running the country for some time now.

  • Comment number 14.

    Meanwhile Flash is up in the 'lang toun' practicing for his enforced retirement next year.

    Now that's what I call being practical, and need I say, a tad sensible. A trait he doesn't often use.

  • Comment number 15.

    11. At 1:12pm on 07 Aug 2009, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:

    Interesting picture is it challenger or Columbia (I have great admiration
    for lost that were lost on these flights, so no afence to them )

    It's actually the Launch of the Endeavour, I think.

    Don't know whether you still think it's appropriate...

  • Comment number 16.

    "Downing Street has just told us that Lord Mandelson has since taken over the day-to-day running of the government ..."

    Hasn't he been running the government day-to-day for months now?

  • Comment number 17.

    11. I was offered a position in the House of Commons in the early seventies partly because I had worked for HM Treasury. I was told at the interview that I would have parliamentary recesses off, if I recollect about six weeks at least in the summer, Easter, Christmas holidays and half days Fridays.

    When I looked surprised they told me they never advertised that benefit when recruiting - for obvious reasons.

  • Comment number 18.

    #7 Fla
    Why is David Cameron 'laudable' and 'exemplary' just because one of the holidays he took last year was in Britain. It looks like he spent a hell of a lot more money on the Turkish jaunt!

    #9 Mark_WE
    I meant David Cameron is shameful and wrong not France.
    Apologies to any frog readers!

  • Comment number 19.

    Prospects for Zanu-NuLabour do not look bright. Harman's rantings are reminisent of Tony Benn in the last days of the 'Sunny Jim' Callaghan' government. In a similar way, Benn, who had held serious cabinet posts, went 'off the rails' when it became clear that labour was about to lose power. He too went 'bonkers' and started spouting about ideological socialism. This presaged years of infighting and distraction in Labour that resulted in Michael Foot as leader, and the 1983 election debacle.

    Harman's outbursts are a harbinger of things to come in Labour, this time with ideological feminism (all men are rapists etc) as the issue.
    Brown is clearly too damaged and weak to prevent this, and much now depends on Mandelson's politcal instincts and realism in averting a fracture that will otherwise deprive them of power for a generation as in the 1980s/90s.

  • Comment number 20.

    The picture is that of the launch of Endeavour (STS-118), August 8th 2007.

  • Comment number 21.

    You are worse than a politician for not answering questions POPSICK

    I will ask you again: Why is David Cameron "Wrong and Shameful" for taking his holiday in France?

    In English please.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Poprishchin wrote:

    #9 Mark_WE
    I meant David Cameron is shameful and wrong not France.
    Apologies to any frog readers!"

    Sorry, I did get that it was just my sense of humour :)

  • Comment number 23.

    I saw the headline.

    I saw the picture.

    I saw the names Brown, Harman and Mandelson.

    Then, for a brief, fleeting moment, I thought some genius has managed to create the B-Ark - http://www.geoffwilkins.net/fragments/Adams.htm

    And we were saved.

    Sadly, I was soon brought back to earth with... well... back to earth.

  • Comment number 24.

    grief this country under the control of Lord Mandelson, well if i had the money i would get out quick.
    there is an old saying about the animals running the zoo and it seems more apt today than ever.
    why not just hand this country over to some european beurocrat and be done with it.
    is Lord Mandelson elected or is he one of the back room mob that run the government.

  • Comment number 25.

    Isn't it better than none of them is in London? Inaction by anyone in the current government is prefereble to action. Why don't they just stay away completely. I think this shows that it doesn't matter where they are. The Armed Forces can run Labour's wars for them, and the Treasury, BoE and (the other one) have been running the economy for years. There's no money left for anyone else to do anything practical, so no decisions are needed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Laura, I wonder if any of those NuLabour politicians will be sat on some far flung tropical beach reading the latest 'Independent' Poll of Polls and wonder if its worthwhile coming back?

    Guess the monetary drag factor will decide their conundrum. MPs are in the top 3% earners even before you account for their lavish expenses.

    One can only live in hope

    Roll On 2010

  • Comment number 27.

    Mandelson at the helm where he likes to be. The whole thing is starting to parody itself. Gordon moodily feeding the homeless drunks in his home toon telling them that he understands & then scaring them with the Francis bacon smile. Meanwhile Mandy has flung the wine cabinet open at No. 10 & invited all his Oligarch mates over for schnapps & poker!

    I expect Chariot Iscariot Harman is sporting a crew cut and bellowing "There'll be a woman atop this party yet me hearties!!"

    Oops, just took a call from HRH Queen Elisabeth. Apparently Mandelson wants to annex Buckingham Palace as one of his grace and favour pads... tiara's and all!

    This government is a bad joke!

  • Comment number 28.

    They say bad news comes in threes.

    1) Peter Mandelson is acting PM.

    2) Personal insolvencies are at record heights.

    3) England are all out for 102 before 2.30.

  • Comment number 29.

    "While the PM, as we know, is taking his short break in the UK, some MPs are off to much more exotic destinations. The top prize among those listed in today's Mirror has to go to Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley.

    Reportedly, he hopes to watch a friend blast off into space at Cape Canaveral."

    ===

    I suppose there's no chance it is "Jimmy" Brown with a one-way ticket!

  • Comment number 30.

    Funny innit? Harperson said the country should never again be left to be run by men. The next day she went on holiday and left the top seat vacant!!

    You couldn't make it up!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Laura says..."Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley.Reportedly, he hopes to watch a friend blast off into space at Cape Canaveral."

    Could Nigel kindly arrange for his chum to give up his seat in favour of Lord Mandy?
    I am sure we could raise the cost of a non-return fare

  • Comment number 32.

    Peter Meddlesome would have been in charge but Harridan Harperson had already abolished all men before he arrived at work.

  • Comment number 33.

    Flimflam
    You are obviously a supporter of David Cameron. Fine. You admire him and think his actions in holidaying in Britain last year are 'laudable' and 'exemplary'. A tad OTT perhaps but I can understand, at a pinch, what you're getting at. However, after his homely little (well-publicised) holiday in Britain he then went on a sumptuous, luxury blow-out in Turkey (not well-publicised!) This year he will be reading trashy novels in France. Good! I did not mean that he is 'wrong and shameful' to go to France for his holiday: No, he is wrong and shameful because he is a British politician who was caught out trousering cash in the expenses scandal and, consequently, behaved like a gross hypocrite. Perhaps he is 'wrong and shameful' purely because he IS a British politician!
    How's that?

  • Comment number 34.

    WHY IS MANDY IN CHARGE?

    WHO VOTED FOR HIM ANYWAY?

    IS THERE NO ELECTED NEW LABOUR MP CONSIDERED ABLE TO STAND IN FOR THE PM?
    (Don't bother answering this question......we all know there isn't).

    This is not democracy. This is wrong, plain and simple.

  • Comment number 35.

    34 Newthink

    Isn't he is charge anyway?

    ...and yes it is not remotely democratic.

    It does beg the question that if they can afford to take so much time off in the summer, what do they normally do or is the process of government self perpetuating?

    Select committees breeding standing committees, leading to grand committees, advised by quangos etc.

  • Comment number 36.

    Im asuming that because MPs have 3 months off and over half the plamentry time since April was taken up failing to put their expenses in order and electing a new speaker that we can have a 33% rebate from their pay this year?

    After all at best they have only been working 50% of the time!

  • Comment number 37.

    Aha Pop. You cannot dress it up by any other explanation. You clearly wrote what you wished you hadn't.

    No doubt you will be off to live in France, then, when David Cameron is Prime Minister!

    And as for the expenses - I do think we have done that to death now don't you? Why not start off on why Jonathan Ross that foul mouthered BBC presenter paid for by us, gets so much more than ANY politician?

  • Comment number 38.

    I just checked my copy of "The Godfather" and, aside from being in hospital after being shot, Don Corleone never took a holiday. Could it be that "Don Gordo" is still in charge but from afar? Afterall, if his Consigliere, Lord Mandy, is in Corfu getting a tan, I cannot imagine that Don Gordo will not keep his hooded eyes open for any treachery. Now that just leaves us with the question whom Scary Harriet is playing - can't be Sonny or Michael but could it be Freddo of the lose lips? Tune in tomorrow for another chapter of The Godfather IV - The Decline and Fall of La Cosa Nostra Downing Street.

  • Comment number 39.

    #35 Meninwhitecoats.
    I guess you are right that he is in charge full stop.

    It's the plain urinetaking that GB thinks it wise to leave one of the most unliked, untrusted, unelected individuals in charge. They have 3 months off for goodness sake. Surely (even disregarding the Afgan situation or the economy) the PM and the deputy PM could have arranged their holidays so that they did not overlap. Millions of normal workers have to plan their holidays around their colleagues.

    It just shows the lack of judgement of this Government.
    Could one of their advisors not have suggested to Gordy and Harriet, "Hey guys, don't think this will look that good". Makes you wonder about the quality of advice they get in general eh?

  • Comment number 40.

    "newthink wrote:

    It just shows the lack of judgement of this Government.
    Could one of their advisors not have suggested to Gordy and Harriet, "Hey guys, don't think this will look that good". Makes you wonder about the quality of advice they get in general eh?"

    Based on many peoples comments about Harman's week in charge maybe GB decided that having PM in charge would be the better choice and actively suggested she took a holiday :)

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nobody has been running this country for years so why worry that this is confirmed by Downing Street?

  • Comment number 43.

    Why is it shameful that an MP goes on holiday?
    The public can't dictate how they live their life its their money they are spending - if they want to pay 10 grand to take the kids to caribean great for them.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.