UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Speaker election gets X-Factor makeover

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The winds of change are sweeping through a dusty Houses of Parliament as the race to succeed the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin hots up.

With MPs trying to get their house in order as the expenses scandal rumbles on, the election procedure for the new Speaker has had a makeover, with election hustings to take place for the first time.

Organised by the political research charity the Hansard Society the hustings will televised, with would-be candidates publishing manifestos and campaigning ahead of a secret ballot by MPs.

So far so good.

Until that is you peruse the list of the 11 candidates jostling to succeed Martin.

Celebrities fill void of confidence in British politics

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These days in Britain, it’s no honour to be a Member of Parliament.

Begrimed by the scandal over their petty expense claims, MPs have fallen so low in the public’s esteem as to displace even bankers and journalists from their usual ranking as the dregs of society.

No wonder. The litany of petty claims revealed by a national paper ranges from the comical — charging a parliamentary expense account for viewing pornographic movies — to the frankly injurious, in the case of MPs who hoarded receipts for garden ornaments to beautify their second homes.

Brown outgunned by Lumley-led Gurkhas

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Joanna Lumley’s father fought with Nepalese Gurkha soldiers during World War Two. The late Major James Rutherford Lumley would no doubt have been proud of the way his actress daughter fought a brilliant campaign with veterans of that brigade to win the right to settle in the UK based on the simple premise that if you are good enough to die for this country you are good enough to live in it.

As Lumley and triumphant Gurkhas sipped tea in the garden of Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have done well to take Lumley aside and ask for her secret.

Should Joanna Lumley be allowed to dictate Gurkha policy?

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While Gordon Brown increasingly draws comparisons to the mortally wounded bull gasping his last at a Spanish corrida, one personality at Westminster  has been putting on a show of decisive policy-making that has brought the bloodthirsty crowd to its feet.

Totally at ease with publicity, absurdly photogenic and much loved amongst the electorate at large, actress Joanna Lumley — AbFab’s Patsy to the younger ones, The Avengers’ Purdy to more seasoned TV viewers — has provided Westminster watchers with an object lesson in how to get things done.

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