Posts Tagged ‘Sally Bercow’

The week Uncut

06/02/2011, 10:30:09 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Atul Hatwal says don’t believe the hype, Labour isn’t surging ahead

Richard Burden thinks the small change to AV could make a big difference

But Michael Dugher says the whole debate is a waste of time and money

Sally Bercow wants exploitatively high-cost lending to stop

Kevin Meagher says choosing office over power has destroyed the Lib Dems

Anthony Painter asks if the movement for change is the right direction

Andy Dodd takes a look at the big society and finds a hollow sham

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Saturday News Review

05/02/2011, 06:44:06 AM

More damning evidence on Coulson and Cameron

In written evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, which is investigating allegations of widespread hacking by the Sunday tabloid, Paul McMullan, a former features editor, said that the practice was widespread and “easy”. He insisted that Mr Coulson, who finally left No. 10 on Tuesday and denies knowledge of any phone tapping during his time as editor of the paper, knew that “a lot of people did it” at both the News of the World and its sister paper, The Sun. “The real scandal is [David] Cameron would have been briefed ‘We can probably get away with this one,’ when hiring Coulson, so Mr Cameron is either a liar or an idiot,” he went on. Mr McMullan, who has left journalism and now runs a pub in Dover, Kent, also claimed that employees of the mobile phone company Vodafone, “people at the tax office” and doctors’ receptionists would telephone reporters offering to “sell numbers and codes of stars’ phones”. Admitting that he himself frequently hacked into phones, he claimed that Mr Coulson would have been aware of what he and others were doing. – Daily Telegraph

Andy Coulson was aware that phone hacking was taking place at Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire and “told others to do it”, a former executive at the News of the World told MPs. In written evidence given to the home affairs select committee and published for the first time today, Paul McMullan, a former features executive and investigative journalist at the title, said former editor Coulson “knew a lot of people” used the technique when Coulson worked at sister paper the Sun. He joined the News of the World in 2003, where he worked alongside McMullan for 18 months. McMullan said: “As he sat a few feet from me in the [News of the World] newsroom he probably heard me doing it, laughing about it … and told others to do it”. McMullan told the Guardian last year that Coulson must have been well aware the practice was “pretty widespread”. Coulson has continued to deny this. The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, also confirmed in written evidence to MPs he has instructed the Crown Prosecution Service to adopt a far broader definition of what constitutes illegal phone hacking. This decision makes fresh prosecutions more likely. The CPS announced a new investigation into phone hacking last month. News International says McMullan’s evidence is unreliable and will demand evidence is withdrawn or corrected. The home affairs committee will publish its report into unauthorised phone hacking in the spring. David Cameron was, meanwhile, accused tonight of “breathtaking arrogance” for refusing to answer questions about his links to Murdoch’s media empire, which owns the Sun and News of the World. – the Guardian

Sorry Sally

A Government minister yesterday told the publicity-mad Speaker’s wife “to shut up and cover up” after she posed in just a bedsheet in an interview on her sex life. Children’s Minister Tim Loughton hit out as Sally Bercow defended the controversial snap. Mrs Bercow, 41, admitted she was “a fool” to pose but insisted the snap was tasteful. Sally, whose outbursts have built her a profile to rival hubby John, 48, added: “I’m a personality, I’ve got ambitions.”Responding to Mr Loughton’s tweet, she wrote on Twitter: “I always pass on good advice. It’s never of use to oneself.” Earlier, she told BBC Radio 5 Live her husband was “not exactly thrilled” about her interview with a London paper. But she dismissed critics who said her actions belittle the dignity of his Commons role. She said: “Should I be a wife who walks dutifully three paces behind my husband, keeps her mouth shut and makes cucumber sandwiches? It was a bit of fun, but it backfired.” – the Sun

Sally Bercow, the wife of the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, today admitted a newspaper photo of her wearing a bedsheet had made her look a “complete idiot” and that her attempt at a bit of harmless fun had “completely backfired”. But despite her apparent contrition, Bercow insisted the revealing photo was “tasteful” and that she found the situation quite funny. She attracted criticism for a photoshoot, in which she stood by a hotel window, clad in a white sheet with the House of Commons in the background. The photo was taken to accompany an Evening Standard interview, due to be published today, in which she described the aphrodisiac effect on the couple’s life at the Palace of Westminster. She told the paper’s magazine section that she found living in a grace-and-favour apartment in the building “sexy”, and that both she and her husband had been “hit on” more since he was elevated from a Tory backbencher to the Speaker’s role in June 2009. Today, Bercow went on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC Radio 5 Live show and admitted she was “probably stupid” to do the interview and had been a “fool” to agree to be photographed in the sheet as part of the newspaper’s Valentine’s Day coverage. – the Guardian

Not there yet on the AV Bill

Labour’s Lord Falconer has said there is still “work to do” if a bill setting up a referendum on the Westminster voting system is to get through.It follows a marathon 15-day debate on one stage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill. A compromise was reached to end it but the bill returns to the Lords next week. It must be law by 16 February if a referendum is to be held on 5 May. Lord Falconer told the BBC’s Record Review: “There isn’t a deal yet.” The shadow justice minister said agreement had been reached on “certain aspects” of the bill – but added: “There is still work to do.” – the BBC

Campbell stands up for Scottish school

He was renowned for piping up for the New Labour cause. But now Alastair Campbell, the bagpipe-playing former spin doctor to Tony Blair, has become the latest high-profile figure to join the growing chorus of condemnation against the threatened closure of a traditional school of music in the Highlands. The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton High School is facing the axe following the announcement that Highland Council plans to withdraw its funding of £317,000 for the facility as part of a package of spending cuts. The centre opened in 2000 after receiving £650,000 from the Scottish Executive and has produced many award-winning musicians over the last decade. Mr Campbell said yesterday that he had been made aware of the threat facing the school by a friend and had been highlighting its plight on his Twitter and Facebook pages. The former director of communications at Downing Street, whose father is a Scot, said: “I wanted to support this because I think it is important. It looks to me like an easy target in a way. “And it’s one of those things that, unless enough people raise their voices in support of it, it could just go without a fight and I think that would be wrong.” – the Scotsman

Every little (vote) counts

Labour surged from bottom of the poll to the top when it snatched a surprise council by-election breakthrough. Candidate Brian Oosthuysen won Gloucestershire’s Rodborough division by a margin of three over the Tories, with a votes share surge of nearly 20% for the party since the last county contests in 2009. This is particularly encouraging for Labour’s chiefs since it trailed a poor fourth last time. Rodborough is part of marginal Stroud constituency, lost to the Tories at the General Election. – the Independent

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Exploitatively high-cost lending has to stop

03/02/2011, 07:00:08 AM

by Sally Bercow

If you’re lucky enough to live in a Royal Palace, you’re not surrounded by “gold for cash” pawnbrokers. Neither do the door-to-door moneylenders that plagued my street in Tower Hamlets come to call. So I’m not going to go all faux woman of the people and pretend I rely on high cost credit. I don’t, haven’t (leaving aside the odd store card) and hopefully never will. But too many people in Britain do; millions of low income households depend on loan advances from pawnbrokers, payday lenders and doorstep lenders just to make ends meet.

These loans with sky-high interest rates come with devastating consequences, as borrowers are forced to cut back their spending on food, rent, utilities, fuel and other essentials in order to meet their loan repayments. The debt trap is blighting the lives of too many people, causing physical and mental health problems, damaging local communities and increasing the pressure on the public purse. In other words, high-cost credit affects everyone, whether you use it or not. (more…)

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Labour should back moves to a minimum price for alcohol

20/01/2011, 07:00:41 AM

by Sally Bercow

This week, the government unveiled plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol for the first time. Admittedly, the minimum price they’ve set (duty plus VAT) is way too low to have any real impact – either on the price of drinks or on alcohol abuse – but it’s a start.

The new rules do at least establish the principle of minimum alcohol pricing and, with a bit of luck, the government might be persuaded to get tougher over time and steadily up the minimum price per unit until it reaches 50p (it works out at 21p per unit of beer, 28p per unit of spirits at the moment) – which is the level recommended by a vast array of health professionals. Don’t hold your breath though: the Tories aren’t exactly known for standing up to big business – and big businesses the supermarkets and the UK drinks industry sure are.

Politicians know that something has to be done, though. Easy access to cheap booze is killing us as never before. The number of people reporting consumption of harmful levels of alcohol is increasing; around a third of men and a fifth of women report drinking more than the weekly recommendations. Society bears the burden of alcohol misuse – the antisocial behaviour, drunk drivers and domestic violence that ensue. Alcohol accounted for five per cent of all deaths in 2005 and its impact costs the NHS around £3 billion a year. Drink wreaks misery and havoc on families and communities. There can be no doubt that action is long overdue. (more…)

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The week Uncut

08/01/2011, 02:30:23 PM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

David Cameron forgets his candidates name in Oldham East & Saddleworth

Tom Watson reveals details of the secret Lib Dem “Operation Detach”

Sally Bercow says Dave’s bottle-out on fox hunting is a broken pledge to cheer

New evidence brings new questions  for the director of public prosecutions

David Seymour asks: where is the left when the country needs it?

Lib Dem candidate would have unsuccessfully lobbied himself on tuition fees

Dan Hodges brings us a personal tale of unrequited love

Kevin Meagher reckons Cameron’s a class act & it’s high time we took him out

Atul Hatwal thinks BAME Labour is a waste of everyone’s time

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Cameron’s bottle-out on fox hunting: a good broken promise

06/01/2011, 07:00:26 AM

by Sally Bercow

Spare a thought for the scarlet-clad tally-ho brigade. Not only were over half the Boxing Day foxhunts called off due to heavy snow and ice, but it looks increasingly like game-over for a repeal of the hunting ban too. As DEFRA officials recently admitted, David Cameron has now abandoned his oft-repeated commitment to facilitate an early overturning of the ban. A free House of Commons vote has been kicked firmly into the long grass. Indeed, with a bit of luck, it may not even take place at all.

This is music to the ears of most people in Britain. For, unlike our prime minister (who was born into the hunting tradition and has repeatedly argued that the 2004 hunting act was “a mistake”), over three-quarters (76%) of us believe that fox hunting should remain illegal. Despite concerted propaganda to the contrary by the countryside alliance and their ilk, Labour’s hunting act has proved to be a popular, humane and effective piece of legislation, which enjoys an impressive conviction rate.

It would be heartening to think that Mr Cameron has abandoned his pledge swiftly to repeal the ban because he has undergone a Damascene conversion. All who oppose wanton cruelty might sleep more easily in their beds if they thought that their prime minister now acknowledged the error of his ways and accepted that, in a modern, civilised society, there is simply no place for dogs to shred foxes to pieces. Such a volte-face would be a real blow (“I say, old chap, what’s going on”?) to the die-hard, unreconstructed, hunting-obsessed Tory toffs who think that opposition to their “sport” is merely the vulgar prejudice of the lower orders. (more…)

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Sally Bercow prefers electoral reform to adult videos

22/12/2010, 08:07:07 AM

by Sally Bercow

It is hard to get excited about electoral reform. Indeed, mention AV to the proverbial bloke on the bus and he will look completely blank. And then perhaps he will think “audio visual” and start fantasising about the latest 52” Sony Bravia with Bose surround sound. Or maybe he will blush because “adult video” has popped into his head (though he only watched one, many moons ago, purely for research purposes – honest). Or, if he is a retired cardiologist, he might claim to be reminiscing fondly about aortic valves (believe this if you will).

Only if you have chanced upon a Liberal Democrat (increasingly improbable, statistically speaking) or your telltale cagoule-clad political geek, will he say, “aah – the alternative vote, the electoral system in which voters rank constituency candidates in order of preference”. Which, of course, is the right answer in the context. Please note if you have landed here after googling “AV”, this is Labour Uncut. No adult videos here. (more…)

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This Tory-Lib Dem government is particularly clobbering women

09/12/2010, 07:00:28 AM

by Sally Bercow

Women don’t matter to this government. This is not a sweeping, attention-grabbing, rhetorical assertion, but a shameful reality. The cold, hard truth is that women will bear the brunt of the cuts to benefits, jobs and services. The Tory-Lib Dem government’s policies will bring about a huge reduction in the standard of living and the financial independence of millions of women throughout the country.

As Yvette Cooper has highlighted time and again, the comprehensive spending review, combined with the measures announced in June’s “emergency” budget, mean that women will be clobbered much harder than men. Indeed, she went as far as to say “This is the worst attack on women in the entire history of the welfare state”.

In government, our party did much to advance the cause of women’s equality: increasing maternity pay, improving maternity rights, introducing the minimum wage, boosting women’s pensions, creating more flexible jobs and extending childcare and support. Doubtless, there was more we could (and should) have done – notably to close the gender pay gap – but nonetheless it is a record of which we can be proud. Now, however, the government’s policies and savage cuts to welfare benefits and public services will not only halt the progress made on gender equality but turn back the clock in the most frightening fashion. (more…)

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Osborne’s regressive VAT bombshell is both mad & bad

25/11/2010, 07:00:35 AM

by Sally Bercow

There was certainly no age-of-austerity angst or belt-tightening blues in evidence at the big blue and yellow box in Wembley earlier this week. Ikea was rammed – not just the downstairs marketplace with its Xmas decorations, tealights and festive bits and bobs – but the entire store. Consumer confidence may be falling (the Nationwide index now sits at its lowest level since March 2009) but there were more people sprawling on Klippan sofas, bustling by Billy bookcases, bouncing on Sultan mattresses and measuring up Faktum kitchens than you could shake a stick at.

Now, of course, I appreciate that Ikea is almost always busy, not to mention nightmarishly stressful (all couples argue in Ikea right)? Nonetheless, the member of staff I (eventually) found agreed that there were even more shoppers than usual. More interestingly, he divulged (after only one leading question and the teeniest amount of prompting) a theory as to why: namely, that people are enjoying one last hurrah; a final spending splurge before the VAT increase hits in January.

What is more, this is borne out across the high street: although John Lewis last week reported a booming 6.8 per cent increase in sales on the same time last year, their MD, Andy Street, observed: “The imminent VAT increase is a major issue. We are seeing customers already talking to us about bringing forward big home purchases, such as carpets and kitchens, before the VAT increase and who can blame them frankly”. (more…)

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Sally Bercow’s crime is being a woman

12/11/2010, 04:00:36 PM

by Simone Webb

Read this list of criticisms levelled at a woman: she expresses opinions too stridently, especially on twitter; she slept around and drank too much when she was younger; she should be “reined in” by her husband; and her voice is apparently too high pitched.

Although this could be a list from another century (apart from the line about twitter) it is actually from the twenty-first, and all aimed at one woman. She is a Labour activist, erstwhile member of Ed Balls’ leadership campaign team, and the victim of countless attacks from the right wing press. Oh, and she’s married to John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons.

People in the public eye will always receive a certain amount of vitriol, but Sally Bercow seems to get more than her fair share. The Daily Mail is the primary offender: Sally is “bizarre”, “swivel-eyed”, “confessed to one-night stands”, “[indulged] in casual sex”.

And that’s only the press: Conservative politicians, according to the Daily Mail, have asked John Bercow to “rein in” his wife, while Nadine Dorries MP has said that he ought to “tell her to pipe down”. (more…)

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