Tuesday News Review

By-election put on hold

A by-election to select a new MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth has been put on hold pending the outcome of an attempt by Phil Woolas, who won the seat for Labour in May, to overturn a court decision ruling his election void. John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, said that the courts were attempting to expedite a decision on judicial review to ensure that the constituency was not left without an MP for too long. Woolas’s legal team indicated that they expect a decision by next week, suggesting that the byelection could still go ahead before Christmas. – The Guardian

I can understand why he wants to fight every inch of the way and why he is pursuing his bid for a judicial review in his favour to try to get Friday’s court ruling overturned. But it does seem that even if he were to win an 11th-hour reprieve, the hostile reaction of Harman and others suggests there is no way back for him. There’s no way, it seems, that the Labour leadership will have him as the party’s candidate in a new poll in Oldham East and Saddleworth, whatever the outcome of the legal process. There has, however, already been a backlash from Labour MPs about the way the party leadership has treated Woolas. I’m told that Harriet Harman – acting leader of the party once again while Ed Miliband bonds with the new Mili-baby – got a “mauling” from Labour MPs at Monday evening’s meeting of the PLP. – Sky

Tory MP Edward Leigh and Labour’s David Winnick demanded a Commons debate about the “enormous constitutional issues” raised by the judgment – saying it was for voters to kick out MPs. “It is for the people to evict Members of Parliament, not the judges,” Mr Leigh said. “What worries me about this is, if this is allowed to stand then it will become virtually impossible that there be really robust debate during elections.” Mr Winnick said he feared beaten candidates would in future use “any means” to claim an unfair campaign had been fought. – The Independent

Proud father

Ed Miliband today announced the birth of his second child in a manner that combined traditional parental pride with the style expected of a modern politician: he tweeted it. “Thanks for all the good wishes. He’s gorgeous. Mum and baby doing great,” Miliband declared in well under 140 characters. Later the Labour leader expanded on the gorgeousness by adding: “He looks a bit like me.” Miliband and his partner, environmental barrister Justine Thornton, both 40, were caught by surprise by the speed with which their 8lb 3oz baby arrived at University College Hospital, a 15 minute drive from their north London home, late on Sunday night. “We didn’t know he would come quite as quickly as he did. Justine did absolutely brilliantly,” Miliband said in a brief exchange with reporters outside the hospital. – The Guardian

Mr Miliband’s girlfriend Justine Thornton gave birth to their second son, who has yet to be given a name, late on Sunday night at London’s University College Hospital. The little boy weighed 8lb 3oz. As he left the hospital, Mr Miliband said: “We didn’t know he would come quite as quickly as he did. Justine did absolutely brilliantly.” “He’s really gorgeous, he looks a bit like me. We are absolutely delighted.” Asked if the couple had decided on a name, Mr Miliband joked that he had his own views but “it’s still being signed off”. – The Telegraph

Government criticised for politicising civil service

The government was warned today against politicising the civil service “by the back door” as the number of named individuals who advised the Tories in opposition and have since been appointed to civil service positions rose to 10. Last week a sequence of political appointees to the civil service surfaced, including Cameron’s one time personal photographer, party videographer, internet guru, and image consultant. Now it has emerged that two members of the implementation unit – an official team of civil servants in charge of the business plans announced by each department yesterday – also advised the Conservatives before the election. Accountant Michael Lynas is now a civil servant in the No 10 unit, setting out strict targets to measure the progress of government departments and to whom officials around Whitehall will have to report fortnightly to the unit to enable monthly reports. According to the register of interests Lynas was seconded from accountancy firm Bain & Co to the Tories in opposition, and his House of Commons pass was sponsored by Tory MP Maria Miller. – The Guardian

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