Now it's not often I just reprint a Tory Party press release, but I can't really add to its content...
At a Treasury Select Committee hearing today, Sir Nicholas Stern revealed that it was Gordon Brown who appointed Labour MP Colin Challen to a high profile climate change taskforce – clearing the way for Brown’s close ally Ed Balls to stand unopposed for the new Morley and Outwood seat. Responding to a question from David Gauke MP, Sir Nicholas also admitted that he’d had no prior knowledge of the appointment until the Chancellor informed him he’d be working with Challen.
Commenting, Chris Grayling said:
“This is yet more evidence of Gordon Brown’s blatant cronyism. Only two months ago, Colin Challen was adamant he’d be standing against Ed Balls for the Labour candidacy for the new Morley and Outwood constituency. Less than two months later Challen had changed his mind, clearing the way for Brown’s closest crony to get a safe seat. Now we know why – Gordon Brown had given him a plum job in a high profile climate change taskforce. This is unacceptable behaviour for a man who would be Prime Minister.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
· Under the Boundary Commission’s review of Parliamentary boundaries, Ed Balls’ seat of Normanton will disappear. Outwood, which was formerly part of Normanton, will be merged with Morley, which was formerly part of the Morley and Rotherwell seat, to create a new seat of Morley and Outwood.
· The majority of the new Morley and Outwood seat is made up of areas previously in Morley and Rotherwell. The sitting MP for Morley and Rotherwell, Colin Challen, who has served just one full term, had always maintained that he would fight for the new seat. But today, Colin Challen announced that he will be standing down as an MP at the next election (PA News, 30 January 2007)
· Ed Balls has insisted that he will stand for the seat, telling the Wakefield Express: ‘That is what I intend to do’ (Wakefield Express, 6 November 2006).
· In November 2006, Colin Challen asserted that he would be fighting Ed Balls for the candidacy for the new Morley and Outwood constituency:
‘I shall be seeking to be re-elected as the Labour candidate - if I were successful I would be representing a seat that contains two thirds of my existing seat’ (Wakefield Express, 6 November 2006).
· However, just two months later, he announced his decision to withdraw from the race, citing his appointment to a leading role in Labour's climate change agenda:
"I have become so involved in climate change now, especially in the last six months, that I want to find new opportunities in that area. I have found those now."
"I expect shortly to be involved in further practical work to speed those changes, particularly in the developing world - notably Africa - and to further examine the economics of climate change following the report last year from Sir Nick Stern, with whom I shall be working."
Full (uncorrected) transcript of Nick Stern’s admission:
David Gauke MP
“Was it [Colin Challen] the Chancellor’s appointment, do you know?”
“The Chancellor asked me personally if I would be interested in doing this and I said that I am.”
David Gauke MP
“But Colin Challen as well – was that the Chancellor’s appointment?”
“Yes – I learned about it from the Chancellor and I thought it would be a good idea.”
David Gauke MP
“I understand that Colin Challen is going to be working closely with you on climate change issues, and I’m just interested to learn when you learned of that appointment, and precisely what you will be doing together.”
“My understanding is that, err, we’ll be looking at some ideas on how economists and Parliamentarians can talk to each other. Colin and I haven’t had the chance to get together and work out the details, but I must say I’m very happy to do it.”