Monday, December 01, 2008

Leaked Email From Harman: No Tories or LibDems Invited

The Conservatives have been sent an email by mistake, which details a meeting taking place tomorrow organised by the Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman to discuss the Speaker's Statement to the House. Invited to the meeting are Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw, as well as Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell, Jill Pay, the Serjeant at Arms and the Parliamentary Clerk, Malcolm Jack and a representative from the Speaker's Office. Strangely the Tories and LibDems have not been invited.

The email was sent by mistake to the office of Shadow Cabinet member Philip Hammond. No doubt he will soon be arrested.

The email says that "the meeting will discuss considerations in advance of the Speakers (sic) statement on Police action and Parliament". It is perfectly proper for Harriet Harman to call a meeting to discuss the government's line on such a statement. Attached to the email is Harriet Harman's agenda for the meeting, which is clearly an attempt to influence what would be in the Speaker's statement.

What is improper is for Harriet Harman to call a meeting seeking to influence the content of that Statement by the Speaker, which is presumably what she is intending to do by inviting the Speaker's Office, the Parliamentary Clerk and Serjeant at Arms. If there is to be a meeting to discuss arrangements for the Speaker's statement then the Opposition parties have a right to influence the arrangements for that Statement.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve commented tonight: "This is a completely improper meeting convened by the government privately with the Commons authorities and senior civil servants to manage the Speaker's statement without representation from other parliamentarians. This is precisely the sort of leak that should make it into the public domain. We insist on being present at this meeting along with representatives from all political parties to discuss the issues on the agenda."

UPDATE: From the BBC Website...

A spokesman for Ms Harman said the meeting had "nothing to do with the contents" of the statement. "The content of the speaker's statement is entirely a matter for the speaker," he said.
"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the parliamentary business and handling of issues that arise from the fact that the speaker's statement and the Queen's Speech will be happening on the same day."
It's beyond parody, isn't it?


Dick the Prick said...

Where's my horse gone? Shut that door young fella me lad.

Jimmy said...

"The Conservatives have been sent an email by mistake,"

Much safer to go with that story.

Patrick said...

No doubt to agree on one version of events / harmonise their alibis, so to speak. Wouldn't want any Tories or LDs involved in that now would they?

Anonymous said...


Do go and play somewhere else and leave this site to the grown ups.

Try reading William Rees Mogg in the Times this morning and then when you've caught up, come back.

Unsworth said...

Well, where's Boothroyd's take on this entirely innocent and routine meeting?

What a remarkably unfortunate clerical error.

Mr Speaker has some explaining to do. I think the Opposition parties should band together and call for his resignation. They have nothing to lose. It's quite obvious that he has now lost all credibility as to any defence of Parliament and MPs, and his own integrity.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I rather hope Grieve said "pub'l'ic domain" ;)

Even if there were not sinister intentions behind this, the idea that such a meeting was even planned just shows how disorganised and sneaky Labour are being about this.

Anonymous said...

Iain, can you get in trouble for reproducing this document?

Iain Dale said...

Canvas, I do hope so!

Anonymous said...

I guess we'll hear about it on Sky News...breaking news...

"Blogger arrested for handling stolen goods"


Anonymous said...

Just to be boring and repeat what I said earlier - the police have been leaking their version of the enquiry to a grateful BBC

Nigel said...

>>Much safer to go with that story.<<

That's right.

Ignore the issue at hand and focus on innuendo.


Jimmy said...

"Try reading William Rees Mogg in the Times "

I did try.

He hasn't got any better.

Jimmy said...


Sorry. Couldn't resist.

On a serious note, is it suggested that the leader can't hold a meeting with the S@A without inviting the opposition?

I genuinely don't know.

Mitch said...

The sound of slamming stable doors is getting deafening.
The horse has long since been shot 11 times in the head and had its wrists slashed with a penknife.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

I hope not insinuating that they are cospiring to pervert the course of justice Iain? That's just not cricket.

Nigel said...

>>is it suggested that the leader can't hold a meeting with the S@A without inviting the opposition?<<

In this particular case, absolutely.

If the Speaker is to address this issue, then he cannot play party politics.

But you knew that.

Bond007 said...

Can this useless Government get anything right?

And yet 30% of voters (still) say they're going to vote for them.

Jimmy said...


I don't see the Speaker on the guest list, but it is hard to read. Nor does it indicate that the contents of the statement are up for discussion. Of course they may get up to all sorts of skullduggery but that is Iain's assumption rather than what the document appears to say.



This government is a joke, a bad joke.

If Harman genuinely is concerned about the primacy of parliament, why is there a cosy little meeting with the Speaker on a matter which is of concern to all MPs?

This whole episode has a whiff of desperation. In opposition Old Labour were rapacious in their use of leaked information. And good luck to them.

In power they have shamelessly leaked, trailed and spun. But they've overdone it. Most people now associate Labour with one word, "spin".

Whatever the intricacies/subtleties of law this situation might involve, the man on the Clapham bus will see this as pure hypocrisy. The Home Office was caught with its pants down and Labour don't like it. That's the bottom line.

Live by the leak, die by the leak.

Time for an election.

Anonymous said...

Bond007 @01, 2008 8:26 PM
"And yet 30% of voters (still) say they're going to vote for them"

Guess who pays their wages ?

Daily Referendum said...

No shame. No f*cking shame at all. I hope Smith's next sh*t is an hedgehog the size of Brown's head.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

"Live by the leak, die by the leak."

Will Plaid Cymru be attending as well?

WV: arcesses (yes, really)

Tory Boy said...

Hattie, can I come?

Old Holborn said...

Who is James Bowler?

strapworld said...

well with ammunition like this Cameron could and indeed should bring the whole stinking government down. With a barn storming performance, supported by Nick Clegg. They should get together themselves with the Scots & Welsh Nats. the Ulster MP's and determine a joint statement which Cameron can make supported by Clegg.

Isn't politics interesting again!

I suppose boothroyd is consulting Erskine May or Enid Blyton.

Anonymous said...

Boris Yeltsin was a better defender of parliament than Smith or Brown

Doubting Richard said...


I suspect that the one described as "Representative from the Speakers Office" is actually a representative from the Speaker's Office. Can't accuse those in Labour of good grammar.

This is entirely improper, having a meeting to discuss how to deal wiht this subject, with a representative of Speaker Martin and Labour Members, but not those of other parties. Of course it is entirely what we have come to expect of Speaker Martin.

Martin S said...

Can't even get this right, can they?

Jimmy said...


You're quite right. I found the font hard to read. Nevertheless unless it is being suggested that the Speaker should never deal with one party in the absence of the others, then I'm not sure that it's quite as sinister as it's made out. If they wanted to nobble him presumably they could just pick up the phone. Besides is there anything to prevent the tories seeking a meeting?

Simon Harley said...

Ah well, there's always the incisive analysis of the state media...

"The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti said the row over the leaked e-mail showed the degree of bad blood between the parties over the row."

Sometimes I just want to cry...

Doubting Richard said...

I am sure there are many subjects about which the Labour Party could entirely properly arrange a meeting with the office of the Speaker. This is certainly not one of them.

That the Leader of the House thought it was just shows how little regard this government has for the UK constitution, and how little idea they have of propriety in office. That is not a surprise to those of us who never supported New Labour, it has been obvious almost from the start.

jailhouselawyer said...

I am aware that the Tories are over sensitive about their comrade being embroiled in this whole affair. Once again, it appears that this is another Tory attempt to get away from the real issue. Christopher Galley "If I go down I'm taking Damian Green with me"

Jimmy said...


I can't help feeling that an all party meeting on the subject would degenerate into a bunfight. If a cross party group of backbenchers sought a meeting that might be preferable.

Trend Shed said...

Brilliant scoop!


We all know this is the way Labour work. It is fantastic to see them exposed with the evidence too.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Surely no one can be suprised that this happening.Its what they do..If it had been a Labour MP arrested does anyone seriously think that `Gorbals Mick` would have allowed the Police free access???

This meeting is just so they can all get their stories straight, but putting the Harperson in charge is always a receipe for a cock-up, plus ca change......

Doubting Richard said...


Why? If they were being above-board then there is no need for a meeting at all.

I think you are completely failing to see the point here. The Speaker is constitutionally neutral. The Labour Party is having a (political) strategy meeting, relating to a statement that must be made by the Speaker* and their (political) response to that statement. They have invited a representative of the Speaker.

Can you not see the shocking impropriety in this?

* who happens to be a member of that party, and have a history of unacceptable bias towards his party

Old Holborn said...

I have the FULL Email on my blog

Stop Common Purpose said...

The corruption of Fabian New labour is staggering.

Jimmy said...


Frankly no, and although i suspect it's pretty obvious where my sympathies lie I really don't think that's it. The idea that an MP missing his tea is Pride's Purge 2 is hysterical and ultimately self-defeating. I can't see the point in having a meeting involving the tories because everyone is so wound up.

There's nothing wrong in my view with the Speaker canvassing views ahead of his statement (if that is indeed what he is doing). He should of course listen to all sides. Probably not at the same time though.

Nigel said...

>>an MP missing his tea<<

You are either stupid or malign. Conceivably both.

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

Make your mind up. Is this really a meeting with the Speaker's representative to "canvass views"? If so, why was the meeting called by Harman? Why was this not mentioned? Why has the Speaker not sought the views of all other parties?

Absolute idiocy - or blind unreasoning support for a totally discredited, amoral and incompetent regime.

Frank said...

The BBC is reporting that Harman's office has said that the meeting has nothing to do with the contents of the Speaker statement, but is to:

"... discuss the parliamentary business and handling of issues that arise from the fact that the speaker's statement and the Queen's Speech will be happening on the same day."

Yes, if you are going to have a meeting about Parliamentary procedure, you invite the Head of the Civil Service, the Justice Secretary and the Home Secretary (as well as the Labour Chief Whip) at less than 24 hours notice; they are busy people, who enjoy nothing more than talking about seating arrangements.

If you're going to feed someone a line, you'd think they would at least try to come up with a possibly plausible one.

Doubting Richard said...


I akm confused. I really can't tell if you're being obtuse or simply not understanding a rather simple point.

I am not suggesting a meeting involving the Conservatives. I am suggesting a meeting not involving any representative of the Speaker (or no meeting at all).

You also seem to be under the apprehension that the Speaker is consulting all parties. There is no suggestion that is the case. There is no suggestion that the Speaker called this meeting, in fact the letter states that Harriet Harman did so. If he had called the meeting that would be a far more serious abuse of office, and necessitate the Speaker's immediate resignation or removal from office. Do you not understand that this is very obviously a Labour political strategy meeting with a representative being invited of a Labour MP who is at the core of the affair and is required by every convention and propriety to be apolitical? How can you possible defend it?

I can't see why the Speaker should listen to all sides. I see absolutely no reason he should listen to any side.

Jimmy said...


Yes I think an all party meeting would have gone something like that.


I've no idea what they're going do discuss beyond what's printed on the agenda. You'll have to ask one of the others here. They all seem to know.

Nigel said...

>>I think an all party meeting would have gone something like that<<

Really ?

I'm not a member of a political party. Are you ?

Jimmy said...

I'm not under the impression he is consulting anyone. I'm saying I would not consider it objectionable if he did, provided that he was fair to all concerned. I agree that the Speaker has no business at a party strategy meeting, but that is your characterisation of it. And he is not, contrary to your assertion, a Labour MP.

Jimmy said...


Yes. But my point remains. It is a meeting that would generate more heat than light. That being said, if the tories want a meeting with the Leader of the House then they can ask.

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

"There's nothing wrong in my view with the Speaker canvassing views ahead of his statement (if that is indeed what he is doing)."

"I've no idea what they're going do discuss beyond what's printed on the agenda."

"I'm not under the impression he is consulting anyone. I'm saying I would not consider it objectionable if he did, provided that he was fair to all concerned."

So we're discussing two entirely unrelated and separate matters here?

What do you think they are actually going to discuss? Care to spell that out in a little more detail?

It's no good plucking random thoughts out of the air. Just explain exactly what this meeting is about in your view, and then we'll have some semblance of a logical debate.

Hamish said...

Just heard you on Radio Scotland, Iain. You made some cogent points, but you sounded as if you were speaking into a tin can on the end of a piece of string.
Do you not have telephony done South?

Iain Dale said...

Hamish, I was supposed to do it on Skype but it didn't work at their end. So had to do it on my mobile.

Lucy said...

We got rid of our Liarlabour government. Yahhh!!!! (NZ)

They were nearly as bad as yours.

I wish you all the best next election.

Jimmy said...


"I've no idea what they're going do discuss beyond what's printed on the agenda."......

.....What do you think they are actually going to discuss?

Is your monitor broken?

Catosays said...

Sounds to me as though there's a bit of a constitutional crisis brewing here.
I can't see how the Dear Leader is going to bluff or bully his way out of this.

Brian said...

Harriet Harman has previous (as our guardians of parliament phrase it) for interwebby PC problems; wasn't her blog hacked so easily because the username was Harriet and password Harman?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doubting Richard said...


"I'm not under the impression he is consulting anyone"

Then why bring it up? It has no relevance at all.

"I agree that the Speaker has no business at a party strategy meeting, but that is your characterisation of it"

Read the letter. Look at the guest list. Note who is invited and who is not invited.

"And he is not, contrary to your assertion, a Labour MP"

In exactly what way?

He was elected a Labour MP. He has acted in every way like a Labour MP, even since he has been elected Speaker; from his rulings and words in the House, through his class envy, the ridiculous characterising any criticism of him as snobbery, down to the grasping and grabbing at every perk of office that we have to pay for. Even the fact that his partisan acting in Labour's favour has attacked the UK constitution is typical of New Labour.

Conand said...

"nothing to do with the contents"

Sorry Harriet the contents of the Email attachment give the game away. You're not even very good at lying, you are nothing.
By the way, the complete ninny who sent the email to Phil Hammond can't spot typos either, 'opertion'? I do hope they're sacked, or arrested or something.
The Stasi wouldn't have allowed such low grade ninnyism. If we have to live in a socialist totalitarian state at least we could have a vaguely competent one.

On a separate point:


Word Verification: Can Ian ?

I think he can, well he'll certainly try anyway.

Doubting Richard said...


A small hint about what your posts look like.

Unless we are to take it that you are completely clueless, then you look like you are defending Labour because they are Labour, not because they are right. You don't even appear to think they are right. You appear to be trying to twist other people's words, those in this email, even your own. You are twisting the meaning of events beyond the most generous interpretations probable.

That is how your posts look, throughout the Damina Green affair.

Trend Shed said...

That is a VERY high powered bunch of individuals if the purpose of the meeting really was:

"to discuss the parliamentary business and handling of issues that arise from the fact that the speaker's statement and the Queen's Speech will be happening on the same day"

Man in a Shed said...

The underlying issue is the office of the Speaker.

Labour broke with convention in forcing another Labour MP into the post ( before Jimmy starts up - Blair pretended he wanted someone else, but let it happen anyway ).

In the future the Speaker's chair should always be occupied by a member drawn from the opposition benches. ( Lib Dem next time perhaps since Labour have had a run on Speaker's recently ).

Glynne said...

is Campbell or Mandy invited?

Jimmy said...


I'm sorry if I'm not clear. I don't assume as you clearly do that it's a political strategy meeting but I agree with you that if it is the speaker's rep should not be there. I don't think that's partisan. I'm still struggling with the earthshattering significance of this e-mail, but looking at the main news sites I'm obviously not the only one.

Perhaps the Speaker is oversensitive in regarding the "Gorbals Mick" cracks as motivated by snobbery. Perhaps its just robust tory humour, like Nick Soames ribtickling teasing of John Prescott. I'm not convinced.

And no, he was not elected to this parliament, or the previous one, as a Labour MP.

Jimmy said...

"Labour broke with convention in forcing another Labour MP into the post ( before Jimmy starts up - Blair pretended he wanted someone else, but let it happen anyway )"

I believe the convention you'll find is that the Speaker comes from the government Party, Boothroyd being the sole modern exception.

Doubting Richard said...


I'm not assuming anything. I'm reading the letter, and making the obvious inference. You are in fact assuming somthing: that we are stupid and that Labour cannot possibly be the wrong. Both assumptions are incorrect!

You are also assuming that the "Gorbals Mick" cracks are snobbery. They are about the vast chip on his shoulder. You know, the fact that he sees any criticism or slight as snobbery, including that one? Lately they are also about his incompetence in his role and airs he has taken on. You know about irony I assume?

I did not specify which parliament Martin was elected to as a Labour candidate. He has of course always acted for Labour, and his constituents know they can rely on him to, so I don't see why we should distinguish.

That is what I was talking about, you twist other people's words. It just makes you look stupid or dishonest, as if you are incapable of reading, or as if you think you are will seem right if you lie about what other people say to make them look wrong.

Jimmy said...

I really do think the paranoia and the poison here is unbelievable. I enjoy Iain's posts but some of the people posting here are simply deranged. Harriet Harman, who was dragged through the courts by the Thatcher administration on politically-motivated contempt proceedings whilst being targetted by MI5, and who has been nothing but temperate and conciliatory in her remarks on this affair, is nevertheless accused, on no evidence whatsoever, of cooking up some sinister anti-parliamentary conspiracy. You think I'm biased? I really don't think you do yourselves any favours with this.

Michele said...

Jimmy old mate - are you so attached to the lunatics that you cannot (or will not) see the underlying problem?

For heaven's sake man, I'm in Australia and it stinks to here!

Wake up for heaven't sake

Catosays said...

Jimmy, there are times when you have to think outside the box. You seem incapable of so doing.
BTW, you're not David Boothroyd in disguise are you?

not an economist said...

One thing the Tories need to remember is that Labour has had the best part of a week to develop its own arguments about Damien's arrest. Thats 5 days for Mandy and Campbell to dream up all sorts of spin to defend what has happened before the parliamentary debate has been fully engaged.

Wonder what they will come up with. And are the Tories prepared.

Hacked Off said...

Well done, Ian.

Brilliant leak, considering how few people the email was supposed to be sent to. But then, Harpy does have the Midas-in-reverse touch.

The Penguin

Raedwald said...

Apparently Gus O'Donnell has backed off pleading 'other commitments' (R4 'Today'). So either (1) another Cabinet Office official will stand in for him (2) the Cabinet Office will not be represented as Macavity seeks to distance himself from the whole business. Take your pick.

Well done Iain - brilliant scoop. Just hope the anti-terrorism squad leave you something to post on when they raid you.

Nigel said...

>>You think I'm biased?<<

You think you're not ?

Take a look at the list of those invited to the meeting. There is no precedent in parliamentary history for the Home Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary to be invited to a meeting of this nature with the Speaker.

For the key government players in matter of extreme political controversy which gave rise to questions from all political parties about the behaviour of the Speaker's office to be arranging a private meeting with the Speaker shortly before his statement on the matter is extraordinarily prejudicial to confidence in the Speaker's position.

Can you really imagine (say) Betty Boothroyd agreeing to such a thing ?

Even dear old Nick Robinson expressed incredulity at the official explanation that it was "to discuss arrangements for the Speaker's statement", and Downing Street has this morning changed its explanation for the meeting.
Gus O'Donnell is now pleading a prior engagement.

I think I can fairly put you down with David Boothroyd as a government lickspittle.

Dave H said...

Sorry, on first reading of the email I thought "The Leader" meant Gordon.

And that missing out the "Dear" would mean a mobile phone strike or worse.

WV=pomicida. Australian-Italian for the killing of an Englishman?

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

It's clear that you are nothing but an apologist for this morally bankrupt government. Many here, and I'd suggest throughout the country, recognise that this government is the most oppressive, devious, duplicitous and - worse - incompetent in British post-war history.

You protest that this meeting is entirely innocent - and yet by your own admission you do not have a clue as to what is to be discussed. That is crass. It is also an inept attempt to defend the indefensible.

Yes, there may be those who agree with your point of view. How many will turn out to vote at the next General Election, do you suppose? I think that both you and they underestimate the sheer rage of the majority of voters.

I cannot recall in my lifetime such a level of anger, revulsion and contempt for any government of any hue. Nor can I recall such disgusting amorality and equivocation amongst its supporters.

The Huntsman said...

The implications of a meeting which seems to be expressly designed (as per Nick Robinson's report on Today: "to check the lie of the land, that they all understood each other's positions") to ensure the parties get their stories aligned with one another are very grave.

If Damien Green was later to be prosecuted, events concerning the search may become the subject of evidence on oath. If witnesses have cobbled together their stories in this way, it may amount to perverting the course of public justice: see my post @

Bugledog said...

Good work Iain - this governement are just so untrustworthy. I don't look at anyone in the Cabinet and think "you're on my team". They are all so dodgy. It's a like a bad episode of Spooks....

Anoneumouse said...

Perverting the course of public justice is an indictable offence at common law. The offence consists of an act, a series of acts, or conduct which has the tendency and is intended to pervert the course of justice (Halsbury’s Laws of England 4thEd. Reissue, Vol. 11(1), para. 315).

Doubting Richard said...


I had previously praised Harriet Harman on this issue. That doesn't mean she is not wrong here!

I see you ran out of argument, and resorted to desperate plea and faux outrage, along with some irrelevant background.

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for, she's a dangerous woman!

Jimmy said...

This satire thing's not as easy as it looks is it?

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jimmy said...

Dear Tim,

It has come to our attention that you have been making outrageous slurs against our client, Mr. Damien Fagin MP. He wishes us to make it clear that he made it abundantly clear to Mr. Twist at his job interview that were he (hypothetically) to forward documents left lying around unattended in the Home Secretary's private office that this would have absolutely no bearing on his future prospects of employment with the Conservative Party or (again hypothetically) chances of making the candidates' list. Indeed this was stressed to Mr. Dodger on each occasion our client received such documents. In each case Mr. Artful made it clear that he was not motivated by any prospect of reward, but only wished to serve the public interest and demonstrate that his failure to obtain a position with Mr. Fagin had left no hard feelings.

We hope this clarifies matters