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It will be interesting to see how much influence either man actually has with these 'jobs' or whether as I suspect they are their simply to give Brown the opportunity to say he has a government of all the talents. Both I suspect although they obviously have laudable reasons for joining the government machine will be used and abused.
Mercer in particular will be able to judge whether he's made the right move. If the government continue to ignore the need for a border police force, continue to either turn a blind eye or refuse to deport inflammatory muslim extremists and continue to profess support for the Human Rights Act then he will soon know that he has made an awful decision.

Its unlikely trhe leadership have learned their lessons from this. They still ignore people and restrict Shadow Cabinet members from speaking on their own issues. Its highly ironic we have a control freak in charge of our party when we are supposed to believe in people being responsible for themselves and stand on their own feet.

The Whips office asks a lot of Associations too, putting pressure on safer seats to help marginal neighbouring seats, irrelevant of how the safer seat is finding it in their own patches. Marginal seats get support that safer seats dont have access to.

Editor, what you say is very true.

Both Bercow and Mercer have stopped being Conservative MPs. Their decision.

That said I agree with the Editor that a contributing factor is the fact that the Whips seem to be living in the past and have little idea how to keep the team together.

Quentin Davies has been going AWOL for years like when he embarrassed the Major Govt by not helping Willetts that was a party matter not one of policy. His card should have been marked back in 1996 and he should have been deselected years ago.

Can't agree with you there Editor even though your words sound very fine. MP's would do a better job if they got some experience in the outside world while being MPs. They should all have second jobs away from politics - in my humble opinion.

Career development indeed!

Brown keeps talking about having a 'government of all talents' and causing mischief, so why isn't anyone pointing out that he is basically highlighting the fact that his government doesn't have enough talent?

I do not understand the Editor's piece (which is sound commonsense) as advocating Conservative MPs being banned from outside work, rather that more use might be made of the talents and experience they have so that they are made to feel more at the centre of the process of developing policy and having an influence on decision making: its called 'teamwork', I think.

I took the reference to career development as meaning, and I stand to be corrected, looking at new MPs and trying to map out where they might be in time of a future Conservative Government: future minister, in which case let us make sure they get to see and help in the work of departmental shadows. Or perhaps someone might make a good committee man/future chairman of a committee but perhaps does not have quite what is needed for ministerial office. Get them onto some committees.

Perhaps X is keen on Defence but knows nothing about the intricacies of Welfare and Pensions: not much point in sending him/her off to the DWP Committee, but a good idea to get them a slot on the Defence Select Committee.

Perhaps also an early chance to shine might just also reveal that X is a complete nincompoop who should not be allowed anywhere near anything important.

But above all, make sure their views are considered and valued and that they are not simply treated as Cannon Fodder to be marched towards the sound of the guns when General Cameron so orders.

"Management" and "perception" are two very important ingredients in politics.

Gordon Brown managed the recruitment of these two tory MPs very adroitly, our side did not. The perception is that they have "defected" to Nulab, which presumably they have not.

If they are genuinely "cross-part advisers", then why was it not announced by the tories before the event that this is what was going to happen?

2 - 0 to Brown, I think.

The question of "perception" could, I believe, work well for us though from now on. However much Nulab spins, tells outright lies or manipulates figures, we call appeal to what people "feel" about crime, the NHS, school results, Defra, etc, rather than try and convince them by different facts and figures.

It's good to see Patrick Mercer and John Bercow making a valuable contribution to our public life though, as the Editor says, it's a pity that their talents couldn't have been usefully employed by the Conservative party.

As with Howard Flight before him, it appears that Patrick Mercer was summarily dismissed, without the benefit of a fair hearing, so that the leader could be seen as 'tough'.

I despair to see a person who has served his country so well, at some personal risk, described as a traitor or a fool by fellow Conservatives.

Patrick obviously has a concept of service which goes beyond party politics and I wish that there were more like him.

It's good to see Cameron finally coming out and attacking Brown's appalling debt-fuelled policies with gusto.

The banking and currency crises, and potential house price meltdown is leaving Brown dangerously exposed. Cameron and Osborne need to up their attacks and don't let Vince Cable lead the way.

I buy Mercer's plead just, as homeland security is undoubtedly a cross-party issue.

Bercow's plead on the other hand offers no logic at all. If he can't make the case for improving the kind of services his son needs as a Conservative in the context of opposition, then he should resign or be deselected, and stand as a Labour candidate or independent.

Bercow is consistently disloyal to Conservative leaders. His own constituents should express their views before they permit him to wander off and help Brown's for power. What do they have to say on the matter?

I buy Mercer's plead just, as homeland security is undoubtedly a cross-party issue.
More than that, it's of vital importance to everyone in the country. Almost everyone at some time or other is in a place where they are a potential victim of one terrorist group or another - and that includes the terrorists themselves too and their supporters, even though they may not realise this and although the death of a terrorist is something to celebrate even if they are killed by a bomb not targeted at them, they too are just as vulnerable as anyone else. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness could be blown up by a bomb planted by supporters of Al Qaeda aimed at the General Public and members of a pro Al Qaeda terrorist group could be kiled by a bomb of an Irish Nationalist Terror group or Animal Rights Activists in the same way as an innocent member of the General Public.

Ed says more MPs should be involved in playing a part in CCHQ.

Many of us believe that the rot set in when MPs started holding positions in the old CCO, and it has got worse since more are holding positions in CCHQ.

Having an MP as Chairman is one thing, but having them heading up departments quite another. Especially as it conincided with the removal from CCO of some very talented people.

@James Maskell
"They [Cameron] ... restrict Shadow Cabinet members from speaking on their own issues. "

I agree, this is odd.

The Conservative spokemen should be free to speak out on issues that touch their area.

The only Conservative spokesperson that seems to crop up on the news is Mr Cameron. Every news issue should have the relevant Conservative spokesperson banging the Tory drum in the media.

Sir John Starkey said of Mercer’s move to the Brown tent: "Loyalty is paramount, if you can't serve the leader then you undermine him which is what Patrick is doing and that is unforgivable" Sir John also said that Patrick Mercer was playing poker with the party hierarchy.

David Cameron said of Gordon Brown "We face an opponent whose aim is not just to beat the Conservative Party, but destroy it", and with the help of Mercer, to undermine Cameron the gratitude of the populous along with the recognition for a safer country will likely be bestowed upon a victorious Gordon Brown of whom it was said politely declined Mercer’s request to go "even further into the heart of Labour"

If the leader of the Tory party was David Davis, would Mr Mercer so enthusiasticall betrayed his leader?

MPs like Mr Mercer are paid and elected to oppose the government and hold it to account but what are we to think when we read that Mercer’s commitments to Gordon come first and that he isn’t going out of his way to rebuild bridges with his party. In addition Mercer isn’t going to commit himself he will be missing the Conservative Party conference but should he find the time he may nip in, providing of course, there exists for him any interest for the wellbeing and future of the Tory party.

When the House of Commons votes on whether or not to hold a referendum, into which division lobby will Patrick Mercer and John Bercow go? Indeed, how will they and Matthew Taylor be voting on anything once Parliament reconvenes? And will Labour candidates be stood against them at the next General Election? If so, then what could those candidates possibly have to say for themselves?

John is absolutely wrong.

MPs are not elected to oppose the government, nor are they paid to do so.

They are elected to serve their constituents in the best way they see fit. Whether they do this well or badly will dictate whether or not they are reelected. Constitutionally and morally, party should have nothing to do with it.

They are also elected to represent ALL their constituents of whatever party allegience. That is the whole basis of the system of Parliamentary democracy and people like John would do well to go away and learn a bit more about it before making misleading and inaccurate statements.

If David Davis were party leader I have no doubt that he would have seen fit to make far better use of the expertise of Mercer rather than sacking him in a fit of PC pique.

As for Sit John Starkey, he is a died in the wool Cameroon (he recently had Cameron visit him at his home near Newark) and can be relied upon to object to anything that sems to slight Cameron no matter how ill founded.

In answer to David Lindsay, Patrick Mercer will vote on the issue as he sees fit. Since he is certainly further to the right than you are judging by your blog, and also further to the right than Cameron, I have no doubts what his decision wil be when it comes to voting on a referendum.

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