Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hemming - still not banned... (UPDATED)

John Hemming's gripes about being "banned" from last week's meeting with the Prime Minister continue to rumble on, with a short piece in the Birmingham Mail today.

Let's deal with the facts. All Birmingham MPs were invited to this meeting regardless of party affiliation - including John Hemming and Andrew Mitchell - by an email sent to their parliamentary addresses. Quite reasonably, the delegation wanted to agree the approach for the meeting, given that they only had 30 minutes with the PM right after PMQs last week, so two pre-meeting briefings were planned. One of these was in Birmingham and a second was in an office in Portcullis House (the parliamentary office block across the road from the Palace of Westminster) about 90 minutes prior to the meeting with Cameron, with MPs asked to attend one or the other.

There was ample opportunity for John Hemming to attend. He was not banned. As Jon Walker points out in his article, as the meeting was held in the Commons, not No 10, there was nothing to prevent John - as an MP with a pass - simply turning up, which Khalid Mahmood did.

The ever-imaginative Martin Mullaney points out that Birmingham "ratepayers" covered the cost - which they did. I wonder if a business meeting with the PM, compares well with more than £4000 spent by the City Council, of which he was a Cabinet member, on the drinks reception on the Commons terrace earlier this year?

According to Jon Walker, Cameron seemed impressed enough
"I thought what was very promising was that you saw all the parties working together, you saw the council and the MPs working together, you saw the private sector involved."
That's probably an outcome that we can all support.

I've been given a little bit of extra information in terms of the timeline. The original plan was that the meeting would only include members of the business community and all three parties on Birmingham Council (that wished to participate). MPs were not originally included. It is at this point, during the last week of August, when the email exchange to which Martin refers took place. Subsequently, a decision was taken to open the meeting to all of Birmingham's MPs, at which point the invitation was sent out at the end of August.


John Hemming said...

Given that I was told I was not invited they are not very good at inviting people. On receiving a vague email about the day I asked for confirmation and did not get it.

martin mullaney said...

The Council Leaders office e-mailed John Hemming with the message: "Unfortunately the make up of the delegation has already been settled, and Paul Tilsley was invited on behalf of the LibDems. As we only have half an hour, we are having to be extremely firm with numbers, but the delegation would be happy to invite you to the post meeting de-brief in Portcullis House, if that were helpful? " How do you interpret that message to mean "yes John, feel free to pop into the meeting"

Readers of this blog can get the true facts on my blog at

John O'Shea said...

I do hope that you aren't accusing me of lying, Martin...

John Hemming was invited. FACT.

There was nothing preventing him from coming to the meeting anyway. FACT.

End of story. End of storm in teacup.

martin mullaney said...

John, I am merely pointing out that your blog entry is being economical with the facts.