Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brown Effect: Gap Closes 12 Points Since Gordon Joined ‘No’

He has doomed major companies.

He has doomed whole towns.

He has even doomed Wall Street.

Surely he couldn’t doom the ‘No’ campaign’s huge poll lead as well…

When Gordon launched the United for Labour ‘No’ campaign on 3 June, the ‘Yes’ campaign trailed by 18 points. Today the gap is just 6%

Met Hack Phone of Sun Journalist

The Operation Alice report revealed that The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn refused to co-operate with officers, even though he was himself threatened with arrest for aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. Journalists are protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights from having to reveal their sources and Tom Newton Dunn knew his rights. So the Met legally hacked his phones. The Met report into Plebgate states:

“On Thursday, 31 January 2013, PC James Glanville was arrested on suspicion of committing the offences of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. His arrest came about as the result of the initial analysis of the mobile telephone records from the Sun political editor, Mr Tom Newton Dunn, which showed a series of contacts by text and voice calls between the two over several days.”

Welcome to Britain in 2014, where the coppers access journalists phones to sniff out leaks from within their own ranks.

According to the Guardian:

“If police are seeking journalistic material, including information about confidential sources, they should use the procedures laid down by Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) which provide article 10 compliant safeguards to ensure that sources are properly protected. It is alarming that in this case the police appear to have used other powers which do not have those safeguards and are not intended for use in these circumstances,” said Keith Mathieson, partner at law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain. Under PACE, police are required to go to court to ask a judge’s permission to get records belonging to a journalist. Journalists are then notified to enable them to attend court to formally resist disclosure to a third party. On this occasion this did not happen.”

Guido’s learned lunch partner spots a hole: By making Tom Newton Dunn a suspect, which the Met’s report into Operation Alice admits they did, the coppers could bypass having to alert him. Sun sources tell the Guardian they are consulting lawyers. A fight between Murdoch and the Met over accessing phones? Play it again, Sam.

Brave Bercow Bailed Before Blonde Bombshell Bashing

That must be a record for an Urgent Question. Prolix MPs were allowed to ramble at will around the Rotherham horror. At the end an hour and a half (UQs can be over in 25 minutes) the Speaker, in Michael Fabricant’s phrase “scurried off”.

Fabricant has questions about Saxton Bampfylde’s role in the now infamous appointment. He wants to ask the Speaker, personally. Under privilege.

The Speaker will try and stop him asking those questions because the answers are probably fatal.

Someone has acted with career-ending impropriety. It’s either the head hunters or it’s their client the Speaker.

Unless the Speaker takes to his bed with Pre-Traumatic Stress we might find out whether it’s the one or the other tomorrow directly after PMQs.

Ashcroft Clacton Poll: UKIP 56% v Tories 24%

Carswell hold…

Through the Keyhole With Lindsay Hoyle

If things do take a turn for the worse for Bercow, the favourite to succeed him is Lindsay Hoyle. With all the grace and favour perks that come with the Speakership – including a huge apartment in Parliament – it’s easy to see why anyone would want the job, and Lindsay has a taste for luxury already. Take a look through the keyhole and see what is to live like a Labour MP (turned Deputy Speaker).

Let no one question Lindsay’s taste, he has decorated his house to look like a House of Commons bar. Guido is pretty sure that bar (complete with snooker table) is a replica of a Commons drinking hole. The grand piano is a classy touch too, it goes nicely with the carpet. All in all Lindsay’s humble abode boasts 5 bedrooms, 2 reception Rooms plus a music room, games room and “leisure complex with swimming pool”.

And it doesn’t stop there. Even though Hoyle says he is “seeing so many families” in his Chorley constituency “in dire straits” using food banks, that hasn’t stopped him from applying for planning permission for a grand orangery and “a single storey rear glazed link” to his pool. It is clearly not tough for everyone in Chorley.

Bryant’s Nads Mix Up

Chris Bryant has got his knickers in a twist after Nadine Dorries mistakenly accused him of being a video star:

Nads was delighted to be able to set the record straight when Guido reminded her that she may have been thinking about these snaps, thankfully in still rather than moving form:

As ever Guido is happy to clear up the misunderstanding…

Chuka’s Taxing Spin

Chuka Umunna is spinning hard in the Times this morning over Guido’s revelations about his tax avoidance adviser donor. A spokesman for two-faced Chuka says with a straight face:

“There’s no link [between Mr Umunna and Signature Tax]; there are Labour supporters in all walks of life who share the values of the party and donations do not influence policy. The donation has been made and declared in the normal way, in accordance with the rules.”

“No link between Mr Umunna and Signature Tax”, apart from the £2,500 they gave him. Chuka’s spinner says of the donor: “there are Labour supporters in all walks of life who share the values of the party”, Guido wonders if this refers to their penchant for offshore tax arrangements.

Incidentally, Signature Tax itself has a rather odd whiff about it too. No one answers when you call their phone number and their website could have been designed in five minutes by anyone with a laptop. Yet they found £2,500 to bung to Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary…

SPEAKER WATCH: Bercow Kneels Before the House

Leonard Cohen on his bankruptcy tour sang whole concerts on one knee, hand extended to the audience. He really needed the money.

So it was with John Bercow yesterday evening. He knelt. He extended his palm to the Commons. “I am in the hands of and ready to be guided by the House.” He really needed the support.

How well he plays that great organ of democracy!

“My responsibility is to hear and heed them,” he said of its members.

They just didn’t have the heart to give the kneeling supplicant a jolly good beating.

That will happen – and it is still more likely to happen than not – today, the day after and next week.

It is still more likely than not he will lose the Speakership.

Jesse Norman asked gently whether he was going to withdraw the letter of appointment. He was told, “It isn’t for me to withdraw a letter but for the panel.”

Is it? Is it for the Panel? Wasn’t the Panel’s function to advise the Speaker? Whose name was on the letter of recommendation – the Panel’s or the Speaker’s?

(more…)

Monday, September 1, 2014

ConHome Calls for Bercow’s Head

John Bercow is facing growing calls to resign, with Conservative Home calling for his head in a blistering criticism of his failings his afternoon. The party’s in house journal argues “the Speaker ought to resign, for the good of the Commons”, that today’s “imitation of a u-turn… isn’t sufficient to save him”, and that following his statement today “Bercow’s position has become untenable”.

“His authority over the House as a whole has evaporated. In his statement this afternoon he was openly heckled by various MPs. His declaration that “a number of colleagues have expressed disquiet” about Ms Mills, when in reality at least 84 MPs are in open revolt on the matter, elicited a loud “Ha!” from Michael Fabricant. His proposal of a “modest pause” has been met by rebel demands for a full debate on his conduct of the affair. It’s no use suggesting this is a group of usual suspects who dislike him personally – the objectors have visibly multiplied in proportion to his misbehaviour. This is an unsustainable state of affairs, and his failure (or refusal) to satisfy his critics now threatens to disrupt the running of parliament.”

The damning piece concludes:

“He ought to go of his own accord or be made to go by MPs. We need a new Speaker who can live up to the job and restore the role to its former standing.”

If this were to snowball…

SKETCH: Bercow Does Bashful

The Speaker made his statement (of course). There was barking throughout. Never has a Speaker’s statement been heckled. Scoffing, scornful laughter on “A number of colleagues expressed disquiet.”

He said as little as possible, played it straight, modestly, firmly, with a self-deprecation mild enough to sound plausible. “My preference did not meet with sufficient support,” he said to explain why the combined post was advertised.

The management challenge was larger than it ever has been. The move out of the building and the refurbishment of the buildings was, he implied, beyond the capacity of clerks.

So, the panel chose the candidate to be both chief adviser to parliament and chief executive.

As to separating the roles “Any change would require the consent of the House.”

On the pre-appointment hearing he says he wants to hear views.

He is offering “a modest pause in the recruitment process while views are solicited in detail.”

This is the first stage of what he hopes will be an orderly retreat.

(more…)


Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


VOTER-RECALL
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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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