Friday, December 19, 2014

WATCH: Farage Defends Candidate’s “Chink” Comment

Asked on LBC about UKIP candidate Kerry Smith’s use of the word “chink” while under the influence of sedatives, Nigel Farage gave a robust defence:

“Kerry Smith is a rough diamond. He’s a council house boy from the East End of London, left school early, and talks and speaks in a way a lot of people from that school and background do. We can pretend if you like… If you and your mates are going out for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?”

UKIP sources stress Farage was defending freedom of speech for a word lots of people use. In North London they say Hakkasan…

General Election Campaign Officially Starts Today

vote

Today is the day election spending rules kick in and the campaign for 2015 officially begins. Here are the key dates for your diary:

  • December 19: Long campaign begins. Candidate spending limited to £30,700, plus 9p per voter in county (rural) constituencies, and 6p per voter in borough (urban) constituencies.
  • January 5: House returns from Christmas recess.
  • February 12-23: February recess.
  • March 18: George Osborne delivers the final budget of the parliament. He only has a few working days to get it through before…
  • March 30: Parliament dissolves. Short campaign begins. Spending restrictions tightened to £8,700, plus 9p per voter in county constituencies and 6p per voter in borough constituencies.
  • May 7: Election day.

138 days to go…

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WATCH: I’m So Ronery

After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview – a film about the assassination of North Korea’s leader – amid threats from hackers that they would target the company further, now Paramount has ordered US cinemas to cancel screenings of Team America, famous for its homage to Kim Jong-Il. Don’t let the cyber-terrorists win…

Read more about the Sony hacking story here.

UPDATE: The scene from The Interview the hackers didn’t want you to see:

Ebenezer Grayling Threatens to Cancel Christmas

Every year in Epsom, Chris Grayling, the local mayor and assorted council dignitaries put aside their political differences to sing carols and raise money for charity. This year, the organisers booked a local church organist and qualified musician named Robert Leach to play the piano. Robert routinely plays at churches, schools, hospitals and old folks homes, but Ebenezer Grayling can’t get over the fact he is also the UKIP candidate in the seat for next year. The Tory MP has emailed the organisers threatening to pull out:

From: GRAYLING, Chris 
Sent: 16 December 2014 22:53
To: 
Cc:
Subject: Saturday

Dear xxx

I note that you have departed from the norm and invited the UKIP parliamentary candidate to take part in the carol singing this weekend. In the past this has been an event purely for the Mayor and the Member of Parliament. I wonder what has prompted this change and if indeed you have extended the invitation to take part to one candidate, I would like to be reassured that you have done so for all parliamentary candidates. If you have not done so, then I will have to consider whether it is appropriate for me to take part – given how close we are to the election.

Yours

Chris

Not exactly embracing the festive spirit in this season of goodwill, especially since Grayling happily sang along while Kipper Robert played the keyboard a few years back. This year’s carol singing is on Saturday, so hopefully Grayling will don his Santa hat and stop being such a Scrooge. Bah, humbug!

Pic via Legal Cheek.

Reckless Crowdfunds Defence Against Tory Legal Action

“It is almost Christmas: a time for caring, reflection, and forgiveness,” Mark Reckless tells UKIP supporters in a mass email this afternoon, before asking for festive donations to fund his defence against the Tories’ “sour grapes” legal action against him:

“The fact that the Tories are bickering over £3,000 when we all know they may have a £78m election war chest put together by their secretive clubs, and dodgy donors shows that this is just another cynical attack on democracy, on UKIP, and on the British people. It’s time for us to stand up and fight back, don’t you think?”

Judging by UKIP’s recent online fundraising success, E-kippers will cover his costs in no time…

UPDATE: A local Tory association source points out: “Given Mark is a trained barrister and this is a small claims case, we rather assumed that, like us, he would be representing himself. We’re surprised he’s lawyering up.”

What the Helic? SpAd Bill Soars to £8.4 Million
+ + + No. 10 Stuffed with 27 Special Advisers to the PM + + +

£8.4 million of taxpayer cash was spent on 103 SpAds in the last year, a 17% rise on the year before.

Chasing headlines in 2010, Cameron made a big deal of cutting the number of SpAds from 82 to 61. He now personally has 27. Twenty-f**king-seven spin doctors, bag carriers and wonky strategists. No. 10 now has almost half the number of SpAds as served the entire government just five years ago.

Nick Clegg now has twenty special advisers. Nearly double the amount that Jesus got by with.

Why does Esther McVey need a Special Adviser beyond a reshuffle consolation prize, and why is she paid more than dozens of others on the list who report to real cabinet ministers?

Why does the Chief Whip have three advisers at a cost of around £150,000? What are they doing – because there’s no real legislation going through the House?

And finally, Guido cannot fathom why, in his new role as Leader of the House, William Hague still needs three SpAds costing us almost £200,000. Bizarrely Arminka Helic is retained as his adviser on £70,000-a-year, despite recently being ennobled and therefore allowed to claim a £300-a-day allowance in the House of Lords.

What a bloody racket.

UPDATE: Hard to disagree with Angela Eagle:

“Another day, another broken promise from David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

“David Cameron promised to get the cost of politics down but under him the number of Special Advisers spirals ever upwards – the public are now picking up bill of over £8m to pay for his appointees.

“This also shows how you can’t trust a word Nick Clegg says. The Lib Dems used to say that Special Advisers shouldn’t be paid for by the public but as soon as he got his feet under the Cabinet table he broke his word. The cost to the public of Lib Dem Special Advisers is over £1.7million – Nick Clegg alone has more advisers working for him than he has female MPs.”

UPDATE II:

Danny’s Balls

dannys-ball-forecasts2

Guido has in the past reflected on the accuracy of Danny Blanchflower’s economic forecasting. How have his more recent forecasts of doom and gloom fared?

“Pay is going nowhere,” said the sage of Dartmouth last month, warning “we won’t see real wage growth until 2016 at the earliest”. Dopey Danny was following up on his June prediction that there is little likelihood of real wage growth rising in the months ahead”. He also made the same warning in May“I wish the MPC good luck with their forecast that real wages are set to rise in the second half of 2014″.

Lo and behold, today’s ONS data shows that “average earnings are now definitely rising”. He really should throw away his crystal ball…

Labour Three Points Behind Tories in New Ipsos Mori Poll

Labour types crowing about yesterday’s outlier ICM poll aren’t so chirpy about this one putting the Tories three points ahead. Meanwhile the Green Surge continues. Just 4% below UKIP…

Total Politics Closing Immediately

totalpolitics-closed

Ashcroft-owned political publishers Dods are shutting the perpetually loss making Total Politics magazine. There will be no January issue. Just in time for Christmas…

Guido always thought it was brave to bring out a politics/lifestyle print magazine in the twenty first century. Printing being expensive and lifestyle journalism being over-supplied already. It was always going to be a brutal world for a political magazine that was self-described as a “relentlessly positive magazine”. Good news doesn’t sell…

UPDATE: This statement from Dods came in after the above went to pixel:

“Total Politics is moving online-only from 2015 as part of our wider digital-first strategy. Total Politics’ following online is greater than in print, partly a reflection of our younger audiences inside and outside Westminster. Like many media organisations facing the same commercial and editorial realities, we aim to serve our readers in a format that suits them best.”

Mr Hasan Goes to Washington

hasan

Terrible news: Mehdi is leaving Al-HuffPo to join Al-Jazeera in DC. After the letter to Mr Dacre didn’t pay off, it looks like the one to AJ did. “Dear Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani”…

Joking apart, we’ll miss you Mehdi. Congratulations.

UPDATE:

For a sense of perspective Al Jazeera America has 1% of the audience that Fox News does…


Seen Elsewhere

Greens are UKIP for Young People | Telegraph
Short-Termism of CCHQ | ConHome
May Aide: CCHQ Are Being Misleading | Telegraph
Tories Planning For Second Election | Guardian
We Are Losing Cyber War | Fraser Nelson
Osborne Aide Lands Pay Rise | Mirror
The Sick Of It | Sun
UKIP MEP’s Welfare Hypocrisy | Channel 4
Rise of Angela Merkel | New Yorker
May SpAd Removed From Candidates List | ConHome
Clodagh’s Law | Press Gazette


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The Economist asks Tony Blair about Wendi Deng:

“Mr Blair roundly denies any impropriety. Asked whether he was (at least) careless about his reputation, he says calmly that it is “not something I will ever talk about—I haven’t and I won’t”, and then bangs his coffee cup so loudly into its saucer that it spills and everyone in the room jumps. But did he find himself in a tangle over his friendship with Ms Deng? A large, dark pool of sweat has suddenly appeared under his armpit, spreading across an expensive blue shirt. Even Mr Blair’s close friends acknowledge that the saga damaged him—not least financially, since Mr Murdoch stopped contributing to Mr Blair’s faith foundation and cut him off from other friendly donors in America.”


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