Monday, October 31, 2005

He’s Resigned!

Indepen Consulting and Blunkett

Some Advice for Davis

As polls give Cameron as much as 76% of the membership vote with over 100 MPs having now declared for him, Guido is beginning to feel sorry for Basher. So, without charge, let me give his team some advice: do rehearse for the Question Time head-to-head with Cameron on Thursday. Its probably his last chance to claw back some hope – remember when old Nixon was trumped in a televised debate by a young JFK and turned the election around. Sorry, probably not the best example, but anyway…

Some suggestions:

  1. Experiment with aversion therapy. Attach electrodes to Basher’s ears, every time during rehearsals that he says “uhhm” or “errrr” flick the switch. His SAS training will mean he will be able to withstand the pain. This is still your only hope of getting him to stop stumbling and mumbling. Basher may think rhetoric is not important, but it seems a lack of rhetorical ability in modern politics only qualifies you for the office of deputy-PM. Aim for the top.
  2. Tell him to stop laughing nervously at his own jokes. They are not funny and it makes people think he’s a wrong ‘un. Its also ruining his macho image.
  3. Think about what questions will come up – clues: tax, cannabis, some quirky thing from the tabloids like Blunkett. If you prepare a jokey response, make sure he remembers (2)
  4. Although its not only Tories who will be watching they will be the only ones voting, don’t let him come over all Northern and chippy, its southern Tories who have all the votes. Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association has more votes than the whole of the North (approx).
  5. The “Blair heir” thing – Blair wins elections and voters prefer him to Brown, they may also prefer his heir. Tricky admittedly, given even some Tories wish Blair was leading the Conservative party. Some of the older members get easily confused, they may mishear and think Cameron is Euan. Be careful.
  6. The age issue – don’t call Cameron “son”. Basher mustn’t try to make out he has cabinet experience, shadow cabinet doesn’t count. Consider dying his hair / getting him a better toupee.
  7. That Heineken analogy – nobody drinks Heineken anymore, its naff. We all smoke dope instead. Could he maybe be an Ipod candidate instead? Get one of the spin team to think of a more “with it” brand. Better still is he perhaps a Bacardi Breezer Geezer? He is the Vinny Jones of Tory politics and Vinny advertises Bacardi. Worth considering.
  8. Careful on the tax cuts thing – Chatshow Charlie buggered it up completely when he couldn’t do his sums on local tax. Its probable that Brown’s wheels will have fallen off and the economy will be declining in three years time. So how would the growth rule work without growth?
  9. Consider getting him to show his more human side – perhaps a novelty tie?
  10. Don’t blame the media, its your own fault.

How Much Tax Would Jesus Cut?

An eagle-eyed blog reader emailed me something interesting. As a consequence Guido put it to Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome.Com that he was the author of last week’s Cameron-skewering David Davis press release on tax cuts. It was splashed prominently on his website Finally, finally, David Davis rises to the occasion and elsewhere in the media the next day. Tim told me I was misinformed.
How then, Guido asked him, does he explain his name being put as the author of the Microsoft Word file version of the press release? “I have absolutely no idea. I was definitely not involved.” Hmmm.

Further investigation resulted in an explanation centred on Nick Wood, Basher’s newly recruited spin merchant. He was formerly IDS’ spin merchant when he was Tory leader and latterly has been spinning for IDS’ Centre for Social Justice run by Tim Montgomerie.

Tim, who used to run Conservative Christian Fellowship, had lent his old laptop from his CCF days to Nick Wood, on which Nick writes press releases for Basher. “Nick Wood – a friend who has just joined the DD campaign – has an old laptop of mine. End of mystery. I am definitely not working for the DD campaign!” Its a small world, eh?

But now Guido wants to know, what taxes would Jesus cut? Or would he render unto Gordon what was Gordon’s?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

MPs Get Fat on Your Taxes

Guido wants to reach for the gunpowder when he reads that MPs are entitled to a £400 per month food and grocery allowance. That’s over £13 per day, no receipts required. Guido has a policy idea – MPs should get the same budget allowance for food that they allocate to schoolchildren. 37p per day. If its good enough for children, its good enough for them.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments its actually a per diem allowance of £20. Why do they need an extra twenty quid a day to get food. Do they really need this income support?

Blunkett’s Money Grubbing

Muckrakers wondering about Blunkett’s influence peddling should look into his relationship with Indepen Consulting Ltd, Guido thinks it unusual that he was able, (presumably this was authorised), to take a private sector position with Whitehall lobbyists only a month after resigning as a minister. The ministerial code specifies a three month cooling off period for ex-ministers. It is even more eyebrow-raising given that some of Indepen Consulting’s clients possibly stand to earn billions out of ID cards and the information systems for the proposed central population register.

The Sheffield Socialist’s Belgravia and St Jame’s high-life puts a lot of financial pressure on him, so Gordon Brown’s crackdown on the use of trusts to avoid tax on share options presents an interesting challenge for Blunkett. It used to be said that money scandals brought down Labour politicians and sex scandals brought down Tories, in Blunkett you may get double the scandal.

Right-wing Cameroonies

The Sunday Torygraph headlines Right-wingers back Cameron for leader in an article that has the smell of kite-flying about it. Melissa Kite, the deputy political editor, claims that Cornerstone are going to back Cameron because he is “more socially conservative” than people think. Guido doubts this story is entirely accurate. Andrew Rosindell forinstance would rather go to the Black Gay and Lesbian Socialist’s Christmas Party than back Cameron, Tombstone members are clearly not monolithic. Some of the headbangers loathe Davis with a vengance, some see the way the wind is blowing and are belatedly seeking preferment in the coming Cameron shadow cabinet. Some are backing him out of principle – the principle being that they want power and Cameron increases that prospect.

Cameron is no wet, he occupies neo-con territory on foreign affairs, he is resolutely Euro-sceptical (forget that youthful heretical memo to Lamont about the ERM, that was in the past and was a private mattter). The right has noticed he is up for re-negotiating the relationship with the EU and shifting Tory MEPs out of the “Quisling” EPP. He would privatise more council houses and cut taxes lower than Thatcher.

This has slowly seeped deep into the consciousness of the right. Guido was at a wonk-fest lunch on Friday at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the 50 year-old think-tank that spawned a thousand free-market wonks. Chatting to a Tory special adviser, a right-wing anti-Euro campaigner and an IEA staff member, the feeling was Cameron may not be one of us, but he might win. These are the people who hated John Major, the ideological die-hards of popular capitalism are just fed up with being powerless, which is why they have gone Cameroonie. Never mind the policy substance, feel the power surge.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Modern Conservatives Modernised

Basher’s team has got round to modernising the formerly piss-poor ModernConservatives.Com website. It was inexplicably bad, maybe they forgot they were going to be running a grassroots campaign? Or maybe they thought it didn’t matter – like it doesn’t matter if you don’t rehearse a speech?

Compared to the Fox and Cameron sites it is still pretty lame. Its a gentler, lighter blue (like Cameron’s site), a little less boxy, some better pictures, but still the same limited content, apart from a reduced number of MPs listed as DD backers…

Still more MPs listed as backers than actually voted for him. So despite the thumbscrews, not everyone has apparently confessed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Message Misdirection

Blair’s Euro-Failure” headlines didn’t really happen today. His Euro-daytrip for foreign heads-of-state was pretty much a waste of time. It looked likely to lead to a rash of off-message headlines. So instead Blair went into stern statesman mode. A bit of sabre-rattling and the headlines became Tough Tony Tells Tehran. Blair is the genius of spin.

Basher Tax Slasher

Finally, an actual policy skewer for Cameron, in a move aimed at solidifying the Davis base he goes straight to the point. No waffle about “change” but a pounds, shillings and pence pledge to cut taxes by £1,200. Which is a figure that Guido seems to recall being central to a 1992 Tory poster saying “Labour’s Tax Bombshell : £1,250 more tax a year under Labour.”Its an old core message – Davis is saying he’ll return the tax burden to where it was under Major. Nick Herbert is being credited with crafting the message, but Matthew Elliot, CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance will be pleased. He is a former aide to Davis who has taken a sabbatical to go back to help out his old boss on Team Basher. The expected Davis signing of a public pledge to lower taxes smacks of Elliot’s influence – inspired by Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.

Cameron’s “we’ll share the spoils of growth between tax cuts and public services” answer will seem vague in comparison. Cameron needs to put a figure on his tax relief bid.


Seen Elsewhere

Tory MP Tells Leftie Jon Snow to Retire | Guardian
Russell Brand’s New Book “Sub-Undergraduate Dross” | Telegraph
Tory MP Barrister Represents Monaco Billionaire | Scrapbook
MOBO Singers Slam UKIP | ITV
Could UKIP Keep Britain in the EU? | Iain Martin
Why Piketty is Wrong | ConHome
Guido Whips Politicians Into Shape | Guardian
Milburn Levelling Down | Kathy Gyngell
Crosby and Carswell Make Friends at Guido’s Dinner | Mail
Mrs Danczuk Beats Mensch to Win Guido | Telegaph
PM Congratulates Blogger Who Destroyed Minister | Mail


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Rob Colvile reviews Russell Brand’s new book:

“Oddly, the person I feel sorriest for isn’t Brand himself – although he certainly comes across as a rather pitiable figure, projecting his own brokenness on to the world around him – but Johann Hari. Drummed out of Fleet Street for plagiarism, the former Independent columnist has washed up as “my mate Johann, who’s been doing research for this book”. For a genuinely talented polemicist, it would have been a humbling experience to have to treat this sub-undergraduate dross as the scintillating wisdom of a philosopher-king.”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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