Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Harman 7/1? Worth a Punt

Betfair has finally opened up a market on who will be the Labour number two – smart move guys, but the trading would have been more choppy earlier. Alan Johnson is favourite, Hilary Benn is behind him 5/2 and Harman is next at 7/1.
Blears, Cruddas and Hain follow up in that order at long odds. Guido suspects it could be that the favourite wins, but has nevertheless put a few quid on Harman at what looks like good value. Suspicious number of Brownites backed her nomination…

Floreat Etona

New Labour was said to be a clique or a party within a party, is Team Cameron an Etonian party within a party?
David Cameron Lord de Mauley Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Lord Luke
Oliver Letwin Lord Cope of Berkeley Bill Wiggin Lord Astor of Hever
Hugo Swire Lord Glentoran Viscount Bridgeman Viscount Astor
Boris Johnson Lord Skelmersdale

This is the Eton faction on the frontbench. But look around CCHQ and the shadow team’s young advisers, a suspicious number of well groomed, well spoken and well mannered types. Can we out some of the Team Eton back-room boys in the comments please?

UPDATE : Candidates names as well please. Off to a good start in no time…

Grammar School Row Down to Cack-Handed Willets

As far as Guido can tell this whole “new” grammar school policy row is bogus. The policy hasn’t changed since a speech on education Dave delivered a year ago. What is new is Willetts – he’s simply not up to front line political combat. He framed the debate in a way that created confusion and maximised opposition – and pulled Dave into a fight he wasn’t particularly looking for.

Sources assure Guido that those speculating that this is a faux-row to get Gordon off the front-page are mistaken, it is cack-handed presentation of the policy which has given irreconcilable activists a stick to beat Dave with. This is no carefully contrived Clause-4 moment.

Nevertheless it has still, amazingly, given Team Cameron some benefits. Three in fact:
  • Dave appears strong and willing to stick to a position that angers some people, (think Kinnock taking on Militant, so not a slimy pleaser).
  • The “Tories have changed” narrative is reinforced.
  • Rather amazingly, the Tories, rather than Brown, are dominating the political agenda less than a week after he became PM-elect.
The policy is hardly new, go back to April 4, 2006 and read this Cameron speech;
“The task is simple – to create more good school places. I intend to lead the debate on improving quality and standards in all our schools. That’s why I won’t be distracted by calls to create a few new grammar schools. My focus is on the need to develop good local schools.”

Willets, for all his supposed brains, is really not up to selling policy change to the Conservative activist base. Something that will no doubt be remembered come the reshuffle…

Gordon intervening in the row would never have happened under the old Alastair Campbell media grid regime. It means the Tories are setting the news agenda to which the PM-in-waiting has responded, with Cameron getting an opportunity to emphasise the changing nature of the Tories to middle class LibDem voters.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Friday Caption Contest (Washington, Late Edition)

Yes it isn’t Friday (when this was supposed to go up to coincide with Tony’s visit to Dubya*). There were, errm, technical problems.

What should have been on the placards?

*Incidentally, wasn’t that Ruth Turner chatting animatedly to the POTUS in shot on Newsnight?

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Who Didn’t Kow-Tow to Gordon?

Where Does Dave Find His Campaigners?

World Bank Sleaze Allegations Swamp Gordon’s Chief-of-Staff

Gordon Brown is expected to recall his former private secretary from Washington, where he serves as as an executive director at both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to become his chief-of-staff. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Tom Scholar, like Paul Wolfowitz, is accused of abusing his position to assist a girlfriend get a promotion.
He is accused of violating the Bank’s Staff Rules and the Board’s Standards of Conduct, like Wolfowitz, Scholar is said to have a romantic relationship with a female employee at the World Bank. Scholar has never officially disclosed this relationship even though it clearly interferes with his oversight responsibilities as a Board member. He is accused of directly intervening to further the woman’s career. He is not taking calls and has gone to ground.

Looks like Jonathan Powell’s successor will follow in his high ethical standards…

Saoirse!

click to enlarge
Guido is off back home to Ireland today, where he’ll be doing his bit for the only party of which he is a paid up member – the Progressive Democrats. (How a cynic like Guido came to be a paid up member is complicated and involves alcohol). The Irish general election is on May 24th. The PDs are the more ideological part of the governing coalition which over the last decade has made Ireland the high-growth, low tax, successful enterprise culture that it is today. They are fighting a strong threat from a rainbow coalition of Socialists, Greens and Gerry Adams’ gangsters.

The PDs are standing firmly on their anti-IRA, tax-cutting, free markets and free enterprise platform. Didn’t Britain once have a successful political party that stood for those values?

Incidentally Tony Blair, fresh from paying tribute to Sarkozy, appeared last night in Fianna Fáil’s party political broadcast backing Bertie Ahern. Fianna Fáil is the Irish equivalent of the Conservative party – so that is the second foreign centre-right political leader he has backed against their socialist opponents in as many weeks. The PDs are allied internationally with the LibDems, but as far as Guido can discover, no-one from Cowley Street is going to help the Irish liberal party. We will cope…

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Is Bell Off His Rocker?


Seen Elsewhere

Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”



“Digger” Murdoch says:

Is it just me, or is Nigel Farage just a top hat and a monocle away from being a Batman villain?


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