Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Round II : Gloves Off

Tonight in the House of Parliament Grand Committee room Guido will be re-united with Nick Robinson and Michael White discussing the subject of ‘the internet: saviour or corruptor of democracy?’

It is being hosted by Danny Alexander MP, the rest of the panel iincludes Peter Kellner (YouGov), Grant Shapps MP (Shadow Minister for Housing).   The organisers say get there early if you want to get in…

Follow the debate (it’s running from 6.30pm today) and send in your questions and comments to the panel – before or during the debate using the Twitter hash tag #idebate.

robbo-fawkes-white

Tempers Flare in the Heat

BlinkyEd Balls, denuded of Damian McBride, has to call journalists himself now to make threats. Blogging Speccie hack Fraser Nelson got the full hairdryer treatment from blinky: “take that post down now… You should not call me a liar…” Balls told him if he kept the blog post up, it will “expose” the sort of publication that the Spectator is and its “political” bias. “So you will take the post down?” Balls told a laughing Fraser.  The heat must be getting to Blinky.

Economy Contracting Worst Since 1958

The UK economy contracted an horrific 2.4% in the first quarter of 2009, its biggest quarterly decline in 51 years, according to the latest ONS data released today. This comes on top of the OECD saying we can expect a severe recession to come. Didn’t brown and Darling tell us last year that the economy would be on the up by this July?  Still a day to go…

Rennard’s Last Campaign

Lord Rennard resigned from his job as LibDem CEO last month, he claimed it was for “health reasons”, and that is a fiction that Clegg and the LibDem establishment are happy to maintain.  He was scheduled to leave Cowley Street in September, however Chris Fox has already been appointed as his successor and is now in place in Cowley Street.  Rennard is therefore somewhat superfluous in Westminster.

Shhh, Don't Tell Anyone We're in StockwellNick Clegg confirmed last week that Chris Rennard would be running the North Norwich campaign, it is likely to be the last campaign Rennard runs.  It is a little awkward given that the reason for this by-election on July 23 is that Ian Gibson, the sitting Labour MP, stood down over his expense claims.  Rennard himself is mired in his own expense claim difficulties over his “second home” two miles from Cowley Street.  He has now been reported to the House of Lords Privileges committee and asked to explain how and why he has claimed over £40,000 in expenses for what is in reality his main residence which he owned before even becoming peer.

He has now taken the step of calling in lawyers, Goodman Derrick, to advise him…

Paramount Wake for New Labour

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: Guido was at the “21st Birthday Party” for IPPR held in London’s Paramount at the top of Centre Point.  IPPR was partly responsible for dragging the Labour Party from the electorally chilling loony left towards the centre. You knew this was a valedictory affair the moment Nicholas Boles came on the video tribute.  When the former head of  Policy Exchange, Cameron’s favourite think tank, was paying tribute you knew the moment for this once so New Labour think-tank was over.

ipprAccording to one of the speakers 1500 people had worked for them over the years, they included some famous names now in high office who had done the photo-copying as interns.  The whole night had a “our best days are behind us feel”.  When a drunken IPPR PR started screeching “how did you get in?” it felt embarrassing to tell her that Guido was invited to the wake – and, even more embarrassingly – had been there at the birth long before her.  Farewell New Labour, we won’t forget you easily…

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blundell Ousted from the IEA

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: Dale is first with the news that John Blundell has been ousted from the directorship of the venerable Institute of Economic Affairs, the grand-daddy of think tanks.  To be honest whatever spin is put in the official announcement this has been in the offing for some time.  Guido made his view clear to all in wonkland last year: “Young Blood Needed at the Daddy of Think Tanks“.

The problem was that John Blundell was not only low profile, he was very expensive and was beginning to concern the trustees.  The complete lack of influence on the Conservative Party agenda on the eve of a change of government was a big disappointment. The IEA trustees very pointedly introduced a rule in April that no IEA employee could drink during business hours or at IEA events.  The IEA has also, like most think-tanks, suffered from a fall in donations post credit crunch.  Staff were recently put on a four day week.

Possible successors to Blundell who are likely to throw in their hat are said to include; Tim Evans, formerly with the Stockholm Network and now kicking his heels at the Libertarian Alliance, the IEA’s own Roger Bates and Julian Morris from the International Policy Network.   Bates and Morris have baggage which will probably rule them out of the running, both have acted too often as think-tankers-for-hire to directly push policies on behalf big agri-businesses and Big Pharma.   The IEA has always kept itself above that sort of thing, it campaigns for capitalism not big corporations.

Matthew Elliott is too happy where he is and will want to keep the pressure on the incoming government from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. His brother-in-law, City A.M.’s editor Allister Heath, is in with a strong chance.  If the IEA wants to become a policy player again he would be a good choice, with his contacts in the media and politics he understands what will get attention.  The only thing is that if (as is rumoured) Matthew d’Ancona is thinking of moving on from the Speccie, Allister might also fancy his chances there.  Other potential candidates from wonkland could include Progressive Vision’s Mark Littlewood or Shane Frith, both of whom have done work for the IEA in the past.  A lot of people would like to run the biggest think-tank budget in Westminster…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Balls Still In Touch With McBride

balls_mcbrideWhen you know that it was Ed Balls who originally talent-spotted McBride at the Treasury and that it was Balls who directed the smear operation which McBride ran, it makes sense. Damian McBride was to have been Ed’s right hand man when he ran for the leadership if things had gone differently.  Having told the Today show to much guffawing that he barely knew “Mr McBride” he has now switched tack.  Perhaps fearing he was going to be caught lying when directly questioned by Gaby Hinsliff, he said his recent contact was merely social – “I certainly wished him a happy birthday. As I said [when he resigned], Damian did a very stupid thing, he’s paid a very heavy price, but we all get on with our jobs.” So Mr McBride hasn’t quite been airbrushed out completely…

Mrs Bercow Cavorted with Stripper Who Turned Rapist

You won’t believe this in the Mail on Sunday.

Hain’s Political Lobbying Firm

The Sunday Times has uncovered that Peter Hain, despite being made Welsh secretary in Gordon’s last barrel scraping re-shuffle, is still a partner in a firm that specialises in political communications. HaywoodHain, a consultancy set up with his second-wife claimed to have a “detailed understanding of the political landscape in the UK” on its website and used Hain’s London home as the office address. No conflict of interest there…


Seen Elsewhere

Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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