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…

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

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Balls Speaking to McBrideSpectator

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

Keen’s Squatters are Angry Taxpayers

keen-squatters

Banner reads “Reclaiming Your Taxes”Could this be the work of the provisional wing of the Taxpayers’ Alliance?

N.B. More photos here.[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Police Called to Keen House Over Squatters +++

Mr-&-Mrs-Keen-on-Expenses

Unconfirmed reports from local sources say police have been called to deal with squatters at Mr & Mrs Keen (on expenses) empty home. At least it is going to good use…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Miliband is asked if he knows what ‘Yolo’ means by Time Out:

EM“No. What does it mean?

TO: “It stands for You Only Live Once.”

EM: “Is that right? That is a good philosophy for politics! It’s about a sense of adventure and doing what you want. Wow! I’ll use it from now on!”

TO: “Please don’t.”

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