Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Smiley Dave

Be gone talk of doom and gloom. It was all happy faces today. Guido spent much of the morning at the Tories’ dubiously named “Big Society” event at the posh eco-council estate by Waterloo.  On the positive side, the idea is to deregulate voluntary activities to ease a roll-back of the state. On the negative side was Dave’s ill-advised Abe Lincoln “by the people” moment, swiftly followed by JFK’s “ask not what your country can do”, thankfully not sugared any further by “I have a dream.

Is this the influence of the aforementioned Ian Birrell?

On questions Nick Watt was straight out the box asking “What about the welfare state?” with his Guardianista pal Jenny Russell demanding to know what Dave would do about corrupt charities. Fair questions, but they clearly show the metropolitan media’s bias against anything not run by the state – Guido’s never seen them so quick to ask about corruption whenever it’s government proposing to provide a new community service.

At least the Shadow Cabinet managed to stay in line, for once – extraordinary with so many present. Though after Chris Grayling’s reference to “my friend Ben Brogan over there”, the friend in question was careful to make sure he wasn’t in the front row for the next session.

Punters Slash Odds, Ed Balls Now Expected to Lose

Right now on Betfair the odds on the Morley and Outwood seat being fought over by Ed Balls (2/5) and Antony Calvert (2/7) slighly favouring the Tory challenger.  Guido understands that Balls is cynically trying to shore up his vote in working class areas of the constituency by taking a knuckle draggingly tough line on immigration in leaflets going through letter boxes.

Antony Calvert has raised thousands online from grassroots Conservatives hoping to defeat the UNITE union backed and widely disliked protege of Gordon Brown.  Many of those hoping for Balls to provide a “Portillo moment” on election night are Labour MPs…

UPDATE : According to YouFund.Me.uk, Calvert has raised over £6,000 online in the last 7 days with the average donation just over £30.  The odds have moved even further in against Balls today, he is now 6/4 versus Calvert at 1/2.  Guido did manage to get a few quid on early…

Baldemort Butters Up Blog

Despite the site coining “Baldemort” as his charming nickname, it seems that the neo-Thatcherite cabinet minister Liam Byrne is a closet Guido fan.  He said at the despatch box yesterday:

“As I was casually looking at my favourite new blog, Order-Order.com, I was surprised to read that at Tory central office the shadow Chancellor’s desk is now listed as ‘George Osborne/Hotdesk’.  Are they trying to send him a message?”

So both Dave and Liam have used Guido’s lines in the Commons in the last couple of weeks. Maybe it’s time to go behind a pay-wall.

Birrell Pulls Ahead in PMS Race

Two weeks ago Guido tipped former Indy deputy-editor Ian Birrell as one of the candidates to become David Cameron’s Prime Minister’s Spokesman. Well things are progressing nicely for the friend who bonded with Cameron through both having disabled children. As last night’s Standard reported Birrell has been taken on for the duration of the campaign to hone the line and  boost Cameron’s speech writing team. This of course puts Birrell in a strong position, if the election goes Dave’s way, to make the move to No. 10. Guido can’t imagine Cameron’s spinner Gabby Bertin will let the job go without a fight though.

Teather Far From Cleared

There is a big difference between being “cleared” by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and having a complaint dropped. As anyone who has ever attempted to put a complaint in to John Lyon would know, he and his staff are meticulous about every procedural detail before any investigation is triggered or judgement is passed.

Hence it is no surprise that he dropped the Labour-coordinated complaint against LibDem “saint” Sarah Teather. Her opponent Dawn Butler’s staffer had signed the complaint in her brother-in-law’s name, which he claimed no knowledge of.  A sloppy attempt to stitch Teather up without leaving Dawn Butler’s clumsy finger-prints on it. If you are going to do over your opponent, at least do it properly. That does not however answer the serious questions surrounding the dodgy rental agreement Teather and the Lib Dems have in her Brent East office.

LibDem bloggers have gone into spin overdrive, while ignoring the fact she got off on a technicality.

+ + + Tories to Scrap IR35 – Geeks Rejoice + + +

HMRC’s IR35 tax regime is hated by IT contractors and freelancers, the Shadow Business Minister, Mark Prisk confirmed today that:

“For the last 13 years, Labour have constantly meddled with the tax rules for freelancers and self-employed. IR35 has especially proved to over-complex, uncertain and often unfair. At a time when Britain should be open for business, Gordon Brown has made it harder to be self-employed. This is why a Conservative Government would mandate the independent Office of Tax Simplification to undertake a fundamental review of current arrangements with the aim of providing a clearer, lasting and fairer tax regime.”

That is the geek vote sewn up…

Tweetminster Predicts Labour Biggest Party

Tweetminster is the website for people too stupid to work Tweetdeck or any of the many other Twitter apps. They have had problems with their headline-friendly research before – they overestimated Labour activity on Twitter by 45%. After a bit of prompting they retracted those figures in an embarrassing climbdown. Now they are claiming they can predict the election based on tweet patterns – essentially the thesis is that the more tweeted about the candidate, the more likely they are to get elected.   On that basis they are predicting that Labour will get 35%, Tories 34% and LibDems 22% with others scraping 9%.

There are so many methodological errors it is hard to know where to start. The most obvious one is that the Twittersphere is not representative of the voting population. Guido wants to know, do they fancy a bet?

Quote of the Day

Kevin Maguire says of Blair…

“I wouldn’t touch the former Labour PM with a bargepole these days”

Newsnight’s Pie Fight : Unappealing Politics at its Best

If you missed last night’s Newsnight, you missed a classic of its kind.

Prezza, Pickles and the Huhney monster trashing each other and squabbling in a manner that would make fish wives embarrassed.  Every now and then Prezza would shoutAshcroftlike he had a politicised version of  Tourette’s syndrome.  Huhne accused Blair of wanting a Labour government to protect his lobbying interests. Pickles tried to out-gruff Prezza.  It was so bad, it was good.

Watch it on iPlayer here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

+ + + Libel Reform Blocked + + +

tom_wDetails are a little sketchy tonight, but Guido understands that there has been a last minute ambush of Jack Straw’s libel reform bill in the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments.

The ambush was apparently galvanised by Tom Watson, with the support of Chris Mullins, Peter Kilfoyle, Jim Sheridan and Julie Kirkbride.

It seems inexplicable, the reform carries widespread support across all parties. Cynics note that some of last minute opponents had in the past benefitted from Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFAs). Others point to the closeness to former speaker Michael Martin, who opposes the reforms in the Lords. Others note that some of the oppents have themselves been beneficiaries of CFAs . Solicitors Carter-Ruck are lobbying intensely against to keep the no-win-no-fee system. Carter-Ruck won £50,000 for Tom Watson on that basis. Coincidentally.

+ + + Developing + + +

Guido Fact : Carter-Ruck solicitors had a table at the Index on Censorship Awards.

UPDATE : Index on Censorship has more:

LIBEL COSTS REFORM STALLED BY LABOUR MPS’ REVOLT

30 Mar 2010

A Statutory Instrument that would have reformed costs in English libel cases was stalled at committee stage tonight after several Labour MPs voted against their party whip to bock a reduction of lawyers’ success fees from a 100 per cent mark-up to 10 per cent. Chris Mullin, Peter Kilfoyle, Tom Watson and Jim Sheridan and Julie Kirkbride voted against the move. Watson and Kilfoyle have both taken advantage of Conditional Fee Agreements in past court cases. Conservative MPs abstained from the vote.

The proposal will now go to a full parliamentary vote.


Seen Elsewhere

Play the Great Clacton By-Election Game! | ConservativeHome
Your Aussie Sheila’s Not Up To It Mr Speaker | Jesse Norman
The Douglas Carswell Shock | Tim Stanley
Carswell is a True Moderniser | Charles Moore
Assembling a New World Order | Henry Kissinger
India’s Modi Bypasses Mainstream Media | Index
Bercow on the Knife Edge | Quentin Letts
Welcome to Mississippi | Conservative Women
LibDems Select Hancock Replacement | Blue Guerilla
Carswell Resigning: “Moment Labour Won Election” | Labour Uncut
Why We Need Change | Douglas Carswell


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We also need Zil lanes.


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