Liam Gets His Fingers Byrnt

Liam Byrne, or Baldamort to his friends, has had a bad week. Rule one of spinning for the Treasury is never to give definitive answers on anything. He made an claim on the Daily Politics last week that neither VAT or any other tax would need to rise in a Labour fourth term, he is now spectacularly rowing back. Having overstepped the mark in his role as the Treasury’s election attack dog, he is now firmly back in his box wittering about the Chancellor reserving the right to make the decisions.

Let’s hope his staff were on hand to bring him a soothing cappuccino…

The Unions are Back

George Osborne gave the CCHQ boys and girls a pep-talk yesterday in which he asked them if they could perhaps, maybe, please, “work harder”, and it seems to have paid off. Today’s attack on Unite has played out better than any recent engagements with the Labour.

Clearly done at short notice their  “Charlie Whelan’s New Militant Tendencydossier on the back of the BA strike is a comprehensive slamming of the choke-hold union money and officials once again have over the Labour Party. It says a lot about how far the Tories have really “changed” given their most proficient act this year has been old fashioned union-bashing.

Like the Ashcroft situation, Labour’s return to reliance on union cash was a ticking bomb. New Labour was built around keeping the unions at arm’s length, yet the leader of the financially stricken Labour Party has to sink to quiet mumbles on Woman’s Hour when he is forced to criticise them. Unite seem to have finally come to the conclusion the rest of the world reached long ago, that Gordon isn’t going to be around and they are willing to kick him while he is down with the timing of this strike. The unions are energised at the prospect of a Tory government and they mean business, with their £25 million war-chest, the only thing Unite will get out of this election is the chance to fill the green benches with their loyal stewards.

Sarah’s Discreet Tête à Tête Tweeted

While the village enjoys a day of bun fighting about unions and Sure-Start centres, how better to escape the toil of the frontline than heading north to Marble Arch for a long relaxing lunch at Locanda Locatelli. Over the £30 per plate coniglio arrosto, or the tagliatelle di castagne ai funghi selvatici Sarah Brown lunched with her husband’s very own dodgy, expenses fiddling, pension raiding, non-dom donor, Lord Swraj Paul. Unusually for Sarah, she hasn’t tweeted this.

Labour have tried to distance themselves from Lord Paul, who Gordon made a Privy Counsellor, despite no obvious qualifications beside deep pockets. To have their “secret weapon” Sarah grinning through anecdotes and stories shows just how keen they are to keep their purse-string holder happy. Wonder who picked up the cheque?

Hat-tip: EyeSpyMP (with a little help from Photoshop).

UPDATE : The Eye Spies inform us that the long lunch finished at three thirty. Something tells Guido that Sarah wouldn’t have been so quick to tweet about her outing had she not been busted with Labour’s persona non grata.  Kids? He is the Labour Party’s piggy bank more like…

Quote of the Day

Eric Pickles told this morning’s press conference…

“Comrades, welcome to Transport House…”

Cash Carrying Charlie Whelans Pop into Downing Street

CCHQ’s cardboard cut-out Charlies ain’t as menacing as the proper Charlie…

Exclusive : Inside the CCHQ War Room
Ashcroft Pushed Out, Loses Desk

With the Osborne and Cameron operation moving over from the Norman Shaw building on the Parliamentary Estate  to CCHQ on the fifth floor of Millbank, it is interesting to note who has been given the chop. The latest floor-plan reveals the fact that, unannounced, Ashcroft has lost his much discussed “office” in the centre of operations.  He has been turfed out and it has been turned into a proof-reading area and editing suite, clearly they have decided it is more important to check the small-print.  A case of “thanks for all the cash m’lord, goodbye!”

The policy unit has been pushed further and further from the centre and replaced with even more spinners, which illustrates campaign priorities. Perhaps worryingly for the embattled shadow Chancellor his desk space is listed as “George Osborne / Hotdesk”, as is often the way with offices using temporary staff.  There are a mere 6 double-barrelled names listed in the 200 strong operation.  See, the Tories really have changed!

Downloadable PDF: here.



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Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall is asked by Tom Newton Dunn if she would ever ban the Sun from one of her press conferences:

“If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it, but apart from that, no.”

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