Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FCO Says Hague/Myers Relationship Professional

A spokesman for William Hague said: “Any suggestion that the Foreign Secretary’s relationship with Chris Myers is anything other than a purely professional one is wholly inaccurate and unfounded.”

Interestingly worded. Note there is no denial that they shared a hotel room.

Exclusive : Hague Shared Night in Hotel Bedroom with SpAd

Guido has ascertained confirmation that for at least one night during the general election campaign the Foreign Secretary shared a hotel room with his then driver Christopher Myers, whom he has now appointed as his Special Adviser on the Civil Service payroll. Other campaign staffers stayed in separate more modest hotels and sources suggest that this was not a one off instance. Guido believes it to be the case that it would be usual for the bill for the room – which was settled by Hague personally – to be reimbursed via the Conservative Party’s election campaign expenses. One witness told Guido that the room sharing couple’s body language at breakfast was eye opening.

It is surely inappropriate for someone of William Hague’s status to be sharing a night in a hotel room with his driver – you only have to consider how absurd it would be if his driver were female to see it is completely bizarre even if there were two beds.  The appointment of Hague’s former driver to his private office is controversial because 25-year old Myers has no expertise for the job, no relevant experience and his only qualification for the position is his closeness to the Foreign Secretary.

Eyebrows were raised at CCHQ when William Littlejohn, Hague’s well connected and respected press officer for the last two years, was passed over in favour of Myers – who is currently in hiding from the press. Littlejohn was left effectively jobless after the election until Andy Coulson found him a job with Caroline Spelman. You couldn’t make it up…

Two national Sunday papers have the evidence but, despite journalists putting considerable resources into the story, their editors are reluctant to pursue it. Perhaps because in the words of the song,”no one knows what goes on behind closed doors”…

See also : Flashback: Hague’s Gay Special Adviser, Just Asking

Guardian Falls Foul of Scott Trust

Further to the post earlier about the Guardian taking tens of thousands of pounds from local councils in return for editorial guidance over their review of the “Future of Public Services” Guido got thinking. Is this shabby journalism really what was envisaged by the tax-evading CP Scott? The Scott Trust is in place to “secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.” All very noble.

Amongst the “essential qualities that Scott believed should form the character of a newspaper” are honesty, fairness and “a sense of duty to the reader and the community”. The Scott Trust’ role is to ensure that these values are upheld throughout Guardian Media Group.

So how does touting out control over a feature to the highest bidder really stack up with this?

Perhaps a complaint to the Scott Trust is in order…

The “Special” One

So Labour “oldies”, or election winners as they are also known, are not allowed to comment on the future direction of the party apparently. Unless of course they are Alan Johnson. But was his description of David Miliband as “special” really the best choice of phrase?

Well Guido chuckled anyway…

Guardian Surrenders Editorial Control for £15k

The withdrawal of public sector job advertising was always going hurt The Guardian, but it looks as if they are finding new craftier ways of propping up their bloated business model on the public purse. Wendy Miller, the rather grandly named Public Sector Manager, has been emailing local councils and asking them to cough up £15,000 to “sponsor” a Guardian supplement entitled “The Future of Public Services”:

Given the clamp down on public sector lobbying, Guido should think the Guardian got their cash as councils look for new ways to promote their interests,  but why are they still encouraging public money to be wasted on promotion and council aggrandisement? The fact that they are willing to surrender editorial direction for money some what weakens their “look at the culture of public services in the context of a general election and the current financial situation.” While their columnists bleat at the evil cuts, the management side are still scrambling for the taxpayer teat.

Quote of the Day

Labour Lords a’Leaping

As much as the candidates may try to spin it, it is clear the old guard still have the ability to upset the leadership apple-cart. Guido, like most people, wasn’t really paying much attention to the squabbles of the weekend after Mandy dipped an oar in. To summarise, it seems the Dark Lord made a supportive comment about Miliband D, who promptly said “woah there, back off with the endorsements”. Miliband E took offence, and a man who knows all about winning, Lord Kinnock came to his defence. As ever Lord Prescott got angry.

All fascinating stuff that kept the news channels occupied over the long weekend. The Labour Party is really covering itself in glory with this fascinating, in depth, internal discussion about it’s future. News is starting to emerge of Blair’s criticisms of Brown in his book published tomorrow. How convenient for the rest of the country that the Labour Party go into meltdown about the past, the war, the lies and the spin the day the ballot papers go out…

Perfect timing our Tone.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flashback: Hague’s Gay Special Adviser

This is not the first time that William Hague’s choice of Special Adviser has raised questions. Back in December 1995, when Hague was a Minister in the Welsh Office, eyebrows were raised about the appointment of another young Special Adviser with no experience of policy in relation to Wales. Although in the case of Barnaby Towns he at least had some policy development expertise having worked in a Westminster think-tank.

Even so, the appointment of a young, openly gay, relatively unknown figure led to pointed questions being asked by the opposition in the House:

Ministerial Adviser
Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what were the requirements for candidates for the recent appointment for a political adviser to the Secretary of State; what factors determined whether this post was advertised; and if he will list the previous experience, the current pay and length of contract of the successful candidate.

Mr. Hague: With the approval of the Prime Minister and after interviewing a number of candidates I appointed Mr. Barnaby Towns personally as my special adviser. His salary has been negotiated individually and in relation to previous earnings and is confidential. It is on a salary spine of 34 points ranging from £19,503 to £67,609; appointments are non-pensionable and the salary reflects this.

The appointments of special advisers terminate in the circumstances set out in the model appointment letter for special advisers. A copy is in the Library of the House.

Barnaby Towns had certain similarities to Christopher Myers, though in many ways Towns was better qualified for a SpAd’s job than 25 year old Myers. Myers has a second class History degree from Durham University, the Foreign Office press release announcing his appointment describes him as “a lawyer”. If you imagine this might somehow qualify him to assist with treaty negotiations or in matters of international law sadly this is not so. He is not a qualified solicitor nor does he have any experience having only just completed a law course.

Considering that the prestige of the Foreign Office attracts the cream of Britain’s graduates his appointment does seem a strange choice given that Hague could have chosen a foreign policy specialist from CCHQ or the staff of a think-tank. To instead hire an inexperienced, poorly qualified young man over and above more qualified candidates does raise the question: what special talent, unseen by the rest of us, does Mr Myers possess?

The existence of the government car pool rather makes Mr Myer’s experience as Hague’s driver during the election campaign redundant…

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote of the Day


Seen Elsewhere

Uber Needs to Mind Its Manners | CapX
Sun Victory in Court | MediaGuido
UKIP Gains Coming at Labour’s Expense | Elections Etc
Farage’s Migrant Muddle | Indy
Tristram Should Stop Bashing Independent Schools | Toby Young
Journalists in the Dock | David Banks
Let Them Eat Gay Cake | Laura Perrins
May v Javid | ConHome
Politicians Never Safe From Being Recorded | Stephen Pollard
Superstar Carney | Alex Brummer
Gulf Dividing Labour | Mary Riddell


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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