The Trappings of Office

Given his beach-ready build, Guido feels able to comment that the Prime Minister and his deputy seem to growing in stature, and that isn’t a metaphor for their careers. First it was Dave, but now it seems all those ministerial cars and dinners are taking their toll on Nick too.

Well that’s one way for the government to tighten its belt.

Sunday Times Runners and Riders

There is no denying that the Sunday Times Political Editor’s job is much coveted. Since the news that Jonathon Oliver was heading to spin-land, there have been all sorts of rumours flying around of hats in rings and silent campaigns. Names that have come across Guido’s desk include The Guardian’s Nick Watt (denied from the beach) The Times’s Sam Coates, the Standard’s senior and junior, Joe Murphy and Paul Waugh (denied flatly, though Waugh said it was “nice to be thought worthy of such a plum job”) Guido wasn’t expecting any other response…

Word is that current Deputy Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott is digging in and has her heart set on the job. She’s had a successful run of scoops and ghosted former Labour Party General Secretary Peter Watt’s grenade of a book before the election. An insider says she is greatly respected Wapping way….

DCLG Sith Intrigue

Eric Pickles has received plaudits from across the spectrum for being the first Secretary of State to publish his department’s spending over £500 for the last year. While much fun can be had today hounding the previous government’s cavalier disregard for the taxpayer, Pickles would be a fool to think the new wave of transparency won’t make his job tougher this time next year. Good.

Finally the public have the chance to hold all spending to account, and what a varied mix of wastage just one department has thrown up. Aside from hotel bills, corporate massage (happy-ending undisclosed) and clothing, this really caught Guido’s eye:

Why exactly was Gordon’s slush fund given £7,500 for strategic consultancy to the DCLG. If they were giving them cash, you can bet other departments were too…

UPDATE: The Mail have gone to town on the spending and the TPA are running a rolling blog.

Money Money Money

The latest batch of donations to the Labour leadership candidates has just emerged. Perhaps most surprising is that millionaire novelist Ken Follet gave Ed Balls £100,000 toward his campaign. And still he won’t pay his interns for their hard work.

David Miliband now has a war-chest of over 320k. Little brother Ed has been buoyed by £28,000 from the GMB but is still way behind his brother and Balls.

Developing…

UPDATE: Andy Burnham had a donation got ten grand from footballer Jamie Carragher.

UPDATE II: Ed Miliband is spinning that he has an additional £60k to play with that has come in small donations that did not need to be declared to the Electoral Commission.

Taxpayer Funded Lobbying of Dave Pays Off

Dave has come out in full support for minimum pricing on booze. He told the Manchester Evening News yesterday, and reaffirmed this morning, that he is “very supportive” of the campaign to have a 50p per unit minimum that Guido mentioned yesterday. No surprise that the taxpayer-funded lobbying firm Our Life have been quick to welcome the measure. Their chief exec Alison Giles was positively gushing with praise. What she didn’t mention though was Our Life’s previously lobbying of the Tories, while the taxpayer picks up the tab.

The NHS trusts that have channeled Our Life £509,000 to lobby the government (and the government to be,) have bought policy. Half a million quid of public money to get the PM to back your campaign – a necessary move in their eyes, in order to by-pass the Health Secretary who has comprehensively rejected minimum pricing. Regional NHS authorities are subverting the normal policy making process at a massive cost to the taxpayer. If they are doing it on alcohol what else are they doing it on? How many other taxpayer funding lobbying companies have the public sector set up?

Where’s the Cut?

Last night John Redwood flummoxed Kirsty Walk on Newsnight (here) when he said that the government was not cutting public expenditure. She didn’t really know where to go with her line of questioning since it was so off her script. The BBC weltanschauung is that we will soon be seeing massive and terrible cuts in government spending which will provide endless material of the grinding down the poor and vulnerable kind for them.

The truth, as Redwood points out, is that the government is still planning on spending rising every year, government debt will continue to rise year-on-year and the deficit will not be closed even in 2015. The unfunded overspending will be restrained in comparison to Gordon Brown, but will continue regardless. This government will continue to spend more than it receives and the budget will not be balanced. There will be no overall cut in spending…



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Quote of the Day

Former Miliband guru Arnie Graf reveals Labour’s disconnect with the working class:

“On one of my trips to the U.K. in the autumn of 2013, I bumped into one of Ed’s strategists in Portcullis House. He asked me if I was assisting the staff on Ed’s trip that was to take place in a few days to one of the regions. I told him that I did not have knowledge of his planned trip.

He told me that Ed was going to give a talk at the region’s annual fund raising dinner and that prior to the dinner he had invited the media to join him at a local coffee shop to listen to a conversation he planned to have with a minimum wage worker. The point of the conversation was to show how difficult it was for a minimum wage worker to get on in life.

There was only one problem. No one had been able to locate a minimum wage worker for Ed to talk with.”

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