Cameron Celebrated Christmas With Rebekah Brooks

Guardian hacks were very excited to have discovered – and were planning to splash on – the fact that the Prime Minister celebrated one evening this Christmas around at the home of the Chief Executive of News International. This is set against a background of the Guardian waging war on News International and Downing Street’s spin chief Andy Coulson over the News of the World’s phone hacking. There is also the slight matter of the government imminently taking a crucial decision about the Murdcoh takeover of BSkyB. Is it a shocking revelation? Dave and Sam have socialised with Rebekah and her husband “Champagne Charlie” Brooks before they were even at the couple’s wedding party. In the eyes of the Guardianistas this is yet more evidence of the unhealthy closeness of the Tories to News International. Never mind that Gordon Brown was also at that same party…

It is not the first time they have socialised, Sunday lunches at Chez Cameron are not unknown, because in truth they are near neighbours in Oxfordshire, the Camerons are in Witney and the Brooks’s are in Chipping Norton, some ten miles away. Wonder what shared concerns they could possibly have discussed?

Quote of the Day

Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet Office minister, told a Unite rally…

“The idea that cuts in spending produces a reduction in the deficit is a myth.”

Publicans Call Out Booze Bull

Guido didn’t weigh in on the minimum pricing story yesterday because if he jumped on every broken promise from Dave he would be typing till the cows came home. Instead of living up to his promise of being on the “cider” pubs (gettit?) Dave is continuing the crippling of the industry. Proponents of the hike Alcohol Concern say “duty is so low in the UK, that it will still be possible to sell very cheap alcohol and be within the law.” Something that is frankly nonsense given booze duty is up 26% in the last two years. The British Beer and Pub Association are quick to hit back. Just look at the how much tax Brits pay on their drink compared to their neighbours:

It’s not much better here in Ireland, guess Guido will have to stay in France more often…

Meryl Thatcher

A dull and bloodless PMQs was livened up as Meryl Streep was spotted in the gallery getting tips for her upcoming film about Thatcher. Number 10 apparently organised the ticket, though Guido isn’t sure why given what has emerged so far about its content. For some reason Streep apparently plays a sad Baroness, looking back at her life with regret. Guido’s heart is bleeding already. Personally he reckons they should have stuck with Oliver Stone’s plan of casting Sienna Miller in the role for his biopic

PMQs Live: Fags and Booze for All Edition

 

Guido’s Misery Index: Sadness Stalling

Despite the rise in unemployment and inflation the rise in misery has flattened out in Guido’s Misery Index, the reality-based antidote to Dave’s blue-sky happiness index. Given the budget deficit is still the biggest economic challenge the country faces today,  the GMI adds on the government’s deficit divided by the GDP taken from the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Retail Prices Index + Unemployment rate + ( Public Sector Net Cash Requirement / GDP ) = Misery Index

Plugging in the latest available figures for January 2010 gives you:

4.8% + 7.9% + (20.7 / 331.2 x 100)  = 17.77

After a brief suggestion that things were getting better, Britain seems stuck back in the blues…

N.B. Stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here

Burnham’s Fags n’ Booze Blunder

Andy Burnham seems to have let the cat of the bag about the reality of the Education Maintenance Allowance that looks set to be scrapped in the Commons today. On the BBC last night Reeta Chakrabarti put it to him that:

“…there is anecdotal evidence that sometimes EMA money isn’t just spent on books and transport but on clothes, nights out and even gym membership.”

In reply the Shadow Education Secretary let slip:

“Yes, they may spend some of it on food and even the occasional time out with friends…”

He went on to ask why some people should be able to have fun while others can’t. Perhaps Andy might like to explain why he thinks the government should be spending £500 million on taxpayer funded nights out on the town? Would he rather half a billion was cut from the schools’ budget to keep funding it?



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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