LibDems Prepare for Huhne Charge

Certain LibDems, who should know better, are pretending that Chris Huhne could cling on to his Cabinet post even if he is charged by Essex Police for forcing his wife to lie on his behalf, and then instigating a cover-up. How exactly would these one-time bastions of morality justify having someone who the police believe to be a blatant and wanton liar formulating laws and policy at the top table?

Harriet Harman survived bumping a car when she was in government, but her crime does not involve a potential jail sentence and, as far as Guido knows, she didn’t threaten Jack Dromey to remain silent about it. His crimes aside, after thirteen years of Labour destroying the honourable resignation, the speed and dignity at which David Laws walked was refreshing to say the least. Here was someone taking responsibility for their actions and doing the right thing immediately. Compare and contrast this to his yellow comrade Chris who has threatened his wife and children and is using them as a human shield to protect his fatally-wounded political career. Such cowardice is beyond contempt. 

There would be no love lost with either the PM or the DPM if Huhne was to walk, but if he is going to continue to delude himself that a lawmaker can survive being a law-breaker, then Downing Street should have the decency to sack him. It’s not like a reshuffle can be that far off anyway…

No Gifts For Nick

Life is hard for Nick Clegg, but Guido hadn’t realised things had got this bad. As government departments quickly declare all their meetings and gifts for Ministers and Special Advisers, poor Nick’s entries look a little sparse:

Even lowly SpAds have had more bestowed upon them. No doubt this is the same as the News International “didn’t want to go the party anyway” situation…

Suspicion That Surely Sophie Sutcliffe Saw

Awkward questions about Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister Ivan Lewis, aides and mobile phones are nothing new, however Guido has been musing that his current choice of Political Advisor might be a little more damaging than his sex-text-pest past. Given that Labour are in full breakup-Murdoch’s-empire-mode, what a good idea to have a former News International insider on the payroll. Well perhaps not given that Parliament has declared that it is “implausible” that those at the top of the company did not know that phone hacking was more widespread than the one rogue reporter.

When David Miliband’s campaign team disbanded, Lewis poached Sophie Sutcliffe, one of James Purnell’s many conquests and a former spinner at Portland. Interestingly she worked on the BSkyB account while she was there. Sutcliffe became Corporate Affairs Executive at News International in February 2009 and stayed there in the crucial period, until she started working for Lewis October 2010. The connection was made last week by Michael Crick, but the more Guido looks at the timings of her appointment and the developments in the News International scandal, the more questions that arise…

In the first six months Sutcliffe was at NI, the News of the World negotiated and paid out more than £1m to settle the first batch of phone-hacking cases out of court. Guido hopes Lewis asked what Sutcliffe’s full knowledge of this was? Given the vast amounts of money walking out of the door, you would think taht the Corporate Affairs Executive would have been filled in on developments. Did Sutcliffe know there was more to come? Did she pre-warn Lewis of what might be over the horizon? If she did, then why did Lewis not come forward with what he knew?

Quote of the Day

One former Mirror staffer recalls:

“Piers was extremely hands-on as an editor. He was on the [newsroom] floor every day, walking up and down behind journalists, looking over their shoulders. I can’t say 100 per cent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn’t…”

Misery Index: Anaemic Growth Reflected in Minor Misery Bite

On the day that David Cameron’s blue-sky, million pound happiness index is widely mocked, allow Guido to give you a little dose of reality. With the anaemic growth and a high public sector cash-requirement, there has been an increase in how miserable we feel, however the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show our misery, like our growth, flat-lining around the “not as bad as it could be, but pretty low” area. Things will get a lot uglier if we don’t get economic growth…

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

+ + + GDP in Q2 2011 Grew by 0.2% + + +

Not good, but not the contraction or complete stagnation that some commentators were predicting and Labour were praying for.

No doubt Balls will be warming up in Millbank right about now anyway. Except on VAT, his solution isn’t the correct one. Ignore the cries for a Plan B, what is needed Plan A+: Cut VAT as suggested by IMF, raise income tax threshold to £10k immediately, and actually start cutting the size of the state, rather than slowing down the rate of its expansion.

It’s going to be a long day of bickering…

Mirror, Mirror on the Fall

As speculation matures into full-blown witness statements and accusations, Trinity Mirror have called in the law firm Herbert Smith and launched an investigation into phone-hacking across its titles. Until now there have been only present tense denials of such actions.

One shareholder told the FT they expected “nothing less” than an investigation, but it hasn’t come in time to stop the company’s share price going into free fall, with a 9.8% plummet on Monday since Guido, swiftly followed by the BBC, and grudgingly some other papers, began lifting the lid. He’s not sure a mere review is going to do much to reassure investors…



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Quote of the Day

Sky’s Faisal Islam on the mood in Parliament at the moment:

“It’s a totally febrile atmosphere here. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones meets House of Cards – and if you chuck in the Labour Party – Laurel and Hardy too.”

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