Burnham Muddled and Cook’s Motives Revealed

With Burnham going on the attack over the Department of Education email leaks all day, he’s managed to get himself in a right muddle. Firstly he suggested that when in government he used his departmental email address for everything including, we must presume, political activity, which would be against the rules. And this evening one of his spinners has told the BBC‘It’s pretty hard to separate purely party political issues when in government’. Well that somewhat dampens the attack.

With the Tories expecting other leaks to surface in Chris Cook’s FT copy, Guido is wondering quite what this former Tory education advisor is up to. The Information Commissioner has confirmed that they are not running an investigation, contrary to Cook’s report this morning and the whole story has unravelled rather quickly. Toby Young thinks he might have worked it out

SpAd’s Unrecorded Private Email Network Includes Ministers

While we are on the subject of controversal email practice,  it is worth noting that the use of personal email accounts to avoid the eyes, and ham-fists, of civil servants is not confined to one department. The rules in the Special Adviser’s code state that party political activity must not be done on government resources, Andy Coulson used to remind SpAds of this when they were appointed to their jobs, telling them to use their own private emails. Guido understands that government Ministers Oliver Letwin and Frankie Maude prefer to use Google’s G-Mail rather than the government network. When it was broached with Frankie that there were security issues about this, Maude is said to have quipped that he’s the Minister for Transparency so it didn’t matter…

Steve Hilton is said to be a big fan of instant messaging on Skype, and Cameron still has his Yahoo mail, though he prefers to text message MPs, which isn’t always as private or secure as one might hope.  Downing Street information security protocols do not allow the use of webmail on official computers, hence the common sight of double-BlackBerry wielding SpAds and ministers. It also assists Ministers and SpAds who want to outwit backward looking civil servants resistant to change – a big problem in the Education Department…

Watch: Tim Farron Gets Brillo’d

From the conference darling to roadkill in less than 24 hours is a pretty spectacular career explosion, even by LibDem standards. Party President and King o’the Water Tim Farron has declared live on television that he would not accept the leadership of his party, even if it was handed to him on a plate:

A classic Brillo skewering…

H/T @Liar Politicians

UPDATE: Huhne re-stated his new line that Clegg will still be leader when he has retired from politics. Fingers crossed…

UPDATE II:  Rumour doing the rounds that Farron didn’t have much choice in going on the Daily Politics. Fits in with the Speccie’s Clegg is cross narrative.

The Star hits the nail on the head:

“British voters want action on serious matters that affect the country, not po-faced nonsense. Maybe if Evan Harris realised this he wouldn’t have lost his seat.”

Huhne’s Brass Neck

Chris Huhne is about to lecture you about the economy, suggesting that it’s evil “Tea Party” Tories who are threatening the economic recovery by calling for less tax and a look at our position in Europe. Of course his own raiding of the already stretched bank accounts of hard working families in order to fund his green vanity projects is perfectly legit.

It always worries Guido at how Huhne goes off on these tangents with a straight face. Whether it’s lying to the police or cameras, Huhne coolly sticks to his line with an almost psychotic calm. Not content with comparing the Tories to Nazis, Huhne is clutching at straws for a figure the LibDems hate even more – Palin. It’s all in the national interest of course… 

Before you take a lecture from him on the economy though, have a look at what Huhne said to the Guardian in 2002:

“The ‘no’ campaigners said the euro was doomed to failure, but all their predictions have been proved wrong”, and “The euro is living up to the highest expectations of the economists who advocated it, and Britain is missing out.”

Oh dear, a one off perhaps? Nope = have a look at the Indy in 2003:

“The freedom to set interest rates merely according to domestic needs is a cruel mirage. Monetary union protects economies from the vagaries of speculative capital flows, enabling more stable growth and investment.”

The rest they say is history…

UPDATE: Paul Waugh has a couple of intriguing snippets – not only was he singing their praises on the fringe, but Huhne will be attending next week’s Labour Party conference in Manchester.

Back to Spin School for Belardinelli

The spinning antics of Ed Balls’ minion Alex Belardinelli are a continual source of amusement in the Guy News room. Sometimes his cavalier attitude to the truth is outdone by a spectacularly poor effort. This morning he was tweeting about “the head of world’s biggest investment fund” saying the government “can and should change course” in a reference to PIMCO – the Pacific Investment Management Company. And who is their European chief? One Andrew Balls. Very much a relation.

Guido would normally say “leave the family out of it”, but it’s Belardinelli that has thrown that rule out of the window. As “Fiscal Gerrymandering” points out in the comments, it’s worth having a look at how Andrew Balls is rated: “Andrew ranks 172nd out of 241 fund managers for one of his bond funds and 68th out of 82 for the other one.” So not only biased, but below par. It must be a family trait…

Gove-Mail G-Mail

The full extent of the havoc that the Department of Education mole has caused is beginning to emerge. Today’s FT reveals another internal email that Gove’s people would probably rather not see the light of day.

As Guido reported a couple of weeks ago, the department SpAd’s assistant, Matt Gillespie, loyal to Gove’s predecessor Ed Balls, had sight of the Gove team’s emails and computers and has clearly made the most of it. They must be wondering what else he walked out with before he went to work for John Denham. No wonder the Tories are on the hunt

Chris Cook at the FT has taken the juiciest bits of an email sent by Gove’s loyal sidekick Dominic Cummings to other advisers suggesting that he would not be using his official email account anymore. What Cook fails to point out is that the full email, which Guido has put online here,  is about party political activity and sent to Conservative operational staff and spinners – something that arguably should not be done on government accounts. What does look a bit odd is the fact that he refuses to use his official party address either, opting instead for Gmail.

Chris Cook suggests that FoI  requests failed to turn up emails he has seen, thus breaking the law, however FoI does not apply to private party politics, only government business. While team Gove may be on the right side of the law here, it is muddy and hard to know where the line is drawn, eyebrows will be raised that Gove is allegedly using an email account in his wife’s name. If Labour have more from Gillespie to feed to Cook, this could get very messy…



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