Scotland’s Top Tory Spinner in a Spot of Bother
Tension Added to Tomorrow’s Leadership Face Off

Another Sunday and another hit on “Dave’s candidate” for the Scottish Conservative Party leadership – Ruth Davidson. The Herald team report:

“The Conservatives’ top spin doctor in Scotland is under intense pressure over claims he has been advising a candidate in the party’s leadership election. Ramsay Jones, who as head of media has to be neutral in the contest, recently attended a meeting at Ruth Davidson’s home with her campaign strategists.”

The controversy focuses around a meeting on Sunday September 18 at the Cameroon former BBC journo’s Glasgow home. Jones, a party official paid for on short money, did a 150 mile round trip to attend. Officially, it’s  no comment all round, but Guido has spoken to other Scottish Tory figures who are fuming…

With one candidate ready to start all over again with a new party, and presumably new staff, the phrase “self-preservation society” is being thrown around an awful lot up north. Murdo Fraser’s plans have defined the entire debate to find a new Tory leader, and Davidson immediately became the “stop Murdo” candidate for those looking to save their own jobs. This meeting isn’t the first sign that the Tory establishment is backing Ruth, but it is the proof of the pudding.

While Cameron wants to keep out of this race, the timing of this story couldn’t be worse for him given that the candidates are going to come face to face at a conference hustings tomorrow afternoon in their first high-profile ding-dong. Given the temperature of the briefing going on this weekend it could get very messy…

UPDATE: Tory Party Chairman Baroness Warsi just told the Politics Show that she though Davidson was “fantastic”. There was no such praise for any other candidate. Seems the impartiality of the Party is well and truly out of the window…

Exclusive: Defunding Unions – Osborne To End “Pilgrims”

According to an internal CCHQ briefing, produced ahead of Frankie Maude’s speech, the government will announce a “consultation” aimed at bringing an end to full-time taxpayer-funded public-sector union officials. This is a culmination of a campaign started on this blog in April, which was taken up by backbench MP Aidan Burley with David Cameron at PMQs in May. It was then the subject of an EDM proposed by David Morris MP and highlighted at the Rally Against the Debt where speakers (pictured) spoke out against “Pilgrims”.  June saw public opinion swing behind the issue in the polls after the Taxpayers’ Alliance identified £67 million pounds wasted subsidising union activists. Eric Pickles and Frankie Maude soon got behind the issue. Last month saw the first breakthrough when the original “Pilgrim”, the full-time on-the-taxpayer Unison agitator Jane Pilgrim, was returned to front line nursing duties. She is the first of many union activists who will be put back to front line work.

Leaked CCHQ internal briefing:

The initial £30 million saving is more significant than it sounds, it strikes at the heart of the infrastructure of funding for union militancy, directly defunding the left and undermining their ability to muster state-subsidised agitators. The CCHQ briefing document ahead of the announcement refers to a term coined by this blog – “Pilgrims” – as well as crediting the research work of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. We’re celebrating this breakthrough as a huge policy victory, there is nothing we like more than bashing union militants…

UPDATE: Full story background to the anti-Pilgrims campaign here.



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Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall at the Press Gallery lunch:

“We lost our shadow chancellor, but most people thought we had lost our balls before the election.”

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