Ed Strips Balls of His Loyalists

As the dust settles on Red Ed’s reshuffle it becomes clear that he’s taken the opportunity to neuter the other Ed’s power-base. How Balls and his operation work was finally confirmed when the Telegraph published his personal plans to destroy Blair. So what better way for a worried and weak leader to keep an eye on his potentially disloyal deputy than installing your own people into the rival inner circle…

Nearly all of the previous Shadow Treasury team have been booted out. Gone are B-Team loyalists, and eternal flounderers, Kerry McCarthy and Angela Eagle. Chris Leslie is the only one left in the team who gave Balls their first preference in the leadership election; he gave Miliband his third choice. Incoming minions Rachel Reeves, Owen Smith and Cathy Jamieson all voted for Ed Miliband, with Reeves and Jamieson putting Balls as their third and fourth choices respectively.  Balls is surrounded by people who prefer the other Ed. A smart move…

Downing Street Response – Fox Wins the Day

Downing Street says:

“The Prime Minister has now seen the interim findings of the Ministry of Defence’s permanent secretary review into Liam Fox’s relationship with Mr Adam Werrity, and discussed them with the Cabinet secretary. 

It is clear, as Liam Fox himself said yesterday, that serious mistakes were made in allowing the distinction between professional responsibilities and personal loyalties to be blurred – and this has clearly raised concerns about impropriety and potential conflicts of interest.

While the permanent secretary’s initial conclusion is that no classified or other defence related official information was discussed with or given to Mr Werrity by the secretary of state or the department, it is clear that much tighter procedures are needed within the department to ensure that the ministerial code is properly adhered to in future. 

Following these interim findings the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet secretary to work with the permanent secretary to complete the report, addressing all the remaining questions that have been raised by this issue.”

Fox survives to fight another day, but new procedures are not needed, the old rules just need to be stuck to.

Fox: MoD Initial Findings

“A grey area”…

A Tory insider vents some Huhne anger to Sky:

“No one from either side of the coalition trusts Huhne. We’ve all been on the receiving end of his briefing operation so it is rare to hear anyone say a nice word about him. Everyone is just counting down the days until the CPS respond. At least Philip Hammond actually took his own points.”

Ed to Staggers: Rid Me of This Turbulent Hodges

The NewStatesman’s party on the Sunday of Labour conference usually sees the party leader turn up and glad-hand the great and the good. This year Ed walked in one door and walked out the other door barely stopping to shake a hand. On his way out he muttered dismissively that this was his “thirteenth event of the night”. Ed’s people let it be known that it wasn’t bad luck that he snubbed the Staggers, the primary reason for his minimal technical attendance was Dan Hodges’ article that morning attacking Miliband’s strategy as “bold, brave, and politically suicidal” calling Ed the “Ralph Nader of British politics”. You can see how that might hurt.

This brought about a managerial crisis of confidence in editorial plurality. Friends of Hodges say that he thought the understanding was that “Mehdi licked Ed’s arse and Dan kicked him in the balls”. In the Thursday edition published during party conference Dan Hodges’ article about the booing of Blair was spiked and didn’t appear in the magazine – in fact it ended up being published on IainDale.com. Hodges was told he would be rested from the magazine for a few months but allowed to continue to blog for the magazine. Friends say Hodges was told explicitly that the Staggers’ relationship with the Labour leader’s office was important and he was damaging that relationship. Hodges has now resigned.

Could Hodges end up writing for the Spectator? When Martin Bright was pushed out after pressure from Gordon Brown he shifted from being the Staggers’ political editor to writing for their more successful rival. All in all it reflects pretty poorly on the Statesman that it has caved into pressure like this again. The Speccie positively revels in poking party leaders in the eye…

UPDATE:

Well they would say that, wouldn’t they…

Mehdi Hasan, the political editor at the Staggers and sympathetic biographer of Ed Miliband has just tweeted, “For all of you asking me to #SaveDanHodges … I don’t want to”.  Hmmm…

Fox: “Why Don’t You Just Say What You Mean, Kevan?”

Labour’s Chris Bryant did his part to muddy the waters around Liam Fox this morning by tweeting: “I’m perplexed by this smear and innuendo about ‘smears and innuendo’.” An infinite loop of smear and innuendo…

There is a rumour doing the rounds that the Guardian have been sitting on some rather saucy details about Werritty and Fox since last Thursday, with the editor believing that Fox’s position is untenable without the need for the full picture being disclosed. In the mean time the rest of the media seem to be trying rather hard to get a message out there…

Sky News defence correspondent Niall Paterson said in a live broadcast that the Defence Secretary is “not normal”. He later sent a tweet presumably in an attempt at clarification claiming “’twas in the context of making clear that secs of state don’t usually bring their pals on trips”. Quite.

The Mail have a bit of a mixed message. Political Editor James Chapman has gone on the attack, implying that Labour are playing dirty:

“Last night, for instance, Labour’s defence spokesman Kevan Jones, responding to Dr Fox’s apology, declared: ‘This is a man in denial.’ Why don’t you just say what you mean, Kevan?”

Yet his Mail colleague Peter McKay has gone the furthest of any hack yet, pushing the same idea as Kevan Jones:

“There is a final, delicate reason why Cameron and Co might have shied away from dealing with Fox’s private and public association with Werritty. Although Fox has denied rumours that he is gay, his friendship with Werritty seems to go beyond what many might consider is normal in male friendships. But the more-inclusive-than-thou Cameron would instinctively steer clear of querying it.”

“Querying”, eh?

A Second Breach of the Ministerial Code

While we are mooting the idea of an investigation into Fox and his dubious relationship with the Ministerial Code, shouldn’t the Cabinet Secretary be having a look at the weekend’s other casualty? Huhne has admitted to lying on the record about briefing against his cabinet colleague Theresa May. He said the message he accidentally sent to the world was meant for a staffer when in fact it was to his old Westminster School friend, and Guardian political editor, Patrick Wintour. Psycho-Huhne was also caught telling a barefaced untruth about Philip Hammond, he also arguably has fallen foul of the rules by undermining May and her policies:

Media interviews, speeches etc

8.3 In all cases other than those described in paragraph 6.6, the principle of collective responsibility applies (see also paragraph 2.1). Ministers should ensure that their statements are consistent with collective Government policy. Ministers should take special care in referring to subjects which are the responsibility of other Ministers.

8.5 Ministers invited to broadcast on radio, television and/or webcasts in a political or private capacity should consider if such a broadcast would have a bearing on another department’s responsibilities, in which case they should clear the matter with the ministerial colleague concerned before agreeing to the invitation”

What if GOD was one of us, eh…

Piers Morgan interviewed by New York Magazine

New York: How did the Mirror obtain Kate Winslet’s phone number and the ­McCartney-Mills voice-mail tape?

Piers Morgan: I’m not going to respond to every single, individual story. I published about 100,000 stories in eleven years. If anybody has any evidence of illegality, present it.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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