Tom Watson Bills Taxpayer For PR Advisors

The latest tranche of expenses data published this week had £652.08 claimed by Tom Watson for “Professional Services (Staff.)” This is the fourth identical claim made by Watson since April, bringing the total bill to £2,639.40. These payments mirror the rise in Watson’s campaign against News International as well as a shake up in his personal image… 

Watson’s local paper the Wolverhampton Express and Star claim that the this money is being paid to Gordon & Badley Communications –a PR company with a track record of providing Labour MPs with consultants. Why are we paying for Tom Watson’s personal aggrandisement? 

Oh Mann

Though he has his moments, few were surprised to see Labour MP John Mann contribute to the Westminster Hall debate on the lobbying on Tuesday. There was one particular target for his angst:

“Let us take the case of Bell Pottinger and the Werrity scandal. In that case, the question that arises is about the international role of lobbyists, because what has not come out is information about the role that Bell Pottinger was playing in Sri Lanka. People have been distracted from that issue, not least because Lord Bell is doing quite a lot of the public relations to try to cover his tracks and what was going on… Bell Pottinger is being paid to facilitate such things on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka … 

There must be absolute transparency in all the meetings that we have as politicians, and there is not. The lack of transparency is the fundamental weakness that exists, with people claiming that “private engagements” have happened. There should be no such thing as a “private engagement” for a Minister, and there should be very little of it for an MP. There should be transparency.”

Some good points, however Mann failed to declare his own “private engagement” with Bell Pottinger. Attendees at the 2005 Labour conference regaled to Guido the spectacle of a grossly inebriated Mann skulling £46-a-bottle Mumm Cordon Rouge 1996 at the expense of, you guessed it, Bell Pottinger. A proud rent-a-quoter such as Mann should remember the one about glass houses…

Friday Caption Contest (Digital Engagement Edition)

Labour’s Quiet Digital Revolution – Alex Smith

A niche one this week, but a bottle of Glenfiddich for the wittiest winner…

Video: Dolly and Watson Sing the Blues

A Friday treat for you from last night –  an “absolutely totally brilliant” butchering of a Dylan classic “Forever Young” by our old friend:

Despite Gordon Brown saying  there was “no place in public life” for him, Draper is back in the fold and singing his heart out as his old chum Tom Watson looks on at last night’s fundraiser for Ed Miliband’s Political Adviser Polly Billington’s shoo-in selection bid for the Thurrock constituency. As he can’t be seen in shot, presumably McBride is holding the camera…

With the Labour bloggers taking their lines from direct meetings with Ed Miliband, Political Scrapbook doing the red-raggy ones and Left Foot Forward and LabourList parroting press releases, it is as if Draper’s vision has finally been achieved. Only after he got out of the way…

UPDATE: Amusing snippets coming in from last night from all sorts of places. Apparently Polly and Ed Balls sung Endless Love and Dolly did three songs. Who knew Like a Rolling Stone had thirteen verses…

Another Happy Reader

It looks like Balls had a read of the blog before he went on Question Time and Newsnight list night. He confirmed Guido’s hunch that Labour would not alter their position in voting against any increase in IMF funding from the UK in the current circumstances. He’s made a lot of noise about the various reasons why this morning.

An unnamed Labour source, presumably Balls’s SpAd Alex Belardinelli (who we were assured never briefs anonymously and does all his politics on the record) told Ben Brogan: “we more than anyone need to be seen as being careful with the nation’s finances”. Though many Tories will be loath to side with Balls, this is going to rocky ride for Osborne…

Ed Balls says the role of the IMF is…

“not to solve a structural problem caused by eurozone countries being unable to agree the necessary steps to support and maintain their monetary union.”



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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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