UKIP Steal Tory Candidate and Helmer's Last CCHQ Battle

After Guido’s scoop this morning about CCHQ’s tactful start to the upcoming Heathrow By-Election, all sorts of other divisions have been emerging today. Many are asking what happened to the Tory love-in with open primaries, or even a basic selection meeting. The Commentator reports further embarrassment for Dave:  one former approved candidate did get a look in for selection, by UKIP:

 “…the UKIP candidate, highly likely to steal more than the 992 conservative votes that Jerry Shadbolt took in 2010, is none other than former Tory candidate for Edmonton, Andrew Charalambous. The businessman and barrister is also the founder of ‘Surya’, the world’s first eco-nightclub which hosted the official ‘Conservative Future’ party in November 2010. Activists may be confused as to whether to campaign for Cameron, who delivered them government, or for Charalambous, who delivered them… booze.”

With the Tories in a strong second place in the seat, the form set by the Oldham by-election should mean that we will be seeing the LibDems taking a sham role in this race. With the backdrop to this election, we could easily see UKIP coming third.

Talking of Euro-sceptics. Word reaches Guido from his Brusselois co-conspirator that all is not well with the outgoing Roger Helmer MEP. Normally the rules state that whoever is the next down the party list, automatically replaces a resigning MEP. However not everyone in CCHQ is enamoured with the equally Euro-sceptic replacement Rupert Matthews. He is a little eccentric and likes UFOs, but that can hardly render you unfit for selection when Norman Baker is in the government.

Some obscure quirk of the party constitution is being cited as a way of over-ruling the convention, but Helmer is having none of it. He has declared that unless Matthews is anointed his successor he won’t be resigning after all…

Simon McGee Going to Spin at Transport

Another day and another poacher turning game-keeper. Guido hears that Simon McGee of the Sunday Times is off to spin for the Department of Transport as their Head of News. This is the latest in a series of hack-to-government transfers that has included Gabriel Milland, formerly of the Express, going to Education and the Times’ Sam Lister going to Health. It also emerges today that Michael Tait, who was the sympathetic Political Editor of the Scottish Daily Mail, has gone to spin for Ruth Davidson, the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives. And which other Political Editor, very friendly with Craig Oliver, is desperate for a senior Head of Comms job at pretty much any big department?

Friday Caption Contest (Guardian Hacks See the Light Edition)

What has distracted York Way’s finest?

Via the twitter stream of their Online News Editor @JonathanHaynes

Captain of the Shippers

The Mail’s deputy political editor Tim Shipman is the new Chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

He will no doubt install a little more fun in the normally stuffy organisation, while embodying its amour-propre outlook.

His Lobby colleagues’ spoof Twitter account for him is a must follow.

Drinks all round.

To Be a Pilgrim Number of Taxpayer Funded Trade Unionists Goes Up

Last year the Taxpayers’ Alliance undertook their largest ever Freedom of Information request investigation to try to ascertain how many full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials there were in the public sector. Guido has been at the forefront of the campaign against what he named Pilgrims. Today the Taxpayers’ Alliance have announced that this year, in a time of austerity, government bungs to trade unions, which takes money from your wallet to pay for their strikes, have increased.

There are now 2,840 of these non-workers, who instead of being paid to teach or nurse, or regulate the paperclips, are funded to do trade union activity, on office time, in the office. Guido would put the suggested total bill to the taxpayer of £113m down as a conservative estimate. Once the free office space which should be charged to an outside group at commercial rates is taken into consideration, along with the fact that many organisations masked how many “Pilgrims” they really have by not playing ball with the FoIs, the real cost is much, much higher. So when you see those workers on strike next week, remember that you have paid for the organisation, staffing and planning, that should have been covered by union subscriptions. Instead the union subs went to the Labour Party to the tune of over £13 million last year. And don’t forget that someone else has to be employed to cover the job the taxpayer-funded agitators should be doing. So we’re whacked twice…

Russian TV Newsreader Gives Obama the Finger

Tatiana Limanova, an award-winning journalist and host of a Russian national news show on the REN-TV channel, reported on the APEC summit in the United States, giving a traditional gesture a moment after mentioning Obama. The station’s owner is close to Vladamir Putin, Tatiana has now been fired. Guido is unable to confirm that she has been offered a job on Fox News…

Turbulent Tory Take-Off at Heathrow By-Election

As the Tories announce their candidate for the upcoming Heathrow Airport by-election, there was some rather loud grumbling in the ranks last night. CCHQ have gone with the seat’s two-time general election veteran Mark Bowen. He’s the head of the Tory group on Hounslow Council and is looking to over turn the late Alan Keen’s 4,658 majority.

Given that the local press declared Bowen had “virtually accepted defeat” before polling day in May 2010, many boys and girls on the CCHQ approved list feel there should have been some semblance of an open contest, but it was all quiet from HQ. So imagine how well this email was received, hot from the Candidates Office, hours before last night’s announcement was made:

“I am expecting every candidate on the Approved List to rise to the challenge and take part in the campaign and polling day. If you are unable to visit Feltham & Heston, you can help out in other ways by joining our call centre in Millbank or at CCHQ Midlands based in Coleshill.

I am enclosing your Campaign Support Record Sheet. Therefore it is vitally important to print a copy and take it with you whenever you go to Feltham & Heston. This sheet will be signed by one of our Sector Agents each time you go. At the end of the campaign the completed sheet should be returned to the Candidates Department at CCHQ”

It’s not the request that is causing feathers to be spat, rather the patronising handholding and school trip worksheets, handed out in silence about how the decision was being made. So unity and vigour for December 15. It’s going to be a frosty winter on the stump..



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