Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Miliband’s Amateur Grid

Credit where credit is due, so kudos to Sam Coates of the Times for getting hold of Ed’s media grid for this week. Much has been said about the amateur feel of Miliband’s media operation, but nobody had quite realised how bad it was until the written proof emerged. The same message is hammered everyday without deviation, but with plenty of repetition. An opposition needs more than one vacuous, non-costed, promise a day. Only a handful of faces are allowed a look in, though Guido is looking forward to who the “weekend guests” might be.

One thing that did amuse was the assumption that Labour will win on Thursday’s Heathrow airport by-election. The visit is already planned in for the next day. It somewhat undermines the whole “every vote counts, not taking anything for granted” message. An all round PR disaster. 

Rifkind Has Level Playing Field

George Osborne’s official spokesman has been in touch to say that, despite the whispers on the ground, the Chancellor does not have his eyes on Kensington and will, so long as the voters will have him, remain a Cheshire MP when the new boundaries come into play at the next election. The new constituency Osborne will stand in is likely to be Northwich. Rifkind’s people also point out that he has supposedly been going to the Lord’s since 1997.  Nevertheless the richest Conservative Association in the country likes to have as their MP a potential future leader of the Conservative Party, the original moderniser and leadership contender Portillo preceded Malcolm Rifkind, who many forget  stood for the leadership against Cameron.  You never know when they could call for Boris… 

Press Freedom Campaigner Dominic Raab Seeks Gagging Order

At the height of the phone-hacking scandal, backbench Tory MP Dominic Raab took to the Huffington Post to pen a passionate defence of the freedom of the press:

“Above all, we need to preserve the rule of law, hold those in authority to account and defend free speech… the Press Complaints Commission has been discredited. A stronger mechanism of oversight, at arms-length from politicians and the media, is needed. But, that is not the same as calling for tighter legal restrictions on reporters.”

Given his clearly deep rooted convictions about  the ability to scrutinise those in power, you might well ask why Raab is trying to gag a former colleague in the High Court under the guise of suing the Mail on Sunday for libel.

In Court 14 last Thursday, Raab’s lawyers pleaded to Justice Tugendhat that the now MP’s  former colleague in the office of David Davis, who can only be named as “Miss E”, should be gagged and banned from passing a Witness Statement about his behaviour, produced for her Industrial Tribunal, to Associated Newspapers. The Mail on Sunday ran a story last year that Raab had been accused of being a “sexist bully” by “Miss E”, resulting in a £20,000 settlement paid to her and a confidentially agreement before an Employment Tribunal hearing in 2007. Ever since then Raab has been on the warpath; he is suing Associated for damages, but crucially he is trying to silence the one person who could determine whether the original story is true. By gagging “Miss E” Raab is essentially preventing the libel aspect of his claim being fairly judged on the evidence of her Witness Statement.

The whole thing smells rather fishy, not least the part about needing the gag because of the “huge emotional hurt” that the black-belt wearing Karate champion and boxing MP says he is going through.  Raab’s lawyers claimed that if “Miss E” speaks then the original confidentiality agreement between Davis, Raab and her is null and void so she will have to pay back the money. Her lawyers cited “increasingly threatening emails” in court.

Such is the sensitivity around it all that Guido had to go down to the Royal Courts of Justice himself to get his own Court Order last Thursday in order to get third party access to the papers relating to the case. Justice Tugendhat has reserved judgement to a later date…

Such is the sorry state of the freedom of the press nowadays that the newspapers are cowed by politicians from reporting their murky goings on for fear of statutory repercussions. Guido is still not able to tell you what he was going to tell Lord Justice Leveson in his own evidence to the inquiry because he has been restricted by him from saying what an ass Leveson had made of himself…

Farage Blows Lifeboat Raspberry in EU Parliament

Exclusive: Osborne Playing Field 
Chancellor Has Eyes Set on Kensington Seat

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied, but rumbles are reaching Guido from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Sources within Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservatives say that Malcolm Rifkind is set to retire at the next election. No doubt he will be Lord Rifkind before long. With the boundary changes set to slim down the number of seats in London, neighbouring MP Mark Field is set to lose his Cities of London and Westminster patch, so he is watching developments with more than a keen eye. However things aren’t going to be that simple…

Elsewhere the Chancellor is in a tight spot given his Tatton seat is set to be shredded by the Boundary Commission. Though officially it doesn’t exist, sources indicate that Osborne is at the top of the list to replace Rifkind. He’s good mates with the chairman, has a home in the constituency and has been less than subtly pressing the flesh at recent Tory association events. Needless to say this will, Guido suspects, not have gone down well with Mark Field…

UPDATE: Informed sources have been in touch to say that Rifkind’s retirement plans may be being made only by others. This re-draw could be a real cock-fight.

Lucky Lembit’s Lingerie Modelling Debut

David Laws writes in The Times

“Liberal Democrats must also accept that the City, however unpopular at present, is a national interest worth protecting. And we must accept that the challenge for the EU is to do fewer things, but to do those things better — “doing less to do more”, as Mr Clegg once described it. We should be leading a fight to reform the EU to make it more liberal, more democratic and more focused on the big international challenges, rather than on micromeddling in national matters.”

China to EU: Yuan’t Getting Aid

The Chinese have taken a look at the EU’s plans to save the €uro and said “我不要 “. They have vetoed any financial aid unless they get guarantees for their investment. Sound familiar?

The €urozone should be worried about its isolation from the world’s emerging economic super-power. China’s biggest investment market in Europe is the UK and 62 Chinese companies have chosen to list on London’s stock exchanges, ignoring Paris and Frankfurt. The Chinese sovereign wealth fund is expected to invest tens of billions in the UK’s now green-lighted infrastructure projects.  Hardly surprising given that the UK reciprocates by investing more in China than any other EU nation. Would you yuan’t to risk investing in the €urozone after the ratings agencies put most of the zone’s banks on credit watch? Having a currency crisis is fundamentally isolating…


Seen Elsewhere

Tory MP Tells Leftie Jon Snow to Retire | Guardian
Russell Brand’s New Book “Sub-Undergraduate Dross” | Telegraph
Tory MP Barrister Represents Monaco Billionaire | Scrapbook
MOBO Singers Slam UKIP | ITV
Could UKIP Keep Britain in the EU? | Iain Martin
Why Piketty is Wrong | ConHome
Guido Whips Politicians Into Shape | Guardian
Milburn Levelling Down | Kathy Gyngell
Crosby and Carswell Make Friends at Guido’s Dinner | Mail
Mrs Danczuk Beats Mensch to Win Guido | Telegaph
PM Congratulates Blogger Who Destroyed Minister | Mail


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Rob Colvile reviews Russell Brand’s new book:

“Oddly, the person I feel sorriest for isn’t Brand himself – although he certainly comes across as a rather pitiable figure, projecting his own brokenness on to the world around him – but Johann Hari. Drummed out of Fleet Street for plagiarism, the former Independent columnist has washed up as “my mate Johann, who’s been doing research for this book”. For a genuinely talented polemicist, it would have been a humbling experience to have to treat this sub-undergraduate dross as the scintillating wisdom of a philosopher-king.”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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