Zarb to the Slaughter

Labour aide Matt Zarb Cousins shot to village fame when he tweeted that the Queen was a benefit scrounger, on Jubilee day. After initially standing by his gag, he was forced to climb down and grovel by his waspish boss Andy Slaughter, Labour’s lanky lisper of Hammersmith. He avoided the sack though, despite a solid turning over by the most of the press. Or did he?

Guido hears that Zarb will be going his separate ways from Slaughter’s office, and not out of choice. Sources in Parliament suggest that tweet had a lot to do with the decision, but Slaughter was keen to avoid the negative publicity and criticism from his own side if he had sacked Zarb straight up. Probably because he is a republican too. When Guido put it to one person familiar with the situation they were pretty clear:

“I think Andy Slaughter is an a***hole. He didn’t have the guts to sack him at the time, so he goes and does it when he thinks no one is looking.”

Silly Andy, he should know that Guido is always watching.

With an exodus of staff, maybe one day Guido will finally find someone to go on the record with the great Labour Conference Hot Tub Scandal of 2010…

UPDATE: Guido understands Zarb will be joining the team over at Left Foot Forward. Given he’s been trained as an attack puppy, this could be just what they need to get out of their art-house rut.

Ken & Putin: Ever Seen These Two in the Same Room?

One is a controversial politician, mired in financial scandals, with no legitimacy, who refuses to exit the stage, the other is Vladimir Putin. When Guido joked yesterday that topless Ken had done a Putin, he didn’t quite realise the extent of the resemblance between everyone’s favourite hypocrite and Moscow’s muscle man. It really is a case of spot the difference:

When Putin turned on the waterworks after his surprise victory last week, he was obviously taking a leaf out of Ken’s play book. Naomi never did tell us where Charles Taylor’s blood diamonds ended up and with mutual friends like these, who needs accountants? If Tower Hamlets is anything to go by, these two also share a similar disregard for democracy. Though Livingstone will be lucky to poll at 49, let alone 99 percent…

Via Alex Wickham

Sayeeda Says We’re Mi-steak-en

Baroness Warsi’s people get in touch to point out that Guido was wrong to suggest that the Tory Chairman was full of it yesterday. When she said “I’m a vegetarian” what she apparently meant to say was that she actually eats meat. She keeps Halal, but this was seemingly too complicated to explain while being interviewed for a 2,500 word piece.

Glad that confusion is completely resolved then.

Mandy’s Front Group Back to Bash Burnham


Throughout December Mandelson backed wonk-shop Policy Network launched multiple salvos against the direction that the Labour Party is taking under Miliband. This morning they are back. Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Diamond, Alan Milburn’s former SpAd and the man who along with Ed Miliband wrote the last Labour manifesto, has opened fire against his old colleague’s “vapid form of leftism”, which he says comes from appealing to the core vote:

“…issues of major significance are defined by arguments occurring within the coalition government. Labour may have interesting insights to contribute to each, but very few of us, it appears, are listening.

..this uncertainty translates into an inability to develop clear positions on the big policy questions – and worse still, a tendency to point in different directions simultaneously… Where does Labour stand, and beyond considerations of tactical advantage, why does it take the positions it does?”

The Blairite ultra and former No.10 staffer goes on to slam the toxic “association with fiscal irresponsibility”, resistance to reform and calls for Labour to be “less tribal”. Nowhere is this mess that he alludes to more obvious than with Labour’s position on the Health Bill.

The major problem is that the man who is leading the fight against reform, was singing a very different tune when he was in charge. In May 2007 Andy Burnham told the Commons:

‘Now, the private sector puts its capacity into the NHS for the benefit of NHS patients, which I think most people in this country would celebrate.”

No wonder nobody is listening.

This must be what Mandy meant when he said in November: “I was loyal to Gordon Brown who I didn’t agree with entirely and I will be loyal to Ed Miliband.”

Andy Burnham was singing a very different tune in May 2007:

“Now, the private sector puts its capacity into the NHS for the benefit of NHS patients, which I think most people in this country would celebrate”

Brooks’s Double-Booked

Metropolitan Police Press office statement:

Police have today (Tuesday, 13 March) arrested six people at addresses in London, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Hertfordshire.

The co-ordinated arrests were made between approximately 0500 and 0700 this morning by officers from Operation Weeting, the MPS inquiry into the phone-hacking of voicemail boxes.

All six – five men and one woman – were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The two arrested in Oxfordshire are thought to be Charlie and Rebekah Brooks. The Met were not thought to be looking for the return of their horse…

Something For Something Culture

What could be worse for a Labour leader than being busted missing a NHS rally, only to be spotted at the football? Well being photographed arriving in a Rolls Royce must be pretty high up the list…

Guido hopes that the £100,000 donation Ed tapped up from Assem Allam, the Hull AFC chairman, is worth these blushes. He’s isn’t sure what Ed’s fellow Leeds fans make of it all…



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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