Tory/UKIP Defection Runners and Riders

Tim Montgomerie’s warning today that two Tory MPs are seriously considering defecting to UKIP has got the rumour mill spinning. As ever Guido gives you his tongue in cheek take on the runners and riders.

Mark Pritchard
Eurosceptic rating: 10/10

Pritchard is a serious contender. The secretary of the 1922 Committee resigned from his position as the Conservative Party’s International Office deputy chairman last month, telling the papers that his decision was a protest against Cameron’s weakness on Europe. Could he be about to jump ship?

Bill Cash
Eurosceptic rating: 10/10

Cash has a history of causing trouble over Europe, and was famously part of the Maastricht Rebellion that did for John Major. He has a fractious relationship with Dave and led a rebellion against the Coalition last year. Said to be reaching the end of his tether, though has stated on the record he does not want to quit the EU.

George Eustice
Eurosceptic rating: 9/10

An outside punt but it would be the completion of a journey for Dave’s one time Press Secretary who now leads a new group of moderately disgruntled eurosceptic Tory MPs. Guido can’t really see it happening due to the bright party career ahead but…

He’s ex-UKIP…

Douglas Carswell
Eurosceptic rating: 9/10

Carswell has long been an outspoken critic of the government, and ramped up the pressure on Cameron last year by suggesting that ministers could not be trusted to defend British interests on the continent. Extremely closed to fellow rabblerouser Dan Hannan. His name on a UKIP ticket would be a huge coup…

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Eurosceptic rating: 8/10

Everyone’s favourite eccentric backbencher lambasted the Tory leadership last year for allowing the Lib Dems to dictate Coalition policy on Europe, and has suggested that the EU could be the issue that brings down the government. He is even an expert on ‘flexicurity’…

Nadine Dorries
Eurosceptic rating: 8/10

To say there is no love lost between Nadine and Dave would be an understatement. Dorries has been strongly critical of Cameron’s stance on abortion, child benefit and his closeness to Nick Clegg, and was furious after her boss’ quip at PMQs that she was ‘frustrated’. Revenge is a dish best served cold and the party machine are not helping her with a little local difficulty in the Boundary Review.

While Guido understands that a defection isn’t imminent and Tim was obviously trying to put pressure on them not jump, there is clearly serious and growing discontent among Tory backbenchers. It can only be a matter of time…

More Mayor Hilton Speculation

Guido never had Matthew d’Ancona down as a Daily Star Sunday reader but you learn something every day. He writes this afternoon: “Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister’s closest adviser, has indicated that he may run for mayoral office when he returns from sabbatical, on the grounds that this will enable him to make a real difference at street level.” Confirming what we said back in February:

“…few believe he will return to Downing Street – rumour has it that he wants to try out his big ideas directly by running a city as mayor.  Given that he got nicked in 2008 for losing his rag with a train ticket inspector in Birmingham, we can cross Brum off the likely list.”

Guido’s money would be on Brighton for the former Green voter, but it’s hardly a big budget executive…

Ken’s Tears Make a Splash

After promising to make this campaign about substance and decrying distractions, Ken’s tears stunt has backfired. Tonight 1.6 million Londoners will see this picture of an exhausted and tired old man in tears on the front page of the Standard. Hardly a vote winning look. As one exasperated member of the campaign team put it “it’s impressive to make Ed look like the competent one.”

Red on Red: Watson Attacked as “Labour’s Mafia Boss”

The fallout continues. Labour colleagues are pointing more fingers at Watson:

“It looks like Watson may have overplayed his hand here. Its difficult to see how Siôn Simon is going to come out of this well and if MPs do make it on to the ballot paper its  going to look like a defeat for them. In 24 hours they’ve managed to give shadow cabinet member Liam Byrne the outsider/underdog status which can only help his campaign. 

 Watson tried to reinvent himself for the new politics era but he’s let the mask slip. He walks around with a halo on calling for more transparency in the media one moment and then be doing secret back room deals half an hour later. He’s the fixers fixer, in many ways he’s like Kevin Rudd in Australia. He complains about “invisible voices” and “faceless men”, but they are him. He called James Murdoch a mafia boss, but it takes one to know one, he’s Labour’s mafia boss”

Labour sources point to the fact normally “the General Secretary would have stepped in by now to sort out this mess,” but Iain McNicol is “an ineffective lightweight with no authority”.

Tempers are flaring…

 

UPDATE: A former Labour SpAd twists the knife:

“This is now going to turn into a ‘stop Sion’ campaign. Watson, what a genius. Doing for Sion what he did for Gordon…”

The Tears of a Clown

Newt tried it, so did Santorum, as did Hillary and now Ken:

Don’t cry for me Venezuela…

UPDATE: Full marks to the Standard for this gem of a headline:

Dave Takes Up Brown’s Legacy

Dave arrives in Indonesia and moments later:

“A tsunami watch was issued for countries across the Indian Ocean today after a large earthquake hit waters off Indonesia, sending residents pouring from their homes in panic. The US Geological Survey said the 8.7-magnitude quake was centred 20 miles beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles from Aceh’s provincial capital.”

Can anyone remember another Prime Minister this sort of thing used to happen? Surely not…

Birmingham Backlash Boils Over

As Guido reported yesterday there is open revolt at Harman and Watson’s plans to stitch up the Labour Birmingham Mayoral race as exposed by Patrick Wintour. It was dismissed as stirring but now one of the candidates, Gisela Stuart, has broken cover in the Times:

“The whole point of the mayors was to devolve power and increase democratic participation, but the Labour Party’s response is as an old-fashioned, backward-looking party. The party machinery has to show some faith in the good judgment of voters and you cannot do that by drawing up rules which narrow down the contest.”

You read it here first…

UPDATE:



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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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