Tory Conference Reshuffle Hint

In last year’s Conservative Party conference agenda organisers included both the names and ministerial roles of those due to give speeches:

This year however just the job titles have been given:

Could that possibly be because organisers don’t know for certain whether ministers will still be in the same jobs? Who might not be giving a speech?

Rebel Tory Party Conference

Invites have gone out today for a conspiratorial alternative Conservative Party conference to rival the real thing next month.

The one-day Windsor event calls for a renewal of Conservatism and boasts an all-star cast of sound speakers including James Delingpole, Matthew Elliott, Dan Hannan, Tim Montgomerie and Toby Young.

As for the rumours that top Tory donors are becoming more and more disgruntled with Dave?

The keynote speaker is one Lord Ashcroft…

MacShame Own Goal

Self-proclaimed Russian expert Denis MacShane has been sticking the boot in to the Conservative Friends of Russia today. There is plenty to attack CFoR for, but Denis was up to his usual trick of stretching the truth:

Imagine Guido’s surprise when that turned out to be rubbish:

He just can’t help it…

Unions Fund New Tory Donor Exposé Site

Political Scrapbook editor Laurence Durnan is this lunchtime launching a new website claiming to expose the “shady millions flooding into Tory coffers“.  Search the Money reveals that millionaire financiers and hedge fund executives have given a total of £25.3 million over a seven year period, with hundreds of thousands more raised through obscure dining clubs that are not required to name their members.

Guido always welcomes attempts to shine sunlight on the murky world of Westminster finances. Search the Money is somewhat undermined in that its focus is exclusively on the Tories. Why no interest in the LibDems or Labour? The data is there and the tool has been built. Perhaps the fact that the website is being funded by unions has something to do with it…

Having had a little play around with it there are a few other improvements that could be made besides making it all-party, it needs to be able to slice the data by time range – making it very difficult to compare like with like. It also comes up with some surprising results – Stephen Phillips, the lawyer who represents Sleaford and North Hykham – is reported as having received the most money, a whopping £1,264,016.87. Only when you look in detail do you realise that a mere £12,000 of that was in donations and the rest he earned in fees as a highly thought of Queens Counsel. Not sure that there is anything wrong with being well paid at the peak of his career and the top in his field.  Zac Goldsmith with a reputed £200 million trust fund would according to Search the Money be making less money than Stephen Phillips. Something very unlikely…

Of course this site wouldn’t be necessary if it the Electoral Commission website wasn’t so useless…

MPs’ Food and Drink Subsidy Trimmed to £5.2m

The House of Commons bar and restaurant subsidy has been cut by a meagre £600,000. That means the new total coughed up by the taxpayer to allow MPs a huge discount on their food and drink stands at £5.2 million. 20% cuts to the defence budget but a reduction of just 10% when it comes to your money paying for their booze.

Leaves a sour taste…

GMB Boss the New Sheriff of Nottingham

Given the tough times being felt by workers up and down the country Guido would have thought trade unions would be especially careful to give their members value for money. GMB subscription fees now add up to a hefty £140 per year after the latest, albeit minimal, increase.

Guido thinks that paramedics, NHS employees and retail workers will be interested to know that GMB general secretary Paul Kenny has been spending their hard-earned cash on corporate hospitality at ice hockey matches. GMB have shelled out a six-figure sum to sponsor the Nottingham Panthers, with the package including a hospitality box and ten season tickets for GMB fat cats – pictured is GMB Midlands secretary Andy Worth enjoying some face time with the players.

A Nottingham baron robbing the poor to pay for the luxury lifestyle of the rich. Guido’s heard that one before…

Lobbyists, Wonks and Tories Mingling at the Russian Embassy
Conservative Friends of Russia Launch Party

Last night Guido infiltrated the Russian Embassy for the Conservative Friends of Russia launch party. The vodka was flowing as lobbyists, businessmen, wonks and Conservative MPs mingled with Russian diplomats and pals of Putin. Guido gathers that the decision to set up Conservative Friends of Russia was not taken lightly, with the Tory hierarchy expressing concerns that the group was being established the week after the Pussy Riot girls were imprisoned. Perhaps that was why the advertised keynote speaker Malcolm Rifkind didn’t show…

Replacing Rifkind was John Whittingdale, who awkwardly noted that “sometimes our country will not agree with your country, and sometimes your country will not agree with ours“. With the pleasantries dealt with the Russian Standard booze was wheeled out and tongues were loosened. One champagne-swilling Russian reader told Guido that he would be locked up if he ever decided to relocate the blog to the motherland…

UPDATE: CFoR have got in touch claiming that Rifkind is in Scotland and was never due to speak at the event. Despite being their Honorary President

UPDATE II:  Guido has independently confirmed that Rifkind was in Edinburgh yesterday and was never intended to be there.

Guardian Slams HuffPost Live Launch

Read what Michael “No Sun on Sunday” Wolff has had to say about the launch of HuffPost Live. Spoiler: it contains the word ‘moronic’.

Over on Media Guido

HuffPost Live‘s Nightmare Debut

The Guardian‘s Michael Wolff has reviewed the launch of HuffPost Live. It’s pretty brutal:

“HuffPost Live, a real-time video internet news channel that launched last week, is almost indescribably moronic. It is like fingernails on a blackboard, brutal in

[…]

ERS Shun Hand Count PCC Elections

Back during the great AV debate of 2011 Guido brought you the news that the Electoral Reform Society owns Electoral Reform Services, the market leader in manufacturing vote counting software. Guido wondered at the time whether the £250 million worth […]



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Quote of the Day

Andrew Neil on the dying Dead Tree Press

“I read more bloggers now than mainstream columnists, because they’ve got more interesting things to say. Too many columnists today make you think, ‘Yeah, I think you’ve said that 10 times before and I’ve just noticed your column has not go a single fact in it’”.

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