Watson belted out the Kings of Leon classic last night alongside Labour songstresses Luciana Berger and Gloria De Piero. All for charity of course. You can donate to his Comic Relief page here…
The Guidogram round-up of the week is going out shortly.
Thousands of Westminster insiders read the Guidogram, everyone from Downing Street insiders to Fleet Street never miss it. All the latest on the Leveson showdown, Mirror arrests, Huhne and more…
Join the conspiracy and become a subscriber to the Guidogram, free, to keep in the loop. You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…
Money-grabbing MEPs didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory yesterday, to put it lightly. One group are particularly pleased with their decision to vote down Dave’s budget deal. The European Parliament civil service have sent a fawning email to their secretive socialist President Martin Schulz, thanking him for protecting their wages and allowances:
MERCI M. le PRESIDENT SCHULZ
Yesterday the European Parliament rejected by an overwhelming majority the proposed long-term EU budget agreed by the 27 EU leaders last month.
You had already spoken out very clearly against this highly austere budget on 7 February.
So the Parliament has unequivocally stated that austerity budgets are not the way to get Europe out of the crisis. Austerity extinguishes any hopes of boosting investment and growth in the EU.
The EU civil service, paid out of heading V of the EU budget, was also a potential victim of the budget deal Parliament has just thrown out.
The staff committee renews its call to defend a high-quality, independent and permanent EU civil service which – don’t forget – is still paying the heavy price of the disastrous 2004 staff regulations reform.
We are providing James and Nick with legal support.As you’re probably aware, James Scott the Editor of the People and his Deputy, Nick Buckley, were arrested this morning as part of Operation Weeting. The police are investigating allegations of phone hacking whilst they were on the Sunday Mirror during 2003 and 2004.
Tina Weaver a former Editor of the Sunday Mirror and Mark Thomas, another former employee were also arrested this morning.
We are cooperating with the police and I will keep you informed of any further relevant developments.
Police have left their offices with bags of evidence this afternoon…
Looks like we’re heading for a big old showdown on Monday. Guido understands Labour have withdrawn all pairs for select committee delegations on Monday. Removing the slips revokes permission not to be in Parliament for the crucial Crime and Courts bill wrecking amendment. The Tories have “reluctantly” followed suit, with no exceptions. Business will run beyond 10pm – it’s going to be a long day…
Liam Byrne calls it a “hated tax”, Jim Murphy says the government should “listen” to the public. Most damning of all, Owen Jones warns of the disastrous electoral consequences of the government’s changes to the spare room subsidy:
“A warning to Number 10. You calculate your attempt to demonise benefit claimants has paid off, removing all potential empathy. But – unfortunately for you – most are decent people. When the electorate realise you are inflicting misery not on “scroungers”, but on some of the most vulnerable in society, your campaign will fail. You bank on the suffering remaining below the radar, and you will be proved wrong. We will hammer you with the consequences, and, in time, you will be defeated.”
Apparently not content with peddling the bedroom “tax” lie, a YouGov poll shows Labour aren’t being entirely truthful about what the public think, either. Awkwardly, 49% of the public support the government’s reforms, compared to just 38% against. Even 34% of Labour voters support the policy. They won the battle on how the debate was framed in the media, but despite what Owen says the “decent people” he talks of recognise that the reforms make sense…
UPDATE: At least one Shadow minister is finally listening to the public:
Dave says no deal to Nick and Ed; they will now have to vote him down on Monday. Channelling Churchill the PM says “a free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny”. Labour will now have to wreck the Crime and Courts bill if they want to pursue statutory regulation. The trap is set…
Guido understands former Sunday Mirror editor and former PCC ethics adviser Tina Weaver is among the four Mirror journalists that have been arrested this morning on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. Guido has been reporting on the allegations surrounding Weaver for years, including how she had knowledge of phone hacking, and how she asked staff to “spin” telephone numbers. This meant hacking voicemails, doing a reverse look up for billing addresses, and checking friends and family lists for numbers. Developing…
UPDATE: Guido understands the four arrested are Weaver, her news lieutenant Nick Buckley, James Scott and Mark Thomas.
UPDATE: This post-Leveson report is a good summary of some of the allegations:
This time Lord Ahmed’s comments about that old classic, the Jewish conspiracy, have forced Labour to act. The Times quotes Ahmed’s theory for why he was locked up:
“My case became more critical because I went to Gaza… My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this”
The LibDems could learn a thing or two from Labour about dealing with race rows…
Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun
Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:
“Sunday, May 10, 1998
Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.
After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.
I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.
They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].
I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”