Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sajid Javid New Culture Secretary
Nicky Morgan to Attend Cabinet as Minister for Women

Not a woman, but a key Osbornite is the first of the 2010 intake to make the cabinet.

UPDATE: Nicky Morgan MP is the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury. She’ll also be Minister for Women and will attend Cabinet in that role.

The Final Straw

Gary Gibbon points out that Miller was pushed after her PPS’s multi-vehicle pile up on Sky News. MacLeod went to pieces when confronted with her text message, revealed exclusively by Guido, citing a Leveson witch-hunt:

“I was told by one government source that Maria Miller’s PPS’s appearance on Sky News and her text message to Tory backbenchers saying the attacks on Maria Miller were a media witch-hunt were “the final straw.” This “should never have been said,” another government source said.”

The wheels were off by the time discipline had collapsed and anger led to leaking.

Miller Resigns – Read the Letters

Bye:

9 April 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

It is with great regret that I have decided that I should tender my resignation as a member of the Cabinet.

I am very grateful to you for your personal support but it has become clear to me that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this Government is doing to turn our country around.

I have been a member of the Conservative Party for more than 30 years. As a working mother, educated at a South Wales Comprehensive School, I know that it is our Party that understands the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they come from.

I am immensely proud of what my team have been able to achieve during my time in Government: ensuring that our arts and cultural institutions receive the rightful recognition that they deserve in making Britain Great; putting women front and centre of every aspect of DCMS’s work; putting in place the legislation to enable all couples to have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexuality.

Of course, implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson on the future of media regulation, following the phone hacking scandals, would always be controversial for the press. Working together with you, I believe we struck the right balance between protecting the freedom of the press and ensuring fairness, particularly for victims of press intrusion to have a clear right of redress.

I will continue to support you and the work of the Government as you move forward. Ensuring the best future for the people of Basingstoke has been my priority throughout the last 9 years. Whether on the front or back benches of the House of Commons I will continue this work.

The only reason I was able to become an MP and indeed a Government Minister and Cabinet Minister is because of the unstinting support of my husband, my mother, my father and my three children. I owe them all a great deal.

Maria Miller

And the reply:

9 April 2014

Dear Maria,

Thank you for your letter. I was very sorry to receive it.

I think it is important to be clear that the Committee on Standards cleared you of the unfounded allegations made against you, a point which has been lost in much of the comment in recent days.

You can be extremely proud of your work in Government – as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as Minister for Women and as Minister for Disabled People.

You have been responsible for successfully handling two of the most controversial issues with which this Government has dealt. As Culture Secretary, you have played a critical role in advancing Britain’s proud record of respect and equality in piloting the Equal Marriage Act through Parliament and onto the Statute Book. There are many people in our country today, and there will be many in the future, who will always be grateful for this very important change, which you did so much to bring about. You have also handled the sensitive subject of press regulation with skill and dedication.

You can be very proud as well that you have led one of the most important infrastructure projects: many more premises are now able to access super-fast broadband . You have also ensured a lasting legacy for the Olympic Games.

As you leave the Government, you should be proud of your service on the Frontbench and in Opposition.

I am personally very grateful for the support you have always given me, and which I am sure that you will continue to give.  I hope that you will be able to return to serving the Government on the Frontbench in due course, and am only sad that you are leaving the Government in these circumstances.

David Cameron

She won’t be back.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Miller Drowns Out Osborne’s Good Economic News

George Osborne must be furious that because of Maria Miller no one is talking about the IMF’s forecast that Britain will be the fastest growing leading economy this year. They have today announced their prediction that UK growth will reach 2.9%, the fastest in the G7, and then 2.5% in 2015. Also endorsing Osborne’s strategy for future growth:

“the government’s efforts to raise capital spending while staying within the medium-term fiscal envelope should help bolster recovery and long-term growth”

Yet because of one Cabinet minister grabbing all the headlines, this will go unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. As ConHome’s Mark Wallace points out:

“Ministers need to be able to get on with communicating the central messages that have the potential to deliver victory in 2015. If their interviews are constantly sidetracked into the question of Miller’s expenses, or their arguments are undermined by the presence in the cabinet of someone who demonstrably didn’t deliver the best value for the taxpayer, that becomes a serious problem.”

If Number 10 let this go on into recess it’ll be the only talking point on the doorstep for weeks…

UPDATE: Interestingly, Guido understands the IMF are refusing to let Olivier Blanchard, their chief economist who famously warned Osborne was playing with fire“, be interviewed by Sky News. Surely they aren’t worried about him putting his foot in it again…

Miller SpAd Tries to Dump MacLeod Post Interview/Text

That “source close to Maria Miller” is undertaking another round of her own particular brand of crisis management. The new suggestion is that Mary MacLeod – PPS to the Culture Secretary – was acting on her own back when she texted MPs asking them to support her boss while citing Leveson and appeared in a crash interview with Kay Burley on Sky News:

MacLeod was confronted on air with Guido’s text scoop and resorted to smears and innuendo about Miller’s kids, and claimed that Miller had been cleared on all counts. Which is just a blatant misspeak.

“She wasn’t acting under instruction” says Special Adviser Jo Hindley, adding mystically “lots of MPs have gone on the telly to support Maria”. Guido must have missed that.

Are we seriously expected to believe that MacLeod went out to bat via text and telly on a whim? Hindley has not replied when asked if her, or Maria, had spoken to MacLeod today.

Guido is just going flag up that he thinks this is BS.

SKETCH: The Committee of Double Standards

The trouble with calling it a trough is that you think it’s full of swill.

This one’s full of champagne truffles.

John Mann had his Urgent Question just before lunch.

He is the outsider’s outsider, widely disliked by his peers, a conspirator, a trouble-maker, a Savonarola. He talks to you out of the side of his mouth glancing over his shoulder, as though you were in a prison slops queue.

Among Parliament’s hothouse bonsais, he looks like something that grew out of the side of a bridge.

Who else might have asked for this Urgent Question? No one else wants it brought up. They find it a “screaming nightmare”. It’s hard to over-estimate the effect it’s had on MPs. Which makes it all the more surprising when another one, yet another one comes out with yet another scam.

Here we are again, with a fat sock of cash, an untalented, isolated minister, and a closing of a class round a colleague. It’s one of the most enjoyable opportunities for media indignation in years.

(more…)

EXCLUSIVE: Miller Hits Back Claiming “Levesen” Smears

Once again Maria Miller has tried to use the threat of the post-Leveson age to shut down her expenses scandal. Mary Macleod, PPS to the fatally wounded Culture Secretary, today texted Tory MPs begging for support. Again Miller’s people have cited threats to press freedom. Mary Macleod said:

 

“I believe there is a media witch-hunt on Maria due to Levesen [sic]. How do you feel about it? Happy to answer any questions you may have. She would really appreciate your support. Many thanks Mary”

Too little too late, Guido fears.

WATCH: “Are You Going to Resign, Maria Miller?”

Great stuff from Sky’s Sophy Ridge, who has spent the day standing outside Number 10 shouting at Cabinet ministers. Miller’s face…

Left Eagle Doesn’t Know What the Right Eagle is Doing

Readers will be well aware of Labour’s hypocrisy when it comes to gambling – last year alone two-faced Chuka bashed bookies before taking their cash, Tristram Hunt did exactly the same thing and Stephen Timms also went each way. Now one of the Eagles is going all in, hiring a gambling lobbyist as her new Political Adviser.

Ex-Blair press secretary Michael Stephenson previously worked for Miliband’s bargain basement strategist Bruce Hawker‘s lobbying firm, where he used his connections to lobby the Labour government on plans for 16 super-casinos across Britain. A former Co-op general secretary, his sound judgement and experience at keeping on top of the finances no doubt made him the stand out candidate to be Maria Eagle’s new political adviser. In other news Maria’s sister Angela is laying it on thick attacking the government’s Lobbying Act for “letting vested interests off the hook”…

Shine Light on the Standards Committee

John Mann has used his urgent question to not unreasonably request that all recordings of Standards Committee meetings are made public. How did the Committee come to the decision to give Miller such soft censure? Which members of the troughers’ union fought her corner? Shining the light on the processes of the Standards Committee is the very least that can be done to improve transparency. Worth noting that Leader of the House Andrew Lansley warns there could be more pre-2010 expenses scandals still to come…

Zac Goldsmith, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone are also using Miller to raise the issue of recall once again. Which begs the question what do Basingstoke residents think of the claim by Miller’s former constituency campaign manager Phil Heath: “whenever we had a meeting there was no family so that was definitely her second home.”


Seen Elsewhere

Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome
UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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