Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tories Rattled By Covert Lib Dem Sniffing

This email has been forwarded to Guido’s inbox this morning. CCHQ have put their campaigners on alert to a potential Lib Dem line of attack:

From: Mackintosh, David
Sent: 05 February 2010 09:46
To: All Battleground Directors; All Campaign Directors; All Regional Directors; All Regional Press Officers
Subject: PPCs who are councillors
Importance: High

Dear all,

For your information – I have received a number of e-mails regarding Freedom of Information requests submitted to councils requesting information on our councillors’ expenses where the councillor is also our PPC. The requests come from Tom Smithard who is based at Lib Dem HQ in Cowley Street. He is using a Googlemail account to request these and is using his private address and mobile number (xx Bxxxxx Axxxxx, Cxxxxxxx, Surrey SMX XXX / 07xxx xxx xxx)

Please let me know if you know of any instances where this has happened. Thanks to everyone who has already alerted me.


Tom Smithard (pictured) is Cowley Street’s grandly titled Parliamentary Campaigns & Intelligence Analyst and it seems he has rattled the Tories. The holier than thou Liberals are attempting to drag candidates into the expenses scandal before they are even MPs. Doing it covertly through personal email addresses even though an FOI request is an FOI request wherever it comes from.

Cowley Street better hope CCHQ don’t retaliate with some FOI requests concerning their PPCs and intriguing leaflet printing financing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jonah Brown Breaks Hi-Tech Bristol Beacon

“An academy designed to be the first fully wireless school has been blighted by computer problems since being opened by Gordon Brown more than two years ago” reported The Times today. Gordon was so proud of the opening the Bristol Brunel Acadamy that Downing Street made a whole video about the visit. The Curse of the One-Eyed Son of the Manse never left the poor blighted children though. “The head of the £24 million Bristol Brunel Academy — a beacon of Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme — said that its wireless system had yet to work properly and teachers still did the register on paper because of problems with swipe cards.With fingerprint recognition of pupils its almost as if the academy was a testing bed for much of Labour’s database state.

School Children Exposed to Balls

As part of “Safer Internet Day“, the Government today launched the ‘Zip it, Block it, Flag it’ campaign. Ed Balls said “it’s important that parents and children understand the risks involved with using the internet, as with any area of life.” Yes indeed it is Ed, hence the red faces all round the Department of Children, Schools and Families last week.

So what is Ball’s doing to protect children? Well his campaign “Buster’s World” directed children, and their extremely irate mothers toward a gay fetish porn site. As The Register reported last week, anyone googling around looking for the government website certainly got a surprise. Instead of a fluffy, tail-wagging friendly dog who guides children safely around the internet they were greeted by gay men doing very odd things with balloons.

Unsurprisingly the DirectGov website was pulled. That’s one site “zipped” and “blocked” then. Guido is happy to “flag” this cock up.

Devine Unquestioning

For some reason Jim Devine has withdrawn his question to the Prime Mentalist which was first on the order paper for Wednesday’s PMQs following Guido’s highlighting of it yesterday.

Wonder if the whips told him to keep a low profile? He is after all still receiving the Labour whip…

Will Dave Really Crack Down on Lobbyists?

Yesterday Dave had a go at the hidden hand in our democracy:

Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore.  It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.  I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way…

We don’t know who is meeting whom. We don’t know whether any favours are being exchanged. We don’t know which outside interests are wielding unhealthy influence. This isn’t a minor issue with minor consequences. Commercial interests – not to mention government contracts – worth hundreds of billions of pounds are potentially at stake.  I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.

We can’t go on like this. I believe it’s time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence.  Politics should belong to people, not big business or big unions, and we need to sort this out. So if we win the election, we will take a lead on this issue by making sure that ex-ministers are not allowed to use their contacts and knowledge – gained while being paid by the public to serve the public – for their own private gain.

Anyone involved in politics knows that lobbyists infest politics, lobbyists become politicians, politicians become lobbyists.  It is a sordid underhand, undemocratic trade practised out of sight of the voters and taxpayers.  Ex-ministers having to wait an extra year before profiting from their inside contacts is a minor improvement.  In the interests of having a transparent democracy we need to move towards a system where all contact between those who are seeking to modify, hinder or help the passage of any legislation have to declare and register their contacts with politicians and civil servants.  Lobbyists are covertly subverting democracy, it should be a criminal offence.

Is Dave really up for taking on the lobbyists?  Guido so wants to believe he would.  However look at the new Tory benches and the new intake of PPCs. Lobbyists and former lobbyists easily outnumber all other trades.  Obama said much the same thing, before he appointed lobbyists to his administration…

How many times has Dave met power lobbyists like Matthew Freud, Alan Parker and Roland Rudd? We know he socialises with them, parties with them, holidays with them and even hops on their private jets. Is that a bit too cosy?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guy News : Yeo! Tory Policy Confusion, Lie Action Replay

Newsnight took the Yeo ding-dong off iPlayer for some reason, so Guy News is rebroadcasting it.  Hit the full-screen button and enjoy our funky new them tune.

If you subscribed (for free) to the Guidogram, you would have seen this last week when it was released…

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Does Political Blogging Make Any Difference?

Guido is speaking at a Westminster Skeptics event tonight on whether political blogging actually makes – or will make – any difference to the course of UK political events. Guido’s view is that the question has already been answered.

This graphic from ConservativeHome’s survey of Tory PPCs illustrates where influence lies nowadays.  The next Prime Minister and Chancellor of Britain are avid readers of blogs. Does that signify influence, does that make a difference?

On the panel with Guido are ConservativeHome’s Jonathan Isaby, Comrade Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy and Mick Fealty from Slugger. The event will take place at The Old Monk Exchange pub just 100 yards away from St James Station.

Head charge of £2.  The panel discussion starts at 7.30pm. (Facebook event page is here.)

Gordon’s Bananas

Award for the most obscure story in this morning’s papers has to go to The Telegraph. Apparently Gordon is cutting down his intake of Kit-Kats, and replacing them with bananas. Sources close to the Prime Minister’s snacking preparation confirmed that he will now only eat Kit-Kats when under “extreme-pressure”. So that must be fairly frequently then.

Gordon better watch out though, too many bananas can have a dangerous effect. Eating up to nine bananas a day, such as the Prime Mentalist is reported to be doing, can cause a build up of potassium.  This can cause gastrointestinal problems, kidney failure or even cardiac arrest.

It is not known whether David Miliband has decided to try a different type of coup.

Guess Who is First Up for PMQs?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Unless otherwise indicated the Members listed below will ask a question without notice.

*1 Mr Jim Devine (Livingston): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 10 February.

+++ Labour Finally Withdraws Whip from Charged MPs +++

Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester

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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”

Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.

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