Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At the End of Her Teather

Next Monday the teaching unions NUT, ATL and NASUWT are organising a mass protest on Parliament, with teachers, pupils and parents sharpening their pitchforks over the Building Schools for the Future cuts.

The knives are out in her marginal Brent constituency especially, given that she is an education minister:

Reportedly Sarah Teather is privately “seething” about the school cuts, some have been lead to believe that this private anger could become very public on Monday after the union pressure. Some sources claim we could hear the first very public outburst from a Coalition Minister going off message…

UPDATE: Interesting to note that leading the campaign is Hank Roberts, an intriguing figure, who is technically a teacher, but does so much union activity he is paid by the council’s “utilities fund” over £50,000 per year not to teach. There is an irony in public money being spent organising a protest against making savings in public spending.

UPDATE: Hank wishes to point out that he is on £46,000.

Ed Balls Campaign Diary*

Bollocks, bollocks, shit and bollocks.  The mobile rang at 6 a.m. this morning and woke me up. I was hoping for the sweet, sultry Anglo-Français soothing vowels of Ellie, instead a jarring voice from the past made my blood freeze.  “Hellooo, aahhm back in Westminster, ahh see you ahh struggling a bit. I’m going to help with your campaign. Meet me in Portcullis House at 11.00 a.m.” Shit, shit, shit. Shit. The last thing I need is Gordon “helping” with the campaign. Noooooooooooo!

(*As leaked to Guido)

Where’s Gordon?™ – Not “Humilated Enough” Clearly

With characteristically poor-timing, Gordon Brown showed his face in Westminster yesterday afternoon, just as the village had spent the morning digesting his less than dignified attempts to cling to power, as confirmed by Mandy in The Third Man.  Naturally EyeSpyMP spotted Brown-in-town first.

So what was the burning issue that brought the Rt Hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, who wakes every morning to fight for a fairer Britain, south to the Mother of all Parliaments?

He was all weird smiles at a drinks party in his honour at Labour HQ. Donors, Lord and Lady Prescott, Harriet Harman, Sally Bercow and the like were in attendance. His wife Sarah came too, which must have been nice for her after being dragged back up to Scotland. No expense was spared to honour the most unsuccessful Labour Prime Minister in the history of the party, though as a Scot you would hope Gordon understood the need for the cash bar to be in operation.

UPDATE: Tony Blair was not in attendance. Was he too busy globetrotting for cash or bringing peace to the Middle East. No, he was having a drink at Home House last night. Was he just having too much fun to pop over from SW1 to W1?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ending MPs’ Taxpayer Funded Booze Subsidy

Hidden subsidies cost the taxpayers millions of pounds in order to finance the lifestyles of MPs, yet the fearless political reporters of the Lobby don’t seem too keen on reporting this hidden subsidy. Could it be because they too enjoy the taxpayer subsidised bars of the Parliamentary Estate?

The Speaker says he wants to bring prices in to line with High Street prices. In another piece of evidence based blogging you won’t see in the newspapers Guido has been fearlessly investigating what exactly are the prevailing market conditions around Westminster.

As the chart below shows, the average price of a pint of a Guinness is £3.45.  MPs pay a mere £2.20 for a pint and the taxpayers make up the difference. Prices would have to rise 57% for them to match what the public pays in and around the Westminster area. They still know how to look after themselves don’t they?

MPs have no excuse for this subsidy and last Tuesday’s scenes of mass drunkeness hardly reflect well on Parliament. The first thing they should do to discourage that sort of behaviour is put the prices up to market rates, cheap drink has after all literally been their downfall. In these austere times of public sector cutbacks is it simply not justifiable for MPs to expect us to subsidise their drinking. Time please, drink up gentlemen, lets be having you

Beauty and the Beeb

Tim Hames, the Speaker’s unprecedented spinner, announced he was off last week. Which is unfortunate for the Squeaker as he looks like he could need someone to help with handling the press come Thursday night…

Question Time’s producers, ever in search of controversy, like to rile people with their choice of guest. This week they have a member of Ed Ball’s campaign team who failed to become a councillor invited on the show. She calls herself a “writer and broadcaster” these days, but Guido has only ever seen a blog post (about Balls) and an interview on This Week, not sure being on Twitter constitutes being a professional writer. It seems even Labour aren’t stupid enough to let the proven liability become an official spokesman. Burnham is on the same night…

Has she really done anything in her own right rather than as the Speaker’s wife?  Perhaps some other failed council candidates, with Twitter accounts, backing someone in the Labour leadership, should ask to be on Question Time. That seems to be the criteria…

Let Them Surf Net

Foxy go-getter and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, the coalition’s “Champion for Digital Inclusion”, wants everyone to get online.

Speaking with Dave and IDS this morning, much fuss was made about making sure no child is left behind online, that 90% of jobs now need computers skills and some 10 million people in the UK have never used the net. While that may be true, have Dave and Martha really got their priorities sorted?

While yes, some kids don’t have broadband, that can be the least of their worries  –  more are functionally illiterate. The government’s own survey showed that 20%  of children leave school ‘functionally illiterate and innumerate’. Although it may not be as sexy a policy as digital inclusion, Guido suspects it is a lot more important, what good is connecting them to the internet going to be if they can’t read and write? Well apart from the far more visual XXX-rated internet-based research of course…

The NHS’s Protected Doctors (Spin)

While the “front-line services” of the NHS may well be protected from the axe, it seems the Department of Health’s bloated “first-line of defence” could be ripe for a squeeze. Why exactly does Andrew Lansley and his ministers require more press officers and PR civil servants than the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office?

The list – 31 in total – range from a 10 strong news-desk, to strategic planners and multiple layers of spin. The Department has four full-time speech-writers – could some of the other 27 spinners not yell down the phone and occasionally type? Lansley has had his accident prone days and is known to put his foot in it, yet his old media team used to fit in the back of a transit van, but he still made it to government.

When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd.

Spotted by Liam Murray.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

All in the bar together.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fairy’s Tale Out Tomorrow

You have to laugh at the cheek of Mandelson. His memoir The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour is out tomorrow and Guido will be providing full excerpts here on the blog from over-the-paywall.  Mandy is clearly enjoying himself…

Is this Labour’s Khrushchev Moment of Truth?

When Rawnsley’s The End of the Party book came out in January on the heels of Peter Watt’s Inside Out and the allegations of Prime Mentalism committed by Gordon Brown were again denied, Guido predicted that Labour Will Have a Khrushchev Moment of Truth in the End:

When Brown has gone after the election it seems inevitable that we will eventually have a Khrushchev moment, where a senior Labour figure articulates what everyone knows.  It will be devastating.  Gordon Brown is a malevolent, deeply damaged and unpleasant human being.  He is at the centre of a culture of political bullying that has been unhealthy for the Labour Party and the government.  The loyalist cabal around him are unpleasant people who have no place in a healthy political culture, they are as secretive and malicious as they are vindictive and vicious.

Gordon Brown was often compared to Stalin, but who will be Labour’s senior Krushchev figure who condemns the previous regime? Mandelson has laid to rest any continuing pretence (if there was any) about the TeeBeeGeeBees, the vicious infighting that paralysed Whitehall for a decade, yet was denied on camera in barefaced lying by Labour politician after Labour politician, including Mandelson. Mandelson is getting all the coverage for his book The Third Man highlighting the failings of Gordon Brown. Less focus is on David Miliband, Mandelson’s new protege gave a speech yesterday that comes near to that Krushchev moment

I agreed completely with Gordon Brown, when he became Prime Minister in 2007, that we needed renewal.  I supported and voted for him.  I agreed that we needed greater moral seriousness and less indifference to the excesses of a celebrity drenched culture.  I agreed with him when he said that we needed greater coherence as a government, particularly in relation to child poverty and equality.  I agreed with him on the importance of party reform and a meaningful internationalism that would be part of a unified government strategy.  I agreed that we needed a civic morality to champion civility when confronting a widespread indifference to others. But, it didn’t happen. It was not just more of the same.  Far from correcting them failings – tactics, spin, high-handedness – intensified; and we lost many of our strengths – optimism born of clear strategy, bold plans for change and reform, a compelling articulation of aspiration and hope.  We did not succeed in renewing ourselves in office; and the roots of that failure were deep not recent, about procedure and openness, or lack of it, as much as policy.  That is a political fact and now words are cheap but the stakes are high.

It was a backhanded condemnation of Brown’s failure. If David Miliband wants Labour to move on, a frank, uncoded, reflection on the period of Labour brutalism is required. Brown was a disaster for the Labour Party and the country, if Miliband wants a reborn Labour Party he first has to bury Brown in the truth.

UPDATE : Punters give David Miliband a 63% chance of being the next Labour leader.


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