The Unions are Back

George Osborne gave the CCHQ boys and girls a pep-talk yesterday in which he asked them if they could perhaps, maybe, please, “work harder”, and it seems to have paid off. Today’s attack on Unite has played out better than any recent engagements with the Labour.

Clearly done at short notice their  “Charlie Whelan’s New Militant Tendencydossier on the back of the BA strike is a comprehensive slamming of the choke-hold union money and officials once again have over the Labour Party. It says a lot about how far the Tories have really “changed” given their most proficient act this year has been old fashioned union-bashing.

Like the Ashcroft situation, Labour’s return to reliance on union cash was a ticking bomb. New Labour was built around keeping the unions at arm’s length, yet the leader of the financially stricken Labour Party has to sink to quiet mumbles on Woman’s Hour when he is forced to criticise them. Unite seem to have finally come to the conclusion the rest of the world reached long ago, that Gordon isn’t going to be around and they are willing to kick him while he is down with the timing of this strike. The unions are energised at the prospect of a Tory government and they mean business, with their £25 million war-chest, the only thing Unite will get out of this election is the chance to fill the green benches with their loyal stewards.

Sarah's Discreet Tête à Tête Tweeted

While the village enjoys a day of bun fighting about unions and Sure-Start centres, how better to escape the toil of the frontline than heading north to Marble Arch for a long relaxing lunch at Locanda Locatelli. Over the £30 per plate coniglio arrosto, or the tagliatelle di castagne ai funghi selvatici Sarah Brown lunched with her husband’s very own dodgy, expenses fiddling, pension raiding, non-dom donor, Lord Swraj Paul. Unusually for Sarah, she hasn’t tweeted this.

Labour have tried to distance themselves from Lord Paul, who Gordon made a Privy Counsellor, despite no obvious qualifications beside deep pockets. To have their “secret weapon” Sarah grinning through anecdotes and stories shows just how keen they are to keep their purse-string holder happy. Wonder who picked up the cheque?

Hat-tip: EyeSpyMP (with a little help from Photoshop).

UPDATE : The Eye Spies inform us that the long lunch finished at three thirty. Something tells Guido that Sarah wouldn’t have been so quick to tweet about her outing had she not been busted with Labour’s persona non grata.  Kids? He is the Labour Party’s piggy bank more like…

Cash Carrying Charlie Whelans Pop into Downing Street

CCHQ’s cardboard cut-out Charlies ain’t as menacing as the proper Charlie…

Exclusive : Inside the CCHQ War RoomAshcroft Pushed Out, Loses Desk

With the Osborne and Cameron operation moving over from the Norman Shaw building on the Parliamentary Estate  to CCHQ on the fifth floor of Millbank, it is interesting to note who has been given the chop. The latest floor-plan reveals the fact that, unannounced, Ashcroft has lost his much discussed “office” in the centre of operations.  He has been turfed out and it has been turned into a proof-reading area and editing suite, clearly they have decided it is more important to check the small-print.  A case of “thanks for all the cash m’lord, goodbye!”

The policy unit has been pushed further and further from the centre and replaced with even more spinners, which illustrates campaign priorities. Perhaps worryingly for the embattled shadow Chancellor his desk space is listed as “George Osborne / Hotdesk”, as is often the way with offices using temporary staff.  There are a mere 6 double-barrelled names listed in the 200 strong operation.  See, the Tories really have changed!

Downloadable PDF: here.

Taxpayers' Alliance Rebut Union Scaremongering Advert

UNISON, the public sector trade union, recently launched an online video which claimed that cutting public spending meant leaving people without 999 operators, bin men or nurses. In response the Taxpayers’ Alliance produced an edited version of their film which demonstrates the wide range of absurd non-jobs throughout the public sector which could be abolished without any impact at all on front line services.  A good example of how it is hotting up in the iCampaign

EXCLUSIVE : Sadiq Khan Caught Lying to Lyon Tells Standards Commissioner He Can't Remember 'Mistaken' Claim

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan is in hot water this afternoon after it has been revealed that he lied to the press and to the Parliamentary authorities. He is paying back £2,500. Having had over a grands worth of greeting card receipts rightly rejected from his Communications Allowance claims, Khan then went back to the printers and had them create a new receipt, for the same amount, but without the birthday cards itemised on them. This fraudulent receipt was then accepted by the Fees Office.

Blatant and deliberate deception by the “Right Honourable” Minister.

Khan has form in this area, he had to pay back another £1,000 in  2007 for a Communications Allowance funded newsletter plastered in Labour roses. In November 2007 he told The Telegraph “I personally pay for the cost of sending out birthday cards to some of my constituents who turn 18.” A blatant “mistruth” given he made two claims, one for Diwali and Eid cards in December 2005 and one for 18th birthday cards in January 2006. A cocktail of lies, deception and dodgy paperwork. Ministers have resigned for less.

Click here to view John Lyon’s full response to the complaint.

Guy News : The Smoking Martyr, MPs on Trial and Big Issues

This week Emily was in Manchester to grab the first interview with freed pub landlord Nick Hogan, we get immediate comment from campaigners who made the trial of three MPs a reality, and also we investigate some Big Issues. Finally there is a  poingnant musical mash up of Gordon Brown and Johnny Cash.

If you subscribed to the Guidogram you would have seen this on Friday.

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Moodys : Britain "Substantially Closer" to Losing 'AAA' Rating

Update :

March 15 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. and the U.K. have moved “substantially” closer to losing their AAA credit ratings as the cost of servicing their debt rose, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Update : II : Pierre Cailleteau, managing director of sovereign risk at Moody’s in London, said under the ratings company’s so-called baseline scenario the UK will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other AAA rated country: “We expect the situation to further deteriorate in terms of the key ratings metrics before they start stabilizing … This story is not going to stop at the end of the year. There is inertia in the deterioration of credit metrics.” Moodys predicts the UK will spend 7% of tax revenue servicing debt this year and between 9% and 12% in 2013. Financing costs above 10% automatically put countries outside of the AAA ratings category.

Update : III : For a completely different take, see the BBC –  UK Credit Rating Viewed As Safe

On and On and On

Gordon was showing his true Prime Mentalist colours when he appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning. Firstly he claimed “I feel more comfortable with women, I have got to tell you”. If that was really true, then why the need for the “I have got to tell you.Which aide told him “you’ve got to tell them that”?

Secondly and terrifyingly he said that even if he loses the election “I’ll keep going because I want a majority, I’ll keep going.”  It seems he doesn’t quite understand how elections work. It’s pure arrogance to think the country would tolerate him after rejecting  him at the ballot box and it’s almost as naive as thinking his party won’t be calling for his head within minutes of the polls closing. The delusion is really setting in.

It seems he has form in the whole not-quite-getting-how-elections-work area.

Video via Tory Landlord

UPDATE: At 11.19 Guido stated the thought of Gordon clinging on was terrifying. At 11.48 a CCHQ press officer said the prospect of Brown clinging on was “truly terrifying”. Another happy reader.

How to P155 0FF the Locals

One time girlfriend of Euan Blair, and now Sion Simon’s squeeze, Luciana Berger has been parachuted in as the Labour candidate for Liverpool Wavertree. Given the posh London image is being played down for the election, it was a tad embarrassing when the fact Luciana has swapped cars with her brother for the duration of campaign was revealed by the Mail on Sunday.

Her little black Yaris with 5k personalised numberplate clearly wasn’t cutting the mustard in down-town Liverpool

Rich & Mark's Monday Morning View

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze
The Sunday Times has been digging into Labour donor Willie Haughey’s Links to Cocaine City Councillor, which seem unhealthy.  Scottish Labour’s biggest donor does a heck of a lot of profitable business with Labour controlled Glasgow City Council.  It smells.

Co-conspirators have been emailing background and leads on this story which have been difficult for Guido to follow-up, which is a shame because the Scottish press seems timid.  The Scottish press skirted delicately round the issue of Purcell’s cocaine addiction.  Strathclyde police say no official complaint has been received.  Watch this space.

+ + + Lord Paul Repays Fiddled £38,000 Expenses + + +

Telegraph is reporting that Lord Paul has repaid the £38,000 in expenses he claimed for a flat he never slept in. He says it is not an admission of guilt. So why is he repaying it?

Fabians Attack LibDem Plans for "Lower Taxes for the Low Paid"

The Fabian’s Tim Horton and IPPR’s Howard Reed have jointly authored a paper for Left Foot Forward designed to undermine the case for raising tax thresholds for low income earners.  Clearly they are trying to undermine Clegg’s claim to support a fairer tax system, which by all accounts is playing very well on the doorsteps.

Horton and Reed make a number of charges that need rebutting:

  • Three million of the poorest households gain nothing from the change

That is only because they simply just don’t pay tax. No tax cut will ever help that group, only an increase in welfare transfer payments can benefit them. That however would further increase dependency and disincentivise them from coming off welfare support.

  • Households in the second richest decile gain, on average, four times the amount of those in the poorest decile.

Once again, this is because the lowest decile don’t pay much if any tax – we are really talking about part-time workers and those on welfare. Nevertheless everybody, including the lowest decile, will be better off whatever their income.

  • Only around £1 billion of the £17 billion cost actually goes toward the stated aim of lifting low-income households out of tax, the policy would increase socially damaging inequalities between the bottom and middle.

Here we get to the real reason they object, it cuts taxes for the middle classes. According to their numbers, those on low incomes will only benefit by £5 a week and those on middle incomes will benefit by £20 a week. Low income households also qualify for welfare transfers from middle income earners, from free school meals to welfare credits.  Is it really unfair against a background of progressively higher marginal tax rates on middle income earners?  Middle earners pay disproportionately more tax after all.

Horton and Reed don’t really dispute that the lowest earners will be better off, they just don’t like the distribution of benefits from the policy. They do conclude with a bit of hyperbole: “It could actually harm the welfare of low-income households by increasing inequality and relative poverty.” Nobody is harmed by a “relative increase in inequality”. That is a left-wing myth. If your neighbour wins the lottery you are relatively poorer in comparison but not objectively, similarly those on lower incomes are not made poorer by those on middle incomes paying a little less tax. Nice try, but the moral case for taking those on the minimum wage out of tax is still stronger than the case for taxing them to pay them welfare.

McMillan-Scott Defects to LibDems

Most Tories will be glad to see the back of the pompous europhile Edward McMillan-Scott. He is whinging that “People are controlled within the Conservative party, as I was.” He’ll be happier with the free and easy Libdems, who have a party culture which is definitely less controlling. His euro-fanaticism will be more in tune with the LibDems as well. In truth he was for a long time an obstacle to a more robust Tory approach to Brussels. So happy news for both sides…

Saturday Seven Up

7upIf you were not one of the 59,667 visitors viewing 387,114 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…[…] Read the rest

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