Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Willie Free

There were raised eye-brows when former LibDem MP Willie Rennie was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Scotland Office just days after being rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Dunfermline. To his credit he did not ask for a salary as a SpAd, the parliamentary resettlement payment was quite enough. A close ally of Danny Alexander, it seems now his old boss has moved up the ministerial ladder the first SpAd is set to quit. He will be replaced by Ming’s old ginger speech-writer Euan Roddin.

Willie claims he wants to return to Scotland as he is separated from his family while in London. Coincidentally candidates are being picked for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections right about now…

Gordon’s Alive

Gordon has been allowed out today. Still not doing the job we actually pay him to do. He is being paid £1,264-a-week to stay at home recuperating in Kirkcaldy “writing his book”, if he wants to stay on as an MP perhaps we should see him at his place of work. He used to claim that he woke up every morning wanting to “fight for a fairer Britain”. Now those unfair Tories are in government he appears to have given up fighting for Britain. So far in over a month he has appeared fleetingly only once in parliament, to sign in, so he can be paid…

New MP Pat Glass Thinks the Gravy Train is “Fab”

Congratulations to Pat Glass, the newly elected MP for North West Durham. During her campaign she supported tough rules on expenses and promised to be transparent.

She tweets “Have got a fab new office in parliament, and a blackberry and a new flat, suddenly everything is coming together.” Maybe the tweet was an example of that transparency, or maybe it was genuine excitement at joining the gravy train. A salary triple the average national wage, a gold-plated pension, a six-figure expense account, rent-free accomodation, international junkets, cheap bars, subsidised restaurants, not to mention your new Blackberry and flat. Pat, the gravy train has truly pulled into your station, enjoy yourself. Try not to forget taxpayers are voters too…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dan Dumps on the Hopey Changey One

Fresh from the news that Sarah Palin might be London-bound, the great and good of the right look to be gearing up for her autumnal arrival. It’s notable that today Dan Hannan has finally come round to the fact that he was way, way out with his endorsement of Barack Obama. The unlikely vocal advocate for the Democrat President is eating his words after witnessing a 30% increase in the size of the American state in just two years.

The full mea culpa is quite a read, bringing Hannan into line, entirely coincidentally, with a certain Obama-hating hockey-mum…

The Déjà vu Debate

It’s hardly radical to suggest the Labour Leadership contest hasn’t set fire yet. A flutter of excitement on nomination day, but the long summer of hustings and a few beer and sandwich sessions doesn’t exactly make for cut-throat stuff. But could it be about to be blown open by a TV debate?

Another day and another hustings, only this time it won’t be a sympathetic audience of wonks and left-wing media. Tonight the five candidates will be grilled not only by Paxman, but an audience of former Labour, and floating voters. People who won’t want to talk about internal party politics or electoral reform, but their wallets, immigration and the harsh realities of the current economic crisis. The whole thing will be going out live on Newsnight.

The chances of one of them coming unstuck, one of them “doing a Clegg”, or a bun-fight, is greatly increased tonight by the fact people, real voters, will actually be watching. For most of the television audience it will be the first time they have seen the candidates lined up and ready to be judged. If this doesn’t liven up the race, what will?

Ed Gets Taste of Poison

Despite the protestations of the Labour leader candidates that the days of spin and backstabbing anonymous briefings are over, the memo clearly hasn’t reached all the campaign teams yet as someone has been having quite the chat with the Mail’s Andrew Pierce. Ed Balls’s time as a member of Oxford University Conservative Association hasn’t gone down too well with a backbench colleague who was quick to twist the knife:

‘It’s astonishing that any Labour leadership contenders could have even considered paying money to join a Tory association in the mid-1980s. It’s sickening as he was paying them subs when Mrs Thatcher was wreaking terrible destruction on constituencies in the North of England that he represents. No wonder he is airbrushing his past.’

Sounds a lot like a man often used for rent-a-quotes. The justification was so that Balls could hear the likes of Michael Heseltine doesn’t really wash. Being a closet member of Oxford or Cambridge Conservative Association never did Nick Clegg any harm, just look where it got him.

Palin Coming to the Party

A flurry of articles this morning have picked up on Sarah Palin’s very excitable Facebook declaration that she was coming to London meet “one of my political heroines, the “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher.” The Guardian is predictably sneering. The Mail on Sunday had the scoop first and raised the question of whether Cameron would meet the former Vice-Presidential nominee and potential Presidential candidate of the American sister party.

In Downing Street you can imagine the battle lines being drawn already. This is the stuff that Steve Hilton’s nightmares are made of, yet Palin has an obvious glitzy appeal to the right of the party and tabloid media, something Andy Coulson will know instinctively. As PM it would be extremely discourteous for Dave not to meet and be photographed with Palin if she was in town, a coutesy British PMs have extended to lesser known American politicians. Guido’s transatlantic sources indicate that she could be over on this side of the pond in the Autumn, perhaps around the time of Conservative Party conference, just when Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell will be launching their Direct Democracy version of the American Tea Party movement.

Another headache for the Cameroons will be what the Deputy Prime Minister has to say about all this, since Clegg was perhaps expecting to be invited to be the surprise speaker in Birmingham

Vince Is Coming For Savers

The businessmen-funded Policy Diffusion group is drawing their battle lines over the proposed rise in Capital Gains Tax. This followed Cable around yesterday:

“This LibDem policy fails on every conceivable account. It discriminates against elderly savers, reduces economic growth, prevents the build-up of capital, discourages entrepreneurs and will even reduce government revenue rather than increase it, widening the deficit.” Policy Diffusion fought viciously against a hung parliament in April and despite the resulting coalition, they are back. And this time they have trucks…

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Younger is Gaining

Though caveated by the obvious fact this is hardly an independent poll, LabourList’s surveying of its readers shows some interesting patterns emerging in the otherwise still dull Labour Leadership race. Amongst Labour members David Miliband is, as expected, out in front on 37.7% of first preferences. Ahead, but not as far as he needs to be to win. His little brother is only six points behind on 31.6%. Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham seem to be living up to their well gossiped catch-phrase of “everyone’s second preference”.

The union vote, as important, is even more intriguing. Ed Balls’s only hope of victory would be to get the unions on board, but it looks like they are comprehensively rejecting him with 6.8% of first and 8.7% of second preference votes. The leftier Ed Miliband is, as expected, leading the union vote. He is going to hoover up those second preferences when his brother doesn’t make it through the first round far enough ahead.

Many would have thought Whelan would have Unite the Union vote sewn up for his old boss. During a leadership contest that is crucial to the future of the organisation that pays him £250,000 per year to represent them, he seems to have disappeared off to South Africa for a month of football. Word is he has lost the internal struggle to have Balls endorsed by Unite and was over-ruled by Woodley and Simpson. Guido hears Unite could be about to endorse the Younger.

Balls needs to be careful to avoid being beaten into last place – Abbot is in a far more comfortable position than he is at this stage of the race.

Full data here.

The Former Prime Mentalist

The rumour mill is in full swing this afternoon. There’s a whisper on the wind that some age-old speculation might soon finally be confirmed. Chatter is rife that Gordon Brown has been spending stints in a London hospital. For psychological reasons.

The former Prime Minister has not been seen properly in public since walking into the Downing Street sunset. There was a sighting in a Fife supermarket and Sarah has obviously been busy securing her book deal. If Gordon doesn’t appear soon then there might just be reason to believe the crazy rumours are true…

Developing…

UPDATE: Usually reliable sources have pointed Guido toward the Royal Edinburgh Hospital rather than a London hospital.


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