Sainsbury v Ashcroft

It is worth noting when Labour MPs in marginal seats start bleating about Ashcroft’s money being a threat to democracy that they never mention Lord Sainsbury. He has actually given the Labour party, one way or another, some £15 million. Far more than Ashcroft has given the Tories.
Sainsbury has in the past given under-the-counter money to Blairite modernising groups as well. The odd £250,000 here and there to groups like the Progress faction. Guido thinks that he was overall a force for good in the Labour party, bringing them into the real-world. Lord Drayson bought his peerage off Blair, he too has become an effective minister – probably because of his business background. Similarly, probably because of his business background, Ashcroft forces Tory candidates to come up with a serious business plan. The sharpening up of their campaign objectives is probably worth more than the £10,000 to £30,000 he gave them in the past. Now the party has adopted what was his freelance system at CCHQ and brought him back inside.

Don’t forget incumbent MPs have voted themselves an extra £10,000 of taxpayers money for propaganda and already have well funded office teams of staff. They have all the incumbent advantages and they are up against candidates who invariably have jobs to do as well. To lever out an incumbent MP takes some doing…

Brownie Family Picture

Regular readers will enjoy the Rowson cartoon in the Guardian today. A touching family scene involving Gordon Brown and nappies. Guido would reproduce it but can’t face Deborah Summers ringing Guido up to harangue him yet again. Enjoy.

Burying the Hatchet?

Credit : Adam Myer

+++ Dougie Apologises +++

Just in from the Press Association:

“I, of course, apologise for any actions or omissions on my part which contributed to the problems encountered in the Scottish elections…”

A sign of the underlying weakness of his position.

When in trouble apologise and try to move the story on. Rule 3 from the Blair/Mandelson/Campbell Media Play Book.

UPDATE : The Lobby today asked the PMS again “if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Douglas Alexander”. This is the formula the Lobby uses when they mean “is the PM going to sack ‘im”. Two days in a row, not a good sign…

Brownie Bollocked Again by Speaker

Guido can’t recall a time when the speaker has bollocked an MP not involved in debate two weeks in a row during PMQs. Following that disastrous Brown spanking at PMQs Geoff Hoon has been orchestrating cheering and Iain Austin is clearly over-doing the jeering.

Ian Austin MP is a former press officer with the West Midlands Labour Party, a political advisor to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and now his PPS who attends cabinet meetings. He is another second-rater who owes his rise only to being a loyal Brownie. Clearly he is also a bit of a numpty.

Dougie Alexander is a Liability

The damning conclusion of the Scottish Election Review, commissioned by the Electoral Commission was that ‘both the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive were frequently focused on partisan political interests in carrying out their responsibilities, overlooking voter interests and operational realities’ and that ‘characteristic of 2007 was a notable level of party self-interest evident in Ministerial decisions-making’.

That should be a resignation issue, but if one thing is key to understanding New Labour at the highest level, it is the putting of party interest before the national interest. That is a given in all circumstances. Soldiers die because of political expediency, hospitals are photo ops, school children are leadership campaign props and spin is the narrative reality.

Dougie Alexander is Gordon’s election co-ordinator, he co-ordinated the recently and expensively lost non-election, he directed the disastrous campaign that led to the loss of electoral control in Scotland by the Labour party for the first time in living memory. He writes pamphlets for think-tanks on how to win elections by turning political parties into “community hubs”. In his spare time he is the Minister in charge of DFID, where he oversees electoral assistance to developing countries – beyond satire.

He is an asset to Labour’s opponents and a liability to Gordon according to Labour colleagues. Hopefully Gordon will ignore the criticism because he so values Dougie’s loyalty.

PASC Hearing Report to Follow

Guido found the hearing very, very interesting. Actually thought Wright did a reasonably good job. There was a little partisan point scoring from members, but essentially he said “told you so.”

Full(er) report later. Must dash…

How to Tell If Tony Wright Has Been Nobbled

Today is the first hearing of the Public Administration Select Committee into Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned. At 3.00 pm oral evidence will be taken from: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime Division, CPS and David Perry QC.

This is only the first hearing, we are told there will be others.

Tony Wright chairs the committee and is being criticised for selecting the terms of reference to avoid investigating the actual allegations. He no doubt would argue that was the job of the police.

However, if at a subsequent hearing he does not call Lord Levy to answer questions, you can safely assume he has been nobbled. Arguably Blair and Ruth Turner should also be called to explain themselves.

Guido has also seen a copy of a letter sent to Tony Wright by a witness making specific allegations about being offered honours in return for donations to the Labour party. The letter specifies who made the offer, the figures discussed, as well as naming the Labour party operators involved when they were introduced to Tony Blair. The witness states in the letter that they are bemused at the lack of a prosecution. The witness also states in their letter to Tony Wright (copied to all members of the Committee) that they are willing to testify to the Committee. If that witness is not called Tony Wright has been nobbled.

To the hundreds who have pledged publicly (and privately) to financially support a private prosecution and have been wondering what has been going on, rest assured preparations have been made, legal soundings have been taken and we are waiting to see what comes out of these hearings.

You will also remember that after the dropping by the CPS of the case, the briefings in the papers by “friends” of Levy and Ruth Turner that they would be taking legal action against those who made the accusations. Nobody has received a writ. They have gone very quiet.

What Did They Do With Gisela?

This morning Quentin Letts in his sketch wonders what the Labour whips did to Gisela Gordon is Lying Stuart during Brown’s EU treaty statement yesterday. He points out that she was noticeably missing despite having helped on the drafting committee for the EU constitution. Jack Straw (pictured here) chose her to be on Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s committee when he was Foreign Secretary. Quentin is therefore looking for her:-
Lost: one feline Labour MP, sleek coat, answers to the name of Gisela Stuart (Edgbaston). If you see this much-stroked pussy please ring to say she is all right.

The slimey Kaufman had a go at her yesterday as well, he spoke of how some MPs were prepared to write “well remunerated articles” in the Press, and how they “prefer money to the truth”. Rich coming from him, as you can see by studying the register of interests.

Some MPs do television for free, but not him. Here are Gerald’s recent declared media fees: BBC (Up to £5,000), Daily Mail (Up to £5,000), Mail on Sunday (Up to £5,000), Evening Standard (Up to £5,000), Fees from the Telegraph Group. (Up to £5,000), The Scotsman, News International, (Up to £5,000). Massive pot calling small kettle…

Bit bored today. Chris Clegg and Nick Huhne are too difficult to distinguish.

Guido got a press release from John Lewis telling him that they supply the Huhnie monster with his suits. Says it all really.

Name & Shame MPs Who Vote Themselves Tax Cut

Guido was at an impromptu meeting of successful* internet entrepreneurs held at the Adam Street Club. We were briefed by David Gauke from the Tory shadow treasury team who also sits on the Treasury Select Committee.
Basically the entrepreneurs were extremely pissed off that they were looking at a sudden 80% hike in capital gains taxes when they come to sell their start-ups. They are not the only ones, the CBI, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses are spitting tacks at a tax that came out of the blue via the back of an envelope.

David Gauke pointed out that MPs would, as a result of the reforms, now get a 55% tax cut on capital gains (down from 40% to 18%) when they sell their taxpayer subsidised Westminster second homes. At this self-serving outrage there was a collective “what the f***!” from a roomful of exasperated entrepreneurs.

Guido thinks when the vote comes, those MPs who vote themselves a 55% tax cut and small businesses an 80% tax hike, should be named and shamed. Guido is thinking not just of Yvette and Ed Balls, but those champagne socialists with their multi-million pound property portfolios who will benefit. Michael Meacher and Emily Thornberry spring to mind, but they are not the only MPs who’ll be voting themselves a tax cut on their property portfolios. It adds insult to injury when you factor in that the taxpayer has paid them a tax-free mortgage subsidy worth some £40,000 a year to MPs. Guido will happily publicly name and shame MPs with bulging property portfolios who vote for the Finance Bill that clobbers entrepreneurs. Email Guido any names and details…

*FYI, this blog is more profitable than Guardian Unlimited, which is supposed to be an online success. Apart, that is, from the making money element of success

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Huhne “Can’t Remember” Authoring Druggie Article

Tim Yeo Does a Days Work

Guido has reflected on the high emission hypocrisy of Tim Yeo before. This week we read in the FT about him flying off for some golf. The article reveals that he actually went to the office on Monday, yes a whole day, before flying to Spain for another week of golf. Well done Tim…

“Queen” Brown at the Rugby

Last night the Rugby World Cup commentators said that in addition to Princes William and Harry, the Princess Royal was present “as the representative of the Queen”. After the final whistle, the trophy was presented by the French head of state Sarkozy accompanied by Mbeki, South Africa’s head of state, and Gordon Brown. Protocol-wise it should have been Anne.

What was Brown’s role at the rugby world cup final? Was he keen to get close to all those rugby heroes to bask in their reflected glory? Sports fans should note that the PM is a sporting Jonah; Scotland lost the the soccer match he attended as PM, England lost to Germany the match he attended with Merkel and the English rugby team suffered his curse last night.

The Springboks carried Mbeki aloft as they celebrated, if England had won could you imagine Jonny and the boys carrying our bottler-in-chief on high?

Friday Caption Contest

Graphic credit : Jamie D

08:30 UPDATE : Clegg is launching his “glitz-free” campaign in Sheffield today.

His website www.nickclegg.com will go live immediately afterwards. His pitch is going to be that he can reach out beyond the LibDem comfort zone. Translated : “I’ll take votes back from Cameron”.

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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