Smith Institute Board’s Financial Backing for Gordon

The Smith Institute’s director, Wilf Stevenson claims that it is an independent, non-partisan charity and has no direct links to Gordon Brown.

So it is a bit of a coincidence that Lord Haskell, chairman of the Board of Trustees gave a five grand donation to Gordon’s leadership campaign. Even more of a coincidence that another board member, Mr Paul Myners, gave twelve grand. Surely he can’t remain mere “mister” Myners for much longer. It was Myners of course who provided the implausible story to cover-up the Treasury’s direct payment to the Smith Institute.

You won’t read about this in the Guardian, because although it likes to advertise that it has no press baron owner, Myners is chairman of the Guardian Media Group as well as being a Sith board member. Another fortunate coincidence…

The official position, as of this afternoon, is the “The Charity Commission’s inquiry into the Smith Institute remains open and ongoing”. How much longer can the investigation go on? It is a pretty open and shut case.

PMS First Briefing : The Spin Begins

We must now learn to call the PMOS the PMS, he is no longer the PM’s Official Spokesman because that would imply an Unofficial spokesman doing off-the-record spin. That is apparently not going to happen anymore in our changed spin-free-Brownite era.

But lo, the age of spin may not be completely dead. At Michael Ellam’s first briefing as Brown’s mouthpiece on Wednesday, he announced the symbolic first move in office: stopping Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell from telling civil servants what to do. When sharp-eyed and unusually on the ball Lobby hacks pointed out that neither man still worked in government, Ellam, suffering perhaps first-day nerves, conceded: “It is a meaningless gesture.”

This is not quite how the exchange is reported on the No. 10 website, though:

“Put to him that the Orders of Council applied to just two people, one who had already gone and one who effectively went today, and did not actually apply to anyone else, the PMS replied that while this was technically correct, this was not a meaningless gesture.”

If Mr Ellam dares to contradict Guido there is a recording…

Friday Caption Contest (Isaby Edition)

No Cabinet Minister Has the Experience to Run A Whelk Stall

The cabinet re-shuffle analysis in the press will be detailed, so Guido will skip it. One blogger’s analysis struck Guido as critical – not a single member of the cabinet has had a business career. Absorb that fact. Is it any wonder that Gordon felt the need to draft in Digby Jones?
Digby Jones is a talented operator and he will no doubt do a good job as minister for trade promotion. He is not however a new face, Guido recalls that the then Chancellor used his pre-budget report to announce Digby’s appointment as his “skills envoy” only six months ago. So he is being re-announced as a Brownite ally. Ironically he always struck Guido as a business leader with a libertarian streak – see his pronouncements on taxation, regulation and political correctness – perhaps that is why he won’t be joining the Labour party.

Gordon’s offer of a peerage was enough to get him go over to the dark side and join a government with no business nous whatsoever.

Shirley Williams : No Brown Job

LibDem Voice reports Shirley stating “I met Gordon Brown at 6:30pm on Wednesday evening. We had a friendly and constructive discussion. I was not offered a Ministerial position and would not have accepted one.”

Is It All Balls? Who is It?

Tory and LibDem HQs are more fearful of defections today than the Soviet Olympic Team Coach used to be. Benedict Brogan says it is not going to be Rifkind. Some are worried about Patten. Still no public denial by Bercow, who incidentally backed the expansion of grammar schools last month.

LibDems should be aware that Shirley Williams was apparently spotted going into Gordon’s Commons office. She incidentally closed down grammar schools. So presumably her talent would cancel out Bercow’s talent.

Is it all just to destabilise the opposition? Of course, but it goes both ways, Frank Field was spotted chatting to David Laws, his brow furrowed. You never know…

UPDATE : Adam Boulton is reporting “Strong rumours that the Lib Dem peer and QC Alec Carlisle will be appointed Attorney General.”

The Big Red Story of the Day

Of course the really big story of the day is that today sees the launch of the Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze updated to include all the latest shenanigans and with a bit more of a focus on Gordon Brown.

It has been written by bloggers with contributions from across the spectrum of the political blogosphere. It is in the bookshops this week or you can buy it online by clicking on the picture. And you can expect a little viral advertising campaign with a difference soon…

++ Bercow Pulls Out of Party Parliamentary Dinner Tonight ++

Usually reliable sources…

Look Who Flew in to Say Goodbye to Blair

Yates of the Yard is still chasing down evidence and statements to tighten up the case against Sleazy Levy.
Police flew in Ms Courtney Coventry yesterday to question her again about her dealings with Blair and Levy. In April 2004 she was canvassed by Jane Hogarth, the Labour party’s former head of high-value fund raising who supposedly has been made redundant – but is actually still working as a “consultant” to the party.

Lord Levy introduced Courtney, as a potential donor, to Tony Blair. The police want to know what Levy promised in return for a donation.

Letts on Harman

Quentin Letts, who is evidently a Guido fan, has a characteristically fair minded and gentle piece about Harriet Harman today. Well worth reading.

Brown’s “Lemming Bounce” Confirmed

The Indy headline says it all – Brown’s ‘bounce’ fails to materialise as Tories take five-point lead. The somewhat deranged voices who think Brown will be the electoral saviour of the Labour party will be terribly disappointed.

Guido predicted the Lemming effect – they are going to miss three times election winning Blair when he is gone. Wait and see…

Meanwhile on Facebook…

Remember when we used to do eBay stories? That is just so 2006, now we do Facebook stories, this just popped up:

David Miliband joined the group Harriet Harman for Deputy!.

David Miliband just left the group Johnson for Deputy!.

Hat-tip : Guido ** waves back at Popbitch.**

Labour Sources : Blair to Quit Sedgefield Seat++ Getting Ready for a By-Election ++

Yesterday evening rumours reached Guido that Tony Blair will step down from parliament as a constitutency MP by applying for the Chiltern Hundreds this week. Cherie has in any case reportedly started moving furniture out of their constituency house. Labour staffers have been primed for a second campaign (besides Ealing Southall). The party machine is moving in for the by-election. Staff have been ordered to pack their bags and head for Sedgefield on Thursday.

With his new role as Middle East facilitator it is hard to see how Blair would commute between Jerusalem and Durham, one minute sorting out lost welfare benefit claims and the next minute pacifying the Palestinians.

Sedgefield is a safe seat, and dual by-elections will stretch the LibDem machine into two operations.

Many Labour left-wingers might think that the result of a Sedgefield by-election would count as a “Labour Gain”.

Early Election? Don’t Think So…

Propellor-Head Wonk Watch: the appointment of Douglas Alexander to oversee preparations for the next general election might be seen by some as Brownite genius. Guido thinks that depends on how you view his overseeing of the recent election campaign where Labour lost control in Scotland for the first time in generations. Some think it could have been worse.

Guido remembers attending a Demos event last year where the new campaign commissar was giving his thoughts. With all this talk of an early election in the air the boys and girls at CCHQ and Cowley Street would do well to dig out his Serving a Cause, Serving a Community Demos pamphlet from last year. In it he urged the Labour party to work in partnership rather than parallel with like minded organisations including trade unions. Gordon is spinning today that he wants to reduce the power of the unions through one man, one vote.

He wrote about the party to becoming a “community hub” creating space for shared discussion with social interest groups who will have input into local party campaigns using blogs and chat rooms to encourage debate with those preferring not to go to formal party meetings. LabourHome is their best semi-unofficial attempt at this, and it still shaded by ConservativeHome.

He also claimed he wanted to throw off the control-freak shackles and loosen the rigid party structures to allow issues to be discussed informally and he wanted to decentralise professional party staff resources from national to local level. Once again the Tories have the edge here, they are far less control-freaky and they already have their Northern call-centre operation with regional offices benefiting from Lord Ashcroft’s cash.

If the Demos pamphlet was Douglas Alexander’s job application it will take time to achieve his goals for Labour. That together with their cash crisis, makes Guido doubtful they will go for an early election.

Harman Was Backed by the Sith

Guido has only just found out that Harman was advised by Deborah Mattinson, the high-priestess of the Sith, Gordon’s personal pollster, Smith Institute board member and recipient of many juicy government contracts though her firm OLR.
It was her, Guido believes, that commissioned the YouGov poll showing that Harman had much needed appeal in the South East. That poll result featured heavily in Harman’s propaganda…

Oh F**K Its Harman

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