LibDem Head of Media Quits Over PR Blunder

Mark Littlewood resigns after serious briefing error over coalition with Brown.

Open Source Osborne

George Osborne gave a talk this morning to a crowd of mainly public sector geeks assembled by the RSA – the notable exceptions that Guido spotted being Bryan Appleyard, Adriana Cronin-Lukas, the Doughty Street crowd and the WebCameron team.

Osborne banged the drum for the government switching to Open Source and, although he didn’t say it explicitly, abandoning Microsoft. The comparitive imagery is very potent, the Tories are the Google party (“Do no evil”) to New Labour’s Microsoft party (“Evil Corp.”).

Online libertarians have a gut suspicion of the Microsoft/New Labour alliance, when Big Software meets Big Government one thing you can be sure about – we’re going to get screwed financially. So Osborne is obviously hanging out with the right kind of geeks nowadays.

Smith Institute : Final Nail in the Non-Partisan Coffin

On Monday night Margaret Beckett made a speech that hammered the last nail in the non-partisan coffin for the Smith Institute. This is despite the Smith Institute currently being under investigation by the Charities Commission under Section 8 of the Charities Act for breaching their obligation to be politically impartial. It was insouciance to the point of hubris.

The speech would not have been out of place at a Labour party event, in fact it is clear that Beckett saw the 11 Downing Street gathering as a Labour party event, she talks about the “history of our Party”, what “we as a party did”, the virtue of being a “scourge of the Tory Party” – peppering her speech with criticisms of the contemporary Conservative party and David Cameron.

Gordon Brown attended as did most of the trustees, Lord Haskel brought knowing laughter from the audience when he said they would vigourously fight the Charity Commission’s investigation into their non-political status. Nevertheless Beckett went on to deliver a partisan speech with no regard to their charitable objective of education. She praised Gordon to the skies, lauding his record in office saying “..if, as I certainly hope we do, we have the architect of that amazing record, Gordon Brown, as our next Labour Prime Minister” and “Gordon – a man in whom the flame of social justice burns every bit as brightly as it did in John [Smith]” and so on.

It is hard to see how the Charities Commission can allow them to continue to have charitable status any longer. The only beneficiary of this charity is Gordon Brown. Judge for yourself by downloading the speech obtained by a co-conspirator here.

Guido has already passed this speech to the Charity Commission investigation team.

Gordon’s Grin

All that tosh (Gord that must hurt The Sun) about Gordon being so hard he went without anaesthetic to have his root canal work done wouldn’t be to distract us from noticing that he went to one of London’s most expensive* private cosmetic dentists would it? Just a thought…

*Mervyn Druain is so expensive that (according to Vogue) he allows clients to pay in installments, according to Harpers his Smile Lift and Wrinkle Remover procedure costs a mere £3,000. Gordon had his smile sorted recently.

Leaker Faces 25 Years Jail

Scooter Libby, ex-Whitehouse chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney, today faces a prison term of up to 25 years for leaking and obstructing justice. Could it happen here?
Say if someone equivalent in Downing Street was caught leaking… oh hold on, Downing Street deny leaking. The PMOS actually said today “Suggestions that we leaked or were trying to leak this information are just plain wrong – and that’s not based on my personal hunch. It’s because there are inaccuracies in reports which mean it can’t have come from No. 10.” When we leak, we get it right..


Oh, but McTernan is not in Downing Street now, he is in Scotland…

May the Force* Be With You

To the Jedi going into Sith HQ tonight – do give Guido’s regards to Konrad.

Beckett is speaking about John Smith. Maybe the co-conspirators / Jedi should ask her about the secret political slush fund she operated during his period of leadership which was only closed down shortly before it became illegal.

*The Metropolitan Police Force.

UPDATE : 20:00 You have to laugh, she anointed the attending Gordon Brown as the heir to John Smith, peppering her speech shamelessly with favourable comparisons. Like Guido has always said, the only benficiary of this charity is G. Brown. Yours truly got a name-check by the warm-up comedian.

Sleazy Levy Complains of “Trial by Media”

Levy’s lawyers have just released a statement complaining, wait for it, of “trial by media”.

Well perhaps he should stop ringing up political editors and briefing them in that case? All those unnamed “friends” quoted in the press are him, briefing…

UPDATE : 13:30 The Metropolitan Police have released a statement effectively accusing the Guardian of undermining their case.

UPDATE : 14:00 “There has been a regular stream of leaks to the media during this year-long investigation, all of which have presented a prejudiced and distorted view” say Levy’s lawyers. Of course Lord Levy’s off-the-record briefings to journalists are not prejudiced or distorted in the slightest.

Sith’s “Operation Bluewash” Infiltrated by Co-conspirators

Despite applying well in advance to the “public” event advertised in the Speccie as part of the Smith Institute’s Operation Bluewash “we’re not Gordon’s front-group, look we invite Tories via adverts in the Spectator” – Guido’s invitation never arrived. Guido called up Konrad to check on the invitation’s progress, but things got a little hysterical and they put the phone down. Nevertheless a number of co-conspirators (who applied after Guido) have a particular interest in Ms Beckett’s wisdom and are looking forward to visiting No. 11 tonight.
So even though Guido won’t be there in person, the Sith will sense a presence…

Chief Political Correspondent Wanted

The Times’ chief political correspondent, Anthony Browne is off to run the Policy Exchange think tank after only one year in post. The job interview must have been interesting, since only last month he described Policy Exchange as “very close to the Conservative leadership” and accused them of issuing a report “giving perfect cover for a hard-hitting speech on the same day by David Cameron, detailing how he would tackle the issue.” Clearly they forgave him for that sensitive jibe.

The job opening comes at a crucial time, Murdoch having basically decided to back Brown and try to crack the whip on Cameron to bring him into line. If our tele-democracy is about bread and circuses, Guido is in no doubt who is the ringmaster. So who will be the clown who gets the job?

It will be interesting to see if it goes to a journalist with known sympathies. If Tom Baldwin gets it, you can be sure the Times will be slanting reportage even more favourably to Gordon. It is one thing for the comment columnists to be partisan, if they weren’t, it’d be boring. Some days even the Times’ political reporting reads like it was written by Ed Balls.

UPDATE : This just in from Machiavelli , frankly nothing would surprise Guido…

Robinson Hints Source Not Necessarily Downing Street

Beware of source speculation says Robinson, reading between the lines he is saying it was a blend of sources “In my experience of journalism it is rarely as simple as one side or the other handing you a story or a document on a plate.”

How can an email have multiple sources Nick?

Meanwhile, back in Court, the Beeb got the injunction amended and can now report of the email “It was sent to Tony Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, and concerned Labour’s chief fundraiser Lord Levy.”

UPDATE : Subsequent revelations point to it being a document rather than an email, it apparently was prepared for Ruth’s lawyers or perhaps originally intended for Powell’s eyes. Possibly it was produced on the legendary Downing Street Lotus Notes system.

Oh What a Tangled SpAd

Cheating Phil Taylor, Peter Hain’s SpAd, campaigned for his boss at the taxpayer’s expense and against the rules. He told Guido last Thursday that he had already told the permanent secretary he was resigning*, he even had the audacity to explain that this noble sacrifice would cost him his SpAd termination payment. On Friday he changed his mind and was telling people he was only taking unpaid leave.

Matt Withers in Wales on Sunday followed it up:

WELSH Secretary Peter Hain’s top advisor has quit amid political gossip that he had been campaigning for his boss to become Labour’s Deputy Leader.

Phil Taylor, who advises Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Hain on devolution issues across the water, is to step down from his position to concentrate on his boss’ race for the number two position.

Mr Taylor asked for unpaid leave on Thursday, the same day a political gossip website claimed Mr Taylor had already been involved in the campaign.

As a taxpayer-funded civil servant, this would have broken Cabinet Office rules. Special advisors are not allowed to get involved in leadership battles.

The Northern Ireland Office has confirmed Mr Taylor’s departure.

Mr Taylor said: “It is true that I intend to leave at the end of the month which is when we hope to have a devolved government in place at Stormont. I have been asked to help out in the campaign and that is what I will do.”

Guido has been calling Phil for clarification to no avail so just in case he isn’t picking up his email either, here are the questions:
  1. On Thursday you told Guido you had already informed the permanent secretary that you intended to resign and that this sacrifice would cost you your termination payment, how did this on Friday become you were taking unpaid leave at the end-of-the-month?
  2. According to reports, you only told the permanent secretary of your intention last Thursday, when you knew Guido was trying to contact you – when did you formally tell the permanent secretary?
  3. Guido has been given a number of Hain4Labour campaign documents that place you at various locations at various times. Guido is confident that it will be found through FoI requests that you were not on leave. Do you have any explanation?

Incidentally, to Guido’s new fans in the Welsh Labour Party, it was a pleasure.

*PA and the Belfast Telegraph also reported he was resigning.

Mirror’s Maguire Brown-Nosing Into Downing Street

Kevin Maguire fantasises that he will be the Alastair Campbell of the Brown regime. He has Campbell’s old job as political editor at the Mirror and certainly sucks up to Gordon enough to make himself a candidate to follow his predecessor’s footsteps. Guido saw Maguire at the Milburn / Clarke website launch and wondered if he was actually there reporting or spying. It is also noticeable that of late he has been putting himself about giving “media training” to Labour party candidates and is increasingly seen at regional party events.As well as practising his Brown-nosing at the Mirror, he is part of the New Statesman / Sith nexus, so it is no surprise that he was one of the few hacks to quote the recent discredited “Opinion Leader” poll. Maguire soothed Brownite nerves in the Mirror last week

the poll that really counted this week may prove to be an Opinion Leader Research survey of senior public figures. Political heavyweight Brown was judged to “believe” what he says by 87 per cent, lightweight Cameron by 59 per cent.

Maguire claims the poll that mattered wasn’t either of the two field-tested four-figure population polls from ICM and Communicate research, it was the one organised by Gordon’s pollster, Deborah Mattinson, of 100 carefully selected “opinion leaders”. Does he really believe what he writes?If Maguire gets to be Brown’s spinmeister don’t expect a highbrow moral tone from the man who this week wrote of often dreaming of Margaret Thatcher’s death and how “back home on Tyneside at the weekend, I found many a Labour voter eagerly awaiting the day [the] former premier is dead and buried.” Strangely yesterday morning on Marr’s BBC show he didn’t recount his dreams to Carol Thatcher – who was sharing the sofa with him. Now that would have really livened things up.

When not dreaming of Carol’s mother’s death he calls Cameron “Druggie Dave, the Bambi Killer”, which may be fair comment or an indication of the nature of the coming Brown onslaught on the poll favourite. If Brown appoints Maguire it will signal that he intends to fight a dirty, class-based political struggle which appeals to Labour’s activists – a style reflected in Kevin’s journalism that has helped the Mirror lose 25% of its readers since 1997. Can he do for his party what he has done for his paper?

Good News, Bad News for the Monkey

Well he’ll wake up pleased to know that Hilary Benn, for whom he is campaigning, is according to YouGov, the favourite for deputy amongst Labour party members and trade unionists. He’ll also discover that Margaret Thatcher is still alive despite his report to the contrary. Hungover?

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Cui Bono: Is Downing Street the Leak Source?

Guido is very wary as we enter the closing straights of the investigation. Downing Street is in serious trouble and the only defence advanced so far is that the peerage nominations were for “party peerages”. That is a non-existent class of honour and the admission in itself was effectively a confession, not a defence.

The BBC appears to be in a position to stand up the story going around in mid-January about a “Smoking Gun” email. Why else would the police want to injunct the story unless it was correct and revealing? The question is, who passed the email to the Beeb and what is their motive?

Fact : the BBC does not do cheque-book journalism.
Fact : Yates’ team are, whatever the spin from Downing Street apologists, very tight-lipped.

When news of arrests and interviews has come out, it has more often than not been from the politicians themselves. Given that the Beeb didn’t buy this story, who profits from revealing crucial police evidence? Not the investigators, which is why the police sought to suppress the story, because defence lawyers could make much mischief, and probably will, with the “trial by media” line.

To quote the most famous detective of all, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, even if improbable, must be true.” Those under investigation, now that they believe it no longer possible to “fix” the CPS because of the evidence known to have been discovered, have the most to benefit from bringing the evidence into the public domain. The desperadoes of Downing Street would not be above leaking against themselves, tactically it would also allow them to portray themselves as victims of media savvy police investigators. They already brief that the police are “theatrical” and whine that they are unable to publicly defend themselves from the “trial by media”.

These are dangerous times for Downing Street’s toughest street fighters. The gloves are definitely off, which is why Guido thinks this leak has Downing Street’s fingerprints on it.

House Keeping & Stat’ Porn

As the shadow of the coming Brownite tyranny draws ever nearer, Guido finds he turns increasingly to the well designed and conceived The Man Who Would Be King blog, which is something of a Gordon Brown information clearing house. It has become the latest addition to Guido’s blog-roll.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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