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”.

Bang Goes the Neighbourhood

Hardly a day passes without further rumours about the Blair’s house-hunting. But where is his office to be? A co-conspirator has directed Guido towards 33 St James’s Square, the Robert Adam designed grand eighteenth century Grade II listed former London home of the Earls of Buckinghamshire.

Guido’s revelation – despite what Blair’s people claim – won’t really add to his security risk.

Iranian MOIS intelligence agents will practically have to drive past the front door on the way to their Embassy, so they will probably notice him.

Guido suspects that the added security risk the neo-peacemaker brings to the area is going to irritate the hedge fund managers and corporate titans whose natural domain he is entering. Never mind what the denizens of the local gentleman’s clubs will make of his wife…

Indy-gate : Not Independent, Not Speaking

Neil O’Brien at Open Europe spotted that the Indy cover story this morning was lifted entirely from an FCO briefing paper.

Guido called the Indy newsroom looking for Andrew Grice, the political editor who had the accompanying story, to be told he was not available. So I asked who was responsible for cutting and pasting the press release. “Brrr…” – they slammed the phone down.

There must be terrible telecoms problems at the Indy. The Speccie gave the editor of the Indy three hours to respond to their inquiries. Silencio.

The CoffeeHouse blog broke the story. When Blair said the Indy was a viewspaper not a newspaper, you can bet he never imagined it would be the government’s views spread over three pages. Not so bloody piously independent today…

Even Mark Thompson Admits BBC Ridiculously Over Staffed

Guido has been accused of relishing the reduction in the headcount at the BBC. That is unfair and a gross misrepresentation of the true position. He feels their pain. Guido is not relishing that pain, he is too busy celebrating. Loafing Beeboids are (after the Houses of Parliament) the biggest identifiable group of readers from Guido’s server records. Do some real work you mongs…

The BBC boss Mark Thompson made a revealing comment, he said that following the announcement of staff reductions he had “one interview request from ITN, one from Sky and 37 from the BBC”. All asking the same bloody questions…

UPDATE : On the Sky News blog Jon Craig points out that the Beeb has in Brussels today; Chief Political Editor Nick Robinson, News 24 Chief Political Correspondent James Landale, Newsnight Political Correspondent David Grossman, Radio 5 Live Political Correspondent John Pienaar, Europe Editor Mark Mardell. All at the same press conference, with their production teams, running up expenses….

TEXT UPDATED 10:30 : With many potential candidates ruling themselves out yesterday the three clear front runners are Huhne (13/5), who has declared, Clegg, the odds on favourite (1/2) who will launch his campaign tomorrow. Steve Webb has withdrawn this morning and endorsed Clegg. John Hemming’s odds have dramatically come in (from 150/1 to 65/1) and he is drumming up nominations for his tilt. He is talking about Kant in his campaign.
There is apparently a “keep it clean” agreement between Clegg and Huhne. Just as there was an Orange Book cadre understanding to install Ming as a caretaker leader – before Huhne ran last time. At yesterday’s campaign launch Huhne did one of his characteristic sly jibes (remember that pious knife twisting he did to Hughes when he was outed). “Ming”, Huhne claimed, was the “victim of a Camelot obsession”. Who is the JFK of this race that he is blaming for Ming’s fall? Guido will give you a clue, it isn’t John Hemming.

08:00 UPDATE : Ashdown is the first LibDem grandee to come out and endorse Clegg.

11:25 UPDATE : Hemming has reconfirmed he is still in the race and his hat remains firmly in the ring.

+++ STEVE WEBB WITHDRAWS AND ENDORSES CLEGG +++_

Unconfirmed.

UPDATE : Oops, the Beeb had it 20 minutes before Guido. See that £3.5 billion doesn’t all go to waste.

Huhne Site is Up

Well that didn’t take long did it? It is almost as if they were ready before Ming went…

Chris Huhne banner

Presumably he wants “people in charge” as opposed to Alien Lizards? What does he mean?

Tories Slam Sith “Fair Tax” Plans

This morning’s controversial Smith Institute summit on “fair taxation” was relocated from Downing Street after Guido drew attention to it. The event featured Gordon Brown’s former adviser and architect of Brown’s pensions grab, Chris Wales. As the principal architect of Gordon Brown’s pensions tax he is responsible for devastating pension funds. Today he gave the Sith a few new ideas for “fair taxes” on property to be levied through local councils.

Eric Pickles MP, Tory local government shadow didn’t hold back, he laid into the Smith Institute today – “the public will be alarmed that Gordon Brown’s advisers and favoured think-tank are calling for a toxic cocktail of local income taxes and a new national property tax.”

The Charity Commission is still investigating the Smith Institute for engaging in illegal political activity. Obviously these new policies are just a tad politically contentious…

1,700 Jobs to Go at BBC

That is what Guido calls “a good start”. Glen Oglaza over at Boulton & Co gives an example of why:

When Chris Huhne launched his Lib Dem leadership bid, our cameraman took the trouble to count the number of BBC people present.

There were TWELVE of them. Sky and ITN had three each.

You see this all the time, BBC camera teams literally tripping over each other. Each news show has its own resources. Guido has been inside the BBC’s Millbank operation, regional reporters galore reporting on Westminster. Ridiculous. Newsnight’s production office alone is as big as whole of the Sky News operation. This profligacy only happens because they don’t have to care about the bottom line.

Betfair have opened up a market on the LibDem Leadership –

Clegg is hot favourite at less than evens.
Huhne is 13/5
Steve Webb is 15/1
Ed Davey is 36/1
Charles Kennedy is 40/1
Julia Goldsworthy is 40/1
Vince Cable is 50/1

Cable’s price seems to have some value here as an outsider. Guido has put a fiver on him as a trading bet.

Incidentally, Guido covered all his “Tories to be the biggest party” bets at a profit last night. If Clegg wins he may enjoy a honeymoon at Cameron’s expense…

EXCLUSIVE : The indefatigable John Hemming has sent round an email to LibDem MPs throwing his hat in the ring! Yes!

He has sent out a position statement which is basically steady as she goes, neither right nor left etc., concluding with –

I am one of the few Members of Parliament who have the practical experience of having successfully led a political group from opposition to a position of power (in Birmingham). On issues of diversity I have delivered. As far as extra parliamentary considerations are concerned I am almost certainly the only successful entrepreneur in the parliamentary party that is also a member of a Trades Union. I will be taking soundings following this position statement.

That should sew it up…

Lynne Featherstone isn’t running.

Timetable:

31st October: nominations close.
17th December: the new leader will be announced.

Nick Robinson has got the first Ming interview.

But remember, leading the LibDems isn’t just for Christmas….

Competition Winner

There were 200 hundred entries for the Friday caption contest. Most were abysmal and shockingly unfunny. You should all apply for jobs with BBC3.
Tuscan Tony wins with;

Stands the Trust clock at five to three
As the patients stew gently in their poo poo and wee
Gordon’s response – “It can’t be me”
I’ve only been here since June 23

Which just shows how bad the other entries were. He wins a copy of the 2008 edition of The Bumper Book of Government Waste 2008. If he emails his postal address Guido will stump up for the international postage…

Davey’s Dilemma

Ed Davey is in a dilemma, if he doesn’t run will he end up missing out on the crown? If young Clegg wins he could hold the leadership for a decade, with the result that some other young Turk will be jostling for the leadership when Ed is an older, balder man. Relatively old in these circumstances…

Will he stay out of it and endorse another candidate? Decisions, decisions. At the rate the LibDems change leaders, he could perhaps get another chance next year by backing Vince…

Incidentally, despite some speculation Lynne Featherstone told Guido she is “running in the other direction”. Guido suspects she will probably endorse Huhne (again).

What Has Vince Done With Ming?

Is Ming sitting alone in his old XJS Jaguar, finger poised over the ignition? His resignation letter seemed a bit curt. “Right I’m off. Sod the lot of you.”

Who wielded the dagger? Damning with feint praise was the chosen weapon of choice. Two killer quotes from the leadership team might explain why Ming has not spoken to either Hughes or Cable, the GMTV “must do better” from Hughes and the treacherous “under discussion, not under threat” comment from Cable on The World at One made it death-by-media.

Old Vince Cable trying to look solemn last night on Newsnight was a bit of a laugh. If Vince were to succeed in making his current leadership position permanent, most voters would not even notice. They would probably think that whatshisname looked a little different.

Perhaps, they might think, he was now darkening his remaining hair…

Campaign to “Save the Ming”

This is an urgent campaign on behalf of the
Labour and Conservative parties…

+ READ MORE +



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