Rich and Mark’s Monday Morning View

Media First, House Second

Even Nick Robinson is taking the piss out of the Bottler-in-Chief. He is asking readers of his blog for suggestions as to what he should ask Gordon at today’s press conference. He also explains why old Brown pants would rather face the press pack than the opposition.
The truth is that he would far rather do this at a news conference than in the bear-pit of Parliament or a round with the media’s toughest interviewers. It isn’t that difficult when you get to choose the questions (allowing you to say “the lady at the back with the headscarf” if the going gets tough and you fancy a detour into the Middle East) and you disallow follow-ups and when you stand up in the state rooms of Downing Street looking prime ministerial.

Is that “toughest interviewers” jibe a dig at Marr? Apparently Robbo only found out about the Marr audience with Gordon second hand. Brave Brown is not coming to the House first today (has he forgotten about “the new politics”) he is going to face the Lobby first. Revealing isn’t it that he would rather face the likes of Andrew Marr than MPs. Incidentally, Robbo asking his blog readers for help? He’ll be offering them T-shirts next…

Tom Watson Pays Up After Losing Bet to David Cameron

The “Proppa Blogga” was out-blogged by Dave and by his own admission had to take his medicine. Tom Watson has paid up after losing his bet to David Cameron, he has (with a little prodding) now donated £100* to the Acorn Children’s Hospice Trust.

He hardly had any choice, but it gave Guido a chuckle to see him proved so vaingloriously and publicly wrong.

(Dizzy and Guido matched him with donations to Scope.)

Time To Pay Up Tom

Tom Watson MP, caught bang to rights – more details on www.PayUpTom.com.

Marr as Brown’s Journalist Poodle

Many of Marr’s journalist colleagues are irritated with him but some are laughing at him. The Brownies called in Marr yesterday for the usual exclusive self-declamatory love-in with Gordon that they book whenever he is in trouble. Remember when he got caught plotting the putsch against Blair with Tom Watson? He gave an interview to Marr who gave him the easiest of rides.

This time Gordon was in trouble for losing his bottle, so he called in Marr for another soft interview. Marr, at the end of the interview is sent outside 10 Downing Street, where he makes the announcement to the rest of the press that Brown has ruled out an early election. As if he was the Prime Minister’s Offical Spokesman…

UPDATE : Rich and Mark’s cartoon view is here.

Gordon Has Bottled It

The author of a book on Courage, the genius tactician, has bottled it. Gordon marched his troops to the top of the hill, and then he ran away.
The Brownies* will claim that they are “getting on with the job” but they have done nothing but electioneer, they are not governing, they are campaigning and spinning non-stop. They are more focused on good headlines than good governance.

Oh well, Guido has taken quite a few quid off those betting on an early election and that Tories to be the biggest party bet looks a lot better now.

Gordon’s judgement, to not simply squash the speculation, will be in question and his authority much reduced after this, Cameron called him on it without reservation. Dave didn’t flinch, Gordon just blinked…

*No longer will Guido use the macho sounding term Brownites, these are the Brownies. Compared to the Blairites, we really are dealing with the B-team.

UPDATED : Election Fever – Who Says When

Dateline : 5 October

The Telegraph’s Daniel Hannan has been in touch to point out that Peter Riddell first ruled out any prospect of a 2007 poll back in June, “that’s what first persuaded me it was likely.” He also says Janet Daley has done a similar flip.

Daniel himself has been saying for five months that there’ll be an election this year which he reckons means almost certainly there won’t be “as I’m the world’s worst forecaster”.

Dateline : 4 October
Over the last week or so Guido has been tracking the pundits predictions and will be updating this list (do add pundits names and predictions in the comments):

  • Peter Riddell – “it will almost certainly be on November 1 or 8.”*
  • Tim Montgomerie – is betting on an autumn election
  • Iain Dale – thought Gordon might call it during Tory conference
  • Nick Robinson tells us the preparations for an immediate election are real
  • Team Cameron – we don’t know but “we are on battle stations”.
  • Peter Riddell also ruled out a 2007 election last June.
  • Adam Boulton – told Guido he didn’t think this autumn, but you never know.
  • Mike Smithson – thinks Gordon will play it extra long, not before 2009.
  • Fraser Nelson – can’t see why Gordon would want to shorten his reign.
  • Benedict Brogan – not now, according to his Brownite sources.
  • Steve Richards suspects Dave will be able to claim next week that he stopped the mighty Mr Brown from calling a November election.
  • Michael White suspects not soon.
  • Dizzy Thinks not now.
  • Janet Daley wrote in July “I will stake my commentator’s credibility on the prediction that he will not do so, because I believe that his sense of his own political seriousness would make it inconceivable that he would cut and run before he has established his new dispensation and stamped his own objectives on government.”
Where is Guido sticking his neck? The Brownies are a secretive cabal yet they have signalled a supposed snap election intention. Why would they signal their true intentions to the enemy? Gordon will stretch out his term as long as he can…

Guido has been laying “before Dec 2007” on Betfair if you think Guido is wrong. It has been known…

*Peter Riddell has been been in touch to say he has been quoted out of context and he hasn’t a clue when the election is going to be.

Friday Caption Competition

No2ID to Advocate No2Labour Tactical Voting

Word reaches Guido that at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday the leaders of the NO2ID campaign are likely to decide on an election strategy advocating tactical voting to oust MPs who support ID cards at the election.

The message is simple; if you want to get rid of ID cards, vote against those who voted for them. Two examples where this strategy might work to devastating effect are Tooting and Islington South:

In Islington South the Tories came a distant third, but the LibDem was less than 400 votes behind left-wing Labour MP Emily Thornberry. Tories should vote for the LibDem and enjoy getting rid of the ID card loving, CND supporting MP.

In Tooting the LibDems were nearly 10,000 votes behind Labour Sadiq Khan, if they switched votes to the second-placed Tory candidate they would be getting rid of an authoritarian Labour MP who voted strongly for introducing national ID cards, strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws and very strongly against investigating the Iraq war.

As things stand the third placed party has no hope, the result of widespread tactical voting would be less MPs to push through ID cards and guaranteed LibDem and Tory gains. Across the country tactical voting would further slash Labour’s majority. The logic is clear, where a LibDem or Tory is in a distant third place, vote for the candidate most likely to unseat the ID card supporter. Guido doesn’t think it impossible we could see Nick Clegg and David Davis on the same anti-ID cards platform.

Of course fear of tactical voting could result in Gordon Brown dropping ID cards altogether before the election – which would be huge a victory for the NO2ID campaign…

Brown Bounce Finished

Graphic credit : ConHom

The Guardian’s ICM poll signals the Brown Bounce is over, and now (after a delay much longer than Guido expected) Labour’s post-Blair lemming-like lurch will re-commence. The Tories had a good conference, the Brown election bluff brought about unity in Blackpool, Dave gave a purposeful speech which was head and shoulders over Brown’s plagiarised effort. Brown’s well planned gimmicks, spin and fakery gave him a good summer, but this winter we’ll hear no more talk of destroying the Tories and “all the talents” won’t save him now.

It wasn’t the speech that turned the polls around, although if Dave had not delivered a good speech it would have undermined the advance of the Tories, it was the return of the Tory party’s Unique Selling Point – tax cuts. Family-orientated tax cuts are a clear vote winner – so keen have the Tories been to decontaminate themselves that they threw away their USP. Look at Clinton, even he was elected on a promise of family-orientated tax cuts. The Cameroons have committed themselves to Gordon’s spending plans for the first three years of government, so Ed Balls is going to argue that the sums don’t add up. If that is going to be the battleground, the Tories can win on those terms.

The middle classes don’t care half as much about the arithmetic as they do about the result. Balls and Brown are so out of touch with middle-England they don’t seem to understand how much the tax burden is detested by the middle-classes, who know instinctively that there is government waste to be reduced. Tax is also the issue that swung the Daily Mail and The Telegraph back behind the Tories, The Sun is “loving it” too. The raison d ‘etre of the Conservatives party is to reduce taxes, if they ever forget it they are finished.

Yvette’s Spinners Do Non-Denial Over Fakery

Yesterday’s story about another bit of “faking it” on the No. 10 website webchat resulted in a Guido first, an instant rebuttal in the comments from the Press Office of the Department for Communities and Local Government
Your story about the Number 10 webchat is incorrect. The individual you name does not work for the Government. This was a public webchat which was advertised on the websites of Number 10 and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Government did not ask any specific individuals to take part in the questioning.

Guido read it over and realised that it was a non-denial. Read it again. Technically Karen Doran doesn’t work for the government – she works for a goverment financed quango run out of what was formerly the Office of the Deputy PM, now known as the Department for Communities and Local Government. She is technically not on the government payroll, but is paid by the government.

Guido had a weird conversation with the press office where they accused him of “acting like Pravda”. Karen Doran asked Yvette Cooper, who is effectively her sponsoring minister, a patsy question under the guise of “public engagement”.

Why? The press office haven’t got back to me on that yet…

Instant Reaction

Well the audience, as ever, loved Dave. Guido was watching the press pack and some of Cameron’s apparatchiks. The press seemed if not bedazzled, not unimpressed. Team Cameron seemed happy, tension that was in their faces at the start of the speech dissolved into satisfied smiles by the end.

On balance Dave did it, their is no comparison between Gordon’s speech cut ‘n paste from Al Gore and read off an autocue with Dave’s on his feet oratory. Politicians are notorious fakers, inauthentic to the core spinners. Dave was trying to overcome that perception, he was honest about having a privileged upbringing (Gordon was not so honest about his elite education). The strategy appears to be to turn that into a plus, because he came from a secure family with a good education he knows how important it is and he wants it for everyone. This will be a key charge from Labour – that he is an out of touch toff. If he can prove he isn’t, he’ll neutralise that negative.

Will the speech make any electoral difference? Probably not, but he made the case for his party well. Gordon has talked up the election which the Tories, whatever they say, would rather not fight from this position in the polls. Cameron has basically said bring it on, he’s ready for a fight, if Brown chickens out now he’ll look bad…

OMG He Said ‘Pissed’

A Tory leader swearing on stage? It really is a new world…

Fake Ministerial Interaction

A co-conspirator has tipped Guido off to another bit of “faking it” from the government. Keen to show their commitment to e-Democracy (whatever that is) they have been putting great effort into hosting ministerial webchats on the Downing Street website. The trouble is that they only attract malcontents, the mischevious or almost no one at all. After all who really wants to webchat with the likes of Ed Miliband?

This morning’s live webchat was with the Minister for “I’ll have an affordable house with double mortgage subsidy”* and Housing, Yvette Cooper. Only ten people bothered to log in. One of them was Karen Doran.

Karen Doran: What is the government doing to make sure their policy on housing (regeneration and growth) is aligned to policies designed to promote economic growth. Could the Minister give practical examples of the opportunities this presents to local authorities in their place shaping role?

Yvette replies: You are right Karen that new homes need to be planned alongside new jobs — as we are doing in the Thames Gateway, which is a major area of regeneration and housing growth. But housing and economic policies need to work closely together for existing communities too. Look at what cities like Manchester and Birmingham have done in their city centres — creating new jobs, but bringing people back into the cities to live as well.

If that patsy question reads like a planted question, it is because it is almost certainly exactly that. Now why she needed to ask the question in a “public engagement” exercise is beyond Guido. Karen Doran works on the Community Housing Task Force (formerly part of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister) where she advises on “Communications and Consultation Strategy”. So it seems unnecessary for her to pose as a member of the public to ask the housing minister a question.

We are today living in a government which follows a Potemkin strategy of public relations, merely artificial photo opportunities have now been replaced by completely faked photographs. Public engagement is now simulated, the only members of the public the PM interacts with are photogenic school children. When Potemkin built his villages they were intended to fool one person – Catherine the Great, now New Labour wants to fool everyone in Great Britain.

*Yvette is actually Mrs Balls, despite them having a joint household income of some quarter of a million pounds between them, Mr and Mrs Balls claim tens of thousands of pounds every year in mortgage subsidy to make their housing more affordable.

You Read It Here First

The Tory Press Office has now released this extract from the speech in advance “This is a new Conservative Party with new priorities. There’s been a lot of talk about lurching, so let me make it clear – no lurch to the right, no lurch to the left. There’s only one direction for me and that’s forward to the future. A clear balanced programme of change for the long term, optimism about what Britain can be, hope for the next generation. That means understanding that we live in a new world and that the old politics isn’t working.”

++ EXCLUSIVE ++ Cameron’s Speech

It will be “purposeful” inside sources indicate, “everything we do now is predicated on the assumption that we could be fighting an election in three weeks… we are at battle stations”.
  • The speech will emphasise that there is to be no new direction, no lurching to the right or the left.
[…]

+ READ MORE +



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