The NHS’s Protected Doctors (Spin)

While the “front-line services” of the NHS may well be protected from the axe, it seems the Department of Health’s bloated “first-line of defence” could be ripe for a squeeze. Why exactly does Andrew Lansley and his ministers require more press officers and PR civil servants than the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office?

The list – 31 in total – range from a 10 strong news-desk, to strategic planners and multiple layers of spin. The Department has four full-time speech-writers – could some of the other 27 spinners not yell down the phone and occasionally type? Lansley has had his accident prone days and is known to put his foot in it, yet his old media team used to fit in the back of a transit van, but he still made it to government.

When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd.

Spotted by Liam Murray.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

All in the bar together.

Fairy’s Tale Out Tomorrow

You have to laugh at the cheek of Mandelson. His memoir The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour is out tomorrow and Guido will be providing full excerpts here on the blog from over-the-paywall.  Mandy is clearly enjoying himself…

Is this Labour’s Khrushchev Moment of Truth?

When Rawnsley’s The End of the Party book came out in January on the heels of Peter Watt’s Inside Out and the allegations of Prime Mentalism committed by Gordon Brown were again denied, Guido predicted that Labour Will Have a Khrushchev Moment of Truth in the End:

When Brown has gone after the election it seems inevitable that we will eventually have a Khrushchev moment, where a senior Labour figure articulates what everyone knows.  It will be devastating.  Gordon Brown is a malevolent, deeply damaged and unpleasant human being.  He is at the centre of a culture of political bullying that has been unhealthy for the Labour Party and the government.  The loyalist cabal around him are unpleasant people who have no place in a healthy political culture, they are as secretive and malicious as they are vindictive and vicious.

Gordon Brown was often compared to Stalin, but who will be Labour’s senior Krushchev figure who condemns the previous regime? Mandelson has laid to rest any continuing pretence (if there was any) about the TeeBeeGeeBees, the vicious infighting that paralysed Whitehall for a decade, yet was denied on camera in barefaced lying by Labour politician after Labour politician, including Mandelson. Mandelson is getting all the coverage for his book The Third Man highlighting the failings of Gordon Brown. Less focus is on David Miliband, Mandelson’s new protege gave a speech yesterday that comes near to that Krushchev moment

I agreed completely with Gordon Brown, when he became Prime Minister in 2007, that we needed renewal.  I supported and voted for him.  I agreed that we needed greater moral seriousness and less indifference to the excesses of a celebrity drenched culture.  I agreed with him when he said that we needed greater coherence as a government, particularly in relation to child poverty and equality.  I agreed with him on the importance of party reform and a meaningful internationalism that would be part of a unified government strategy.  I agreed that we needed a civic morality to champion civility when confronting a widespread indifference to others. But, it didn’t happen. It was not just more of the same.  Far from correcting them failings – tactics, spin, high-handedness – intensified; and we lost many of our strengths – optimism born of clear strategy, bold plans for change and reform, a compelling articulation of aspiration and hope.  We did not succeed in renewing ourselves in office; and the roots of that failure were deep not recent, about procedure and openness, or lack of it, as much as policy.  That is a political fact and now words are cheap but the stakes are high.

It was a backhanded condemnation of Brown’s failure. If David Miliband wants Labour to move on, a frank, uncoded, reflection on the period of Labour brutalism is required. Brown was a disaster for the Labour Party and the country, if Miliband wants a reborn Labour Party he first has to bury Brown in the truth.

UPDATE : Punters give David Miliband a 63% chance of being the next Labour leader.

Palin 2012 : Mama Grizzlie is Coming for Obama

Saturday Seven Up

7upTraffic post-election as we head into silly season has been down about 25%, but last week was quite a good week. If you were not one of the 61,509 visitors viewing 307,380 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…

Miliband’s Own Donors Don’t Believe in Him

David Miliband proudly published his formidable donors list on his website yesterday. Intriguingly the law firm Mishcon de Reya have given the favourite in the race £13,077 through a donation-in-kind of legal services. This strikes an odd note given David’s less than amiable relationship with said law firm previously.

Last year John Jackson, Mishcon’s chairman,  accused the then Foreign Secretary of a breach of the rule of law over the case of the tortured terrorist suspect Binyam Mohamed. For someone now providing valuable support through his firm, he has certainly changed his tune. Jackson wrote:

“The Foreign Secretary has, apparently, said that the judges were mistaken and that at no time did US authorities make the threats set out in the judgement. This is said to have been confirmed by very senior U.S. spokespeople. If the judges were mistaken what, precisely, was the basis of the Foreign Secretary’s Immunity Certificate? And, come to think of it, why is he the Minister concerned with intelligence sharing? This is beginning to look like the proverbial can of worms.

Three days later the donor went even further and hinted that Miliband was not being entirely straight regarding whether the US threatened British authorities about the case:

“David Miliband now claims the US authorities did not make threats in relation to the sharing of intelligence information and that he had not raised this aspect of the BM case with colleagues in the US since the inauguration of President Obama. This is so astonishing as to defy belief when placed next to what the Divisional Court said in its last judgement published last Wednesday

David Miliband’s own brother doesn’t think he is the best man for the job, and even those who are throwing money at him seem to doubt his honesty. When both blood and money question the man, eyebrows are inevitably raised. If they don’t trust him, why should anyone else? What changed Jackson’s mind about David Miliband? Why the cash? What was promised?

Commons Drinks Up Just 5%

Regular readers will remember much fanfare from Bercow when he announced that, in these austere times, the cost of subsidised food and drink on the Parliamentary Estate would be rising, bringing it into line with “high-street” rivals. So the cheaper end of the real world.

Half a million quid will be removed from the subsidy, but what does that actually mean in practice? Guido’s man behind the bar whispered that for all the press releases and back slapping, the plan is to only put prices up by a meagre 5%. The Commons bars and terraces will still be the cheapest place to drink in town even after this small rise. The Guinness is half price by Central London standards, cheers.

Friday Caption Contest (Briefing the Lobby Edition)

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Dolly Back on the London Scene

Derek Draper disappeared from the face of the earth after his exit in disgrace from LabourList. He was spotted doing a bit of canvassing on election day and was entertained by Gloria De Piero on the Commons terrace a […]

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Blair Still a Hero, To Some

Tony is off to Kosovo today to receive the Golden Medal of Freedom. He will meet leaders and address their Assembly. No expense is being spared for their hero’s welcome, although he won’t be offered honorary tribal membership as he […]

+ READ MORE +

Dave Dodges Humiliation

Bob Crowe has been mouthing off for the last couple of days at the prospect of the Prime Minister addressing the TUC conference in the autumn. He is whipping up anger about the invitation and claims he will lead a […]

+ READ MORE +



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