Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Sleaze Special : Tom Watson

Guido wondered why Labour’s attack-puppy, Tom Watson MP, was uncharacteristically silent on the scandal of Tory MP Derek Conway employing three family members at public expense. Tom has been strangely silent on sleaze altogether, Watson never usually misses a chance to attack, so why the reticence?

Could it be because the Watson family is paid some £300,000-a-year by the taxpayer? A new all-time record for snouts-in-the-trough.

Last year Watson pocketed his £60,000 salary and his parliamentary expenses amounted to £150,000-plus – bringing his total package to £211,000 – making him the 73rd highest claiming MP out of 646 MPs. Quite an achievement for an MP not claiming for travel to and from Scotland. He of course employs his wife Siobhan at the public’s expense, his brother, Dan, is constituency director to Euro MP Michael Cashman, Dan Watson’s wife, Joanna, has no fewer than three jobs. Like her husband, she also works for Mr Cashman and for Wolverhampton Labour MP Pat McFadden, yet still finds time to be a Labour councillor in Sandwell. Amy Watson, cousin of Tom and Dan, works for Birmingham Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden. The West Midlands constituency Labour Party offices are packed with Watsons…

The total annual cost to the taxpayer of the Watson family’s five not-so-little piggies is in excess of £300,000. Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stat-Porn : February 2008

487,676 page views off 366,364 unique visitors – well it was a short month. Read ‘em and weep Three Line Whoopsies…

The Centre for Policies Studies recently had to correct a pamphlet which implied the Telegraph’s political bloggers* were now beating Guido in terms of audience size. Coincidentally the pamphlet’s author was a Telegraph hack. Turns out that claim is true only if you add the traffic of all fifty (50) Telegraph blogs together. Only then do they just barely beat Guido in terms of audience size. 50 hacks, £10 million lost invested in the new media platform. No wonder Shane Richmond is sulking with Guido. Barclay brothers take note…

Many thanks to all Guido’s advertisers.

*Iain Martin is well worth reading.

Cameron "Gets It", Can He Do It?

This morning in Birmingham Brown eulogised to Labour’s spring conference the utopia he is building, meanwhile Dave has given a more realistic speech to Taffy Tories in Wales.
His speech accepts that voters are going to demand more openness, transparency, honesty and control. As Guido predicted on Thursday, he has returned to his PMQs themes once again. The Cameroons believe there are political dividends to be had in aligning with the anti-politician mood, the call from the 2005 intake of Tory MPs advancing constituency recalls for bad MPs is part of that anti-political agenda.

Cameron’s speech today said “I get it” loud and clear:

Public faith in our political institutions is draining away. According to MORI, the proportion of people trusting politicians to put the needs of the country before the needs of party halved between 1974 and 1999. Trust in Parliament fell from 54% in 1983 to 14% in 2000. Since then it’s got even worse. Our Parliament is scorned. Our parties are shrinking … Let’s be clear what they think of us: “you lie and you spin, you fiddle your expenses and you break your promises.” To describe this disengagement and cynicism as a ‘mood’ is to underestimate both the depth and the intensity of the breakdown in relations between the government and the governed.

So Dave has identified the symptoms, does he know what has caused it?

To do that, we need to understand why this political breakdown has happened. A lot of it is to with behaviour. The behaviour of a minority of individual politicians, in all parties. Behaviour in the House of Commons.

Most of all he blames the government’s culture of spin, the three thousand press officers and the cynicism of politicians who promise what can’t ever be delivered, with the single-minded pursuit of favourable headlines rather than real results in mind. All of which is in the DNA of New Labour.


Click on Image – requires Flash and sound

Anti-politics is the new politics. You have read it here almost daily for four years. Cameron’s new politics shows promise, his post-bureaucratic agenda is about limiting the state and the unlimiting of society. Those of us who are anti-politics are the majority at election time, if Cameron can convince the non-voting majority that he will walk the walk as well as talk the talk he could win a landslide. We won’t ever vote for the Labour Party, yet why should we vote for the Tories? We are the sceptical and cynical majority who see politicians as a problem, not a solution…

Friday, February 29, 2008

Exclusive : Which? Spinner to Spin for Brown

Word reaches Guido that Gordon Brown’s new “Strategic Communications Adviser” will be Nick Stace, who is currently Director of Campaigns and Communications at the Consumers’ Association (Which?).
Gordon must be in a real mess as Stace is not what you would regard as high calibre – he so badly mishandled the whole Home Information Packs (HIPs) stuff that the Consumers’ Association went from supporting the government to half supporting the government, to eventually disowning the government plan. Or something like that, it all got a little confusing.

Also as early as next week a new Head of Press and Broadcasting for the Labour Party will be appointed – expect it to be an internal appointment. This follows the appointment of Stephen Carter over Damian McBride in Downing Street.

Gordon is said to have performance concerns about McSnide’s ever increasing tendency to be found propping up the bar. Guido sympathises – spinning for Gordon would drive anyone to drink…

+++ Harry Landing Brize Norton for Breakfast Tomorrow +++

Too late for the Taliban, just in time for Boujis…

Friday Caption Contest (Hain Rebels)

Labour Were Thinking What The Tories Were Thinking

Immigration minister Liam Byrne told BBC News this morning that the Australian immigration control model had been closely examined by the British government: “I think that people want to know that only those who we need to come to Britain should be allowed to come and I think a points system has worked extremely well in Australia so we have studied that hard, we think it would work well in this country.”
The 2005 Conservative Party Manifesto promised “We will introduce a points-based system for work permits similar to the one used in Australia. This will give priority to people with the skills Britain needs.”

Remember how the Labour Party made a huge issue of the policy and campaign posters, outrageously condemning the commitment as a racist dog-whistle policy. Less than three years later Labour is implementing the same policy.

UPDATE : Gordon describes himself as a Daily Mail reader in the paper this morning when backing their campaign against plastic bags. So he is actually thinking what Paul Dacre is thinking.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

+++ Drudge : Harry Fighting Taliban Since December +++

Met Police Commissioner – We Are Waiting to Investigate Conway

Labour’s favourite copper has written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to inquire about whether or not Conway is going to be referred to the Met. Guido is as keen as mustard on seeing Conway prosecuted, yet one can’t help wondering if Ian Blair would be so eager to investigate Geoff Hoon or David Blunkett, both of whom are guilty of fiddling large sums from the taxpayer.

The Commons Standards Committee, which investigated the case, has said there was not enough evidence to refer it. Blair hints that this is not the protocol that is supposed to be followed. Guido wonders if Sir George Younger is really qualified or motivated enough to conduct criminal investigations.

If Conway has done nothing wrong why was he suspended from parliament? Why are his wrong doings not ordinary matters for the criminal justice system? Do MPs think they are above the law?

UPDATE : Almost forgot, Duncan Borrowman, Conway’s LibDem opponent in Bexley and Sidcup wrote to the Commissioner in January.

Calamity Logic

Guido had his good impression of Clegg diminished during his leadership fight with Huhne, which he won (just) on votes while Huhne won on style and determination. Interviewed yesterday Clegg tried to justify wriggling out of his manifesto promise to hold a referendum. He claimed that the Lisbon Treaty was too “measly and paltry” to hold a referendum on. He was then asked whether the UK needs a clear cut definition so that we can judge if something is constitutionally significant and therefore warrants a referendum?

Clegg: “I strongly agree with that. There’s some good organisations, an organisation which I think is great is Unlock Democracy which is putting forward some ideas about how we could get some sort of logic into when a referendum is appropriate or not.” (BBC 5 Live, 27 February, 2008)

That would be the Unlock Democracy group which put out a statement on Tuesday from its director Peter Facey criticising the Lib Dems for refusing to back a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty saying: “they should back down and support the Conservative amendment.” Logical?


Seen Elsewhere

Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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