Friday, September 12, 2008

Threat is Real

This morning Nick Robinson told listeners to Today “Gordon Brown no longer appears to be under threat. The cool political climate of the Autumn has replaced the heated frenzy of the Summer… The PM, it seems, has been saved for now at least not by anything he’s done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.”

Later this morning we learnt from Sky that some backbenchers had requested nomination papers. Clearly not everyone is resigned to going down with the Prime Mentalist…

Exclusive : Neil O’Brien to Head Policy Exchange

Neil O’Brien is to be the new director of Policy Exchange. Currently the 29 year-old is the director of Open Europe, the leading think-tank working on liberal reforms of the European Union. Open Europe has a reputation as the best connected, least head-banging, media-savvy euro-sceptic group. They were behind the I Want a Referendum campaign.

Neil launched Open Europe in 2005 with a heavyweight board, having made his name with the successful “No to the Euro” campaign. He has good relations with the media and knows how to shape an agenda.

With a budget of £2 million Policy Exchange is aiming to be a Washington style policy powerhouse, this appointment should bring some stability after the recent churn at the top. Nic Boles left to run for London Mayor, his successor Anthony Browne’s tenure saw embarrassments (not of his making) with faked evidence used in one report exposed on Newsnight and a second clumsily spun report was seized on by Labour to paint Cameron as anti-Northerner – resulting in Dave describing the report as “insane”.

Going forward the Policy Exchange board wants to be a critical friend rather than “Cameron’s favourite think tank”. Although Neil’s politics are liberal conservative, he is not a Cameroon or active within the Conservative Party and this was apparently a factor in his appointment.

Friday Caption Contest (Loft Lagging Leader from La La Land Edition)

+++ Sky : Labour Leadership Nomination Papers Requested +++

Sky’s Political correspondent Joey Jones is reporting that “a small number of Labour MPs have requested Labour leadership nomination papers”.

New Policy Exchange Director Announced Today

Who has arguably the most sought after job in Westminster’s wonk-land will be known today. Policy Exchange staff will be told who the new director is at 1pm.

Guido has talked to people who were in the running. The selection of the new director has been conducted by Charles Moore like the search for the next pope. The interviews were conducted off site. The board was consciously seeking a non-Cameroon. Speculation on CentreRight that George Bridges or Danny Finkelstein were in the running was wide of the mark. Bridges, the expectant father of twins, couldn’t take the pay-cut and Danny did not apply.

+++ Come back at 1pm for the result. +++

Fire in Channel Tunnel – Continent Isolated

Just wanted to re-work the famous headline.

Incidentally, one side-effect of the collapsing pound is that Britain will have to pay £8 billion extra into EU coffers by 2013 according to research by Open Europe. That is equivalent to a penny on income tax for the next 5 years.

The EU gravy train is priced in euros…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

He’s Not a Clown, He’s Austerity Brown

As Guido picked up the late edition of the London Evening Standard off the counter the shopkeeper, looked quizzical and said “ee’s off his ‘ead, innee?

The shopkeeper has it right. The grand plan is a joke. It is a re-hash of an existing programme, it would according to the insulating industry take 10 years to complete. The energy producers say the costs will have to be passed on to consumers. Worse, Brown gave helpful tips at the staged photo-op this morning to wrap-up warm, close the curtains, sit in the dark and stick a balloon up the chimney. You could not, as they say, make this up…

Labour MPs are despairing

++ National Insulation Assoc. "Insulating Will Take 10 Years" ++

Populus Shows Most People Not Interested in Politics

Some odd findings come out of the Populus pre-conference polling of voter perceptions. Guido is working on the assumption that the poll methodology is good – poll pundits like Mike Smithson or Anthony Wells might beg to differ. Some of the findings were:
  • Voters think Brown is more left-wing than he was this time last year.
  • Voters think Cameron is slightly more right-wing than he was this time last year.
  • Nick Clegg is seen as to the left of Ming.
  • Clegg and Brown are seen as slightly more left-wing than their parties.
Most people inside politics and informed enough to read political blogs would disagree with those findings and believe that Brown is to the right of his party and Clegg is more right-of-centre liberal than Ming. So how do you explain the perception disparity?

We live in a tele-democracy, most people are not interested in political detail. Which is why when Dave went off to hug a husky, polls showed that the Tories were seen as more green than the LibDems. McCain is sweeping up woman voters because he has a woman on the ticket, never mind her policy stance. What the likes of Karl Rove, James Carville, Rupert Murdoch, Peter Mandelson and Steve Hilton understand is that perception and image matter more than policy substance in a tele-democracy. People who are not interested in politics have votes. George Dubya Bush was on to something when he said “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and they’re the ones to focus on”…

Classic Biden Gaffe

Biden is Obama’s VP candidate. Here on the campaign trail he hails Chuck Graham, Missouri Senator and paraplegic.

Via the Fink


Seen Elsewhere

How is Miliband’s ‘New Politics’ Working Out? | Speccie
State Should Send More Poor Children Private | Sam Bowman
£1 Million Cost of Ed Balls’ Ego | Laura Perrins
William Hague’s Sausage Fest | Rochdale Online
Public Doesn’t Prioritise Housing | Mark Pack
Mysterious Case of Ruffley’s Missing Letter | Speccie
All the Single Ladies (And Lords) | Bloomberg
How Ruffley’s Resignation Became Inevitable | ConservativeHome
We Need a Recall Bill Now | Speccie
Left-Wing Anti-Semitism is Nothing New | Dan Hannan
Coe Pulls Out of BBC Trust Race | Mail


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Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…

“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


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