Hilary Benn is a “Limey SheMale”

In New York Hilary’s “we-don’t-call-it-the- war-on-terror” speech got noticed.

See it on Guynews.

Odds Harden

Mike Smithson points out this morning that as political punters increasingly see Gordon as nigh-on a certainty, the odds on the Tories winning the general election become even firmer.

The correlation is striking.

Blairite Takes Flight

Julia Simpson, one of Tony’s strategic communications spin mistresses is going to spin for British Airways from August. She certainly has the right qualifications for handling troubled brand images.

Guido thinks we’ll be seeing a rush for the exit from Downing Street over the next few months…

Hain SpAd’s Unpaid Leave Becomes Unemployment

Peter Hain’s former Special Adviser, Phil Taylor, who resigned or took unpaid leave from Hain’s office (the story changes) to ‘run’ the perma-tanned boy-racer’s deputy leadership campaign has quit the campaign.

Taylor and Hain parted company last week due ‘irreconcilable differences’. Hain didn’t agree with Taylor’s advice which contradicted the advice of the individual actually employed to run the campaign, Steve Morgan. Taylor had a tantrum, threatened to leave, Hain suggested he do so forthwith. Hain showed little loyalty or gratitude – given that presumably Phil Taylor sacrificed any pay-off as a SpAd when he volunteered to work on Hain’s campaign for free?

Taylor is currently looking for work, although without any success.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View(Chain-gang Edition)

Operation Ribble Closes :When Will Levy Be Charged?

The CPS got the final tranche of the Operation Ribble files on Friday.* The Met let the press know in no uncertain terms that they expected charges against the Sleaze Master General himself, Ruth Turner and Sir Chris Evans. If Powell faces charges too, it will be a devastating denouement to the Blair era. Blair himself is widely expected to escape without being charged, the documentary evidence being too weak.

The CPS could make a decision as soon as June, at a time when many expect the Blair-Brown handover to be in process. Guido has long believed that the police would not be fazed by dealing with powerful political figures, that Levy would inevitably face charges and is now convinced that senior figures at the CPS will not find it possible to sweep things under the carpet. Lord Goldsmith may not even be in office when the decision to prosecute is made, it could well be a Brown appointee. If Brown’s Attorney General were to block charges the prospect of a private prosecution being brought remains. Soundings have already been taken by interested parties at the Inner Temple about this possibility.

If the Attorney General were to then enter a plea of nolle prosequi, claiming it would not be in the public interest to put Blair’s lieutenants on trial, Brown’s administration would forever be tainted with covering up his predecessor’s corruption. Something Brown is unlikely to countenance.

One way or another, this is going to go all the way.

*Guido was at the time supping champagne at Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon.

Friday Caption Contest (Idle Hands Edition)

This was sent in by an Idle co-conspirator. Guido is off to a lunch of the finest Michelin-starred French food and wine in London with Katy Taylor-Richards and the mystery Red Nose Day bidder. You can safely presume that the blog won’t be updated this afternoon…

Norman Baker Filibusters Cover-Up Bill

Good luck to LibDem MP Norman Baker, who has vowed to use fillibustering tactics to ensure that the bill to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information requests runs out of time before passing.

Baker has a cross-party alliance with Tory Richard Shepherd, and Labour’s Mark Fisher and Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams — who have tabled a long list of amendments to the bill.

David Maclean, a Tory MP, introduced this cover-up bill. He’ll be lucky to assemble 100 MPs on a Friday afternoon to stop it being talked out. Guido knows he is a former whip, but he was never that good.

MPs would no doubt want to cover up these types of things.

If Not Miliband, Who Will Challenge Brown?

Miliband has apparently told everyone he really means it and he won’t stand. So we are left with the joke candidacies of John McDonnell and Michael Meacher – who are unlikely to even manage to get 44 MPs to back their nomination.

Reid is wounded but circumstances can change, 40/1 currently on Betfair seems a bit too long a price. Particularly as he still very firmly refuses to rule himself out of the running.

Milburn (100/1) would be humiliated and knows it.

Charle Clarke (50/1) is bitter enough to give it a stab “to encourage a debate”, citing principle rather than ambition.

John Hutton (150/1) is another one – he is certain to be sacked by Brown, since he famously told Nick Robinson that “Brown would be a fucking disastrous PM”. As a result he is not going to feature in a future Brown cabinet. He is surely worth a few quid as a trading bet on Betfair? Guido has a few quid on him running as an outside bet. He is the only Blairite in the cabinet with the inclination to chance it.

Punters Spooked by Mole

The First Post’s “The Molehas tipped Mike Smithson at PoliticalBetting.com that he is about to break a story. The Mole is firmly in the Brown camp. Punters have shifted money onto an early bath for Blair with speculation of a date being leaked. We have had this before with The Sun even announcing a date on the front page.

Nick Robinson has been weighing up Blair’s semantic choices. His PMQs answer to Cameron this week implied that he had not made up his mind when to go. Did he just say that to wind up the Brownites?

Most think he’ll make an announcement after May 3. Presumably he’ll wait until after returning from Stormont on May 8 to bask in the afterglow of perhaps achieving peace in the six counties. (We should not quibble that it is a strange peace that sees the two most extreme parties in power.) So it is possible that he could go see the Queen and tell her of his intentions sometime in early May.

For political punters whether or not it is before or after May 13 is crucial. The leadership process takes 7 weeks. Bets on the timing of his leaving hinge on the date he is no longer leader of the Labour party. If the process starts on May 12 bets will be settled for June, if May 13 bets will be settled for July. Knife edge…

UPDATE : The Mole’s big “exclusive” this morning is the claim that Blair will say he is going on May 9. Could be… but never say never with Blair and our Brownite Mole might be indulging in wishful thinking.

Smithson Decides Not to Risk It

Mike Smithson from PoliticalBetting.com has a book out The Political Punter, How to make money betting on politics. Guido was chatting to Mike at the book launch when in came Mark Oaten. He strolled over to Mike (interrupting our conversation) and congratulated him on the book.

Mike thanked him and being ever polite turned to introduce Oaten, hesitated for a second and quickly said “there is someone you must speak to”, smoothly diverting Oaten away from Guido. Just as well really…

40 Tory Mayoral Hopefuls

Guido understands that some 40 wannabees have put their name forward to CCHQ in their quest to become Mayor of London. Still time for you to put your name forward…

Where’s Gordon?™ Day 17

Yesterday Gordon was, once again, not next to Tony at PMQs. He seems ever more unwilling to attend PMQs as the preciousss gets nearer to his grasp. Is it because he just can’t stand Tony being PM any more, or because he knows Cameron will poke fun at him and Tony?

Where was he? Check the Where’s Gordon?™ interactive map.

Dale Launches Video Advertising on Blogs

Some of you may have spotted that there are videos playing across the blogosphere starring Iain Dale.

In the video advertisement launching MessageSpace’s new user-generated “Lite” advertising service he amusingly demonstrates two ways of advertising on Iain Dale. Press play to see for yourself.

Guido should declare an interest in that his broadband bills (and a little bit more) are paid by MessageSpace.

Rumour has it that Kerron Cross is to star in the next video advert!

Liberal Conservative Mayoral Candidate?

Iain Dale says he has checked and Greg Dyke was a serious proposition as the joint Liberal/Conservative Mayoral candidate.

Neither the Tory or LibDem high commands have so far managed to find the candidate to take on Ken. Combined perhaps they can do it. Dyke has technocratic ability, a combatitive personality and a track record. He is only a recent convert from Labour to LibDem, so sticking a blue and yellow rosette on him would be a shock. Not least for the activist base who might not be too keen…

UPDATE : The story is true, Greg Dyke confirms an approach was made, which he turned down.

Lord Offshore

Lord Laidlaw may have good reasons why he has not returned to the UK as he promised when he was put up for a peerage. The food is much nicer in Monaco after all and he may need to work on his tan.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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