Cameron is LibDem Leadership Contest Winner

Any way you look at the options, Cameron can only profit from the LibDem disarray. Obviously he is the political cause of Kennedy’s demise, the MPs were prepared to tolerate Charlie’s personal failings, but not his political failings in the face of the Cameron threat. Hence the LibDems self-decapitation strategy.

Ming will be 68 come the election – the LibDems think they can turn this into a strength – did they see the panto Tory Toff outfit he was wearing when he announced he was standing? He will be a joy to caricature. Oaten as leader would potentially bring about Liberal / Tory tactical alliances. Simon Hughes as leader will bring disaffected LibDem voters back to the Tory fold.

As Cameron crunches his cornflakes, he can only laugh at his luck.

Only Flash Can Save Us

So Ming the Briefer, is set to become Emperor Ming, the unelected ruler of the Liberal Democrats. That will be beyond satire.

Will there be a Flash to save us? Oaten? A slaphead who most mothers would feel uneasy seeing near a playground. Hughes, the darling of the backroom boys and beardie-weirdie, sandal wearers. Or John Hemming MP, a man who probably does believe he is Flash – aaaaah – saviour of the universe.

Hemming is an attention seeking nutcase, who claims to have the support of another MP for his leadership bid and is soliciting the required rank and file nominations. He was the only LibDem MP to not sign Kennedy’s formal nomination papers in May, he says because of his concerns. Hard to say how to describe Hemming, but bonkers does spring to mind. Guido will of course be endorsing him (since he is a reader of this blog) and I urge you all to answer his call for volunteers. Email john.hemming@jhc.co.uk.

It’s Ming for Me

I hate to tell LibDem Bloggers this, but that T-shirt idea has a flaw and a bad recent precedent…

How Much Time Has Charlie Left?

Difficult to say with any certainty – will Charlie Kennedy last until next week or until after the May local elections? He is clearly perceived to be a busted flush – after securing the biggest parliamentary representation for the Liberals since whenever.

Guido doesn’t ‘get’ Ming Campbell, he looks like a LibDem version of Malcolm Rifkind, how could he be an improvement on Kennedy? He certainly would look like a retro step to the public in the face of young Dave. With Simon Hughes apparently ruling himself out of the running, a cynic might think that the job isn’t worth having for a couple of years. So best keep Kennedy at the helm, presiding not leading, as someone stingingly described. Better the liberal you know.

Where is Sir Peter Stringfellow?

Scanning the New Year honoours list, Guido again fails to see Peter Stringfellow getting a knighthood for his services to politics. Demi-billionaire Michael Spencer has just been made co-chairman of the City Circle Tory fund-raising operation by Cameron – bet he gets his much sought after gong soon.

The Tories owe Stringy, they should put his name forward for a gong – meantime the Campaign for a ‘Sir’ Peter Stringfellow petition to the Queen needs your signature. Do it, and right this wrong.

Previous Campaign for a ‘Sir’ Peter Stringfellow stories.

Sheridan Shaken

Guido spotted Sheridan Westlake at the party last night. “Nick, Nick” I called to him and bemused he turned around, Guido proffered him his business card. He looked visibly shaken and a tiny sliver of shame for Guido’s tormenting of him came over him.

Guido got too drunk to remember what he actually does at CCHQ, I do recall him saying Recess Monkey was an idiot. Anyway, it’s now Guido’s New Year’s resolution not to torment him anymore.

Wonk Watch : Cameroonie Outriders

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: As the post-leadership battle dust settles, the battle for the ear of the new regime begins. Guido wrote previously about the alignment of the think-tanks during the election hustings, now the importance of having influence with Cameron has shot up the think-tank agenda because New Labour seems so intellectually tired and the novelty of the Notting Hill set seems as attractive to wonks as much as voters. So who in wonk-land looks to be favoured by the new regime?

The old generation right-of-centre think-tanks frankly missed the whole Cameron phenomena. They also backed, in the main, the man they knew – Davis. So Cameron owes no debts to them. The big winner is Nicholas Boles, the fairy godmother of the modernisers, his Policy Exchange think-tank was the platform for modernising ideas, it even hosted C-Change, the virtual pressure group that first told the Tories it was time to adapt or die. It was also home to Francis Maude before he was brought in by Michael Howard to begin the re-making of the party. Labour researchers will be poring over the output of Policy Exchange for an idea as to what Cameron’s Conservatives will be about policy wise.

Boles’ wonk-shop has had no influence on the government, but it has had a lot of influence on the Conservatives. Policy Exchange’s themes of localism and quality of life are now key policy objectives, but more importantly the fresh look and feel of the Tories owes much to their modernising attitude.

Boles himself is an ex-flat mate of Michael Gove, he was a councillor on Westminster council along with Ed Vaizey so he is as close to the Cameron crowd as you can get. If 211 voters more in Brighton Hove had voted for him he could now be on the Tory front-bench. Boles may yet be parachuted in to parliament, although he could equally be as much use outside as a domestic policy outrider.

On international affairs the policy outrider is Alex Singleton’s Globalisation Institute. Which has taken Guido’s advice and swapped the ‘z’ for an ‘s’ in its name since its launch. As a charity it kept out of the fray during the Tory hustings, but the many stirring pictures of Cameron on the website’s blog told you clearly where its heart lay. The evidence suggests Cameron’s speechwriter (Steve Hilton) was familiar with the Institute’s output as this blog article hints. CCHQ sources confirm that Alex Singleton has recently been seen in the building.

Singleton is the former research director of the Adam Smith Institute who kicked off the flat-tax debate by commissioning a report on it in 2004. When he left to set-up the his own shop, the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in on the first report from the man the UN’s secretary-general’s chief-of-staff calls “the high priest of globalisation”. The whizz-kid wonk is a former geek technology writer and has no time for girlfriends – or perhaps that’s just a phase. (What is it about right-wing wonks?)

Guido bets the forthcoming, but as yet unannounced, Tory Commission on Globalisation and Global Poverty will take up the theme of enterprise-based development promoted by the Globalisation Institute.

All the think-tanks of the right will no doubt be switching priorities to the modernising agenda, but these two outriders have a headstart.

Gordon’s Nightmare Begins

At PMQs Guido was watching Gordon Brown’s face, he was looking across the dispatch box at a confident Cameron. When Cameron jibed that “You were the future once” at Blair, Gordon’s was not a happy visage, his nights must be tortured by flashes of images of the not-so distant future.

Is this Gordon’s nightmare?

Of Ballots and Bookies

The end is nigh, if you haven’t voted yet, you are too late. The bookies have stopped taking bets on Cameron, the campaigns have drawn to a halt and Guido for one is relieved that the marathon is over.

Basher’s campaign team have their CVs out, Davis himself is reading Jane’s Defence Weekly, even Wat Tyler accepts that an Elvis comeback is more likely than a Davis victory.

Michael Howard, by design or a stroke of luck, has revived the Tories for his own chosen sucessor. The Tories have benefitted massively from the campaign amongst the chattering / political classes and the media. When the Indy devotes a six page supplement to Cameron, you know that Hampstead is once again contemplating voting Tory. How will he play out with the wider public? My hunch is that he will do better than the polls currently suggest. Gordon Brown will lose to Cameron, because given a choice between dour, tired and old, versus young, fresh and optimistic, Britain will vote for change. But only if Cameron really changes the Tories as promised. The fizzy water is on ice in Notting Hill and invites are out for a we-can’t-call-it a-victory-party-yet party on Tuesday afternoon. A smiling Cameron is on the way to 10 Downing Street, and power is a head-rush better than any other he has experienced…

Confused?

Due to a misunderstanding of the new law Guido went on a 24-hour binge drinking session yesterday. So I may have imagined this – did Tony Blair accuse Michael Howard of advocating a planned economy? Did David Miliband (might have been Ed Balls, I was confused) accuse some interviewer of advocating Stalinism? Next New Labour will be attacking paternalistic Toryism as “statist”.

Lets hope those lefties don’t get back into power.

I’m A Davis Campaigner…

Guido was at a wonk-fest dinner Saturday night (the after dinner speaker was an amusing Stephen Pollard), talk around the table was how wonks from big-government Demos to the tax-cutting Reform were going to re-align themselves towards Cameron. On the right, pictures of Davis were being deleted from their websites, former Davis campaign volunteers had found pressing commitments back at the office, ideological pontoon bridges were being rapidly erected towards Cameron.

So many MPs have publicly dumped their support for Davis its embarrassing, although entirely in keeping with Tory tradition. One case intrigues Guido: who was the Davis campaign team MP who told Denis MacShane in Brussels when asked why he wasn’t back in Westminster campaigning for Basher, that “there was no point in flogging a dead horse”? (A tale recounted gleefully to Andrew Marr).

Paid Message

Wonk for Sale : This feature is in danger of becoming almost exclusively about Demos, but they really are the rent-a-wonks of the think-tank world. Their new seminar report “Mobilising Public Services” is about the brave new Blairite world of public services. From it Guido learns that the “mobile phone is the ultimate personal device“. Gems of insight like this must be worth the money mobile phone company 02 paid. Well that and recommending that local government uses text messages to communicate with citizens. 02 makes millions from text messaging…

Blair’s Heir

Some people think he is too young, but punters are putting their money on the kid on the right in the sandpit. He is now second favourite after Gordon (16/1) to take over from Tony Blair. Impossible? David Miliband is a year younger than David Cameron…

Backbencher Backs Down

Guido’s new think-tank feature Wonk for Sale (October 21) mentioned Demos and its IKEA furniture linked to a published policy paper. As so often happens with this blog, the Guardian’s Backbencher picked up on it on October 26.
“Would you like a think-tank to write about your product? Hey, would you like a think-tank to endorse your product in exchange for a fee? If so, have you thought about approaching Demos? “How can values-based products make the transition from the niche to mass market?” asks the latest Demos newsletter. “Why does increasing awareness rarely lead to changes in our consumption patterns?” Why indeed? If only our great thinkers had tackled that paradox. “This project will explore how Collaborative Brands can help values-based products make the transition, by connecting large numbers of individuals through a brand…”

Next week, unlike Guido, the Backbencher (November 2) backed down;
“With reference to the item about Demos in last week’s edition, the think-tank has asked the Backbencher to make it clear that it is “plain wrong” to imply that it offers product endorsement in return for payment.”

Oh yeah? Look at this selection of sponsors logos taken from their website,:-
As wonk-whores go, Demos flaunt it, one outrageous example: The Politics of Bandwidth: Network innovation and regulation in broadband Britain published by Demos, funded by Cable & Wireless. It recommended the break up of bitter rival BT and that the BT local loop be run not-for-profit. If you can’t beat em in the market-place, get a government friendly think-tank to recommend destroying ’em.

Demos has a reputation for policy prostitution, so why did Backbencher back down? Guido reckons Demos have got away with writing sponsor-friendly press releases for too long. Think-tanks need to distance themselves from donors to have any credibility, otherwise they are just PR houses writing press releases.

Send writs and more blatant examples of wonk-whoring here.

MPs Get Fat on Your Taxes

Guido wants to reach for the gunpowder when he reads that MPs are entitled to a £400 per month food and grocery allowance. That’s over £13 per day, no receipts required. Guido has a policy idea – MPs should get the same budget allowance for food that they allocate to schoolchildren. 37p per day. If its good enough for children, its good enough for them.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments its actually a per diem allowance of £20. Why do they need an extra twenty quid a day to get food. Do they really need this income support?

NEW FEATURE : Wonks for Sale

Guido’s think – tank feature Propeller-Head Wonk Watch is one of the most popular services of this blog, it gets more attention in wonk-land than anything else. So today Guido is excited to announce a new and hopefully no less interesting occasional feature: Wonk for Sale.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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