Friday, August 15, 2008

Wilf Rumoured to Be Headed to the Downing Street Bunker

The Telegraph is floating the perennial rumour (it has been going around for years) that Wilf Stevenson, the disgraced former head of the Smith Institute, is to go to Downing Street in a policy role.
A couple of years ago when Guido first started exposing the Smith Institute’s links to Gordon Brown – that it was an illegal slush fund for Gordon Brown’s ambitions, acting as his all-but-in-name campaign HQ – a canny observer of Westminster told Guido that “You don’t realise how much of a favour you have done Gordon. If it weren’t for you Wilf would be in Downing Street and he is a walking disaster”. Now he as at a loose end it is more feasible that Wilf could shift to Downing Street, moving from Brown’s policy engine room to join his captain on the ship before it sinks.

Excellent. Wilf’s time as head of a think tank was distinguished only in that it was mired in controversy, was twiced investigated for breaches of the law, was found by the Charity Commission to have broken the law and is now facing the possibility of a third investigation for other breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission. The Smith Institute was not exactly a font of vote winning policies – if it had been any good Brown would not be reduced to desperately nicking Tory policies. If Wilf does move to Downing Street he will only be formalising his role as adviser Gordon. It is somehow fitting that he will be joining his former Smith Institute deputy Konrad Caulkett in Brown’s Downing Street bunker at the end…

Thursday, August 14, 2008

iPod President Top Tens

Here are the top ten favourites of the Presidential candidates as revealed to Blender.com:

BARACK OBAMA
1. Ready or Not Fugees (1996)
2. What’s Going On Marvin Gaye (1971)
3. I’m On Fire Bruce Springsteen (1985)
4. Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones (1969)
5. Sinnerman Nina Simone (1965)
6. Touch the Sky Kanye West (2006)
7. You’d Be So Easy to Love Frank Sinatra (rec. 1961)
8. Think Aretha Franklin (1968)
9. City of Blinding Lights U2 (2004)
10. Yes We Can will.i.am (2008)

JOHN McCAIN
1. Dancing Queen Abba (1976)
2. Blue Bayou Roy Orbison (1963)
3. Take a Chance On Me Abba (1977)
4. If We Make It Through December Merle Haggard (1973)
5. As Time Goes By Dooley Wilson (rec. 1942)
6. Good Vibrations The Beach Boys (1966)
7. What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong (1967)
8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin Frank Sinatra (rec. 1956)
9. Sweet Caroline Neil Diamond (1969)
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters (1958)

Dale will be voting for McCain on the basis of his #1 choice alone. The One’s #10 choice of will.i.am is a bit mastubatory – it consists of excerpts from his speeches set to music.

Which set Guido thinking, what do Gordon and the other Labour leadership candidates have as their Top Ten on their iPods currently? A prize of a George Bush Cut Out and Dress Up Doll’s Book to the best entry (courtesy of Cowley Street’s LibDem HQ – don’t ask). In the comments please…

Charts via Toby Harnden

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gordon Is Not Writing a Book on Britishness

Contrary to reports earlier this week, Gordon is not writing a book on “Britishness”. He is contributing a chapter only. Matthew d’Ancona is editing the volume and has insisted on total editorial control. There will Guido understands also be chapters from Tories in the book.

The Speccie editor told Guido “The original idea was the PM’s and he will write a substantial chapter. But a condition of my involvement was that I take complete charge of the project.”

The book, due out next year, was originally going to be Brown’s with his choice of contributors, after asking d’Ancona to edit it the direction of the book has changed. The new editor is not taking any payment for his efforts – the book is for charity. Just as well since all of Gordon’s previous books have ended up being remaindered by their publishers. Signed copies of “Courage” are attracting no bids on eBay.

SNP 44% versus Labour 25% Biggest Ever Recorded Lead

The latest poll (conducted 6-8 August) carried out in Scotland by YouGov recorded the biggest ever poll lead for the SNP with the party gaining a 19% lead over the Labour.

The poll is the first since John Mason sensationally won the Glasgow East by-election and shows the SNP on 44% with Labour trailing on 25%. On the basis of these figures all three prospective Scottish Labour leadership candidates would lose their seats to the SNP.

Scottish Parliament constituency vote [change from May 2007 in brackets]:

SNP: 44% [+11]
Labour: 25% [-7]
Lib Dem: 14% [-2]
Con: 13% [-4]
Other: 4% [+2]

Applying these figures to the Weber Shandwick Scotland Votes model, the SNP would win 58 of Scotland’s 73 Holyrood first-past-the-post seats.

SNP – 58 constituency seats (plus 37)
Labour – 8 constituency seats (minus 29)
LibDems – 6 constituency seats (minus 5)
Tories – 1 constituency seat (minus 3)

The SNP would gain the seats of all three Labour leadership contenders – Iain Gray, Andy Kerr and Cathy Jamieson.

Source : SNP

Normally a 51% constituency majority would be impregnable…

+++ R.I.P John MacDougall MP +++

The Scottish Labour MP for Glenrothes, John MacDougall, has died aged 60 after a battle with cancer.

UPDATE : Gordon paid tribute to Mr MacDougall. He said: “Over three decades he has been a good personal friend of mine and I visited him on Monday. Our heartfelt condolences go to his widow, Cathy, to his son and daughter, Scott and Julie and to his mother and sister.” He died on Tuesday.

Terror Attack in the Fawkes Household

After grappling with nappies and watching Teletubbies since 6.30 in the morning, Guido wandered bleary-eyed towards the kitchen in search of a coffee for breakfast, failing to spot the clear and present danger arranged by Ms Fawkes.

As a result of an improvised booby trap of which Al Qaeda would have been pleased, Guido executed a Chaplinesque aerial manoeuvre, kicking the wall barefoot and audibly crunching his toes before landing bum-first. Ouch. Ms Fawkes cackled hysterically and Baby Fawkes clapped gleefully in her high chair exclaiming “Dadda!” in an impressed “do it again” tone. Even the nanny giggled before regaining her composure and clearing away the booby trap toys.

The joys of fatherhood. Blogging may be light.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Number10.gov.uk

Dizzy got the scoop:

UPDATE : Just had a look under the hood. It is built using WordPress software. Downing Street has become a blog site…

Tender Welsh Pork Costs Taxpayers

Interesting how the expense claims swilling by Welsh Assembly members breaks down by party:
Lib Dems AMs: Total : £55,321. Average : £9,220
Plaid Cymru AMs: Total : £129,936. Average: £8,662
Conservative AMs: Total: £93,730. Average : £7,810
Labour AMs: Total : £121,977. Average : £4,691
Source: Assembly Commission figures for 2007-2008
Why are LibDem piggies twice as expensive as Labour porkers?

Well done to Labour’s Lesley Griffiths who managed to get the taxpayers to pamper her sty with a £2,000 sofa, LibDem leader Mike German, claimed £9,217.10, for a second home despite living only 17 miles from the Assembly, Tory Nick Ramsey spent £1,000 on a top of the range TV system and more than £2,000 on two beds. Clearly pork needs to be treated tenderly…

They only awarded themselves an 8.3% pay-rise in March. Oink, oink!

"Obama Nation" Bestselling Book in the World Today

Obama Nation is #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List and on Amazon. Is the book proof of The One’s popularity? Not really, it is written by the author who brought you “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”.

Sub-titled, “Leftist politics and the cult of personality” it doesn’t pull punches. Obama is arguably shown to be the most left-wing candidate to ever stand a real chance of becoming U.S. president. It also highlights a lot of shady financial dealings and Obama’s association with some dubious characters.

The policy shifts made by Obama have been dramatic, his anti-nukes position has been dropped on the path to power, he now says he will do “whatever is necessary” to counter Iran becoming a nuclear power. A lot of interesting facts and history in this book explain why it is selling like hot cakes…

Soldiers’ Deaths to Be Kept Secret

The law pages of The Times carry a story about a clause in the latest Counter-Terrorism Bill which will give the Home Secretary the power to order Court hearings to be held in secret.

The Home Secretary could order a jury not to be summoned, replace the coroner with a government appointee and bar the public from inquests if it is deemed to be in the “public interest”.

It could be applied to inquests similar to those into the deaths of the weapons inspector David Kelly, “friendly-fire” military casualties or Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. In future, inquests similar to that into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, which is due to start next month with 44 police officers giving evidence anonymously, could also be subject to the secrecy clause.

This is not about national security, it is about covering-up embarrassments for the government. The families of soldiers who die because of penny pinching would not be able to discover the truth. Anything embarrassing would be deemed a “national security issue”. The government is already doing this to protect itself from embarrassment.

For example: Guido, and other journalists have made Freedom of Information requests in an attempt to discover if Ed Balls still had a pass giving him access to the Treasury when he was supposedly a fellow of the Smith Institute. We believe he was actually continuing to act as Gordon’s bag carrier and political confidante, that he was in and out of the Treasury seeing Gordon regularly. The Treasury refuses to answer the question claiming it is a national security issue. It isn’t, it is a cover-up. This clause is about covering up politically damaging information.


Seen Elsewhere

Milibande | Ian Birrell
The True Meaning of Political Correctness Gone Mad | Speccie
Nigel, Nigel, Nigel! | Bloomberg
Bercow Blinks | Guardian
Speaker on the Ropes | Indy
Outgoing Clerk Slams Bercow – Row Goes Very Public | BBC
Darling Was Wrong on OBR | Speccie
Climate Change Cools Off | Washington Times
1,400 Children Abused In Labour Rotherham | BBC
Stop Mills Motion Revealed | Speccie
Former Clerk Warns Against Bercow’s ‘Gofer’ | Times' Letters Page


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Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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