Monday, January 7, 2008

Brown came in promising an end to spin yet six months later he is appointing Stephen Carter, head of the PR firm Brunswick, to be his “Principal Political Adviser”. So a spin doctor is now in charge of all SpAds including (the unpopular with the Lobby) Damian McBride. Carter will be in overall charge of political strategy and communications.

He had been at Brunswick for only a year after failing to get the job of ITV chief before leaving the media industry regulator Ofcom. Spinning for Brown will keep him very busy.

So looks like the Smith Institute’s Wilf Stevenson has missed out on the rumoured chief-fixer job. Matthew d’Ancona, the Daily Mail and the Indy seemed to think he was the front-runner. Or has he? Ah well…

UPDATE 17:22 : The Tories have just sent out a press release pointing out that Carter told the Guardian last year: ‘I’m not thinking of politics. I made that decision a long, long time ago’. A statement that is clearly untrue and inconsistent with reality, so he is perfect for Gordon. They also allege that Stephen Carter is being paid a salary of £137,000 to be “Gordon Brown’s spinner-in-chief”. Memorable phrase that…

Electoral Commission "Still in Contact with Mr Hain’s Office"

The new Register of Members Interests for Peter Hain shows a £5,000 donation belatedly registered on December 18 from Bill Bottriell. Hain registered it with the Electoral Commission as well on the December 12. However he still hasn’t registered Mendolsohn’s donation with the Electoral Commission but has put it on the Register. Incompetent or deceptive?

Guido has asked Hain’s office what is going on to no avail. The Electoral Commission says only that it is still in contact with Hain’s office, could that be because they are now being a little bit more rigorous? So the issue remains unresolved and incomplete to put it kindly. Is there a problem? Guido thinks so…

UPDATE 23:30 : The Pink ‘Un’s George Parker re-hashed Guido’s story and got a quote this evening from Hain’s office. Hain will provide the information “very shortly” but “aides have refused to explain why it was taking him so long, other than to say he wanted to be sure he got the facts straight. They said it was “ludicrous” to suggest he had something to hide.”

Outed

The Indy’s John Rentoul has got things a little mixed-up. There is a dark secret in Guido’s political past from his youth…

He was indeed a paid up member of the SDP, as was Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti (she was always a cutie). Guido was on the national-executive of the youth wing no less.

It was apparently an incubator of political talent, or maybe not…

Will Be Blogging Westminster, Not Washington

Does the British Commentariat really know what it is talking about? They seem awfully ready to provide analysis of the local psephology of states they have never even visited. Dale is off to Washington at least, almost every British hack seems to have a view on the U.S. elections. Guido doesn’t really have a view, sure he might want Ron Paul to win, but knows he won’t. In reality so long as Hillary loses it will be fine by Guido.

During Christmas Guido’s Tongan-American brother-in-law (a Republican) said he was going to vote for Obama. Barack’s book The Audacity of Hope comes highly recommended. Time to read up methinks…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Finishing the Project : Making 2008 Dangerous for Brown

In the early days of the Cameron regime change, the Tory party’s recidivist right charged Dave with being policy-lite, all mood music and photo-opportunity. Privately the Cameroons explicitly agreed that they were about “changing the aroma”. Many of the recidivist activists, (hold-outs for Hague, Davis or Fox) charged that Cameron was Blair-lite and without substantial policies. On ConservativeHome the impatience this time last year was still manifestly clear. Guido argued at the time that the policy detail was irrelevant, what mattered was character, because Gordon Brown is a deeply flawed personality. Those flaws inform his tactics and political outlook. To defeat Gordon Brown his opponents should focus on him personally, something that Steve Hilton and CCHQ (prior to the arrival of Andy Coulson) were reluctant to do. Now, with the election put off for two years, 2008 should be about irreversibly breaking Brown’s reputation once and for all.

However much Brown smiles manically in front of the cameras, the public believe he is a grumpy, defensive, brooding control freak – because after ten years we know the truth. You can’t fool all of the people for such a long time. Recognition of his mincing, finger-chewing, snot-eating, greasy haired, foul tempered nature and weird dark ways has broken out of the confines of the Westminster Village and is seeping into a wider popular consciousness. His personal standing is polling at the lowest ever, lower than Blair ever reached.

Brown still clings to his supposed economic competence, although polls post Northern Rock’s collapse show that he has, after 15 years, lost Labour’s advantage over the Tories on this issue. As the economy slows the imbalances in the economy will become clear to see. Vince Cable and George Osborne need to ensure that the man responsible for those imbalances takes the blame. In good times a prudent finance minister pays down the national debt. Ken Clarke left Gordon Brown an economy in fine fettle, so much so that when Treasury mandarins breathlessly briefed the incoming Gordon Brown on the admirable state of the government’s finances in 1997 the charmless Chancellor retorted, “What do we want me to do, write them a f***ing thank you letter?”

Gordon didn’t strengthen the economy, he just taxed it and spent like a sailor in port. Taxed it to pay for an increase of 500,000 bureaucrats on the government payroll and an unreformed welfare system which now has millions more solely dependent on the state. A New Deal that failed to cut youth unemployment, a Sure Start system which has done nothing for social mobility and actually weakened families. Brown recklessly mortgaged our children’s future taxes to front load a capital spending programme (off the PSBR books) using an Enron-style PFI debt model that will be being paid down for decades. A strong growing economy can carry these policy mistakes, once the public finances weaken they become a heavy burden. Every bankruptcy and every home repossessed this year will be laid at his door. Every over-taxed young couple struggling to save for their first home, every retiree who has seen their pension plundered, every small businessman burdened by red tape should have their anger directed to the ultimate author of their woes, Gordon Brown.

The BBC has produced (for internal use only) an analysis of the Cameron Project, unpublished, it has been carefully kept away from the eyes of the License Fee payers. It is a good analysis of the 4 year Team Cameron plan, as originally envisaged and as actually implemented. It covers the anti-Brown strategy, policy development and party modernisation.

You can download a summary of the report here, courtesy of Guido.

UPDATE : The internal BBC analysis in full is here, it was written by Marc Williams in late October 2006.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Travelling Today, Normal Service Resumes Monday

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bitch Bitching or Briefing Brownies?

Fink thinks Rosa Prince has blogged for the Telegraph a clever bit of speculation about Shaun Woodward’s limited career prospects. Kevin Maguire has been given the same steer from a Brownie as his former Mirror stablemate Rosa, so perhaps there is something in it other than “clever speculation”.

As Lobbybore asks in this blog’s comments, is the speculation actually firmly based on briefing, “or is the post from the Telegraph blog from dopey Rosa Prince motivated by malice? She used to slave away under the Mirror’s political editor Oonagh Blackman who now works as, you guessed it, a special adviser to Mr Woodward!” Guido would like to think it based on both bitching and briefing…

Incidentally, Guido lived for a few happy bachelor years in a luxury riverside apartment complex opposite parliament, the neighbours included spooks from Thames House opposite, Carol Vorderman, richer parliamentarians and security conscious Russians. Guido’s smugness with his panoramic pussy pad was dented when he discovered that the Woodwards had an apartment in the complex just for their butler, who serviced their £5 million penthouse duplex above him.

Gordon Plans to Water the Workers’ Beer

As sterling plummets against all currencies (apart from the Pakistani Rupee) Guido’s thoughts turn nostalgically to Jim Callaghan, a former Chancellor who became Prime Minister in 1976 and presided over a sterling crisis (what crisis?). He once sung a little ditty to the Labour Party conference that seems appropriate this morning -

I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers’ beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers’ beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I’ve a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers’ beer

The relevance of this is that the government is briefing that Gordon Brown will take personal charge of a package of measures to create a “cultural shift” away from the epidemic of binge drinking. Does the PM think this the priority issue facing the country or is it just Stalinist control-freakery?

There is to be a Downing Street summit. According to the Indy “Ministers are also contemplating moves to raise the tax on the most potent beers and mixers associated with binge drinking by putting duty on units of alcohol. Mr Brown is also being urged by Labour MPs to force supermarkets to raise the minimum price of drink to reduce the attraction of cheap alcohol.” Yes, Gordon’s the man, the tax man, that taxes the workers’ beer…

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Kenya Travel Advice

About ten or so years ago there was an attempted coup in Kenya. Guido and his girlfriend were looking for a cheap holiday and the travel agent offered us an impossible to shift £2,000 a head safari holiday leaving the next day for £299. We grabbed it and had a fabulous time. Not a sign of a riot near the water-holes in the bush. So wait until this starts to die down and bag a bargain break…

Seen Elsewhere

Jason Groves New Mail Deputy Pol Ed | MediaGuido
Cocaine Conservatives | Standard
Jezza Browne Responds to LibDem Haters | LibDem Voice
Why Britain Needs to Leave the EU | Douglas Carswell
Who Tells Ed When He’s Wrong? | Speccie
Hands Off Our Cojones, Mr Clegg | Laura Perrins
London Live Averaging Just 2,400 Viewers | Forbes
Ed’s Constitutional Failure | ConHome
UKIP Poster Girl’s Naked Photos | Sun
Miliband’s Radical Old Labour Agenda | Fraser Nelson
Meet Team Miliband | Dan Hodges


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Dan Hodges on Team Miliband:

“‘Poisonous’, was the picture painted by one former senior advisor. ‘Dysfunctional,’ said one shadow cabinet member. ‘A bunch of medieval courtiers, not an office,’ said another. The most positive description I could get was ‘It’s a work in progress. They’re learning. Slowly. But they are learning.’”



Nick Clegg says:

Do you want lies with that?


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