Guido has said it before and he’ll say it again, the way Gordon Brown’s pollster, Deborah Mattinson at Opinion Leader Research, gets contracts is not right.
Hidden away in an announcement made quietly on May 4, when all our attention was on the local election results, was the news that OLR had won another government contract to organise a one-day seminar.
£153,484.38 was the price the taxpayer paid OLR for a one-day seminar on the “The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate” in February. That should subsidise a hell of a lot of free polling for Gordon.
Guido understands that after the meeting of the PLP on Thursday ballot papers will be made available and that Gordon will launch his “campaign” on Friday. Presumably Blair will be in Sedgefield Thursday morning to tell his constitutency the shock news. That certainly seems to be the consensus of the Lobby.
Brown will spin that his media black-out has been necessary to give Blair a clear run to the exit, not to avoid association with the Scottish election results…
Guido has got his hands on a private campaign briefing prepared a few days ago for supporters of Hilary Benn’s campaign for the deputy leadership. It details how popular Benn is polling with activists (pdf version here) and how they should use this information to pressurise their MPs to nominate Benn. The Benn campaign desperately needs 44 nominations to get him beyond the hat-in-ring stage.
The author of this document is Blair McDougall, he is Ian McCartney’s Special Adviser (SpAds). Ian is Hilary Benn’s campaign manager and a minister at the FCO. SpAds are not allowed to campaign under the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers at the taxpayers expense for their masters in internal party matters. In fact they are supposed to take unpaid leave – see the recent example of Peter Hain’s ex-SpAd Phil Taylor.
Since Guido has started on his mission to catch SpAds cheating the taxpayer and breaking the ministerial code, some have quite properly taken leave. Guido has just spoken with McDougall about the briefing. He didn’t claim, nor can he retrospectively pretend, that he was working on his own time. The document was prepared on his desk computer at the FCO, sent from his email address at the FCO, during office hours. Pressed by Guido that this was a breach of the Code he refused to answer, invited to deny that he had produced the document at the taxpayer’s expense, he declined to deny it. How does this differ from benefit fraud?
Looks like a job for the Cabinet Secretary…
Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531.
Ming’s overwhelmingly negative poll ratings present Tory strategists in CCHQ with a dilemma, they would rather face a Ming led Liberal Democrat party than a Huhne, or worse still, a Clegg led party. However the fear is that in the event of a hung parliament Ming would be much more sympathetic to keeping Gordon in Downing Street than his younger rivals.
The preferred scenario is that Ming leads the LibDems to a poor showing in the General Election and falls on his sword to be succeeded by an Orange booker with whom Cameron can do business. The risk is he limps into coalition with Gordon. Don’t expect any concerted Tory attacks on Ming in the near term, the last thing they want is him replaced.
UPDATE : To clarify, the above graph is derived from the number of respondents positively disposed towards Ming minus those negative towards Ming. He managed a positive rating only immediately after becoming leader.
Guido took the time to graphically track Gordon during the Scottish election campaign just in case he tried to shirk responsibility for the outcome. It was intended to map for all to see his day-by-day close involvement. It says something that Guido’s suspicions were great enough to motivate such uncharacteristic diligence.
Look at the situation today; the soon to be leader of the Labour party and next PM is travelling around in vehicles with blacked-out windows, maintaining a media black-out and waiting quietly out of sight until the news agenda moves on. He does not show public humility to the electorate, does not defiantly climb the ramparts to rally the Labour party and inspire his troops with well judged oratory – all of which would show leadership. His response perfectly illustrates his calculating personality, he makes himself invisible when trouble is about. What would he have done in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, 2001 if he were prime minister? Invite some wonks to Downing Street to hold a private study seminar? Blair showed leadership, he judged the moment and acted, he told the world that we would fight terrorism and America that we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Blair acted decisively.
Gordon Brown simply does not have the empathy required to make that kind of judgement or ironically the courage to take the risks. He has held on to his goal of power with an obssessive determination and pure malevolence towards rivals. The author of “Courage : Eight Portraits“ has worked deviously and cravenly towards his ultimate goal. He has invariably dispatched his enemies indirectly without taking them on personally.
The Labour party is mesmerised, the party elite all know the true nature of Gordon, just as another party elite in another century knew the true nature of Stalin. The public will never warm to him, the more they study him, the less they like him. Even his allies make excuses for his personality flaws.
He is darkly forceful, unnatural in his ways and it says something profound that he is personified as a great clunking fist.
John Reid has just told the BBC he is resigning when Blair goes in June. Guido wonders if he has given up on leading the Labour party or if he is positioning himself on the backbenches until after Labour’s general
Clarke in ‘kamikaze’ challenge
By GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON
May 03, 2007CHARLES Clarke was last night poised to mount a “kamikaze” challenge against Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. The former Home Secretary has successfully rounded up the 45