Friday, August 8, 2008

Wilf "We Had a Brilliant Report"

Sir Michael White this morning confirms the accuracy of Guido’s exclusive report yesterday. Through gritted teeth the left-wing journalist reported that “right-wing bloggers celebrated what they see as two Brownite scalps”. Too right.

Comical Wilf told Sir Michael that there is nothing to see here, the savaging that the Institute’s trustees got from the Charity Commission was “brilliant”, he told the Telegraph: “The Commission’s report was excellent in every respect and it is only because it was so good that I am able to step down now at this time” and that he always intended to resign as director, presumably Lord Haskel, donor to Brown’s leadership campaign and chairman of the trustees, always planned to resign as well.

Nothing then to do with the direct criticism of the trustees, finding “evidence of unchallenged party political comments being made at Institute events by politicians and also party political comments made by or on behalf of the Institute… combined with the predominant involvement of Labour Party politicians in the Institute’s activity, compromised the Institute’s independence. Bearing in mind the previous engagement between the Commission and the trustees in 2001/02 on this matter, the Commission concluded that the trustees had not safeguarded or adequately supervised the risks posed to the independence and reputation of the Institute… the trustees had allowed the Institute to become exposed to concerns that is supported Government policy and was involved in party political activity inappropriate for a charity”.

Haskel was damned as “not sufficiently engaged to ensure the proper supervision of the charity”.
click to enlarge
Guido doesn’t entirely agree with Iain Dale that the “Institute will cease to be”, it will however cease to be what is was, a slush fund for Gordon Brown. It will become a more normal think-tank, not a partisan vehicle for one politician’s ambitions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

+++ Wilf Stevenson Resigns From Smith Institute ++++++ Lord Haskel Resigns Chairmanship of Trustees +++

Guido has learnt that following the condemnation by the Charity Commission of the trustees of the Smith Institute, Lord Haskel has resigned as chairman of the trustees, Wilf Stevenson has also resigned as director after the unprecedented criticism of the charity for partisanship.

Paul Hackett, a wonk who has written some pamphlets for the Sith, is the “acting director”. The offices are closed and Guido has confirmed that the Smith Institute will no longer be based at the New Statesman’s offices. The rumour in wonk-land has it that the IPPR has taken pity on them and will be giving them space at their offices.

Mission accomplished, Sith in disarray. Guido won.
Don’t forget we also have the prospect of an Electoral Commission investigation into illegal undeclared “donations in kind” by the Smith Institute to Gordon Brown.

Labourgraph Spinning for Brown

Yesterday a number of co-conspirators emailed to draw attention to the Labourgraph story about Milburn being offered the Chancellor-ship by Miliband. Guido ignored the story because he thought it was transparently crap.

The rebuttals are now in and they are clear “absolute bollocks” from Milburn and “work of fiction” from Milband. If this is the Brownies being clever it is idiotic, it was written by journalists known to be sympathetic to Gordon. Rosa should really go back to the Mirror, she is trying single-handedly to stand up her story today with not a single on the record quote. Laughable. Sooner or later the Barclay brothers will realise their newspaper’s brand and culture is being destroyed – along with the profitability.

UPDATE : Rosa is denying all the suspicions on the Labourgraph blog.

When Was the Last Time You Heard a Cameroon Mention "Freedom"?

Gove wants to take away our Nuts, IDS and Ed Vaizey think dads shouldn’t be allowed to take their 14 year-old sons to see the latest Batman movie. It is particularly galling that Gove and Vaizey have previously projected themselves as on the libertarian side of the libertarian / authoritarian divide. Libertarian paternalism, government “nudging”, is increasingly beginning to seem like a modernised version of old fashioned authoritarian conservativism. Vaizey explicitly encourages local councils to exercise their statutory powers to prevent teenage boys seeing Batman. That is not a nudge, that is a kick in the teeth for parental responsibility, it is not the business of the state to determine for parents what is their cultural norm.

David Davis is no longer in the shadow cabinet, apart from him it is a long time since Guido has heard a senior Conservative figure mention the word “freedom”. Quality of life issues are the order of the day – well Guido has news – freedom is the most cherished quality of life for many of us. Libertarians care about family values, families are the fundamental unit of society, the welfare state has done more damage to families than anything else. Guido doesn’t need lecturing from dysfunctional politicians on family values. Julie Burchill is on to something in her new book, she reckons the posh have embraced Green values as cover to talk down to working class people. Most Greens are she (and her co-author, Chas Newkey-Burden) says, pious, sexless, contemptuous of humankind, posh and rich, having found in environmentalism a new excuse for lecturing the poor. Telling other people to live by rules they don’t apply to themselves.

Vaizey isn’t advocating a nudge, he is advocating a state prohibition. If the Conservatives don’t respect the family and no longer defend freedom they will encourage the more socially liberal to vote LibDem – particularly if the Liberal Democrats really become a low tax party.

The last speech Guido can find where a Cameroon mentions freedom was in November 2007. It was a good one:


The battle for freedom and opportunity is never finally won. In each generation, those of us who believe in freedom, in human potential, in the idea that the strength of our society comes from the energy and industry and creativity of our people; those of us who believe in these things must be ready to fight for them because the enemies of freedom are never finally vanquished. They always live to fight another day. Today we can see the enemies of freedom preparing a renewed assault on our liberty. They do not mean to harm us. In fact, they mean to help us. But their ideas are out of date, their methods have failed and their advance must be derailed. I am speaking of the politicians and public officials who believe that they know best how to organise our lives… The desire for harmonisation and homogenisation – on tax, on regulation, on so many aspects of public and private life. It is the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom…

Consider this reminder a little nudge Dave…

UPDATE : ConservativeHome has a round-up of disquiet on the right about “nudging” – essentially some are worried that it harks back to “the man in Whitehall knows best”. It is not nudging if the state starts prohibiting or prescribing. Daddy Dizzy decides not Big Brother Vaizey. Libertarians are fathers too…

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vince’s Naivety on Nationalisation

Vince Cable is with some justice blaming almost everyone for the Northern Rock disaster:
“Taxpayers have every reason to be angry: with the private-sector managers and directors who behaved appallingly and have never been brought to book; the company auditors who passed last year’s accounts without spotting the big holes in the company books; the regulators (the FSA) who also gave the Northern Rock a clean bill of health; and the government, which was at best naive and at worst dishonest when it claimed to have secured the government’s loans.”

What about the naive politicians Vince, who welcomed the nationalisation, without having done any due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers?

Why didn’t Vince ask the key question, what are the taxpayers billions in loans secured against?

UPDATE : LibDem Voice is rushing to the defence of old twinkle toes. Essentially saying nationalisation was the least bad option. Well that is a question of judgement. Guido does not think expropriation is the solution to anything in any circumstances except perhaps war. The best solution would have been to wind-up Northern Rock, which is what Guido said at the time and Redwood told Cable in the debate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

He’s Changin’, Liberals Losing Belief

“Change you can believe in” was the slogan, now he has sewn up the nomination, gone on his world tour and moved from being the nominee presumptive to the presumptuous nominee, he himself is changing. “The One” is moving right-wards to win over what John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge memorably called The Right Nation.*

Huffington Post, online bible of the liberal political class in America, is getting nervous. The front-page is no longer confident, more full of whines and excuse making. One article highlights Obama’s abandonment of his left-wing primary held policy positions:

Obama now emphasizes his commitment to strong families and heartland values, “Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses.” In this yet unwritten chapter of his next autobiography, Obama tells us he is the candidate of “welfare to work” who supports our troops and “cut taxes for working families.” The shift in his political personae has been startling. Obama has moved right so far and so fast, he could end up McCain’s Vice-Presidential pick.

General-election Obama now billboards his doubts about affirmative action. He has embraced the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption saying, “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…everything.” He tells his party “Democrats are not for a bigger government.” Oil drilling is a consideration. His FISA vote and abandonment of public campaign finance introduce us to an Obama of recent invention. And as he abandons his old identity for the new, breeding disenchantment among his formerly passionate left-of-center supporters and, equally, doubts among the center he courts, he risks becoming nothing at all, a candidate who is everything and nothing in the same moment.

Obama looks increasingly likely to unravel by November…

*The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America

Just Like "The Thick of It"

This just in from a co-conspirator’s Crackberry:

I am en route on the 3.18 from Hull to London with two loud mouthed Labourites. Ivan Lewis, [Health PuSS] and his [researcher?].

They are deciding whether to go for a quote based on the Bevan quote that Tories are lower than vermin

“Calling Bob at the Mirror on the rats and hospitals story. Will you tell me if you think this response if too churlish for the Mirror… When Bevan founded the NHS, he said Tories lower than vermin, I wouldn’t describe them like this but their approach to cleaner hospitals..”

His assistant, “If Bevan said that – that is the bollocks stuff”

Guido’s co-conspirators are everywhere, and they are laughing at you politicians.

UPDATE : Guido’s Crackberry wielding co-conspirator emails again to say Ivan Lewis and his companion spent much of the journey slagging of Alistair Darling as useless, his Today outing this morning was particularly ridiculed.

UPDATE II 6 Aug : Looks like the Mirror didn’t use their “Tory vermin” quote.

Harriet Advocates Ageism

The chief author and advocate of the Equalities Bill has released a consultation paper recommending that MPs should continue to be allowed to employ husbands, wives and lovers, but not their children. Isn’t that ageist?

Vince Knows He Called it Wrong on Northern Rock

When Northern Rock was nationalised, Vince Cable cheekily told Gordon the government could have had his advice for free, unlike the advice for which they paid millions to Goldman Sachs. The Commons chamber laughed. Vince said it was the “best way” to protect taxpayers: “After five months, the Government are now in the best position to ensure the repayment of the taxpayer’s money.” Guido said “bollocks”.

The Tories sent mixed messages, essentially they didn’t want to nationalise it (they are not that left-wing) but they didn’t want to say “put it into administration” (John Redwood was the most coherent Tory voice on the issue here and here).

Cable today says that he knew all along that it was iffy:

“These figures confirm the suspicion, held by many of us, that the Government and the regulators were badly deceived by Northern Rock’s former managers when they agreed to bail it out on the basis that it was a good bank with a good loan portfolio… I am encountering cases of people being repossessed as a result of deeply foolish loans and the bank and the taxpayer who now own Northern Rock are having to absorb the resulting losses”

So why did Vince happily congratulate Gordon on nationalising the Rock? Socialising the losses and privatising the profits is not a good deal for the taxpayers. Vince is currently on a damage limitation tour of newsrooms salvaging his reputation for sound judgement…

Tory Candidate Pleads Guilty to Harrassment of LibDems

Councillor Ian Oakley, the Conservative PPC for Watford, today pleaded guilty to five charges of criminal damage and two of harrasment. He also asked for 68 other offences to be taken into account, making a total of 75 offences.

Pictured here standing behind Ming, the LibDems were on the receiving end of most of Oakley’s activities, which crossed the line by a long chalk. Although it was actually Vince Cable who stabbed Ming in the back in the end…

UPDATE : Danny Finkelstein admits that at the final selection committee he “thought Watford hadn’t necessarily selected the best future MP but they had chosen the one who seemed most assured, self confident and politically mature. I thought him a very stable, solid choice even if he didn’t do all that much for me.” The Fink, in his judgement, also thinks promising tax cuts is a vote loser for the Tories.

*He has quit as Conservative candidate and left the Conservative group on Hillingdon Council.


Seen Elsewhere

David Cameron’s Draft Resignation Letter | Speccie
Labour HQ to Be Demolished | Asa Bennett
Dirty Politics is a Good Thing | Harry Cole
Media Fear and Loathing in Scotland, Labour Next | Owen Jones
UK Top 10 Influencer Political Blogs | Cision
Redwood Exposes Constitutional Vandalism | Nick Wood
No Campaign Has Been Inept | Mail
PM Faces Friday Bloodbath | Mail
Will Miliband Bottle English Devolution? | Mary Riddell
Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT


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