Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Meanwhile in Blackpool

There is a queue of the party faithful waiting to get into the hall stretching right round the building. Guido is sat in the increasingly restless media suite backstage at the conference waiting for Dave’s 2pm speech. You can guage the esteem that Guido is held in by the fact that he is positioned right at the back with the foreign press agency reporters next to the Japanese reporter. The hacks are pissed off that they will have to hang around without getting an advance text allowing them to write their skeleton stories before Dave has even stood up to speak.

The photographers are poised to kick open the firedoors as soon as Dave’s car arrives in the building in order to get an unstaged snap. That will impress Special Branch.

Iain Dale and the rest of the Tory bloggers are sat in their own blogging bunker with internet connections. Bizarrely they seem to be better served than the media hacks who have been complaining all week that they keep losing their wireless connections.

Fake Ministerial Interaction

A co-conspirator has tipped Guido off to another bit of “faking it” from the government. Keen to show their commitment to e-Democracy (whatever that is) they have been putting great effort into hosting ministerial webchats on the Downing Street website. The trouble is that they only attract malcontents, the mischevious or almost no one at all. After all who really wants to webchat with the likes of Ed Miliband?

This morning’s live webchat was with the Minister for “I’ll have an affordable house with double mortgage subsidy”* and Housing, Yvette Cooper. Only ten people bothered to log in. One of them was Karen Doran.

Karen Doran: What is the government doing to make sure their policy on housing (regeneration and growth) is aligned to policies designed to promote economic growth. Could the Minister give practical examples of the opportunities this presents to local authorities in their place shaping role?

Yvette replies: You are right Karen that new homes need to be planned alongside new jobs – as we are doing in the Thames Gateway, which is a major area of regeneration and housing growth. But housing and economic policies need to work closely together for existing communities too. Look at what cities like Manchester and Birmingham have done in their city centres — creating new jobs, but bringing people back into the cities to live as well.

If that patsy question reads like a planted question, it is because it is almost certainly exactly that. Now why she needed to ask the question in a “public engagement” exercise is beyond Guido. Karen Doran works on the Community Housing Task Force (formerly part of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister) where she advises on “Communications and Consultation Strategy”. So it seems unnecessary for her to pose as a member of the public to ask the housing minister a question.

We are today living in a government which follows a Potemkin strategy of public relations, merely artificial photo opportunities have now been replaced by completely faked photographs. Public engagement is now simulated, the only members of the public the PM interacts with are photogenic school children. When Potemkin built his villages they were intended to fool one person – Catherine the Great, now New Labour wants to fool everyone in Great Britain.

*Yvette is actually Mrs Balls, despite them having a joint household income of some quarter of a million pounds between them, Mr and Mrs Balls claim tens of thousands of pounds every year in mortgage subsidy to make their housing more affordable.

You Read It Here First

The Tory Press Office has now released this extract from the speech in advance “This is a new Conservative Party with new priorities. There’s been a lot of talk about lurching, so let me make it clear – no lurch to the right, no lurch to the left. There’s only one direction for me and that’s forward to the future. A clear balanced programme of change for the long term, optimism about what Britain can be, hope for the next generation. That means understanding that we live in a new world and that the old politics isn’t working.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

++ EXCLUSIVE ++ Cameron’s Speech

It will be “purposeful” inside sources indicate, “everything we do now is predicated on the assumption that we could be fighting an election in three weeks… we are at battle stations”.
  • The speech will emphasise that there is to be no new direction, no lurching to the right or the left.
  • Cameron is sticking to his change agenda.
  • He will say that Brown claims to have similar aspirations to the Conservatives, but the evidence is that he has failed to deliver after 10 long years.
  • The country has a choice between optimism versus pessimism.
After Gordon’s “I am the son of a preacher” speech last week, Cameron will relate some of his personal experiences and how they drive his aspirations for the country.

There will be no gimmicky claims on sunshine this time, it will it was emphasised to Guido, be a serious speech.

Osborne Demands Explanation Over Civil Service

Last night’s employment of Treasury Civil Servants in the production of a rapid rebuttal Labour party press release by Alastair Darling has not go unnoticed by George Osborne. He has written a complaint dressed up as a query;

Dear Permanent Secretary,

On 30th April 2007, the then Economic Secretary, Ed Balls MP told the House of Commons, “Information is not held on overseas income and gains that do not give rise to a tax liability in the UK.”

As the then Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo MP told the House on 8th March 2007, this is because non-doms are not required to disclose this information: “In general, individuals do not have to inform HMRC of their foreign income or gains unless this is relevant to their UK tax liability.”

Last night, the Labour Party distributed a press release which stated: “The Treasury’s initial estimate, on best information available, is that just 15,000 current non-domicile residents have foreign income in excess of £62,000.”

I am writing to ask you to explain why it is the case that information which the Treasury refused to give to Parliament appears to have been given to the Labour Party. Or, will you confirm that the statement made to Parliament this Spring remains the case.

As I am sure you agree, it is essential that the principle of civil service impartiality is not jeopardised, particularly during this period of speculation about a forthcoming general election.

I would be grateful if you could reply to me with an explanation, by this evening.

Yours sincerely

George Osborne
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Gold Standard

Tony Hadley, former front man from 80s legends Spandau Ballet had just done a cabaret turn for the Tories and was returning back to the Imperial Hotel. It was late and the bar was packed, but on seeing Hadley the cheering crowd spontaneously broke into chorus;

Always believe in your soul
Youve got the power to know
Youre indestructible
Always believe in, because you are

The Tories clearly know and love all the 80s tunes. There is a metaphor here somewhere…

Totty Watch : May Be Cancelled

Brian Micklethwait’s Law of Political Advancement states that any political organisation on the rise holds events that attract a high proportion of good looking women. This bodes ill for the Tories where the conference male / female ratio seems to be about 4 / 1.

Guido has checked into a hotel in Blackpool around the corner from Aphrodites lap-dancing club and opposite a knocking shop. So in an emergency…

Monday, October 1, 2007

Darling’s Treasury Rebuttal Breaks Civil Service Code

Alastair Darling had a reputation as a safe pair of hands, but the more you see of him under pressure, the less safe he seems.

At the start of the Northern Rock crisis he at first claimed all was well, then dithered, waffled and eventually promised the government would guarantee everything. A promise he has now gone back on – as Northern Rock shares fell even more today.

Unsettled by the finesse of Osborne’s tax policy announcements he seems to have completely lost the plot yesterday, claiming the Tory figures don’t add up whilst simultaneously acknowledging they don’t know how many non-doms there are or what income they have. But the Labour party press release is even more extraordinary:

“Today George Osborne made a £3.5 billion tax commitment. Treasury analysis shows it is impossible for him to raise the money he needs to pay for this commitment from his proposals on residence and domicile. Initial costings by the Treasury show that George Osborne’s proposal would raise a maximum of £650m, leaving George Osborne at least £2.9 billion short.”

It is a sacking offence for civil servants to engage in party political work. Darling has just press released a confession to a fundamental breach of the Civil Service Code. In reality politicians often pressure civil servants to cross the partisan line, discretely behind closed doors where they would be unlikely to be caught, certainly not with the work press released during the opposition’s party conference. Gus O’Donnell, who heads the Civil Service, will not be impressed with this at all.

In more honourable times, a Minister would have been expected to resign if he was found to have pushed Civil Servants to break the rules. New Labour are increasingly unable to separate their private party interest from the interests of the state…

Hat-tip : Benedict Brogan

Raving Tories Play the Bass to the Base

The Tories got all Eeeed-up with this video to the conference hall. What with Thatcher becoming (as exclusively predicted here) cool again and now the Tories leading a rave revival it is all giving Guido a warm nostalgic feeling. Acieeed!

Raving Tories

Seen Elsewhere

Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette

Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)

Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”

orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?

Tip off Guido
Web Guido's Archives

Subscribe me to:


AddThis Feed Button

Guido Reads