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

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.

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…

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…

Honour for Donor? Never Heard of Him, Oh I Proposed Him

The recently ennobled Lord Hameed’s companies have given £400,000 to the LibDems in the past two years. Lord Tim Clement-Jones is head of spin for DLA Piper’s public affairs and government relations practice as well as the LibDem’s party treasurer. (Incidentally, the LibDem’s voted to require lobbyists who were LibDem parliamentarians to withdraw from lobbying two years ago. Clement-Jones ignores the party ruling.)

When The Times asked Clement-Jones who it was who put Hameed forward for a peerage, he said that he had “no idea” who had proposed Lord Hameed. After The Times said it had evidence that it was him, he said: “I couldn’t remember that. That’s fine. I thought he was a very upstanding member of the Asian community and somebody who would make a very good peer.” An amazingly quick recall of why he proposed him when seconds earlier he couldn’t even remember proposing Hameed.

It gets worse, no declaration of the donations was declared to the Lords Appointments Committee. Lord Dholakia, the deputy leader of the LibDems and their representative sitting on the Committee knows Hameed but denies he knew he was the third biggest donor to the party. The party of course denies any link between the cash and putting Hameed forward for an honour. Stinks doesn’t it? Maybe Chris Huhne will write another letter to the police about it…

Stat-Porn : The Hits Keep On Comin’, 4,273,096 in 2007

This month Guido had 418,459 off 304,701 visits, pipping Iain Dale who had 412,459 off 235,869 in December. Not bad considering Guido had a week off last month. The stats for 2007 show over four million pageloads from three million unique visitors for the year. Using the stricter “absolute visitors” metric gives 561,352 different individuals* visiting this blog over the year.

The two most popular posts of the year were both video posts, something Guido will be trying to do more of this year. Expect a few GuyNews.TV specials…


*Strictly speaking, for the bore who always brings up the same point, individual computers.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Look Back on the Blog Year

Over a thousand articles were posted on the blog in 2007, here are just a few that provoked and amused:

[…]

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Brown : "Cowards Afraid of Democracy"

So says the leader of the Labour Party (without a vote cast) and election-bottler-in-chief, of the murderers of Benazir Bhutto. Now may not be the time for petty political point scoring, what the heck, Christmas is over…

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

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St Tony Comes into the Light

Guido is trying to take a break from blogging and ignore the newsflow. Hard when the two main news items in Ireland today are Taoiseach Bertie Ahern being cross examined over corruption allegations and Tony formally converting to Catholicism. Blair

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Mary Creagh’s coded attack on Ed Miliband…

‘I want the country to be united behind a single vision, we aren’t going to do it by sort of having a Rubik’s Cube approach to politics’. 

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