Reddies from the Reds

Sometimes there is just easy money to be had. When Guido saw Labour pushing a story that Pickles’ SpAds had been busted “smearing” Jenny Watson of the Audit Commission as incompetent and a public purse milker he couldn’t quite see where a crime had been committed. The truth cannot be a smear.

It got better though, the line was pushed that the Department for Local Government had been forced to spend fifty grand on legal fees consulting about how to deal with the situation. If that is the going rate, who knows what the legal advice concerning McBride ran up to…

Political Scrapbook dived on the story and have been hammering it for weeks. Guido smelt bullshit early on and bet the PS team £50 that the actual sum was more likely to be closer to zero. And guess what?

The sum was infact zero. In reply to a Parliamentary Question on the subject, Bob Neil said:

“I wish to use this opportunity to put on record a short comment. Pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 937W, no expenditure has been undertaken on legal fees on potential defamation cases relating in any way to that whole topic.”

Guido would like two twenties and two fives please.

It’s not only Political Scrapbook with egg on their faces though. The Local Government Chronicle broke the story, PR Week followed it up and rent-a-quote Caroline Flint was even deployed to ask awkward questions. Funny how it was Tom Watson who asked the PQ that was shot down by Bob Neil. It’s almost as if his fingerprints were all over this from the start…

Government Official Loses Bet on the Economy

This time last year an economist wonk at the liberal-leaning CentreForum took a dislike to Guido’s economic foresight. Deficit denying Liberal Conspiracy made a predictably over the top attempt at playing up the difference of opinion calling Guido innumerate, an allegation later quietly withdrawn.

Subsequently a wager was drawn up with the Freethinking Economist Giles Wilkes: a book of the loser’s choice would be sent to the winner. After a year of month-after-month of above target inflation announcements by the Bank of England, Giles, a good sport and former bookie, has decided to admit early that deflation just isn’t going to happen. In fact the realisation is becoming mainstream that the danger is quite the opposite, as Guido has long pointed out, of runaway inflation resulting from QE. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Guido doesn’t want to worry anyone, but Mr Wilkes is now Vince Cable’s Special Advisor…

More Than “A Storm in a Bedsheet”

There is no denying that Sally Bercow makes for hugely entertaining copy, but the odds against a challenge to her husband in the next year tightened last night. This morning’s papers were full of anonymous quotes from ministers In the Times there was one saying “There are limits but this goes too far. This is a fierce challenge to the dignity of Parliament. The sooner we are rid of the both of them, the better”. In the Mail another said the photo yesterday “brought Parliament into disrepute and was likely to hasten efforts to remove her husband as Speaker.”

The discontent is growing and coming from higher up the Tory ladder.

UPDATE: Another Tory backbencher comes forward describing the Bercow’s the “Marcoses of British politics.” Sally wasn’t too happy with on Radio 5 earlier.

Gabby Goes Favourite

Money is moving on who is set to replace Andy Coulson. Current press secretary Gabby Bertin has just gone favourite. The internal promotion would be a safe option. Does someone in Downing Street know something?

Good Morning, It’s Polling Day

As the Old and Sad voters head to the polls this morning, Labour seem certain that they are heading for win. Buoyed by the ICM and Populus poll boosts, Newsnight all but declared them victors last night, excitedly preparing their “dark day for the Coalition” lines. Smarkets punters say Labour are going to take it too…

Could the celebrations be a little premature though? The Survation poll showed there was still a huge amount of undecided voters. The fieldwork for all three polls showed there was already a shift from Conservatives to the LibDems, and given the coverage the “it’s a two horse race” line has got since Sunday, it’s possible that even more Tories might decide to do what Dave wants them to do and back the LibDem.  Whether or not this has enough of an impact to sway it, the result is certainly going to be closer than the 17% lead suggested by some pollsters…

Old and Sad Tricks From Labour

Paddy Power says that there is more chance of Manchester United coming bottom of the Premiership than there is of the Liberal Democrats winning the Oldham by-election. However with more than a week to play for, Guido is cautious of such as sweeping statement. If it wasn’t going to be a lot tighter than Labour would like then why would they have to resort to desperate tactics. Bagehot noticed something fishy when the candidate and Andy Burnham were visiting a petrol station:

“They were duly to be seen talking to a nice middle aged lady through her car window, and nodding sympathetically. Oddly enough, the car, I could not help but notice, was a nice hybrid Prius, and on the back parcel shelf was a large Vote Debbie Abrahams poster. It was also being driven by a woman who earlier had been waiting for Mr Burnham to arrive.”

Seems the ghost of Bigotgate still looms.

Smarkets have opened up a market on who will come second. With Clegg visiting today and Dave tomorrow, it will be interesting to see how much sway the PM’s “we are fighting this seat, honest” act can muster. With reports of as many as thirty Tory MPs campaigning today, you might think a Tory second finish might just be worth a punt, but Guido reckons the blue tactical vote is going to pile in for the yellows.

Apparently there will be polling data by the weekend…

Old and Sad Labour’s to Lose

Guido thinks that Labour should hold onto the Oldham and Saddleworth seat on January 13. The election will come days after the 20% VAT hike comes into effect. If Ed Miliband can’t win an election after a regressive tax hike is implemented without any mandate from the voters, he should quit politics. Really.

Tories voting tactically for the LibDem candidate could sway it, but that ain’t likely to happen. Punters on Smarkets give Labour an 80% chance of holding the seat, with the LibDems a 16% chance and the Tories a 4% chance respectively.

In the absence of a poll telling us otherwise that seems about right…

Is Nigel Evans Worth a Flutter?

Speaker Bercow is probably one of the few people in politics with more enemies than Guido. He has proved those former Tory colleagues who warned against him right in their minds by slapping down the PM at PMQs on bizarre grounds, having a stand up row with the Tory chief-whip and being widely perceived as partial by the government benches. His slightly dotty Labour-supporting missus, whilst adding to the gaiety of life with her demented twittering, does the Speaker no favours, the Tory press despises the couple. Rumour has it that at the last Labour Party conference the Mail’s Andy Pierce, much the worse for wear, insulted Sally Bercow with such misogynistic vitriol that she was reduced to tears and his own colleagues had to remove him from the bar. Suffice to say the Bercows get a terrible press.

Guido thinks in many ways Bercow is better than his predecessor, but he has clearly lost the confidence of a signifcant section of the House. Nigel Evans coming out is widely seen as a precursor to a putsch which has the acquiesence of the government benches if not their official imprimatur.

That being the case the new bet on the Speaker being ousted looks good value…

Why Did the Telegraph Hide “War on Murdoch” Story?

Good journalism is about revealing the truth about those in power. Robert Peston’s scoop is that the Telegraph kept back the bigger story, that Vince Cable the minister with a quasi-judicial role in deciding if News Corporation can increase its […]

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Reshuffle Rumour Round-Up

Ken Clarke faced a second weekend being briefed against in the Sundays. Guido can only presume the talk of reshuffle and booting Ken out is coming from an increasingly infuriated Coulson who doesn’t like to see Ministers being hounded by […]

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How Many LibDems Will Say No to Pi-Nick-io?

Tonight’s tuition fee vote is the first real test of the LibDem’s willingness to be lashed to the mast as the coalition government sails the course of deficit reduction. The stupid pledge made during the election and the student centred […]

+ READ MORE +

He Should Cocoa, Mitchell is Bookies Favourite to Go

Andrew Mitchell is not having a good time at the moment, Dispatches turned him over for having a few quid in a tax haven (who doesn’t?) and the Sunday Times has caught him intervening on behalf of Cocoa-finger, the commodity […]

+ READ MORE +



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