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 holding in Sky, had told the Telegraph’s undercover journalists that

“I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win”.

The Telegraph is of course locked in a corporate battle with Murdoch’s newspapers, its chief executive, Murdoch MacLennan, is publicly lobbying Vince Cable to block the takeover.

Somebody with a conscience at the Telegraph has risked their career to get the truth out, they can hold their heads high. The editor and the management of the paper should be ashamed of themselves for covering up and cheating their readers of the truth. Their venal self interest is a disgrace to journalism…

UPDATE : Lot of action on the next cabinet exit and David Laws to return bets on Smarkets.

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 The Sun for being soft on crime. Very new politics.

Philip Hammond isn’t having a good time either. While admittedly snow is out of his control, after all the fuss the Tories made in opposition when divine intervention ruined a government media grid, you would have at thought at least some sort of contingency plan would have been thought up. The betting markets moved when the PMOS had to defend him this morning.

While it would be very hard for Dave to fire Ken Clarke, there’s bound to be a shot across his bow. Rumour is that his junior ministers, Crispin Blunt and Jonathan Djanogly and Lord McNally face the chop, with David Laws being lined up to come and shake up the department. A hang ’em and flog ’em Tory backbencher is also expected to be deployed to dilute “soft” Ken. Still no word on when Laws will receive his expected slap on the wrist from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, but bad news for those who put their money on a return before Christmas

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 […]

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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 […]

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Will the Spending Review Spark a Resignation?

This Wednesday sees the Spending Review, when we discover where unfunded over-spending will stop. We are told that some ministers still have not agreed a budget. Vince Cable at Business, Michael Gove at Education, Theresa May at the Home Office, […]

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It Ain’t Over till the Electoral Reform Society Sings


Guido has basically got his betting book flat on the Labour leadership, after backing David originally, flipping around onto Ed last Friday and adding to his position substantially during the week. Guido took the book to basically neutral last night, […]

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