Polly's Conspiracy Theory

You can always rely on Polly Toynbee to spectacularly miss the point:

rennard-logo“Their distrust may be justified here, as this byelection follows a familiarly vicious pattern, the air thick with dirty tricks. Where did the Lord Rennard sleaze reprise from 2009 suddenly come from, and why now in the final runup to election day? Blasted across every front page, Nick Clegg’s fumbling response hasn’t helped, but it doesn’t take an expert political nose to suspect this stinks.”

She then goes on to play down the claims against Rennard as “less than criminal” – despite the police being called in – and compares the story to “Tory tricks directed at UKIP”. Perhaps she should read what Cathy Newman has to say on why she ran the story now. This is about the women who are victims of sexual harassment being able to hold a sex pest to account, and the lies being told by people who tried to stop their story coming out:

Polly’s diversion tactics are one in the eye for the sisterhood.

Who Does Guido Think Will Win in Eastleigh?

Find out who Guido is backing to win Eastleigh, and whether or not he thinks the Rennard scandal could turn the tables in the Tories’ favour. Exclusively over on the Paddy Power blog

Dave Wades In to Beeb Spat "You're Not the Most Important Thing In This By-Election"

The BBC hit straight back against this morning’s claim from the Tories that they had behaved disingenuously, briefing that they invited Maria Hutchings to the 5Live hustings as far back as last Wednesday. CCHQ sources are citing security reasons as an excuse for the confusion. They aren’t taking it lightly, Damian Green has just told Sky that “the BBC can be a bit self-important”, and a “jolly cross” Dave has berated the Beeb’s man on the ground, saying his bosses had “behaved badly and stupidly”.

Rather awkwardly, it appears there would have been time for Hutchings to do the debate and still be able to meet the PM…

H/T @MichaelPDeacon

UPDATE: Here is what Dave had to say:

“I think the BBC has behaved badly and stupidly over this from everything I’ve heard about it. My understanding is that we were discussing with you for ages beforehand about the timing of the hustings and the fact that Maria wanted to be with me for this meeting. This is a totally got up thing by the BBC. You know you’re not the most important thing in this by-election – the candidates are.”

Not the voters then…

Arf Maria

The Tories are not happy with the BBC over the Maria Hutchings hustings no show. Kicking back, CCHQ say they made clear to the Beeb they were happy for Hutchings to take part in a live hustings, so long as it didn’t clash with Dave’s visit to Eastleigh today. Despite that last night 5Live briefed that Hutchings had said no and that they would empty-chair her. A particularly irate Tory source insists: “The BBC are being disingenuous, they are wilfully misleading listeners. We’re not quite sure how this fits with their code of integrity”. There is even talk of an official complaint. Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that their candidate was the only one missing this morning…


Hutchings Hustings No Show

5Live are empty-chairing Maria Hutchings after she bottled this morning’s hustings. Quite how that works on radio we will find out. Unsurprisingly the LibDems are jumping on her no show, Tim Farron is crowing that the Tory machine have kept her away and party HQ has come up with a mildly amusing missing poster.

Meanwhile their own candidate Mike “Perhaps I’m a bit dull” Thornton has admitted he won’t give up his council seat if he becomes MP. Hardly brimming with confidence then. If only the Tory candidate was there to ask him about it…

UPDATE: George Hollingbery is stepping in for Hutchings.

John O'Farrell: Labour Went Back on "Every Policy I Believed In"

The Eastleigh by-election has reached that point where every word the candidates have ever uttered is dredged up and thrown back at them. John O’Farrell got it in the neck about his views on the IRA and Thatcher at the weekend, Maria Hutchings apparently once called Dave a sell-out and the LibDem bloke’s voting record does not match his leaflets. For his two cents, the Brighton bomb quote was not the only bit of O’Farrell’s 1998 autobiography Things Can Only Get Better that caught Guido’s eye:

“I was able to stay in the Labour Party while it ceased opposing privatisation, ceased to support unilateral nuclear disarmament, ceased voting against the Prevention of Terrorism Act and went back on just about every policy I believed in to get itself elected in 1997.”

O’Farrell has fired up the Labour Twitterati and got some boots on the ground, but aside from his comedic running commentary from the stump, he has not really said very much. Has he changed his mind on privatisation and nukes?

Ed in Eastleigh Tomorrow

Guido understands the Labour leader will be journeying south to help out his joke candidate John O’Farrell tomorrow.

And this time he’s armed with an actual policy…

Eastleigh Naked Rambler Reveals By-Election Allegiance

The Prime Minister may have been in Eastleigh this afternoon but the LibDem campaign has received the biggest boost today: Stephen Gough, the local Eastleigh naked rambler, has declared he is a member of the LibDems and planted his yellow rosette firmly on his er, poll. They’ve got the big mo…

Via Southern Daily Echo

Tory MP's Speedy Reply To LibDem Donation Begging Email

When the LibDems sent out their latest begging email for cash for the Eastleigh campaign, sending it to a Tory MP probably was not the best plan:

From: Paddy Ashdown
Sent: 12 February 2013 12:47
To: ADAMS, Nigel
Subject: Please do this today

Dear Nigel,

When we won Eastleigh in 1994, it was a breakthrough for Liberal Democrats.



Eastleigh Tory's Local Knowledge

By-election rule no.1: when fighting a strong local candidate, don’t copy the section about the constituency on your website from Wikipedia.

H/T @BillyKenber


Joke Candidate: John O'Farrell Tipped to Fight Eastleigh


Ed MIliband says he wants more working class people and people with an armed forces background to stand for parliament, so the Eastleigh by-election is the first opportunity for Labour to choose someone from that kind of background. Yet Labour heavyweights seem to be swinging behind John O’Farrell, who is about as much of a Labour luvvie as you can get.[…]


Ashcroft Eastleigh Poll Says Game On

Source: Guardian.[…]


Labour Cannot Find a Candidate for Eastleigh Selection Process Open to All Members

John Denham has emailed all Labour Party members asking them if they would like to be the party’s no-hope candidate in Eastleigh:

“As I’m sure you’ve already heard, following Chris Huhne’s resigation we’ll be fighting a by-election in Eastleigh. There are only three weeks until polling day on 28 February. 



Clegg SpAd Apologises for Cabinet Office Electioneering

The Special Adviser code states:

“19. Special advisers must not take part in national political activities, which are: holding, in a party political organisation, office which impinges wholly or mainly on party politics in the field of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly or the European Parliament…

20(ii) …if they wish to take part in a General, European or by-election campaign, or to help in a party headquarters or research unit during such a campaign, they must first resign their appointment.”

Despite this, Nick Clegg’s SpAd James McGrory launched the LibDem Eastleigh by-election campaign last night from the Cabinet Office.[…]


Clegg SpAd McGrory Reported For Partisan Eastleigh Blunder

The gloves are off. Not only are the LibDems planning on moving the writ today for the Eastleigh by-election, but they have also fired the first real shots of the campaign. Sadly for them, those shots were firmly into their own feet.[…]


Tory Whips: Eastleigh "Will Not Be A Shoe In"

Guido has seen exchanges between the Government whips office and Tory MPs that would imply they are not expecting the Eastleigh writ to be moved for many months. Michael Fabricant, who seems to be in charge of the by-election again, reminds colleagues that the LibDems have three months to fire the starting gun.[…]


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Quote of the Day

Trump supporter Raheem Kassam responds to Suzanne Evans calling him “far right”:

“We’re going to rise above it. When she goes low, we go high, to quote Michelle Obama.”

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