Labour Corby Candidate’s Balls-Up

Smiles all round in Corby as Ed Balls stepped out into the sun to support Labour candidate Andy Sawford this morning. The slightly forced expression on the shadow chancellor’s face got Guido thinking: it turns out that back in 2009 Sawford wrote a damning article for the Guardian accusing the government of presiding over a shambolic response to the infamous Baby P case. The minister in question was then Education Secretary Ed Balls.

Take the government’s botched response to the Baby P case, which has made matters worse and put more children at risk. While the government was throwing red meat to the tabloids, and contributing to the hounding of social workers, it has only served to undermine an incredibly important profession.”

All neatly forgotten today. They’ll make a politician out of him yet…

Delingpole Withdraws From Corby Race Citing Windfarm Victory

With the news this morning that Energy Minister John Hayes has declared “enough is enough” when it comes to windfarms, Telegraph writer James Delingpole is bowing out of the Corby by-election race, where he was standing as a single issue candididate:

“What would be the point? John Hayes has just gone and made my every dream come true. I’m overjoyed. In fact, I think I may well have run the most stunningly successful election campaign in the history of elections.”

Good news for UKIP who were angry at a split protest vote.

Watson’s Corby Email Dirty Tricks

When it was announced that Brownite boot-boys Tom Watson and Ian Austin would be the campaign managers for Labour’s by-election in Corby you knew it would not take long to get dirty. Despite being way ahead in the polls and likely to take the seat, it seems dishonesty is the order of the day on the ground. The campaign built for Andy Sawford – the son of a Labour MP turned lobbyist – focusses on an apparent threat to the local Kettering Hospital. Depending on which Labour leaflet you read (kindly paid for by Unison) the threat to local jobs in the area is either in the hundreds of the thousands.The problem is it is not true…

Any changes to South East Midlands NHS are overseen by clinicians through the Healthier Together program, who are looking at two options for restructuring health provision in the area. While Sawford cries about “major cuts to A&E, maternity, acute and children’s services at TWO of the five hospitals,” the local NHS explain what is actually happening: “Services such as A&E, maternity and outpatients would remain on all five sites under both options.” Sawford’s petition to save the hospital is nothing more than email and postcode harvesting. 

UPDATE MONDAY: As Guido reported in the Daily Star Sunday yesterday, Sawford is in a right muddle about health:

HONESTY has gone out of the window in the Corby by-election to find a replacement MP after Louise Mensch quit. Labour’s candidate Andy Sawford, whose dad used to be an MP, is basing his campaign on saving the local hospital. This is despite the NHS board which runs it confirming there is no threat to it. The former lobbyist has not always been such a vocal defender of the health service, though. Back in 2009 he criticised plans to “ring-fence” the NHS budget from cuts, correctly claiming it only “postponed the pain” and that it “created an uneven playing field in local public service delivery”. You won’t see that on Sawford’s election leaflets.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

If Grant Shapps’ first press release is anything to go by, not much has changed in the Party Chairman’s office over at CCHQ. Tory spinners are keen to point out that he has been kicking some arse in his first few days. Unhappy with the thumb-twiddling Corby campaign that he has inherited, the new Chairman has been sending out overly optimistic memos to all approved candidates compelling them to come and meet him on the front-line this weekend. “He’s not giving them much of a choice, it’s a clear sign of a new regime at CCHQ.” Same old lines being pumped out though…

Sour Grapes For Corby Tories Potential Candidate Not Posh Enough

Talking of Corby, Guido is picking up growing disquiet among local Tories – and not just because they are expecting a kicking in November. Corby Conservative council leader David Sims went rogue last week, slamming both Louise Mensch and the Tory campaign in his constituency:

“I will give her my full support but it’s going to be difficult. We can expect a protest against Louise, as we have to admit that she wasn’t seen as a great MP. There will also be a protest against the Government and, while the other parties have been campaigning, we have been twiddling our thumbs.”

It turns out Sims has more than enough reason to be angry. Guido hears that he was specifically asked to put himself forward for the prospective candidate shortlist by CCHQ as someone who was in-touch, well-respected and local, only for party bigwigs to tell him in no uncertain terms that he was no longer welcome. A source on the ground whispers to Guido that Sims was told that the Tory hierarchy wanted someone who could ‘identify with the Tory faithful from East Northamptonshire’. In other words the former bin-man was not posh enough…

Wind of Change in Corby

Writing in today’s Speccie James Delingpole has confirmed that he will run in Corby after all. Not for UKIP as previously touted, but as an anti-wind farm candidate:

“The stench from the wind industry and its many leech-like hangers-on is overpowering and it’s a disgrace that so few people are speaking up for the thousands of victims affected by it. But I am. I hereby announce my intention to stand in the Corby by-election as the anti-wind farm candidate. Not in my back yard. And not in yours either!”

5% to keep your deposit…


CCHQ Rain Stops Play Strauss Missed Corby Deadline

CCHQ are briefing this morning that sadly Andrew Strauss has missed his chance to stand in the Corby by-election as the selection meeting is apparently this afternoon. They did not pour water on the idea of a 2015 bid though, as other news outlets have noticed:

“He’s been hugely successful as England captain and he’d be equally so if he goes into politics.”

Silence from the man himself, who could have shut speculation dawn very easily yesterday afternoon…

Bookies Slash Odds on Tory Corby Win With Strauss

Ladbrokes are offering 50/1 that Strauss steps up to the crease and is made the Tory candidate for Corby, with the former England captain 16/1 to beat Andy Sawford and win the seat. A Ladbrokes spokesman said: “If the Tories send Strauss into bat in Corby their odds of securing the seat will tumble“. Only KP running for the LibDems could stop him…

UPDATE: The punters are piling their cash on Strauss for Corby and he is now 25/1 to be the Tory candidate.

UPDATE II: Odds have been slashed again – now 16/1.

Corby Tories Back Strauss in Local Media

The local press in Corby like the idea of Andrew Strauss knocking Labour’s Andy Sawford for six, as does one local Conservative councillor they have quoted:

‘Corby borough councillor Rob McKellar said: “I couldn’t rule out voting for Andrew Strauss as a Conservative candidate if the rumours were to be true.



Andrew Strauss Could Stump Labour in Corby

Many have been wondering why England captain Andrew Strauss has quit international cricket. While it’s probably has more to do with his bad couple of years at the crease and major dramas in the dressing room, it’s well known that Andrew is a Tory and rumoured that he has an interest in moving into politics.[…]


Labour’s Corby Candidate Conservative Conference Confusion

After getting caught short on the French riviera, Labour’s Corby candidate Andy Sawford will take a barely-earned break from the campaign trail next month. To speak at the Conservative Party conference.

Sawford will have a day’s respite from Tom Watson when he gives a speech to his lobbyist pals in his capacity as chief executive of well-funded think tank LGIU:

Don’t Menshn the by-election…[…]


By-Election Watch: Lobbyist Reunion in Corby

Labour’s Corby campaign might have posed problems for Tom Watson and his team over the last few weeks, but there were smiles all round yesterday as two former public sector lobbyists enjoyed a reunion in the sun. The highlight was Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton posing with party candidate Andy Sawford as she opened Labour’s new campaign bunker.[…]


Labour Corby Campaign Cock-Up

Last week Guido revealed that Labour campaign chief Tom Watson had been busy massing the troops in Corby as party bosses seek to avoid a repeat of their Bradford nightmare. Watson might have dragged half of Labour HQ’s staff with him to Louise Mensch’s old constituency but their plan to hit the ground running has got off to a slow start.[…]


Piri Piri Mili

Guido has already reported the efforts to which the Labour Party are going in order to hit the ground running in the Corby by-election. There is only so far the back-room operation can take things though.

Out on the stump events, and indeed pictures say it all…

Guido’s favourite anecdote so far is the report that Ed asked a group of teenage girls: “what can politicians do for you?[…]


Bradford Routing Haunts Labour – Watson Amassing Troops in Corby

The joke doing the rounds this morning in Labour circles is:

“Rupert Murdoch has three months to take out the trash. If he wanted to kill someone he could probably get away with it. Tom is now so obsessed with Corby he thinks it’s Ed’s Crewe.”

Labour sources tell Guido that they are determined not to see a repeat of their Bradford by-election shambles.[…]


Watson Tells Labour Spinners to Brief That They Will Lose Corby

As Ed spends the afternoon in Corby – the front-line of Tory/Labour fighting in the next three months – Guido hears that Tom Watson is already playing the long game. The party campaign director has told Labour Political Advisers to stress that the party expects to lose the by-election in every conversation they have with the lobby.[…]


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