Twitter Bitch Fight of the Week: Oborne v Maguire

Today’s Mirror splashes on “heartless” George Osborne giving his SpAd Rupert Harrison, apparently “one of the chief architects” of the “cruel austerity drive”, a 19% pay rise.

The story very much upset Man of the People Mirror Associate Editor Kevin Maguire, who Peter Oborne has the temerity to speculate is on rather more than Rupert:

Kerching!

General Election Campaign Officially Starts Today

vote

Today is the day election spending rules kick in and the campaign for 2015 officially begins. Here are the key dates for your diary:

  • December 19: Long campaign begins. Candidate spending limited to £30,700, plus 9p per voter in county (rural) constituencies, and 6p per voter in borough (urban) constituencies.
  • January 5: House returns from Christmas recess.
  • February 12-23: February recess.
  • March 18: George Osborne delivers the final budget of the parliament. He only has a few working days to get it through before…
  • March 30: Parliament dissolves. Short campaign begins. Spending restrictions tightened to £8,700, plus 9p per voter in county constituencies and 6p per voter in borough constituencies.
  • May 7: Election day.

138 days to go…

Reckless Crowdfunds Defence Against Tory Legal Action

“It is almost Christmas: a time for caring, reflection, and forgiveness,” Mark Reckless tells UKIP supporters in a mass email this afternoon, before asking for festive donations to fund his defence against the Tories’ “sour grapes” legal action against him:

“The fact that the Tories are bickering over £3,000 when we all know they may have a £78m election war chest put together by their secretive clubs, and dodgy donors shows that this is just another cynical attack on democracy, on UKIP, and on the British people. It’s time for us to stand up and fight back, don’t you think?”

Judging by UKIP’s recent online fundraising success, E-kippers will cover his costs in no time…

UPDATE: A local Tory association source points out: “Given Mark is a trained barrister and this is a small claims case, we rather assumed that, like us, he would be representing himself. We’re surprised he’s lawyering up.”

What the Helic? SpAd Bill Soars to £8.4 Million + + + No. 10 Stuffed with 27 Special Advisers to the PM + + +

£8.4 million of taxpayer cash was spent on 103 SpAds in the last year, a 17% rise on the year before.

Chasing headlines in 2010, Cameron made a big deal of cutting the number of SpAds from 82 to 61. He now personally has 27. Twenty-f**king-seven spin doctors, bag carriers and wonky strategists. No. 10 now has almost half the number of SpAds as served the entire government just five years ago.

Nick Clegg now has twenty special advisers. Nearly double the amount that Jesus got by with.

Why does Esther McVey need a Special Adviser beyond a reshuffle consolation prize, and why is she paid more than dozens of others on the list who report to real cabinet ministers?

Why does the Chief Whip have three advisers at a cost of around £150,000? What are they doing – because there’s no real legislation going through the House?

And finally, Guido cannot fathom why, in his new role as Leader of the House, William Hague still needs three SpAds costing us almost £200,000. Bizarrely Arminka Helic is retained as his adviser on £70,000-a-year, despite recently being ennobled and therefore allowed to claim a £300-a-day allowance in the House of Lords.

What a bloody racket.

UPDATE: Hard to disagree with Angela Eagle:

“Another day, another broken promise from David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

“David Cameron promised to get the cost of politics down but under him the number of Special Advisers spirals ever upwards – the public are now picking up bill of over £8m to pay for his appointees.

“This also shows how you can’t trust a word Nick Clegg says. The Lib Dems used to say that Special Advisers shouldn’t be paid for by the public but as soon as he got his feet under the Cabinet table he broke his word. The cost to the public of Lib Dem Special Advisers is over £1.7million – Nick Clegg alone has more advisers working for him than he has female MPs.”

UPDATE II:

Going, Going… Wrong

“Good evening everybody and welcome to Sotheby’s,” said Tory co-chairman Lord Feldman at a fundraising auction last week… At Christie’s.

The real joke was the fact a signed copy of Cameron’s flop of an immigration speech went for £45,000.

BREAKING: Dirty Desmond Donates £300,000 to UKIP

Seems he’s forgiven Patrick O’Flynn then…

UPDATE: 

Who will ask Farage the Paxo questions?

 

Tony Blair: Be Nice to Politicians and Pay Them More Please

Blair has some extraordinary demands in the New York Times today – pay politicians more and stop being mean to me, or them even:

“…politicians are not really well paid by the standards of those who are successful in the private sector. This restricts the attractions of a political career, at exactly the time when we most need the gene pool of our politicians to be varied, vibrant and vigorous.”

“People have to accept that governing involves difficult choices, and politicians ought to be respected for making them, not abused.”

Nope.

Everything You Need to Know About the Autumn Statement

growthstatement

Helpfully compiled by the BBC.

Osborne’s Kwasi NHS Spending Pledge

Kwasi Kwarteng isn’t backing down from his comments splashed in the Indy that NHS spending will have to be cut to clear the deficit:

“My general point was that if you’re going to have a serious debate about deficit reduction, everything has to be on the table.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Revealed: Broke UKIP HQ Salaries in Full

UKIP’s briefing wars have found their way onto the pages of the Times once again. Cringe-worthy tales of well remunerated spinners spending their days pinning a “hand-drawn picture of Mr Farage surrounded by hearts on the wall alongside an ‘I love egg mayonnaise sandwiches’ sign” have been leaked, as well as the salaries of some top UKIP staffers.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Osborne’s Poll Ratings Slide As Conservative Lead on the Economy Grows

As Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement today, a YouGov poll for the Sun finds his personal ratings have dropped from -3 to -8 over the last nine months. Optimism that the economy will improve is down from 39% to 25%, while pessimism is up from 23% to 32%.[…]

+ READ MORE +

First Times Profit for 13 Years

2009: -£70 million

2013: -£6 million

2014: £1.7 million

First time they have been in the black since 2001. News UK say their “paid for” strategy is “working well and is helping to secure a sustainable future”…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Pickles Trolls Thornberry

Earlier in the week Eric Pickles responded to Hilary Benn’s vain attempt to find waste at DCLG by sending him a signed photo and one of John Prescott’s 20,000 vanity pens, for which the former Deputy PM billed the taxpayer £3,450.[…]

+ READ MORE +

UN Special Envoy Slams Miliband’s Mansion Tax

United Nations Special Envoy and High Commissioner of the UNHCR, Angelina Jolie, has voiced her concerns about Ed Miliband’s mansion tax:

“I’m quite responsible about money. That could put me off [moving to London].”

Wonder who could have put her up to that…

Clip via Channel 4 News.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Dorrell Exits Through Revolving Door

When Stephen Dorrell stood down as chairman of the Health select committee back in June, Guido wondered:

“Why would [he] not want to keep the coveted post, as well as the extra pay, for [his] last year in the Commons?

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Dave’s Out of Touch-Lamp

Guido is always one to shine a light on shady deals in dark corridors of power, so watt’s this one all about? The two desk lamps in David Cameron’s Downing Street ohm retail at an austerity-busting £749. “Hand-assembled in Oxford from the finest aluminium, chrome and bone china”, the lamps were a freebie from Witney-based company Original BTC, lamp provider to stars such as Gordon Ramsay and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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