Off the record and in the comments here CCHQ insiders say “everyone does it”. That is not a defence, that is an admission of guilt.
The Centre for Open Politics has been digging into Spelman’s expenses and discovered that, according to the register, Cawte was not being paid by CCHQ even though he was working at Millbank in the Party Chairman’s office (shaded in blue on the timeline graphic above). After two days of stonewalling by Cawte, CCHQ gave Guido an official response to his questions:
“Simon Cawte has previously declared to the House of Commons Registrar that he is paid for by Conservative Party funds. Whilst this declaration was made in January 2008 it has come to our attention that the declaration should have been made by August 2007. This was an administrative oversight and the registrar has been informed accordingly.”
Guido will be back later next week for a few days, than he is off to the West of Ireland for a week. Not sure what to do that week – shall we have a blog holiday or shall we try having guest bloggers? Should the inmates be allowed to take over the asylum? Can you entertain yourselves? Do you feel you can entertain 10,000 to 20,000+ political junkies every day for a week?
Guido will be back full of vim for September and is planning on making it to the Conservative Party conference at the end of the month, where he is due to be speaking on the fringe, subverting the conference media centre* and drinking the bar dry. No reasonable invitation refused.
*The Tory press office ASBO’d Guido for that hacking of the press list lark. Guido had to promise to behave (in writing) before they would only now allow him back on the Lobby list (no haven’t actually joined the Lobby, am better than that). So fear and loathing in Birmingham it is…
The chopper in question was G-ELTE (pictured). Dave apparently went to stay with his father-in-law for the night. Plenty of room to land a chopper on the estate…
This is undoubtedly the work of Andy Coulson, when he moved in to CCHQ in May 2007 Guido welcomed it, predicting he would “bowl bodyline. Coulson is a player, not a gentlemen, he could be their Larwood, they have far too many Jardines already.”
Guido suspects this will signal a much needed change in the tone of Tory propaganda. Trying, as Osborne recently did, to frame Gordon Brown as a leftie won’t work. The approach to Gordon has to chime in with the truth that people instinctively sense. He is an unpleasant, difficult to work with, psychologically flawed, malevolent, grudge-bearing control freak. These aspects of his character are even more of a negative than his tax and spend, big government, micro-managing policies. Going with this grain of truth will resonate popularly.
In January this year Guido advocated (Finishing the Project : Making 2008 Dangerous for Brown) this full-frontal personal assault on Brown because
policy detail was irrelevant, what mattered was character, because Gordon Brown is a deeply flawed personality. Those flaws inform his tactics and political outlook. To defeat Gordon Brown his opponents should focus on him personally, something that Steve Hilton and CCHQ (prior to the arrival of Andy Coulson) were reluctant to do. Now, with the election put off for two years, 2008 should be about irreversibly breaking Brown’s reputation once and for all.
The Letwin / Gove / Willets policy based approach of 2006-07 was all very well for winning over columnists on the broadsheets, but the Coulson effect reaches the voters. Destroying the reputation of Gordon was easy once they tried – because he had a false reputation. Now the public knows him and his flaws they hate him, as the polls now show.
UPDATE : Labour are whinging that it is “character assassination“.
*Brownies as in “he is telling a Brownie” are a form of words which is a statistical or legalistic misrepresentation of the truth involving selectivity or occasionally outright mendacity. It was Fraser Nelson who coined the phrase “Brownie”. It was Andy Coulson who hired Fraser to write a column for the News of the Screws.
No press releases followed. Weeks go by. Is it a conspiracy of silence, has Caroline Spelman exacted revenge? Is it a competence issue? This kind of thing never happens to Iain Dale…
UPDATE : Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome says he has been cut out as well. We’re not talking about the guff sent to supporters, we’re talking about the media releases. If it is deliberate, it is pretty short-sighted.
The job is not what it was in the glory days of Parkinson and Tebbit. Ashcroft’s team does process and the nitty gritty of the campaign machine in marginals, Osborne is charge of general election strategy. Betting is on Eric Pickles or Chris Grayling. Both popular with the activists, Pickles is adored and is basking in the post by-election glory. Grayling is fantastically good at taking the fight to Labour. He isn’t afraid of Paxman and comes over well on the news shows. Spelman on the other hand has only registered with the public now and for the wrong reasons…
If Michael Crick or any other journalist would like to check it out she is working from my staff office, just be our guest. Is there a better communication tool than a blog?
No of course not, so Guido calls Nadine’s office; “Is Jenny there?” “No she has just popped out” comes the reply. Guido leaves his number for her to call back. Seconds pass… ring, ring. A lioness roars down the line in tones that remind Guido of Mrs Fawkes. Nadine is not impressed. Guido protests that she did invite calls. She also complains about the blog’s coverage of Caroline Spelman. Guido points out she never called about Guido’s coverage of Beckett’s pergola or Follet’s window cleaning at our expense. We agree to differ.
Elsewhere on her blog Nadine laments
“The frenzied attack against Conservative MPs and MEPs, orchestrated by and emanating from the left wing BBC and press has equalled that of an animal in its death throes. The more terminal the position looks for Labour, the more desperate the BBC and left wing press become. The incoming Conservative government has many big dragons to slay, the BBC has to be the biggest.”
Yes, Guido and those horrible left-wingers at Open Europe must be desperately trying to prop up the Labour Party. Guido wonders aloud to Nadine whether, just maybe, Spelman’s troubles might come from another direction, after all, the Whip’s office knew of her misdemeanor, perhaps others in CCHQ knew as well? Some of those Tory MEPs she was threatening have been around a while, they are not entirely without friends – people do gossip – black books are kept. Maybe they also knew Michael Crick’s phone number? Isn’t it more likely to be Blue-on-Blue shooting than originating from the BBC’s red dragons? Nadine went quiet for a moment… briefly.
Cracknell v Boris | Sun
British Muslims are Failing to Integrate | Dan Hodges
Dear Sarah Wollaston… | ASI
Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun
Don’t Bottle Schools Revolution | Dom Cummings
Sack Bercow | Melanie Phillips
Tories Should Have Open Primary in Clacton | Mark Wallace
Osborne Tricked Into Haircut | Janan Ganesh
“I stab people in the front, not the back.”
Owen Jones says:
We also need Zil lanes.