Monday, July 14, 2014

Butler-Sloss Stands Down

Last week the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman insisted:

“The focus was on finding a person with the right expertise and integrity. That’s exactly what we have in Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.” 

Theresa May vowed:

 “Baroness Butler-Sloss brings with her many years of experience in the field of child protection and law, and I am confident that she will deliver the thorough, robust and independent review that I have promised.”

Today Butler-Sloss has stood down:

“I was honoured to be invited by the Home Secretary to chair the wide-ranging inquiry about child sexual abuse and hoped I could make a useful contribution.

It has become apparent over the last few days, however, that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry. It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been Attorney General would cause difficulties.

This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to Government.

Nor should media attention be allowed to be diverted from the extremely important issues at stake, namely whether enough has been done to protect children from sexual abuse and hold to account those who commit these appalling crimes.

Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary.

I should like to add that I have dedicated my life to public service, to the pursuit of justice and to protecting the rights of children and families and I wish the inquiry success in its important work.”

Where’s Brian Leveson when you need him?

UPDATE: 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Get Warsi Briefing Begins, Again

As ever, one big reshuffle headache is what to do about Warsi. The ‘Senior’ Minister of State at Communities and the Foreign Office is unlikely to go quietly, though that has not stopped others in government attempting to brief her out of the door. In fact, they appear to have formed an orderly queue over at Coffee House:

“Baroness Warsi is alleged by multiple sources in and out of government to have consistently resisted calls to develop a proper strategy on integration and tackling extremism at its roots, even though this is the Prime Minister’s policy…

One source says: ‘Sayeeda made clear when she got the job at CLG that she didn’t agree with the Prime Minister and that she simply wasn’t going to do this bit of her job.’”

While she’s clearly a drag, is it really worth the risk for No 10 of the famously tempestuous, former loyalist, going totally tonto pre-2015? Warsi’s well maintained diaries remain a source of concern in Tory circles… 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Old Etonian Who Brought Cam and Clegg Together Leaves No.10

When Nick Clegg went on Desert Island Discs after the election, he told the tale that when he was considering joining David Cameron in a coalition government, he texted a mutual friend and asked him, “Can I trust this guy?”

As Guido revealed for the first time in the Sun on Sunday yesterday, the friend who told him “yes” was Tim Luke. The Old Etonian who vouched for David Cameron is in a way responsible for bringing this coalition government together. Luke’s previous claim to fame was hitting the headlines for walking in front of the camera while James Corden was presenting the Brit Awards.

The PM later appointed him to No.10’s policy unit. Could Tim’s leaving party next week – he’s off back to Barclays investment bank – be a sign the coalition is beginning to prepare for the end?

Reshuffle Rumour Round Up
Diaries Cleared for a Week Today

The reshuffle speculation level has been raised from ‘fevered’ to ‘panicked’. Guido hears that Downing Street have instructed departments not to schedule anything for a week today. This, however, could be anything from an elaborate bluff, to an unintentional display of competence. The latest chatter still says it’s going to be ladies night and whilst plenty of women MPs are expected to rise up the ranks, vivacious and pushy Esther McVey – tipped for the cabinet by many – is in fact still in the PM’s doghouse after her spectacularly unhelpful comments during the Maria Miller scandal. Penny Mordaunt, who has impressed recently, is tipped to replace Andrew Murrison at Defence. 

Whilst previously Cameron has preferred tinkering reshuffles, there are some whispers of a big upheaval that could even see a job swap between Iain Duncan-Smith at Defence and Phil Hammond at Work and Pensions. Hammond is not hugely popular with the top brass, and could deploy his famed safe pair of hands at DWP, while IDS, a former military man, would be unlikely to accept any other job. Speculation about the future of Grant Shapps at CCHQ has all but died out, while Ken Clarke seems resigned to his fate. This is all rumour mill though…

Any government reshuffle will indicate that the new EU commissioner has been decided, which would point to a delay. Andrew Lansley is said to be out, Willetts has let it be known he speaks French and German, while others say Michael Howard is still worth an outside bet. Lord Howard has certainly not ruled himself out of one last big job, and the PM owes him one after Dave’s then boss delayed the 2005 leadership election to let his favoured successor get their campaign in gear. It would also avoid a messy by-election.

Some in No. 10 are anticipating that in all likelihood No. 10’s first option for Commissioner will be ‘Junck-ed’ in petty retaliation. While in the past, Downing Street have allowed reshuffle rumours to last for months, cunningly keeping everyone on best behaviour, they’re running out of time to bed in new ministers in well before the election. It’s hardly like they’re going to be legislating much, mind.

UPDATE:

 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Senior Gov Source: Lansley Out of EU Race

Andrew Lansley was working the terrace hard yesterday evening, hobnobbing with Tory backbenchers and cabinet ministers alike at the IoD summer party, and really pressing the flesh. Observing the situation from the sidelines a senior government source whispered to Guido that the Leader of the House “doesn’t have a cat in hells chance” of being the UK’s next EU Commissioner. When Guido questioned the veracity of such a claim, the confident reply came “trust me, it’s never going to happen. He thinks it will, but I can assure you it won’t.” Could it be Whitehall bluster, or a diversionary tactic? Or is Lanners really out of the race? We report, you decide…

Friday, June 27, 2014

WATCH: Forgot About Dre

Poor Craig Oliver. Arriving at the Brussels summit with the PM and his entourage earlier today, Downing Street’s Director of Communications was hauled aside by security and stopped from going in, leaving him stranded at the door as Dave and the rest of his team strolled on through:

“Motherf**kers act like they forgot about Dre…”

Via Sky.

Patrick Rock Charged

Statement from the National Crime Agency:

On the authority of the CPS, the National Crime Agency has today charged Patrick Rock, 63, a former Whitehall adviser, with making indecent images of children and possession of 59 indecent images of children. He has been bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 3 July.

The charges are:

- Three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child contrary to section 1(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978, between 31 July 2013 and 31 August 2013

- One count of possession of indecent photographs of children contrary to Section 160 Criminal Justice Act 1988, between 31 July 2013 and 31 August 2013

The images have been assessed by NCA CEOP officers and CPS lawyers as meeting the definition of Level C.*

No.10’s bad day gets worse…

*Possession of images of erotic posing. Lower range of sentencing, likely non-custodial.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cameron Says Judge Only Him For His “Friend” Coulson

In July 2011 David Cameron said:

“I decided to give him a second chance and no one has raised serious concerns about how he did his job for me … But the second chance didn’t work out. The decision to hire him was mine and mine alone and I take full responsibility for it. People will decide whether it is right to give someone a second chance or not. I do think it is right to judge an individual by the work he did for me. I accept he was an editor of a newspaper where some very bad things happened. Because he’d resigned … it was reasonable to offer him a second chance … People will judge me on that, and I fully understand that. When you work with someone for four years as I did and you work closely, you do build a friendship and I became friends with him … so, yes, he became a friend and is a friend.

Guido imagines they’re now preparing to drop Coulson from a very great height.

But Cameron cannot undo those words.

Although he tried at the Leveson Inquiry, a year later:

“I was reliant on his word but I was also reliant on the fact that the Press Complaints Commission had accepted his word, the select committee had accepted his word, the police had accepted his word, the Crown Prosecution Service had accepted his word.”

Guido imagines that will be the line today…

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ex-Cameron SpAd: Cummings is Right

20140617-084713-31633236.jpg

Following Dominic Cummings’ latest grenade/intervention yesterday, a former Special Adviser to the Prime Minister has added his voice to criticism of the No. 10 operation. Sean Worth, who spent two years advising Dave, writes this morning that “Downing Street lacks grip, direction and calibre” and that “beneath the theatre” of Cummings’ attack “is a kernel of truth”.

“It’s certainly the case that Number 10 hasn’t given the machinery of government anything like the political steer of either the Blair or Thatcher administrations, for example.”

Dr. Worth adds that the current model of coalition is to blame, arguing it has been “tested to absolute bankruptcy“. He concludes:

“Forming a coalition in 2010 that would share power on every front of decision-making will, I believe, come to be viewed as a serious mistake – one not to be repeated if we end up with another coalition next May.”

This is becoming a theme…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tory Tension Reaches the Heart of Downing Street

Tory division has surfaced yet again, with the Conservative MEP group denying Cameron’s explicit orders not to side with Merkel’s rival Alternative For Germany in the European Parliament. The real Osborne/Cameron power struggle has spilled into the street though…

Watch your back, Lola.

Pic via @PoliticalPics.

Seen Elsewhere

Bercow ‘Wounded’ | Speccie
This Goes Further Than Rotherham | Simon Danczuk
Bercow Mocked | Times
Indy Deletes ‘Jewish Lobby’ Headline | MediaGuido
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


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Douglas Carswell…

“I stab people in the front, not the back.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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