Guido revealed what went on inside a tense recent meeting of LibDem MPs in yesterday’s Sun column. Clegg defended himself against allegations it had been “easy for him” in government, quipping “If I’d been a Tory it would have been easy.”
One crowd-pleasing line stood out: Clegg calling Cameron “spineless” and saying that while he used his Liberal values as guidance, the PM merely asks “how’s this going to play?”
Something that Tory backbenchers might find themselves in rare agreement with Clegg over.
Expect more public airing of dirty laundry as the Coalition’s divorce day draws nearer.
The PM must have heard it’s Guido’s birthday because he’s got him a gift – the first Downing Street press conference in 238 days – 16.45 at No. 10.
Along with the floods, this is the second sign of the apocalypse. Guido is expecting a downpour of frogs any second.
Tory MPs first clocked something was up when Rachel Reeves almost sat on Ed Balls’ knee to try and squeeze into shot on the Labour front-bench, along with Harman and Caroline “window dressing” Flint. A nice distraction trick for Ed to point out Cameron’s woman problem, but can only really be used once. Still, it’s not like the Downing Street director of communications has a background in TV management or anything…
Well that was a bad judgement call from Downing Street, with Cameron and Osborne spending their political capital hopelessly backing Tim Yeo. Senior Tories are paranoid that this is just the beginning of the de-selection woes and the crack in the dam is rapidly expanding. Associations are going to get a taste for this sort of accountability and direct action.
No. 10 say the deselection “is a matter for the constituency”, but that’s a funny way of describing a direct challenge to the PM’s authority. While the Chancellor hilariously described Yeo as “politician of principle”, just last week Dave wrote:
“You have served your constituency of South Suffolk for over three decades – a record of which you can be enormously proud. I very much hope that you will be selected to stand as the Conservative representative in this seat again, so that you can fight to continue representing your constituents in the next parliament as you always have done in the past, with tenacity and commitment. Your considerable expertise in rural issues and the environment has been of real benefit to our party and our country. You have always provided a strong voice for the people of South Suffolk and it would be a great loss to your constituents, to parliament, and to the Conservative Party if the South Suffolk Conservative Association did not re-select you so that you can continue providing that steadfast representation.”
The hard-working people of South Suffolk politely disagreed. Let the uprising begin.
The heartbreaking pleas from a vulnerable young woman to Nick Clegg have been revealed. As reported in this morning’s Sun, the Deputy Prime Minister cruelly ignored a letter from “Annie”, sent under her real name, as she begged three years ago to “please stop” MP Mike Hancock “before it is too late before someone else gets hurt and abused by him.”
The Portsmouth South constituent, who is accusing her MP of abusing her after she went to him for help, sent Clegg this chilling warning in March 2011:
“He cannot be trusted and he is a liability to women, public and also your party. Stop the behaviour from him and his staff and whoever is involved with Mr Hancock as this is holy wrong. And please reply to this letter as it is very important to me that I get answers from you”
Nick Clegg said on Friday that he was “appalled” when he “first heard specific allegations” at the beginning of 2013 and that he had “acted immediately” to suspend Hancock as MP. He said “some letters were sent and some were not received.” This one was.
Guido can now reveal that “Annie’s” damning letter definitely reached the Deputy Prime Minister’s office in Downing Street. A secret tape recording has emerged proving that No. 10 civil servants had received the letter and told “Annie” and it would be specifically passed on to Clegg’s Political Office. Guido is not running the full tape in order to protect “Annie’s” identity, but the extract below proves the Downing Street communications office, having checked “Annie’s” postcode, were clearly aware of the content of the letter and had passed it on to Clegg’s people:
No.10: Ok, this is a complaint regarding your MP Mike Hancock…
No.10: Because this is a political issue it is being passed to the political section to deal with rather than us at the communication office because we are civil servants we are not really able to comment on matters like this. So what I can do is get in touch with the Political Office and say that you have called up inquiring about your letter.
Nick Clegg’s Political Office never replied to “Annie”, ignoring her warning “before it is too late before someone else gets hurt and abused by him.” Shame on them.
Over Christmas dripping wet Tory pressure group Bright Blue launched a blistering attack on the Conservative Party’s messaging. The group’s director Ryan Shorthouse slammed the Dave for “pandering to prejudice, uncertainty and anger”. Though now it appears it was Shorthouse who was the angry one – he was blocked by Downing Street in December from becoming a SpAd to David Willets at BIS. Revenge is a dish best served on a slow news day.
There obviously wasn’t much to do in Downing Street this morning, as Dave managed to get a jog in for nearly an hour in the middle of the working day. Osborne was giving a speech and Clegg a press conference. Who really runs Britain at 11am on Monday?
Paul Waugh quotes a Treasury source as saying that the story doing the rounds this morning that the government was going to ask energy companies to freeze prices is “complete b******s”, now a Downing Street source has confirmed to Guido that the story is untrue. Which given their recent record for u-turns, egg-turns and intellectual incoherence is perhaps surprising. Number 10 sources stress that it was the BBC who got the story wrong, saying it appears to have come from a “confused” energy company and so is not a u-turn. Another expertly handled No. 10 press operation.
As Dave jets off on another one of his travelling salesman tours, he leaves behind a Downing Street operation in a bit of a flap. There is a growing mood within No. 10 and Whitehall that as the good economic news keeps coming, with the recovery strengthening, the government’s self-proclaimed central purpose will slip down the agenda. Instead of talking about the economy, the next couple of years will focus on other issues and problems. The NHS, Universal Credit and Romanian/Bulgarian immigration are causing the most sleepless nights.
Sources claim Craig Oliver is particularly concerned about the NHS and a bucket of bad news set to come down the line. Crisis talks have been held between the Department of Health, No. 10 and the Cabinet Office. When Department of Health officials were asked when the good news from the NHS reforms would start to trickle through, the reply was “never”. Winter is coming, one SpAd tells Guido the Tories are ‘crippled with fear’. If it is a cold winter, high energy prices, poverty and the NHS will come together as a perfect storm, with higher senior citizen mortality…
Corrupt, Incompetent UN Has No Right to Lecture Us | Dan Hannan
Mirror’s Lazy Lie | Guardian
Hungary’s Heir to Thatcher | Conservative Woman
Farage and Salmond Both Want Outopia | David Aaronovitch
More Missing UKIP Money | Times
Church Should Fight Evil of Welfare Dependency | Stephen Glover
1 in 16 Pick Up Infections in Filthy NHS Hospitals | Mail
Let’s Get Evangelical | David Cameron
From the IRA to Windsor Castle | WSJ
Coulson: Everything You Need to Know in 6 Seconds | MediaGuido
Mo Ansar’s Silence | Adrian Hilton
Cathy Jamieson MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury minister, commenting on Treasury analysis of the economic impact of tax changes…
“If the Treasury is looking at the economic impact of tax changes, then surely it should examine the impact of the rise in VAT and cuts to tax credits? George Osborne’s £12 billion VAT rise knocked confidence, helped to choke off the recovery and has cost families £1,350 over the last three years.”