Panicked PM Misses Parkinson’s Memorial

PARKINSON-540

Today brought the memorial service for Cecil Parkinson, the former Thatcher confidant and Party Chairman who was possibly one of the best Prime Ministers we never had. It was noted by many attendees that the PM did not show his face – it was held in St Margarets, Westminster Abbey, a 2 minute walk from Downing Street. He did turn up last month for the service for Geoffrey Howe and was expected today. Apparently Lord Feldman and Baroness Stowell represented the PM in his place. Was the PM too busy wasting his time at the Savoy or was it because Cecil was a Eurosceptic?

Peter Gabriel’s “Interspecies Internet”

Peter Gabriel went to Downing Street to hand in a petition to ban keeping monkeys as pets. Also on the agenda: “An interspecies internet that is open and available to non-humans.”

H/T ITV News

Dave’s Photo-Ban Fail

Despite a Downing Street mandated ban on holiday photos of the Camerons, nobody appears to have told Alicia Fisher:

She beat the paparazzi…

UPDATE: Spotted arriving as well:

Peston’s Downing Street “Movie Set”

ITV’s scoop-getting political editor Robert Peston is annoying Tory spinners in more ways than one. When the other broadcasters film short interviews in Downing Street, they usually bring one camera with them to film the interviewee. Peston however insists on bringing two cameras, one to film the minister, the other to film himself. Apparently Pesto wants a camera on himself at all times so plenty of shots of him looking inquisitive can be edited into the package. This means double the number of camera crew, causing a headache for press officers. A senior government source reveals “he turns up with a f**king movie set”. Don’t disturb the creative process…

Introducing Minister Media Monitor

Pundits and political producers have complained since the election that Downing Street is refusing to put up ministers on television. Craig Oliver has an iron grip on broadcast appearances, implementing  a “one minister a day” policy where a single, reliable minister reads out the lines to take on whatever issue. Our Minister Media Monitor charts ministerial broadcast appearances throughout the day, everyday.

From the Today programme to Newsnight, we monitor which ministers appeared answering questions in interviews. Note this will not include doorsteps, only scheduled appearances. Our league table ranks ministers by their number of appearances, showing who is the flavour of the month in No.10, and who has been kept away from the cameras. This resource empirically illustrates No.10’s strict broadcast grid, their reticence at sending ministers out to be held to account, and how this is being challenged by the referendum. Here is the spreadsheet with the data from February and here is the league table…

MMM February the ministers

The referendum sees three Leave ministers make the top ten, with Chris Grayling by some way the most vocal. Philip Hammond is No.10’s flavour of the month to give the government’s line, followed by the ever-reliable Matt Hancock. Jeremy Hunt was under the spotlight over junior doctors and government spinners obviously think it is important to get as many women on screen as possible – Greening, Rudd and Soubry are high up the list. It is notable that there were just 53 ministerial broadcast appearances in February, and a considerable number of these by off-the-grid Outers not authorised by Craig Oliver. George Osborne is keeping away from the cameras, the submarine Chancellor appeared just twice in 29 days…

Downing Street: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Taxpayer-funded civil servants have been authorised by David Cameron to use public resources to campaign for Remain. Will advisers and officials working for ministers who back Leave have the same freedom? They have tonight been issued a strict ban on their activities by the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood.

Civil servants working in the departments of Grayling, Whitto, IDS etc have been barred from giving their ministers briefings supporting their position on the EU. They are banned from providing speech material, and will be denied access to government papers relating to the referendum. Special advisers working for Leave ministers are banned from supporting their boss’ position in office hours. They are also banned from using annual leave on campaign activity. Pro-Remain ministers are meanwhile allowed to use public resources to campaign.

Amusingly, Heywood writes that these restrictions mean:

“The principles of impartiality and the proper use of public resources continue to apply to all government communications activity, including activity related to the EU referendum.”

This is laughable – Downing Street civil servants like Chris Hopkins are authorised to use taxpayer-funded resources to campaign for Remain, yet civil servants and SpAds for Eurosceptic ministers who want to do the same thing for the Leave campaign are banned from doing so. This is the exact opposite of “the principles of impartiality and the proper use of public resources”. It’s “do as we say, not as we do…”

No. 10 Loses Half its FTSE Support Since Dave’s Deal

Last Thursday, before the EU council meeting, the Telegraph had a briefing that “more than 80 FTSE 100 firms” were about to support Dave’s deal and back Remain:

Yesterday, after the deal, the FT reported that only 50 FTSE bosses were going to sign the letter supporting Remain:

As Guido revealed, the stunt had been drafted and orchestrated by Downing Street civil servants, and was lined up to appear in today’s Times. Sure enough, here it is in this morning’s paper:

Yet just 36 FTSE 100 bosses have signed…

Five days ago, journalists were being briefed that No.10 and Remain had 80 FTSE bosses backing them. Since the EU council meeting and the deal, more than half no longer fancied giving their support. Just 36 names for the letter backing Dave’s deal is positively paltry… 

H/T @suttonnick

Downing Street Soliciting Big Business Support For Remain

Guido has got hold of a draft letter sent to FTSE 100 bosses by Downing Street business adviser Chris Hopkins yesterday, soliciting support for Dave’s deal. It was due to appear in tomorrow’s Times, but you can read it on Guido today:

From: Chris Hopkins
Sent: 21 February 2016
To: XXXXX

Dear Sirs

We run businesses representing every sector and region of the United Kingdom. Together we employ hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

Following the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, we believe that Britain is better off staying in a reformed European Union. He has secured a commitment from the EU to reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign off crucial international trade deals.

Businesses like ours need unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment and threaten jobs. It would put the economy at risk.

We believe Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the European Union.

Give me a call if you have any issues.

Regards,

Chris

The letter was sent around yesterday, after the new rules limiting what Leave ministers are allowed to do with public resources came into effect. No.10 are unsportingly using the taxpayer-funded civil service machine to campaign for Remain, within the rules…

That No.10 Pantomime in Full

Thursday

8:00pm: No.10 briefing to Lobby: “I would say the going is tough, this could be a long night. Some real outstanding issues to resolve, it’s not clear how we’re going to do that.”

8:20pm: BBC reports No.10 source: “impasse… we thought there might be talk of bridges but still big gaps”, “talks pushed back”

Friday

5:29am: Times reports No.10 downbeat: “problems across the board”

7:50am: No.10 briefing to Lobby: “It’s hard going.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Prang Spin

momentary-prang

The PM’s official spokesman says his official car “momentarily touched” another vehicle while manoeuvring in Downing Street. “PM was not inside, no damage done”, they also deny it was a “car crash”Never believe anything until it is officially denied…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Rain on Dave’s Parade

The PM brought back up to his summer bash for Peroni-guzzling Lobby hacks last night, but it was the weather that rained on his parade – literally. As damp Tory leadership contenders worked the thinning lawn of the Downing Street rose garden, a relaxed Dave stood side by side with Theresa May doling out titbits to a ‘doughnut’ of senior correspondents, while Saj put in a good innings.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

EU Purdah Stitch Up: Full Letter From Lidington to Tories

Minister for Europe David Lidington has written to Tory MPs to tell them they are still planning on stitching up the EU Referendum, but it’s ok because they they will ‘work with them’ to do so:

16th June 2015

Dear Colleague,

EU REFERENDUM BILL

I am writing ahead of the Committee Stages of the Bill to address some of the key concerns raised by colleagues during the Second Reading debate last week and to set out the Government’s approach.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Huge Increase in “Payroll Vote” after PPS Splurge

pps-overdriveAbout turn:

Despite the confusion over whether members of the government will be allowed to campaign for ‘out’ after the EU renegotiation is complete, it is clear No.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Machinery of Government Changes: Power Redistributed From BIS

Three vaguely interesting bits of government power play this afternoon.

Osborne takes control of the Shareholder Executive – the body managing the taxpayer’s holdings in part-government owned businesses – from BIS.

While overall responsibility for the Digital Economy Unit goes to John Whittingdale at DCMS – again away from BIS.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Egrets, I Have a Few…

Larry the Downing Street cat really is rubbish at his job. Today No. 10 has been invaded by a heron:

CGGNGBaWMAArNsq

From heron in they should be more careful about leaving the door open…

Via Ramsay Jones
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Treasury Seeks SpAd Gender Balance

George Osborne’s new Director of Communications James Chapman is seeking some gender balance in the Treasury media team, and is “asking every woman in the Lobby” if they want a job. Rumours swirl that the FT’s deputy pol ed Beth Rigby is among those who have been approached. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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