Friday, November 26, 2010

+ + + RUMOUR: D-Notice Issued on Wikileaks Stories + + +

The Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) which consists of top MOD civil servants and representatives from the media have according to Wikileaks issued a “D-Notice” – an attempt at a news black-out, on the imminent release by Wikileaks of two million diplomatic wire conversations between US Embassies and the White House/CIA. Rumours have been swirling around all day of US envoys meeting counterparts in Israel, London and Australia etc preparing them for extremely embarrassing news. Guido wonders what the US had to say about Blair, Brown and Cameron before bi-lateral meetings. Apparently Obama has been smoothing feathers on the phones.

Guido has just put a call in to Andrew Vallance, the DPBAC, secretary and is awaiting confirmation. If it is true something tells Guido that this isn’t going to work.

Remember what happened to Trafigura and their super-injunction…

SHAC Attacks

Guido hears it hasn’t been the happiest of weeks in Downing Street with the mother of all Hilton/Coulson rows taking place early this week after rehab-refugee Hilton* briefed the Sunday papers about big changes to how cigarettes are to be packaged and sold. Steve’s wacky brown paper-packaging ideas went way beyond what Lansley had planned and Coulson apparently wasn’t consulted on the headline front.

With tensions often boiling over are these “SHAC Attacks” going to be the new TB/GBs?

UPDATE : The non-reporting of SHAC Attacks by the gentlemen reporters of the Lobby is the latest example of them behaving exactly as Peter Oborne describes in his book the Triumph of the Political Class. The Lobby is quite simply the tame “client media” of the political class. They’re reluctant to write about the Hilton / Coulson clashes for fear of being frozen out from having stories spoon-fed to them. Just as they were reluctant to write about another Downing Street adviser until the day after he resigned.

*Hilton is a smoker.

Sam Cam Throws Toys from Pram

Guido hears that the cancellation of Dave’s Thai Christmas holiday didn’t go down too well with Sam, who let it be known in no uncertain terms what she thought about Coulson’s decision.

A luxury sunshine holiday for Dave with his old Etonian mates in country where they shoot rioting students during a cold austerity Christmas back home? You can see Coulson’s logic…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rohan is on a Roll

One of the biggest nights in the propeller-headed wonks calendar is The Prospect magazine’sThink Tank of the Year Awards. David Sainsbury’s new plaything, the Institute of Government, took away the big prize leaving many on the right feeling a little put out as they thought they’d had a pretty good year when it came to influencing the policy agenda.

The judging panel was somewhat slanted to the left: Ben Rogers from IPPR and Demos; Kishwer Falkner the Liberal Democrat peer; David Goodhart Prospect’s editor; the FT’s James Crabtree and for balance from Downing Street, Rohan Silva.

Hardly the most balanced of panels, but made worse by the fact that Silva didn’t bother showing up to meetings at which the awards were actually judged. In the right-wing think-tank world, where one would expect Conservative Downing Street policy advisors would be tight in with, there are some who were ticked off with him for not holding up the side. Rohan just seems to make friends wherever he goes…

Elementary Level Watson

It’s no surprise that Tom Watson has taken to opposition so well, surreally Guido even got to collect an award on behalf of the attack dog last week. However Watson’s out of the blue claim that Coulson is off imminently is nothing but traffic grabbing bluster. Of course Number 10 dismissed the claim as such almost instantly, but then it’s still another day that village gossip is once again full of chatter. Job offers have apparently come Coulson’s way…

Stories concerning the government and Dave in the last few weeks show Coulson hasn’t had his eye 100% on the ball, and that’s before the silent war in Downing Street is even considered. There may not be a smoking gun, but no doubt Hilton and his “zen men” are enjoying the constant drip drip drip. Expert punters don’t agree with Watson and it’s going to take more than a letter with an exaggerated claim to push Coulson over the edge…

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dave Says Phuket To Thai Break

Over the weekend the Prime Minister quietly cancelled his planned Christmas trip to Thailand. When the papers first got wind of the plan, Guido reported that Coulson had put the heavies on to try to stop the others asking the very obvious questions about the probity of such a trip given the, fellow Old Etonian, Thai PM’s less than exemplary human – rights record. You don’t see many fire extinguisher throwers surviving in Bangkok.

Other sources claim it was a lack of private beaches for security reasons, but with the number of vanity and money based stories floating around Dave in recent months Guido is surprised it took this long for Downing Street to have a re-think about where the PM should spend the upcoming “austerity Christmas”. Andy Coulson doesn’t seem to be burning on all four cylinders. Could there be some distraction taking up the time of the normally sharp headline seer?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wonk War Manoeuvres

Guido’s Cameroon co-conspirator posits a theory for the celebratory back-slapping between Steve Hilton and Rohan Silva last night. Within Downing Street Rohan is (Guido kids you not) in charge of short term policy and James O’Shaughnessy is in charge of long term policy. There is no love lost between Hilton and O’Shaughnessy. Could the group hug last night be because, whispers Guido’s source, that Hilton has managed via some Machiavellian manoeuvres to arrange for O’Shaughnessy to be “promoted” sideways when he returns from paternity leave? Sideways as in “out-of-the-way”….

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Birrell Bandwagon Rolls On

He is wounded, but without a smoking gun Coulson isn’t going to be forced anywhere. However let us just say a few months into the new year a job offer he can’t refuse might arise and off he goes. Whenever Coulson leaves, and in whatever way; be it disgraced, or off back to News Corp., British Petroleum or a spin merchants at board level there will be one hell of a power vacuum in Number 10. There is no way that the control-freakish Steve Hilton isn’t going to want to fill the post with one of his own. One of the Zen Men so to speak…

Since months before the election the name of Ian Birrell has been floating around CCHQ and wider Tory-circles.  Since they sing from the same hymn sheet it seems likely that Hilton wants the Big Society enthusiast and former deputy-editor of the Indy inside Downing Street. Other than being a mate of Dave and Steve’s what is it about Birrell that is so desirable? Even ConservativeHome today calls for Birrell and three other people to be added to the No.10 machine, despite the Tories promising to cut the number of political advisers. Is something afoot? Birrell’s big-society, blue-sky, Cameroon credentials are not entirely to ConservativeHome’s taste…

UPDATE : Well connected source texts speculating that he could replace Ed Llewellyn, Dave’s chief-of-staff. Hmmm…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Coulson Could Learn a Thing or Two

Some advice from the best…

Coalition Civil Service Con Continues

The culture of political special advisors was developed under Maggie, and boomed under Labour. Dave promised to cut the numbers of partisan aide-de-camps paid for by the taxpayer. The LibDems went even further and pledged in their manifesto to take SpAd’s off the public payroll and make parties pay for them out their own funds. However despite these “cast iron” promises the coalition have found a loophole – simply make former party staffers Civil Servants. Guido has been looking at this dishonest tactic for a couple of days now and the list of staffers who have been suddenly “neutralised” is absurd:

While Dave and Nick might promise smaller government and a new politics, they are using backdoor methods to get their yes-men into Whitehall and Downing Street.


Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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