Cameron Celebrated Christmas With Rebekah Brooks

Guardian hacks were very excited to have discovered – and were planning to splash on – the fact that the Prime Minister celebrated one evening this Christmas around at the home of the Chief Executive of News International. This is set against a background of the Guardian waging war on News International and Downing Street’s spin chief Andy Coulson over the News of the World’s phone hacking. There is also the slight matter of the government imminently taking a crucial decision about the Murdcoh takeover of BSkyB. Is it a shocking revelation? Dave and Sam have socialised with Rebekah and her husband “Champagne Charlie” Brooks before they were even at the couple’s wedding party. In the eyes of the Guardianistas this is yet more evidence of the unhealthy closeness of the Tories to News International. Never mind that Gordon Brown was also at that same party…

It is not the first time they have socialised, Sunday lunches at Chez Cameron are not unknown, because in truth they are near neighbours in Oxfordshire, the Camerons are in Witney and the Brooks’s are in Chipping Norton, some ten miles away. Wonder what shared concerns they could possibly have discussed?

Baldwin’s Blizzard

Tom Baldwin is biting. Guido isn’t the only one to notice how sharp Labour’s attacks have been on the Coalition today. For the first time Ed Miliband has had a press strategy that is cutting through and his “coalition split” line is leading the news. It was the CCHQ and Downing Street Christmas parties last night. Were there some sore heads this morning that weren’t quite on the ball?

It’s the first day of recess today yet it doesn’t look like are Labour are going to let the Tories forget that Vince was right – though damaged he wasn’t sackable. Baldwin is proving his ability to nail a decent line. If Downing Street spinners thought they might be able to sneak off early for a bit of Christmas shopping then they have another thing coming.

Cable Unplugged : Cut Out of Media Role, Stays at BIS

Downing Street says:

“Following comments made by Vince Cable to the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister has decided that he will play no further part in the decision over News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB. In addition, all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors will be transferred immediately to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. This includes full responsibility for OFCOM’s activities in these areas. The Prime Minister is clear that Mr Cable’s comments were totally unacceptable and inappropriate.”

The crosshairs image will be saved for another day…

UPDATE : Vince says

“I fully accept the decision of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. I deeply regret the comments I made and apologise for the embarrassment that I have caused the Government.”

Cable will still be the Minister responsible for tuition fees and banker bashing. Not totally humiliated, but pretty humiliating…

Osborne’s Reckless Mincing

Word reaches Guido of yet another party invitation that got lost in the post. George Osborne last night hosted mulled wine and mince pies for his favourites. There was no jelly on offer, but those who happened to attend Dave’s meeting next door with the TUC leaders earlier in the day noticed the tiny austerity mince pies offered to the brothers were minuscule in comparison with the hefty, bonus filled, jumbo pies offered to friends.

Hitting the unions where it hurts.

Reshuffle Rumour Round-Up

Ken Clarke faced a second weekend being briefed against in the Sundays. Guido can only presume the talk of reshuffle and booting Ken out is coming from an increasingly infuriated Coulson who doesn’t like to see Ministers being hounded by The Sun for being soft on crime. Very new politics.

Philip Hammond isn’t having a good time either. While admittedly snow is out of his control, after all the fuss the Tories made in opposition when divine intervention ruined a government media grid, you would have at thought at least some sort of contingency plan would have been thought up. The betting markets moved when the PMOS had to defend him this morning.

While it would be very hard for Dave to fire Ken Clarke, there’s bound to be a shot across his bow. Rumour is that his junior ministers, Crispin Blunt and Jonathan Djanogly and Lord McNally face the chop, with David Laws being lined up to come and shake up the department. A hang ’em and flog ’em Tory backbencher is also expected to be deployed to dilute “soft” Ken. Still no word on when Laws will receive his expected slap on the wrist from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, but bad news for those who put their money on a return before Christmas

Leaky Brown-Era Downing Street Aide “Resigned”

Back in those heady days of June as the government were getting their grip on Whitehall, Guido highlighted a strange move in the Downing Street comms department:

“Interesting to note that Mark Flanagan, a Brown-era hire, brought in from the private sector by Stephen Carter, hasn’t been dumped but instead booted upstairs to a “strategic role”…”

Well Mark didn’t last long upstairs. He ended up at Portland PR after it was discovered he had been leaking sensitive information out via email. Funnily enough Mark isn’t returning Guido’s calls.  It isn’t clear why he was allowed the dignity to “resign” instead of being sacked outright…

Coulson Unhappy with the Happiness Index

The Mail’s Black Dog reports:

The Prime Minister’s spin doctor Andy Coulson has banned No. 10 staff from
referring to Dave’s laughable ‘Happiness Index’. Essex boy Coulson thinks the initiative, dreamed up by Cameron’s ‘branding’ guru Steve Hilton, is ‘airy fairy b*******’. He insists it keeps its dreary official ‘general wellbeing’ tag – in the hope that it is forgotten as quickly as most of Tory hippy Hilton’s other gimmicks.

Guido is still waiting for the first fearless broadsheet political editor to detail to his readers, in a lengthy article, the SHAC Attacks. Currently they are just meekly gossiping about them in Westminster bars…

+ + + 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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +



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