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.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CCHQ To Civil Service

On Friday Guido noticed that Dave’s brand guru Anna-Maren Ashford had been quietly slipped onto the Civil Service payroll, but would have nothing to do with the PM’s image. No Siree.

Well it seems this trick has been spread amongst former CCHQers who couldn’t quite be found jobs in Downing Street or departmental political roles. In the States when a new regime comes in, they bring the civil service too, but that’s not officially how things are done over here. It seems the Cameroons been watching too much of the West Wing…

Strangely a lot of new civil servants do not appear on the grand organigram of government departments, late additions perhaps, but funny how Sam Freedman who was Michael Gove’s man until May is now a senior civil servant at the Department of Education; Jo Penn, formerly Teresa May’s advisor, moved from CCHQ to the Home Office in May, into a politically neutral role. Back in May Rishi Saha went from doing CCHQ’s new media stuff to doing Downing Street’s new media stuff. The official numbers of SpAd’s may have fallen, but the Civil Service count has risen…

Friday, November 5, 2010

Exclusive: Dave’s Stylist Goes from CCHQ to the Civil Service

Before this May’s general election CCHQ’s Anna-Maren Ashford was the “Head of Brand Communications” and is credited with styling “Brand Dave”. The former advertising executive was brought in by Steve Hilton from Young & Rubicam to kick out the old Tory torch logo and bring in the huggable tree. The glossy 30 year-old made the right look right.

She successfully helped detoxify the Tories and turn them into the beautiful people…

Post-election she still answers to Hilton and is close to hand in the Cabinet Office should the smooth Brand Dave need further polishing – just nowadays it is at the taxpayers’ expense as a civil servant in Whitehall. Officially she works with the Behavioural Insights Strategy Team known universally across Whitehall as the “Nudge Unit”.

Dave controversially put his personal photographer, Andy Parsons, on the Civil Service payroll, the news that his image stylist has also become a civil servant will infuriate many who will question his priorities…

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rohan’s Silicon Silliness on the Roundabouts of Life

Later today the PM will deliver a speech in East London on the growth of high tech enterprises. Dave will laud the colony of groovy start-up internet companies in EC1 that runs from Clerkenwell to Shoreditch bordering on Whitechapel.

Ahead of this speech Rohan Silva, the Downing Street SpAd who used to work for Osborne in opposition, but now cleaves to Steve Hilton, had a meeting with BT bigwigs last month that ended with BT ‘bemused’ by his requests. Rohan asked BT to Wi-Fi up all of Shoreditch for free to make ‘Silicon Roundabout’ a great place to live and work – coincidentally Rohan lives in East London.

BT pointed out that they generally preferred to make their living by charging for their services. Likewise Rohan’s request for BT to move its research function to the Olympic Park as part of the Olympic legacy met with a polite refusal – BT are very happy with their R & D base in Ipswich. The whole meeting became embarrassing says an insider.

Civil servants at the Treasury and at the Department for Business who work for Vince Cable despair. Rohan was not fondly remembered as a junior official at the Treasury, Guido’s co-conspirator in Whitehall claims

“He and Steve Hilton are worse than Ed Balls and Gordon at their worst – announcement driven activity without even a basic grip on economics… Thank god Jeremy Heywood is still there and able to act as a voice of sanity.”

Ben Brogan, usually more than sympathetic to Downing Street sources, has suggested that Rohan is a Malcolm Tucker wannabee -

… coming closest to acting the part of the bullying, foul mouthed, crazed control freak in The Thick of It, played with such zest by Peter Capaldi… It’s early days, but already tales are coming in of moments of rudeness, self-aggrandisement, mindless cruelty, ministerial notices cancelled at short notice.

Rohan has certainly come a long way from when Guido first met a shy, awkward, besuited, slightly out of place character at a Soho (London) loft party for what was the then hot British internet start-up that went on to become the $800 million Bebo social network. Rohan seems to have forgotten a key piece of advice in life: Be nice to people you meet on your way up in life, because…


Seen Elsewhere

Tories: Ruffley Critics are ‘Minority Feminist Groups’ | Buzzfeed
Harriet Harman Offers Less Than the Living Wage | Owen Bennett
Fallon’s Red Arrow Spin Unravels | Wings Over Scotland
What is the LibDems’ Problem With “The Jews” | Speccie
Image is the Least of Ed’s Worries | Speccie
The Most Politically Cynical Speech I Have Ever Seen | Dan Hodges
Full Sunday Sport Style Guide Email | MediaGuido
What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace


new-advert
Westbourne-Change-Opinion Guido-hot-button (1)


New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:

“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


Tip off Guido
Web Guido's Archives

Subscribe me to:






RSS


AddThis Feed Button
Archive


Labels
Guido Reads