Monday, September 6, 2010

Coulson’s Guilt

The BBC just spent twenty-two minutes of a half hour news program talking about Coulson. Tom Watson has been granted emergency questions in the House and the lefty press are determined to keep this going. There is nothing new to the the reheated and rehashed allegations in the New York Times. Everyone knows journalists break the law to get stories. If newspaper investigations kept to the letter of the law more scandal would go uncovered.

The problem for Labour is how little they cared when they were in power. Why only in opposition has Alan Johnson finally decided to make some noise? He had far more power when he was Home Secretary. Unless there is firm evidence that Coulson ordered the hacks, which Guido suspects there won’t be, it’ll be hearsay from a disgruntled employee, and he will get away with it. Coulson is as guilty as sin of condoning that culture, but he’s already lost his job once over this. Remember that other newspapers – including the Guardian’s sister paper the Observer – also hacked phones. The hysterics are fake and will tire as real parliamentary business gets  underway. Guido’s sympathy is with whoever had to transcribe Prescott’s phone calls…

UPDATE : Bookies give Coulson a 75% chance of going before Conservative Party conference and only a 25% chance of him stayingGuido’s money is on him staying.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Hand of GOD

David Cameron allegedly went home on the evening of May 10th and told his wife that he wouldn’t be Prime Minister. 24 hours later he was in Downing Street. Publicly the line was that it looked like things were going the other way, but behind the scenes things were rather different. Guido has come across a document drafted in the Cabinet Office on the Sunday afternoon that showed just how far the coalition negotiations had reached and crucially what the civil service were expecting.

By Sunday it was clear to Scott McPherson of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat who the two parties in government were going to be. Labour is not mentioned once in the entire document. He pinged this document around to the key players, including the Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell’s office. The whole document shows the great hand that the civil servants had in guiding the structure of the coalition agreement, with a big tip of the cap to New Zealand. Funny that three days before the deal was done the mandarins already knew the result…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goodbye GOD

So Cathy Newman got the scoop tonight that Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell isn’t quitting. Yet.

Well more intriguingly the king of the mandarins wanted to go straight after the election, but given the circumstances, it is easy to see how he would have been persuaded to stay on in these unchartered waters for a little longer.

Now the battle starts for who Dave and Nick want to put in GOD’s shoes…

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bending the Laws

Not only did David Laws have the shortest, though admittedly bright, of cabinet careers, it now looks like he is going to serve the shortest of penances on the backbenchers. James Forsyth who is rather plugged in to the Downing Street media operation has suggested toes are being dipped in the water and media soundings taken about the prospect of a post-spending review return. The idea would be more popular with the Tories than the left of the LibDems so it is no surprise to see ConservativeHome tacitly welcoming such a move this morning.

The punters are pretty split. 48% believe Laws will return before the end of the year, lots of  money on 2011 too. That could all change if Downing Street are looking to make it happen. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned though is the fact John Lyon, still the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, is yet to report on Laws’s little £40,000 problem. No.10 must be fairly confident he won’t be getting hauled over the coals but that’s not to say a spanner won’t be put in their plans with anything more than a rap on the knuckles.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Freedom is Too Messy

It seems that your freedom really does have a limit with this government. For all the talk, the majority have once again been silenced by the minority. Along with the “crowd-slicing” spending cuts consultancy project, the government web-watchers have shut down the debate on Your Freedom because of a few nutters. As Guido said the other day and will say again now – freedom is messy - It doesn’t matter so long as we find some diamonds in the mud.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lobby’s Cosy Downing Street Drinks with Dave

With an unusually early start at a gentlemanly 5.30, Dave is getting ready to meet and greet the darlings of the Lobby for a summer drinks party tonight for the first time as Prime Minister. On the charm offensive with his oh so fearless Lobby critics, drinks will be served in the Downing Street Rose Garden, favours curried and jokes shared. All in it together…

Dave will try to lay the charm on to make it more difficult for the gentlemen of the media to stab him in the back at a later date. At a recent event the PM strolled up to Kevin Maguire and introduced himself as “Druggy Dave”. Maguire blushed…

Strangely Guido’s invitation was lost in the post. Oh well…

Labour General Secretary Wannabe Advising Cameron

Eyebrows were raised when Brown-era hire Mark Flanagan was not “thank-you-and-goodbyed” out of the Downing Street media team after the election. Instead he was forced upstairs to a strategy role when the Coalition arrived. As a civil servant Flanagan is impartial, but there is no hiding his obvious Labour past.

It is well-known that Flanagan very nearly became the Labour candidate for the Bromley by-election in June 2006. However what he describes as another “well known fact” might actually come as a surprise to those outside Labour circles. Flanagan applied to be General Secretary of the Labour Party. He was pipped to the post by Peter Watt back in January 2006, and the rest is history.

You can bet Flanagan has kept that one quiet in the last few months…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Palin Coming to the Party

A flurry of articles this morning have picked up on Sarah Palin’s very excitable Facebook declaration that she was coming to London meet “one of my political heroines, the “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher.” The Guardian is predictably sneering. The Mail on Sunday had the scoop first and raised the question of whether Cameron would meet the former Vice-Presidential nominee and potential Presidential candidate of the American sister party.

In Downing Street you can imagine the battle lines being drawn already. This is the stuff that Steve Hilton’s nightmares are made of, yet Palin has an obvious glitzy appeal to the right of the party and tabloid media, something Andy Coulson will know instinctively. As PM it would be extremely discourteous for Dave not to meet and be photographed with Palin if she was in town, a coutesy British PMs have extended to lesser known American politicians. Guido’s transatlantic sources indicate that she could be over on this side of the pond in the Autumn, perhaps around the time of Conservative Party conference, just when Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell will be launching their Direct Democracy version of the American Tea Party movement.

Another headache for the Cameroons will be what the Deputy Prime Minister has to say about all this, since Clegg was perhaps expecting to be invited to be the surprise speaker in Birmingham

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We’re All In It Together

Guido has been chewing over the numbers. Given that a lowly CCHQ researcher or press officer would have been lucky to be on around £35,000, the jump to government for the lower rungs of the SpAd list has come with an extremely handsome pay-rise. Nearly 100% rise for those now touching £60-70k.

Though Coulson & Co. at the top have in some cases taken a pay cut, the coalition has brought some serious pay rises for others. Take the MPs in the Cabinet for example, they have had a 107% rise from their standard MPs salary. Backbenchers who are now Junior Ministers have had a 50% rise, even after Dave decreed that they would all have a 5% pay cut. All sharing the pain.

Cameron pre-power promised a cut down on SpAds. The New Dawn of Politics has managed to reduce the number from 78 to 68. There are still vacancies yet to be filled though. In this age of austerity some SpAds will be glancing over the list shocked that their rivals in other departments managed to negotiate more. Meanwhile the voting taxpayers will be looking at the whole get up with utter scorn.

Coulson and the SpAd Pay

There will be some disappointment on the left as the news emerges that despite all the hype, their hate figure Andy Coulson is in fact earning less than the Prime Minister. But on £140k only just – £2000 a year less.  More than Nick Clegg though.

As Director of Government Communications Coulson is the best paid of Dave’s team but overall the Special Advisers are costing the taxpayer £1.9 million per year less than the last government. Despite this Tom Watson was trying to start the attacks just now in the House, moaning that Parliament hadn’t been told first. This is despite the list being published as a written ministerial statement:

Note Steve Hilton’s rather large pay gap with his rival.


Seen Elsewhere

Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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