Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

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…

Sunday, November 28, 2010

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…

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…


Seen Elsewhere

What We Learned From the Referendum | FT
Scottish Crisis Moves South | Nick Wood
English Democrats Accidentally Celebrate Yes Victory | Pink News
Union In Its Current Form is Dead | Janan Ganesh
Labour Could Be Split in Two | Sun
Ashcroft Poll: Why Scotland Voted No | Buzzfeed
Boris: Change Barnett Formula | Sun
Cameron is Back | Dan Hodges
What Happens Now | James Kirkup
Cairo of the North | Quentin Letts
Labour are the Biggest Losers | Phil Collins


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