Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gabby Goes Favourite

Westminster Wobbles

After growth flat-lining and Labour going ten points ahead in one poll there is a distinct wobble being felt around Westminster about the cuts. The usually unflappable Speccie have today drawn in their breath about the NHS:

“Barack Obama may have been right to push healthcare reforms, but may nonetheless suffer for the timing and way he did it. The same may be the case for David Cameron.”

While Ben Brogan is quick to point out that Ed Balls is hurting Osborne and:

“…just because Mr Balls is wrong does not guarantee that Mr Osborne is right”

The keep calm and carry on coming from Downing Street is falling on increasingly deaf ears. The coalition are losing their lead in the blame game too. Guido is a little confused at how a £100m sale of some trees has become such a big story in comparison to the much larger swings Osborne has taken with his axe. Maybe it’s the imagery of literally cutting trees, or perhaps this is being allowed to flare up as a distraction for the more radical measures.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Front Runners to Replace Coulson

Back in September (GPW Hotly Tipped for Post-Coulson Downing Street) Guido put a few names forward as potential successors to Andy Coulson. The same names are in the frame again. Former Indy deputy editor Ian Birrell seems to be Steve Hilton’s preferred choice, he is apparently liked and trusted by Cameron. George Pascoe Watson, the former Sun man now spinning at Portland, is mentioned, however  replacing one former Murdoch man with another could be problematic.

Ben Brogan, despite much speculation, insists he is not in the running.  Another name mentioned is Guto Harri, currently spinning for Boris, he is known to fancy going to Downing Street. The BBC’s James Landale shouldn’t be ruled out – he is an Old Etonian after all – don’t be surprised if you next see him in No. 10 rather than reporting from outside it. Modesty forbids Guido suggesting another combative tabloid-tuned, right-winger who likes taking the fight to Labour…

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warsi Cut Loose

Those No. 10 sources have been whispering about Sayeeda Warsi to James Forsyth again:

“…there was a ‘general awareness’ that Baroness Warsi was to give a speech on faith, they did not know the specifics of what she was going to say. They say that no text was cleared by Downing Street. They claim that the first they knew of the controversial lines in the speech was when they were informed that Warsi’s team had briefed them out to the Telegraph.”

Given it was Forsyth that got the “disaster waiting to happen line”, there is a clear pattern emerging here. Perhaps if Warsi had thought to get her speech checked out then someone might have spotted the huge wedge she has driven through the middle of her party. The speech criticises those that frame the debate about Islam into moderates and extremists:

“It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of ‘moderate’ Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: ‘Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’. In the school, the kids say: ‘The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’.

People like Michael Gove? Look what he said in 2007:

“…we cannot effectively champion the interests of moderate Muslims and of our pluralist, tolerant and liberal society, unless we show a determination to tackle extremism. It is the extremists who, in the past, have crowded out from the debate the moderate voices in the Muslim world.”

Despite a reshuffle on the horizon, Cameron is going to find it hard to be able sack the first female muslim in the cabinet, but that isn’t stopping the negative briefing. At the end of the day her competence should be the only deciding factor on whether she keeps her job.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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.

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…


Seen Elsewhere

Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian


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David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”



“Digger” Murdoch says:

Is it just me, or is Nigel Farage just a top hat and a monocle away from being a Batman villain?


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