Monday, June 10, 2013

Downing Street Deserters Update

With the mini-reshuffle on the cards for early next month keeping everyone well behaved, the joke doing the rounds of Tory MPs is that Claire Perry “is so far up the PM’s a**e she can almost see Matt Hancock’s shoes.” Play nice, kids…

It’s not just ministerial movements in the offing. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, the PM’s press secretary Susie Squire is weighing up leaving Downing Street even if Gabby Bertin, for whom she is covering, does not return from maternity leave. It would be the perfect opportunity to bring in someone with some print experience who can command some respect amongst hacks, leaving Craig Oliver to do what he likes doing – dealing with the TV news. They couldn’t afford Guido, obviously…

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Google Have More Access to Dave Than Ministers, Says Minister

Scathing insight from BIS minister Viscount Younger on Google’s access to Number 10. As Dave was ushering Eric Schmidt out of the Downing Street back door yesterday, Younger was revealing all about how Google has better access to the PM than even some ministers:

“I’m very aware of [Google's] power, put it that way. I’ve also very aware that they have got access, for whatever reason, at higher levels than me at No. 10. They are a vociferous action group and a big company to put it bluntly, and are quite powerful.”

A relationship that isn’t going down too well with the Tory troops:

Unheard of for a non-Etonian to have such access.

Monday, May 20, 2013

John Hayes Calls Andy Coulson a “W***er”

After encouraging guests to be “as outrageous as possible” at a black-tie student dinner in Nottingham last Thursday, the PM’s Senior Parliamentary Adviser John Hayes called Andy Coulson a “w***er” during a conversation after his speech. As one attendee later blogged: “his honesty is most refreshing for politics, especially considering how he is in No.10.”

Hayes did not deny the remark when Guido spoke to him earlier, though claimed he did not recall uttering the words. Multiple sources in the room say otherwise. With their trial scheduled for September, w***ing was Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks’ least worry…

Monday, February 18, 2013

Smallest and Youngest Downing Street Team on Record


As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, there is some truth to the much-levelled charge that Downing Street is overrun with “kids”. The PM’s team is smaller and younger than at any point in the last ten years. The Prime Minister’s Office currently employs 181 staffers, almost 50 fewer than at the peak of Tony Blair’s government. Their average age is 39, lower than any point in the last ten years other than 2004/5, when it was the same. And they’ve been getting younger since Dave took office…

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Royal Cover-Up: Cabinet Office Refuse to Reveal Spy Secrets

Readers will remember how last month Guido revealed that Prince Charles had a spy on secondment in the Cabinet Office. There was a distinct whiff of a cover-up, Guido’s sources had no idea the mystery man or woman existed and the Cabinet Office refused to disclose their identity. This blog then learned that the Household of the Prince of Wales employee was on a “specialist policy” mission in the department. Guido has now received the response to his subsequent FoI request. It has been rejected.

Despite confirming they hold the information, the Cabinet Office is refusing to reveal when the spy began his/her secondment in the department, and how many days a week he/she works. They have refused to disclose a job description or reveal what responsibilities and duties the employee has, despite them being paid up to £30,000 of taxpayers’ money a year. They have also declined to reveal what level of security clearance he/she holds.

They cite the Data Protection Act, claiming “personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully”. Guido fails to see how any of the information he requested would contravene the DPA. This relates to how £30,000-a-year of taxpayers’ money is being spent, it is without doubt in the public interest. What possible reason could the Cabinet Office have for such secrecy? Guido will be taking this higher…

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gabby Baby Bertin Born

Congratulations to Dave’s missing spinner Gabby Bertin. The Telegraph births column reports the happy news this morning:

GRIST
On 16th January 2013,.—at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, to Gabrielle Bertin and Michael Grist, a daughter, Freya Camille Ann, a sister for Orla.

That’s will be the second Freya in Downing Street.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paul Kirby’s Permanent Secretary Promotion Tantrum

Ben Brogan, who has an excellent civil service source, broke the news this morning that Paul Kirby, the apparently “respected” civil servant head of the No.10 policy unit, was leaving his post. Downing Street has now confirmed it: “The Prime minister thinks Paul did an excellent job recruiting and leading an excellent team.” Interestingly, Kirby won’t be replaced by another Civil Servant, instead this crucial role will revert back to a political appointment. As Guido recommended months ago (See: Downing Street Needs Ideological Wonks)

Paul Waugh has some more detail: “I am told it was Kirby’s decision to leave as he felt his main work had been done and the mid-term review was a natural point to leave.” That’s not what Guido is hearing though. 

A government source whispers that there was actually multiple reasons for the departure. Including that he was “completely useless”  had “no political nous” and a “totally bureaucratic mindset.” More embarrassingly, details are emerging of a tantrum resulting in Kirby returning to KPMG:

“He completely humiliated himself by demanding a promotion to permanent secretary. When he was told he had no chance, he opted to flounce out of government altogether rather than take a job in another department.”

“A natural time to leave”, indeed.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cabinet Office Spy’s “Specialist Policy” Mission

Yesterday’s poorly worded/suspicious Cabinet Office statement on Prince Charles’ spy in the heart of government had the distinct whiff of a cover-up. Just who is the mystery man, or lady, seconded from the Royal Household? Why is he, or she, there? What exactly is he, or she, doing? Guido has learned that the representative from the Household of the Prince of Wales’ remit centres around a “specialist policy role”. He has reason to believe it is a lady as well.

Despite the obvious implication that someone with close links to the Royal Family is working on government policy, a Cabinet Office spokesman insists that is not the case and they have no role in legislation. The official kick back still refuses to reveal the staffer’s identity, this time on the rather tenuous grounds that it would not be fair since he/she is in a “relatively junior”. Senior sources in the department are now emphasising to Guido that the unnamed person’s role is unrelated to their work with the Prince of Wales and that high-security clearance is not “required”.

So why not just be completely transparent about the arrangement?

Maybe Dave could phone up that shady royal benefactor who got him his job, so we could get to the bottom of this once and for all…

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cabinet Office Royal Cover-Up: Charles’ Spy Stays Secret

Guido has spoken to numerous sources at the Cabinet Office over the last few days, all of whom seemed surprised to be told that Prince Charles has a secret employee on secondment in the department. Two said they had no idea who the mystery man was and one even asked Guido if he had any more information that could help find him. At last this afternoon the Cabinet Office went on the record on the issue for the first time:

“We cannot give out any information about who the person is or what they are doing here. We can’t give out anything that could lead to his identity being revealed.”

The excuse that anything other than complete opaqueness could lead to Charles’ point man being revealed to the world is hardly satisfactory. What are his responsibilities at the Cabinet Office? How long has he been working there? How much is he being paid? And, most importantly, why is an employee of the Household of the Prince of Wales on secondment in the heart of government? Questions Guido will be putting to them in FoI form this afternoon…

Monday, January 14, 2013

Downing Street’s Gay Valentine Surprise
Cameron Planning Al Capone Hit on Gay Marriage Opposition

It’s not just Cameron’s Europe speech that is going a bit Yes2AV; his gay marriage bill is in troubled waters too. Guido revealed in his Daily Star Sunday column that Cameron “lost the room” when backbench Tory MP Eleanor Laing blasted the plans and her naughty colleagues chatted away amongst themselves while the PM tried to explain his logic at a strategy briefing last Tuesday. Later in the week Fox got involved, but the trouble doesn’t stop there.

It is believed that Lord Strathclyde couldn’t face the prospect of forcing the issue through the Lords and “seasoned Westminster watchers who knew his replacement Lord Hill back in the ’80s are surprised he has been chosen to push the gay marriage Bill through the Lords, given his own rather traditional views.”

Labour could create a real stinker here, but troublemaking voices in the party are being drowned out:

“It’s not just Tories who are feeling queasy; lots of Catholic Labour MPs are trying to halt the Bill. Their plan to put an amendment down calling for a referendum on the issue has been met with short shrift by Ed Miliband’s people, despite the fact it would set the squabbling Tories bickering even more.”

The amendment would gain a lot of support from traditional Tories, but Guido hears that Downing Street have their own plan to avoid to large a fall out in the Commons…

Sources familiar with the planning say that the latest interventions have “seriously spooked” the government and No. 10 are pushing for the Bill to be published in the next fortnight; most likely on Thursday, January 24. The second reading is then pencilled in for the day that Parliament rises for the February Recess; Thursday, February 14. Apparently No. 10 are hoping “dozens of MPs will have left early to go to their constituencies.” Then again No.10 have never been very good at keeping secrets…


Seen Elsewhere

Small State Keynesians, Anti-Corporate Hayekians? | Chris Dillow
Ruffley Shows Why We Need a Proper Recall Bill Now | Alex Wickham
How is Miliband’s ‘New Politics’ Working Out? | Speccie
State Should Send More Poor Children Private | Sam Bowman
£1 Million Cost of Ed Balls’ Ego | Laura Perrins
William Hague’s Sausage Fest | Rochdale Online
Public Doesn’t Prioritise Housing | Mark Pack
Mysterious Case of Ruffley’s Missing Letter | Speccie
All the Single Ladies (And Lords) | Bloomberg
How Ruffley’s Resignation Became Inevitable | ConservativeHome
We Need a Recall Bill Now | Speccie


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Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…

“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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