If you fancy coming along then make sure you’ve subscribed to the Guidogram for details of the SW1 location nearer the time. Save the date…
After the September reshuffle sacked former ministers got together to form a drinking/dining club, loosely named the Geronimo Club due to the fact they shared the date of their demise with the old chieftain. Guido hears that the name has gone out of the window, but the grouping is going strong, indeed apparently tonight will see their inaugural knees up.
It’s an interesting choice of location: the official residence of the Chief Whip – 9 Downing Street. Sir George Young was an original member of the group and despite being called back to government, Gentleman George is still laying on the drinks. And as revealed in yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday, Caroline Spelman is bringing the canapés…
Tempers are fraying in the run up to tonight’s vote. Guido hears that Cameron was at a drinks gathering for northern Tory MPs. Andrew Bingham was there and got the full Flashman treatment as a consequence of having signed the Reckless amendment. The Prime Minister is reported to have lambasted the Member for High Peak saying:
“What do you think you are doing? This isn’t some f**king sixth-form debating society.”
Temper, temper Dave…
UPDATE: Apologies to Andrew Bridgen whom we originally misreported getting the ear full.
UPDATE II: Bingham denies the story his colleagues report, yet the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was very mealy mouthed.
Yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday column revealed further details about Osborne’s Class A habit and why the BBC’s coverage of it was a little subdued:
CHANCELLOR George Osborne was left red-faced when he was accused of trying to get away with sitting in the first-class carriage of a train with a standard-class ticket. His spokesman and Virgin Trains deny an argument ever took place, even though a witness says his aide tried it on. Osborne does have previous on bending the rules. The same thing happened back in May when a ticket inspector was high-fived by other passengers for refusing to let the multi-millionaire sit in first class without the correct ticket. Strangely, BBC news all but ignored Friday’s incident. Nothing to do with the aide in the spotlight being Poppy Mitchell-Rose – a former BBC employee who is dating Ben Wright, the BBC’s political correspondent.
Guido’s favourite story was the Shadow Public Health Minister’s morning tipple:
LATE-NIGHT TV star and part-time Shadow Minister Diane Abbott was up for an award last week for the “Best Politician on Twitter”. Eyebrows were raised at the nomination, given that Abbott came very, very close to losing her job in January when she was embroiled in a racism row after tweeting blanket insults about all “white people”. There were even more eyebrows raised at the example set by the Shadow Public Health Minister who, upon arriving at the posh ceremony, immediately tucked into the champagne. At 8am.
You can now read the rest of Guido’s Sunday column online here.
Banned from pubs, tales of schoolgirl lovers and a conviction for assault in the Strangers’ bar – and now Eric Joyce could be another £3,000 out of pocket. This time it isn’t a judge demanding he cough up, it is his own Labour CLP in Falkirk. They want Joyce to refund the £3,000 they gave him in election expenses:
“He says the reason for not resigning as an MP is because he was elected personally, not the Labour Party. If that’s the case we want our money back.”
If he doesn’t pay they say they will sue. Eric Joyce is spending more time in court than in parliament these days…
The LibDem conference should by all accounts be an excuse for Clegg and co to distance themselves from their Tory counterparts, but it looks like they will be partying like the 1% next week. While Tories will remain under a strict champagne ban, Ashdown and Farron will be chugging kir, champagne and canapés thanks to spinmeisters Guide Consultancy. VIPs are being invited to drink with the grandees in an invite-only Brighton penthouse.
The lobbyists claim to have “stocked up on some great wine, not the usual conference fare” – presumably as a thank you to the LibDems for their abject failure to introduce lobbying reforms thus far, despite all the promises. Bottoms up.
Speaking to those subversive wets of the Tory Reform Group at the Carlton Club last night, Ken Clarke displayed some characteristic candour. Reports from the room suggest that Ken was rightly introduced as the “only cabinet minister to lead us out of a recession”, but he quickly veered off message and rambled away:
“So now we’ve had the usual comic shambles that happens after every reshuffle… This has been my umpteenth reshuffle… I deny any suggestion that I got that job because I’ve had all the rest of them. My job will be to slot into the bewildering range of things that the government is doing… I’ll be dealing with the alphabet soup.”
Joking aside, Clarke’s insight into his role is rather telling:
“Now George wants me in to keep an eye on Vince and Vince wants me in to keep an eye on George… We’ve got a deficit the size of Greece, we’ve got a real job on our hands… I don’t want to bring too much gloom, but it will be a long haul.”
He doesn’t seem too bothered about having two masters, and why might that be? Apparently:
“the party has accidentally drifted to the right”.
He also noted that Cameron was having to lead “with the right acting up again” and Guido understands that there was a plea “to keep the centre ground, where elections are won”. The number of Clarke’s ilk in the ranks has greatly diminished since the last time he went into battle with his own party.
Picture via @timothy_barnes. Quotes via @asabenn
UPDATE: Ken Clarke’s office are kicking back hard on some of this. They seem to be blaming tweeters in the room for distorting what Clarke was saying, though he does not deny attacking the right, or the his interesting choice of words like “bewildering range” and “alphabet soup”:
“These tweets give the opposite impression to the serious points I clearly made. It is slightly altered little phrases taken from different jokes and put together. I made the case for a successful coalition and stated there was no ideological divide within it on economic policy. On the economy I stressed that we were in for the long haul and that the Chancellor’s approach is the right one. I also said in passing that the reshuffle should not be interpreted as a shift to the right. Twitter is not renowned as an accurate form of reporting, but even I am surprised at distortions on this sort of scale.”
Seems someone is keeping an eye on Ken keeping an eye on George.
A popular sacked Tory minister is setting up a “drinking/dining club” to offer “mutual support, counselling” and a “jolly good time” for fellow “victims of the September 4th reshuffle”. Emailing said MPs with “Dear Colleague Fatality” , the former minister asks for views on whether Lords or even “the dreaded LibDems” should be allowed in. In honour of the date, the proposed name is the Geronimo Club after the surrender of the Red Indian chieftain on September 4, 1886. Just what the PM needs – all his recent enemies plotting together. Mr Brady’s post-bag will surely swell the next day…
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