Cameron’s Uber Pals Square Up Against Boris

uber rachel

Boris Johnson’s announcement last week that he would like to reduce the number of private hire vehicles on London’s roads have paved the way for new Uber hire Rachel Whetstone to mark her territory. Boris’ thinly-veiled attack on private car hire app Uber has sent the company’s increasingly effective communications department into overdrive. A letter challenging Boris to a debate from Jo Bertram, the head of Uber’s business in the UK, was conveniently leaked to the FT this morning.

Whetstone, the wife of former Cameron Guru Steve Hilton was brought in by Uber as their communications chief to deal with these sort of situations and will be orchestrating Uber UK’s fight back against Boris. Let the lobbying commence…

Blue ‘un: FT Endorses Tory-Led Coalition

As predicted by Guido two weeks ago, the FT backs the Tories over Miliband:

“Mr Miliband is preoccupied with inequality. His prescription is an increase in taxes such as restoring the 50p level for high earners and imposing an ill-conceived mansion tax.

Mr Miliband has too often found himself on the wrong side of the argument. He promised to freeze energy prices shortly before world prices collapsed. An already heavily regulated banking sector and private landlords are now in his sights. He has stepped too far away from the New Labour position that markets can be harnessed to progressive outcomes. At times, he appears to be fighting his campaign in the style of France’s François Hollande in 2012. True, Mr Hollande secured victory but at the price of a weak economy and an exodus of talent, often to London.

At this delicate moment, the best outcome would be a continuation of the 2010 coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Dems… The country would benefit from the countervailing force of Lib Dem moderation at Westminster. In seats where the Lib Dems are the incumbent or the main challenger, we would vote tactically for them.

Ultimately, however, there is only one leader and one party that can head the government. There are risks in re-electing Mr Cameron’s party, especially on Europe. But there are greater risks in not doing so. Its instincts on the economy, business and reform of public services are broadly right. Mr Miliband has not offered a credible economic prospectus and would apply a brake on enterprise. In the circumstances, the FT would like to see a Conservative-led administration.”

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Blue ‘Un: FT Likely to Endorse Cameron

blue-un

A few weeks ago Ed Miliband went into the FT to meet the senior editorial team and put his case. The FT is the most Europhile paper in Britain, with a surprisingly large number of left-of-centre journalists for a business paper. The paper prides itself on operating more like an Oxford college than a go-getting scoop-hungry newsroom, far too grand to indulge in partisan campaigning. In short Miliband had a good chance of winning the pink ‘uns endorsement by emphasising his Europhile credentials, reminding them of Cameron’s supposed Euroscepticism and by signalling that he sounds more anti-business than he would be in office. All to play for…

Ed is not famously sympathetic to business – he has never worked in the private sector – one head of a FTSE 100 company recently given facetime with Miliband was reportedly stunned into silence when Ed asked him “Why exactly do you need to pay your shareholders dividends?” It went just as badly at the FT. Miliband misjudged the room, incorrectly assuming that the FT’s donnish commentators were intrinsically hostile.  His answers to questions were embarrassingly shallow and by the end of the Q&A Lionel Barber, the FT editor not famed for suffering fools gladly, was verging on contempt. Only Phil Stevens could muster any enthusiasm for the Labour leader. The FT is a swing paper for opinion formers, backing Labour in 2005, it backed Cameron in 2010. Insiders say it is now out of the question that the FT will endorse Miliband and his anti-business agenda.

Tory fears that the paper would back Labour because of Miliband’s opposition to an EU referendum are turning to hope that the FT will endorse the coalition’s continuance. Safe in the knowledge that Clegg will thwart any chance of Brexit…

No Sun, No Comment

ni-tax-x480

Well done to the FT’s Chris Giles, George Parker and Vincent Boland for the front page confirmation today of Guido’s story from back in October about the Tory offer to the Northern Irish unionists on corporation tax. As Guido’s readers in The Sun and here already know, the Tories have promised a deal on business taxes to allow Northern Ireland to compete with the Republic’s lower taxes. Guido’s unionist source told him it was likely the corporation tax rate would be cut from 20% to “12% or 13%” to compete with the lower tax rates offered by Dublin. “Anything but 12.5%, we’re not harmonising with the Republic. No!”



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Quote of the Day

Adam Boulton says David Cameron campaigned as a neo-Thatcherite…

“The manifesto programme, with its sell-off of social housing, clampdown on public sector strikes, EU in/out referendum and benefit cuts, represents a much more traditional, neo-Thatcherite conservatism than that offered by Cameron Mk 1…”

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