Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hague’s Taxpayer Funded Snake Stuffing

When Guido heard that William Hague had stuffed a 20-foot anaconda in the Foreign Office, he just had to find out how much the taxpayer was being billed. The answer is an eye-watering £10,000. But what followed was perhaps the greatest FOI response of all time:

“‘Albert’ the anaconda was allegedly presented by a Bishop, in what is now Guyana, to the Colonial Secretary in the 19th century – exact names and dates are unknown. However, he appears in a photo from circa 1892, which means he has been in the FCO for at least 120 years. As a gift to the FCO, Albert is therefore regarded as an FCO asset. As such, the FCO is obliged to maintain its assets, and the work on ‘Albert’ was essential maintenance. It is believed that ‘Albert’ was first re-stuffed in the 1960s or 1970s, but there are no records of how much it cost on that occasion. Certainly no significant maintenance has been carried out on him in the last 40-50 years. ‘Albert’ was never housed in a glass case, as is commonly believed. In moving him from his suspended position in the Ansell Library (a separate Library area to the old Home Office Library referenced above) to facilitate planned refurbishment to the area it was observed he was in poor condition. A decision was taken to use this opportunity to carry out a refurbishment to ‘Albert’ including a safety check on the suspension fittings. The cost of the conservation and restoration work on ‘Albert’ was £10,000. The work was undertaken by the Conservation Team at the Natural History Museum, over a 5-week period, from 21 May to 26 June 2012. As nothing was known about previous work done on ‘Albert’, the conversation team at the NHM needed to use x-ray CT scanning, which is a costly procedure that required extensive data processing and a specialist to do the analysis. Also, the level of detailed, delicate work in the restoration involved an intensive amount of care and attention from highly trained staff.”

Austerity, what austerity?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hague Confirms Obvious Dave Defeat

Who would have thought that a threat made at four in the morning would prove impossible to implement in the cold light of day. Before Christmas, while on a relative high from his EU spanner in the works, Fightin’ Dave was all mouth about EU institutions, but the dampening of expectations has begun this morning. A full retreat will be signalled when the Prime Minister arrives in Brussels this afternoon, but Hague has hit the airwaves to say that they were “not intending to take action about that now”. Another reverse move that could easily have been avoided. Many more of these and the words “defining” and “feature” will stick…

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Halfon Puts Hague on the Iranian Spot

Tory MP Robert Halfon has just ratcheted things up in the House in regard to Iran. Having been granted an Urgent Question, he pushed Hague on “what will happen, if these latest economic sanctions don’t work?” He didn’t stop there either:

“What more is being done to bring Russia and China to the UN table? Most would accept that Britain has shouldered its fair burden in tackling dictators. But it seems clear that the free world must send a message to Iran, that if they continue with their nuclear plans it will lead to military action. No one wants war. But tragically, it is looking increasingly likely…”

Hague waffled about “many contingency plans for many contingencies”. A sound-bite almost up there with “known unknowns”.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Caption Contest (Standing to Attention Edition)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaching Standards Are Slipping

When he’s not running a football club or advising Bank of America, part-time MP David Miliband teaches politics to the students of Haverstock School in Chalk Farm. He apparently “taught the theory/practice of ministerial accountability this morning.” No doubt without a trace of irony.

As a minister Miliband was hardly the most loyal of servants to his Primus Inter Pares. Triggering various leadership crises and letting his disdain be well-known. Presumably that’s the practice part of the lesson.

Miliband’s less than exemplary record in government has even come under attack from William Hague. Finding his recently lacking quick wit, Hague quips about being Foreign Secretary to this month’s Total Politics“this isn’t a launch pad to one day be leader again, which, I think must be a great distraction, and has been for some of my predecessors.” Miaow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hague Tacos the Big Issues

Despite a weekend of declaring he’s not going anywhere, critics are still circling around Hague again this morning. Imagine the hail of twitter-righteousness if Steve Bell had drawn this cartoon for the Mail or this blog. Why the double standards for Guardian scribbles?

High up the list of things that Hague might find it a bit tricky to live down was his rash declaration that Gadaffi was on his way to Venezuela soon after the uprising began in Libya.  Guido’s man in Vauxhall Cross explains the confusion. MI6 had briefed him that they had intercepted a mobile phone conversation that had one of Gaddafi’s close staff speaking Spanish and using “code words”. The spooks deduced that he was almost certainly preparing Gaddafi’s flight to see his old chum Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Obviously.

Turns out the man was actually ordering a take-away meal of burritos and tacos from the Café Caracas in Tripoli. Apparently.

Rich and Mark’s Monday Morning View

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Maguire’s Dire Conspiracy

The Libyan crisis has had more than its fair share of nonsense around it. First Hague declared Gaddafi was en route to Venezuela and today Kevin Maguire isn’t letting reality get in the way of a good story:

“The theory in Libyan exile circles is the squad was carrying explosives because it was on a sabotage mission. And it gets worse. The anti-Gaddafi Libyans assert the unit intended to destroy rebel positions and blame atrocities on Gaddafi’s forces, to stir up the civil war and win international sympathy, as well as targeting the Colonel’s military machine.”

And the source of  this accusation of state sanctioned murder and war crimes? Well some bloke who is Libyan and “mixes with other Libyans in London”Guido isn’t coming out to bat for Hague, but pull the other one Kev…

Mitchell’s Manoeuvres

“A well-placed source” told Tim Shipman at The Mail today:

“Andrew Mitchell is very well thought of and familiar with all the issues. He sits on the National Security Council. He would have been sent over last year if William had gone and he’s still the man. William has lost his mojo. He seems tired and often unengaged. He just doesn’t seem that interested.”

Would that be the same cheerleaders that were promoting Mitchell as a new Chief Whip to Ben Brogan back in December:

“Andrew Mitchell’s supporters are promoting him as a suitable alternative, arguing that Mad Mitch knows a thing or two about plots and discipline”

He’s certainly displaying a dubious understanding of discipline with his briefings. His choice of words regarding Hague’s decline are remarkably similar to the thoughts Mitchell shared with the FT about the current Chief Whip in February“The trouble is if you spend a long time as a Whip, the iron of cynicism starts to corrode your soul.” Guido knows the International Development job would be enough to corrode any man’s soul, but Mitchell is hardly being subtle in his desire to move on up. Is all that pillow talk going to his head?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Downing Street Struggles in the Thick of It

There is an air of chaos in Westminster today. Firstly Craig Oliver was all in a spin after being refused entry by Downing Street security, but that’s nothing on the mess that the capture of the SAS troops and our “diplomat” in the desert has caused. Hague, who has taken his eye off various balls recently, looks like he is being hung out to dry on this one. He will be before the House at three thirty, but not before a Whitehall source mouthed off to the BBC confirming he personally authorised the mission, despite little evidence our overtures were welcome. It’s almost as if No.10 has other matters on their plate…

The Prince Andrew story has gone nuclear, not least because an-as-of-yet-un-named SpAd briefed in Cardiff over the weekend that “one more story” and Andrew would be out. Cue a mass shaking of the branch by every hack. Another briefing, perhaps by the same chatty character, said “no tears would be shed” at Andrews departure. A long cry from the official line this morning that the Duke has the government’s full confidence. It’s times like this that real weak spots are being exposed and a bad day for Dave and co to go gallivanting up north for a gimmicky Cabinet Away Day. No wonder it’s open season on SpAds according to Ben Brogan

UPDATE: Mark Wallace notices that SpAd’s are even using Malcom Tucker’s favourite “omnishambles”. You could make it up…


Seen Elsewhere

Hunt Told Off By Former Head | TES
Scrap Tax on Family Flights | ConHome
Has May Declared War on Downing Street? | James Kirkup
The Nasty Left | Dan Hodges
Men Flock to UKIP | Andrew Cadman
London-Britain Divide | Alex Wickham
Pickles Puts Prezza’s Surplus Stationary to Use | Speccie
How Capitalists Can Win the Argument | CapX
Theresa May, or Maybe Not | Spectator Life
YouGov: Working Class Prefers UKIP to Labour | Times
Sainsbury’s Disowns Left-Wing Blogger | Mail


Find out more about PLMR AD-MS


A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:

“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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