Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thought for the Day

If Hague had kept an experienced press handler like William Littlejohn as his SpAd he wouldn’t be in this situation would he? He wouldn’t haven’t released that stupid statement on Monday, which brought him more unwanted press attention. He wouldn’t have released that cynical, Aitkenesque, “sword of fidelity” statement yesterday. All in all, he has only himself to blame for being ill-advised and has shown a staggering lack of judgement.

The Splash

“Extraordinary”, “astonishing” and “startling” seem to be the words deployed by this morning’s newspapers in response to Hague’s nuclear statement last night. Nick Robinson was lost for words on News at Ten. The Sun manages to criticise the legitimate questioning of Hague’s judgement as the “debasement of politics” with a straight face. Over at The Guardian, the employment of Myers is questioned and The Mail join them in questioning whether it was necessary to divulge so much information and why this was done. The Mirror are somewhat on a high-horse asking if this is what Palmerstone would have done.

If the strategy of the statement was to kill the story on Blair’s big day, seven national newspaper have splashed it on the front pages and the news channels have gone into overdrive. Despite the expected Twitter storm, it seems most realise the questioning is legitimate after all. A dangerous tactic has been chosen by the government, that has set noses sniffing in Westminster. If anyone is giving this story legs, it’s certainly not blogs…

Coincidently William Hague is meeting with Guido later this morning and there will be a joint press conference at about 10.30. Guido Westerwelle his German counterpart that is.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

+ + + Myers Quits + + +

Christopher Myers resigns from the FCO, citing “untrue and malicious allegations”.

Developing…

Hague statement:

“I feel it is necessary to issue this personal statement in response to press and internet speculation over the last ten days. Earlier this year a Sunday newspaper began questioning whether my marriage to Ffion was in trouble, and last week another media outlet asked whether there was a statement about our supposed separation. This seemed to be linked to equally untrue speculation surrounding the appointment of Christopher Myers as a Special Adviser. Christopher Myers has demonstrated commitment and political talent over the last eighteen months. He is easily qualified for the job he holds. Any suggestion that his appointment was due to an improper relationship between us is utterly false, as is any suggestion that I have ever been involved in a relationship with any man.

This speculation seems to stem from the fact that whilst campaigning before the election we occasionally shared twin hotel rooms. Neither of us would have done so if we had thought that it in any way meant or implied something else. In hindsight I should have given greater consideration to what might have been made of that, but this is in itself no justification for allegations of this kind, which are untrue and deeply distressing to me, to Ffion and to Christopher.

He has now told me that, as a result of the pressure on his family from the untrue and malicious allegations made about him, he does not wish to continue in his position. It is a pity that a talented individual should feel that he needs to leave his job in this way. Ffion and I believe that everyone has a right to a private life.

However, we now feel it necessary to give some background to our marriage because we have had enough of this continued and hurtful speculation about us. I have made no secret of the fact that Ffion and I would love to start a family. For many years this has been our goal. Sadly this has proved more difficult for us than for most couples. We have encountered many difficulties and suffered multiple miscarriages, and indeed are still grieving for the loss of a pregnancy this summer. We are aware that the stress of infertility can often strain a marriage, but in our case, thankfully, it has only brought us closer together.

It has been an immensely traumatic and painful experience but our marriage is strong and we will face whatever the future brings together. Several years ago one Sunday paper reported that Ffion was three months pregnant, without ever checking the story with us. This made even more difficult the fact that we had only just experienced another disappointment. We have never made this information public because of the distress it would cause to our families and would not do so now were it not for the untrue rumours circulating which repeatedly call our marriage into question. We wish everyone to know that we are very happily married.

It is very regrettable to have to make this personal statement, but we have often said to each other ‘if only they knew the truth…’ Well, this is the straightforward truth. I will not be making any further comment on these matters.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FCO Says Hague/Myers Relationship Professional

A spokesman for William Hague said: “Any suggestion that the Foreign Secretary’s relationship with Chris Myers is anything other than a purely professional one is wholly inaccurate and unfounded.”

Interestingly worded. Note there is no denial that they shared a hotel room.

Exclusive : Hague Shared Night in Hotel Bedroom with SpAd

Guido has ascertained confirmation that for at least one night during the general election campaign the Foreign Secretary shared a hotel room with his then driver Christopher Myers, whom he has now appointed as his Special Adviser on the Civil Service payroll. Other campaign staffers stayed in separate more modest hotels and sources suggest that this was not a one off instance. Guido believes it to be the case that it would be usual for the bill for the room – which was settled by Hague personally – to be reimbursed via the Conservative Party’s election campaign expenses. One witness told Guido that the room sharing couple’s body language at breakfast was eye opening.

It is surely inappropriate for someone of William Hague’s status to be sharing a night in a hotel room with his driver – you only have to consider how absurd it would be if his driver were female to see it is completely bizarre even if there were two beds.  The appointment of Hague’s former driver to his private office is controversial because 25-year old Myers has no expertise for the job, no relevant experience and his only qualification for the position is his closeness to the Foreign Secretary.

Eyebrows were raised at CCHQ when William Littlejohn, Hague’s well connected and respected press officer for the last two years, was passed over in favour of Myers – who is currently in hiding from the press. Littlejohn was left effectively jobless after the election until Andy Coulson found him a job with Caroline Spelman. You couldn’t make it up…

Two national Sunday papers have the evidence but, despite journalists putting considerable resources into the story, their editors are reluctant to pursue it. Perhaps because in the words of the song,”no one knows what goes on behind closed doors”…

See also : Flashback: Hague’s Gay Special Adviser, Just Asking

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flashback: Hague’s Gay Special Adviser

This is not the first time that William Hague’s choice of Special Adviser has raised questions. Back in December 1995, when Hague was a Minister in the Welsh Office, eyebrows were raised about the appointment of another young Special Adviser with no experience of policy in relation to Wales. Although in the case of Barnaby Towns he at least had some policy development expertise having worked in a Westminster think-tank.

Even so, the appointment of a young, openly gay, relatively unknown figure led to pointed questions being asked by the opposition in the House:

Ministerial Adviser
Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what were the requirements for candidates for the recent appointment for a political adviser to the Secretary of State; what factors determined whether this post was advertised; and if he will list the previous experience, the current pay and length of contract of the successful candidate.

Mr. Hague: With the approval of the Prime Minister and after interviewing a number of candidates I appointed Mr. Barnaby Towns personally as my special adviser. His salary has been negotiated individually and in relation to previous earnings and is confidential. It is on a salary spine of 34 points ranging from £19,503 to £67,609; appointments are non-pensionable and the salary reflects this.

The appointments of special advisers terminate in the circumstances set out in the model appointment letter for special advisers. A copy is in the Library of the House.

Barnaby Towns had certain similarities to Christopher Myers, though in many ways Towns was better qualified for a SpAd’s job than 25 year old Myers. Myers has a second class History degree from Durham University, the Foreign Office press release announcing his appointment describes him as “a lawyer”. If you imagine this might somehow qualify him to assist with treaty negotiations or in matters of international law sadly this is not so. He is not a qualified solicitor nor does he have any experience having only just completed a law course.

Considering that the prestige of the Foreign Office attracts the cream of Britain’s graduates his appointment does seem a strange choice given that Hague could have chosen a foreign policy specialist from CCHQ or the staff of a think-tank. To instead hire an inexperienced, poorly qualified young man over and above more qualified candidates does raise the question: what special talent, unseen by the rest of us, does Mr Myers possess?

The existence of the government car pool rather makes Mr Myer’s experience as Hague’s driver during the election campaign redundant…

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Looks Like a Bentley

Big Guido fan Tim Walker over at the Telegraph’s Mandrake is offering readers a bottle of champagne if they can identify the mysterious “B” on that baseball cap:

Looks a lot like a B for “Bentley” logo to Guido. So the bottle of champagne this way please Tim…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Asking

Seems odd that young Christopher Myers (25) should go from driving William Hague (49) around his constituency during elections, where according to the Mirror, “although he never worked at Tory HQ in London… they became close during campaigns”, to become his third Special Adviser at the Foreign Office.

According to Peter McKay the FCO says the Foreign Secretary “needs another adviser because he has additional responsibilities, having bagged the Peter Mandelson title of First Secretary of State. Perhaps so, but Mandelson didn’t hire young friends as special advisers, so far as I know.” Quite.


Seen Elsewhere

From the IRA to Windsor Castle | WSJ
Coulson: Everything You Need to Know in 6 Seconds | MediaGuido
Mo Ansar’s Silence | Adrian Hilton
Gove Loses WWI Battle | Conservative Woman
5 Reasons Labour Likely to Win General Election | Sunny Hundal
Dave Surrounded By Topless Women | Sun
UN Loony says Britain Most Sexist Country | Sun
Farage is a Good Reason to Leave the EU | Dan Hannan
UKIP Blocked Expenses Questions | Times
NHS Showdown Coming | Paul Goodman
Sons of Brown | Telegraph


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Cathy Jamieson MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury minister, commenting on Treasury analysis of the economic impact of tax changes…

“If the Treasury is looking at the economic impact of tax changes, then surely it should examine the impact of the rise in VAT and cuts to tax credits? George Osborne’s £12 billion VAT rise knocked confidence, helped to choke off the recovery and has cost families £1,350 over the last three years.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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