Hugo Rifkind writes on the Labour Leadership contest…
“They’re having the leadership contest that none of them had the guts to have two years ago; promising to do all the things they didn’t do when they could have actually done them.”
The latest batch of donations to the Labour leadership candidates has just emerged. Perhaps most surprising is that millionaire novelist Ken Follet gave Ed Balls £100,000 toward his campaign. And still he won’t pay his interns for their hard work.
David Miliband now has a war-chest of over 320k. Little brother Ed has been buoyed by £28,000 from the GMB but is still way behind his brother and Balls.
UPDATE: Andy Burnham had a donation got ten grand from footballer Jamie Carragher.
UPDATE II: Ed Miliband is spinning that he has an additional £60k to play with that has come in small donations that did not need to be declared to the Electoral Commission.
As if the Labour leadership contest wasn’t exciting enough already, just as it comes to its natural conclusion we learn this morning that More4 will be making a docu-drama about the Mili-brothers. The “light-hearted” look at their bitter rivalry that has seen them drive a wedge through their family in their individual quests for power, will go out the night before the result is announced. The rumours that Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise will be rekindling their acting partnership are apparently wide of the mark.
Guido was following up, what turned out to be, a dud tip-off last week that gave him reason to put a call into the Abbott campaign. Or at least try to. It turns out it’s quite hard to find any contact information on her website, in fact there are no details. After a quick ring around, the consensus was that the person he needed to talk to was Sally Scott, who handles Diane’s media. All very well except the number he was given was a parliamentary one…
Abbott has barely raised any money for her campaign, but that does not give her an excuse to flout the very clear rules that state you cannot use your parliamentary office, phone lines or staff hours for campaigning in an internal party election. Abbott’s website for her constituents states Scott handles her media concerning her job as an MP. She is breaking the rules if there is no defined crossover. Guido cannot see how his chat on Friday, about Andy Burnham, with a publicly funded spinner, Sally Scott, could have aided Abbot’s constituents in Hackney in any way.
Poor Andy Burnham, try as he will, nothing seems to be going right in his leadership campaign. Despite basing his campaign oop north, last night he was all set for a big phonebanking event at Labour HQ, which all candidates have fair use of.
The volunteers were gathered, the scripts prepared, the pizza man on speed dial. Shame no one had actually remembered to book the room. Much fun was had by all though – down the pub instead.
While it may be a mere attempt at generating some headlines, if ever proof was needed that despite the long haul of handshakes, the hustings, the “internal debate”, the Labour Leadership frontrunner David Miliband still doesn’t get it, then look no further than his pitch to publicans this morning:
“For too long we have tolerated this decline as the result of inevitable market forces. But we can and should stand up for the local pub – and the community links and civic life they sustain. Local pubs are great British institutions – and as Labour leader I would stand up for them.”
The hollow statement fails to mention what is really killing the pubs though – the full smoking ban, without exemptions, or landlord discretion, that David Miliband voted for in Cabinet and the House. If he wants to save pubs then he needs to pledge to look again at the legislation, anything less than is just hypocritical opportunism.
Though publicly he is staying out of the race to succeed him, news is allegedly trickling out of the Brown camp. Apparently he has realised what everyone else knew for a long time – that Ed Balls doesn’t have a hope of winning. If only he had displayed such foresight while in Number 10…
Apparently he thinks Ed Miliband is the best man for the job and is in the best position for victory…
Uh oh, Guido is sure that was appreciated… if this is true, then there goes The Younger’s campaign hopes.
In some shocking news, Ed Balls has said one thing and done another. As Guido reported earlier in the week, Balls made a bit of a blunder by promising to pay “interns and volunteers” the national minimum wage, whilst turning a blind eye to the fact that his campaign staffers are, err, unpaid interns and volunteers:
Leaving aside his unpaid brunette bag-carrying Bevanite, Balls has today even had the cheek to advertise on W4MP for unpaid stuff:
Idiocy and hypocrisy is always a toxic mix.
This whole campaign has been an utter write-off for Balls, and now YouGov reckon he will be the first knocked out of the race. If the idea all along was to secure his place as Chancellor, how is coming last going help? Political betting specialists Smarkets are running a book on who will be the humiliated loser..
Looks like it’s going to be a tight run off between Burnham and Balls.
Yesterday Ed Balls made a big song and dance about signing a pledge that all interns should be paid the minimum wage. He even released a video of him and one of his own office interns discussing it. Except that’s not quite what he said:
“It’s really important if you are interning or volunteering in a House of Commons office that you get properly paid.”
Interns and volunteers.
So what about his very own voluptuous volunteer Ellie “Stilettos” Gellard, Twitter queen and cursed backer of Gordon? Gellard has been strutting around with a pass, on the Balls campaign, yet apparently isn’t taking a penny?
A volunteer you might say… So it’s fine that all interns and volunteers must be paid, just not Ed’s campaign staff. Or if she is being paid, why hasn’t it been declared?
In what can only be described as a shrewd move, David Miliband twisted the knife a little further and went round to Bigot-gate star Mrs Duffy’s house for a wee chat. She helped kick Brown saying:
“I felt David really listened to my points of view and shared my concerns on the issues that matter to working people.”
Whose idea was that?
UKIP Fundraiser Was Jailed for Running Brothels | Times
Bercow Faces Probe Over Pass Mystery | Mirror
Harman Breaks Rules on Paying Staff | Express
Labour Whinge About Sandi Toksvig Joke | Mail
BBC Boss Search in Disarray | Times
Tory Membership Set to Outstrip Labour | Staggers
Three Cheers for the David Brents | Ed Conway
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
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.”
What time will dinner be ready this evening?
Rob Wilson MP
In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.