Thursday, June 20, 2013

£50,000 Balls at Bust Co-op’s Gala Dinner Tonight
Sings for His Supper to Bust Bankers Labour Owes £3.6 Million

Blinky BallsIt looks like it is a busy day for Ed Balls, the man who aspires to be a chef, lunching today, according to EyeSpy.MP, with The Telegraph’s Deputy Editor Benedict Brogan at the Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Junior’s Roux at Parliament Square. We’re all in this together, eh?

Tonight Ed’s waistline takes another hit when he is the keynote speaker at the Co-operative Party Gala Dinner 2013 at the Hilton Victoria Hotel off Millbank. The evening will apparently “provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the company of some of the country’s leading co-operators and Co-operative Party members, supporters, workers, Councillors and Members of Parliament.”

low-cost-loans-240x1632The financial hub of this great co-operative movement is of course the Co-operative Bank, which was encouraged by the Labour government to take over the Britannia Building Society in 2009 because politically Labour wanted to expand the co-operative base. Ed Balls is a Co-op supported MP, his office gets bunged £50,000 a year from the Co-op. The Labour Party itself is literally in hock to the Co-operative Bank to the tune of £3.6 million on a low interest you scratch-my-back I’ll-scratch-yours terms deal. Tonight Ed Balls will sing for his supper as their after dinner speaker…

The Co-operative Bank is a financial disaster after the Labour government induced deal, the bank’s bonds have hit junk status, 7,000 end investors – typically pensioners – will be wiped out by the bond haircut that will be necessary to plug the black hole in the Co-op Bank’s finances. It smells bad. Ed Balls isn’t going to do himself any favours tonight if he is trying to rebuild his reputation for financial probity…

UPDATE: According to reports from the room tonight, Ed is still a keen Guido reader:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Balls Abandons Universality to Save His Job

Ed Balls has finally blinked, tearing up the party’s previously unbreakable commitment to universal benefits, alienating the Labour left and cynically conceding to the centre ground. He announced today that Labour would cut winter fuel payments to the rich, something Miliband has previously defended as “a bedrock of our society”. Channelling Osborne, Balls will say:

“In tough economic times we have to make difficult choices about priorities for public spending and what the right balance is between universal and targeted support. So at a time when the public services that pensioners and others rely on are under strain, it can no longer be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the wealthiest pensioners.”

This is of almost no financial significance, it is however hugely significant politically. Abandoning such a historically fundamental Labour policy reveals much of Balls’ fears for his own job. He knows that if he cannot improve flat-lining public confidence in his competency by next year Miliband has a decision to make. This LabourList/Survation poll is why Balls knows being fired could easily become a reality:

ed-kinnockIn the Sun today Trevor Kavanagh says Miliband is the new Kinnock. This is a comparison Guido has made in the past, not least to Ed himself, that he would go the same way as Labour’s 1992 leader. It makes sense for Miliband and Balls to change track two years before the election rather than leave it any later and risk their credibility sinking even lower. They have two years to get the party, then the people, on board…

Friday, May 17, 2013

Labour Won’t Pledge to Repeal ‘Bedroom Tax’

Well this is hardly going to help improve Baldamort’s status as a Labour pariah in lefty circles. After all his party’s truth-stretching moralising, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has refused to commit to repealing the spare room subsidy:

“We are not going to make promises we can’t keep. I believe very strongly that this is a tax that will cost more than it saves, but I know I have to prove that beyond reasonable doubt and that is the research that I am doing now to gather evidence from across the country. We hear of houses lying empty because people can’t afford the tax that would hit them if they moved in, so obviously it does not make sense. We have to work through our position as fast as we can, but no one will forgive us for making promises we can’t keep.”

Still peddling the bedroom ‘tax’ lie, but not saying he would repeal it. So much for Owen Jones’ “People’s Assembly” against t’cuts: he can’t even win the argument in his own party…

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1.6 Mi££ion Reasons For Ed to Back a Referendum

Miliband’s decision to cast Labour as the anti-referendum party will have upset one multi-millionaire donor in particular. John Mills is the founder of the JML shopping channel and the most prominent Labour leaning co-chairman of Business for Britain, he is also the major backer of the new Eurosceptic Labour for a Referendum group.

He has called for “soul-searching and internal review” of Labour’s Europe policy, in no uncertain terms:

“While we differ on other policy areas, David Cameron should be congratulated for laying down markers on how the EU needs to change along the lines of flexibility and fairness to boost competitiveness… 

Mills gave £1.6 million worth of shares in his company to the Labour Party in January this year. Finally Ed finds some non-union support, with an agenda of his own…

UPDATE: Friends of John Mills say he is a Eurosceptic, however Labour for a Referendum is Euro-put-the-issue-to-bed-ist.

Glad we cleared that up…

Monday, May 13, 2013

No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

As Guido reported in his Sun on Sunday column, the Labour triumvirate of Tom Watson, John Spellar and Michael Dugher are being remarkably tight-lipped about what was discussed over lunch with Lord Ashcroft last week, and who picked up the tab. A friend points out that “Tom Watson’s credit card hasn’t been seen in 25 years” and Spellar is a notoriously “careful with his money” Yorkshireman. Presumably that means Aschroft made his first donation to the Labour Party by footing the bill.

And it’s paying off: the flirting continues this morning, with Ashcroft gleefully retweeting Watson’s digs at Gove and Watson laying on the praise for Ashcroft’s polling. It seems Watson can be bought off with food…

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Labour Expenses Piggy Tries to Run Again

Expenses trougher and Labour’s former Enfield North MP Joan Ryan has some nerve. In a letter to her local Labour Party seen by Guido, Ryan begs them for her support, saying she wants to run again in 2015: “we have to select the best candidate to win for Labour in Endfield North… now I’m asking for your support to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate”. Apparently with a straight face, she insists “had it not been for the changes to parliamentary boundaries we would still have a Labour MP in Enfield North”.

Definitely nothing to do with the fact that during the expenses scandal Ryan was exposed as having claimed £4,500 for work on her second home, having to pay back over £5,000 in mortgage interest the following year. Her wikipedia page was mysteriously edited at least ten times from inside the parliamentary estate in an attempt to remove details of her expenses indiscretions. For some reason no mention of any of this in Ryan’s letter. And certainly no apology. Her local party have given her short shrift so far, the final selection meeting is tomorrow…

UPDATE: Ryan’s ex-agent Chris Deacon has come out against her plans for a return:

“I think the membership feels that for us to win we need a fresh, new candidate to take the party forward.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reality Dawns For Ed’s Friends

As the extent of Labour’s thoroughly underwhelming day becomes clear, Ed’s friends are turning on him. George Eaton at the Staggers encapsulates the feeling:

“After a troubled month, which saw the first hints of a Tory recovery since the 2012 Budget, Ed Miliband needed a strong set of results to give him some political breathing space. But while far from disastrous, his party’s performance will only revive the question: why isn’t Labour doing better? Its main centre-left challenger is locked in government with a right-wing Conservative Party, the economy has barely grown since 2010 and the Tory brand has been comprehensively retoxified. Yet Labour still appears incapable of generating popular enthusiasm among those who should be embracing it. Rather than assuaging Miliband’s malaise, today’s results will only deepen it.”

The Beeb’s projected national share gives Labour just a 6% increase since the dark days of Gordon in 2009. As Mark Pack shows, Labour are the biggest losers from UKIP’s surge…

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chuka Trashes His Past

Two-faced Chuka Umunna has been getting on his high horse about how terribly unfair private schools are at the Times CEO Africa summit today:

That would be the same Chuka Umunna who was deputy head boy of £4,700-a-term independent day school St Dunstan’s College. The same Chuka Umunna who says being privately schooled by the likes of Anthony Seldon “had a massive impact on me” as he began to “fly academically”. The same Chuka Umunna who says he wouldn’t rule out sending his own children to a private school. Presumably the local comp is a bit too trashy…

Cash for Equestrians
Steve Rotheram Swaps Questions for Racing Freebie

Whiny Steve Rotheram likes asking questions in the House about Aintree. He also likes free boozy days out at Liverpool’s premier race course. His question in 2011 was particularly friendly, by chance of course:

“As people will know, Aintree has world class facilities and race meetings. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the levy [for bookies to help fund horse racing] is important even to racecourses at the top end so that they can continue to improve the racing that they offer, which will then attract tourism to cities such as Liverpool and contribute wider economic benefits to the sub-region?”

Earlier this month Rotheram was generously handed another two tickets for lunch and racing at Aintree worth £800. Guido awaits his next gushing question…

Monday, April 29, 2013

Awkward Ed Miliband Guru Moments

In yesterday’s Sun column Guido revealed an awkward moment Ed Miliband would be proud of for his American campaigning guru Arnie Graf. Hoping some of his Obama community organising magic would rub off this side of the Atlantic, Labour sent Graf door knocking with Tessa Jowell. When she later invited him along to her surgery, he was not so keen, awkwardly asking whether she might like to go with someone closer to her. Maybe a friend or family member for a hospital visit, Graf optimistically suggested. America and Britain, still divided by a common language.


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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