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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mary Creagh’s Lectures in Dodgy Attack Lines

Idiot of the day goes to Richard Benyon, the Environment minister and richest current MP who told poor families to stop wasting food this morning. You could always rely on Labour foghorn and Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh to shoot herself in the foot with her response, however:

“Mums struggling to feed their families don’t need lectures on wrapping cheese from a Tory Government which has created a cost of living crisis with its failed economic plan.”

Roll back four years and then Labour DEFRA man Hilary Benn had a rather different attitude:

“As a nation we waste around £10 billion of food each year – a third of what we buy. Part of the problem is how food is labelled. Some 370,000 tonnes of food are chucked out each year after passing their ‘best before’ dates, despite being perfectly good, safe and edible. When you buy something from the supermarket it should be easy to know how long you should keep it for and how you should store it. Too many of us are throwing things away simply because we’re not sure, we’re confused by the label, or we’re just playing safe.”

Presumably it’s just Tories who aren’t allowed to lecture people, right Mary?


Seen Elsewhere

Revealed: The Guido Fawkes Anniversary Dinner Guestlist | Peter Oborne
More Owen Jones Errors | Michael Ezra
Why Should Men Get Equal Maternity Leave? | Laura Keynes
Dentists Have Last Laugh Over Sneering Keynes | FT
Why’s Clegg Giving Men Paternity Leave? | Conservative Women
Cam Cannot Stem EU Immigration | David Keighley
9 Mansion Tax Questions for Ed Balls | TPA
Politicians are Lying to You About Immigration | Alex Wickham
Give Journalists Public Interest Defence in Law | Guardian
Cameron is Going to Have to Deal With UKIP | Dan Hodges
Opinions on Key Issues By Constituency | Red Box


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Chris Bryant talks to the Times Diary about a famous gay actor:

“I don’t think I’ve had sex with him. He says we had sex in Clapham. I’m fairly certain I’ve never had sex south of the river”



Progressive Inclusion Champion says:

Great to hear Carswell call for inclusive policies and that UKIP must stand for first and second generation immigrants as much as the English.


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