LibDems Try To Hire Apprentice

Bad news for Lembit Opik – it seems that Cowley Street doesn’t have faith in his bid to be London Mayor. Much like the Tories were before Boris threw his hat in the ring, the LibDems are desperately seeking a decent candidate for the coalition’s first big election battle. A yellow spinner said “that’s not the way we would do it”, but Guido hears that senior LibDems have approached The Apprentice winner Tim Campbell and asked him to put his name forward…

A rather odd choice of candidate given a) Campbell is not a LibDem and b) he has just taken up a role advising Boris.

Coalition Arithmetic

Simon Hughes has gone off one again, demanding grandly that the LibDems have a veto on Coalition policy.

John Redwood is dismissive:

“Mr Hughes thinks Lib Dem backbenchers should have a veto on Coalition policies. Some would say only if Conservative backbenchers as well can have one, to be fair.”

As Redwood points out, even if all the LibDem MPs vote against a government proposal, with the support of Labour MPs they still can’t get a majority. Only if 40 Tory MPs rebel and Labour votes en bloc with them, can the government lose. Like perhaps on AV…

Labour’s Legacy Love In

Well it wasn’t quite the Rose Garden, but Chris Huhne and Sayeeda Warsi’s joint press conference this morning was certainly surreal. Gone are the days of their Question Time spats. Today they were united in one cause only – slamming Labour:

They are demanding that the Labour leadership contenders who were in the last cabinet give back their severance pay, turning Labour’s banker-bonus-bashing rhetoric on its head. The odds of this happening are minimal, but it makes for a nice grenade to lob into the leadership election. Bouncing questions on whether these gigs would be a permanent fixture if the two parties moved toward some sort of electoral pact, it was very much a love in, but both were constantly reminding the audience that they were two parties coming together in the national interest to fix the mess created by one party.

Talking of elections, Guido was most upset not to have been given the chance to put to Chris Huhne the questions he has been avoiding for the last few weeks. Mainly why his election expenses are full of invoices from one “company” based in his constituency office, for leaflets produced and printed by a completely separate company. Still no reply from him or his agent…

Charlie Kennedy Chooses Booze Over Family

Charles Kennedy is separating from his wife Sarah Gurling “entirely amicably”, and “with great sadness” according to a statement released by their lawyers.

It is fair to say that Kennedy hasn’t managed to kick the bottle, despite it costing him his political career and now his marriage. Desperately tragic.

The Fable Digs In

In a first since the formation of the coalition, Vince Cable has had what could be described as a good day. Well he seems to have got his own way for once at least. Despite the idea being “Miltoned” previously by Downing Street, it now looks as if Cable’s plans for taxing successful graduates have been given the nod. Apparently taxing aspiration is making Britain “fairer”. No wonder he had some nice things to say about his bosses today:

But the big surprise, which in some ways is a pleasant surprise, is that the coalition does actually work. Personal relationships are very good, very businesslike. Having worked with the Tories, at close quarters, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that they’re not as I’d envisaged them.”

You could have fooled Guido. Cable has been walking around looking physically pained by his predicament. Rumours are circulating that he threatened to resign if his tax plan was rejected – perhaps he would have ended up back in Labour. It would not have been a fatal blow to the government though. Is placating this increasingly doddery old crypto-socialist really worth burdening the next generation with even more crippling debt?

Quote of the Day

Chris Huhne said before the election…

“Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology.”

Bending the Laws

Not only did David Laws have the shortest, though admittedly bright, of cabinet careers, it now looks like he is going to serve the shortest of penances on the backbenchers. James Forsyth who is rather plugged in to the Downing Street media operation has suggested toes are being dipped in the water and media soundings taken about the prospect of a post-spending review return. The idea would be more popular with the Tories than the left of the LibDems so it is no surprise to see ConservativeHome tacitly welcoming such a move this morning.

The punters are pretty split. 48% believe Laws will return before the end of the year, lots of  money on 2011 too. That could all change if Downing Street are looking to make it happen. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned though is the fact John Lyon, still the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, is yet to report on Laws’s little £40,000 problem. No.10 must be fairly confident he won’t be getting hauled over the coals but that’s not to say a spanner won’t be put in their plans with anything more than a rap on the knuckles.

Hughes’ Illiberal Housing Policy

Andy Mayer over at the Orange Booker stronghold that is Liberal Vision doesn’t mince his words, writing today that “Simon Hughes is wrong on right to buy. Mayer reminds us that before Margaret Thatcher liberated a million working class families by putting them onto the property ladder with her populist “Right to Buy” policies in the 1980s, it was a Liberal Party policy going back to the 1950 manifesto:

“The main plan is, first to get people decent living conditions and then to give them the chance to become owner-occupiers, even in Council houses and flats.”

Simon Hughes’s Southwark constituency is itself a victim of public-private apartheid in housing, there are a few private luxury developments and the most council estate housing in the country. State-sector housing should not be ever more concentrated by expansion, instead mixed communities with affordable housing, ex-council houses and private owner occupied homes alongside would prevent ghettoes developing.

As people get on and get older it is natural that they will sell their inner-city, ex-council owned home to somebody starting out on the property ladder and probably buy something in the suburbs before, they may hope, retiring to a smaller bungalow in the country. That boring, mundane progression is the heartfelt ambition of millions of ordinary people.

To deny people the ‘right to buy’, or as some councils do now, deliberately price people out of buying by offering minimal discounts of as little as 5%, is illiberal and crushes the ambitions of so many to get on in life. Owning your own home is great thing, it changes your whole outlook on life and strengthens society. Hughes is wrong to condemn people to being permanently imprisoned in the state sector.

Huhne’s Park Communications Confusion

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has been sniffing around Chris Huhne’s election expenses and despite asking very nicely, they are not getting any reply from him. Now Guido knows the multi-millionaire gold-mining, horizontal jogging Secretary of State for […]


Hughes’s Ego Explodes

Simon Hughes must be getting dizzy up in the glorious heights of his plush sixth floor Portcullis House office. He has taken it upon himself to tell the Prime Minister that he does not speak for his own government:




From Shorts to Trousers

Anticipation is brewing for the Clegg PMQs special at midday. And to think we all laughed when he said “I want to be Prime Minister” at the last LibDem conference.

The Cowley Street press office is furiously spinning the joyous […]


Disgraced LibDem Peer Eyes Another Job

Chris Huhne proved just how close a relationship the Liberal Democrats share with the Electoral Reform Society and now Guido hears that another Chris, Lord Rennard, is in the running to become its £65,000pa Chief Exec.

They claim the post […]


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Quote of the Day

Sky News ask a “Labour representative” where the local St George’s Day events are. He replies:

“You’re better off asking the UKIP candidate” 

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