Balls Blamed for Byrne Putsch
“The Punishment Beatings Are Back”

This snippet from Rachel Sylvester’s column, stuck behind the Times pay-wall, deserves a wider audience:

“At Westminster, Mr Balls can be overbearing. An attempt to oust Liam Byrne, the Blairite Work and Pensions Secretary, from the Shadow Cabinet, which was resisted by Mr Miliband, is blamed by some on the Shadow Chancellor’s bovver boys. “There’s a gang within the gang,” says an insider. “The punishment beatings are back.” One MP compares Mr Balls and his wife, Yvette Cooper, to the Borgias who just can’t help plotting.”

Belardinelli the bovver boy has a certain ring to it…

Clegg Adviser Helped Murdoch and Michel Seek “Easy Win”

The LibDems are continuing to claim that they are untainted by BSkyB bid revelations this week. While it is true that Cable’s SpAd Giles Wilkes set the example of how Adam Smith should have been dealing with News Corp spinmeister Fred Michel, the email chains are still damning for the party. When Wilkes rejected a meeting it seems that Michel went to other LibDem spinners and found success with Jonny Oates, the former Bell Pottinger director turned Clegg SpAd, who as Guido reported yesterday was happy to help and brief. But he didn’t stop there…

Paul Marshall, the founder hedge fund Marshall Wace, is a LibDem donor. Crucially he’s also an adviser to Nick Clegg.

Here not only does Marshall acknowledge a meeting with James Murdoch to discuss the bid, he also gives further advice, in writing, for Fred Michel to pass on to his boss:

He recommends BSkyB beef up their PR team and goes so far as to recommend his friend and Brunswick chief Alan Parker. All of this is so that BSkyB can get the “easy win” that Marshall clearly supports adding: “I wish you luck. You have built a great business and it must be very frustrating to be penalised for your success.” It doesn’t sound like all the LibDems were at war with Murdoch…

+ + + Hunt SpAd Adam Smith Quits + + +

Hunt’s SpAd has been resigned for apparently speaking to News Corp without Hunt’s permission, but it does not stop there. Section 4 of  the Special Advisers code states:

“The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment.”

That is also confirmed in section 3.3 of the Ministerial Code:

“All special advisers must uphold their responsibility to the Government as a whole, not just their appointing Minister. The  responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment. Individual Ministers will be accountable to the Prime Minister, Parliament and the public for their actions and decisions in respect of their special advisers. It is, of course, also open to the Prime Minister to terminate employment by withdrawing his consent to an individual appointment.”

With Hunt up at 12.30, Guido is wondering how he’s going to try claim his SpAd was acting rogue when last night he said the contact was authorised?

UPDATE: Adam Smith says:

“While it was part of my role to keep News Corporation informed throughout the BskyB bid process, the content and extent of my contact was done without authorisation from the Secretary of State. I do not recognise all of what Fred Michel said, but nonetheless I appreciate that my activities at times went too far and have, taken together, created the perception that News Corporation had too close a relationship with the department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary that this needed to be a fair and scrupulous process. Whilst I firmly believe that the process was in fact conducted scrupulously fairly, as a result of my activities it is only right for me to step down as special adviser to Jeremy Hunt.”

They have now admitted that there was wrong doing. The rules are very clear…

Adam Smith picture from Steve Back.

Balls’ Belardinelli Goes on Leak Rampage

Well in his head at least…

See also: EMAIL LEAK: Balls’ Spinner Admits “Screw Up” But Briefs Opposite

LEAK: Balls’ Spinner Admits “Screw Up” But Briefs Opposite

Labour have spent all morning spinning the line that last night’s vote on the 45p tax rate was not a vote on it and that their abstention was not a massive howler. Well now Guido has seen a chain of emails between nervous political advisers looking to Balls’ bruiser Alex Belardinelli for direction on how to clean up his mess. Bear in mind that Belardinelli and Balls have spent the morning denying that this was a cock up or anything other than part of their grand master plan:

From: “BELARDINELLI, Alex”
Date: 27 March 2012 09:42:32 GMT+01:00
Subject: Re: Fwd: Nats in 50p

Truth is there was a screw up somewhere along the way last night and it wasn’t clear what SNP had called a vote on or how, so we abstained on their vote.

Line is: we voted against whole Budget package which obviously includes 50p (first vote at 10pm), and we will seek to amend and vote on the Finance Bill on 50p, plus other issues of concern like the changes to allowances for pensioners (granny tax). There’s not much more we can say beyond that.

Other advisers “hope it will be ignored” after “trying to find out what went wrong”. They even share Guido’s coverage of events. The whole email chain can be found here.

Who would have thought that someone trained  in the dark arts by firstly Tom Watson and then Balls would say one thing in public and something very different in private…

SpAd Who’s Who

Guido is enjoying BBC reporter Giles Dilnot’s favourite new game, which is basically pointing a camera behind the cameras. Ever wondered what some blog favourites looked like?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Has anyone else noticed Balls SpAd Alex Belardinelli is actually morphing into his boss?

Vince’s SpAd Jumps to Davey

Vince’s SpAd Katie Waring has abandoned her post at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to go work for Ed Davey at Energy. According to Tom Newton Dunn, she claims that she is moving to “broaden” her skills, but it’s certainly on the face of it a self-imposed demotion in terms of government rankings and significance. Unless of course she sees the writing on the wall, and the fact that Davey has much more going for him than the one time Sage. Waring is the former smarter and more attractive other-half of Clegg spinner James McGrory. Guido wonders what the pillow talk was about Vince’s future…

Deckchair Movements

This morning’s Today appearance was the first outing for Ed, apart from “Blackbusters”, since Dec 29. Despite the SNP pushing Labour into fourth place yesterday in terms of party profile, the new plan to keep Ed below the surface, only to be deployed at key strategic moments, is being stuck to. Labour sources compare it to the role that Osborne played in opposition. As Ed surfaces today, it’s worth looking at some of the tweaks being made below the waterline.

Former ITV chief Charles Allen, who recommended hiring Tim Livesey for the job of Ed’s Chief of Staff, is still trying to streamline the Labour operation in readiness for the arrival of six new Executive Directors. The jobs are currently being advertised, but word is they are filling up fast. Current press spinner Bob Roberts is likely to be going to Labour HQ, most probably in the Comms Director role. All agree that this is a promotion, though Guido wonders why you would want your main spinner based in a different office from your leader? Greg Beales is said to be mulling over whether to take the Policy and Rebuttal role that Guido mentioned yesterday, though apparently he is wary of leaving his master’s side. Though Labour HQ will be moving closer to parliament, a big shift away from the Leader of the Opposition’s suite is still happening.

While some people talk of a “refocus” for him, other speculate that Tom Baldwin is the loser of this reorganisation. One source even suggested Tom had lost a up to a third of his responsibilities, leaving him only with weekly key messages and strategic lines to take.

Lower down the ranks, the extraordinarily high turnover of demoralised political advisers leaving for jobs outside politics is rather telling…

UPDATE: Well we know what Tom’s first line was this morning:

Questions Mount Up for Andy “Bung” Burnham

Oh this just keeps getting better and better. Labour sources get in touch to point out that Kevin Lee has recently, and very quietly, been appointed Andy Burnham’s Political Adviser. That’s right, a man with business interests in health is […]

+ READ MORE +

Clegg SpAd James McGrory Accused of Leaking Cam Kids Story

A good rule of thumb when feeding negative stories to the press about a Prime Minister, whose administration you work in, is not to do it from the office phone. A mighty row has blown up in Downing Street after […]

+ READ MORE +

Musical SpAds

With a Cabinet reshuffle comes the flurry of promotions, and then come the SpAd wars. Media advisor Hayden Allen is the only one of Fox’s SpAds to survive the resignation and will be staying at MoD. Fox’s three SpAds has […]

+ READ MORE +

Exclusive: Ed Blocking Twigg’s PAd Choice

Guido’s eyes and ears in Norman Shaw South report that there is a bit of a ding-dong going on between newly appointment Education shadow Stephen Twigg and the leadership. Twigg, who has reversed Labour’s policy against free-schools, is trying to […]

+ READ MORE +



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Liam Fox shreds Cameron’s Calais scaremongering:

“Sad and disappointed to see our Prime Minister stoop to this level of scaremongering, especially as he knows the Calais agreement is nothing to do with the EU and agreed between the two govts”

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