Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Calamity Kenny’s Latest Comedy Moment

An update on calamity Kenny hits the inbox from a Scottish co-conspirator:

You may like to know that Kenny today led Ed Milliband through the turnstiles at the Scottish Parliament. However, oor Kenny led Ed to the wrong turnstile that only allows people to enter rather than exit. Cue a good 30 seconds or so of Ed looking like a cock trying to get through an immovable door. A far cry from Kenny’s door holding days of glory with Mr Brown.

Malcolm Tucker he ain’t…

Calamity Kenny Spinning for Ed Miliband

In a quick update to the Labour Political Advisers list, Guido was most amused to hear that omnishambolic press officer Kenny Young has managed to keep his job. If you reward the slavish loyalty of greased-up party hacks who come up through the youth ranks with cosy press office jobs, you may find they don’t exactly have the talents required for such a high-pressure environment. Kenny is about as loyal as they come, a co-conspirator reports that he openly told people he styled his hair on Gordon Brown’s while chairman of Labour Students. So loyal he was assigned to be Gordon’s political press officer for the election campaign. Which went well.

First there was the infamous door opening for his hero Gordon, which the Tories quickly turned into an attack poster:

If that wasn’t bad enough in late April young Kenny was accompanying the Prime Minister on a trip to Rochdale. What could possible go wrong? Well any experienced press officer would have checked that their boss’s microphone was switched off after an event. Kenny was inside Mrs Duffy’s house as part of that hugely successful contingent of Brown staffers begging her to come outside after the apology.

Instead of firing this inept and useless spinner he’s got a new job. He’s now Ed Milband’s Head of Press… what could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE : Punters give Ed a 25% chance of becoming Labour leader versus a 62% chance for his brother David. No odds available on Kenny’s chances one day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not So Special Now

It’s not just former ministers and Labour MPs who are having to get used to life in the slow lane. Spare a moment for all those poor former Special Advisers. But don’t feel too bad, those that haven’t disappeared off to make their fortunes still have a job on the taxpayer. Labour now have almost all of the Short Money haul that used to be divided up between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. They lose the “special” title though.

Like he did with the SpAds, Guido is putting together a list of all the Labour “Political Advisers” as they are now known. Not everyone here is necessarily on Short Money and many will be working on leadership bids or could be part-time for other reasons.  The two dozen or so PAds cost taxpayers the best part of £2 million. Plenty of old faces have stuck around though.

Most amusing is Harman’s office where her staff basically consists of two economic wonks (Duncan Weldon and Stuart Hudson,) and a comedian (Ayesha Hazarika). Pretty much sums up where Labour are right now.

The list (it is as they say “in beta”) can be found here. Corrections, amendments and additions to guido.fawkes@order-order.com.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Worth Its Weight In Gold

Given the Chief Secretary of the Treasury is himself somewhat lacking in financial expertise, you would think he would select his Special Advisor carefully for their financial prowess. Instead he has thrown yet another lifeline to a friend. Like he did with Willie Rennie in the Scotland Office, Danny Alexander has made another failed LibDem MP, Julia Goldsworthy, his SpAd. If the public wanted these people to stay in Westminster they would have voted for them.

Given her boss is in charge of reining in public spending it’s hardly reassuring to know a woman who spent over a grand of taxpayers’ money on a rocking chair is whispering advice in his ear.

Initially the position is unpaid since Goldsworthy had, with a lack of foresight, just taken a £30,000 MP’s resettlement grant which kind of disqualifies her from taking an immediate government salary. Though with her spending habits that can’t last long…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Willie Free

There were raised eye-brows when former LibDem MP Willie Rennie was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Scotland Office just days after being rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Dunfermline. To his credit he did not ask for a salary as a SpAd, the parliamentary resettlement payment was quite enough. A close ally of Danny Alexander, it seems now his old boss has moved up the ministerial ladder the first SpAd is set to quit. He will be replaced by Ming’s old ginger speech-writer Euan Roddin.

Willie claims he wants to return to Scotland as he is separated from his family while in London. Coincidentally candidates are being picked for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections right about now…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We’re All In It Together

Guido has been chewing over the numbers. Given that a lowly CCHQ researcher or press officer would have been lucky to be on around £35,000, the jump to government for the lower rungs of the SpAd list has come with an extremely handsome pay-rise. Nearly 100% rise for those now touching £60-70k.

Though Coulson & Co. at the top have in some cases taken a pay cut, the coalition has brought some serious pay rises for others. Take the MPs in the Cabinet for example, they have had a 107% rise from their standard MPs salary. Backbenchers who are now Junior Ministers have had a 50% rise, even after Dave decreed that they would all have a 5% pay cut. All sharing the pain.

Cameron pre-power promised a cut down on SpAds. The New Dawn of Politics has managed to reduce the number from 78 to 68. There are still vacancies yet to be filled though. In this age of austerity some SpAds will be glancing over the list shocked that their rivals in other departments managed to negotiate more. Meanwhile the voting taxpayers will be looking at the whole get up with utter scorn.

Coulson and the SpAd Pay

There will be some disappointment on the left as the news emerges that despite all the hype, their hate figure Andy Coulson is in fact earning less than the Prime Minister. But on £140k only just – £2000 a year less.  More than Nick Clegg though.

As Director of Government Communications Coulson is the best paid of Dave’s team but overall the Special Advisers are costing the taxpayer £1.9 million per year less than the last government. Despite this Tom Watson was trying to start the attacks just now in the House, moaning that Parliament hadn’t been told first. This is despite the list being published as a written ministerial statement:

Note Steve Hilton’s rather large pay gap with his rival.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Musical SpAds

A few re-jigs of the SpAd list after the weekend’s little upsets. With Danny Alexander moving, perhaps temporarily, to the Treasury, MP-turned-Special Advisor Willie Rennie keeps his job now becoming Michael Moore’s bag carrier in the Scotland Office. Alexander’s other SpAd, Alison Suttie, Clegg’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, appears to be out on her ear though as her old boss will no longer have time to mess about with Clegg in the Cabinet Office.

It could all change back though, the bookies reckon there is a 40% chance Laws will be back by Christmas

Friday, May 28, 2010

Susie Squire Slips in to Spinning at the DWP for IDS

Guido is particularly pleased to add Susie Squire (pictured here briefing a senior political journalist) to the list of SpAds, bag carriers and wonks going over to government. She joins Philippa Stroud working at the DWP for Iain Duncan-Smith.  Formerly at the Taxpayers’ Alliance she will now be part of the team exorcising / reforming the welfare system.

Additions to the list include Richard Parr who follows Andrew Mitchell to DfID, Poppy Mitchell-Rose who goes with Osborne to the Treasury.  Honor Fishburn, daughter of Dudley Fishburn the former Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, goes to Downing Street to do Andy Coulson’s bidding and Cameron’s speech writing team of Ameet Gill and Claire Foges follow him from CCHQ to become the PM’s speech writing team.

There are still a few more names left to be confirmed…

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Final Special Advisers List*

Guido’s list of the assorted SpAds, bag carriers and spinners is pretty much complete. He has yet to sub-categorise it into naughty and nice though. Thank you to all those who helped out with the tip-offs. One newspaper editor told Guido they had printed it off for reference in his newsroom. Guido has kept their mobile numbers to himself…

*Almost complete, subject to revision, not legally binding, do not swallow whole.

Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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