Who Will Replace Seumas Milne?

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Kevin Maguire, an impeccably connected old comrade of Seumas Milne, reports that Corbyn’s Director of Communications WILL be leaving next month. That would explain the leader’s office denying only that he would quit this week. As ever, Guido gives you your runners and riders for Seumas’ successor…

  • Kevin Maguire – Might the man with the inside track be after the job? Kevin’s coverage of Jezza has always been generous and he at least understands the Lobby. Work rate might be an issue. And he’d never take the pay cut.
  • Owen Jones – Reportedly tapped up for the job last year, Owen has offered his helpful thoughts on Labour’s media strategy over the last few months, though that has not endeared him to Twitter Corbynistas who now think he’s a Blairite MSM sellout. Owen tells Guido he does not want the job.
  • Paul Mason – The leather jacket-clad former BBC man is Jezza’s most vocal media cheerleader, he could step into Seumas’ shoes with his chat about neoliberalism around the water cooler in Norman Shaw South. Corbynistas tell Guido to expect to see more of Mason in the future. He has however publicly denied he’s interested.
  • James Schneider – Momentum’s spokesman is a true believer and gets on relatively well with journalists. He’s one of their more competent media performers though, and taking the job would mean he’s off the telly.
  • Sam Tarry – Ran Corbyn’s leadership campaign, key in Momentum and political officer for the TSSA union. One of the most important behind-the-scenes Corbynistas.
  • Alex Flynn – Len McCluskey’s right hand man, Flynn is the head of media at Unite. He wants to be an MP so a stint doing comms for Jez would put him in a strong position come 2020. Ambitious. 
  • Rachel Shabi – You’ll probably recognise Rachel from her regular TV appearances spinning for Corbyn as a journalist. Would be unlike Jez to appoint a woman though.
  • Ben Chacko – The editor of the Morning Star, the one paper you’ll see laid out on the desks in the leader’s office every morning. Might Ben and his luscious locks fancy the gig? Actual commie.
  • Aaron Bastani – One of the leaders of the Corbynista new media revolution, amateur bodybuilder and former Tory sympathiser Bastani runs Novara, a weird pro-Corbyn blog. Aaron did unfortunately once smash up a bank, so it’s doubtful he’d pass parliament’s security checks.
  • Liam Young – The New Statesman blogger who is your go to guy for student-level Jez fanboy copy. Only 16 years old.
  • Steve Topple – Surely it’s time for the Canary to make it official. Topple was the loony blogger who came up with the Portland conspiracy theory. He also shares Seumas’ views on Russia. He’d root out the Zionists in the Lobby.
  • Dr Eoin Clarke – Don’t be silly.

Who’s your money on?

Missing Milne Set to Quit?

The word going round the Mirror party at Circo Bar in the early hours was that Seumas Milne is to leave his role in Corbyn’s office imminently. Milne went missing for the key pre-leader’s speech briefing delivered to journalists yesterday afternoon, bizarrely sending out junior spinners to do the job instead. There was bewilderment both in the press room and among Corbyn supporters that Milne hadn’t taken responsibility for such an important briefing – trailing the speech in the press was probably his most important job this week and he didn’t show up. His imminent departure would explain the no-show…

UPDATE: Corbyn’s office are insisting that Milne is not going anywhere. A Labour source tells Guido: “The story about Seumas leaving on Friday is untrue.”

Ex-SpAd Spins for Murky Lagoon

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Tomos Davies, a SpAd who advised the government on green energy, is in hot water after getting a job with the Cardiff lobbying firm Deryn less than a year after he left his government job. Spin merchants Deryn, a firm which has a hand in far too many Welsh government lobbying scandals, employed the former Special Adviser from the Wales Office.

Until recently Tomos Davies was advising UK Government Ministers on policy issues, including the proposal to a build tidal lagoon off the coast at Swansea. Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Neil McEvoy has complained to the Cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, that he is in breach of the rules governing SpAd employment. Davies, he complains, jumped straight into lobbying work and failed to get Civil Service clearance to work for the firm.

McEvoy cites Davies’ ConservativeHome article praising tidal power as evidence of lobbying on behalf of one of Deryn’s clients in breach of the rules, especially as one of Deryn’s clients is trying to build a tidal lagoon off Swansea. In it Tomos claimed, without irony, that “the unit cost of power from the project can, at a manageably small scale, match that of Hinkley”. Hinkley’s energy costs are among the most expensive in the world. Guido thinks Tomos Davies might be left high and dry…

LEAK: Labour Moderates Infiltrated Momentum

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Labour Party moderates carried out an off-the-books investigation into the activities of Jeremy Corbyn supporters, infiltrating their meetings and private Facebook groups with the aim of leaking the findings to the press. Guido has obtained a 19 page document titled “An investigation into far-left infiltration of the Labour Party in Liverpool since September 2015”. Written in the Labour Party’s font, containing highly professional, forensic levels of detail, it contains many of the revelations found in this morning’s Times story on Momentum. A Labour HQ source denies it is an official Labour Party document. They say they cannot comment on who wrote it. Another Labour source says it was written by Labour moderates

“who found a way into secret Facebook and Google groups that Momentum were using locally to coordinate and plan”

Whoever carried out the extensive investigation must have had significant abilities and resources. This is not an amateur job, it is a forensic red-on-red black op which found its way to the press to diminish the party leadership. Note that it’s written in the official party font. You can read it in full here:

Expect revenge from the Corbynistas now they have proof that moderates are anonymously organising against them…

May Orders Ministers to Link Every Policy to Meritocracy

Theresa May’s grammar schools speech was as much about defining her premiership as anything else. If eagle-eyed photographer Steve Back hadn’t snapped those secret government papers outlining the return of grammars, today’s speech would not have been made until conference. Senior Tories watching noted one key line:

“It will mean recalibrating how we approach policy development to ensure that everything we do as government helps to give a fair chance to those who are just getting by”

This is tanks-on-Labour’s-lawn rhetoric, but the PM is deadly serious about revamping how policy is formulated across Whitehall. Over the last few weeks ministers and civil servants have grown frustrated at Downing Street’s insistence that every single policy must have a “making the country work for everyone” angle. Policies and announcements that have nothing to do with May’s theme of meritocracy are being delayed or shunned until ministers can think of a way to make a link. In some departments, announcements and updates on old projects where the money has already been spent are being held back. As with Brexit, the government is actually getting work done, they just aren’t telling the public about it…

Milne Likes Tweet Claiming “New World Order Created ISIS”

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Corbyn strategy chief Seumas Milne must have pressed the wrong button by accident, because he has “liked” a tweet claiming ISIS was created by the “New World Order”. It must surely be an innocent case of fat finger, Seumas can’t possibly believe that’s true. Although he did write this for the Guardian last year, claiming the US “incubated” and “fuelled the rise of ISIS”…

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Come on Seumas, get it right, everyone knows it was the Zionists…

Theresa’s Copy and Paste Job

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Theresa May tells us that “obviously over the summer – over the last few weeks – quite a lot of work has been done”. Which is good to know. So does the new government have any further detail on their plan for Brexit or their legislative agenda? Compare and contrast these quotes from the PM from today with her words over the last few weeks…

Today: “Brexit means Brexit, we’re going to make a success of it”

11 July: “Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it”

Today: “there’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door”

11 July: “no attempts to remain inside the EU, with no second referendum or attempts to rejoin it by the backdoor”

Today: “We want to be a government and a country that works for everyone”

13 July: “a mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone”

Today: “I want it to be a society where it’s the talent that you have and how hard you’re prepared to work that determines how you get on”

13 July: “We will do everything to help you go as far as your talents can take you.”

Today: “we can get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”

11 July: “get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”

Today: “forge a new positive role for the UK in the world”

11 July: “forge a new role for ourselves in the World”

That “quite a lot of work” done over the summer appears to be copying and pasting her old speeches…

Smith Campaign Hires Another Big Pharma Lobbyist

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What is it about Owen Smith and Big Pharma lobbyists? Fresh from hiring Pfizer PR guru Jon Lehal as his chief of operations, Smith has taken on a former AstraZeneca lobbyist as his director of communications. Will Tanner was until recently the head of Finsbury PR’s UK public affairs team, where he proudly boasted of his work for top pharmaceutical companies. Tanner has for the last decade been right hand man to mega-rich super-lobbyist Roland Rudd, the Remain campaign’s éminence grise. Which explains why Smith is so keen on his democracy-defying plan for a second referendum. Oily Smith is a former Big Pharma lobbyist, whose campaign is being run by a former Big Pharma lobbyist, and whose spinner is another former Big Pharma lobbyist…

UPDATE: A pro-Corbyn source gets in touch:

“What would Nye say? Pretending to be the heir to Nye Bevan and having one big pharma lobbyist running your campaign is sloppy, but having two is either suspicious or incompetent or both. It’s clear now that Owen Smith doesn’t give a Pfizer about our NHS.”

May Hires New Press SpAd

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Theresa May has hired Patrick McLoughlin’s spinner Tim Smith as her final Downing Street press SpAd. Another alumnus of the CCHQ press office, Smith has been a SpAd at Transport for the last year, taking a short sabbatical to fight the good fight during Zac’s battle against Sadiq.[…] Read the rest

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Tory Press Chief to Be Home Secretary’s SpAd

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Some more SpAd movements: Guido hears Tory Director of Communications Amy Fisher is returning to government as a Special Adviser to Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Fisher was Chris Grayling’s SpAd before heading up the press operation at CCHQ after the election.[…] Read the rest

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Press Gallery Chairman Craig Woodhouse New DCMS SpAd

A raft of new SpAd appointments is expected imminently and Guido understands the headline move will be Craig Woodhouse joining Karen Bradley at DCMS. It’s a smart hire for the new Culture Secretary to poach an industry insider – Woodhouse is a newspaper veteran, the respected chairman of the Press Gallery and chief political correspondent at The Sun.[…] Read the rest

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SpAd List: New Appointments

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Downing Street sources indicate the final SpAd List will not be released for some weeks, so Guido’s spreadsheet is the only place to stay up to date. Since our last update Osborne’s widely-respected former SpAd Neil O’Brien has been kept on to do industrial strategy in Number 10.[…] Read the rest

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UKIP NEC Member Compares Faragists to Nazis

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UKIP’s civil war has kicked off again this morning with a leading member of the party’s NEC comparing Team Farage to Nazi propagandists. John Bickley, part of the NEC which blocked Steven Woolfe from standing, says claims by Faragists that Woolfe was stitched up are “pure Goebbels”.[…] Read the rest

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Smith’s Fantasy Minimum Wage Numbers

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Owen Smith has hit back at Guido’s story from earlier by producing the above graphic claiming his proposed minimum wage would be higher than the Tories’. Unfortunately for Oily this raises more questions than it answers. First, Smith’s team have confirmed their numbers are dependent on him becoming Prime Minister this year.[…] Read the rest

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Empty Seats at Smith Campaign Rally

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Owen Smith boasts that a “great crowd” turned up to his campaign rally tonight. His team tweeted out the carefully cropped picture above to show off his turnout. Guido’s pictures taken from slightly further back tell a different story:

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It was a 900 capacity venue, filled to about a third:

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Some Smith supporters are tweeting that his fans are queuing round the block.[…] Read the rest

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McGinn Whipped Labour MPs to “Keep Up the Pressure on JC”

Labour whip Conor McGinn has created some headlines today by accusing Corbyn of threatening to call up his dad. McGinn over-dramatically says this is “bullying”. It’s not really though, is it. “Just wait till your father hears about this” is said by many mothers…

McGinn was fingered a while back as a key anti-Corbyn plotter, despite supposedly serving the leader as an opposition whip.[…] Read the rest

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