Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ed Struggling to be Heard Over the Noise

The latest round of Shadow Cabinet briefing would suggest Ed’s failing to cut through to his own team, let alone the country. They don’t appear to be listening to what he has to say. This was no more apparent than at last Friday’s Shadow Cabinet meeting in Wales. The pointless PR stunt was was held in a plane engine factory, but nobody could turn off the machinery, so they all had to shout at each other. When that didn’t work they had to get in microphones and loud speakers – yet that didn’t really work either. If Ed Miliband says something, but no one can actually understand what it was, did it really happen?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joined Up Policy Thinking From Labour

Labour’s policy announcement this morning has been lost in the parliament of owls, but something is still bugging Guido. Why are the party promising to create a new Youth Allowance for unemployed young people? They don’t need one because they’ve already promised a Jobs Guarantee for every unemployed young person.

This jobs guarantee is compulsory.

It’s even called the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.

Today’s policy is about benefit sanctions for those young people out of work, but why do they need that when they’ve already promised to guarantee everyone a job?

McBride: Ed’s Team Are Not Election Winners

Damian McBride is back and blogging for the first time in almost a year, giving both barrels to Miliband’s inner circle. Stewart Wood look away now:

“There are many positive things to say about the people managing Ed Miliband’s operation and running Labour’s campaign. They are well-spoken, well-read, well-connected, and if you stay on their right side, quite genial. You’d feel safe sitting them next to your mum at a wedding.
 
But what they are not is fighters. They will never give their press team and foot-soldiers the ammunition required to win the next 40 weeks in the media and on the doorstep, not just because they lack an understanding of what might do the trick, but also an appreciation of why doing so matters. Not when they could be attending a Thomas Piketty symposium instead.
 
Just like David Cameron, Ed Miliband has been guilty of recruiting his innermost circle of advisers entirely in his own image. That’s alright in peacetime if it helps him shape his political philosophy and refine his personal blueprint for government. It might even be OK if basking in a large majority in office.
 
But with an election to win – an election Labour can win – Ed urgently needs to add some ‘wartime consiglieres’ to the mix, not in place of the very capable and trusted people he’s got, but working alongside them…

Ed Miliband’s Labour party is genuinely blessed with countless advisers, MPs and top shadow ministers who not only – to quote Patton again – “love the sting and clash of battle”, but know exactly what war needs to be fought and won each week of the year ahead. The problem is that none of them are currently managing Ed Miliband’s operation or leading Labour’s campaign. And that needs fixing fast.”

It’s almost a job application…

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Miliband’s Key Aide: Predistribution is ‘Ugly’

Ed Miliband’s most senior and trusted adviser Stewart Wood has described the Labour leader’s key policy plank as “ugly”. While interviewing the violent French number-cooker Thomas Piketty yesterday, Lord Wood asked “how can you get people who don’t have access to wealth – in the ugly word ‘predistribution’ – to get access to wealth, to get access to those assets?” Which makes you wonder why, as one of Ed’s main speech-writers, he let the Labour leader drone on with the “ugly word” so much.

Here are Wood’s words, as read out by Ed, at the ‘New Agenda’ speech, in late 2012:

“We need to care about predistribution as well as redistribution.

Predistribution is about saying: We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck with permanently being a low-wage economy. It is neither just, nor does it enable us to pay our way in the world. 

Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, higher wage economy. Think about somebody working in a call centre, a supermarket, or in an old peoples’ home. 

Redistribution offers a top-up to their wages. 

Predistribution seeks to offer them more.”

Lord Wood tells Guido that it was a “self-deprecating remark about the word. Nothing more.”  While the word itself is ugly, apparently the idea behind remains important. Something lots of people were saying at the time. Onwards towards the process of redistributing wealth, formerly known as predistribution….

Balls Told Constituents He Would Fight Zero Hours Contracts
Then Employed Four Zero Hours Staff Himself Last Year

Talking to his constituents last year Ed Balls railed against so-called zero-hours contracts, launching a stinging attack in the Morley Observer & Advertiser:

Just in this area, thousands are working with this kind of contract. It puts a real strain on working families and cause huge anxiety and uncertainty. Each week they don’t know whether there will be enough work to feed their kids or pay for childcare.

I want to see this issue looked at properly and action taken so that these kinds of contracts are the exception rather than the rule. It’s no way for Britain to compete in the global economy in the 21st century. Anyone who’s affected and wants me to look into their case should get in touch by emailed ed@edballs.com or call 0113 253 9466.”

Stern words.

The Sun today reveals that Balls has employed four workers on zero-hours contracts in the last year. Indeed, out of the 62 Labour MPs who employed parliamentary staff on zero-hours contracts in 2013, the Shadow Chancellor was one of the biggest users. His spokesman Alex Belardinelli is trying to spin away the screw-up by arguing: “on advice of IPSA we use their casual contracts solely to allow us to pay living wage to interns & students on temp placements”. That doesn’t even make sense; temp contracts can of course specify hours. Nor is IPSA advice mandatory, if they told Balls to send his staffers up the chimneys would he do that too? Balls tells his constituents to give his office a ring if they have been affected by zero-hours contracts. Chances are the phone will be answered by someone who is on one too…

Fortunately, the Shadow Chancellor has a defender in the Institute of Directors:

“The fact that so many students and young people are employed by Labour MPs in this way further undermines the calls from the far left to ban such contracts all together. Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed and the Labour policy on Zero Hours Contracts is now pretty sensible. Just don’t tell Oxfam…”

A welcome change in policy…

Rouhani is a Good Sport
Iranian President Recreates Famous ‘Dave of the People’ Shot

In a further sign of diplomatic warming between Iran and the West, Hassan Rouhani has recreated the famous “David Cameron watching the sports like a real man” photograph. A far more significant move than opening any embassy.

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Labour Blocked Release of Miners’ Strike Info in Power

Another day and another call for an inquiry from Labour. As reported in this morning’s Guardian:

“Ed Miliband has called for a “proper investigation” into alleged police malpractice during and after the most notorious confrontation of the 1984-85 miners’ strike, at the Orgreave coking plant 30 years ago this week.” 

The Labour leader goes on to call the issue “a matter of truth and a matter of justice.” This latest intervention comes on the back of Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Michael Dugher’s call for Whitehall to release information about the miners’ strike in Labour’s base-shoring up ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign. Which is a change of tune from when Labour were in government…

New FoI requests seen by Guido have revealed that between 2007-2010, when Miliband was in government and Dugher was a SpAd,  Labour refused three such requests to release information about the 1984-5 miners’ strike. No need to let inconvenient facts like that get in the way of the 35% strategy though…

 

Is Dom Cummings #Winning?

The last tweet from the once prolific parody @SteveHiltonGuru account, four days ago, was a generous response to former Gove SpAd and social media connoisseur Dom Cummings:

An appointment made even more unlikely by Cummings piling into No.10 in the Times this morning, not least calling the PM’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn “a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court”. Who else has been the author of some similarly colourful criticism of Llewellyn over the years?

What a remarkable coincidence. Hashtag winning…

Friday, June 13, 2014

Labour NEC Round on Ed’s Set Piece Slogan

Labour NEC member Ann Black has published her minutes of the last meeting:

“Before the meeting I asked members if “Hardworking Britain Better Off” was an effective slogan, and circulated more than 200 replies, anonymised, to the NEC.  To summarise:  98% of you hated it, because it is divisive; it suggests that Labour only supports those in paid work and does not value the old, the young, the sick, the carers, the disabled, the jobless; it is dog-whistle code for scroungers and skivers; it sounds like a Tory slogan; it is a Tory slogan; it is ungrammatical; and it is meaningless. Parliamentary candidates avoid using it.”

Not even a comma can save it! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sham Tory Europe Bill Back

Here we go again. Having sacked him at the last reshuffle, the luck of the draw means that Dave is going to be very nice about Bob Neill now. The Bromley MP has agreed to take on the Wharton Bill mantel as the highest ranking Tory in the Private Members Bill ballot:

“One of the first votes I ever cast was on EU membership  in the 1970’s . Now as I pick up my bus pass I am getting the chance to work with colleagues to  secure a referendum for the British people. Britain needs a new deal with Europe and the Conservatives have a plan for change in Europe – renegotiate, reform and put the deal to the British people in an in-out referendum by the end of 2017. Parliament now has the chance to pass my backbench bill and guarantee that the British people have the final say.”

If Cameron had really wanted to lock a referendum into law he could have exercised his authority over the LibDems and put it in the Queen’s Speech last week, forcing the other two parties to vote against it. Nick Clegg is hardly in any position to complain after his Europe-specific drubbing at the ballot box earlier this month. Let the spin begin.


Seen Elsewhere

Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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