Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When is a Speech Not a Speech?

It’s safe to say this morning’s ‘speech’ by Grant Shapps and the multi-millionaire wheeler dealer Sir John Major has been a bit of a clusterf**k. In fact there is zero evidence so far that it even took place. There are a couple of quotes in the Mail and on PA but why was no one invited?

This is the press release that went out. Did these mythical candidates even say anything?

As the Tories thought it fit to not invite any press to the event, we have to rely on a stream of verbal diarrhoea from @CCHQPress as evidence it ever happened. Surely they can’t be so worried about a few questions that they would go out of their way to shoot themselves in the foot like this? It’s going to be a long campaign at this rate.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Labour MPs Revolt Against Miliband’s “Sloganeering”

With just a few days to go before Labour’s special conference, two Labour MPs have used interviews with Total Politics to hand Miliband a big public slap over his messaging. Simon Danczuk was victim to red on red revenge last time he criticised Ed, though that hasn’t deterred him:

“Some [slogans] have a shelf-life, others don’t… so ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ is probably coming to the end of its sell-by-date, isn’t it? People get turned off by it. I read the other day ‘One Nation Social Security’ – what the hell is that? Andrew Neil asked me on the Daily Politics about ‘One Nation Banking’. ‘One Nation Banking’? For goodness sake! If I went round talking like that on the doorstep, I’d get short shrift. You’d see doors being slammed in your face.”

Meanwhile head girl Stella Creasy wades in, deriding Ed’s ‘One Nation’:

“If you ever met people from Walthamstow you wouldn’t tell them anything like that because they’d quite quickly put you in your place.”

Which all bodes well for Saturday…

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mehdi’s Corporate Paymaster Censors Critics

In a change from side-boob and upskirt shots, Mehdi Hasan is frothing about ‘corporate welfare’ (geddit) over at the Huffington Post. He’s attacking the media for being complicit with large companies and banks:

“They are aided by their friends, allies and outriders in the right-wing media echo chamber, who have never had to endure the indignity of turning to payday lenders or food banks in order to survive.”

Which is odd given that Mehdi is aiding his corporate paymasters by censoring comments about the tax status of the Huffington Post’s parent company directly below his rant. Guido has been trying to leave the following comment all day:

“AOL turned over £56,801,000 last year yet manage to pay only £9,000 in corporation tax. How so? Could it be because HuffPo is losing money or that its UK owner, AOL Limited, repatriates profits to escape paying its dues in the UK to the Luxembourg-registered AOL Europe Société à responsabilité limitée. If Mehdi cared about the millions in corporate profits being exported by multinational corporations he wouldn’t work for one of the worst exemplars”

Sadly that inconvenient truth does not fit Mehdi’s agenda.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Labour MP Claims Thousands for Spinner on Expenses

Andy Burnham’s gaffe prone PPS Debbie Abrahams has a public profile of little note, readers will probably only remember her for the time she repeated loony ‘Dr’ Eoin Clarke’s fibs in the House and was forced to apologise for accusing Cameron of “genocide“. She barely got through last night’s painful Newsnight discussion on benefit sanctions either. You might say she could do with a comms guru to sort out her image.

Guido can reveal that Abrahams charges the taxpayer £2,099 on expenses for the “communications and media” services of “creative media and PR” consultant John Ramsden. Who, judging by the photos on his website, is clearly the real deal. Away from juggling lightbulbs, Ramsden boasts on his site that “I managed to get Debbie Abrahams on to the BBC Today programme yesterday”. So remember the next time you hear Debbie on the radio that you’re paying for the spinner who got her the gig…

Monday, February 17, 2014

Miller Protests Innocence

When asked if their boss was planning on quitting, a spokesman for Maria Miller tells Guido:

“We have always been clear that Maria’s claims are entirely above board. The inquiry is still ongoing.” 

The Commons’ Standards Committee will be the judge of that one actually.

LibDems Tell Members to Tweet Support for Floods Minister

The Sunday Mirror asked yesterday what has happened to missing floods minister Dan Rogerson, reporting that Downing Street had deliberately kept him out of sight because they feel he is not up to the job. The LibDem spin machine has roared into action with all the devestating force it can muster. This leaked email shows them, er, begging their MPs to tweet in support of their man:

Subject: Tweeting in support of Dan Rogerson

This story is not true, Dan has done lots to help the flood effort.
In order to rebut the story, if you could tweet/blog in support of Dan that would be really useful.

Our lines are:

“As Floods Minister Dan Rogerson has been playing a key active role in the government’s response to the flooding.
He has attended every COBR meeting since the flooding began.

He has been liaising with agencies and water companies to make sure contingency plans are in place; as part of this, he has spoken to GOLD Commanders and CEOs of affected companies on a daily basis.

He has also visited flooded areas such as Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset to make sure everything possible is being done to assist affected communities on the ground.

He is chairing the Somerset Levels and Moors Action Plan group, which is working to a tight timescale to develop a long-term solution in the area.”

The response has hardly been enthusiastic. That went well then…

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dobbs Bemoans Lack of Whip Action Over EU Bill

As Lord Dobbs prepares for the launch of Season Two of House of Cards on Friday, Guido can report a Machiavellian plot worthy of his characters. The progress of the EU Referendum Bill came to a grinding halt when the Lords voted against it. The vote turnout was a surprisingly low 310 out of a potential 800, on a subject that really brings old Tory lords to life. Some 90 Tory Lords were missing during the vote. Dobbs led in the Lords for the Tories and has privately voiced his dismay to friends at the lack of effort put in by the Tory whips in the Lords. Cynical old hands suspect that it suits Dave only to be seen to be pushing for a referendum bill with opponents voting it down.

It highlights to the public that it is the Tories and not UKIP which can bring about a referendum and unites Tory MPs under one banner in an endless war. You might say that actually passing the Bill would mean the PM would be closer to actually having to do something about the EU. Guido couldn’t possibly comment.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

238 Days Later

The PM must have heard it’s Guido’s birthday because he’s got him a gift – the first Downing Street press conference in 238 days – 16.45 at No. 10.

Along with the floods, this is the second sign of the apocalypse. Guido is expecting a downpour of frogs any second.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Staff Cuts are Not the Problem at the Environment Agency
Whistleblower: “Management Just Want to Expand Kingdom”

With slithering Chris Smith fighting for his job, the gloves are off and the cuts are being blamed for the fact that the Environment Agency is an over-staffed, badly managed graveyard for Labour figures of little note. 10% of the Environment Agency’s staff were cut, but that still leaves them with 11,200 pen pushers. Equivalent quangos in the rest of the world are much smaller, the Environment Agency for England alone has more staff than the Canadian, Danish, French, German, Swedish and Austrian equivalents. Combined. Only the US Environmental Protection Agency has more staff, (15,913 versus 11,200) hardly surprising given the US is some eighty times larger than the UK with six times the population. Last year this billion pound lefty-fest spent £395 million on staff (£592 million including pensions) compared to £219 million on capital projects, and just £20 million on maintaining rivers. More was spent on PR last year than on dredging – £2.7 million.

So what are the bosses up to? Well most of the board manage less than half-a-dozen days a month for their filthy lucre. Usually non-execs on boards have grey hairs and relevant knowledge and/or experience, yet this rule clearly does not apply to the EA. What is it that makes former Culture Secretary Chris Smith a suitable boss? When he’s not in charge of rivers and forests he’s a part time lecturer on the creative industries. Perhaps he could commission a play or a poetry reading to cheer up the people of Somerset. When he’s not wasting taxpayers money at the EA, he’s meddling over at the Advertising Standards Agency. Token Tory Peter Ainsworth was not a very good Shadow Defra minister and seems to be loitering around here while he holds out for that coveted Peerage. And what in Larry Whitty’s experience at the General Municipal Boilermakers & Allied Trade Union or as a former General Secretary of the Labour that qualified him for his seat on the board?

What exactly do all these staff do? One whistle-blower claims:

“it doesn’t help that 99% of the staff, mostly Environment and Flood Officers, refuse to do standby or volunteer to assist with flooding emergencies. This is despite it being in their contract. It leaves us undermanned and ill prepared, but managers won’t do anything about but claim they need to employ more staff. Really, management just want to expand their kingdoms”

As the Speccie leader this week says:

“Steadily, the Environment Agency has become a law unto itself. The idea behind its creation was to allow it to operate free from political interference. They now form a deeply politicised government in exile, with an incompetent but self-revering hierarchy that voters cannot dislodge. Nothing has more vividly conveyed the failure of the Environment Agency during this crisis than the lamentable public performances of its current chairman, the former Labour culture secretary Lord (Chris) Smith. His weak, half-shifty, half-arrogant interviews have shown him up to be a man wholly out of touch with the reality of the havoc his agency’s policies have wreaked. His blatherings about a choice between protecting ‘front rooms or farmland’ sums up his failure to understand the countryside, and the fact that most people have looked after both for generations. He is due to step down shortly, which is a shame: he ought to be fired for rank incompetence. But the reckoning should not stop there. It is now clear that the Environment Agency has become a threat to the countryside it was set up to serve. It ought to be dismantled, and its responsibilities shared out among smaller bodies which are much more obviously fit for purpose.”

It’s the drip, drip, drip that will get him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another Political Appointee Stuffed in by the Tories

Another day and another government job stuffed with a political appointee. Yes,  those evil Tories are at it again, installing former Labour spinner Tom Kelly as the new non-executive director at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. A position Kelly can add to his public body-filled CV alongside Financial Services Authority comms chief and head of PR at Network Rail. Not to mention his career highlight of describing weapons inspector Dr David Kelly as a “Walter Mitty” character during his tenure at Number 10. The struggle takes many forms!


Seen Elsewhere

Harriet Harman Offers Less Than the Living Wage | Owen Bennett
Fallon’s Red Arrow Spin Unravels | Wings Over Scotland
What is the LibDems’ Problem With “The Jews” | Speccie
Image is the Least of Ed’s Worries | Speccie
The Most Politically Cynical Speech I Have Ever Seen | Dan Hodges
Full Sunday Sport Style Guide Email | MediaGuido
What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace
Feminist Lobby Killing Meritocracy | Kathy Gyngell


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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:

“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


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