What the Heli? Osborne Cops Copter Flak

George Osborne has bemused Tory MPs and amused leadership rivals by travelling to schmooze local Conservative associations… by helicopter. Osborne flew to Clearwell Castle in Gloustershire in November so he could deliver a speech to 138 guests at the Forest of Dean Conservative Association, over a dinner of duck confit, roast beef and cheesecake. Despite these fundraisers usually only raising a few grand, the cost of the helicopter ride came in at a staggering £8,000. It was paid for by Countywide Developments, a private donor.

Tory MPs suspect Osborne, or rather his financial backers, stumped up the exorbitant fee to help the Chancellor woo the grassroots on the so-called “rubber chicken circuit”. The idea of him choppering around the country to speak to associations has also gone down badly with the associations themselves, who would rather the donor just gave them the cash. Nothing says “I’m in touch and ready to lead the country” like flying to dinner in a helicopter…

Lucy Allan Speaks: ‘I Was Silly… Stupid… I Understand the Rage’

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Bullying row Tory Lucy Allan, who spent the week before Christmas with her office phone unplugged to avoid journalists, has finally broken her silence. Allan tells her local paper she regrets screaming at a young staffer, saying she understands “some of the rage”. She makes no comment on allegations that she swore at another young aide and refused to let a third have the weekend off to visit a terminally ill relative.

“I think it is totally wrong to get angry with employees. It does not help anyone. Whether that is bullying I will leave for other people to decide. She was certainly shouted at and I regret that… I understand some of the rage”

Is that her rage or the rage of her constituents?

Bizarrely, Allan goes on to describe Guido’s story about her doctoring an email from a constituent to add a death threat as “interesting“.

“It was silly, not professional. Not what an MP should do. It’s maybe what Lucy would do but I am an MP now and you have to rise above it. I think it is an interesting story about social media.”

That’s one word for it…

Muslim Women Gagged at PM’s ‘Freedom for Muslim Women’ Speech

David Cameron is speaking from a secret venue today announcing more money to boost female migrants’ language skills, in order to help them escape the “control” of men in some communities. So it looks pretty bad that Downing Street aides are preventing the Muslim women there from speaking to journalists. Sky’s Gerard Tubb is at the scene:

What was that about domineering men preventing Muslim women from speaking?

UPDATE: A No. 10 source quickly gets in touch to insist that this was simply “a timetabling issue, simple as that” and that the women were free to speak to journalists afterwards.

David Mundell Comes Out as Gay

Scotland Secretary David Mundell has come out:

New Year, new start! I have already set out my political priorities for the year and now I am setting out my personal one. Having taken one of the most important decisions of my life and resolved to come out publically as gay in 2016, I just want to get on with it, and now, just like that, I have said it. How can it be both so easy and so hard to say a few short words?    

In the end, it took just a couple of  taps on a keyboard, yet at some points, in my mind, it was going to be harder than standing for election, speaking in the House of Commons or being cross-examined on television. I still cannot fully rationalise such feelings, but I know they are not uncommon, particularly in men of my age. Of course, everybody who gets to this point, has had their own journey. I have certainly been on mine – conflicting emotions, of doubts and fears, but ultimately positive and uplifting, with an unstoppable direction of travel. Over time, I came to understand that, for me, the only way to be truly happy on a personal level is to acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am. 

I so admire the many people, young and old, who are doing this every day, uncertain of the reaction. I have been very fortunate and couldn’t have had more love and support from my family and friends. However, making this  public is something I have had to do myself. I don’t know what the wider reaction will be, but I know it’s the right thing for me to do. 

Other than the intensely personal and positive  difference it  makes to me, and the way I can live my life, my hope is that my coming out doesn’t change anything else about how I go about my work or how people treat me. Gender and sexuality should make no difference whether you are a Cabinet Minister or in any other walk of life and I hope that I can, in my own way, reinforce that message.    

The first openly gay Tory Cabinet minister.

Tory Boob: I Was Hacked!

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Yesterday Guido revealed how Tory councillor Nick Rushton had boobed by following an assortment of Twitter accounts dedicated to well-endowed ladies. Today naughty Nick has called in the police claiming he was hacked, telling his local paper:

“My Twitter account was hacked by someone with malicious intent. Whoever has done this changed my password, as I was unable to log onto it for a considerable period of time.”

Guido can help the police with their enquiries.

The screenshot of Rushton’s ‘Following’ page was taken over the weekend, after which Rushton’s account continued to tweet a series of selfies showing the man himself.

Either Nick’s long-lost identical twin changed his password or the hacking story doesn’t quite add up…

Boris: “I Am Not an Outer”

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Stories in two newspapers this morning suggest that two so-called Eurosceptics will not in the end campaign to leave the EU. The Express claims Boris held talks with Tory MPs about leading the Leave campaign but turned the role down. They quote him as saying: “The trouble is, I am not an outer”

Quentin Letts in the Mail describes how once prominent outer Philip Hammond has gone native in the FCO, a point Guido made in June:

“He used to be a prominent Eurosceptic (indeed, his scepticism was one of the reasons he was appointed). Now he is mid-restyle. Having sensed that his own political survival may be in peril unless he sucks up to 10 Downing Street, he is turning himself into a Europhile… The Hammond of old is quickly being replaced by a Hammond who gives Europe the benefit of the doubt, a Hammond who is striving to keep Britain IN the European Union, a Hammond who with a superior lifting of the eyebrows, a tone of settled worldliness, asserts that he finds EU-sceptic position options to be unappealing. ‘Doesn’t look like a good plan to me,’ he murmured yesterday, perhaps a mite too ostentatiously, after hearing someone mention Norway’s position outside the EU. Equating Britain to Norway is a worn Europhile tactic.”

Looking at Guido’s guide to Cabinet Eurosceptics, the only three who seem dead certs to campaign to Leave are IDS, Grayling and Theresa Villers. May, Gove and Saj are all on the fence, and Cameron’s new rules gagging ministers from making pronouncements on Europe until the renegotiation is complete mean that isn’t going to change any time soon. Where is the X-it Factor?

Tory Council Leader Boobs Big Time

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Click to Enlarge

It’s all gone tits-up for Nicholas Rushton, the Tory leader of Leicestershire county council, after one of his eagle eyed Twitter followers noticed that he was following a few rather risqué accounts. It appears that Rushton doesn’t understand the public nature of his followings. He clearly has something of a sweet spot for bosomy women, and accordingly decided to follow accounts dedicated to the veneration of such. Readers should not get the impression that Rushton’s obsessed – he also follows the ILikeBootyDaily account. Tits ‘n ass!

UPDATE: Too little, too late:

blocked

Hunt Aide Interrupts Sky News Interview

A Department of Health aide has ‘done a Paddy O’Flynn‘ and interrupted an interview between Sky’s Darren McCaffrey and senior clinical adviser Norman Williams. Unfortunately the cameras kept rolling…

Cameron Gags EU Rebel Rebels

The PM has written to his ministers outlining a series of strict rules by which they will have to abide during the referendum. Eurosceptic ministers will be gagged from speaking out until the renegotiation is complete:

Once the renegotiation is […]

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From Bard To Worse: PM’s Terrible Shakespeare Gags

Don’t think Eton boy Dave is giving his Harrow rival Benedict Cumberbatch a run for his money just yet…[…]

+ READ MORE +

At Last! PM Gives Ministers Referendum Free Vote

Cameron has shelved collective responsibility for the referendum, meaning ministers will be free to campaign for either side once he the renegotiations are completed. That frees up Saj, Priti, IDS, Grayling, Whitto and Villiers to campaign to Leave. Eyes on […]

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Zac Accuses Sadiq of “Playing The Race Card”

Zac Goldsmith was in for a grilling on the Today Programme this morning, culminating in him accusing Sadiq Khan of “playing the race card”. The Tory mayoral candidate was responding to suggestions by Sadiq and Sarah Montague that Zac was […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

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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