Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Independent Fraud Investigation Finds Wandsworth Wanting

Regular readers will recall that last year Guido was leaked huge amounts of paperwork regarding a fraud carried out by Justine Greening’s agent in Putney between 2006 and 2010. Robert Morritt had since got himself elected on to Wandsworth Council and local Tories saw fit to put the report in the drawer and pretend £50,000 had not gone walkies. You can read the full story here.

In the wake of Guido’s exposé, that revealed the full extent of the theft and the cover up, an independent investigation was set up; apparently to dispel concerns that the author of the first report was in some way “biased”. Cllr Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, chartered accountant and all round upstanding citizen, has now produced that second report and, guess what? It confirms what Guido was saying. Hard copies of the report have been seen by council figures to avoid it leaking, but Guido has spoken to sources familiar with its content. Puddlefoot is said to have identified even more problems with Cllr Morritt’s time at the Wandsworth Conservative Group.

CCHQ are, as one might expect, having kittens and have made it known to officers of Wandsworth Conservatives that either they deal with Morritt or the Party Board will. Yet silence so far. The report was published over a week ago and meeting after meeting has been held to persuade Morritt to resign from Wandsworth Council and trigger a by-election. He is refusing. A source at the heart of all this tells Guido: “Morritt is clinging on for dear life, desperately hoping that a small clique of followers in Putney and a few unsubstantiated claims about how all of this is a conspiracy will save him. It will not. Nothing can save him and if he had the slightest interest in the good of the party, he would do the honourable thing.” What’s the one about honour and thieves?

Soubry’s £5 Billion Plainly Packaged Surprise for Osborne

“Super” Anna Soubry, as she is ironically known by embittered Tory colleagues, hasn’t fared too well in her ongoing spat with Ian Paisley Jr. Twice she has failed to answer his questions on the possibility of the Department of Health having to buy intellectual property rights from tobacco companies in order to pass plain packaging legislation. Apparently she has “an open mind” and is looking at the evidence, though for some reason is being coy about how much it would cost. Perhaps Guido can help her. Rewind back to the 2008 consultation and a Citigroup analyst warned that the government could end up having to give tobacco companies up to £5 billion in order for plain packaging legislation to be lawful. Soubry has the figures, for some reason she is keeping them quiet. She might want to mention this detail to the Chancellor…

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tory MP Claims Dave is Safe No Matter What, But…

This could be a Michael Fish moment for Bob Neill. The backbench MP declared that even if the Tories lost more than three hundred seats on Thursday then everything will be alright for Dave, the party totally love him and they would forgive such an horrendous punishment beating.

Neill has nailed his colours to his mast but Guido hears that not all of his parliamentary colleagues are so brazen/confident. A “what-if” contingency plan is being hatched by the men in grey suits, in the unlikely event of total wipe out north of 400+.

The Tories Know All About a“£120 Billion Financial Black Hole”

Britain’s right-wing civil war continues this morning, with UKIP continuing to get the big boy club treatment. Today’s battle ground is the Times take down of UKIP’s “£120 billion black hole”. Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was wheeled out to stick the boot in:

“It is clear that there is a £120 billion financial black hole in UKIP’s economic plans. If implemented we would end up going the way of Cyprus and Greece much faster even than if we had a Labour government. UKIP’s whacky policies can only be paid for by a massive increase in borrowing or wholescale sacking of teachers, doctors and nurses.”

An £120 billion uncosted black hole of “whacky” policies, eh? A fair point perhaps, though UKIP argue it is based on an outdated manifesto, but that £120 billion figure reminds Guido of something. Oh yes, that “£120 billion financial black hole” that the Tories are currently running in the nation’s finances… 

“Aspiration Nation” Poll Flop

Craig Oliver, the Alan Partridge of strategic government communications, has had another brainwave for how to deal with the press. His latest wheeze for getting hacks onside is to hand them so-called Twitter exclusives. The plan is to spoon feed patsy journalists stories to be broken online before they are officially announced. Presumably in return for favours.

Dave will be hoping it goes down better than Number 10’s last big brainwave. Guido understands that private focus groups have tested the effectiveness of the phrase “aspiration nation”, only to find the public hates it. It’s not like Cameron used the leaden phrase in his last party conference speech or Osborne used the term as the theme of his recent budget.  A-ha…

CCHQ Moving Out of Modernising Millbank

In yesterday’s Sun on Sunday column Guido exclusively revealed that the CCHQ is moving out of its Westminster headquarters in 30 Millbank, the home of the modernisation project. Word is that since its reception was smashed up and the roof invaded by angry students in 2010, the Tories’ insurance bill has soared. Landlords of suitable replacement buildings, wary of future rioting protesters will be charging a premium come the autumn move.

Maybe they could move to the top of the Shard.

At least the protesters won’t be able to reach the roof…

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mary Creagh’s Lectures in Dodgy Attack Lines

Idiot of the day goes to Richard Benyon, the Environment minister and richest current MP who told poor families to stop wasting food this morning. You could always rely on Labour foghorn and Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh to shoot herself in the foot with her response, however:

“Mums struggling to feed their families don’t need lectures on wrapping cheese from a Tory Government which has created a cost of living crisis with its failed economic plan.”

Roll back four years and then Labour DEFRA man Hilary Benn had a rather different attitude:

“As a nation we waste around £10 billion of food each year – a third of what we buy. Part of the problem is how food is labelled. Some 370,000 tonnes of food are chucked out each year after passing their ‘best before’ dates, despite being perfectly good, safe and edible. When you buy something from the supermarket it should be easy to know how long you should keep it for and how you should store it. Too many of us are throwing things away simply because we’re not sure, we’re confused by the label, or we’re just playing safe.”

Presumably it’s just Tories who aren’t allowed to lecture people, right Mary?

Local Government’s £217,130 on Foreign Travel

Of all the departments that make up Her Majesty’s government, Guido would have thought the one that doesn’t need to blow huge sums of taxpayer cash on foreign junkets would be the Department for Communities and Local Government. Somehow the department have spent £217,130 on visits abroad since 2010, no signs of a trip to a Sydney casino though. When Guido put it to them, DCLG sources pointed to the fact that the department has made savings of over half a billion pounds over the current spending review period and most of the travel was for mandatory trips to the EU. A useful figure to keep handy…

How Tax Credits Are Set to Rocket

Hardly a surprise, but confirmation from Sajid Javid that the government projects billions more will be spent on tax credits over the next few years. The total spend on child tax and working tax credits has jumped from £24.1 billion in 2008-9 to £29.9 billion this year. The figure is projected to rise again to £32.5 billion by 2017-18. Austerity, what austerity?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Steve Hilton Returns

Downing Street sources have confirmed to Guido that Steve Hilton is back, if only in a somewhat lesser capacity. He will merely be attending meetings with Dave’s policy advisory board to “help them with formulating policy and driving a Conservative policy agenda throughout government”. His sabbatical is all but permanent…


Seen Elsewhere

Labour Failed Those Victims | Labour Uncut
We Cannot Ignore the Race Issue Here | Dan Hodges
74 MPs Who Back Stop Mills Motion | Speccie
Milibande | Ian Birrell
The True Meaning of Political Correctness Gone Mad | Speccie
Nigel, Nigel, Nigel! | Bloomberg
Bercow Blinks | Guardian
Speaker on the Ropes | Indy
Outgoing Clerk Slams Bercow – Row Goes Very Public | BBC
Darling Was Wrong on OBR | Speccie
Climate Change Cools Off | Washington Times


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Shaun Wright’s understatement about the Rotherham child abuse scandal…

“..I could have taken more action and probably dealt with this issue better.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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