Javid Joins Plain Packs Cabinet Split
Culture Secretary: We Shouldn’t Be “Frightened” of Brexit

Sajid Javid has joined the 80 to 100 Tory MPs considering voting against the government at Jane Ellison’s plain packs free vote. In his House magazine interview today, the Culture Secretary issued a thinly-veiled dig at the health zealots in his party ignoring evidence from Australia that the world’s toughest anti-smoking laws there ain’t working:

“I will be driven by the evidence. I haven’t decided yet which way I’m going to vote. What I’m taking into account already is that there’s a lot that’s already been done. I don’t smoke but people choose to do so, that’s up to them.

I think government has a duty to try and discourage people. We do that through the tax system at the moment, we do that through the recent rules that came in about newsagents putting tobacco products behind their covers. But also from April this year there’s a new EU directive that 65% of the pack has to be a health warning. When I lived in Singapore they already had that rule and they have some pretty gruesome, hard-hitting health warnings.

So these are big changes already taking place. I’m fully aware that Australia has been among the first countries to use the plain packs. I’m not sure if there’s enough evidence yet, given it’s quite recent, about the impact that can have. But I think that whenever one looks at these kind of changes, you need to be driven by the evidence.”

Saj also becomes the second top Tory in 24 hours – after Boris yesterday – to make Eurosceptic noises. On an EU referendum he says “if they [the public] decide to end that relationship then that is not something anyone should be frightened of”. Wonder what they both have in common…

Boris Backs Brexit (Possibly)

In every modern Tory leadership election the candidate who has made the most anti-EU noises has won. Ergo, here is Boris’ intervention in this week’s Time magazine:

“I think Brexit is possible … [Britain] would very rapidly come to an alternative arrangement that protected our basic trading interests. I must be clear. I think there would be a pretty testy, scratchy period … [but] it wouldn’t be disastrous.”

He’s said it before, but this time he’s said it a little louder. Over to you, Theresa…

Burns Burns Bercow, Again

From Her Majesty’s Super Dooper Loyal Torygraph this morning:

SIR – The Speaker of the House of Commons wants to modernise voting in elections through the introduction of online voting in 2020.With his support, the election of all the deputy speakers as well as most chairs and membership of select committees is now done by secret ballot. However, despite efforts to introduce a secret ballot for the re-election of the Commons Speaker, he has rejected and blocked this. This suggests that his modernising zeal does not extend to matters that might affect his self-interest.

Simon Burns MP (Con)
London, SW1

He’s not Happy…

Tories Admit New Voter Software is Busted

A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have now been forced to admit that the upgrade is busted too. In the busiest donation period of the entire election cycle, party bosses have admitted that all donations of over £500 have to be declared manually to CCHQ with a spreadsheet rather than simply entered in the software – as promised. Which defeats the point of the expensive change over…

To: ALL CONSTITUENCY OFFICES, CHAIRMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE
Cc: FIELD STAFF

As you know, the Party is replacing the MERLIN software with a new membership and campaigning system called VoteSource. Over 350 associations have already decided to move to VoteSource, and their MERLIN has not been updated with the new registers of electors that were published on 1 December in England and Wales*. For these users VoteSource must now be used for all election campaigning. Donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on VoteSource, but see below for how to report.

A number of associations have decided to remain on MERLIN. For these seats, donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on MERLIN, but only after you have explicitly been told by the Helpdesk that your MERLIN is being rolled over to the new register. If in doubt about your MERLIN’s status, please email XXXXXX@conservatives.com, or to check donors email their name and address to XXXXXX@conservatives.com

Donation reporting functionality will be added to VoteSource soon. Until then, donations over £500 must be recorded on the attached spreadsheet. We will, as usual, send a spreadsheet at the end of the quarter** showing any donations that reach us through MERLIN, but otherwise this sheet should be your main reporting form. For the password, please call us on 020 7x XXX XXX

Remember that donations for January to March will need to be reported by 10 April, ie in the middle of the peak of campaigning, and so we strongly recommend that you update this sheet as and when you receive donations in order to avoid extra stress in April. Donations that are being made directly to a candidate or the election agent account are subject to the £50 threshold for checks, and are listed on the return of election expenses INSTEAD of reporting to us.

The Helpdesk will announce when donation functionality is available in VoteSource, but until then if you have any donation or reporting queries please do not hesitate to contact us: XXXXXXX@conservatives.com, 020 7XXX XXXX

* In Scotland, registers are not due to be updated until 10 March.

** Donations checked between 1 January and 30 March will be emailed to the association office on 11 April.

There are a lot of rather irate agents out there, facing a load more hassle.

“B*llocks!” Tory MP’s Partner in Outburst at UKIP Challenger

It’s all kicking off in Thurrock, as Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price’s partner boiled over and shouted “bollocks” at a UKIP councillor last night. Smug Tory councillor Mark Coxshall was condemned by UKIP as a “twerp” and ordered to “calm down” by the chair. Feeling the heat from defending his other half’s 92 majority under threat from UKIP candidate Tim Aker?

GUY NEWS SPECIAL: Free Amjad Bashir Protest Outside CCHQ

Amjad Bashir has not been seen since he was kidnapped by the Tory party. Amjad’s captors have released a hostage photo of him alongside their leader, but they are not allowing him any contact with the outside world. Protesters outside the captors’ HQ have been threatened by Tory party security. Bring back our Bashir…

May-nia: Faction Forming?

It’s been said before that Theresa May’s roadblock to the leadership is her lack of support within the party. There was no natural May-ite faction within the parliamentary party, but could that be about to change? Guido hears that the movements of “Alan Duncan, Bernard Jenkin and to a lesser extent Graham Brady” are being watched very closely. They’re said to be doing her bidding. Making up for lost time before the return of BoJo?

UPDATE: Alan Duncan gets in touch to say “absolute rubbish”.

Another Tory Old Fart Facing Local Deselection

West Country bore Ian Liddell-Grainger is having a right old ding-dong with local Tories down in Somerset, where his own blue council group have passed a vote of no confidence and accused him of “unethical manoeuvres” and “gratuitously derogatory and offensive comments” about their mates. They’re very upset with Queen Victoria’s great, great, great grandson:

  • Over a number of years, it stated, the MP “has made gratuitously derogatory and offensive comments about West Somerset Council, it’s leaders and some of its councillors and officers”
  • Being “proactive in undermining what the council’s been trying to achieve on behalf of its residents”
  • Treatment of “certain individuals has been immoral sometimes by bullying and making fun in public of those unable or unwilling to defend themselves”, sometimes to cover up for himself
  • The end of the document stated his “ill-informed, dishonourable, divisive and destructive behaviour… makes him unfit to be a member of parliament” and the West Somerset Council Conservative Group “does not trust him and lacks confidence in him”

The Association has full confidence… for now. 

100 Days to Go and Tories STILL have 96 Candidates to Select

Research shows that with 100 days to go, the Tories are still short a whopping 97 candidates. Almost a sixth of all seats…

Even if you subtract Northern Ireland, there are still 79 candidate-less seats with just a couple of […]

+ READ MORE +

Peer: ISIS Gains “Entirely Due” to WhatsApp or Snapchat

In a moment of admirable honesty while scrutinising the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, former defence secretary Tom King admitted that while he’s not a tweeter and he does not know about WhatsApp and Snapchat, he is certain that “the terrorists […]

+ READ MORE +

Plans to Unseat Jane “Plain Pack” Ellison Underway

There is a growing Tory backlash against Health minister Jane Ellison over her plain pack ambush. “Four letter word, starts in S and ends in T” was the ringing endorsement of one colleague, “she is not a Conservative” claims another, […]

+ READ MORE +

Put It Away, Chancellor!

Also, unclear why he seems to be sniffing a giant bottle of piss…

Via @CharlotteGay92 and today’s Western Daily Press

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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