“Thank you and goodbye.”
“Thank you and goodbye.”
A quick glance at TheStraightChoice leaflet archive shows that not a single Labour candidate has deemed it a good idea to put Gordon on their literature. Guido will give a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze to the first person who sends him a scan of such a leaflet. Obviously not from Kircaldy…
UPDATE : David Jessop wins the book, Daniel Zeichner in Cambridge has a tiny picture of Jonah him on his leaflet.
Whoever says Scottish politics is dull might want to take a look at last week’s unravelling saga around Labour controlled Glasgow City Council. Who would have thought when Gordon sat next to him on the Thursday before last that within a week one of Scotland’s up and coming politicians would have attempted suicide, that a police investigation would link the same man, Glasgow’s most senior politician, to major organised drug criminals and an 18-year-old Labour activist would be end up dead outside the city’s Council Chambers. As ever Gordon is pulling a Macavity on this one.
Steven Purcell was talked about as the saviour of the Scottish Labour Party, its brightest young star, he was tipped as a future First Minister. However if Purcell ever wanted a return to front-line politics, he certainly handled his spectacular fall from grace, spectacularly badly. No crisis manager could stop the drip, drip, drip of information concerning his party-boy lifestyle, snorting and drinking until the wee hours yet serving the city of Glasgow to a surprisingly competent degree. Yet he was in with the wrong crowd and in May last year some of Scotland’s top coppers visited Purcell in his council offices as his name had repeatedly cropped up in investigations. There was reason to believe that someone was attempting to blackmail Purcell with mobile phone footage of him.
Fast forward to last week and as Gordon was leaving Glasgow, Purcell was going into meltdown. Vodafone blocked his number after he abused call centre staff and he was found in tears talking nonsense at his desk. He ended up in the Castle Craig rehab centre. Although Purcell was earning fifty grand as council leader, you must wonder how much of this went up his nose and therefore who was paying for the rehab stay and for retaining of lawyers and crisis managers? Either way Purcell went missing from the rehab centre on Sunday night. Some have suggested he attempted to kill himself in open water as he was found soaked.
By now the story had started to emerge in the press and by Monday the internet was rife with rumours about Purcell stepping down because of cocaine rather than the “stress” cited in the official statement. We now know that Council staff wanted to blow the whistle but were stopped by Purcell’s mysteriously funded lawyers. As the week progressed the story unravelled more, Purcell’s vain attempts at crisis management were no match for overwhelming evidence. The final straw was the collapse and subsequent death of a admirer of Mr Purcell’s, a young Labour Party activist named Danus McKinlay who “worshipped” Purcell and “would do anything for him” . Guido understands that McKinlay was diabetic and there has been reason to believe that he had stopped taking his medication resulting in his subsequent collapse. Witnesses said they thought he was drunk – an easy mistake to make of someone who desperately needs insulin.
That was the final straw, within two hours Purcell had resigned as a councillor and has fled Scotland to an unknown sunny destination. Through all of this Gordon has remained silent. The ally he was once so keen to be photographed with, campaign for, tip for future greatness and fund-raise for, was left to the scrap-heap. What did Gordon know and when?
There has been a lot of tut-tutting about Gordon belatedly paying back £500 for the “questionable” painting of a summerhouse in the garden of his Fife home. So there should be, how did Gordon imagine it was that the summerhouse expenses claimed had been incurred “wholly, necessarily, and exclusively” in the performance of parliamentary duties?
He was able to do that using his second home allowance, but hang on a second, where is his first home? He lives in grace and favour accomodation in Downing Street, he has use of the grace and favour Chequer’s mansion. He pays nothing in rent or mortgage for those properties. When he married he adroitly gave to Sarah the flat he bought cheaply in dubious circumstances from Robert Maxwell’s estate and Guido understands it is now rented out at a profit. That leaves only his old Fife home. It is clearly his real home, it is the only one he owns. Yet he designates it as his “second home” for expenses purposes.
That is just quite simply a dishonest and false claim made only to maximise the amount he can milk from the expenses system. It allows him to live without paying for accommodation anywhere – if only he was so frugal with government expenditure – all at the expense of the taxpayer. He taxes the shirts off our backs to pay for the ironing of the shirt on his back.
The Americans are a polite and courteous people, they will undoubtedly give Brown a standing ovation. Congress however is not an audience that can be manipulated by party apparatchiks and placemen “spontaneously” clapping. Nevertheless when Blair turned on the charm and upped the oratory to the US Congress they gave him 19 standing ovations. How many standing ovations do you think Gordon will receive?
UPDATE : Those young staffer’s legs have a lot of energy in them. By Gordon’s standards that was one of his better speeches. Guido counted even the half-hearted stand-ups ,making it 17, BBC reckons 18. Adam Boulton reckoned only half-a-dozen or so proper standing ovations.
This is pure comedy; Ben Brogan reflects on the gift of a pencil holder (?) made from wood from HMS Gannet:
…I wonder what Mr Obama will make of the fact that the only action it saw was in Sudan when it shelled rebels against the British empire. He’s also getting Sir Martin Gilbert’s seven volume biography of Churchill, which will help him find out more about how the Mau-Mau were successfully suppressed in Kenya by the British Emp… Oh, I’m sure it will be fine.
It was of course Churchill who ordered the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s; Obama’s grandfather was detained as a subversive for six months at that time. Hopefully Obama will see the funny side. Already in Washington, Adam Boulton said yesterday that
… observers will be on the look out for any hint of a patronising slight from the President. For example Downing Street is hoping for a joint news conference with the President as was routine with Bush and Clinton…
On landing outside snowbound Washington after a 7 hour transatlantic flight, while Brown was getting his post-flight make-up done onboard, the rest of the Lobby learnt there is to be no press conference with Obama.
Brogan says there will just be
… a quick question or two on the fly, not the standing podium-to-podium with the Messiah image that Mr Brown imagined. The joint presser is usually a given on these trips, so this is odd.
Over at the Telegraph Toby Harnden mocks
Mr Brown might be forgiven for thinking that his friend, rival and predecessor Tony Blair would not have been treated the same way by his bosom buddy President George W. Bush. After all, there are 132 rooms in the White House at least some of which, presumably, are currently be free of snow.
On the other hand, President Obama is terribly busy this Tuesday. The White House schedule tells us that he is delivering remarks at the Department of Transportation to deliver remarks about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is also speaking at the Department of Interior to mark its 160th anniversary.
There’s a conflab with Pentagon chief Bob Gates. Oh, and Mr Obama will also meet “a delegation from the Boy Scouts of America and receive their 2008 Report to the Nation” in the Oval Office.
Mr Brown might lament that despite the so-called “special relationship” Britain is now getting the same treatment as the President of Uruguay but he need not despair. I’m told there’s a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening.
The Boy Scouts of America obviously are better prepared than the Downing Street boys…
Thought he said he wasn’t taking a foreign holiday..?