Labour’s Westminster Bubble Bursts
Half of Party’s Key Marginal Candidates are Political Insiders 

Researched published in the Guardian today confirms Labour’s bubble problem: half of the party’s candidates selected to fight marginal seats come from jobs in politics. 54% of Labour candidates in marginal and inherited seats have previously worked in politics or wonk world, compared with 46% of LibDem candidates and 17% of Tories. Created in the image of their leader…

The research finds that former or current staff of Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Tessa Jowell, Ruth Kelly, Hazel Blears, Alistair Darling, Hilary Armstrong, Mary Creagh, Lord Foulkes, David Blunkett and Lord Sugar are all running, as are 15 ex-Labour MPs standing again, as readers will remember they include expenses piggies Joan Ryan and Andrew Dismore. They identified four Red Princes so far: Jack Straw’s son Will, Neil Kinnock’s son Stephen, former MP Colin Burgon’s son Richard and ex-MP Shona McIsaac’s husband Peter. They won’t be the last.

In 2012 Miliband championed a new Labour Party programme to find more working class MPs to try to address concerns that too many of the party’s candidates had backgrounds as researchers and SpAds, but as Bath University’s Dr Peter Allen says, “it is more a Labour problem” and it is not going away. An ICM poll finds 44% say they are fed up with careerist MPs who “look and sound the same“, indeed a Times/YouGov poll earlier this year found that not having had a “real” job outside of politics was the least attractive quality for candidates, with 55% saying it made them unsuitable for public office. Even Tony Blair said last year that there was a “problem” with MPs not working in normal jobs before entering politics. Might there possibly be a link between Ed Miliband spending his adult life in the bubble and the public’s perception of him as an out of touch weirdo?

BOURNE SUPREMACY: IEA Wonk Slaps Down Piketty

Woman-beating economist and Labour poster boy Thomas Piketty is factbombed by the IEA’s Ryan Bourne on Channel 4 News.

CPS: Let Her People Go

The CPS have released a jazzy video to mark their Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty that takes place tomorrow. The headline grabbing policy to slash corporation tax for small businesses is already getting the attention it deserves:

Guido will be there to celebrate Maggie’s favourite think-tank’s 40th anniversary – and he will stream it live here for those who cannot join.

Another PX Wonk to No. 10

James Forsyth reports that Policy Exchange wonk Max Chambers is to join the No. 10 policy unit to take on the home affairs brief. Yet another helicopter head from the finishing school for SpAds. Guess Patrick Rock ain’t coming back any time soon…

Winner From Manila

Last night’s much-coveted €100,000 IEA Brexit Prize went to Iain Mansfield, a 30 year old member of the diplomatic service based at the British Embassy in Manila. Which the FCO will love.

His winning pamphlet concluded that “in the event of an exit, there exists a scenario for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK that is eminently achievable”. Also worth reading Lord Lawson, who presented the prize, tearing Clegg a new one in the Times today:

“Mr Clegg may have been trounced, and indeed humiliated, but his determination to strike fear in the minds of the public about the consequences of a British Exit – “Brexit” – was all too evident. In particular there was his absurd insistence that “three million jobs” depended on our membership of the EU, with the clear implication that they would disappear if we were to leave. This is complete nonsense.. The – in my view, beneficial – consequences of a Brexit need to be debated calmly and rationally. The IEA is to be congratulated for its initiative in launching this prize, as is Iain Mansfield for winning it.”

Even if – to the slight trepidation of the room – he doesn’t express an opinion on whether or not we should leave…

And how did David Cameron react to the pamphlet? He told the Commons he would be reading Nadine Dorries’ book instead.

UPDATE: To help Dave with that reading list the IEA have sent him a copy of both Mansfield’s pamphlet and Nads’ book:

Red Prince Will Straw: The New “Emperor of Blackburn”

Red Prince Will Straw doesn’t seem to be taking his bid to follow his father Jack into parliament that seriously. Despite fighting the ultra-marginal seat of Rossendale and Darwen, wonk Will has not yet to moved into the seat and continues to work in London. “Like father like son,” says a suspicious local resident, “his old man barely ever spends any time up here, sweeping in once a month like the Emperor of Blackburn.” Will claims he is staying with family and friends while he looks for somewhere to rent. Jake Berry, his sitting Tory opponent, is scathing: “publishing a picture* of yourself wearing a flat cap doesn’t mean you can pretend to live in Lancashire when you don’t! People round here aren’t daft.” 

*A photo of Will in a flat cap on his website has mysteriously disappeared from the interent. Above is an artist’s impression.

UPDATE: Will Straw has contacted us to say he has never worn a flat cap in Lancashire. He has only worn one in chi chi France…

How Charities Spend Taxpayer Millions on Political Lobbying

The Institute of Economic Affairs has done the leg work to expose how charities spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on political campaigns and lobbying. As Guido mentioned earlier in the week, several leading charities are now run by ex-Labour advisers. This is clearly reflected in their work:

  • Save the Children: Receives 16.3% of total income from taxpayer. Run by Justin Forsyth, former No. 10 spinner for Gordon Brown, who has ramped up attacks on domestic government “cuts” since 2010.
  • National Children’s Bureau: Receives more than 50% of income from taxpayer. Current campaigns include minimum pricing for alcohol, votes at 16 and a ban on smacking children.
  • Sustain: Receives 24.8% of income from taxpayer. Campaign for bans on junk food at supermarket checkouts and on children’s television.
  • Balance North East: Receives 100% of funding from taxpayer. Campaigns for minimum pricing of alcohol.
  • War on Want: Receives 8.7% of income from taxpayer. Opposed campaign to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, because if they joined they ‘couldn’t be critical of government.’

Worth reading some further work done on this by City AM this morning. A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend…

Bright Blue Director’s SpAd Blocking Temper Tantrum

Over Christmas dripping wet Tory pressure group Bright Blue launched a blistering attack on the Conservative Party’s messaging. The group’s director Ryan Shorthouse slammed the Dave for “pandering to prejudice, uncertainty and anger”. Though now it appears it was Shorthouse who was the angry one – he was blocked by Downing Street in December from becoming a SpAd to David Willets at BIS. Revenge is a dish best served on a slow news day.

Top Wonks Slam Osborne’s Minimum Wage Rise

Osborne ruining Ed’s big day by calling for a rise in the minimum wage is politically cunning, though it remains a fundamentally unsound economic idea. Here is a round up of how some of the more sensible think tanks responded […]

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Wonk Movements: All Change at TPA

Big wonk movements last night, with Matt Sinclair leaving his position as chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance to jump ship to Europe Economics. He is replaced by the TPA’s current political director, Jonathan Isaby who has gone from hack, […]

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Labour Rehab Wonk Shop’s Unpaid Intern Mystery

Centre for London is an “independent” think tank run by Ben Rogers, a former adviser to Gordon Brown and fellow at Labour wonk shop IPPR. This morning they are launching a “ground-breaking” report criticising low pay, authored by Brown treasury […]

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Wonk Allegiances

Interesting to note the political influence and orientation of some of the lefty wonk shops most willing to take money from the taxpayer compared to their counterparts to the soft right. Economist Andrew Whitby has calculated that the supposedly “non-political”[…]

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Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall is asked by Tom Newton Dunn if she would ever ban the Sun from one of her press conferences:

“If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it, but apart from that, no.”

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