Saturday Seven Up

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You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Pictured: Striking Dons on £250,000 Taxpayer Funded Jolly

Last week Guido revealed how at least 35 British public sector representatives jollied in sunny Cape Town on a massive taxpayer funded booze-up – while their sector was supposedly on strike over pensions. Looks like Prof Linda Bauld of Sterling University, chief adviser to Cancer Research on alcohol, obesity and tobacco had a great time at the World Conference on Tobacco and Health. She has warned Brits about how alcohol causes cancer. Anyway, there she is above centre at a Cape winery.

One prof even went on safari:

Nice work if you can get it – bought and paid for by you…

Momentum Deselect Trot-Hating Moderate Labour Mayor

Momentum have deselected Labour’s moderate mayor in Newham. Sir Robin Wales has held the role since 2002, he previously resisted Lutfur Rahman and during the eighties he played a major role fighting the Militant Tendency. He recently spoke to HuffPo about how the “Trots” are his enemies. Local councillor Rokhsana Fiaz, who was backed by Momentum, ousted him this afternoon with 60% of the vote. Red Roar has the numbers:

Here we… here we… here we go…

Friday Caption Contest: Crowd Control Edition

Entries in the comments…

Boris: Putin Made Decision

“We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK.”

Over to you Seumas…

Young Conservatives Relaunch

The Tories haven’t had a youth wing since the Elliott Johnson scandal. Today Guido can reveal the party is relaunching an official youth operation under the name Young Conservatives. Activists were told at the party’s Spring Forum that Conservative Future will change its name. Here’s the structure:

  • “YC branches will be integrated with local Associations and into the wider voluntary party. officers will only be elected by members of the association and be aged 25 and under”;
  • “University student societies will operate outside the party”;
  • “Increased youth ownership and engagement in local associations in order to strengthen them”;
  • “Focus on activity that is tangible for party success”.

What could possibly go wrong…

LabourLists to the Left

LabourList, the hitherto dull and worthy rival to ConservativeHome that was launched by Peter Mandelson, was for years non-factional and tried to balance the views of the Labour family. It appears to be responding to market forces and moving to the left…

This week it has been guest edited by Diane Abbott. It links out to the Canary. The only up and coming Labour leaning site that doesn’t support Corbyn is Red Roar. The surrendering of the online space to the Corbynistas reflects a wider malaise.

The established left-of-centre publications like the New Statesman and The Guardian are not enough. If Labour’s moderates don’t have an online forum around which to coalesce they will find it difficult to ever regain control of the party from the Marxists. Rather than wasting time and money trying to overturn the referendum result the Labour luvvies should be focusing on organising for when Labour loses the next election. Unless the Jolyons, Chukas and Stellas are really going to risk it all on a new centrist party…

Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line

Curious about-turn at the Guardian over the last 24 hours. Thursday’s paper ran this strong leader criticising Corbyn and backing Theresa May’s conclusion on Russian responsibility:

“Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power… Britain has been targeted with a chemical weapon and it is almost certain that there is only one plausible culprit with the means and the motive. The prime minister might not have as many tools for retaliation, unilateral or international, as she would like. But she has judged correctly that the time for equivocation, given the sinister nature of Mr Putin’s regime, is over.”

Yet this morning’s paper pours scorn on the previous day’s leader, running a story headlined: “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok”. It echoes Seumas Milne’s line comparing the situation to Iraqi WMD, and quotes “arguments” on “social media” that the novichok could have come from “some non-state group, maybe criminals”. It even links to the infamous conspiracy theorist Craig Murray’s blog claiming “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise Novichoks”. The decision to promote a source like Murray, a man who has spent time in a residential mental health facility, has caused bewilderment in the Guardian newsroom…

Guardian hacks are wondering why their paper’s line has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. They doubt a respected journalist like Ewan MacAskill would write such an odd piece without instructions from above. Surely nothing to do with Seumas giving his old friend Kath Viner Corbyn’s big op-ed this morning…

Questioning the Manager: Does Brexit Impact the Investment Process?

Fund Manager David Smith discusses whether the development of Brexit impacts upon his investment process, which sectors he is finding opportunities for income, as well as his approach towards disruptive technology.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested.

The information in this article does not qualify as an investment recommendation. Content issued by Janus Henderson Investors.

Find out more about investment options at Henderson here.

Now Starmer Abandons Jezza over Russia

Keir Starmer is the most senior Shadow Cabinet minister so far to publicly abandon Jeremy Corbyn over his position on Russia. On Question Time last night Starmer said the attack should be “condemned by all of us without reservation” and that Russia was responsible – “no ifs, no buts”. Starmer strongly backed the government and Theresa May…

Starmer’s intervention followed the publication of an article in the Guardian last night by Jezza in which he doubled down on his previous statements to the Commons. In the piece he again directly refused to blame Russia for the attack. Instead he suggested the government had taken a “McCarthyite” stance. Jezza wrote:

“This horrific event demands first of all the most thorough and painstaking criminal investigation, conducted by our police and security services. To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security.”

The article came as a Sky Data poll found just 18% of people thought Corbyn was doing a good job over the Russia crisis. Will this damaging week move the polls?

Who’s on Question Time Tonight (Special RT Edition)

Controversial RT presenter Afshin Rattansi makes his first appearance on Question Time tonight at the height of the Russia crisis. Thanks, Auntie…

Some of Rattansi’s greatest hits include:

Wonder if he will stick to this theme tonight?

UPDATE: By coincidence Question Time’s assistant producer, Poppy Bullard, worked as a journalist at RT before gettnig a job on QT

May We Fist Bump, Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister had her most successful walkabout ever in Salisbury this morning. She even knew how to do a fistbump…

Milne Defended Kremlin After Murder of Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov

Seumas Milne defended the Kremlin in his Guardian column after the assassination of a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin which the deceased man’s colleagues and family said was politically motivated. In Feburary 2015 opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered while walking near the Kremlin with his girlfriend. Yeltsin’s former Deputy Prime Minister was shot six times with a 9mm pistol. A month later Milne wrote:

“The Russian president has, of course, been blamed for the killing, though that makes little sense. Nemtsov was a marginal figure whose role in the “catastroika” of the 1990s scarcely endeared him to ordinary Russians. Responsibility for an outrage that exposed the lack of security in the heart of Moscow and was certain to damage the president hardly seems likely to lie with Putin or his supporters.”

This was not the conclusion of the deceased Nemtsov’s colleagues and family. Nemtsov’s friend and fellow opposition activist Leonid Martynyuk said : “I am certain that the Russian government is behind the murder of Nemtsov.” World chess champion and Putin critic Gary Kasparov told reporters: “Putin must be held responsible for the murder of Boris.” Politico, and other international outlets ran pieces carrying claims that the murder was politically motivated.

Last summer five men were jailed for the murder after a controversial trial. The Nemtsov’s family lawyer told journalists:

“We can’t say we’re satisfied with the verdict. We would be happy if the murder hadn’t happened. But the main thing is neither the organisers nor those who ordered [the killing] have been found.”

Whatever happened, when a critic of Putin was shot feet from the Kremlin, Seumas was there to defend Vlad in the British press…

Question Asked in Commons Chamber

A man has proposed to his bride-to-be in the chamber of the House of Commons. In what may be an historical first civil servant Matthew Reville popped the question to Labour parliamentary aide Rachel Evans on the floor of the House late last Friday (when MPs were not sitting). Matthew tweeted a video showing the proposal with the caption “motion proposed on the floor of the House.” Congratulations to them both…

Parliament Changed Mail Screening Provider Before Suspicious Package Wave

Today saw the fifth suspicious package incident in Parliament in a week. Of course, MPs get letters from cranks and weirdos all the time. This wave of suspicious – thankfully non-harmful – substances leaking from inside mail is causing researchers genuine alarm. As Guido reported on Monday, police are probing any link to an anti-Muslim hate campaign. Guido can reveal another factor which may also be at issue. The gossip among staffers is that Parliament has recently switched to a new contractor to carry out mail screening. The budget for screening used to be shared with the Metropolitan Police until it was taken completely in house in 2015. Researchers say they have noticed a significant uptick in dodgy letters getting through. One said:

“It’s extremely disruptive. The company doing the external screening has got a lot to answer for.”

Further details about the contract are protected for security reasons. Whether MPs are working or evacuated, you’re still paying for it…

Williamson: Russia Should ‘Shut Up and Go Away’

That’s one way of putting it… 

Lights Are On, So Not Long

Greggs are not being too hasty with the pasties. Could it happen tomorrow?

Jezza’s Russian Revisionism After Shadow Cabinet Split

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith was at odds with her leader over his response to Russia’s suspected poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Griffiths told BBC Radio 4:

“We very much accept that what the prime minister said – this is a very sophisticated nerve agent and Russia is responsible for this attack and therefore we’re fully supporting the measures which the government is taking, including the expulsion of 23 diplomats.”

That’s much tougher than Corbyn’s words in the Commons yesterday. Griffith also said of Seumas: “I cannot speak for Seumas Milne. He has to speak for himself.” Griffith and Team Corbyn have a long history of falling out, particularly over NATO and nukes

Her line and overnight pressure following Milne’s briefing has bounced Corbyn’s office politburo into revising their position. They now say:

“The Government has laid out two alternatives: that Russia is either directly responsible or culpable because it lost control of this nerve agent. Yesterday, we agreed that the evidence overwhelmingly points to those two alternatives. The Russian authorities must be held to account on the basis of the evidence and our response must be both decisive and proportionate.”

Too late, the damage is done…

Jolyon’s Failed Vanity Cases Cost Crowdfunders £350,000

Britain’s most insufferable lawyer Jolyon Maugham is taking a break from Twitter today and going to court in his latest attempt to stop Brexit. Maugham will petition for a judicial review against the Electoral Commission, arguing the regulator failed to investigate Vote Leave-BeLeave campaign donations. The Electoral Commission has already investigated the donations twice…

Speaking of donations, rather than putting his stupendous QC’s income where his mouth is – and, indeed, despite being a lawyer himself – Jolyon is using other people’s cash to fund the legal bid. He’s crowdfunded nearly £50,000. What can his donors expect for their cash?

Not much, if his form is anything to go by. In May 2017, Maugham went to the High Court of Ireland in an attempt to reverse the Brexit vote after Article 50 was triggered. The case was opposed by the Irish government and was struck out by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. More than £70,000 was crowdfunded…

Then, in February 2018, Maugham was involved in a similar case in the Scottish courts. Lord Doherty of the Scottish Court of Session ruled:

“I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome. However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect…” 

A gentle judical admonishing of Jolyon’s grasp on reality. Crowdfunding for this failed case raised over £60,000…

As Guido reported, Maugham also tried to judical review David Davis over the Brexit sector analysis papers. Mr Justice Supperstone rejected permission, finding a simple (and free) FoI request was a suitable alternative. That failed judicial review was also crowdfunded: £59,275. When he loses, do people get their money back? “Any surplus funds will be held for the costs of other litigation”…

Jolyon, a specialist tax barrister, sued Uber to demand a 56p VAT receipt. When Guido says he sued we mean he suckered £107,650 from crowdfunders and cabbies to back this case. Vaingloriously making the claim in his own name he suspended the action when he realised that if he lost the case – a very real possibility given his less than stunning record – Uber would seek to recover their costs from him personally. Unwilling to put his own money where his suckers crowdfunders did, he pathetically said he was looking for an alternative claimant who didn’t have any material assets to take the risk. Not exactly brave leadership…Hapless Jolyon Maugham has therefore spent over a third of a million pounds (£350,000) of other people’s money vainly pursuing his agenda, entirely without success. All he has got for the money is gout. The crowd that backs him can afford to take the pain…

Putin Cackles as Watching Kremlin Activates Agent COB

At the Kremlin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin settles into his golden throne to watch Prime Minister’s Questions and the accompanying statement. As a jack-booted servant flicks over from Russia Today, Vlad wonders aloud: “Who’s the thin old beardy bloke in the red tie?”

“That’s Jeremy Corbyn”, replies the trembling aide.[…] Read the rest


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Quote of the Day

Chuka Umunna on Seumas Milne re Russia:

“Have read the comments of the Leader of the Opposition’s spokesperson. Mr Milne’s comments do not represent the views of the majority of our voters, members or MPs. We’ll get abuse for saying so but where British lives have been put at risk it is important to be clear about this.”


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Young Conservatives Relaunch Young Conservatives Relaunch
Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line
Now Starmer Abandons Jezza Over Russia Now Starmer Abandons Jezza Over Russia
Watch: May Fist Bump Rockstar Remix Watch: May Fist Bump Rockstar Remix
Dodgy Tweets of RT Man on Question Time Dodgy Tweets of RT Man on Question Time
Man Pops Question in Commons Chamber Man Pops Question in Commons Chamber
Milne Defended Kremlin After Opposition Leader’s Murder Milne Defended Kremlin After Opposition Leader’s Murder
Parliament Changed Mail Provider Before Suspicious Package Wave Parliament Changed Mail Provider Before Suspicious Package Wave
Williamson to Russia: Shut Up and Go Away Williamson to Russia: Shut Up and Go Away
Jezza’s Russian Revisionism After Shad Cab Split Jezza’s Russian Revisionism After Shad Cab Split
Seumas Sticks to Line: Refuses to Condemn Russia Seumas Sticks to Line: Refuses to Condemn Russia
Bercow Recuses Himself from Bullying Investigation Bercow Recuses Himself from Bullying Investigation
Chris Williamson Puts Morning Star in PMQs Shot Chris Williamson Puts Morning Star in PMQs Shot
Putin’s Expansion Into Ukraine Not Unprovoked Putin’s Expansion Into Ukraine Not Unprovoked
Greggs Westminster Update Greggs Westminster Update
Labour Scaremongering Over Free School Meals Labour Scaremongering Over Free School Meals
Hawking on Corbyn Hawking on Corbyn
‘Too Sick to Be Investigated’ Vaz at Two Dance Festivals ‘Too Sick to Be Investigated’ Vaz at Two Dance Festivals
OBR: Remaining Would Cost £500 Billion OBR: Remaining Would Cost £500 Billion
Tillerson Sacked Tillerson Sacked