1.6m Muslim versus 267,000 Jewish Votes

Writing in the Times William Rees-Mogg does not give Labour the benefit of the doubt over the now abandoned advertising posters. Pointing out that Labour advertising is professionally designed, carefully crafted and has now succeeded in reminding everyone, who did not remember or know, that Howard is Jewish. With Labour having lost swathes of the Muslim vote over Iraq that might be useful information to have more widely known.

Crudely put, Muslim voters outnumber Jewish voters 6 to 1, Blair’s Iraq war turned many Muslim voters away from Labour towards Galloway’s Respect. Too cynical? New Labour are politically cynical enough to attempt to bury bad news in the rubble of New York, why wouldn’t they indulge in a bit of darkly spun subliminal advertising for demographic recapturing?

Guido still wants to know; who crafted the adverts and what was their inspiration?

Of Libertines and LibDems

So what is the LibDem policy on munching magic mushrooms exactly? The LibDems are only concerned – think how the druids feel. “How much longer do we have to tolerate these crazy laws?” asks the LibDem’s smokin’ Gez Smith about cannabis. With policies allowing 16 year-olds to booze the LibDems are really pulling the libertines back into modern liberalism. I think they’re on to a vote winner. Hic.

Labour Posters : Backlash Grows

Ned Temko, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, is warning that at their worst the posters were “part of a deliberate pattern of frankly anti-Semitic invective”. Temko, whose paper is the voice of Britain’s Jewish community, says the posters may have been “an inadvertent mix of insensitivity and cultural illiteracy”, but “a less charitable conclusion is that Labour, or some within it, sees election campaign advantages in subliminally reminding voters that Howard is Jewish.”

Feelings are growing in the Jewish community that the Labour party, which has a membership which is often hostile to Israel, is less welcoming than the Tories. Trade Minister Mike O’Brien was reported to the Commission for Racial Equality for telling an Islamic paper Mr Howard could not represent Muslims properly and that he could not be trusted on the “Palestine issue”.

Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney caused uproar after accusing Shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin, who is also Jewish, of behaving like a “21st century Fagin”. But its not just the Tories complaining – groups such as the Association of Jewish Refugees and even Liberal Judaism condemned the ads.

Blunkett : The Musical

But what would the tunes be?

“That beardy little blind kid sure plays a mean pinball” says Labour Watch

Labour Scrap Advert : Howard As Jewish Miser

Guido is grateful to a reader from Conservative Future for the above poster. How the enterprising fellow got hold of an email from a Labour campaign manager (Fraser Kemp MP) is perhaps a matter for MI5, not Guido. But Guido is happy to give it a wider audience than Fraser might now wish. The question we want answered is – who is the author responsible for the double-money-counting-miser Howard idea? Where did they get their inspiration? I wonder…

Its not often New Labour puts its foot in it propaganda-wise but this is terrible. Guido hears that Labour are re-thinking this updating of a Goebbels-circa-1935 style campaign. So well timed, the day after Holocaust memorial day. Best they don’t run the posters in Golders Green methinks…

UPDATE: Saturday – This post and the one below have attracted a lot of comments here and coverage elsewhere, suffice to say Guido simply thinks that the Labour party poster above is supremely ill-judged, I don’t think that the flying pigs below are offensive or in fact intended as anti-semitic. If the Tories had run something like that in elections past, with say Gerald Kaufman as the character, what would have been the press reaction? Exactly.

Has Peter Mandelson been replaced by Goebbels?

The Tory candidate for the heavily Jewish constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, Andrew Mennear, says the poster will cause offence because it is distasteful for a Jew to be associated with a pig “I am shocked the Labour Party finds it remotely clever or amusing to impose the faces of probably the two highest profile Jewish politicians on to flying pigs.” A kosher source at the Board of Deputies of British Jews says the posters “really aren’t the wisest things we’ve ever seen”.

You couldn’t make it up – another poster is said to depict Howard as a Shylock-type character hunched over a watch and chain. Please someone – email or fax the image to Guido.

UPDATE: Apparently Trevor Beattie’s ad agency TBWA, not Goebbels, is responsible for the poster and he couldn’t give a FCUK.

Vacancy at Hon. Fiend – Blogger Wanted

Word reaches Guido that Mink Media, publishers of rival political blog Honourable Fiend, are looking for a replacement for the piss-poor cut-‘n-paster they currently have. No posts have appeared for days, and blogging has been somewhat haphazard for weeks. So if you want the job (you will be the fourth Honourable Fiend in as many months) click here. No inside knowledge of politics seems to be required.

Eh? CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 22%

Lynton will not be happy. Polls showing the Tories 5% to 8% behind suit his purposes. Polls showing them neck and neck will get Labour voters out of their beds to get Blair and possibly Brown rather than Howard in No. 10. Assuming of course voters are not already under house arrest. It has come to something when George Churchill-Coleman, the former head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch at Scotland Yard says “I have a horrible feeling that we are sinking into a police state” – he’s not exactly a pinko liberal.

Lib Dems Back Teen Drinking

From Hansard:

Kevin Brennan: Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that it is Lib Dem policy to legalise drinking at the age of 16? Does he think that that will contribute to a reduction in binge drinking?

Mr. Foster: The answer is yes. I do not think that I could explain the position more clearly.

Obviously this is a top-down policy –

(Fawkes Fact: Kevin Brennan was reprimanded in 2002 for turning up tieless to speak in the house.)

Smelly, Boozing Lobby Journalists

The lobby journalist’s offices in the Commons smell of booze. Nothing unusual about that you say, except they have really been smelling of booze, Guinness in particular. Apparently a leak of the black stuff from the press bar above has dripped into their offices below.

Bring Back Unpaid MPs

Douglas Alexander and David Miliband in the Grauniad waffle on piously like shop stewards about work hours for MPs. But what caught my eye was a line that the traditional hours were designed for a time when “unpaid MPs looked into the chamber after a day spent at the Inns of Court or the City.”

Well nowadays City partners work ungodly hours. Mrs Fawkes is a City lawyer slaving away for an American investment bank and her hours are horrendous. 80 hours a week are common, 120 not impossible, yet the House sits for less than 40 hours a week, and MPs (apart from Dennis Skinner) never attend for all sitting hours. Hardly hard work in comparison.

Guido thinks MPs should be unpaid and part-time once again. That way they would do less damage. There would still be plenty of blowhards desperate to become MPs in any case. Did Britain need professional, full time politicans to run an empire or defeat the Nazis? No. Today we don’t need them to approve EU directives either…

Gay Smear: Candy Gets Vigorous

Labour MP Candy Atherton has pledged to “vigorously” contest the case being heard at an industrial tribunal in south London. Guido has previously reported on Candy Atherton’s allegedly clumsy attempt to dig up dirt to smear the lovely Ashley Crossley, the gay Tory candidate for her seat of Falmouth & Camborne.
The not so lovely Candy Atherton is alleged to have asked Paul Phillips, her former gay research assistant, to “dig the dirt” on her gay Tory rival and look for anything “salacious” in the past of Ashley Crossley, who is running for her seat. Phillips refused and resigned from his job and is now beginning proceedings for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Phillips argues that to be asked to root around for gossip was offensive and not part of his job description as a research assistant. How touchingly naive. Rooting around for offensive gossip is my role anyway.

He told the first tribunal hearing that Crossley’s sexuality became the focus of the MP and her campaign team because they “didn’t know him and couldn’t find out any information about him”. Tribunal chairman Mary Stacey said that Phillips felt used by his employer. But now he’s strong, you think he’d crumble, you think he’d lay down and die, Oh no, not he, he will survive….

“He is an openly gay man who felt he was used by his employer to make inquiries into somebody’s sexual orientation,” she told the hearing. “As a gay man, he feels it is offensive to think of someone’s sexual orientation as something salacious that would be given undue prominence because he is not heterosexual.”

“It took all the strength I had, not to fall apart, kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart, and I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself, I used to cry, Now I hold my head up high, and you see me somebody new, I’m not that chained up little person still working for you.”

Mr Phillips told the tribunal: “(I was) being asked to dig the dirt on Mr Crossley. Facts about Mr Crossley’s sexual orientation and lifestyle could only be used to damage him. There could be no other reason for wanting this kind of information. I felt very much on the spot being asked to check on a fellow gay man’s lifestyle, especially someone standing for Parliament in Cornwall, a fairly homophobic area.” The 36-year-old, from Wapping, east London, told the hearing in Croydon that Ms Atherton approached him one day with a ‘research project’. “She said she had been doing some research and had found out that Ashley Crossley, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate selected to stand against her, was gay and visited bars in Soho looking for men”which is a pretty good place to look.

“I said ‘I can’t do anything which is homophobic.’ Candy said she wasn’t going to do anything that was homophobic but she just believed in people being open about what they did.”

Mr Phillips, who is claiming discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, was employed by Ms Atherton for 12 months until he resigned in March 2004. He said: “I believe that the only reason Candy asked me to check on Mr Crossley’s lifestyle was because I was a gay man. I do not believe that this was a normal part of a research assistant’s job or that she would have asked a straight man or woman to do it… I felt humiliated that she should expect me to behave like this.”

Ashley Crossley has other enemies (see). He was faced with a deselection vote earlier this year, in a row with local Tories tainted with homophobia. Despite him receiving support from party leader Michael Howard, some local councillors objected to him and have since resigned.

A Guido source wonders if Candy was trying to find out if Crossley was local. There is a clear similarity…

Carole Caplin Back at No. 10!

The controversial former confidante of Cherie Blair, will return to 10 Downing Street today – but only to present a petition against the European Union’s restrictions on vitamins and supplements.

During an Opposition Day debate later, MPs will call for the government to renegotiate the EU directive with Brussels. Ms Caplin said the country was “forced and bullied into this directive by the EU”.

“Not clear what the Liberal Democrats stand for”

Lib Dem Watch draws Guido’s attention to a poll for ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme asking people what they thought about the party.

Which of these statements comes closest to your view about the Liberal Democrats?

  • I have a clear idea of what the Liberal Democrats stand for, and I broadly approve of their outlook (25%)
  • I have a clear idea of what the Liberal Democrats stand for, but do not approve of their outlook (14%)
  • I am not clear what the Liberal Democrats stand for (52%)
  • Don’t Know (8%)

Frankly Guido is surprised that a quarter of respondents know what they stand for. I thought the Lib Dems stood for whatever they think you want to hear?

100 Days to go till “Don’t Vote” Day

If, as many think, election day is May 5 we have a mere 100 days to go from today. Guido will be campaigning for none of the above as voting only encourages them. I am hoping for a less than 50% turnout, or at the very least for non-voters to be the largest party.

Mainstream opinion is that Blair will walk it, but it may not be the pushover everyone thinks. Mike Smithson over at politicalbetting.com points out that “The polls, however, are nothing like as clear-cut as they were four years ago. At this point in 2001 ICM had Labour at 47%, the Tories on 32% and the Lib Dems on 15%. – a spread of 32% between the three parties. The weekend’s YouGov poll had Labour at 34% – more than a quarter down on last time; the Tories just one point down but the Lib Dems on 25%. Instead of a 32% spread there is one of just nine points.”

Guido is suspicious of the “we’re doomed” leak from Howard’s election guru Lynton Crosby – this is the man who got the Howard of Oz in to power by telling all that he had no chance – remember that.

Anthony Wells’ Polling Report

Über-wonks need to know that Anthony Wells’ Polling Report has moved to www.pollingreport.co.uk the blog is here. Update your favourite bookmarks.

Polidex is back!

Polidex is back – and its tweaked. Apparently the programmer has had a crash course in market economics and has tried to make it emulate a real market more. Players can now post bids and offers and go short. Although I suspect it will still need more tweaking – the short borrowing rate is rather high at 1/2% per day or 182% per annum (617% per annum if its compounded – which seems a little bit over base rate. Assuming I understand the new rules correctly). Olly the geek explains;

The biggest change you’ll notice is the game-play is vastly different. In a sense it’s simpler, but it’s probably a little more advanced to play. Essentially, you can only make a profit by selling your shares on to another player. In that way, it’s a lot more like the real stock-market: you offer to buy a share at a particular price and someone may or may not sell it to you at that price.

There is another way to make money; that’s by selling short. Apparently I should have learnt this in my A Level economics class, but I don’t remember it (I didn’t do that well at Economics). If you understand selling short, skip this paragraph. Selling short is where you sell something you don’t own. So in share terms, you sell shares that you’ve got on loan from someone else. The idea is that at the end of your loan period you can buy them back at a cheaper price and you make a profit on the difference between the price you sold them and the price you bought them back. This means that you can make a profit on shares that lose value.

Restarting January 30!

Our Bloggers league looks like it has been zeroed. So fresh start everyone…

The League of Bloggers:

Willhowells, spicer, qwghlm, le_poulet_noir, jonball, jdc, jamesgraham, foggyweb, doctorvee, causauk, britspin, artesea, Unity, UK Future, TsunamiCD, Swordsman, Stuart Bruce, Ripefig, Recess Monkey, Nosemonkey, NoSurrender, NickBarlow, Larryred, Lagwolf, Jamesw, Guido Fawkes, DirtyDen, Chris B, Bird of Liberty, Azeem Azhar, Assemblybird, Anthony Wells, AndyT.

Kelly: “I do have spiritual support from Opus Dei”

DAVID FROST: There two two-page spreads about Opus Dei in the papers today, and saying they’re not secretive and all of that and so on, and says the Scotsman said yesterday that it’s not a secret organisation and that you’re a member of it. Are you a member of it?

RUTH KELLY: Well I, along with any other politician, I think are entitled to a degree of privacy in my private life. And I do have a private spiritual life, and I’m completely open about that. People know that I’m a Catholic and that I take it seriously. And I come to this job, you know, as a Catholic as well as as a parent and with all sorts of other influences. But the one thing I’m absolutely clear about David, is that I have a really collective responsibility as part of this Labour government…

DAVID FROST: But are you a member of Opus Dei?

RUTH KELLY: Well I do have spiritual support from Opus Dei, and, you know, I think that’s right. But these are private, these are private spiritual matters and I’m sure that you’ll respect that politicians are entitled to a private life.

DAVID FROST: Yes, yes, but at the same time, as you yourself have said quite a lot of times that, you’ve been quoted as saying anyway, that you wouldn’t want to go to health international development because of policies there that you would find difficult to take on whether it’s to do with abortion or contraception or whatever. So it does have an effect on your career, it would stop you going to those two places.

RUTH KELLY: Well let me just be absolutely clear, it wouldn’t….

DAVID FROST: Oh! Because it’s in every profile, every profile…

RUTH KELLY: I know, well it just shows you how rumours grow and things develop a life of their own. I mean I am absolutely clear that as a member of this Government I have collective responsibility for government policy. So as a member of the Cabinet responsible for education, I also have responsibility for those policies developed in the Health Department and in the international development department and so forth. And I stand by those.

Tom Sackville, a former Conservative minister who chairs Family Action and Information Resource, a support group for cult victims says the organisation had many complaints from families who had “lost” their children to Opus Dei, which made members pay it up to 80 per cent of their salaries, he said. “Of all the Cabinet posts an Opus Dei member could hold, Education Secretary is the most dangerous because the main problem with the cult is their recruitment of young people at colleges and universities. Ruth Kelly is a very competent politician and very well educated. But nobody in high office who is also a member of a cult is stable enough to make government policy.”

That wouldn’t be the Tom Sackville who lost his seat to Ruth Kelly?

Leading Tory – “Drunk Gun Nut” Claim

Thanks to An Englishman’s Castle for this one.


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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”


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