He’s Resigned!

Not Blunkett, the Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie MSP has resigned as head of the party.

Indepen Consulting and Blunkett

Seven months ago Blunkett’s links to Indepen were highlighted here. Well done to the Dead Tree Press for catching up…

Some Advice for Davis

As polls give Cameron as much as 76% of the membership vote with over 100 MPs having now declared for him, Guido is beginning to feel sorry for Basher. So, without charge, let me give his team some advice: do rehearse for the Question Time head-to-head with Cameron on Thursday. Its probably his last chance to claw back some hope – remember when old Nixon was trumped in a televised debate by a young JFK and turned the election around. Sorry, probably not the best example, but anyway…

Some suggestions:

  1. Experiment with aversion therapy. Attach electrodes to Basher’s ears, every time during rehearsals that he says “uhhm” or “errrr” flick the switch. His SAS training will mean he will be able to withstand the pain. This is still your only hope of getting him to stop stumbling and mumbling. Basher may think rhetoric is not important, but it seems a lack of rhetorical ability in modern politics only qualifies you for the office of deputy-PM. Aim for the top.
  2. Tell him to stop laughing nervously at his own jokes. They are not funny and it makes people think he’s a wrong ‘un. Its also ruining his macho image.
  3. Think about what questions will come up – clues: tax, cannabis, some quirky thing from the tabloids like Blunkett. If you prepare a jokey response, make sure he remembers (2)
  4. Although its not only Tories who will be watching they will be the only ones voting, don’t let him come over all Northern and chippy, its southern Tories who have all the votes. Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association has more votes than the whole of the North (approx).
  5. The “Blair heir” thing – Blair wins elections and voters prefer him to Brown, they may also prefer his heir. Tricky admittedly, given even some Tories wish Blair was leading the Conservative party. Some of the older members get easily confused, they may mishear and think Cameron is Euan. Be careful.
  6. The age issue – don’t call Cameron “son”. Basher mustn’t try to make out he has cabinet experience, shadow cabinet doesn’t count. Consider dying his hair / getting him a better toupee.
  7. That Heineken analogy – nobody drinks Heineken anymore, its naff. We all smoke dope instead. Could he maybe be an Ipod candidate instead? Get one of the spin team to think of a more “with it” brand. Better still is he perhaps a Bacardi Breezer Geezer? He is the Vinny Jones of Tory politics and Vinny advertises Bacardi. Worth considering.
  8. Careful on the tax cuts thing – Chatshow Charlie buggered it up completely when he couldn’t do his sums on local tax. Its probable that Brown’s wheels will have fallen off and the economy will be declining in three years time. So how would the growth rule work without growth?
  9. Consider getting him to show his more human side – perhaps a novelty tie?
  10. Don’t blame the media, its your own fault.

How Much Tax Would Jesus Cut?

An eagle-eyed blog reader emailed me something interesting. As a consequence Guido put it to Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome.Com that he was the author of last week’s Cameron-skewering David Davis press release on tax cuts. It was splashed prominently on his website Finally, finally, David Davis rises to the occasion and elsewhere in the media the next day. Tim told me I was misinformed.
How then, Guido asked him, does he explain his name being put as the author of the Microsoft Word file version of the press release? “I have absolutely no idea. I was definitely not involved.” Hmmm.

Further investigation resulted in an explanation centred on Nick Wood, Basher’s newly recruited spin merchant. He was formerly IDS’ spin merchant when he was Tory leader and latterly has been spinning for IDS’ Centre for Social Justice run by Tim Montgomerie.

Tim, who used to run Conservative Christian Fellowship, had lent his old laptop from his CCF days to Nick Wood, on which Nick writes press releases for Basher. “Nick Wood – a friend who has just joined the DD campaign – has an old laptop of mine. End of mystery. I am definitely not working for the DD campaign!” Its a small world, eh?

But now Guido wants to know, what taxes would Jesus cut? Or would he render unto Gordon what was Gordon’s?

MPs Get Fat on Your Taxes

Guido wants to reach for the gunpowder when he reads that MPs are entitled to a £400 per month food and grocery allowance. That’s over £13 per day, no receipts required. Guido has a policy idea – MPs should get the same budget allowance for food that they allocate to schoolchildren. 37p per day. If its good enough for children, its good enough for them.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments its actually a per diem allowance of £20. Why do they need an extra twenty quid a day to get food. Do they really need this income support?

Blunkett’s Money Grubbing

Muckrakers wondering about Blunkett’s influence peddling should look into his relationship with Indepen Consulting Ltd, Guido thinks it unusual that he was able, (presumably this was authorised), to take a private sector position with Whitehall lobbyists only a month after resigning as a minister. The ministerial code specifies a three month cooling off period for ex-ministers. It is even more eyebrow-raising given that some of Indepen Consulting’s clients possibly stand to earn billions out of ID cards and the information systems for the proposed central population register.

The Sheffield Socialist’s Belgravia and St Jame’s high-life puts a lot of financial pressure on him, so Gordon Brown’s crackdown on the use of trusts to avoid tax on share options presents an interesting challenge for Blunkett. It used to be said that money scandals brought down Labour politicians and sex scandals brought down Tories, in Blunkett you may get double the scandal.

Right-wing Cameroonies

The Sunday Torygraph headlines Right-wingers back Cameron for leader in an article that has the smell of kite-flying about it. Melissa Kite, the deputy political editor, claims that Cornerstone are going to back Cameron because he is “more socially conservative” than people think. Guido doubts this story is entirely accurate. Andrew Rosindell forinstance would rather go to the Black Gay and Lesbian Socialist’s Christmas Party than back Cameron, Tombstone members are clearly not monolithic. Some of the headbangers loathe Davis with a vengance, some see the way the wind is blowing and are belatedly seeking preferment in the coming Cameron shadow cabinet. Some are backing him out of principle – the principle being that they want power and Cameron increases that prospect.

Cameron is no wet, he occupies neo-con territory on foreign affairs, he is resolutely Euro-sceptical (forget that youthful heretical memo to Lamont about the ERM, that was in the past and was a private mattter). The right has noticed he is up for re-negotiating the relationship with the EU and shifting Tory MEPs out of the “Quisling” EPP. He would privatise more council houses and cut taxes lower than Thatcher.

This has slowly seeped deep into the consciousness of the right. Guido was at a wonk-fest lunch on Friday at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the 50 year-old think-tank that spawned a thousand free-market wonks. Chatting to a Tory special adviser, a right-wing anti-Euro campaigner and an IEA staff member, the feeling was Cameron may not be one of us, but he might win. These are the people who hated John Major, the ideological die-hards of popular capitalism are just fed up with being powerless, which is why they have gone Cameroonie. Never mind the policy substance, feel the power surge.

Modern Conservatives Modernised

Basher’s team has got round to modernising the formerly piss-poor ModernConservatives.Com website. It was inexplicably bad, maybe they forgot they were going to be running a grassroots campaign? Or maybe they thought it didn’t matter – like it doesn’t matter if you don’t rehearse a speech?

Compared to the Fox and Cameron sites it is still pretty lame. Its a gentler, lighter blue (like Cameron’s site), a little less boxy, some better pictures, but still the same limited content, apart from a reduced number of MPs listed as DD backers…

Still more MPs listed as backers than actually voted for him. So despite the thumbscrews, not everyone has apparently confessed.

Message Misdirection

Blair’s Euro-Failure” headlines didn’t really happen today. His Euro-daytrip for foreign heads-of-state was pretty much a waste of time. It looked likely to lead to a rash of off-message headlines. So instead Blair went into stern statesman mode. A bit of sabre-rattling and the headlines became Tough Tony Tells Tehran. Blair is the genius of spin.

Basher Tax Slasher

Finally, an actual policy skewer for Cameron, in a move aimed at solidifying the Davis base he goes straight to the point. No waffle about “change” but a pounds, shillings and pence pledge to cut taxes by £1,200. Which is a figure that Guido seems to recall being central to a 1992 Tory poster saying “Labour’s Tax Bombshell : £1,250 more tax a year under Labour.”Its an old core message – Davis is saying he’ll return the tax burden to where it was under Major. Nick Herbert is being credited with crafting the message, but Matthew Elliot, CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance will be pleased. He is a former aide to Davis who has taken a sabbatical to go back to help out his old boss on Team Basher. The expected Davis signing of a public pledge to lower taxes smacks of Elliot’s influence – inspired by Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.

Cameron’s “we’ll share the spoils of growth between tax cuts and public services” answer will seem vague in comparison. Cameron needs to put a figure on his tax relief bid.

Some changes in Basher’s Team as they re-arrange the deck-chairs on the Titanic. A crowd of consistent losers has now been assembled to finish his campaign off.

Look at ‘em: Andrew Mitchell doesn’t know the editor of The Times from his elbow. Conway is the master of how to make enemies and abuse people. David Canzini, fresh from all those Tory by-election victories he masterminded, looks set to repeat his ‘success’ again, Chief-of-Staff Iain Dale increased the LibDem majority ten-fold in North Norfolk at the general election, Nick Longworth doubled the LibDem majority where he stood, Ashley Crossley similarly reduced the Tory vote and Nick Wood achieved the great press coverage that IDS enjoyed.

Basher’s B-team, its not a question of whether they will lose – its just a question of by how much…

Growling Grayling

Chris Gayling is officially Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, hence when Blair was being booed and slow hand-clapped at the European parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, he stood in at PMQs against Geoff Hoon, who was himself standing in for Prescott (who chose not to be there to defend the education bill). Unofficially the ex-TV producer and spin merchant is the attack dog set upon New Labour sleeze. So he is pretty busy.

Cherie creaming off all the profits from a charity dinner? Grayling growls on the news shows (he is ex-BBC news and Channel 4). Byers lies, Grayling barks to the Parliamentary Standards Committee. Margaret Beckett uses the Queen’s flight more often than the Queen? Grayling demands the cabinet office counts her air-miles. Now he has got his teeth into the Blunkett son’s 3% DNA Bioscience shareholding. The shares are said to be worth some £300,000 (dubious). Blunkett claims to have been rewarded with the shares after only two weeks work! GGrrrr Grayling…

10% of MPs Backing Davis Known Liars

Guido has mentioned this before, but its worth repeating, 63 MPs claim to be backing Basher for Leader, 57 voted for him. So 10% of his listed backers are proven liars.

The Return of the TeeBeeGeeBees

Q. So who was behind the leak about the cabinet clashing on education?

A. Not Prescott.

An Alternative for November Fifth

As long time readers will know I tend to keep a low profile during bonfire night. But I commend Backing Blair’s proposal for the night – to burn Tony Blair in effigy.

Q. So you find this actress in your bedroom naked, what do you do?

A. “The honourable thing” if you are Dave Cameron according to The Mirror.

Hat tip: Wat Tyler.

Daily Tottie

Guido welcomes the Daily Politics show’s Jenny Scott to our screens. Andrew Neil always likes a bit of totty to be near to hand. But what has happened to her mini-skirts? She now seems to be wearing trouser suits. Boo!

Didn’t Neil make it a contractural obligation?

Is Guido the only one who thinks the Daily Politics is much better than Andrew Marr’s new show and has energised the often dry reporting of politics?

Malicious Mellor

David Mellor on Basher in yesterday’s Standard.

Alas poor Davis, I knew him well. Far too well to be remotely attracted to the idea of him as Tory leader. Self obsessed, disloyal and possessed of an opinion of himself so stratospherically high no one else can be expected to share it… On a public platform, he is an inarticulate stumblebum, off it he exudes an air of menace based on a largely spurious reputation as a tough guy. It not to the political commentators but to the late Mae West we need to look for enlightenment about him. ‘Men who pretend to be macho, are often not up to mucho’ she opined, and I can’t disagree.

Come on Mellor, get off the fence…

Educating Prescott

Prescott’s opposition to Blair’s education reforms could be principled – the principle being that Labour should not adopt Tory policies on education or it could be out of bitterness. The new reforms will introduce selection banding. Prescott failed his 11+, and has been chippy ever since. Would a grammar school education have improved his grammar?

Davis’ Back-Story, A Well Loved Tale?

Journalists are digging into the pasts of both Dave and David – the scrutiny of Basher’s childhood is revealing interesting aspects to his back-story. The legend, oft-told by Davis in speech after speech, is that he was brought up by his single-mother on a council estate, triumphing over adversity to become a top businessman, before destiny called him to be premier.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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