Gordon Can’t Afford a Snap Election

We all know the Labour party is £27 million in the red. Labour’s membership is at the lowest it has been for over half a century at a mere 178,889.* This means the Labour party has fewer members than the Women’s Institute.

Effectively the Labour party needs to raise £150 from each and every member to pay off the debts. If the Labour party was a company on the stockmarket it would be a short sell because it is in what traders call a “death spiral”. Rising debt, falling revenues and an unpopular brand have already forced drastic redundancies. This means less employees to generate revenue and improve the brand through campaigning. The party cannot even cover its outgoings as things stand never mind repay the “loans” which are now coming due under great scrutiny from the media and the police.

This all means that the unions will be called upon to bail out the Labour party, a new source of dodgy loans is being utilised in the form of the Unity Trust Bank. UTB is owned by the Co-Op and the unions. The unions are getting millions in bungs from government grants (see How the Labour Party Washes Money from the Taxpayer Via the Unions“) which is then recycled into donations from the unions themselves or through politically motivated loans from the UTB. The Co-Op bank’s £3 billion of reserves are being eyed enviously by the Labour party. If Labour manages to get it hands on the Co-Op’s money, however it is laundered, the government will be no better than a corrupt African kleptocracy. The likely public outcry that would follow any blatant looting of the Co-Op’s reserves directly is the only explanation Guido can fathom for Labour inducing the smallish UTB to lend such a large amount of its capital base to replenish the party coffers – loans ultimately guaranteed by the Co-Op. So large were the loans relative to the size of the UTB that the FSA required the bank to make monthly returns detailing the risky loan’s status.
It gets worse. Guido has been passed a report prepared by John Ralfe, the respected former head of corporate finance at Boots and a consultant to the UK Accounting Standards Board. In the report he dissects the Labour Party Superannuation Society (“LPSS”) for the party’s 300 employees. With £43m of liabilities and a £6.3m deficit, LPSS is only 85% funded. The pension deficit is an unsecured loan, making LPSS is the Labour Party’s largest unsecured creditor – shades of Robert Maxwell. The pensions regulator wants this deficit plugged over ten years, and put LPSS in a high risk category because the party has £27m negative reserves, an estimated £6m in off-balance sheet operating leases and has mortgaged its property assets. To plug the deficit the party will need to find £1 to £2m extra a year at a time when it is operating at loss. The report states “Although total member and employer contributions have already been increased from 16% to 19% in January 2004, the employer’s £1m annual contribution does not meet even the cost of new pension promises, let alone reduce the underlying deficit.”

In the past in this situation the pensions regulator has “suggested” to pension funds that freehold property such as the headquarters be pledged to the pension scheme. Labour however has already mortgaged its property to the Co-Op to raise “commercial loans”. Guido would describe those loans as political – no commercial bank would lend to such a financially depleted organisation bordering on insolvency.

If, as expected, Gordon becomes PM next year without a single vote from non-members of the Labour party or union blocs being cast for him, he will have no mandate to govern. The country and the opposition will expect and demand of him a snap general election. An election which the Labour party cannot afford to fight…

*This figure is derived from the number of ballot papers sent out in the 2006 NEC for the Constituency ballot. This reveals another sharp fall in membership since the end of 2005 when the official membership figure reported to the Electoral Commission was 198,026 and way down from the 407,000 in 1997.

Launching Soon:

How to do Negative Political Advertising

The Austrian elections are on Sunday, vote ÖVP if you want to keep the girl.

Hat-tip : Peter Ould

Turner Prize Special – Friday Caption Competition

Closer and Closer…

Here is a copy of Guido’s email to Ruth Turner from the week before last sending her a copy of the Sleazy Sweepstakes game :

From: Guy Fawkes
Date: Sep 19, 2006 10:19 AM

Subject: Are you a player?

To: Ruth Turner

A game for everyone in your office.


Guido Fawkes Esq.

The Ruth Turner story archive.

Email Guido for a PDF file to print out, then cut out and play Sleazy Sweepstakes in your office (Peerages not included.)

A-listers Scramble for Seats

Tomorrow notice of the second tranche of seats is due to be e-mailed to Tory A-listers. Expect numerous mess ups and people left off the list by CCHQ, just like the previous times. No doubt ConservativeHome.com will publish the list of seats immediately. The deadline for the A-listers to apply for these seats is expected to be mid-October. As the polls improve competition is becoming ever more fierce.

No Live Blog of Prezza’s Speech

There are limits.

At the end when Tony, Cherie, Pauline and Prezza clasped hands and literally took a last bow, the camera cut to Gordon looking on. He would never make a poker player, his face transparently said “Mine, mine, soon the precioussss will be all mines…”

Punish MPs

UKIP Set to Target Battersea Marginal

Europhile Jane Ellison’s selection for Battersea in the Open Primary has dismayed many mainstream Conservatives and has been greeted as an opportunity by UKIP. Which they plan to seize…

Crick Wins in Battersea

Jane Ellison won the Conservative Open Primary in Battersea on the third recount. It was obviously close and it has to be said that effectively the most left-wing candidate was selected to represent the Conservatives by a small margin of votes swung by non-Conservatives. The BBC’s Michael Crick is reported to have voted for her.

The Open Primary idea is a good one, but letting your enemies select your candidate seems silly. In the U.S. you at least have to be registered with the party to vote in their primary. When Jane Ellison stood in the General Election in Pendle in May 2005 she achieved an against the trend swing to the LibDems of +9.4% and away from the Conservatives of -2.1% on what was not a good night for Labour. Fortunately for Jane the seat is a certain gain for the Tories at the next election.

Listen to the Today report here.

Deborah Summers is New Guardian Online Politics Editor

Ros Taylor didn’t want the job – she wants “to focus on her writing” – and she is currently ghosting Chris Bryant’s diary very well. Think she has it down perfectly, all though it is difficult to capture the arsiness of the man as well as Newsnight did on Tuesday.

Deborah Summers comes from the Scottish Herald. Word is that the Guardian is going to merge the online politics and Westminster Lobby team – so basically the online team will become glorified data entry operators and paid accordingly.

Blair Nostalgia : How Things Have Changed

Blair yesterday reminisced about the bad old 80s, how crap Labour used to be and how things have changed now. Guido dug out his old election leaflet from 1983. Check out that grin!

1. Prescription charges are up 21% since Blair got in, the tax burden is the highest it has ever been after an N.I. rise to pay for the NHS.
2. Blair has the British army garrisoned in Iraq and Afghanistan – costing us tens of billions of an overstretched military budget as the situation worsens.
3. New Labour.
4. £30 Billion.

How things have changed…

Levy’s Consolation Prize

The was a touching scene the night before last in Albert Square, Manchester. Lord Levy was consoling a very worried man. Sleazy Levy had one hand on the man’s shoulder and the other gripping his elbow as a taxi waited. They must have had the meter on the taxi running for ages since they were having a very animated discussion about something. Levy was quite chipper whereas his friend was disgruntled and worried. “Don’t worry; it’ll all be all right; don’t worry” Levy assured the troubled man.

So far nothing that you have not read already on Iain Dale’s blog earlier. Guido believes that the weepy man was none other than Nick Bowes, formerly the Labour Party’s Head of High Value Fundraising. Nick is a reader of this blog from his desk at the metal bashers and widget makers trade association the EEF, he is up in Manchester on their behalf.

Guido has emailed Nick to corroborate this piece but has as yet no reply to his questions. Let us hope the detectives got more answers out of him…

See also here and here.

Conference Totty Report : Hucknall Makes His Move

Police : Prescott & Anschutz”Not Enough Evidence for a Prosecution for Corruption”

The Met has decided that their investigation following complaints made to Scotland Yard by Windsor-based businessman George Bathurst and the LibDem’s Norman Baker has found “not sufficient basis” for criminal charges. Maybe Guido should send them a copy of the “The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze“?

Battersea X-Factor : Michael Crick is in the Building

Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring…
Guido Fawkes: Morning Michael
Michael Crick: Who is that?
GF: Guido
MC: Oh, crikey
GF: Who are you voting for tonight in Battersea?
MC: I don’t know yet…
GF: You were at Oxford weren’t you, aren’t you contemporaneous with any of them? It is an Oxford slate.
MC: Don’t think so. Well I have met Louise Bagshawe, she wrote to me outraged after my Jeffrey Archer book came out.
GF: Really?
MC: Yes, took me out to tea at a very grand hotel and told me I’d got it all wrong and how he had been very nice to her when she was starting out.
GF: Ha!
MC: I think she has seen the light now.

Crick lives in the constituency and told Guido he is probably going to take his daughter along. He is “not sure” if he is going to take a camera-crew along with him. He also told Guido that in July 1976 he wrote an article in the New Statesman advocating primaries. Sometimes policy takes time to implement Michael…

Hutton v Brown? What has he got to lose?

He has recently sorted out his contact lenses and started getting his hair done more fashionably. He hasn’t endorsed Brown and he is careful in interviews not to do so using a word formula that is in itself revealing. He was challenged in an interview and repeatedly asked if he thought Brown needed a “cabinet-level” challenger. He basically did not say no. Evasive. Unlike Miliband he has not gone on bended knee before Brown and publicly repented for his Blairite sins. He is more Blairite than Blair.

He famously told Nick Robinson that “Brown would be a fucking disastrous PM”.

As a result he is not going to feature in a Brown cabinet. After Reid and Johnson he is the next favourite, ahead of Miliband and Hilary Benn. He is surely worth a few quid on Betfair?

Blair’s Long Goodbye Speech – Liveblog

Thanks Prezza for sticking New Labour down the throats of the party membership.

Class Cherie joke “At least I don’t have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door”.

Starts listing how brilliant things are now and how terrible they were in 1997.

Things are really, really brilliant.

Starts on the history of the Labour party. Points out that Council house sales were first proposed by Labour.

Says gossip is more newsworthy than real news. [Too right, check the traffic figures…]

“It is hard to let go” – legacy will be a fourth term victory.

I love you Gordon, I do.

India, China, Terror, Change, Globalisation, Open yet secure, secure but open, openly secure, securely open. Openness. Security. Partners in progress.

New Labour for ever. Ten more years. Thousand year reich.

Nukes now, biosciences, stem-cell research, global warming, clean technology, clean coal, clean up politics, Kyoto to the max.

Skools are brilliant, loads more teachers, Google generation.

NHS reform SMASH THE UNIONS for a fourth term.

Home Office, Civil liberties, lock em up. ID cards will protect you. PRAISES REID. Ooooh.

Terrorists are everywhere. War for Peace. ID cards for Freedom.

I sorted out Belfast, I’ll sort out Palestine. I love Dubya.

Joke about the Blair boys canvassing, [See Gordon he connects with people, he can be funny, human, a leader]

No rules in politics. Get after David Cameron’s Tories, takes the piss out of non-policies and hug-a-mugger. Accuses Cameron of pandering to anti-Americanism.

Praises Denis Skinner. [Audience ecstatic.] Starts getting misty eyed. Audience silent. We are the world. We saved Africa. Win one more time for me. “You are the future now, make the most of it.”

He is just too good. They’re going to miss him when he’s gone.

Battersea Primary : “Anyone But Ellison”

Guido is fascinated by the line up for the X-factor style Battersea open primary where the voters will get to choose the candidate tomorrow night. It seems a thoroughly healthy democratic development, local people choosing their candidate in public. The choices are a wet, a smoothie, a cutie and Cleverly.

Jane Ellison, studied PPE at Oxford, where she was active in the TRG. Remains active in this ultra-factional and divisive europhile organisation outside the Tory mainstream. Has an expensive looking website where she proudly boasts the endorsement of Gordon Prentice (the Labour MP for Pendle).

Sam Gyimah is an ex-president of the Oxford Union, and centrist Bow Group bigwig. Smart, smooth, successful and a dream candidate for CCHQ .

Louise Bagshawe, novelist fan of Thatcher, went to Oxford. She admits to having joined New Labour and getting suckered by Blair pre-1997. Comes over well on telly.

James Cleverly, army background and works in publishing now. Born and bred Londoner. Was an A-list sceptic who ended up on the A-list.

So the A-list widening of the candidate pool has thrown up three Oxford graduates out of four. Can’t help feeling Cleverly might be the best candidate to win the seat, he is after all a Londoner, he comes over as a nice guy and he didn’t go to Oxford. He also holds more traditional Conservative views. Ellison could win if she got the votes of Labour supporters to go with the endorsement…

Battersea voters will choose, registration starts tomorrow at 7pm. Each of the candidates will be speaking, and will then be asked questions by Michael Portillo and those present. If you are on the electoral roll in the Battersea constituency you are entitled to attend – to pre-register call 020 8944 0378.

Lie-O-Meter : Cherie v Carolin

Carolin Lotter passes the Lie-O-Meter test so easily. Just check out her explanation here (the video is on the right) compared to Ms Blair’s “Honestly, guys, I hate to spoil your story, but I didn’t say it and I don’t believe it either.”

Why didn’t Bloomberg put her on air immediately instead of hiding her in a hotel room?[…] Read the rest

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John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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