Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Why Not Have Tory Conference in Nice, France?

A flight from London to Nice on Easyjet is cheaper than a train ticket from London to Blackpool and it is quicker. The conference facilities in Nice are modern. The hotels are better and cheaper, the food is superb and there is still a chance of some sunshine. It would also show that the Tories are not xenophobic or anti-European. Guido is debating whether or not to go to Blackpool at all – it is so grim up north…

Stormin Rennie is Ready!

Lord Rennard has just emailed Guido:

I am writing you this email from our newly created “election war-room” in Cowley Street. We have just had back-to-back meetings of our Shadow Cabinet and Federal Policy Committee to put the finishing touches to our general election manifesto.

Of course, I can’t tell you the details just yet. [TOP SECRET DOUBLE HUSH HUSH] But it will be a very strong document setting our distinctive values with a strong emphasis on the environment.

Throughout this week the General Election Management Team has been planning things like our press conferences and Ming’s extensive tour across the country. [CALL HELP THE AGED]

The reports from constituencies this weekend are very good. We have had thousands of party members knocking on doors and making telephone calls as part of “community canvass week” Ming himself was out canvassing earlier this week in Scotland.

Whether Gordon Brown calls the election next week, the following week, or at any time in future – we will be ready ! [LIKE THE BOY SCOUTS]

With best wishes

Chris Rennard
Chief Executive, Liberal Democrats

Odd…

Friday Caption Competition (Reds Edition)

Competition Winners

The best entries in the competition for a limerick that wittily summed up Gordon’s conference speech win. Some were very good but didn’t scan properly, others (which Guido particularly enjoyed) were too foul for the sponsors to be seen to endorse.

MixTogether said…

There was an auld policy robber
Who liked the Conservatives’ clobber
“I’m Labour”, said he,
“With a capital ‘C’-
If you’re going to vote Tory, don’t bother!”

Nick Drew said…

Said the cowardly Cowdenbeath Scot
“If I use the word BRITISH a lot
and pretend that I’m CHANGED
(and by no means deranged)
– they won’t notice the economy’s shot . . .”

Charlotte Corday said…

Lacking Blair’s sheer theatrical ham,
Brown droned on about Britishness ad nauseam,
He’s against hospital grime,
Drugs, boozing and crime.
But if we’re good, we’re allowed a small Babysham.

Email Guido your postal addresses. If you didn’t win you can always order a pack here.

Opinion Polls versus Actual Votes

Guido just stuck even more money on the Tories being the biggest party post-election. Note the bet terms carefully – the biggest party. The prices have admittedly moved further against the Tories since last month when Guido stuck £50 on Betfair. Guido now has a few hundred on ’em at prices up to 3.5, which seems too generous to resist. Crazy?

Last night the Tories took a seat off Labour in Sunderland, elsewhere in Dover there was a big double-digit percentage swing to Cameron, in marginals Labour lost votes. The Tories will also get a bounce from next week – despite the BBC trying desperately to develop a narrative of disillusionment and more defections – which should move the betting prices.

Why take the biggest party bet? Four reasons; Scotland and boundary changes are going to hurt Labour, thirdly the Ashcroft marginal machine is where the real battle is, not in Labour’s heartlands where traditional voters disillusioned by Blair can return to Labour without making a blind bit of difference. Finally, when politics re-starts for real in parliament, Gordon’s big-tent gimmicks will be forgotten in that adversarial atmosphere.

Breaking News

Nick Robinson breathlessly informed us yesterday on his blog that “The BBC has learnt that over the past 24 hours the Labour Party has begun recruiting key staff to work on an election campaign.” Nick is a brilliant investigative reporter isn’t he? Guido read about that on Recess Monkey the day before, who read it in the Guardian.

Guido could be wrong, but something tells him Gordon is bluffing.

GuyNews : Blears Gets a Cookie-Monstering

Andrew Neil gave Blears a policy stealing monstering which went, errrm, right over her head. See report on GuyNews.TV.

Blears Gets a Cookie-Monstering

Never Work With Guido, Children or Animals

In a rare and uncharacteristic act of selfless public service, Guido spoke at an event for a few hundred sixth formers today (the honarium was a decent bottle of Marguax). He advised the politically minded students that they would be better off not going into politics if they wanted to make the world a better place.

Afterwards one of the organisers thanked me – “Yeah, thanks for that, I’m sure all the teachers who brought sudents along were overjoyed when you recommended that the world would be better off if they became honest drug dealers and arms traders rather than politicians.” Glad to be of service.

Boris Landslide Result

Boris by a landslide wins the Conservative Party open primary to select their candidate for London Mayor:

  • Boris Johnson 15,661
  • Victoria Borwick 1,869
  • Andrew Boff 1,674
  • Warwick Lightfoot 609

Guido is surprised he only got some 3/4 of the votes…

The Miliblogger is Back to Bore for Britain

The Miliblogger is back and this time he has a gang. Guido is pleased to say he was the first to welcome him. If you want to give him some feedback, perhaps about the EU constitutional treaty, he would love to hear from you. Tell him Guido sent you…

The Fink Spots Shrum Hand

Tomorrow’s Times will highlight the input of Bob Shrum into Gordon’s conference speech. It turns out to have been a formulaic re-hash of old Shrum speeches. Danny Finkelstein spotted the similarity this afternoon and the paper has since confirmed it to be the case. Shrum is understood to have been given a desk in Downing Street.

Guido need hardly remind readers that Bob Shrum was paid by Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute, to advise him on political strategy. It was documentary evidence of that blatantly illegal activity (provided by Guido) which triggered the ongoing Charity Commission investigation. Ed Balls also berthed at the Smith Institute between leaving his job as a Treasury SpAd and becoming an MP – he was paid a little short of £100,000 for writing a couple of pamphlets.

With the transfer also of Konrad Caulkett from the Smith Institute to Downing Street as well, it is abundantly clear that the Smith Institute has served its purpose – preparing the ground for the Brown premiership. All unlawfully subsidised by the taxpayer…

Cultured Celebrity

Gordon did a light-hearted, well light-hearted by his standards, Q & A session with husky voiced, liberal-thinking man’s crumpet, Mariella Frostrup. It seems like it was only yesterday that he signaled his disapproval of aspects of Britain’s celebrity culture: “It is a remarkable culture where people appear on television and are famous simply for the act of appearing on television.”

Mariella is, errm, a famous TV presenter…

What No Scotland?

The Lobby is jumping all over Fraser Nelson’s interview with George Osborne in the Speccie tomorrow where he appears to distance himself from the über-modernisers.

Of more interest to Guido was the information that in CCHQ

“a new map hangs in George Osborne’s office, showing the latest parliamentary boundaries for the next general election. It could have been designed to soothe the nerves of a Conservative party election co-ordinator, for it is dominated by Tory blue. A few tricks have been used to achieve this optical illusion. There is no Scotland“.

Perhaps George is hoping that Scotland will be coloured yellow…

UPDATE : The Scottish press are very interested in this point of detail. Consequently Osborne’s spin-doctor has been on to Guido claiming that the office does not belong to his boss. “So whose office is it?” Guido challenged, “Errr, I don’t know.” Guido called Fraser Nelson, he certainly thought it was Osborne’s office – opposite Dave’s own. Indeed at one point in the interview Dave walked in “Ah, so that’s where all the booze is kept” he said, “nodding to the bottles of Château Village 2003 in the corner of Mr Osborne’s office”, according to Fraser. Where is Osborne’s Millbank office? We were spun recently that an election-ready campaign team had moved into CCHQ Millbank from their parliamentary offices. Osborne is the campaign manager…

Ali Campbell Complains About the Blogosphere

“The blogosphere is very right wing at the moment. We need more voices out there to counter it” he told 200 mugs who had paid hard cash (£15) to hear Campbell plug his book – “perfect for Dad for Christmas” at a fringe event last night.

Chris Hope in the Telegraph agrees: it is the right-wing blogs that are shaping coverage in the dead-tree-press.

We know the ususal Tory suspects he is talking about – Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie’s. There are left-wing blogs like LabourHome but they seem to lack the spikiness and must-read edge of Guido, for example.

After a lot of thought about this, Guido has come to a simple conclusion as to why British left-wing blogs are unsuccessful. It is not because Labour is in government. It is because they are boring.

Nothing To See Here…

Bournemouth police just happen to trot along in line abreast over IWannaReferendum slogan outside Labour’s conference…

Time for Tactical Decisions from CCHQ and Cowley Street

The LibDems are getting pummelled in the polls – this morning a YouGov poll has them down another 3% to 13% with the Tories unchanged on 33%. Guido finds it hard to believe the accuracy of this poll – with Labour at 44% that makes them more popular than in 1997 when they scored 43%. Not very likely is it?
A hung parliament is still the most likely outcome of the next election whatever the polls currently say. The only way to ensure that outcome is to take seats off Labour, swapping Tory and LibDem seats will not change the government.

Is it time for them to consider tactical voting? Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting.com has made the case for this before, if you want to get rid of this government, vote for the party best placed to beat New Labour in your constituency. In Scotland that seems to have happened already, the business community has switched from the no-hope Tories to the SNP. In return the SNP has begun to talk more about “Enterprise Scotland” and is now polling even stronger than during the recent local elections.

The problem is that LibDem and Tory activists hate each other. They would not countenance any explicit instruction to vote for the other party. Often at each others neck in local government, the idea of a non-aggression pact is unpalatable. Rather than going into any protracted negotiations the Tories should just direct resources away from LibDem incumbents and into the battle in Labour seats. The LibDems political antennae would detect the shift, they would consequently be able to shift their more limited resources away from defending LibDem seats against Tory insurgents and towards attacking Labour incumbents.

Encouraging Tories and LibDems to work together is not easy, but there is one issue that is heartfelt by LibDems and Tories in their libertarian hearts – ID cards. Pushing ID cards up the political agenda would place Tories and LibDems on the same side of the barricades against an authoritarian government. Psychologically a useful pre-cursor to a post-election deal. If Tory and LibDem activists worked together on the NO 2 ID campaign they might even find their rivals more likeable. As Brown begins to sound more and more authoritarian, emphasising “Strength”, “Britain” and “British jobs for British workers” the Liberal Democrats may realise they have a lot more in common with Cameron’s liberal Conservatives than with Brown’s ideology of state power. Ming may lean towards Brown, but the next LibDem leader is less likely to do so…

Sky Trumped

Sky are handing out top trumps cards at the Labour party conference featuring 30 politicians rated for their Year Elected, Majority, Charisma, Looks and Parliamentary Skills. That leaves a lot of cheesed off politicians who have not even made the pack – never mind getting a rating.

The campaigners at the Taxpayers Alliance have also produced a Political Trumps pack, with 52 cards doubling as a normal pack of cards as well – with Lembit and Boris as the Jokers of course.

The Taxpayers Alliance version rates politicians for Years per Department, Media Skills, Integrity, Scandal Avoidance, Private Sector and Front-Bench Experience. Revealingly different metrics from the Sky pack – where the ratings were made by Lobby hacks.

Guido has packs to give away to the three best entries in his competition for a limerick that wittily sums up Gordon’s speech from yesterday. Entries in the comments please.

If you don’t win you can always order a pack here.

Picture Imperfect

To pick up a media pass for the Conservative conference in Blackpool they specify that you have to bring photo-ID. Your face is not good enough?

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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