Tory Poster Blunder Commits Party to Tear Up EU Treaty

On the tight-rope issue that is the EU treaty, the Tories are campaigning hard for a referendum, which Gordon will not concede. What Cameron has refused so far to concede to his own right-wing is a retrospective referendum should they be in power in 2010 – two years after the treaty will have been confirmed by Parliament.

Hague has been firmly evasive on this point, Tory EU-headbangers have also been, well, as headbanging as always on the same point. Tomorrow’s new “CANCELLED” poster from the Tories has now muddied the waters. As soon as it appeared on ConservativeHome, UKIP supporting Chad Noble spotted that the poster implies “A vote on the European Constitution” is “now delayed until the election of a Conservative government”.The Lobby are lined up to hear a speech from Cameron tomorrow on his “vision”, what is the betting that they will be asking him about this commitment? It is an issue the Brownies have deliberately been trying to stoke up in the press to cause trouble and division with the Tory ranks. Somebody at CCHQ is going to get a bollocking tomorrow…

UPDATE : The Devil has taken a more detailed look at the Tory (non)commitments overnight. Are they meaningful? He thinks not.

Scare the Kids

Government in Halloween Double Trick Retreat

The business community is relieved that the horror of a flat 18% CGT is to be cushioned by a £100,000 tax exempt threshold – Osborne is deriding Darling’s Halloween retreat “Alistair Darling has heaped confusion on incompetence. Only three weeks ago, the Chancellor announced big tax increases for small businesses and entrepreneurs… The government has performed so many u-turns it doesn’t know which way it’s facing.”
This follows the news that the government is dropping the planned trick to claw back 5% from school budgets. Guido has no idea where we are now with the pay – as – you – throw micro-chipped-Bin-Brother-spy policy. Guido can confirm however that there is no truth in the rumour that at midnight Ed Balls will turn into a pumpkin.

Geek Note : Service Interruption Possible

Guido is doing a full dress-rehearsal of his host mirroring system today. There should be no noticeable interruption to the blog. The Californian server’s 70 megabytes of contents were mirrored on a back-up server in an entirely different legal jurisdiction yesterday.

The intention is to switch servers seamlessly, see how it performs under the traffic load, then switch back to California – without losing a single comment. Isn’t technology wonderful?

So anyone thinking of wielding a legal hammer, better get a bigger hammer.

Clegg – ID Cards – “I Will Defy Law”

LibDem politics is so very often the politics of gestures. Huhne’s position on Trident isn’t of any consequence since he won’t have a dog in that fight.

But the politics of the personal is a place where their gestures are more significant. Clegg is going all Gandhi-like and promising mass civil disobedience on ID cards. He told supporters last night “If the legislation is passed I will lead a grassroots campaign of civil disobedience to thwart the identity cards programme … I, and I expect thousands of people like me, will simply refuse ever to register.” “I am not a number” he (almost) shouts.

Which is all very well for private citizens like Guido to do, it is another thing for legislators. Guido’s defiance of the state is one thing, a law-maker becoming a law-breaker presents a dilemma of an entirely different order. Unlike private citizens, Clegg is an integral part of the system representative democracy, if he rejects the outcome of majoritarian politics he is rejecting the system. Good luck to him, but he can’t simply pick and choose the laws he obeys if he is a law-maker.

Unhappy Halloween

Gove does the intellectual attack muttering about a sad loss of idealism one minute, next minute CCHQ rolls out this poster to commemorate non-election day. Coulson wouldn’t have had a hand in this would he?

CH4RLIE 4 Boris

Who was the stilletoed brunette who exited this Bentley with Boris last week at the back of the Norman Shaw building? Answers to editorial@thefirstpost.co.uk.

Schhhh, Ssshhh, Schillings

Gove : “I Might Be Ugly, But I’m Smart”

Michael Gove is making a much anticipated speech this morning which is expected to be the intellectual equivalent of a bitch-slap to Gordon Brown. What the kind readers of this blog always say in the comments whenever Guido features Gove is that “he has a face you just want to slap”.

Gove is clearly aware of this and possessing a fair amount of ambition he has made some efforts to ameliorate this reaction. He lost the glasses earlier this year and his clothes have got sharper since his journalist days. He explains in article this morning “thus you have the paradox, which I exemplify, of the individual who is both plain and vain, a man who tries to dress smartly because of an anxiety to minimise the unhappy aesthetic impact of one’s appearance.”

What Michael should understand is that the collective urge to happy-slap him isn’t strictly to do with his looks. It is the sheer swottyness of him, exemplified in the article, that brings out the latent playground bully in us all.

UPDATE : His speech is a measured dissection of the Brownies problems.

Sky Dalek Policy

Sky apologised today following Julie Etchingham’s joke on air that the Tories favoured a policy of “extermination” for immigrants.

As Dave said live “Let me outline the action that a Conservative government would take. As we have seen, some of the increase in population size results from natural change – birth rates, death rates. Here our policy should be obvious… “

Microphone switched on, Julie cracked: “Extermination.”

A Sky News spokesman said: “A comment was made in the studio during David Cameron’s speech that was broadcast in error. The comment was not intended for broadcast. The off-the-cuff remark was regrettable.” She is shortly off to work with Trevor MacDonald on the re-launched News at Ten…

Stephen Glover was one of the founders of the Indy and he still writes a weekly media column for the paper. All credit to him for this morning in his column covering and criticising the editor of the paper for Indy-gate. Some thought it amusing that it had been unmentioned in his column of last week. (Guido did inquire of Glover if he would be covering it when it went without comment).

“You can’t expect him to criticise his own editor in the paper” Guido was told by other hacks. Well he did. Independent? Glover is.

Flying Lion Ordinary Rendition

Bob Piper and few other left leaning bloggers are getting excited about Flying Lion Limited and bemoaning Guido’s lack of digging into it. They have been digging into the company (now known as “Con Air” because it ferries Tories around) in the hope of uncovering something murky. The Bahamian registered company has got them more than a little agitated.

It is hard to see why they are getting so excited since they should already know it is owned by Ashcroft and a quick perusal of the Electoral Commission website shows £19,819.60 given in the last twelve months. In the year before more than £50,000 worth of flights were registered as reported by The Times in May 2006. So the only reason Guido hasn’t been digging into it is because it is not news…

(Incidentally Dave flew BA to Berlin last week.)

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Friday Caption Contest

Hain Loses Another SpAd

Hain can’t seem to hold a SpAd down since Phil Taylor’s departure. Robert Philpot has gone back to Progress. Who are Hain’s SpAds nowadays? Why did Philpot leave so soon? Hain could get a Basher Davis type reputation for staff turnover at this rate…

Lord Hoyle Whores Himself to Arms Dealers

In what is in truth an everyday tale of New Labour sleaze, the Guardian exposes on the front page something that happens regularly at the Parliament of Whores in Westminster.

Lord Hoyle was paid a “counsultancy” fee by lobbyist Michael Wood, of Whitehall Advisers, a firm specialising in the murky world of lobbying for arms deals. The firm boasts in publicity of their ability to influence MoD purchases and that they have played a role in £10 billion of UK equipment procurement.

The undeclared payment is the subject of evolving explanations by Hoyle. He originally admitted to the Guardian

Lord Hoyle accepts he was asked to arrange the lobbyist’s introduction “to say hello to the new minister”. He told the Guardian that Lord Drayson was asked to come for a drink. Mr Wood was already there. He says he told the minister: “Mike Wood of Whitehall Advisers would like to meet you.”

At the meeting, which Lord Drayson, the Minister for Arms Procurement, appears to have correctly and formally noted, Mike Wood made his pitch for his firms clients.

So we have an undeclared, under-the-counter payment to a peer to introduce a lobbyist pimping on behalf of arms dealers to the Minister, Lord Drayson, in charge of buying arms – who himself bought his way into the legislature. Remember the 1997 promise of New Labour to be “whiter than white”…

UPDATE : As a co-conspirator points out in the comments, Tory MP Gerald Howarth obtained a parliamentary pass for Mike Wood. Why? He does enjoy a lot of defence related junkets…

MPs Expenses – A New Hero Emerges

MPs expense figures have just been released.* Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) is the least expensive MP coming in at under £44,551. Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) is four times as expensive at £178,116.

Guido called Hollobone’s office to try and figure out the anomaly:

Guido Fawkes “Is Hollobone there?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Can I speak to him?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Thanks.”
Guido waits patiently.
Office “It is me.”

It turns out that the reason he is some £23,340 cheaper than even Dennis Skinner (£67,891) is that he doesn’t employ any office staff. He answers his own correspondence (he can type) and he says dealing with constituents is his favourite part of the job. So it is no surprise that he is rated in the top decile for responsiveness by WriteToThem.com, whereas Liam Byrne, despite all his staff and great expense, comes 158th.

According to data from TheyWorkForYou.com, Philip Hollobone

  • Has spoken in 105 debates in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 194 written questions in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Is a member of 2 select committees.
  • Replied within 2 or 3 weeks to a very high number of messages sent via WriteToThem.com during 2006, according to constituents.
  • Has voted in 87% of votes in parliament — well above average amongst MPs.

How is it that he can be an excellent constituency MP for a third of the average cost of the rest?

*Thanks to Bloomberg for doing the number crunching.

Dacre Officially Enters Gordon’s Tent

In what many think is designed to provide Dacre with a “public service” excuse for his peerage, Gordon has appointed him to oversee a review of the 30 Year Secrecy Rule.

Dacre’s other public services; warning the public about gypsies, immigrants, alco-pops and such-like are deemed not good enough to earn him the ermine. Guido thinks editors should sup with politicians with a long spoon, getting in their tent and having a cozy breakfast in the morning with them is unwise. Perhaps it was secrecy that they discussed over the breakfast kippers

Sainsbury v Ashcroft

It is worth noting when Labour MPs in marginal seats start bleating about Ashcroft’s money being a threat to democracy that they never mention Lord Sainsbury. He has actually given the Labour party, one way or another, some £15 million. Far more than Ashcroft has given the Tories.[…] Read the rest

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