Get Down to Grosvenor Place for Noon (and Free Guinness)

Midday today will see supporters of the I Want a Referendum campaign outside the Irish Embassy.

Guido will be supporting them in the sunshine and then moving on to the Guinness Guzzling fund raiser (see below for how to donate).

Guido will be out-drinking the national chairman of Conservative Future, Michael Rock. He is a big lad so it could be a close run thing…

Sponsor Guido in the Anglo-Irish Guinness Guzzling Competition

At midday tomorrow I Want a Referendum campaigners will be gathering outside the Irish embassy to congratulate the Irish on getting the referendum that Brown has denied the British. All over Europe pro-referendum campaigners will be turning up at Irish embassies.
Once the political niceties are out of the way the serious business of the day will begin. The first ever Anglo-Irish Guinness necking competition will get underway. In the green corner Guido will take on the might of the Conservative Future Chairman Michael Rock in the blue corner. Whoever manages to guzzle 4 pints of Guinness quickest will be crowned champion.

Get involved in this titanic struggle by pledging money. You can sponsor Guido or Michael through I Want a Referendum’s PayPal link:


All money raised will go to referendum campaigners
from the winner’s home country.
Depending on who downs the Guinness first, the funds will then be paid out to either Stuart Wheeler’s Fighting Fund by Michael Rock if he wins, or if Guido wins, he will pay it to the Irish No campaign being run by Libertas.* Michael will be wearing England colours, Guido will of course be wearing an Irish shirt…

By happy coincidence this knees-up is on the last day that Londoners will still be allowed to drink legally on the underground. All who are still standing after the Irish bash (and those light enough to be carried) will be heading over to Liverpool St for the Last Orders on the Underground party on the Circle Line. Unfortunately that starts at 9pm so Guido won’t be able to make it…

UPDATE : I Want a Referendum campaign just called – there will be free Guinness for all who turn up!

*Guido can legally donate to the Irish No Campaign because he is an Irish citizen.

Friday Caption Contest (Escher Edition)

Labour Polls The Lowest Since British Polling Began


The latest polls have Labour at the lowest ever recorded since polling began in 1943 and Gordon Brown is the most unpopular PM in history, he is polling worse than even Neil Kinnock or Michael Foot! How must it feel to be the most hated Prime Minister of all time?

Guido likes to remind all those Labour lemmings, like Tom Watson, who plotted and worked to get Blair out and Brown in, that we told you so. So here is a reminder, again:

John Hutton didn’t mince his words when he gave Nick Robinson his prediction. He was right.

He made this forecast (video here) to a Question Time audience. He got it wrong, it took five months.

They are going to miss three times election winning Blair when he is gone. Wait and see…
26 June 2007

Labour have acted like lemmings, dispensing with their most successful leader of all time for a less popular, less likeable replacement. The more the voters see of Gordon, the worse it will get.
May 13, 2007

You have to wonder if the Labour party is having a collective moment of Lemming-like lunacy... The Brown bounce will be a dead-Lemming bounce.
April 27, 2007

We really did tell you so…

Downing Street Forces Purnell to Sack Adviser

Whatever the spin being put on this, the truth is that the Brownies do not want to hear criticism. Particularly when the criticism comes from media favourite James Purnell’s speech writer (who was once Blair’s speech writer).

Phil Collins has written in this month’s Prospect Magazine a wonky piece which can be summarised roughly as Brown is crap, Cameron is right. How did the man who after the local elections said he was “listening and would learn from [his] mistakes” react? Gordon and the Brownies went berserk.

Purnell has been forced to sack his speech writer.

The line coming out that Purnell has not sacked Collins, he just now has a civil service speech writer, is of course bollocks. Civil servants don’t write party political speeches. This is the spin from the same people who you may remember insisted that David Pitt-Watson was taking up the General Secretary position and contrary stories from Guido et al were wrong. Just a “few contractual wrinkles” to sort out they claimed. They subsequently admitted we were right and by implication they had lied shamelessly to their chosen interlocutor – Ben Brogan. This is what they do. Lie unattributably. Paul Waugh is their more sceptical chosen interlocutor this time….

Hillary Waits for the 3 a.m. Call,Brown Calls You at 6 a.m.

PR Week reports another failed PR putsch from the bunker…

“Hello? Gordon here. I’m calling about your letter…’

Clare O’Connor and David Singleton

Gordon Brown’s latest comms offensive involves cold-calling members of the public who have written him letters, according to sources close to Downing Street.

The initiative is said to be the brainchild of Downing Street chief of strategy Stephen Carter and is intended to humanise the Prime Minister as his popularity continues to wane.

‘Carter thought it was a good idea to have Brown call people personally,’ said one insider. ‘Carter will choose a letter or email at random, have one of his team at Number 10 prepare a response, then get Brown to call.’

The move is an attempt to spread positive word of mouth for the PM, especially in the regions.

However, one of the first phone calls backfired spectacularly, according to one anecdote told to PRWeek.

‘Brown made a phone call at 6am, without thinking,’ said a well-placed Labour source. ‘Luckily the person he called was a shift worker, so he was awake.’

The source added: ‘Carter’s idea is well meaning, but it’s not working. Improving Brown’s image through PR is now being looked at as a lost cause.’

Downing Street declined to comment on the story.

Source : PRWeek

Pundits Think Politicians Paid Too Little

PoliticsHome’s “Insider Panel” has been polled on politicians pay and surprisingly “Britain’s most authoritative survey of expert and inside political opinion” has a majority of the panel (56%) reckoning MPs are currently paid too little.

Hmmm, a poll of politicians, political insiders and their friends reckons they should be paid more. In other surprise news, a poll of turkeys votes against christmas celebrations.

+++ Oil Tax Windfalls :Treasury Rakes £115m Weekly More Than Budget Forecast +++

Maurice Fitzpatrick, senior tax manager at Grant Thornton, the accountants is quoted in the FT:

Since the Budget in March, the Treasury has already taken an estimated £820m more than its forecasts in North Sea oil tax. The £6bn of surplus revenue would easily cover the cost of U-turns on both fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, where ministers are introducing new bands which could cost an extra £200 for drivers of inefficient cars. Deferring the 2p increase in fuel duty by six months would cost £550m. Scrapping the revamped vehicle excise duty altogether would mean the loss of an estimated £465m next year and £735m next year – although ministers may only remove the retrospective element of this tax.

So scrapping the poll tax on wheels and the 2p hike on petrol taxes would cost about 9 weeks extra than forecast windfall taxes due to high oil prices. Scrap ’em now…

Labour Insolvent, 30 Days from Bankruptcy

David Hencke has a round-up this morning of the debts coming due for the Labour Party taken from the Electoral Commission’s updated records released yesterday. He also reveals that NEC members threatened to resign unless they were indemnified for their potential liabilities. City lawyers Slaughter & May have warned that NEC members could be jointly and several liable for the debts. That means Gordon Brown himself could be held legally liable for £24 million of party debt…

The Co-operative Bank is calling in £2.61m in loans, Unity Trust Bank owned by the Co-op and the unions has a further £1.54 m due at the same time. In total £7.45m is due next month. Money that Labour simply does not have. Guido is willing to risk buying Labour Party debt at 10p in the £1…

The position of general secretary is still vacant. Guido is surprised.

Why is Petrol So Expensive in Britain?

Petrol is now nearly £6 a gallon, or some £1.15 a litre, of which 67p or some 57% goes to the Treasury. But that is only the beginning of how the Treasury makes more out of high petrol costs than OPEC and the oil companies combined.

The price differential between Britain and America is almost entirely due to taxation. Americans are enraged that they are paying $4 a gallon, they would probably have another revolution if they had to pay the equivalent of $12 a gallon as the British do. Even Europeans pay lower fuel taxes than the British, in some cases dramatically lower tax rates.

In the 2005 budget Gordon doubled the tax levy from 10% to 20% on oil explorers. At the time the Offshore Operators Association said it was “shocked” by the chancellor’s decision. “At a single stroke, the Treasury has rewritten the industry’s future. It will severely undermine business confidence,” warned the OOA chief executive, Malcolm Webb, “This has been done not once but twice in the space of just three years and we fear that this time the North Sea will not be as resilient.” And so it has proved.

Former oil trader Alan Duncan, the Tory Business Shadow, says Brown‘s actions over oil production are “not just laughable, but pitiful… he has completely lost the plot.” The government has belatedly today exempted 30 unprofitable oil fields from Petroleum Revenue Tax and granted licenses to two new sites. It was Gordon himself who doubled the Petroleum Revenue Tax three years ago.

What bemuses Guido most is that in the midst of all these difficulties, Alistair Darling is still dithering and doesn’t know if he wants to delay adding 2p a litre to fuel costs. He doesn’t know? He really doesn’t have a clue does he?

UPDATE : Osborne spotted the problem last year.

Jonah Brown Calls for Lower Oil Prices

This lunchtime Gordon made his call for increased oil production by OPEC and North Sea Oil producers. How did the market react? Above is today’s price chart, notice the move beginning just after Gordon’s midday rant at the market.

You guessed it – oil rose over 4 bucks…

Note to Editors : Oil Price is $126 not $135 Doh!

Why are some of the papers this morning reporting oil is $135 a barrel? Could it be because Downing Street is briefing on that basis ahead of Gordon’s meeting with the oil companies and they are too lazy to check? Crude oil for July delivery touched a record $135.09 a barrel last week – last Guido looked at it and wished he was short the market – it was trading at $126.35.

Gordon isn’t going to talk down the market, it will come down when the market believes recession will hit demand…

UPDATE : Larry Elliot, Guardian Economics editor reckons oil “has increased from $10 a barrel a decade ago to $135 today.” If he turns a few pages in his own paper he will see he is wrong.

Bash a Politician – Get a T-Shirt!

Peter Hain’s demise began with the leak of one document – his leadership campaign’s budget. That tip set in train a process that led directly to him being investigated by the police for undeclared donations.

You make this blog happen. Sources are anonymous (unless you want credit*). Who is on the fiddle? Who is lying? If you know “the line” is a lie, ask yourself why you got into politics; was it to cover up the truth or tell it?

Skype gossip and tittle-tattle online to Guido.
(If you haven’t got Skype, download it free here.)

Guido’s blog relies on you for information.

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*You may get a “Conspiracy Member” T-shirt.

Fantasy Island Economics

The 40% Golden Rule was officially smashed last week. The Office of National Statistics says even the fiddled government debt level now stands at 43.1%. The Treasury’s Code for Fiscal Stability allows the Government to break the Golden Rule temporarily if it specifies:

  1. the reasons for departing from the previous fiscal policy objectives and operating rules;
  2. the approach and period of time that the Government intends to take to return to the previous fiscal policy objectives and operating rules; and
  3. the fiscal policy objectives and operating rules that shall apply over this period

Well the government could honestly specify:

  1. We recklessly overspent in the good times and when things went wrong and we nationalised Northern Rock, we bust even the fiddled limits.
  2. We will probably carry on spending like a drunk sailor in port and leave the mess to George Osborne to sort out, just as Geoffrey Howe had to sort out our mess last time.
  3. We will just throw money at any electoral problem even though we seem to have run out of people and things to tax.

The penny has dropped for Denis MacShane of all people:

“the prime minister can announce that he will leave more money in the pockets of the British people by reducing their taxes. This can be targeted at the indigenous working class, furious at the incessant year-on-year council-tax increases above the rate of inflation… I do not know of a single minister who privately does not despair at the waste of money on pointless projects, publications, or legions of press officers that add no value.”

Welcome to economic reality Denis. When even former Labour Ministers are calling for tax and waste reductions the tax argument is won (without any help from the Cameroons).

Meanwhile, fresh from telling the banks to lend more mortgages at lower rates in defiance of LIBOR, Gordon is today going to tell the oil companies to drop prices in defiance of supply and demand. What is the point of Gordon’s market bucking fantasy rants? To get a photo op and show he is “doing something”, he will subsquently in interviews say that he told the oil companies to drop prices, just like he told OPEC to stop laughing at him. There is only one thing in his pwoer which will reduce petrol pump prices.

Given that some three quarters of the petrol price is tax, perhaps reducing the tax take on petrol would be the best way to help hard pressed voters. The Golden Rule is bust, we need economic growth. We can only boost the faltering economy if, as Dennis MacShane says, we “leave more money in the pockets of the British people by reducing their taxes”. You can’t buck the market Gordon, but you can borrow from the bond market…

Grand Theft Auto U-Turn – Hand-Brake Skid Likely

“We’re moving forward” is one of those phrases Gordon likes to monotone to reporters questioning the government’s lack of direction and drive. The policy on taxing old-bangers retrospectively is looking like a car-crash that is going to be the subject of a niftily executed U-turn by Alastair Darling. Hundreds of truckers lay siege to London’s arteries, 30 Labour MPs have signed a rebellious EDM. The government would be crazy not to execute a reversal of policy…

 

UPDATE : A co-conspirator writes, “Retrospective taxes? OK by me if we get retrospective voting.”

+++ Source : Hillary SpeechwritersPreparing Concession Speech +++

.. and no – the source is not Drudge – a mid-level Hillary campaign source.

Johann Hari : Not Bananas, Just Drugged

Johann Hari has an article today in the Indy arguing that since Gordon Brown is going to lose the election anyway, he might as well go down with all guns blazing. Liberated from the need or indeed possibility of winning an election, he can swing madly to the left. Hari reckons Gordon should apologise for Iraq to the Iraqis and in doing so shame the Americans. Then Gordon should put up tax rates to 60%, price big family cars off the road, and as a finale, fly in Iraqi refugees from Syrian and Jordanian camps. Hari advocates all this political Hari kari for Gordon with the cheerful words “If you are going to lose, Gordon, lose with style”.

Gordon will no doubt be chuffed to bits with the, errrm, sensible advice Johann offers. This follows on from Hari’s article last Thursday; Why bananas are a parable for our times, in which we learnt about the CIA’s use of the banana to fight communism. On Sunday Hari wrote an article entitled;Are GM bananas the answer? Apparently if genetically modified they will overcome “the current bananapocalypse” caused by mega-corporations because “we have to muddle through now as best we can, trying to keep six billion people alive.”

Guido is a teensy weensy bit concerned and called Hari to ask – “Are you on drugs?” It turns out that he was but he is alright now. He was necking Modafinil earlier this month, a stimulant cognitive enhancer that is a “wakefulness promoting agent” used to treat narcolepsy, depression, schizophrenia and fatigue related conditions.

We touched on Xanax use – which he pops before hopping on a flight – Guido suggested that based on his own experience some drugs seem positively subtle at first but manifest themselves in ways not immediately recognisable by the user, but easily identified by others. No, no, no says Hari, with Modafinil he “was just able to glide into a state of deep, cool, effortless concentration.”

“It was as if I had opened a window in my brain and all the stuffy air had seeped out, to be replaced by a calm breeze… The next morning I woke up and felt immediately alert. Normally it takes a coffee and an hour to kick-start my brain; today I’m ready to go from the second I rise. And it continues like this for five days: I inhale books and exhale articles effortlessly…”

Not at all bananas…

MPs to Voters : “We Are Worth More Than You”

The recommendation that MPs get a tax-free £23,000 lump sum payment is a piss-take. This is equivalent to an extra £40,000 on their salary, which together with the pay rise they want will bring their package up to £115,000 plus gold-plated non-contributory index-linked pensions. Their reasoning is that the expense fiddles have become too embarrassing and they realise they will no longer be able to get away with them now they are out in the open.

Effectively they want the housing allowance fiddle to continue without the hassle of having to justify the expenses. No doubt some will say we have to pay them six-figure salaries if we want to attract candidates. Guido has never bought into that line of argument. The fact is that the supply of wannabee MPs is massive, hundreds apply for selection for safe seats when they become available. If there was a lack of wannabee greasy-pole climbers this would be plausible, there is however an abundant over-supply of those willing to join the parasitical political class. The reason? It is a cushy desirable, overly prestigious, over-paid job. Plenty of people do much harder, no prestige, lower paid jobs. MPs have a sense of self entitlement way out of line with their real worth.Average earnings at £23,244 are less than a quarter what MPs propose to pay themselves. Most people can apparently run a household on a quarter of what MPs claim to need to run two households – which suggests they are overpaid for what need compared to the rest of us. They are supposed to be public servants, yet too many of them are like the husband and wife expense fiddling team Mr & Mrs Keen-on-expenses. In it to maximise their profit at the public’s expense…

We have serving soldiers in war zones on the poverty line, their starting rate of tax just doubled. MPs award themselves £400 a month for groceries when they are in their cosy Westminster homes, those same MPs voted for soldiers to have to pay for their own rations. Children in state schools are fed on 50p per diem, MPs claim £20 per diem. MPs get their snouts deep into the public trough way ahead of more deserving children and soldiers. So much for politicians putting the public interest first…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Milibandwagon : Scared to Roll?

The malevolence of the Brownies deterred Miliband from running for the leadership last year – to the disappointment of the now vindicated Blairites. Miliband is, we are told reliably, preparing himself in readiness to save the party from catastrophe. Guido was told – by someone who claimed to have spoken to him directly – that he is worried that if Gordon leads the party to disaster, New Labour will be buried forever and the party will fall into the hands of the left-wing once again.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

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