Saturday Seven Up

7upIf you were not one of the 72,998 visitors viewing 379,485 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

Guidogram Going Out Shortly

In this week’s Guy News Guido sent Emily to branch out to poor abused Downing Street staffers, we are live from Steve Hilton’s Californian Kitchen and TB reports on a rather special date.

If you haven’t subscribed to the Guidogram, you’ll have to wait until next week…

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Telegraph Digging on Dave's School-days


There are two possible angles to this story, either the cutting edge digital Telegraph team is preparing an attack on Dave using social media to harvest information in the run up to the election. Or given it’s Friday and all, hacks have sunk to new lows in lazy attempts at sniffing out a story. So look out for some inane rumours and anecdotes about Dave’s early days in the next week – you know were they came from now. Heidi Blake looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but perhaps she should have paused to think Dave’s old school chums might be a little more loyal than that.

Friday Caption Contest (Bully Boy Edition)

Silence is Deadly

While the limos may not be circling Parliament Square just yet, it is worth noting the intense speculation that something is up at Downing Street today. The polls are tightening, the recession figures could be spun well and Dave and co are off to the seaside for the spring forum that Labour couldn’t afford. Has Gordon been reading up on Wilson?

“Wilson would make his annual trip to see HMQ at Balmoral to coincide with the start of the Tory conference.  To disrupt proceedings at the seaside, Wilson would feed a few trusted journalists that he was seeking a dissolution.   It worked a treat. “

Gordon’s has never recovered from the election-that-never-was in Autumn 2007 because he allowed the speculation to go on too long. The Tories are secretly praying he holds off until May, as are the media whose well planned agendas would have been a total waste of time. Bookies have stopped taking bets on March 25th. If Gordon doesn’t make a move to confirm or quell the hype it will be Bottler Brown all over again.

Wilson quote via Events Dear Boy Events.

Revised GDP Figure 0.3%

The ONS have revised the Q4 growth figure from a sickly 0.1% to a meagre 0.3%. An improvement but still nothing to be cheery about. What this figure does do though is decrease the chances that on 23rd April Britain will officially be back in a recession. Much of the speculation about an early election was based on this news, the final nail in Brown’s coffin would be a double dip announcement in the last weeks of an election campaign. The odds on an early election were slashed last night, but this news is good for those holding out that the election will be 6th May.

+ + +BBC Source: News Team on "Red Alert" For Election Call + + +

UPDATE: Guido understands that the BBC political teams have been told not to go away over the weekend.

Self-Harman

For all their talk of engaging online and being so technically advanced, sometimes politicians painfully show just how of touch they really are. Most Twitter users at some point in the last week would have received a message from one of their followers or friends that said “haha is this you?” with a link. Classic spammer trick, it then spreads to all your followers. Harriet Harman has gone into full hysterical mode claiming in the House of Commons that her account had been “hacked” when Alan Duncan, a new gaffe-potential convert to the Twitterati, replied to what he thought was a genuine message from his old sparring partner. Far from Twitter proving this lot are in touch, more often than not it makes them look like morons. Perhaps it would be a more appropriate use of MPs time to be working on fixing that £178 billion deficit rather than messing around trying to look like they are down with the kids.

Why Burnham Didn't Want An Inquiry

Guido understands that Andy Burnham is about to be in some deep trouble. Yesterday he said he “did not believe that a lengthy, adversarial inquiry would be in the best interests of health care in Staffordshire.” Today it has emerged that in 2007, as a Junior Health Minister, he signed off on one of four stages of the Mid-Stafford Hospital’s elevation to Labour’s coveted Foundation Trust status. This was despite four formal alerts about the hospital’s dangerous practises. The rest they say is history.

No wonder Dave was asking about this at PMQs yesterday. Guido just got off the phone with Julie Bailey of Cure the NHS, a local group campaigning for a full inquiry into the case, who said she had to go because “we’re just about to start filming” as Andrew Lansley was on the way.

After Burnham’s “tired and emotional” outburst at Lansley last week for the death tax posters, Guido senses he may be dodging Nokias by the end of the tea time news…

When Spinning Doesn't Work, Just Lie

Without a hint of irony Alastair Campbell has broken cover and spoken out about Number 10 bullying. Not because he has had a sudden bout of atonement for his past sins, but in order to weigh into bashing Andy Coulson. If Bad Al and Prescott going on the attack against the media is all Labour can muster then things must be worse that was first thought. Alastair Campbell lecturing about bullying, who next? McBride?

The same edition of The Guardian managed to print this corker from Ball’s spokesperson too:  “Mr Balls had always advised Mr Brown to stay out of any ‘move to oust’ Mr Blair.” They are not even trying any more. The lies just get more blatant every day.

Quote of the Day

“In the middle of the coup, the former welfare minister Frank Field went to No 10 to plead with Blair not to give way to Brown. “You can’t go yet. You can’t let Mrs Rochester out of the attic,” he said.  Blair roared with laughter.”

– Andrew Rawnsley

Bercow Reported to Standards Commissioner

After Guido’s story yesterday about the controversial and murky “Friends of Speaker Bercow” fund-raising group, it seems a member of UKIP in the Speaker’s constituency has put a complaint in to John Lyon about a letter he received. Guido imagines Bercow wouldn’t have been so stupid to have used the Speaker’s stationary to beg for money, but the secretary of the fund has said Bercow was responsible for drawing up and passing on names. If the allegations that potential donors were invited to the Palace of Westminster are investigated then this could be a serious problem for the embattled squeaker…

Minister Resigns Over Expenses

Phil Heatley, a politician in New Zealand immediately tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister when it appeared that a $70 receipt for two bottles of wine at a party conference had been accidently claimed on his expenses. Heatley told the press “I believe I’ve failed to live up my own standard and for that I’m embarrassed and immensely sorry.” He immediately repaid the money.

In other news it is thought that over £100,000 of the £1.2 million set to be repaid by British MPs is still outstanding, three MPs are awaiting trial and some of the worst troughers are still in government.

Unite Rapped for Parliamentary Event

So it seems it’s not just Bercow misusing the Parliamentary Estate and status. In what has already been yet another uncomfortable day for Labour, the Tories have scored a late hit. The Serjeant at Arms has cancelled a Unite the Union event in Parliament at the eleventh hour. The Tories fairly complained that this was not an appropriate use of the Palace of Westminster:

‘Unite is campaigning for a Labour win in the parliamentary and local government elections later this year.  Our members are convinced this is the right thing to do and are inviting you to play a part in our campaign… To get things moving on the campaign, we are inviting you to a reception at the House of Commons. Your MPs and Counsellors [sic] will be there, as well as senior union representatives.  More importantly, other members will be there from Unite and the unions we are campaigning with.”

Whelan wanders round unhindered with an inexplicable Lobby pass and with plans like this, Unite must think they are above the rules. The news cycles of the past four days have been filled with nothing but anti-Gordon and Labour stories, nothing like a little union funding scandal to keep the flames stoked. The donation figures released today also puts Brown’s Ashcroft dig at PMQs that Labour “has no big donors” in a somewhat dubious light. Apart from the union millions flowing in, Labour was also the recipient of the two largest single donations (of over a million pounds each) in the last quarter…

Bercow's Buckingham Begging Boys

Bercow must be feeling the heat from Farage’s growing campaign in his hitherto extremely safe seat. It seems he’s resorted to playing on his position as Speaker to raise money. Local Tory members and donors have been surprised to receive begging letters and phone calls from a front calling itself the “Friends of Speaker Bercow” asking for help to fill a £40,000 election war chest. It turns out the politically neutral Speaker’s Office has been mysteriously handing out useful names and addresses to the fund-raising unit (whose name, you’ll note, even includes his “non-political” title,) who then call up asking for cash.

In what has all the hallmarks of a well oiled unit, a second prong of attack is then engaged: After the request for cash,  a well-timed invitation to drinks in the Palace is popped through the letterbox. Conflicted Tory members and councillors have, meanwhile, been warned that they will be deselected and expelled at the first hint of disloyalty or for speaking out about the letters by those still loyal to Bercow. Frank Donlon the Secretary of the organisation just confirmed that Bercow had passed on names.

CCHQ Printing Problem

Given that candidates have been on the highest state of alert since the new year, gearing up to an election that could be called at any moment, Guido is unsurprised by the amount of anger this latest blunder has caused. It would appear that the printing company that CCHQ were using went bust leaving constituencies and their agents stranded and angry. CCHQ are working to calm the situation:

“I understand there was a problem last week because the firm went into administration and its suppliers were ceasing to fulfil orders. However, they have now been taken over by a large company and suppliers have resumed service. I have referred this to our people who will take it up with the company and are going to be very firm with them. Sorry you have had this problem”

For three years the Tories have been noisily demanding that Brown calls an election, now with less than one hundred days to go, they are terrified he might do it too soon.

Quote of the Day

“If the House does not quiet down I will have to ring a helpline myself” – Bercow at PMQs

PMQs Live – Hell Hath No Fury Like Darling Scorned

[orderorder-live-event altcast_code=”0a9d3f55b3″ height=”600″ width=”480″]

The Last Days of Hell

Well it is certain to be a lively PMQs today. Gordon told GMTV this morning “I would never engage in divisive or partisan politics.” The spinning is out of control. What would he describe his entire budgets designed to attack the opposition as? What would he describe his maneuvers over many years that finally saw Blair ousted? What would he call what McBride was up to?

Guido has long suspected Darling might be the one to emerge out of the mud and poison surrounding Brown’s government with any semblance of dignity and reputation intact. From his icy put down of McBride with the cutting “I’m still here“, to his description of the Brown/Balls/Wheelan/McBride combo as the “forces of hell”, the ill-treated Chancellor knew exactly what he was doing in keeping the story alive. The Brown’s a Bully story has taken a new turn and it’s not just Darling who has been on the receiving end of it. Most of Westminster’s finest correspondents know just how this mob have worked for the last decade. Brown can talk of working “in an open plan office; we are a big happy family at No 10,” but frankly it’s too late.

No one believes the lies anymore.

Jonah Curses Cole

Just under a year ago Cheryl  Cole had tea at Number 10 with Jonah. It wasn’t long before rumours spread of her troubled relationship with footballer hubby Ashley Cole. Last night we heard they are to split up. There was nothing she could do to stop her fate.[…] 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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