Student Chris Williams asked Nick Clegg…
“You appear as this man of the people, with this Yorkshire constituency that’s very ‘down with the workers’. You had a very well-off South East upbringing, the son of a well-off banker, and you went to private school and then on to Cambridge, so what really makes you any different to David Cameron?”
Ever wondered why your complaint of left-wing bias against the BBC wasn’t upheld? It could be because you were speaking to one Chris Summers on the phone. Via his Facebook we learn that Mr Summer’s isn’t too keen on his “dull, boring, grey, miserable, crap job – dealing with election complaints!” Would this be the same Chris Summers who is the Labour coucil candidate in Ealing?
Elsewhere in on his Facebook page Summers spins for Brown, who he refers to as “the boss” and advocates his friends vote Labour. Such sentiments about a political party from someone with such a keen interest in his job makes you wonder just how serious his employers are about the balance of their output. At the end of the last month Summers said “Oh, the frustration of working for the BBC! Editorial Guidelines!!! Aaaaaah!!”
Guido would wager he isn’t the only lefty in Broadcasting House to think like that…
The downfall of Steven Purcell, Labour’s disgraced former head of Glasgow council has opened up the lid on the rank corruption at the heart of the Labour Party. Three of their MPs face criminal trials and Purcell is now being investigated by the police for Class A drug use and “other matters”, namely to do with his alleged flogging of council contracts to his criminal mates. The Scottish coppers have started interviewing his Labour colleagues over their business deals and drugs links. Further to that the candidate selected to replace Jim Devine has been reported to the police by his own council boss for alleged offences under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act. Perhaps they could share a cell.
Despite being repeatedly asked on television and in the House, Gordon is still being cagey about the problems engulfing his old tribe. Ironically it was the SNP’s John Mason, who won the Glasgow East by-election, who asked Gordon his last ever PMQs question. Gordon again claimed he would “investigate” a conference call between Downing Street and Scottish Labour where Mr Purcell’s little problems were discussed and ruled him unsuitable to stand in that very by-election. He said exactly the same two weeks before.
Three times he has dodged answering and given the growing list of Scottish Labour mob connections you can see why he wants to keep his distance. Once would be unfortunate, twice a coincidence, but on top of the trials and police investigations, the Labour Party have been exposed as associated with organised crime in Scotland dozens of times in the last few years. Cagey Jim Murphy even had a well-known mobster pop into his fundraiser for this election. In the Labour heartlands the party is as bent as a nine bob note.
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Guido was surprised that a letter from Sir John Rose, CEO of Rolls Royce in this morning’s FT hasn’t got more traction:
“To draw an analogy, if the UK was a business, the shareholders would be asking serious questions. The current model appears to be that we can grow our business by growing overhead, by applying better terms and conditions to support functions than to wealth creators, and by paying dividends out of borrowings not all of which are recognised on the balance sheet.
We are also asked to believe that service levels will inevitably suffer if the costs of delivery are reduced. This need not be the case. As any business will confirm, service levels will reflect prioritisation, proper definition of desired outcomes, concentration on reducing waste and investment in productivity.”
Rose is a member of Brown’s special Business Council which is meant to have the ear of the PM. Brown clearly isn’t listening though…
Given the profound effect ninety minutes of television has had on the fickle electorate, it will be worth keeping an eye on the other debates happening in the run up to polling day.
The Daily Politics have organised almost all of the contenders for the senior cabinet positions to have a grilling from Andrew Neil. Today sees the first of such battles between William Hague, David Miliband and Ed Davey. The Beeb’s specialist reporter in each field will also be taking part in the interrogation.
If you want to put your money where your mouth is, Smarkets punters right now reckon Hague is still favourite to be the next foreign secretary and Ed Davey has only a 12% chance of getting the job. The fun and games begin this afternoon on BBC Two at 14.15. Miliband has been on fighting form butting the boot into the Tories since the campaign began, though anyone should be wary of entering the ring with Hague. Especially Davey who is notoriously dull on camera…
Bell Pottinger’s Peter Bingle has let rip in another one of his helpful memos reproduced here in full:
I said a prayer last night to St Jude the patron saint of hopeless cases but I doubt that even he will know what to do about the Tory Party campaign.
Something is happening with the electorate. Today’s YouGov poll showing the Lib Dems in the lead is astonishing. Perhaps the public anger with MPs over their expenses and the banking crisis will result in the body politic being smashed to bits. What was true on Friday may not be true any longer.
The stakes are now very high. If David Cameron does not become PM on 6/7th May the electoral system will be changed. The first past the post system will be abolished and there will not be a Tory government for a very long time if ever again. Perhaps John Major will go down in history as the last Tory PM.
This is the most inept Tory campaign in living memory. I know there have been some dud campaigns in the past. William Hague’s was pretty awful but in a way it didn’t really matter. Nobody believed he was going to win the election. This time all the Tory Party had to do was to ask the electorate a very simple question: “Do you want five more years of Gordon Brown?” The answer would be no. The election campaign strategy was therefore all about giving the electorate the reasons for voting against the PM. The M&C Saatchi adverts were a good start.
As I have mused before the Tory opinion poll lead was always based on the public’s loathing of the PM rather than any real affection for David Cameron. The election campaign should therefore have been negative in tone and focused entirely on the PM’s failings. Whatever the focus groups may say negative campaigning works.
There doesn’t appear to be any strategy. The ‘big society’ idea has come and now disappeared. The most popular Tory politician Ken Clarke has become the invisible man. He may be campaigning in marginal seats but he should be on our TV screens every morning, noon and night. And then there is the policy that dares not speak its name. Immigration. Every canvasser I have spoken to from every party has told me that the issue that keeps coming up on the doorstep is immigration. This is a Tory issue and yet I am told that there will only be one day when it is raised. What is going on?
The decision to agree to the televised debates may well have cost the Tory Party the election. It has elevated Nick Clegg from nowhere to equal footing with the PM and David Cameron. Whichever adviser or guru advised David Cameron to take part made a terrible mistake.
So is the election campaign lost for the Tory Party? I don’t think it is. Nick Clegg’s policy agenda is very attackable. As Alan Johnson put it in Saturday’s Times: “The Lib Dems are soft on crime, inept on asylum and bloody dangerous on national security.” How Labour candidates must wish he was the PM …
The Tory Party needs to mobilise its key assets such as Ken Clarke and talk about Tory issues such as low tax, immigration and Europe. It needs to connect with Tory voters and indeed anybody who doesn’t want Gordon Brown for another five years. Thatcher’s great strength was her ability to connect with ordinary voters, particularly those who wanted to better themselves. Politics is all about helping people to realise their dreams. We seem to have forgotten this.
Winning the election didn’t seem that difficult a task until the televised debate which should never have happened. Even now there is a simple message. Only a vote for the Tory Party will prevent Gordon Brown being PM for the next five years. Nick Clegg is never going to become PM but he could help Gordon Brown stay PM. This is all very reminiscent (in reverse) of the US presidential election when Ross Perot enabled Bill Clinton to beat George Bush.
I attended a lunch on Saturday at which many Tories were present. The conversation inevitably focussed on the election. There was a mixture of gallows humour and real concern. Nobody could understand why with the most unpopular PM ever and an economy on its back the Tory Party is polling at the same level as Michael Howard when he lost in 2005. The only solution was to have another glass of wine.
Perhaps this is all some terrible nightmare and I will awake to discover that I have missed the real campaign and that David Cameron is PM with a majority of 52.
Is the game up for the Tory Party? What does the Tory Party need to do to regain the political initiative? Will the Nick Clegg bubble burst?
Guido is sure all his advice was most appreciated in CCHQ this morning…
The YouGov daily poll this morning has the Lib Dems on 33%, the Tories on 32% and Labour on 26%. The Guy News rolling poll of polls above is also reflecting the dramatic rise of the LibDems, if they hold their gains after Thursday’s debate it will confirm that this is no mere bubble. The same YouGov poll asked a number of policy questions including this one on the LibDem’s populist winning-on-the-doorstep tax policy:
Here are some proposals that have been made in the current election. In each case, do you support or oppose it?
Tax: Scrap income tax on earnings of less than £10,000 a year. The £17billion cost of this will be paid for by a tax on bigger houses, a tax on airline flights, restricting tax relief on pensions savings for higher-rate taxpayers, and attempting to clamp down on tax avoidance.
- Support: 66%
- Oppose: 20%
- Don’t know: 14%
Danny Finkelstein and Guido had a bit of Twitter spat about this last night. Guido holds Fink responsible for accepting the Balls/Brown dividing lines and helping to foist on the Tories their “no tax cuts” position. A policy position that Guido sees as cowardice in the face of the enemy. Relying on the momentum for “change” and making the election a referendum on Gordon left one huge exposed flank – they had forgotten the other “change” candidate and they have now been outflanked not just on change but also on what was once their politically Unique Selling Point – tax cuts. Don’t say Guido hasn’t warned Fink publicly and repeatedly, as far back as November 2008, that what he advocated allowed the Tories to be outflanked. Clegg himself even told Fink that he was wrong saying “I’m not sure I’ve ever been called a “punk tax cutter” before. I quite like the label… Danny Finklestein is wrong, and cutting taxes is right… Growth is what we need now.” Fink still hasn’t justified his ridiculous over the top claim that the economy would be destabilised by tax cuts with a single historical example of this ever happening.
More real-time polling from Google trends shows what people are searching for online, it suggests people want to know more Nick Clegg:
On the weekend a disappointed Tory insider told Guido they had searched through Clegg’s expense claims from his days as an MEP – “He wasn’t on the take.” Instead they are going to attack Clegg for being a former lobbyist – is that really wise when they are also led by a former lobbyist?
Nick Clegg wrote in 2008 that…
“Danny Finklestein is wrong, and cutting taxes is right, and here are some reasons why: Danny thinks that offering people on low and middle incomes a tax cut is a ‘con’- a short term promise intended to fool voters…. Growth is what we need now. Funded tax cuts help give us that. Without growth there’s no earthly way we’ll be able to balance the books over the economic cycle. Far from being irresponsible, as Danny alleges, tax cuts at a time of recession is the responsible thing to do… Why does Danny think it’s impossible after a decade of spiralling Whitehall spending to find 3% of that money that could be put to a better use? That’s what Gordon Brown says – the Government knows best, and the rest of us are not allowed to question the way he spends our money…. this isn’t about the media. It is about being clear and bold on what is needed at a time of growing economic distress. I may have failed to persuade Danny, but I suspect time will prove me right.”
Matthew d’Ancona writes…
“Cameron’s specific difficulty last week was not so much that he under-performed, but that Clegg stole his act. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who came across as the insurgent, promising the viewers a fresh start after a period of mouldy decline and moral decay. It was Clegg, not Cameron, who communicated a sense of mission..”
On the Marr show Gordon raged against the moral bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs; “I want a special investigation done into what has happened at Goldman Sachs.”
Perhaps he could ask Gavyn Davies to investigate? For many years he has been advised by Gavyn Davies, who made some £150 million during his period as a Goldman Sachs partner.
It was Davies who last year urged Gordon to implement Mugabenomics, turn on the printing presses and call it quantitative easing. Davies has been a big donor to the Labour Party and a long-term supporter. Davies’ wife Sue Nye was Gordon’s private secretary in Downing Street and they are known to be good friends. Perhaps it was they who stole Gordon’s moral compass.
UPDATE : The more Guido thinks about this, the more he likes Gordon’s idea. Questions Guido would like the Goldman Sachs special investigator to get answered:
- Exactly how many boardroom lunches and suchlike did Gordon Brown have with Goldman Sachs figures?
- During the many lunches Gordon had with Goldman Sachs did he discuss policy or matters which they were able to exploit to their advantage in the markets?
- Goldmans were known to be major sellers of gold before Brown announced his extraordinarily ill-conceived plan to sell the Bank of England’s gold reserves.
- Gavyn Davies was an adviser to Gordon Brown during this period. Did he recommend, advise on or know anything of the intended gold sales policy? Did Sue Nye know of the intention to sell gold?
These are not matters of little import, Gordon’s gold sales debacle cost the Treasury £6 billion, the amount that Gordon claims will devastate the economy if the Tories cut it from public spending. The bank is known at rival firms as ‘Government Sachs’ because senior partners keep so close to governments and in particular finance ministries…
Imagine it is the afternoon of May 7…
The Tories have received 33% of the popular vote, LibDems 29% and Labour 24%, a strong 6% showing by the BNP concentrated in Labour heartlands has shocked the political system and given the party its first Westminster MP in Stoke, where Labour’s vote split. UKIP’s Nigel Farage has taken Buckingham, after two recounts, by 7 votes. Ed Balls has lost his Morley and Outwood seat to the Tory hero of election night, Antony Calvert. The SNP has made strong gains strengthening Alex Salmond’s claims for Scotland to be granted more self determination.
Due to the iniquities of the electoral system Labour is still the largest party in Westminster, just. Harriet Harman has demanded Gordon Brown resigns and announced her intention to seek the leadership, Miliband hasn’t been seen. Charlie Whelan publicly tweets blame on Mandelson’s electoral strategy and “corrupt Blairites” for Labour’s defeat. Alastair Campbell is bailed at West London Magistrates’ Court after his live on-screen 3 a.m. drunken assault on Nick Robinson.
After unofficial back-channel communications between Samantha Cameron and her third-cousin at Buckingham Palace all morning, the Queen’s Private Secretary calls the leader of the Conservative Party and asks him to come to the palace. The Private Secretary then calls Nick Clegg and asks him to come to the palace as well.
In what is the iconic picture of the election, Cameron walks out of his Millbank headquarters along the Thames embankment to 4 Cowley Street where Nick Clegg greets him and together they walk purposefully towards the Mall surrounded by photographers and cameramen as crowds cheer and many ask “which one is which?”
In what were reportedly good natured discussions all morning the terms of a “Change Coalition” had been agreed by 3 pm. Clegg as expected is Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Cable is Chancellor, Osborne takes his old sparring partner’s job at Business. Phil Hammond and David Laws are tasked with cutting spending and reforming taxation at the Treasury. Lord Adonis remains as the government’s Transport Minister, Frank Field returns to the Department for Work and Pensions, both take the Liberal whip. Chris Huhne, ominously for the coalition, chooses to go to the backbench rather than accept cabinet collective responsibility as Defence Minister.
The most difficult horse-trading over the coalition was of course over Europe and electoral reform. Hague went to the FCO much to the relief of the Tory base and Ed Davey becomes the cabinet’s Minister for Constitutional Reform (Douglas Carswell gets a promotion as his deputy with special responsiblity for localism). The leaders realised that they could not take their respective parties with them if they compromised on either of these two issues.
The average age of the cabinet is now 44, the centre-piece of the Queen’s speech is to be a Great Repeal Bill, undoing 13 years of authoritarian legislation and strengthening civil liberties, restricting the growth of the surveillance and database society. The Big Society reform programme promises to fundamentally re-balance state and society in favour of a smaller more open government. Cable promises an emergency budget within 30 days signalling tough action on the deficit. The gilt market hits a 3 year high and the pound rallies 12% on the close.
Norman Tebbit, who was by her bedside, blogs the sad news that Baroness Thatcher has passed away. Her last words were “Norman, they buried the Labour Party before me.”
Punters on Politics Smarkets says there is a 56% chance of a hung parliament…
A quick glance at TheStraightChoice leaflet archive shows that not a single Labour candidate has deemed it a good idea to put Gordon on their literature. Guido will give a copy of The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze to the first person who sends him a scan of such a leaflet. Obviously not from Kircaldy…
UPDATE : David Jessop wins the book, Daniel Zeichner in Cambridge has a tiny picture of Jonah him on his leaflet.
As Comres joins YouGov in making the LibDems the second placed party, Graham Sharpe, William Hill’s spinner, emails Guido to say that seven out of every ten political bets they took were for a Lib Dem win :- ‘Pre-debate the Lib Dems would be doing well if one in every ten bet was for them, but their support turned from a trickle to a flood on Friday with a mass of modest bets of up to £100 pouring on them to win with an overall majority or to be the largest single Party, with the larger bets were placed by regular political pundits backing a Hung Parliament.‘ A hung parliament maybe, but backing LibDems to win outright?
If you are bullish about the LibDems here is how the punters rate their chances tonight from on Political Smarkets, the specialist bookies:
- Nick Clegg to be Next Prime Minister 15%
- Vincent Cable to be next chancellor : 21%
- Lib Dems to get 70 or more seats : 52%
- Nick Clegg to win second TV debate 51%
- Nick Clegg to win third TV debate 80%
- Nick Cegg to win all TV debates 47%
Cable looks cheap and worth backing at 21% given the polls are pointing to a hung parliament. Gordon would give him the chancellorship for a Lib-Lab pact at the drop of a hat.
Just perusing yesterday’s Lebedev Evening Standard in which they do a vox-pop to get the views of the man in the street on the golden boy of the moment, Nick Clegg. You know the type of article, a paragraph on a student, another about an office worker and the high earner is for contrast.
This article’s high earner is Bhanu Choudrie, he declares Clegg the winner and says that he will vote Lib Dem in the election. Which doesn’t surprise Guido seeing as he is one of the Lib Dems biggest and most controversial donors. Is he actually on the electoral roll?
The Observer says he is a non-dom who “has been accused of accepting tens of millions of pounds in kickbacks from an arms deal between an Israeli company and the Indian government.” So he is not all bad.
Along with his brother he has donated nearly £585,000 to the party in recent years. Despite coughing up a lot of dosh for them he say “the Lib-Dems don’t have much substance.” A very odd article, was it written by Lebedev himself? Who bumps into billionaire arms dealers in the street?
George Osborne writes…
“The ‘spin room’ after the debate told you everything you need to know about Labour’s negative campaign of fear. Realising that their candidate had lost, a trio of Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell and Unite union fixer Charlie Whelan fanned out across the room like an ageing rock group getting together for an ill-advised comeback tour. Not so much Spinal Tap as Spin on Tap.”