Quote of the Day

Alastair Campbell writes in his diaries that…

“Ed Balls spoke drivel, a never-ending collection of words that just ran into each other and became devoid of meaning.”

Rich & Mark's Monday Morning View

Danny Alexander's SpAd Ordered to Pay Back Expenses

Sunday Sleaze

The former LibDem MP for Dunfermline, Willie Rennie, abused his constituency expenses and has been ordered to pay back £2,647 wrongly claimed from his Incidental Expenses Provision after the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon found he had over- claimed for office costs.

Despite this Danny “Beaker” Alexander (pictured) the newly appointed Chief-Secretary to the Treasury, has given Rennie a job as his SpAd after he lost his seat to Labour in the general election.  Willie Rennie was using a scam widespread amongst LibDem MPs, renting his constituency office off his local LibDem constituency party and shifting his campaign costs onto his parliamentary expenses. It is usually difficult to prove, Rennie was unlucky to get caught, it was only that his campaign team made canvassing telephone calls to Labour activists from a phone number paid for out of parliamentary funds that also appeared on his party letterhead that did for him.

Willie Rennie (pictured here after his famous 2006 by-election victory) was according to a report by Campbell Gunn in the Scottish Sunday Post (not online) renting the office space off his party, which meant that Commons expenses cash was going directly into the local LibDem coffers.  Effectively the local LibDem party was his landlord and taxpayers’ money was being used for LibDem campaigning. Not a frugal sign from the right-hand-man of a Chief Secretary charged with cutting public expenditure.

This scam is widespread among LibDem MPs and unofficially it is Cowley Street’s policy to manipulate the Commons expenses regime in this way.  When Guy News reported that Sarah Teather abused the system in the same way she sent lawyer’s letters demanding a retraction and threatening legal action.

Guido refused to back off and still stands by the story…

+ + + Danny Alexander Appointed Treasury Chief Secretary + + +

UPDATE : Michael Moore is the new Scottish Secretary.

+ + + David Laws Resigns + + +

And Guido will be crying into his beer. Lidl own-brand beer at that…

Saturday Seven Up

7up59,376 visitors viewed 344,448 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…

Quote of the Day

Ann Treneman wrote on Thursday…

“… as I watched Mr Laws, repelling insults, attacking foes, placating friends, bursting with confidence, I began to wonder if he was made of some impervious material such as Kryptonite.”

Who is James Lundie?

Now revealed publicly as David Laws boyfriend, James Lundie is a director at spin-merchants Edelman, he is a former adviser to both Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown when they were respectively leaders of the Liberal Democrats. Laws says that “James and I are intensely private people … We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.”

It was widely known in Westminster that David Laws was gay, some years ago he dared a tabloid paper to justify threatening to out him, he didn’t make an issue of his sexuality. Laws should have known better than to rip the taxpayer off for rent paid to his boyfriend, it doesn’t just look bad, it is bad. In the coming tough times on public spending it will not play well that he milked the expenses system. Using the “we wanted our privacy” line doesn’t really wash when it comes to public money.

UPDATE : Punters have raised the probability of Laws being the first Cabinet member to resign from 6% to 15% this morning. Guido thinks he will probably survive because he is too important to the coalition…

UPDATE : The probability of Laws exiting the cabinet has been rising steadily all morning, punters are now giving him a 30% chance of going. Declaration of interest – Guido just put £500 on him surviving.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Balls is Officially Nominated

As the convenor of the grassroots internet-based #Balls4Leader campaign it is Guido’s pleasure to inform co-conspirators that Balls has now been officially nominated by 33 MPs.

Onwards to victory comrades…

UPDATE : Could a co-conspirator come up with a suitable logo for the campaign?

Ed Balls Campaign Diary

Told Nicola that it is important to stress that over half the parliamentary party do not want Jaffa Miliband to be Leader. His little brother has almost as many backers, and that little girl Burnham has a small chunk.  Tom Watson has finally came through and I am now just one short of being on the official ballot paper. Getting a bit worried I am going to have ask Gordon for his vote.

Bit of a shock in Thirsk and Malton, the whole of the Labour Party was expecting we would squeeze the LibDem vote. Instead this Great Party of Ours dropped from second to third. Hope no one notices that I was the only leadership candidate to visit the constituency.

The Right Honourable Edward Balls, leader of the Labour Party. Has a nice ring to it. I will have that on my business card soon.

Susie Squire Slips in to Spinning at the DWP for IDS

Guido is particularly pleased to add Susie Squire (pictured here briefing a senior political journalist) to the list of SpAds, bag carriers and wonks going over to government. She joins Philippa Stroud working at the DWP for Iain Duncan-Smith.  Formerly at the Taxpayers’ Alliance she will now be part of the team exorcising / reforming the welfare system.

Additions to the list include Richard Parr who follows Andrew Mitchell to DfID, Poppy Mitchell-Rose who goes with Osborne to the Treasury.  Honor Fishburn, daughter of Dudley Fishburn the former Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, goes to Downing Street to do Andy Coulson’s bidding and Cameron’s speech writing team of Ameet Gill and Claire Foges follow him from CCHQ to become the PM’s speech writing team.

There are still a few more names left to be confirmed…

Sly Si and His Left-Wing Cabal

Simon Hughes shouldn’t be underestimated as an operator. He cut his teeth getting rid of more than his fair share of Liberal Democrat leaders, and in cahoots with Vince Cable he is rocking the boat again. Deprived of a Cabinet seat, Sly Si’s near coronation as Deputy LibDem leader is more than a little contrived…

Cable has looked close to tears for the last week and his unexpected resignation as Clegg’s deputy, and now his very public endorsement of Hughes as his replacement, shows just how worried he is about the coalition. This way the beardy-weirdies have a voice.

Perhaps as punishment for refusing to bloody his hands in the Treasury, Cable has been landed with the most cuts to his department. He has had to eat humble pie on television and his reputation as an economic guru is all but shattered. Bound by collective cabinet responsibility he is neutered.

Though Vince may have been exposed as bit of sham and the bookies make him favourite to be the first cabinet minister to resign, don’t think he isn’t going to go down without a fight, and never forget how vicious LibDem infighting can be. So who does he turn to start causing trouble? His old mucker Hughes of course – the whole swap looks like a well executed plan – interestingly his only challenger for the leadership thus far is Tim Farron – who has been a Hughes protege and ally for many years (and was a senior figure in both Simon’s leadership campaigns).

See also Cable’s Positioning

Friday Caption Contest (Wacky Wonk Edition)

Quote of the Day

Green MP Zac Goldsmith used his maiden speech to say:

“How many people in this country genuinely believe that when they cast their vote in a European election it will have any impact on how Europe is structured, on what decisions will be made within the EU, or even on the quality of those decisions? Decisions are being taken by people who are not elected, and are therefore insulated from any kind of democratic pressure.”

How Much Did You Make Today?

The Taxpayers’ Alliance have released this depressing little video highlighting the fact that from 9am to 1.21pm you are working for the taxman and from 1.21pm to 5pm you finally get to earn some money. Seems the plush new TPA office takes a starring role too:

If people realised just how much they are taxed at every opportunity throughout the day, Guido is convinced there would be more outrage about the daily mugging by the Treasury. A break down of cost and taxes on every receipt would be a very good start. Guido isn’t sure what the timing is in Ireland, but given it’s about eleven now, he hopes you all enjoy the next couple of hours feeding the state…

What Were they Thinking?

Bad Al Campbell is cock-a-hoop this morning, Downing Street refused to put up a minister against him on Question Time. Admittedly this is not a strategic error of the order of Suez, but it does provide comfort to a demoralised enemy.  Campbell feels all self-important and Downing Street looks scared, arrogant or amateurish depending on your viewpoint.

It might only be a Westminster Village story, but it seems like an unforced error.

Michael Howard shows how easy it is to effectively crush Campbell:


Ken Clarke could have done the job with ease…

UPDATE : In the comments most co-conspirators reckon Guido is wrong, typical comment (from Angelnstar)

Alastair Campbell is a discredited political figure who degrades debate. Why should anyone give this rubbishy person air time? He should be kicked off every programme, not just Question Time. …

Why should any sensible person have to waste time correcting his deluded spin, and sick fantasies, and why should they pander to his overdeveloped ego? If more people refused to appear with him, his TV time would be severely restricted. He is trash.

That may be true, nevertheless Bad Al was on television all the time during the general election and he probably cost Labour votes. He appeals to Labour’s activist headbangers and appals voters. Guido reckons the more voters see him, the more they remember why they dislike Labour…

The Final Special Advisers List*

Guido’s list of the assorted SpAds, bag carriers and spinners is pretty much complete. He has yet to sub-categorise it into naughty and nice though. Thank you to all those who helped out with the tip-offs. One newspaper editor told Guido they had printed it off for reference in his newsroom. Guido has kept their mobile numbers to himself…

*Almost complete, subject to revision, not legally binding, do not swallow whole.

Not First Past The Post, Again

Rather like the election result, Cameron was almost, but not quite, there with his racing tips. “Midnight Fantasy” – the horse Dave tipped for those who think the Coalition will fall didn’t even manage to start at Wolverhampton earlier. On the other hand up at Ayr “Daring Dream” – the horse for those who think this government will last, came second, an each-way winner. Read into that what you will.

Still more foresight than Cable ever had.

A Not So Cunning Fox

Keeping with the courteous cross-party tradition of praising whoever gives their first Commons speech, Liam Fox flattered Labour MP Alison Seabeck yesterday for her “incredibly informed maiden speech, albeit a highly political one”. One slight problem – Seabeck was elected in 2005.

Quick to respond with “that wasn’t my maiden speech” a cross Seabeck went on to remind the Secretary of State for Defence that she had spent the last Parliament lobbying hard for the Plymouth defence industry, but it seems Fox hadn’t noticed her across the benches. Perhaps the good doctor should focus more on reality rather than daydreaming about bringing down Dave.

Via Matt Chorley

Labour's Leadership Omnishambles

It looks set to be a very long and tedious summer if the Labour leadership campaign drags on at this current level of excitement, not far off a second-rate student election.

The Milibrothers are shooting way ahead in terms of nominations and the rest of the candidates should pause for a moment to reflect that if they can’t even get the support of their colleagues, how exactly are they planning on achieving the support of the country?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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