Her husband might have caused a storm in the Hunt debate yesterday, but it’s blue skies ahead for Sally Bercow as she suns herself in the Caribbean. The Mail reports that the Speaker’s wife is enjoying a boozy all-expenses-paid holiday at the five-star Hilton hotel in Barbados, where she will be giving a speech on her Twitter cock-ups. What is it with Sally and taking her clothes off on camera…
The Guidogram round-up of the week is going out shortly.
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Subject: *Confidential: Message from General Secretary
Date: 14 June 2012 14:17:58 GMT+01:00
14th June 2012
Throughout the far reaching review of our party organisation which Charles Allen and I have undertaken, I have tried to keep everyone updated as we have progressed. We have learned from what you and many others have told us – to understand what has worked and what hasn’t worked and what we need to do to make us a winning team again.
The review has emphasised the need for us to listen more to the electorate, to change our organisation and place more emphasis on grassroots, to have more dialogue with and motivate our activists, members and supporters, to give them the training and tools to win.
In November, I announced a new structure designed to modernise our organisation and address the issues raised through the review. Each of the Executive Directors reporting to me has been asked to work on plans to optimise our organisation, in order to make us more efficient, refocus and re-energise our work in critical areas and to strengthen and professionalise our operations.
All of this must, however, be achieved against a backdrop of the financial challenge we are all familiar with.
The Executive Director’s proposals will be finalised in July and will be presented to the JTUC as per the Terms of Reference, sent to you by the JTUC on 24th May. However, on a number of occasions I have been asked by the JTUC and others whether we would offer a Voluntary Severance Scheme (VSS). For obvious reasons this is something I have been reluctant to contemplate but the management board and I have concluded that this is now what we need to do.
The VSS will be available from the 14th of June and applications are invited from any member of staff who may be interested in applying. The terms offered will be those described in the Staff Handbook and confidential quotations will be made available, without commitment on either side, upon request. Would anyone seeking a quotation please contact Emilie Oldknow. Having received a quotation, anyone wishing to apply should arrange to meet with their Executive Director. The scheme is voluntary on both sides. Please understand however that applications for Voluntary Severance are not guaranteed to be accepted and that the Executive Directors and I will be the final arbiters. We will seek to ensure that all applications have been responded to by 27th of June.
The objective of all of us is that the Party should be a “one term opposition”. To achieve this we need to make changes which are sometimes painful but necessary like those I’ve described above. I know this is not easy, but if we are to show people we are serious about cutting the debts of the country then we must also cut the debts of The Labour Party.
As always, I am very happy to receive feedback or any questions you may have. If you wish please drop me an email, telephone or leave a message at the office and I will get back to you.
Executive Directors will be holding meetings with their teams in the next 24 hours to discuss this.
The FT‘s education correspondent Chris Cook has inexplicably missed out on yet another great story. An A-level maths exam due to be sat next week has been scrapped after a major security breach – it turns out the exam board, Edexcel, accidentally delivered a batch of papers to a British school in Egypt. The news was picked up by all the main news outlets, yet somehow the FT missed it, again:
- Telegraph: A-level exam axed following major security breach
- BBC: Maths A-level exam paper scrapped
- Mail: Thousands of A-level exam papers pulped after security error
- Press Association: Maths exam sent to schools in error
It’s not like the FT and Edexcel are owned by the same company or anything…
Tony Blair lost his rag after being heckled by a protester during a speech to students at the University of Hong Kong. As the man approached Blair, accusing him of breaching the Geneva convention, the former PM warned menacingly: “I wouldn’t come any further…” Asia Pacific News claims that Blair said “that’s democracy for you” as the man was led away.
He’s clearly been spending too much time hanging around with dictators…
“But seriously I do understand the issue with the Times. Let’s discuss over country supper soon. On the party it was because I had asked a number of NI people to Manchester post endorsement and they were disappointed not to see you. But as always Sam was wonderful (and I thought it was OE’s were charm personfied!) I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we’re definitely in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam”
The “in it together” line had been trailed by Osborne the day before, but that’s going to hurt…
It seems Miliband’s normally jovial spinner Bob Roberts has had enough of the Beeb. Media Guido has got hold of his letter to the BBC Director General Mark Thompson:
I am writing to complain about the striking lack of balance on the Today programme this week.
From Monday to Thursday, the following Ministers and MPs have appeared on Today:
Government: Eric Pickles, Richard Benyon, Simon Burns, Tim Loughton, Hugh Robertson, Grant Shapps, Louise Mensch, Don Foster, Theresa May, Iain Duncan Smith, Crispin Blunt, David Davis, Nicky Morgan (Total 13)
Labour: Margaret Hodge, appearing as Chair of a Select Committee (Total 1)
By any measure, it is neither fair nor balanced for the Today programme to interview 13 Government MPs and 1 Labour MP over the course of four days.
Why are listeners hearing so much coverage being given to the Government and virtually none to the official Opposition?
We have previously raised our concerns with the Today Programme Editor and with the BBC’s Westminster News Editor, but we have not received a satisfactory response, hence we are writing you as Editor-in-Chief of the BBC.
I look forward to an urgent explanation why this unacceptable lack of balance has been allowed to occur and reassurances that it will be remedied immediately.
Slightly more dignified than Craig Oliver getting caught on video ranting at a BBC hack…
The Guardian’s in-house phone hacker David Leigh will not be prosecuted, despite admitting in 2006 “I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages”, writing about how hacking voicemails gave him a “voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person’s private messages”. Last summer Guido caught Leigh telling bare-faced lies about his phone hacking past, the details of which he shared with his journalism students. Incidentally Guido couldn’t find Salmond’s allegations that the Observer hacked his bank account in the in-depth coverage of the scandal in this morning’s paper. Move along people…
Prior to becoming PM Cameron said…
“If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.”
The Scottish Parliament has scrapped its £50,000 restaurant and bar subsidy after it was found to be “unacceptable and unsustainable”. The evening bar and restaurant service currently enjoyed by MSPs will be shut down, meaning thirsty politicians north of the border will have to start paying full whack for their booze. A Scottish Parliament spokesman grudgingly accepted: “this is part of an overall strategy to eliminate over time any subsidy for the evening catering service.” Not a moment too soon.
Guido sees this as a promising move along the road to booze subsidy victory. First step Holyrood, now on to Westminster. Over to you Bercow…