Change of Direction at Conservative Way Forward

Guido hears movements are afoot at right-wing Tory group Conservative Way Forward. The once influential Thatcherite organising faction has been a bit down in the dumps of late, with moribund campaign events and a rubbish party at Tory conference. It needs a kick up the backside and it sounds like they may have found the person to do that. A new team has taken over led by Donal Blaney; Guido’s learned friend at the other end of the red phone and Chief Executive of the right-wing madrassa, aka the Young Britons’ Foundation. This should upset a few dour types…

Ashcroft Eastleigh Poll Says Game On

Source: Guardian.

AUDIO: Listen to the Chris Huhne-Vicky Pryce Tapes

You can see why Huhne didn’t fancy listening to them in the dock…

Guidogram Going Out Shortly

The Guidogram round-up of the week is going out shortly.

Thousands of Westminster insiders read the Guidogram, everyone from Downing Street insiders to Fleet Street never miss it. Don’t miss out on the Vicky Pryce tapes, Chris Huhne’s demise and more.

Join the conspiracy and become a subscriber to the Guidogram, free, to keep in the loop. You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Labour Cannot Find a Candidate for Eastleigh Selection Process Open to All Members

John Denham has emailed all Labour Party members asking them if they would like to be the party’s no-hope candidate in Eastleigh:

“As I’m sure you’ve already heard, following Chris Huhne’s resigation we’ll be fighting a by-election in Eastleigh. There are only three weeks until polling day on 28 February. There’s a lot to do in the meantime but Labour Party members like you have achieved great results in by-elections over the last couple of years – and I know you’ll do it again. But before all that, we need a Labour candidate and I wanted to give you the opportunity to put your name forward. Apply to be Labour’s candidate in Eastleigh by emailing your CV.”

Hopefuls have until Saturday to get their name in. Apparently “If you’ve never been out campaigning before, don’t worry – there’ll be training available.” Looks like they are all but sitting this one out then…

Labour Policy Wars

jon

When Ed fell into Dave’s trap and refused to back the PM’s EU referendum pledge, one senior party bigwig will have been particularly disheartened. Judging by his speech at the Resolution Foundation last night it isn’t just Europe that has policy guru Jon Cruddas at odds with the Labour leadership:

“So, here’s the nuts of this. Simply opposing the cuts without an alternative is no good.”

Who could he possibly be referring to?

Coincidentally, over the last few days Labour have put up adverts for three new wonk positions, all with fixed-term contracts.

A love of colouring in blank pages is a must…

Clegg SpAd Apologises for Cabinet Office Electioneering

The Special Adviser code states:

“19. Special advisers must not take part in national political activities, which are: holding, in a party political organisation, office which impinges wholly or mainly on party politics in the field of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly or the European Parliament…

20(ii) …if they wish to take part in a General, European or by-election campaign, or to help in a party headquarters or research unit during such a campaign, they must first resign their appointment.”

Despite this, Nick Clegg’s SpAd James McGrory launched the LibDem Eastleigh by-election campaign last night from the Cabinet Office. The Tories reported him to the powers that be and now the Cabinet Office say:

“James has already apologised for sending the email.  He has been reminded of the rules.” 

He’s sorry, he’s sorry, he’s so so sorry. Who he has apologised to was not mentioned, but an interesting precedent has been set; abuse taxpayer funded position to politic and you are fine as long as you are “reminded of the rules”. Guido imagines that some people over at the Department for Education will note the wrist-slapping with interest.

UPDATE: McGrory apologised to the Cabinet Secretary.

Lambeth Tell Scroungers "You May Have to Find Work"

If you thought Lambeth Council’s posters warning of coming cuts were bad enough, wait until you see the warning on their website:

“If you claim benefits, it is likely you will receive less and may have to find work”.

“By George, I think they’ve got it…”

Lambeth Council Stir Up Scroungers

When it comes to councils using taxpayers’ money to fund party political interests, you would be hard pressed to find a worse culprit than the rotten Labour borough of Lambeth. If you thought the public dime PR stunts would end with the welcome departure of leader Steve Reed, then you will be disappointed. First they tried in vain to stop Guido’s campaign against Pilgrims, they then ironically wasted their budget putting up adverts declaring that they needed more money. Now today another poster campaign has been launched to helpfully remind people that the cuts are coming.

Careful now, if you stir up the scrounging core vote too much they might actually go get jobs…

Don't Menshn the Ongoing Police Investigation

At last the inevitable has happened: Menshn is finally shutting down. After Louise revealed her intentions to close the business, “jailbait action”-loving Luke Bozier has admitted: “Louise and I no longer have anything resembling a working relationship”. Today’s talk on topic: goodbye…

David "The Jews" Ward's Second Yellow Card

Nick Clegg was too weak to sack David Ward for his “the Jews” rant last month, instead giving Bradford East’s answer to Mel Gibson a final warning. Has Ward learned his lesson and quietly moved to the shadows? Of course not.

Yesterday he was blaming that old classic, the “machine” conspiracy, and today he called for a boycott of Israel. Worst of all he has also asked Jewish News it would all be alright if he used the phrase “Jewish community”, rather than his own personal favourite, “the Jews”.

So, was it really a yellow card?

Civil Service Turkeys Say No to Christmas

Civil Service World is reporting that Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the Civil Service, has blocked attempts by Francis Maude to allow Secretaries of State to have a greater say in hiring and firing Permanent Secretaries:

“There’s a shared view about the importance of civil service values, the value of an impartial civil service, and I don’t believe there’s any intention to move towards legislation this time.”

A shared view of self-protection…

Huhne's Speedy Farewell

Who says the Eastleigh LibDems don’t have a sense of humour? This is the latest literature they have been pushing round, unfortunately published before the demise of their MP:

A case of not being on the same page, on the same page…

Clegg SpAd McGrory Reported For Partisan Eastleigh Blunder

The gloves are off. Not only are the LibDems planning on moving the writ today for the Eastleigh by-election, but they have also fired the first real shots of the campaign. Sadly for them, those shots were firmly into their own feet. By using his taxpayer-funded Cabinet Office email address to launch Nick Clegg’s by-election campaign last night, LibDem SpAd James McGrory has found himself in hot water on the first day of this very short campaign. Needless to say the partisan attack has gone down rather badly with his coalition partners. Backbench Tory MP Andrew Bridgen scores an easy goal this morning:

Dear Mr Heywood,

I am writing to ask you to investigate a breach of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers by James McGrory.

The Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, last updated on June 2010, states:

‘You must not act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes’

But in an email from his Cabinet Office account on Wednesday 6 February, Mr McGrory contacted journalists to brief a speech to be delivered by Nick Clegg on Thursday 7 February.

The email was saturated with party political content, centred around the upcoming Eastleigh by-election. Most troubling of all was a series of source quotes, stating:

“This is Nick firing the starting pistol on the Eastleigh by-election.

“It’s a speech that sets out the distinctive approach of the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government when it comes to tax.

“This is going to be a very keenly contested by-election and Nick is eager to remind the voters of Eastleigh, as well as the rest of the country, that the Liberal Democrats are cutting taxes for those on low and middle incomes.”

The email went on to offer up Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes for interviews around the Eastleigh campaign.

Given its political nature, Mr McGrory’s email therefore appears to be a clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

I also note that the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers states that those who hold the post must resign it if they wish to campaign in a by-election.

“if they wish to take part in a General, European or by-election campaign, or to help in a party headquarters or research unit during such a campaign, they must first resign their appointment. If they wish their appointment to carry on during a campaign, they may continue to give assistance to their Minister as before, but they must be careful not to take any active part in the campaign. They should not, for example, take part in public meetings or accompany their Minister to party political engagements which are related to the Election campaign”

Upon the conclusion of your investigation, I would therefore be grateful if you could update me as to whether it would be appropriate for Mr McGrory to resign his position.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Bridgen MP

Activate Sherlock Heywood…



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Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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