Keith Vaz’s Curry House Calendar

Taking its place proudly on Guido’s desk this afternoon is the latest must-have stationery accessory for any Westminster type: the Keith Vaz calendar. Spotted in curry houses across Leicester, now fans of everyone’s favourite ambulance-chasing MP can swiftly find telephone numbers for the job centre, border agency and police. Demand is such that they’re giving them away…

Nick Clegg Slams "Dishonest" and "Hypocritical" EU Budget Win

As Guido reported in his Sun column on Sunday and Chris Heaton Harris just pointed out in the House, it was Nick Clegg who had the harshest words for EU Budget negotiations, which he called “dishonest” and “hypocritical”. In a speech last November, the Deputy Prime Minister scaremongered against “pushing a completely unrealistic position on the EU budget. One that is miles away from any other country’s position”. Twisting the knife further, Clegg claimed “there was no hope of getting a budget deal agreed”. With even Ed giving lukewarm praise, it looks like Clegg is the only isolated one now.

Quote of the Day

Balls chides Miliband on Europe:

“As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be caricatured as an anti-referendum party, which we’re not – we’ve absolutely not ruled out a referendum – I personally think that for now this is quite a comfortable position for us. If we allow ourselves either to be the ‘status quo party’ on Europe, or the ‘anti-referendum party’ on Europe, then we’ve got a problem. But I think we would be pretty stupid to allow ourselves to get into either of those positions.”

Today In Court: Huhne 'Badgered' Pryce to Take Points

All the evidence has now been heard in Vicky Pryce’s trial, closing speeches will be presented to the jury tomorrow. Today Pryce’s eldest daughter Georgia Beesley took to the stand, alleging that Chris Huhne coerced his ex-wife into taking his points:

“I remember speaking to my mother and she told me that Chris had been caught speeding and was asking her to take speeding points. If he had taken the points he would have lost his licence. He was very insistent that she take the points for him. He would say to her that if she didn’t take them he would not be able to drive, that he would lose his licence, and that it would be her fault if he didn’t get elected. I did not appreciate at that time what it would be like to be living with someone constantly badgering you to do something that you know was wrong and feeling like you don’t have a choice.”

Pryce’s lawyer went on to read out a character reference from none other than ex-MI6 boss Sir John Scarlett, he of dodgy dossier fame. The case will conclude tomorrow…

Caption Contest Roses Winner

This week’s winner, for once the best of a fairly witty bunch, is Bill Quango MP:

“lies to the right, neighs to the left”

Get in touch for your Valentine’s Day roses courtesy of Arena Flowers

Eastleigh Tory's Local Knowledge

By-election rule no.1: when fighting a strong local candidate, don’t copy the section about the constituency on your website from Wikipedia.

H/T @BillyKenber

One Hour Left to Win Caption Contest Roses

Last week’s Friday caption contest is open for another hour, with a bunch of Valentine’s Day roses from Arena Flowers delivered on Thursday for the winner.

One liners in the comments please.

Make them good…

MEDIA GUIDO POLL: Save Page 3

With Murdoch hinting that Page 3 is “so last century”, po-faced critics of boobs are campaigning with new vigour today. So much so that Guido is launching #SavePage3.

They do not speak for everyone…

UKIP Choose Speedwatch Candidate for Eastleigh

UKIP have chosen Diane James as their candidate in Eastleigh, a Surrey councillor and healthcare campaigner. After last night’s hustings she won almost 70% of the vote. Party sources are stressing to Guido that the fact she is currently a member of Community Speedwatch in rural Ewhurst is mere coincidence. See what they did there…

Sally's Boozy Night With Tory Boys

Slumped in an alleyway outside a bar: this was Sally Bercow in the early hours of Friday morning. The Speaker’s wife had spent a boozy evening with young male Tory researchers, kicking off at the Sports and Social in Parliament before heading to Players’, a regular piano dive for twenty-something staffers. Alastair Whitby, who works for a Conservative MP, tweeted: “Pleased to see @SallyBercow was out and on form last night at Players Bar”, while another Tory researcher told how he was “Yoloing [You only live once] on the dancefloor with Sally Bercow”. No doubt it went down well with John…

NUJ Calls BBC Strike

Developing…

Boris Out-Foxed on Baby Biting

Boris has reacted to the Bromley baby attack by a fox quickly and without bluster:

“They may appear cuddly and romantic, but foxes are also a pest and a menace, particularly in our cities. This must serve as a wake-up call to London’s borough leaders, who are responsible for pest control. They must come together, study the data, try to understand why this is becoming such a problem and act quickly to sort it out.”

However that was not what the Mayor was saying exactly a week ago in his Telegraph column:

“My instinct tells me that foxes are everywhere, and that they are more numerous and bolder than ever before. But the deeper I dug into fox-on-cat violence, the more doubtful I became. Foxes go for vulnerable critters. They might go for your toes if you were lying in a stupor, but only because they failed to grasp that your toes were attached to a large and potentially violent human being. They might go (once in a blue moon) for a baby, but only because a baby is defenceless.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I lay the facts of the case before you, and I suggest that the evidence against the fox is by no means conclusive. I am left with the mystery of that first eruption of rage, that chilling certainty as to the authors of the crime. There is a word for that misapprehension. There was something that made me finger the newcomers, the strangers, the ones who weren’t around when I was a kid. There was something that made me want to believe that the culprits were the recent additions to our urban habitat, the ones who make the spooky yowling at night. I think the word for that anti-fox feeling is prejudice. Or am I wrong?”

Ouch. Guess it’s a blue moon…

Full Statement from Resigning Pope

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

FLASHBACK: When Gordon Met the Pope

The Pope is resigning, the first to do so since Gregory XII in 1415.

It was all so predictable…

Tory Death Tax RIP: "The Most Basic Human Instinct of All"

Here is what the then Shadow Chancellor told the Tory party conference autumn 2007; George Osborne’s views on inheritance tax in his own words:

“Thanks to Gordon Brown, this unfair tax falls increasingly on the aspirations of ordinary people. These are people who have worked all their lives. People who have saved money all their lives. People who have already paid taxes once on their income. People whose only crime in the eyes of the taxman is that instead of spending their savings on themselves, they want to pass something on to their families. People who feel the most basic human instinct of all: they aspire to a better life for their children and their grandchildren.”

For the Tories of 2007 “the most basic human instinct of all” was providing for one’s children, reflected in a pledge to increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million. Their poll rating leapt up seven points on the announcement. Today, rather than cut spending to pay for social care reform, the government has announced that the inheritance tax limit will be frozen at £325,000 until at least 2019. A death tax on middle-class property-owners that will cost traditional Tory voters tens of thousands of pounds when they die. What a R.I.P Off…

Rich's Monday Morning View

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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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