The government’s adviser on youth, welfare and communities would always strive to help hard-working up and comers, wouldn’t he? Paid £60,000-a-year as a SpAd under the PM, Shaun Bailey is advertising for a “politically alert, self-motivated” intern to draft letters and carry out research. But wait; the position – you’ve guessed it – is unpaid. Now that’s irony…
UPDATE: Friends of Bailey get in touch to reveal that he quit as a SpAd under the PM at the end of last year. He is now working as an adviser “external to the government”.
Lord Rennard has come out fighting, albeit via a ‘friend’:
Lord Rennard refutes these allegations. He will co-operate with any properly constituted inquiry.
He has been notified of an internal investigatory panel within the Party. The matter must now be regarded as sub judice pending its proceedings and no further statement will be issued in the interim.
He expects others to respect the sub judice principle, and he notes that under the party rules concerned it is for any case made against him to be proved by evidence to the requisite standard. He denies impropriety.
He would reiterate that in 27 years of working for the Liberal Democrats he received no complaint or allegation about his behaviour.
Nor is he aware of any personal complaints being made in the three and a half years since he stood down as chief executive until last week.
So he’s denying Danny had a word?
Alison Smith, one of the women who has made allegations against Lord Rennard, says:
“Clegg slams ‘self appointed detectives’, otherwise known as the free press. Regarded by most as important in a democracy.”
A LibDem activist alleges that nine women have made claims against Lord Rennard, dating back to 2001. She says she personally told Jo Swinson, Norman Lamb and Ros Scott about the time Rennard propositioned her, and that Clegg “didn’t know how to deal with it and then didn’t deal with it well”.
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“At one point someone referred to us as ‘Rennard’s red hot babes'”. On the emails between the Telegraph and Jonny Oates: “I am unsure as to how Nick never heard of that”. She’s not the only one…
You can always rely on Polly Toynbee to spectacularly miss the point:
“Their distrust may be justified here, as this byelection follows a familiarly vicious pattern, the air thick with dirty tricks. Where did the Lord Rennard sleaze reprise from 2009 suddenly come from, and why now in the final runup to election day? Blasted across every front page, Nick Clegg’s fumbling response hasn’t helped, but it doesn’t take an expert political nose to suspect this stinks.”
She then goes on to play down the claims against Rennard as “less than criminal” – despite the police being called in – and compares the story to “Tory tricks directed at UKIP”. Perhaps she should read what Cathy Newman has to say on why she ran the story now. This is about the women who are victims of sexual harassment being able to hold a sex pest to account, and the lies being told by people who tried to stop their story coming out:
Polly’s diversion tactics are one in the eye for the sisterhood.
As of 1pm this afternoon LBC sources have confirmed to Guido that tomorrow morning’s Call Clegg is on. It was brought forward a day due to Thursday’s by-election, and there is no word of him pulling out over at LBC towers.
Popcorn for breakfast…
Back in October Guido noted that barrister, judge and Huhne prosecution witness Constance Briscoe had been arrested. It can now be reported for the first time that her arrest is in connection with the Huhne-Pryce case. The jury have been told that Briscoe could not be relied upon as a “witness of truth”, and that she “may have lied about her involvement with the press”. Developing…
UPDATE: Briscoe negotiated with newspapers on behalf of Pryce then denied contact with the press to police, the jury is told.
A remarkably well turned out figure has been conspicuously absent from TV screens recently. Sad news today that Peter Spencer, the flamboyant and eccentric Westminster correspondent for Sky News at weekends, has retired. Guido has fond memories of waiting to go on air and being entertained with a tune on the guitar off camera. Millbank won’t be the same without the bright pink BMW parked outside the studios. A loss!
Labour peer George Foulkes’ FOI revelation that Clegg has 15 SpAds beggars belief when you look at his media management this week. The eagle-eyed among Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidates never miss a chance to bash the Deputy PM, however. Step forward Redcar hopeful Anna Turley:
Anna seems to have forgotten that she herself was a SpAd not once, but twice. Not just any SpAd either, but a super important one. She specialised in “social exclusion” while working for Hilary Armstrong, and child poverty and equality under David Blunkett. Guido wonders how many community groups her wage could have gone to support…
With his precious AAA credit rating lost, three weeks until the budget Osborne could probably do with a drink. This morning the Taxpayers’ Alliance have launched a new campaign to freeze beer duty. Pubs up and down the country will play host to hundreds of thousands of beer mats telling punters just how much of what they pay for their pint goes to the taxman. Something Guido imagines the Chancellor will hardly appreciate. You can add your opposition to Osborne’s beer tax here…
Despite what LibDems might want us to believe, the most important part of the Rennard scandal is not Nick Clegg or Eastleigh, but the women who have made the allegations against the sex pest peer. The response of the party’s female MPs has been non-existent. What Jo Swinson knew and when is at the heart of this story, she was in the chamber yeaterday but said nothing. Where is Lynne Featherstone? Jenny Wilnot might have just had a baby but why has careerist Sarah Teather been so quiet? Their silence speaks volumes…