Briefing Knives Out for Huhne

The Mingers briefed The Times comprehensively, so we can expect more of the same tomorrow in the Sunday press. Guido is being passed all manner of scurrilous and implausible tales in brown paper emails. Even Huhne’s family it seems is not off-limits. The Times’ article reports a few snide comments about Huhne’s new found Green evangelism as compared to his past enjoyment of a high-powered BMW (with personalised number plate). Detractors point to his Euro-fetishism to emphasise his one-track interest in the dismal science – almost the only area in which he was active in the EU parliament..

Huhne must be ahead of Ming (forget Hughes, he is finished) why else is he under such bitter attack by rivals? Apart from the fact that unlike Clegg et al he had the chutzpah and balls to run, fortune favours the brave they fear…

(Gratuitous irrelevant pictorial comparison of Huhne and Mr Bean suggested by Mrs Fawkes.)

Somebody Wanted to Steady Huhne’s Odds

Somebody wanted to make sure the betting prices didn’t move after Crick’s Huhne story finished on Newsnight. They offered to lay £5000 on Ming and backed £1000 on Huhne. For non-gamblers they were trying to collar the prices – keeping Ming’s odds long and Huhne’s odds short. The money evaporated once the market settled down and the price was effectively unchanged. Clearly somebody with reasonably deep pockets and the motivation did the manipulation.

When Huhne was asked “Are you a multi-millionaire?” he said he did not know. Eh? He is the Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and an economist – for someone so good-with-numbers that should have been an easy question. No major damage done by Crick, he just made Huhne look a bit shifty. Today has however brought another interesting rumour to the surface…

Waste Bashing Wonks

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: The Bumper Book of Government Waste: The scandal of the squandered billions from Lord Irvine’s wallpaper to EU saunas has had a massive amount of media coverage. The book lists £82bn of government waste and the message is hitting home.

The Treasury fielded the financial secretary, John Healey, to bat against it when it was launched. Healey sees himself as an attack dog, but is really more of an attack puppy. He tried the New Labour tactic of rubbishing it (without reading it). Healy described it as shoddy and not worthy of serious consideration. So why field a Treasury minister to rubbish it?

Something tells Guido that Matthew Elliott is getting under the skin of the Treasury. The polite, mild mannered CEO of the Taxpayers’ Alliance is deceptive, beneath the Clark Kent exterior is a superman of a campaigner. The former aide to David Davis is building a relatively broad anti-tax alliance which will make a strong case to a future Conservative government for the proceeds of growth to be shared with taxpayers. It is strategically advantageous for the Tories that there is a non-party grassroots lobby for lower taxes besides the business lobby. Gordon’s penchant for tax and waste is a rich vein of opportunity for the Tories. If they themselves are not willing to make the case, than the quietly combative Elliott will have to lead the charge.

Huhney Monsters ‘Em

Ming’s team is spinning furiously “it does not accord with our canvass returns” (Clegg just sits in the corner, rocking back and forth with his head in his hands, muttering). Guido does not believe the Mingers – they chose not to publish the first YouGov poll. An attempt to suppress what must have been an unpalatable as well as an unpublished poll. They gave YouGov’s Kellner permission to officially rubbish Mike Smithson and Guido.

It is reportedly manic panic at the Ministry of Sound as Hughes’ credibility collapses, his attempt to bitch-slap Huhne yesterday showed his nasty side (remember Bermondsey 1983) and will make life difficult for him in the future if the Huhney Monsters take control. Tonight on Question Time expect a desperate core votes strategy from Hughes, he will play to LibDem beardie-weirdieness issues. But appeals to the core may not be enough, as Basher Davis found out.

Guido had to madly reverse all his Ming bets this morning, but the losses will be worth it. Team Ming are an alliance of treachery and careerism, seeing them lose will be a joy. Hughes is a dishonest operator who would consign the LibDems to electoral disaster. Electing Huhne will be a positive signal that it is time for the new political generation. The three main British parties accepting free markets will be Thatcher’s final victory, even as her own party disowns her.

Huhne taking over the LibDems would be the worst result for Gordon Brown, it will make him seem older and more to the left of the centre than he would if Hughes was leader. His friend Ming would have been a more agreeable ally in a coalition government. What fun!

Rival London Gangs Begin Turf War

As the post-Blair era comes ever closer, the two rival London gangs are squaring up to begin their fight for control of the one crucial piece of turf that matters, Westminster. In the West wearing blue colours it is the Notting Hill gang; hard-boy Hilton, the Govemeister, Bolesy, Georgie O and Ed Vaizey take on the Primrose Hill mob including; the Miliband bruvvers, Dougie Alexander, Ed Balls and Yvette C, all sporting red colours.

The Primrose Hill Blairites of Progress have launched their first pamphlet attack on Cameron’s Notting Hill gang. Guido can save you the bother of reading it, the Tory Clause IV moment is, they say, ‘Accept the Blair legacy’, like they accepted the Thatcherite legacy. So is that, “we’re all Thatcherites now”? Or “we’re all Blairites now”? Or just, “we’re all the same”?

Alan Greenspan’s Advice for Brown

In Greenspan’s seminal essay in Capitalism : The Unknown Ideal he has some good advice for Brown about government borrowing;

“government bonds are not backed by tangible wealth, only by the government’s promise to pay out of future tax revenues, and cannot easily be absorbed by the financial markets. A large volume of new government bonds can be sold to the public only at progressively higher interest rates… The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit… The holder of a government bond or of a bank deposit created by paper reserves believes that he has a valid claim on a real asset. But the fact is that there are now more claims outstanding than real assets. The law of supply and demand is not to be conned. As the supply of money (of claims) increases relative to the supply of tangible assets in the economy, prices must eventually rise. Thus the earnings saved by the productive members of the society lose value in terms of goods. When the economy’s books are finally balanced, one finds that this loss in value represents the goods purchased by the government for welfare or other purposes with the money proceeds of the government bonds financed by bank credit expansion… The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves… This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”

Gordon Brown initiated mass sales of gold by the Bank of England some years ago when gold was trading at some $300 an ounce. Baby Miss Fawkes got an ounce of gold this Christmas worth over $500 an ounce. The government’s debt (including pension liabilities) has now broken the trillion pound barrier. Gilt edged government debt is no longer backed by gold under the Bank of England, but by ever rising taxes. This is Gordon Brown’s shabby secret…

Brown Needs Advice from Greenspan

The appointment of Alan Greenspan as a Special Adviser to Gordon Brown is unusual – SpAds are often spotty recently graduated party hacks on the make, and are therefore usually young and inexperienced. Greenspan however is the oldest and most experienced maestro of the money markets around. Greenspan’s word is simply law on Wall Street and in the City.

He is also a disciple of Ayn Rand, the philosopher who is viewed by some as the most radical defender of capitalism of all time. She was certainly uncompromising, viewing collectivism in all its forms as “evil”. So what advice will he be giving to “democratic socialist” Gordon Brown?

Perhaps he will recommend reading a couple of her books like The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism : The Unknown Ideal. After all, Greenspan wrote three chapters of the latter book. Guido fears Brown will not heed the good advice within…

LibDem Leader’s Backer Clasher”Oh Yes I have”, “Oh No You Haven’t”

Yesterday Whune claimed on his website:

… his campaign has now secured the backing of eight Council Leaders from around England. This is more than the other candidates combined. ‘I’m delighted,‘ said Chris, ‘at the backing of these local party leaders. These Liberal Democrat council leaders are already in power in their own areas and therefore their support represents a significant step forward in my campaign. I want to see the success they have achieved for the Liberal Democrats replicated on a national scale.’

Whuhne’s much boasted grasp of figures (economist, City editor etc.) could take a bit of a knocking here. This evening Ming’s Jaguar pulled up outside Guido’s cellar to decant a liveried flunkey with a list of nine council leaders backing Ming. How does he square that with whathisnames’ claims? Guido has counted for himself (using the fingers of both hands) and thinks Ming has it.

Remember the Tory leadership campaign? Liam Fox claiming the backing of George Bush, how we laughed. This is just tragic – the politics of toytown.

What Dave told Demos

Interesting and clearly its the definitive (for now) ideological text for Cameroonies. It’s an honest analysis of Blair / New Labour as well. Cameron argues for realpolitik made policy.

Clearing out the Closet

The Indy reckons that LibDem MPs with skeletons in their closet have been summonsed to the Chief Whip, Andrew Stunell, and told to confess all. No word as to if Ming or Whune have been along.

Ming Races to Victory!

With all the energy, vibrancy, dynamism and environmental sensitivity required of a LibDem leader, Ming demonstrates that he is in poll position, ever ready to drive the LibDems to victory…

Captions in the comments please.

LibDems in Grave Situation

Adrian Graves says the election of David Cameron as Tory leader marked “a fundamental shift in both the direction and political atmosphere within the Tory Party.” The LibDems faced a “nightmare scenario” after the next election of a hung Parliament with “yet another, weaker Labour administration, led by Gordon Brown, propped up by Hughes-led, left-sympathetic Liberal Democrats”.Translation: “I think they’ll give me a winnable seat.”

LibDems will try to paint him out as a nobody, they have already Stalinistically erased his biography and picture from their website.

It gets worse, the Guardian has a focus group giving Hughes the thumbs up by a wide margin against Ming and Whuhne. Whuhne was recognised by only 9 people in the survey.

If Hughes wins, the LibDems face annihilation by the Tories in southern England, something that focuses the mind of LibDem MPs, but doesn’t seem to bother the weirdie beardie membership. They’ll be breaking out the champagne at CCHQ before lunch…

Campbell Campaign Latest News

Guido is yawning at the fast moving nature of the LibDem leadership campaign. Still no sign of Guido’s membership card. Eagerly Guido points his browser at Campbell’s latest campaign news:
The latest news on the fast moving “rolling thunder” campaign website of Ming hasn’t been updated this week. Why is it (note the lower case) “ming campbell”, isn’t that how you pronounce it, not how you spell it? Have they introduced synthetic phonics for LibDem leaders? Stealing Cameron’s policies?

Change to Win : Draft Clegg

My party membership card is in the post, but Guido is confident that he has the LibDem electoral system all figured out. Basically if Ming should get very ill suddenly, say this weekend, and drop out on Monday, Nick Clegg would need 200 members from 20 different constituencies to nominate him by Wednesday. Come on Orange Bookers, you need to get going on this:
Click to enlarge, Print, Sign and Post

The Clegg That Doesn’t Bark

With the Times leader calling for Clegg to run and Ming to make way this morning –

Without evidence that Sir Ming has both the ability and the will to win, his youthful supporters such as the very able Nick Clegg may need to start preparing contingency plans.

– the odds on Clegg shortened to make him even more favoured than Oaten at one point.

Yet no denial from the camp Clegg, which is strange, Sherlock might say. Not even a Heseltine style non-denial, denial. The feeling in camp Clegg is that basically he’s snookered by Ming. But Guido also hears that there may be a shot out of this: Newsnight producers are considering the idea of another Luntz style focus group on LibDem candidates but including Nick Clegg.

What are the Real Odds on Ming?

Dr Crippen draws our attention to the real prognosis for sixty-somethings like Ming Cambell surviving Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, “the 5-year survival rate for men aged 60-69 with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 45% in England and Wales 1991-95” (Cancer Survival, National Statistics).

Dr Crippen and Guido suspect it is, sadly, a little bit of optimistic of the Ming spinners to claim “complete remission”. 45% survive is the acturial hard reality of the situation. More fatal to Ming’s leadership ambitions will be his performance on Wednesday at PMQs. Any repeat of the nervous performance of last week will be terminal for his political life. Guido is consistently told that Clegg as well as Ed Davey both wish to be relieved from their commitment to Ming made when his coronation looked likely.

Many LibDem activists faced with the existing leadership candidates are thinking none of the above. If proud Ming mangles his performance at PMQs again, it seems possible that he may cite health reasons and withdraw his candidature, rather than the face the probable humiliation which he looks unexpectedly likely to suffer. Expect Clegg to declare in those circumstances, despite his prior protestations about experience over youth in the Indy. Two more PMQs remain before nominations close on Wednesday week at 4pm. Clegg and Davey would face no problems getting the requisite nominations in the event that Ming falters.

LibDem Hustings – Live Blogging

It’s Saturday, 10.30am and this is beyond the call of duty, but here we go:

  • Ming up first, bashes Cameron tries to reposition himself on the left. Looks old. Business like.
  • Hughes up next, says policy is not the leaders remit, membership makes policy, tickling the clitoris of the activists. Leaders job is to deliver the message. Thatcherite New Labour, fairness inequality, excluded, liberal values etc. Freedom & fairness, “spend more wisely and tax more fairly” – terrible soundbite which middle of the road voters will hear as “spend more… tax more”. Pitch to the activists.
  • Huhne kicks off with “global” as his key word, says he is open and rational. Reads and looks at his script, dull, but sensible. Dark green pitch with eco-taxes as the answer. Asks why minimum waged are taxed, tax is over-centralised, 94% of tax goes through Whitehall. More women LibDem MPs please. Freedoom and fairness, pragmatism. Sounds like a Cameron Conservative to Guido.
  • Oaten goes scriptless and off the podium, new ideas and fresh thoughts, tribute to Kennedy, anti-war, proud of the party, pledges to defeat the ID card. LibDems must be optimistic. Cracks a couple of jokes, “principles into power in the 21st Century”. Fine, but not barnstorming.

LibDem Vote Costs £6

The LibDem constitution is a wonderful rulebook. MPs can nominate multiple candidates and anyone can vote for leader.

Surely only members can vote? Correct, anyone who is a member on January 26 will be able to vote. Membership is open, it costs a minimum of £6, so join up and vote. For about £300,000 the Tories can choose the new LibDem leader…

Chris Huhne is the first runner with a campaign website up: www.chris2win.org – its crap and yellow. Ming’s is not ready www.mingforleader.org.uk it was registered by Dan Purchese, Chair of East Arun Lib Dems. Not sure its the official Ming site.

UPDATE: Oaten is up with Oaten TV, which has him and Lembit Opik broadcasting. Oaten’s entire campaign seems to be about him and “libertarian” Lembert. Guido was a bit surprised to hear Lembert claim in the video they are a pair of libertarians.

Whuhne?

Even LibDems don’t know where Chris Hune stands, so much so that he is being debated on their blogs. Huhne is saying that, unlike Hughes, he won’t hike taxes (except environmental taxes).

Nick Clegg, the LibDem Tories most feared, is hoping for a deputy Mingship after having now realised that he has missed the leadership boat. His “have I screwed it up” phone calls yesterday saw his odds dip down to 15/1 despite not being a declared runner (now back out to 50/1). You missed the boat Clegg, you may as well just join the Tories now, the Torygraph backs you and they actually want you.

Hughes is now favourite, the former bookies favourite, the patrician Ming, now reckons he is more left-wing than Labour in his interview in the Guardian this morning. LibDems are so honest and straight forward aren’t they?

Bookies Ming Sting

Betfair clients look set to go to the Betting Arbitration Service. The Times’ City Diary reports that whilst Cantor’s Spreadfair stopped taking bets on the Next LibDem leader (Ming is officially leader according to the parliamentary authorities and LibDem HQ in Cowley Street), Betfair has slyly changed the terms of the bet – after the event.[…] Read the rest

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