Very Social Media

So from www.EyeSpy.MP Guido learnt that Lembit was on the razz in “the Sports & Social* Weds night regaling a pretty, leggy brunette & a blonde”. From there out of Facebook via a co-conspirator we get this picture…

*A bar in the House of Commons.

iCampaign Hots Up

Labour has an iPhone App scheduled for release in early February.  Dithering is not the preserve of Downing Street, the digital team admit they have yet to finalise the specification.

They want it to sync to local campaign events using GPS and postcode data, have a mobile version of their Virtual Phone Bank enabling a user to phone target voters plus have linkage into Facebook and Twitter.

With Labour’s record on IT projects Guido will bet it over-runs on cost and doesn’t work properly…

UPDATE : A Tory source says sniffily “We’ll announce our app when it is ready for release” The LibDems are experimenting with tin cans and string.

Parliament Spy is Now EyeSpy.MP

Guido was a bit late to the Parliament Spy twitter phenomenon, which sadly disappeared after James Kirkup  of the Telegraph scared them off.  It is back in a new web 2.0 way, crowd sourcing gossip from parliamentary staffers.

The creators tell Guido it is more secure and anonymous in this version.  Email your MP sightings to tweet@EyeSpy.MP and the subject line will be tweeted out.  So far today we know who Lembit was chatting-up last night and that Nick Herbert is currently lunching a pretty boy.  Early days yet…

+++ Osborne to Re-Pay £1,666 Expenses Over-Claim +++

Lyon’s report says Osborne’s breaches were not “major ones, were not intentional and did not provide Mr Osborne with any significant financial benefit.” He will not have to give an apology to the House. Nice to know the Shadow Chancellor can add up though.

Forsyth Inching Tories Towards Reality

Lord Forsyth has hit the headlines calling for spending cuts of £75 billion a year.  Sounds like a lot until you realise that government will still be over-spending by more than £100 billion a year since the budget deficit is £178 billion.  A government that over-spends by £2 billion a week is going to worsen the debt crisis.

Before Liam Byrne starts spinning about cruel Tory cuts he would do well to remember that Lord Mandelson said it was ‘vital’ to reduce the deficit by some £80 billion in a speech two weeks ago.  Mandelson is still outflanking the Tories…

Danny's Tax Return


Danny has responded to Guido’s taxing questions.  John Rentoul counsels Fink to “leave it son, he’s a worthless political nihilist.  Steady on John.  The last person who called Guido a nihilist self-destructed shortly after…

Socratic blogging will continue once Guido has digested Fink’s thoughts.

PMQS LIVE : Flakes, Fruits and Nuts Edition

[orderorder-live-event altcast_code=”600e155a7a” height=”600″ width=”480″]

Jonah Gets (Creme) Egg on His Face

Yesterday our leader sought to calm fears that the takeover of national institution Cadbury by American candy kings Kraft. Jonah told his press conference. “We are determined that the levels of investment that take place in Cadbury in the United Kingdom are maintained and we are determined that, at a time when people are worried about their jobs, that jobs in Cadbury can be secure.

But merely a few hours later the BBC was trailing that “Job losses are an “inevitability” at Cadbury after its takeover by US giant Kraft Foods, the UK firm’s chairman has confirmed.” Well that told him then.

Republicans Win Ted Kennedy's Boston Seat

Massachusetts hasn’t had a Republican senator since 1972.  The election became a referendum on Obama with a clear focus on “Obamacare”, which is why the President intervened personally to support the Democrat candidate.  With support for Obama’s efforts to socialise healthcare low we could see more seats fall to the Republicans.  The election of Scott Brown now makes it possible for the Republicans to block Obama’s legislation..

Dirty Tricks – the Suspects

Interesting that another letter purporting again to be from an anoymous Tory backbencher gained little traction last week and has thus now appeared on the left-leaning FT. How did they get the text when ConservativeHome couldn’t? The whole thing reeks of Labour dirty tricks again and the fact it appears on Commons paper makes Guido wonder who could the author be?

The letter picks up on media angles such as “We can’t go on like this” and the continuing drip drip of bile toward Steve Hilton making the authenticy look more and more dubious. Who has a track record in this sort of thing?

Guido’s top suspects:

  • Alastair “Dodgy Dossier” Campbell
  • Tom “I ♥ Dirty Tricks” Watson
  • Damian “Gents, a few ideas…” McBride
  • David “I’m Back!” Taylor

Your suggestions welcome…

Exclusive : CCHQ Drops "Cameron's Conservatives"

CCHQ has officially ditched the much mooted idea of putting “David Cameron’s Conservatives” on the ballot paper. The idea was trialled at the disastrous Ealing Southall by-election of 2007 and candidates were speculating as to whether it would be included at the general election.

A memo from CCHQ sent out this morning to PPC’s tells them to drop Dave:

From: Dolley, Mike
Sent: 19 January 2010 10:17
To: All Battleground Directors; All Campaign Directors; All Regional Directors
Cc: Mabbutt, Alan; Oldham, Rachel
Subject: candidate description

Please note that it has been determined that the agreed candidate description for all parliamentary and local government candidates will be “The Conservative Party Candidate” (Scotland and Wales please ignore)

Michael Dolley
Deputy Director
Field Campaigning Department

Labour are determined to make attacks on Cameron central to an increasingly Guidoised election campaign, and it seems PPCs are going to be spared some connection to that. Dave is still the Tories strongest asset though, which is why Labour are so keen to throw the kitchen sink at him. Labour would have made issue of it if his name had been included on the ballot and they will no doubt claim some kind of victory now that it won’t be…

Totty Watch : Brown to Win Election!

In Ted Kennedy’s old Massachusetts senate seat it looks likely that it will fall to the Republicans.  Obama has pushed his face on to the Democrat branding in a risky bid to retain the seat and crucially his filibuster blocking sixty in the Senate, but polls are showing America’s former “Sexiest Man”, Scott Brown in the lead. Well if a comedian like Al Franklin can do it…

+ + + UK Dec CPI Posts Largest Jump On Record to 2.9% + + +

Annual consumer price inflation increased by its greatest ever amount in a single month in December, that is well well above the Bank of England’s 2.0% target and consensus economist’s expectations that it would come in nearer 2% today.

Get your wheelbarrows out, stock up on gold and baked beans. Here comes inflation…

See also : Coming Soon : Double Digit Inflation, Double Digit Inflation is a Black Swan, Bank of England Pension Fund Surges Betting on Inflation, Yo Dude, Where’s the Deflation?

Suspicious Elvis Seen in Hereford

Picture credit : Nick Vaughan“I’d rather see DC live than Elvis”.

Understanding Tory Finking on Tax

Guido really likes Danny Finkelstein, he is amusing company, always courteous and a little spiky – in a good way.  He is nevertheless the poster boy for all that is wrong with Tory policy ambitions on tax and spending.

Whenever Tim Montgomerie, Fraser Nelson or Guido have had a go at him he responds in kind.  Invariably we have failed to understand the subtlety of his argument, overlooked some caveat or research data.  Danny usually says he agrees with our end objectives, just not our timing.  Fink insists that he is by preference a tax cutter, yet he never seems to advocate tax cuts within a time-frame.

So a few questions for Danny:

  1. This question is about the politics of tax cutting – if, as you argue, voters don’t believe specifics about tax and spend, does precision matter less than conveying a sense of direction?
  2. Do you actually believe that, all things being equal, lower tax economies are higher growth economies?
  3. You say “I believe strongly in lower tax. But I want proper tax-cutting, based on real reform of the scope and operation of the state.” Presumably you want a smaller state.  What then is your broad aspiration for the size of the state expressed as a proportion of nominal GDP?  How many years do you think it might take a Conservative government(s) to get us from where we are now, to where you want to be?

Guido thinks it is important to understand Danny’s political aspirations and what his underlying thinking  is because he is the Cameroon who most publicly makes the case against committing to tax cuts.  He gives cover to a somewhat sheepish Tory Treasury team afraid to make the case for growth.

Like a shell-shocked First World War veteran Danny is suffering post-traumatic stress from years in opposition sat in the CRD trench with George Osborne.  This is 2010, not 2001 Danny, this time the enemy will be defeated.  It is possible to not just advance mere inches towards dividing lines as a result of endless tactical re-positioning, but to drive out your enemy from the territory, establishing and holding a new ideological frontline.  The poverty of Tory ambition is palpable, it is not enough to defeat the enemy, capturing their ground only to continue governing in much the the same way.  Guido suspects Fraser Nelson’s upcoming Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture* will call not just for the capture of the enemy’s dividing lines, put to push the enemy back to Kirkcaldy once and for all.

*February 3, Centre for Policy Studies, Fraser Nelson “Winning is not Enough”.

Gordon Reported to Standards Commissioner Over Second Slush "Fund With No Name"

It seems Gordon was not content with just the Smith Institute as his personal play thing and slush fund. Perhaps the most damaging allegation by Peter Watt yet, has been the emergence of Gordon’s secret “fund with no name“. Watt accuses Brown of siphoning donations to the tune of fifty grand a year to his own private polling fund, the only record of which was a tatty old exercise book. How very Gordon.

As regular readers will remember, when the Charity Commission reported that The Smith Institute, despite their many failings in terms of political neutrality were not paying the salary of Gordon’s private yank pollster Bob Shrum, Guido will admit to some confusion as to how Brown had managed to wriggle his way out of this. It now appears that Shrum could well have been paid out of this second, secret “fund with no name.” Whatever this fund was being used for it was breaking the rules for personal benefits that MPs must declare. The rules state that MPs must “provide information of any financial interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions.” Unsurprisingly a complaint has been put in to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Guido reckons there is a very strong case for an investigation into this murky secretive fund.

The Toughest Job in Politics

It is apparently “Blue Monday”, according to shrinks today is the most depressing day of the year due to the combination  of factors. Apparently the weather, debt level (personal rather than national), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions (Mrs Fawkes hasn’t noticed the disappearing whiskey bottles yet), low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Each year lazy tabloid hacks get a cheap story out of the day, but it must be noted that “Blue Monday” is going to be particularly hard for one woman.

Helen Scott Lidgett is an old friend of Sarah Brown, they used to work together at Sarah’s PR company and then at Brunswick, she has now been bought into the bunker for what must be the toughest job in both politics and PR – giving Gordon an intensive pre-election makeover.  It’s going to take more than airbrushing to turn the Prime Mentalist into someone that can actually be allowed out to meet the general public.

Her predecessor, Nicola Burdett (Sion Simon’s other half), was last heard of recuperating from suspected Nokia-related injuries in Barbados. Guido hopes Helen has the patience of a saint and an ability to duck…

Rich & Mark's Monday Morning View

What Are the Tories Going To Do for the Middle Classes?

You have to laugh at the audaciousness of the Brown change of strategy, from a “war on toffs” to fighting for the middle classes. He has also resurrected Blairism, even referring to his “friend” Tony, claiming “we have governed as New Labour and now we will campaign as New Labour.”  His speech to the Fabians yesterday was ideologically Mandelsonian.

At first the Tories might be inclined to dismiss it as desperate political zig-zag forced on Brown and Balls by a cabinet that wisely wants to fight for middle-income swing votes rather than just core-votes in a defeatist retreat into welfarist clientèlism. Except middle-income voters are bound to ask: “What will the Tories do for us?”

The Tories mock “One minute Gordon Brown’s a class warrior, the next he is a friend of middle Britain … The idea that a man who has spent his whole career at war with the middle classes can be their champion is laughable”.  They charge Gordon Brown with tax-bombing middle Britain, saying:

  • He’s repeatedly hiked national insurance, hitting middle Britain again and again.
  • He imposed a £100 billion pensions stealth tax.
  • He hit first time buyers with a £1,500 rise in stamp duty.
  • He imposed 111 tax rises.

Families on middle-incomes are entitled to ask where is the Tory commitment to roll-back those hikes?  Will they remove the pensions stealth tax or stamp duty?  How many of the 111 tax rises will they actually reverse?

The Tories give little sign that they plan to defend the middle-classes by reversing Gordon’s decade of attacks on them. The proposed marriage tax allowance is being watered down by Osborne, the Labour tax-bombs that CCHQ have warned us about in campaign posters since 1997 will not be defused.   In fact the Tories are signalling they too will bomb low and middle income earners with their own 20% VAT bomb. Only the LibDems are offering a tax cut for low and middle income families, promising to put the tax threshold up from £6,500 to £10,000.

Gordon says social mobility is his new priority, yet the Labour Party has blocked council house sales, the single greatest boon to social mobility since free education for all.   The LibDems and Tories should promise low-income, public sector tenants that they will bring back a programme of heavily discounted council house sales. Owning your own home is a great aspiration and a key driver of upward mobility.

The Tories are promising a lot of pain and little gain for the middle-classes.   The transferable marriage allowance is a vote winner, higher inheritance tax allowances are another and radical education reform looks appealing to all those of us who can’t afford to send our kids to Eton.  If the Tories are going to remove superfluous welfare benefits from those on middle to upper incomes they need to compensate us in return.  If Osborne credibly matched the LibDem proposal to raise income tax thresholds to £10,000 they would seal the deal with middle England…

Saturday Seven-Up

7upIf you were not one of the 63,215 visitors viewing 414,196 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

A good week.  […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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