Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Woolas Gets Pied

+++ Deripaska / Mandelson Tapes Rumour +++

Friday Caption Competition

“Shoot to Kill” News Management

Guido said that Labour would take a tougher line with news management now that Mandelson is back and Alistair Campbell is lurking about in the background. Rami Okasha, Labour’s head of communications in Scotland, was in charge of handling Sarah Brown’s visit. He threatened unruly hacks with heavies from Special Branch, “There will be six or seven guys with guns who will keep you away from her. You may be shot and then it won’t be my problem.” This boy could go far…

Foreign Donors Row, Compare and Contrast

Over at the New Statesman Martin Bright lists three foreign donors who routed £50,000 each via British companies to the Tories. The Daily Mail has hit on Robin Saunders, the foxy City financier, paying for a table at a Tory fundraiser with a personal cheque for £6,600, which the Tories returned (because she is an American) and she replaced it with a company cheque. Compare the total of £156,600 given by four foreign donors via British companies to the Tories with the £4,125,000 given by Lakshmi Mittal, an Indian national, to Labour.

Mittal even managed to get Blair to do PR for his company as part of the deal…

Labour’s attack is being marshalled by a re-invigorated spin and smear operation and nobody should under-estimate the powers of the returning Dark Lord. The Tories now have a real fight on their hands, the playing fields of Eton and St Paul’s clearly have not equipped them to deal with Mandelson. This is going to be a long dirty fight.

Icelandic Terrorrists Identified

Those Icelandic fundamentalists even have their own propaganda site. Gordon saved us from the Icelandic terror threat by cutting off their funding and freezing their assets. Err, except now he intends to lend them £3 billion of British taxpayers money… doh!

Government of the Spinners, by the Spinners for the Spinners

click to enlarge
The House of Lords Communications Committee had the head of the civil service Gus O’Donnell in for a hearing yesterday (video). One of the reasons the chief mandarin gave for the doubling in “communications staff” over the last decade was that there were mounting demands on government communication officers to deal with the increase in political blogs and the growing number of journalists.

“Be very careful what these numbers mean. [There are] 3,000 journalists in the BBC alone – that’s just one institution,” said O’Donnell, “You could easily turn the statistics round and ask ‘why has it gone up so little’.” Well he could ask that, but taxpayers would ask the opposite.

Guido has in four years only twice been contacted by a government spin merchant unprompted.

Mandelson “Gatecrashed Microsoft Boss’s Yacht Party”Same Time Microsoft Appealing EC €497m Fine

Guido’s man on the high seas tells him about a party thrown by Steve Ballmers Paul Allen on his yacht last year in 2005. Peter Mandelson was brought to the party by a third person – uninvited.
He was not a welcome guest and was avoided by many of the other party-goers who were only too well aware that the European Commission had fined Microsoft a record €497 million on competition grounds. Microsoft was engaged in a bitter legal battle to have the fine overturned.

With billions at stake it was surely inappropriate for the trade commissioner to meet socially with the second largest shareholder in Microsoft when it was in a fierce battle with the Commission. Over to you Peston…

+++ Developing +++

PMQs Live Chat

By the Way

Lord Mandy of the Dark Arts’ permanent secretary is Sir Brian Bender KCB. Just thought Guido would mention that. No juvenile sniggering at the back.

Tail-End of a Labour Government, Pound Collapses

Government borrowing is at record levels, unemployment is heading towards two million, car workers are on a 3-day week, public sector workers are threatening strikes, nationalisation is back, Deripaska-owned Leyland is even in back the news and we are entering a recession. To complete the whole 70s era feel we have a sterling collapse. 6% last night, 20% since the beginning of the year.

The BBC’s business editor is focusing on political gossip. Guido will therefore have to take up the slack on the business reporting front…

Littlejohn Joins CCHQ Press Operation

Don’t get your hopes up too much. According to the Indy a chip off the old block, William Littlejohn, is working in Millbank. Has Guido told you about the time his father bitch-slapped Polly Toynbee?

Pesto Payback

Why was Peston gunning, with Nick Robinson, for Osborne this morning on the Today show? Some speculate that it is payback for the generous tips of recent weeks that have come Pesto’s way. Guido suspects they are wrong.

Could it be something to do with the complaints to the FSA and the SFO from Tory MPs which, rightly or wrongly, Peston believes is being coordinated by Osborne’s office. Was there an element of personal animus? Surely not from the objective and impartial BBC….

Mandy Got Blair to Call Rothschild

Mandelson’s ability to get Nathan Rothschild, a Tory donor, to counter-attack Osborne over the “pouring poison” line is widely seen as a tribute to his powers of persuasion.

In reality Rothschild, who has long been enamoured with and in thrall to Tony Blair, acted after Mandelson got Blair to call Rothschild to encourage him to embarrass Osborne. M’learned friends are now being consulted as claim and counter-claim are spun. Isn’t it great to have all the fun of the circus with Mandelson back…

UPDATE : Tories say it was some time after the meeting that Rothschild called them to offer a donation on behalf of Deripaska. A Guido source laughed at the idea that Osborne and Feldman would personally solicit £50,000 – “that would get you to sit at the top table at a dinner maybe”.

CCHQ are calling Rothschild a liar:

The allegations made in Mr Rothschild’s letter are completely untrue.

Both Andrew Feldman and George Osborne deny absolutely that they attempted to solicit a donation from Oleg Deripaska. Nor did they suggest a method by which he could conceal a donation via a British company.

They spent a short period of time on Mr Deripaska’s boat at the invitation of Mr Rothschild. Donations to the Conservative party were not discussed with Mr Deripaska.

In a conversation on September 18, Mr Rothschild suggested to Andrew Feldman that Mr Deripaska wanted to make a donation to the party through one of his British companies. The offer was not taken up.

For clarity: the Conservative party has neither sought nor received any donations from Mr Deripaska nor any of his companies.

Looks like the lawyers will definitely be called in…

Oleg the Oligarch and the British Political Elite

It is a fascinating world inside the ruling elite isn’t it? Rupert Murdoch parks his yacht offshore from Nathaniel Rothschild’s sunshine estate and drops in. Mandelson and Osborne take a ride in the same billionaire’s boat when not dining together. All very cosy, enough to turn you into one of those crazy conspiracy theorists…

+ READ MORE +



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