The Dead-Tree-Press in the shape of the Guardian’s Martin Kettle and even the Daily Mail have hopped on the Where’s Gordon?™ Meme. Particularly enjoyed this morning’s Where’s Gordo game featuring a naked Gordon- which seems to have been pulled from their website this afternoon. Did it displease Dacre?
The shiny all new GordonBrown.org and GordonBrownforBritiain.com* websites will launch tomorrow. Remember the denial put out by Silverfish, about buying domains on behalf of Gordon? Silverfish’s Mark Lucas claimed it was speculative, nothing to do with Gordon, they were building up a portfolio of internet domains and flying pigs etc.
In truth they were acting on the direct instructions of Gordon’s charmless spinmeister Damian McBride, to buy up websites for Gordon’s campaign. All will be revealed tomorrow. Guido hopes Silverfish come up with something better than “Dave the Chameleon” this time. Gordon needs all the help he can get…
UPDATE : ConservativeHome is reporting that the bogeyman will be doing photo-ops in Stevenage and Basildon tomorrow, the seats of Labour MPs Barbara Follett and Angela Smith respectively.
*There are a few others as well. Silverfish bought some of them off lucky owners for substantial sums.
“To have been deputy leader and the longest serving deputy prime minister is a matter of great pride to me. This government is testament to the fact that it is possible to apply traditional Labour values in a modern setting. I passionately believe that it will continue to do so under a new leader and deputy, and that we have the values to convince the British people that we deserve a fourth term in government.”
That process of renewal for New, New Labour is all about us. The frankly, until now, faltering LabourHome site has re-launched. Last time Guido looked it still had Labour Beta 0.0 policies and articles advocating socialism. How so very 80s…
They do make the point today that they are the only open-access tool for grassroots activists. ConservativeHome and LibDemVoice allow user comments but have editors. Anything goes on LabourHome and anybody can put up articles. The new site allows some editorial intervention in that better articles can be bumped up front and centre by the editors. This might spare online political junkies the necessity of wading through endless articles on “bringing back socialism” for more current issues.
Not sure the best way to relaunch is to put a picture of yesterday’s man on the front…
UPDATE : 16:30 GMT site crashed. Didn’t something like this happen on the first launch day?
Howls of outrage and denial from some on the public payroll about Guido’s denunciation of those who want to fight the internal political battles of the Labour party at the taxpayers’ expense. The anonymous blog that is produced out of Tom Watson’s office even tried a bit of mockery mixed in with a quote from the Special Advisors’ Code of Conduct. The clause that cheating SpAds (when caught) hope to use to get them off the hook states that “if, with the approval of their Minister, they wish to assist with other party political matters such as a leadership campaign, they may do so while on paid or unpaid leave or at times which do not interfere with their normal duties, for example, out of office hours.”
On leave or out of office hours with their minister’s approval. That excludes, by definition, being sat at your desk all day toiling endlessly to get the candidate elected, shooting off emails to all and sundry and running up the national debt on the phone for hours. The whole purpose of the restriction was to prevent the situation we have now. Dozens, and Guido means dozens, of SpAds doing little else but plot and conspire to further the private interests of party candidates in an internal party election. They are not acting to further the political interests of the government minister, the job the taxpayer pays them to do, they are acting to further the interests of the private individual climbing the greasy pole.
That is not appropriate activity for civil servants, which is what SpAds are, and that is the reason why the Code of Conduct exists. Clause 7 in the model contract for Special Advisers states bluntly:
Special Advisers should not use official resources for Party political activity. They are employed to serve the objectives of the Government and the Department in which they work.It is this which justifies their being paid from public funds and being able to use public resources, and explains why their participation in party politics is carefully limited.
So when Blair McDougall emails all and sundry from his FCO email account on behalf of the Benn4Labour campaign he is doing precisely what the Code was established to prevent. He is not paid to run party political campaigns using official resources, he is a paid public servant who is supposed to advise the government on relevant political matters.
Everyone in Westminster knows that all the SpAds of ministers campaigning for the Number 2 position are doing little else but organise their minister’s campaign. Just as everyone in Westminster knew that peerages were for sale. Guido could be accused of being naïve, but he is appalled by sleazy SpAds who think nothing of diverting public money to private ends. If a single-mum did a bit of cleaning-work on the side and claimed benefits at the same time, the government advertises warnings that it will bring criminal charges, “no if, no buts”. Likewise, if a Special Adviser does a bit of work on the side for a minister while claiming public money, they should be fired and the expenses repaid, no if, no buts.
The dark shadow now being cast over the land signals that the dreaded day will soon be upon us. Guido will be doing his best to ruin unveil some of the surprise planned for Gordon’s big day. They are playing their cards close to their chest, but a few details have leaked out. More tomorow…
Guido understands that after the meeting of the PLP on Thursday ballot papers will be made available and that Gordon will launch his “campaign” on Friday. Presumably Blair will be in Sedgefield Thursday morning to tell his constitutency the shock news. That certainly seems to be the consensus of the Lobby.
Brown will spin that his media black-out has been necessary to give Blair a clear run to the exit, not to avoid association with the Scottish election results…
Guido has got his hands on a private campaign briefing prepared a few days ago for supporters of Hilary Benn’s campaign for the deputy leadership. It details how popular Benn is polling with activists (pdf version here) and how they should use this information to pressurise their MPs to nominate Benn. The Benn campaign desperately needs 44 nominations to get him beyond the hat-in-ring stage.
The author of this document is Blair McDougall, he is Ian McCartney’s Special Adviser (SpAds). Ian is Hilary Benn’s campaign manager and a minister at the FCO. SpAds are not allowed to campaign under the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers at the taxpayers expense for their masters in internal party matters. In fact they are supposed to take unpaid leave – see the recent example of Peter Hain’s ex-SpAd Phil Taylor.
Since Guido has started on his mission to catch SpAds cheating the taxpayer and breaking the ministerial code, some have quite properly taken leave. Guido has just spoken with McDougall about the briefing. He didn’t claim, nor can he retrospectively pretend, that he was working on his own time. The document was prepared on his desk computer at the FCO, sent from his email address at the FCO, during office hours. Pressed by Guido that this was a breach of the Code he refused to answer, invited to deny that he had produced the document at the taxpayer’s expense, he declined to deny it. How does this differ from benefit fraud?
Looks like a job for the Cabinet Secretary…
Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531.
Ming’s overwhelmingly negative poll ratings present Tory strategists in CCHQ with a dilemma, they would rather face a Ming led Liberal Democrat party than a Huhne, or worse still, a Clegg led party. However the fear is that in the event of a hung parliament Ming would be much more sympathetic to keeping Gordon in Downing Street than his younger rivals.
The preferred scenario is that Ming leads the LibDems to a poor showing in the General Election and falls on his sword to be succeeded by an Orange booker with whom Cameron can do business. The risk is he limps into coalition with Gordon. Don’t expect any concerted Tory attacks on Ming in the near term, the last thing they want is him replaced.
UPDATE : To clarify, the above graph is derived from the number of respondents positively disposed towards Ming minus those negative towards Ming. He managed a positive rating only immediately after becoming leader.
Guido took the time to graphically track Gordon during the Scottish election campaign just in case he tried to shirk responsibility for the outcome. It was intended to map for all to see his day-by-day close involvement. It says something that Guido’s suspicions were great enough to motivate such uncharacteristic diligence.
Look at the situation today; the soon to be leader of the Labour party and next PM is travelling around in vehicles with blacked-out windows, maintaining a media black-out and waiting quietly out of sight until the news agenda moves on. He does not show public humility to the electorate, does not defiantly climb the ramparts to rally the Labour party and inspire his troops with well judged oratory – all of which would show leadership. His response perfectly illustrates his calculating personality, he makes himself invisible when trouble is about. What would he have done in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, 2001 if he were prime minister? Invite some wonks to Downing Street to hold a private study seminar? Blair showed leadership, he judged the moment and acted, he told the world that we would fight terrorism and America that we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Blair acted decisively.
Gordon Brown simply does not have the empathy required to make that kind of judgement or ironically the courage to take the risks. He has held on to his goal of power with an obssessive determination and pure malevolence towards rivals. The author of “Courage : Eight Portraits“ has worked deviously and cravenly towards his ultimate goal. He has invariably dispatched his enemies indirectly without taking them on personally.
The Labour party is mesmerised, the party elite all know the true nature of Gordon, just as another party elite in another century knew the true nature of Stalin. The public will never warm to him, the more they study him, the less they like him. Even his allies make excuses for his personality flaws.
He is darkly forceful, unnatural in his ways and it says something profound that he is personified as a great clunking fist.