New Statesman Owner Buys LabourHome

Guido has been hearing rumours that LabourHome was “in play” and that two bidders were after the site. Tom Miller’s Newer Labour has the exclusive confirming that LabourHome has been bought by Mike Danson, the new owner of the New Statesman.
Newer Labour reports that it went for a “high five figure sum… with some of the existing editors, like Alex Hilton, one of the foremost Labour bloggers and co-founder, Jag Singh, staying on board.” PoliticsHome had also shown an interest in bringing the site into the “home” network – Freddie Sayers had been in negotiations with the site but got gazumped.

Guido called Alex Hilton, LabourHome’s chief commissar, to commiserate with him for not getting a six-figure valuation. (Guardian Media Group just bought PaidContent for $30 million, the Gawker group of blogs is valued at over $100 million.) Alex would only say “We are very pleased to have the support of the New Statesman” from his yacht in the Caribbean.

Guido reckons that if the valuations being achieved in the U.S. were reflected here, the leading blogs would be worth seven figure sums. Mrs Fawkes has become noticeably less intolerant of Guido’s blogging of late…

Vote to See Sky’s Miranda Semi-Naked

Iain is doing his annual blog guide, compiling a list of the top 100 political blogs in the UK.

Miranda from the Boulton & Co. blog is canvassing for votes with the promise that if they get into the top 10 there will be “semi-naked photos of all our political correspondents made available on the blog.”

So if you want to see Miranda, Adam Boulton, Jon Craig, Cheryl Smith and Niall Paterson semi-naked vote for Boulton & Co in your list of top 10 favourite political blogs.

Email your top 10 list to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

How Will MPs Cope With 76 Days of Unsubsidised Booze?

As they slip off this afternoon to face a tough 12-weeks holiday in the real world without subsidised drink, Guido wonders how will MPs cope?

The House of Commons Refreshment Department operated on a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/08 financial year, which is equivalent to the total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs. The subsidy is equivalent to £8,500 per MP – that is approximately £50 per diem on top of the £30 per diem they voted to award themselves every working day in cash.

The subsidy, which for some inexplicable reason was not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was £693,000 higher than in 2006/07 – a 15% increase. No belt tightening for MPs despite the Chancellor’s warnings.

It accounted for 43% of the operating costs, meaning that the taxpayer coughs up £4.30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians: even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through the expenses system. These figures don’t include the multi-million pound re-fit of the wine cellar.
MPs are members of the best London club with a dozen bars on the parliamentary estate, plenty of dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites all operating without a licence and no restrictions on hours – you can even smoke in some.

A pint in the Stranger’s Bar costs £2.10, outside parliament in the West End you pay £3.50 to £4.00. An 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the pleasant Thames-side terrace for just £1.65 – which is a third to a half of prices a mile down the road. Do you really think they need to pay politicians more to attract people?

*Not including all the additional expense claims for essential new kitchens, appliances, window cleaning, garden pergolas, plasma TVs….


[Incidentally to all PRs who send Guido press releases – the AMLR press release was the best Guido has seen in years. Clever, on a relevant subject, well aimed and timed.]

Shanghai Surprise Just Chinese Takeaway

The spin from Downing Street is that an unnamed aide was the “victim of honeytrap operation by Chinese agents.” The incident occurred in Shanghai on the second day of the China tour. That night a crowd of Downing Street staffers and Lobby hacks went to a packed hotel disco, Michael Jacobs was approached by an attractive Chinese woman. The couple fooled around on the dance-floor and later disappeared together back to his hotel room to further Anglo-Sino relations.

Anyone who has spent time in Asia will laugh at the honey-trap-spy media spin, far more likely that it was just a good time girl who pinched his Blackberry and wallet. Why on earth would Chinese intelligence agents care what Michael Jacobs, the right-on former secretary-general of the Fabians, hero of Hampstead, fully paid-up Guardianista and now Gordon’s environmental adviser, had on his Blackberry? Laughable.

Why are the newspapers being so coy about reporting the name? After all, Guido understands that the political editors of the Sun (George Pascoe-Watson), Mail (Ben Brogan) and Telegraph (Andrew Porter) were at the same disco. “What goes on tour, stays on tour”, eh boys?

Right’s Think Tanks Enjoying Revival

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: James Purnell’s “workfare” proposals are being warmly welcomed by Chris Grayling his Tory welfare shadow. “Much of today’s package is a straight lift from our Green Paper in January… Because these are Conservative proposals we will support them. We will help him get them through this House.”

The Government’s Green Paper may be lifted from the Tory Green Paper from January which itself bears a remarkable similarity to the Adam Smith Institute report from November 2007 – Working Welfare. The ideas in that were were first expounded by the former MP for North Norfolk, Sir Ralph Howell. A resolute free-marketeer, Howell was the author of the ASI report “Why Work?” in the mid-1990s. The ASI’s Madsen Pirie says “this idea has taken longer than we would have wanted to become government policy”. The ideas were theoretical at that time in the 1990s before they were implemented in Wisconsin.

Michael Gove’s advocacy of the Swedish model of “free schools” may owe a little to another recent ASI report – Open Access for UK Schools: What Britain can learn from Swedish Education Reform. Over at the new look Centre for Policy Studies things are getting more lively after a quiet period, Policy Exchange is becoming something of a powerhouse (incidentally, it was cleared by the Charity Commission of tit-for-tat allegations of partisanship).

Alas only the venerable Institute of Economic Affairs has yet to join the renaissance of right-of-centre think tanks in Westminster’s wonkland…

Will He Make Another Illegal Donation?

As Barack heads to Europe the Washington Post asked yesterday of Obama, “Surely a man who has said he would talk with U.S. adversaries such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can spend a few moments with journalists from friendlier countries.” After all, McCain spares a moment for foreign press questions – probably because he is comfortable with foreign affairs issues.

Hold on a second, which sleazy lobbyist currently under police investigation was spinning to the local Welsh press that he was in charge of foreign media relations for Obama’s campaign?

Steve Morgan will hopefully do for Barack Obama what he did for Peter Hain.

+++ Policy Exchange Boss Joins Team Boris +++

So what is arguably currently the top job in wonkland is now up for grabs…

Via CoffeeHouse

Waning Warm-Up Act

Despite having promised Palestinians mortgages (Eastern Rock?) he is not getting much coverage in Israel. The coverage he is getting is not exactly warm:

Brown’s arrival is also in the shadow of the recent visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarah Brown may be a founding partner in a public relations firm and a supporter of charities, but she’s no Carla Bruni.

But that isn’t the only reason for the lack of coverage of Brown’s visit. Former U.K. prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were considered great statesmen but while Brown may hold the same title, he lacks their political clout.

A member of Brown’s entourage says his weakness on the international stage stems from troubles at home. Last month Brown celebrated his first year in office after taking over from Blair.

For a decade, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, presiding over a period of prosperity for Britain. But when his time finally came to take charge, the New Labour magic disappeared and widely became known as an irascible but tired figure.

Poor Gordon, pitied in the promised land…

Hat-tip : Croydonian

Gordon’s Undeclared Donations During the Long Campaign

Last week’s Charity Commission report ruled the Smith Institute was in breach of the laws on political impartiality. Paul Myners whines that the Charity Commission “have shown a fundamental lack of understanding of the work that all think tanks undertake.”* It is Myners and his fellow trustees who have clearly shown a fundamental disregard or lack of understanding for Charity law. A “think tank” is not a legally defined entity, legally the Smith Institute is a registered charity. Other think tanks, such as the similarly named but rather more illustrious Adam Smith Institute think tank, do not seek charitable status. Partisan think tanks should not be able to abuse the tax exemptions available to charities, because charities can reclaim taxes on donations they are legally obliged not to stray in partisan politics.
In the years leading up to Brown seizing the premiership the Smith Institute was functioning as his political secretariat. Whenever he needed something done outside the party structures, the Smith Institute was used. Photo-opportunity with Al Gore needed? Get the Smith Institute to invite him. Want to get the line out to Toynbee and the media fan base? Have the Smith Institute invite them. Want private polling advice? Get Deborah Mattinson to do it for the Institute (didn’t she do well as a result). Gordon wants expensive strategic advice from Bob Shrum? Put Bob on the payroll and slush the money through the Smith Institute…

Herein lies a very difficult problem for Gordon Brown – the Charity Commission has found that the Institute’s Senior Research Fellow, the expensive pollster and strategist Bob Shrum, was unsupervised. The Inquiry could only identify him leading two events in 2006, both of which did not further the Institute’s charitable purpose. So what was he doing for his money between September 2005 – April 2007? He was advising Gordon Brown on strategy and tactics. This service was undeclared to the Electoral Commission and is a breach of Section 50 (2) (f) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Following the publication of the Charity Commission report a formal complaint has been put in to the Electoral Commission. Although he has so far refused to respond to questions from the Charity Commission about the Smith Institute, this is not yet over for Gordon Brown. He may have thought the issue closed, but it has opened up a new front.

See also : Flashback : The Smith Institute Exposé

*Faithfully reported, without critical comment, in the Guardian. Paul Myners is also the chairman of the Guardian Media Group.

Dave’s Euroscepticism

If Dave’s commitment to fight the Lisbon treaty as outlined on Marr is true, UKIP should shut up shop and return to the fold. The problem is Dave has broken his only firm promise made during his leadership election. He promised to take the Tories out of the federalist EPP grouping and form an international grouping which respected national interests “by Christmas” “in weeks not months”. Nothing achieved years later…

Guido cynically wonders if this issue might be like fox hunting was for Blair. Blair didn’t really care about it, but the rank and file really, really did. Every now and then when the grassroots got restless he’d find time for a fox hunting debate. Dave can cheer up the Tory grassroots by talking tough on Brussels…

Parliament Tries Copyright Get Out on Freedom of Information

Guido was discussing the upcoming new Freedom of Information regime for parliament with Tom Steinberg of mySociety, the people behind FoI-via-the-web WhatDoTheyKnow site. Guido wanted to make sure that they were geared up for when the political class returns from their 76 day holiday. Tom said there was a software bug…

The parliamentary authorities are trying to block us knowing what they have been doing by claiming copyright. So the public pay for it. Individuals can FoI it. If however you want to publicise it by re-publishing it, say on Britain’s most popular and widely read political website, you will be (they claim) in breach of copyright.

Complete and utter nonsense of course. Tom says friendly lawyers are being sought to do battle…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

By Popular Request : Caption Competition Special

EU to Ireland : Tough Luck

Back in the last century Guido was very much in a minority in Ireland opposing swapping the punt for the euro – “it is the future”, “it will make things easier when we go on holiday”. Not the strongest economic arguments. More often the antipathy was blamed on Guido spending too much time in the company of British Eurosceptics.

Now times have changed. Being in the eurozone is recognised as having exacerbated the property bubble. Interest rates were just too low and cheap money flooded into over-priced property. If Ireland’s central bank had interest rate sovereignty it would have raised interest rates – it couldn’t and the Irish property crash will be one of the world’s worst as a result. 

Now the economy is in trouble Irish interest rates should be lowered to make the currency more competitive and the attractive to U.S. investors. Ireland is a high cost country for American investors who now look elsewhere. Irish finance ministers John Bruton in 1986 and Bertie Ahern in 1993 drove down the punt to bring in foreign investment when economic growth was faltering. But as a member of the euro, devaluation of the exchange rate is no longer an option.

Yesterday the president of the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet bluntly told Paul Tansey, economics editor of the europhile Irish Times that “the ECB has to care for the superior interest of the euro area”. Tough luck, Ireland isn’t important, monetary policy will not help the Irish. Anti-treaty campaigner Declan Ganey says the Irish are not eurosceptic, they are Brussels-sceptic. As the Brussels political elite’s contempt for Irish democracy becomes clearer, that could change…

Gordon Gets it in the Groin

Guido hates to repeat here anything he reads in newspaper diaries, (if only they felt the same) however this chuckle is just too good to keep from the co-conspirators. According to Black Dog, at a Downing Street reception to mark the 100th anniversary of the Territorial Army, a rushing TV sound engineer bashed Gordon in the balls with with a boom microphone.

Obviously the engineer enjoys his work…

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Time for the weekly Pigs in Shit ratings (ranking guide here). Post links in the comments and we will update this post during the morning.

Dizzy kicks it off with evidence of Cameron’s Piggish Tendencies. Nil pigs.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

David David responds when asked if he’s confident he can make a success of Brexit:

“Why on earth could it go wrong?”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Seamus Officially Leaves Guardian Seamus Officially Leaves Guardian
Article 50 Splits Shadow Cabinet Article 50 Splits Shadow Cabinet
Revenge Porn Momentum Candidate Quits Revenge Porn Momentum Candidate Quits
Red Len’s Hospitality Hypocrisy Red Len’s Hospitality Hypocrisy
Momentum Man is Porn Baron Momentum Man is Porn Baron
PMQs Sketch – Labour MPs Googling Museum Directorships PMQs Sketch – Labour MPs Googling Museum Directorships
NEC Fudges Danczuk Decision NEC Fudges Danczuk Decision
Investigation: Wrecking Peers in Pay of Unis Investigation: Wrecking Peers in Pay of Unis
Bromentum: All Male Shortlist Bromentum: All Male Shortlist
Nuttall Set to Stand in Stoke Nuttall Set to Stand in Stoke
One Line Whip As Whips On A Jolly One Line Whip As Whips On A Jolly
Leaving The Protectionist Union Leaving The Protectionist Union
Labour Drops Student Anti-Semitism Probe Labour Drops Student Anti-Semitism Probe
Israeli “Plot”: Latest Israeli “Plot”: Latest
Video: Putin on Russian Prostitutes Video: Putin on Russian Prostitutes
New European: Leave Voters “Lager Louts” New European: Leave Voters “Lager Louts”
Sion Simon Deletes Pro Remain Statement Sion Simon Deletes Pro Remain Statement
John Woodcock’s Fake News John Woodcock’s Fake News
May’s Brexit Plan – Full Text of Speech May’s Brexit Plan – Full Text of Speech
May Speech: Briefed Quotes May Speech: Briefed Quotes