Blair’s Heir

Some people think he is too young, but punters are putting their money on the kid on the right in the sandpit. He is now second favourite after Gordon (16/1) to take over from Tony Blair. Impossible? David Miliband is a year younger than David Cameron…

Backbencher Backs Down

Guido’s new think-tank feature Wonk for Sale (October 21) mentioned Demos and its IKEA furniture linked to a published policy paper. As so often happens with this blog, the Guardian’s Backbencher picked up on it on October 26.

“Would you like a think-tank to write about your product? Hey, would you like a think-tank to endorse your product in exchange for a fee? If so, have you thought about approaching Demos? “How can values-based products make the transition from the niche to mass market?” asks the latest Demos newsletter. “Why does increasing awareness rarely lead to changes in our consumption patterns?” Why indeed? If only our great thinkers had tackled that paradox. “This project will explore how Collaborative Brands can help values-based products make the transition, by connecting large numbers of individuals through a brand…”

Next week, unlike Guido, the Backbencher (November 2) backed down;

“With reference to the item about Demos in last week’s edition, the think-tank has asked the Backbencher to make it clear that it is “plain wrong” to imply that it offers product endorsement in return for payment.”

Oh yeah? Look at this selection of sponsors logos taken from their website,:-
As wonk-whores go, Demos flaunt it, one outrageous example: The Politics of Bandwidth: Network innovation and regulation in broadband Britain published by Demos, funded by Cable & Wireless. It recommended the break up of bitter rival BT and that the BT local loop be run not-for-profit. If you can’t beat em in the market-place, get a government friendly think-tank to recommend destroying ’em.

Demos has a reputation for policy prostitution, so why did Backbencher back down? Guido reckons Demos have got away with writing sponsor-friendly press releases for too long. Think-tanks need to distance themselves from donors to have any credibility, otherwise they are just PR houses writing press releases.

Send writs and more blatant examples of wonk-whoring here.

MPs Get Fat on Your Taxes

Guido wants to reach for the gunpowder when he reads that MPs are entitled to a £400 per month food and grocery allowance. That’s over £13 per day, no receipts required. Guido has a policy idea – MPs should get the same budget allowance for food that they allocate to schoolchildren. 37p per day. If its good enough for children, its good enough for them.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments its actually a per diem allowance of £20. Why do they need an extra twenty quid a day to get food. Do they really need this income support?

NEW FEATURE : Wonks for Sale

Guido’s think – tank feature Propeller-Head Wonk Watch is one of the most popular services of this blog, it gets more attention in wonk-land than anything else. So today Guido is excited to announce a new and hopefully no less interesting occasional feature: Wonk for Sale. Guido hopes to highlight research and policy proposals which coincidentally reflect the interests of donors. Out in wonk-land an increasing number of think-tanks actually seem to act merely as PR operations rather than intellectual and high minded policy advocates.

This story was told to me by a former Demos intern. Asked at his interview what do you think about Demos? “I think you are very modern, because you have a lot of Ikea furniture.” “Ahh” replied the interviewer, “we wrote a pro-Ikea report and they paid us in furniture.” Guido wonders what report they could mean, surely not this by Charles Leadbeater?

Any more gossip about wonk-sluts? Send to the usual place Guido.

Tories Donated to Stringfellow

In his self-published memoirs, the former Tory Treasurer Lord Ashcroft reveals that he:

..made a point of bringing in the monthly expenses from one senior official which included a £400 bill from Stringfellow’s nightclub in central London. I am no prude and I hope the official and those with him greatly enjoyed the lap-dancing entertainment that was on offer that night; however, I did not feel this was an appropriate use of Party funds. How could I ask supporters to work hard up and down the country, or to make donations, if this was the sort of activity that the party’s income would be spent on? I will spare the official’s blushes by not identifying him, but suffice to say he no longer works at Conservative Central Office.

Guido thinks Ashcroft forgot that Stringy has long supported the Tories generously, so it is a mutually beneficial relationship. This kind of penny-pinching attitude is cheap.

Andrew Neil had Peter Stringfellow on his Daily Politics show during the Tory conference coverage, Stringy was too coy to say who he would back, saying only that he would back whomever becomes the leader.

The Campaign for a ‘Sir’ Peter Stringfellow petition to the Queen is still open. You too can sign and show your appreciation.

Incidentally, who was the Tory apparatchik enjoying the company of the girls on expenses? Not Sheridan surely..?

‘Sir’ Peter StringfellowCAMPAIGN UPDATEEndorsed by Official Biographer

There has been some suggestion that Guido is not entirely serious in his efforts to secure a knighthood for Peter Stringfellow. Wrong, wrong, wrong, I have never felt more strongly about an issue. Peter Stringfellow deserves a knighthood.

Good to see that the Campaign for a ‘Sir’ Peter Stringfellow petition to the Queen has been endorsed by his Titian-haired biographer – Fiona Lafferty – as “long over due”. You too can sign and show your appreciation. Do it, and right this wrong.

Lakshmi Mittal Bungs Labour £2m

Hmmm, tricky one this, Mr Lakshmi’s lawyers (Schillings, what a great name for lawyers) threatened to sue anyone who suggests anything dubious or refers to a previous incident (such as the timing of the last bung of a mere £125,000 and Tony Blair coincidentally writing a letter for him, not because of the money, because err, oh I forget what bullshit Tony made up). On the other hand it would be funny to see a billionaire’s lawyers suing an anonymous blogger who claims to live in the cellars of parliament / be 400 years dead (but with broadband).

He must get a Lordship for this surely? Lord Drayson’s peerage set him back only £600,000. Drayson is now a member of the government despite his little tax dodge becoming public knowledge. But Lord Lakshmi must pay UK taxes on his billions, otherwise Labour wouldn’t take his donation, would they?

Which reminds Guido that he has not mentioned his ongoing Campaign for a Sir Peter Stringfellow for some time. Its a disgrace that must be righted in this year’s New Year’s Honours List, the Tories should nominate their stalwart supporter for a gong.

Guido Thanks Guardian Readers

Nobody Wins With 39%

Sedgefield – Reg Keys got 1 in 10 of the votes in Blair’s own constituency – his speech visibly managed to make Blair look a bit choked.

Labour majority looks to be 66, Stephen Twigg did not take it like a man, Gorgeous fought and won his own intifada against New Labour, Milburn is to go back to his family (Gordon helps back his bags). Labour’s victory came on the back of the smallest winning share of the vote ever recorded.

Guido was surprised at the LibDems poor showing, not a real alternative at all. The Tories failed to break 200 seats, which was the target, so no victory parade for them.

The winner, with 39% of the electorate, was the Nullist party with none-of-the-above.

Guido – The Manifesto – Introduction


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The Campaign for Sir Peter Stringfellow

The Indy’s Pandora column reports that Tory vice-chairman Andrew Rosindell received a donation from a local company called Secrets. A firm of that name operates “gentleman’s clubs” across the south-east. Rosindell says “I’ve no knowledge of lap-dancing. The donation came from a Romford businessman, who wanted to help with a civic pin badge project. It was a community thing, and nothing political.”

Strip joints are all the rage in Tory circles: the other night, Baroness Thatcher, visited Stringfellow’s Club, yet more evidence of her good judgement and support for Tory entrepreneurs. Which brings me once again to Guido’s ongoing campaign for a knighthood for Peter Stringfellow. Were he a more boring captain of industry making widgets instead of the world’s most famous nightclub owner, I have no doubt that he would have been knighted by now. Politicians are always recommending lesser non-entity donors for gongs. I think it is way past time that Mr Stringfellow heard the words “arise Sir Peter”. Shame on those who so enjoy his hospitality and support for not having put him forward yet! It is more evidence, as if more evidence was required, that political correctness is out of control.

You can learn more from the great man’s life by reading his surprising and entertaining biography “King of Clubs”. Pledge your Support for the Campaign!

New Labour Attacks Pagan Minorities

At the start of the election campaign there was widespread condemnation of the Tories’ anti-Gypsy agenda, so Guido is shocked to see that amongst the bills rushed through by the government at the end of parliament was a bill to criminalise the picking of magic mushrooms by druids, hippies and pagans. The Home Office boasts that the bill will be law before the Glastonbury festival takes place. (See previous.)

So possession of pretty harmless psilocybin mushrooms will now be an offence comparable to possession of Class ‘A’ Heroin. Guido has enjoyed many evenings with giggling friends after ingesting ‘shrooms and thinks this law is ridiculous. What a bunch of New Labour kill-joys.

Druids and pagans have harvested the naturally occurring, wild growing, psilocybin mushrooms for thousands of years in the British Isles for use in rituals. Imagine the outrage by Muslims if the Green party called for the outlawing of the Halal slaughtering of animals. Why is there so little outrage at the threat to jail ‘shroomers? Druidism is the original indigenous religion of the British Isles, so not content with destroying centuries of legal liberties, Blairites now seek to criminalise four millennia of religious tradition. Why, what harm do ‘shroomers do? It is just another of the government’s over-bearing interfering ways in our private lives.

Guido recommends the excellent Food of the Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna to those interested in the subject.

Balls Up – The Flip Just Flopped

Ed balls, Gordon’s annointed amongst us, claimed after weeks of alleging that the Tories had a “secret agenda” to cut £35 billion, that by 2008 a Conservative government would be spending £15 billion a year more than Labour. The flip just flopped. The Tories will seize on this to blunt the Labour attack. Guido has this handy diagram for Ed to refer to as he revises and modifys his statement. Bet he is feeling a little endogenous now, eh? Best you ‘do a Letwin’ and disappear for the rest of the campaign.

The Campaign for Sir Peter Stringfellow

Buried in the Electoral Commission’s records is evidence of another generous donation to the Tories from the great entrepreneur Peter Stringfellow. It is well know that he has long supported the Tories, can always be seen at social events and is great fun. Guido is amused to think that a little bit of the money he gives so charitably to the young ladies at the Cabaret of Angels ends up in Tory coffers. Peter Stringellow’s achievements, indeed his life, rising from grim Northern poverty to London riches, Mediterranean yachts and popular fame is an incredible British success story. It sets Guido thinking, why has the man not been honoured for what he has achieved?

I should at the outset however declare that Guido and Stringy share a mutual interest in the welfare of our god-son, and I like to think that the young lad has the benefit of the moral guidance and experience that only men of the world like us can offer (in addition to Lego toys).

Nevertheless, even if that were not the case, I would still argue that Peter Stringfellow is a great part of Britain’s cultural life. A generous supporter of many charities as well as an integral part of London’s tourist trade, contributing mightily to the nation’s invisible earnings and balance of payments. The list of his charitable endeavours is surprisingly long – did you know he had done work for the Commission for Racial Equality? Were he a more boring captain of industry making widgets instead of the world’s most famous nightclub owner I have no doubt that he would have been knighted by now. Politicians are always recommending lesser non-entity donors for gongs. I think it is way past time that Mr Stringfellow heard the words “arise Sir Peter”. Shame on those who so enjoy his hospitality and support for not having put him forward yet! It is more evidence, as if more evidence was required, that political correctness is out of control.

You can learn more from the great man’s life by reading his surprising and entertaining biography “King of Clubs”. Pledge your Support for the Campaign!

Labour’s Election Slogan: “Britain Forward Not Back”

Great. Inspiring. Err….

UPDATE: Someone has used that slogan before in a recent political campaign. Guess who? Nicking poster ideas from Goebbels and slogans from your opponent; Abgeordnetkampagne Führer Fraser Kemp and Kampagne Führer Milburn, take a bow. Brown must be laughing his socks off.

UPDATE: The Plain English Campaign accused New Labour of abolishing the verb. The group branded Labour’s new advertising slogan “grammatically suspect”. Alan Milburn, rejected claims that it was vacuous, saying it “symbolised the choice before the British people”. But Plain English Campaign spokesman John Lister said the logo was missing a verb and should read “Britain Forwards, not backwards. The verb seems to have been abolished by New Labour. It sounds like a grammatical nicety but it means you can put across a message with no specific action in it so you can’t be tied down to anything,” Mr Lister added. “It should say ‘forwards not backwards’ just for the sake of linguistic consistency. I think it is grammatically suspect to say the least. I think it is one step forwards and two steps backwards,” he said. He did not comment on the Deputy PM’s misuse of English.

Bring Back Unpaid MPs

Douglas Alexander and David Miliband in the Grauniad waffle on piously like shop stewards about work hours for MPs. But what caught my eye was a line that the traditional hours were designed for a time when “unpaid MPs looked into the chamber after a day spent at the Inns of Court or the City.”

Well nowadays City partners work ungodly hours. Mrs Fawkes is a City lawyer slaving away for an American investment bank and her hours are horrendous. 80 hours a week are common, 120 not impossible, yet the House sits for less than 40 hours a week, and MPs (apart from Dennis Skinner) never attend for all sitting hours. Hardly hard work in comparison.

Guido thinks MPs should be unpaid and part-time once again. That way they would do less damage. There would still be plenty of blowhards desperate to become MPs in any case. Did Britain need professional, full time politicans to run an empire or defeat the Nazis? No. Today we don’t need them to approve EU directives either…

Blair’s Aznar Solution

Guido has heard a rumour that Blair has asked the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet Office to look into the constitutionality of him remaining PM after resigning as Leader of the Labour Party. He would then serve a full third term as he promised, let the Labour party select their leader to fight the next election, but allowing him to stay on in a caretaker capacity, rather than resign as PM straight away. This is the “Aznar” solution, after the former Spanish PM Aznar who resigned as leader of the People’s Party to allow a successor to be chosen to fight the upcoming election.

So It Begins : Clarke Starts Crackdown on Druids

The government today announced it was making raw magic mushrooms an illegal drug in Britain for the first time. The move is in today’s Drugs Bill published by the new Fat Controller, Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Currently it is legal to pick and eat the fungi whilst dancing around semi-naked at Stonhenge or Glastonbury. The courts recognise this, but the Fat Controller doesn’t like it.

So the Druids and other pagans are in real trouble. Historically the people of the British Isles have been eating magic mushroooms for thousands of years, they are said to have mystical properties and are used in ancient rituals to give an insight into the divine. Surely this ban contravenes some human right to religious freedom? How can eating something that grows wild and free on these shores be criminalised? Who can commit crimes whilst on magic mushrooms? Guido just laughs a lot.

First they came for the hippies…

Propeller Head Wonk Watch

Ross Clark in The Times draws our attention to a new pamphlet from Demos about some imagined Pro-Am Revolution. Haven’t you noticed it? No me neither. But apparently all the enthusiasts in the community tidying up their village greens and organising Jam pots for the WI need a New Deal for Communities. Uh, oh. “Government should … invest … community … professional … infrastructure … responsibility … policy intervention … Lead users should play a larger role in foresight exercises to chart the future course of innovation … Pro-Am communities are the new R & D labs of the digital economy”. Recess Monkey calls such buzzword bollocks Bullshit Bingomanagement consultant speak applied to political policy making. (New Labour junior ministers drone it out all the time.)

Demos’ wonks conclude with this utter drivel “the new driving force, creating new streams of knowledge, new kinds of organisations, new sources of authority, will be the Pro-Ams.”



What it will really mean is taxpayers funding more Grauniad adverts for Pro-Am Initiative Co-ordinators, Pro-Am Benchmarking Analysts etc. In the real world most people dread the phrase “We’re from the government, we’re here to help”. When will the wonks understand – LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE!

Pompous Statement on behalf of the Follets

The Torygraph’s Spy column has obviously stung the Follets with this; “Champagne socialist MP Barbara Follett has been under fire for claiming £20,000 in expenses to pay a mortgage on her London pied-à-terre, even though her £2 million constituency house in Stevenage is an easy half-hour commute to the Commons.”

Because on her hubbies’ website is this;

Statement on Barbara Follett MP’s parliamentary expenses

Barbara Follett makes no financial gain from being a Member of Parliament – in fact her work is heavily subsidised by her husband, Ken Follett.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Embattled Henry Bolton on his battles…

“I’m going nowhere. I have seen people die, I have seen people blown up, I have seen people shot. Even the Taliban doesn’t quite prepare you for UKIP, though.”

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