Sit back, grab the popcorn and enjoy: Labour’s civil war is boiling over in public following the leaked tape of Momentum boss Jon Lansman discussing his plot to take over the party. Tom Watson says Lansman “will destroy the Labour Party” and must “be stopped”.
Lansman hits back:
Lansman has waited decades in the wilderness for the hard-left to be back in charge of Labour. He ain’t gonna give it up without a fight…
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) March 19, 2017
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns did not offer any defence of his minister Guto Bebb’s comments on Scotland, comically just saying a string of incomprehensible words. Theresa May will need a better line that that when she visits Wales tomorrow…
A Labour council candidate in Birmingham has been deselected after Guido revealed her anti-Israel Facebook posts. Alison Gove-Humphries had shared Facebook posts claiming Israel was the “key link in exporting ISIS oil”. A Labour Party spokesman said:
“Alison Gove-Humphries has been removed from the panel of approved local candidates.”
More on Labour’s rotten borough of Birmingham next week…
Is Tory minister Guto Bebb trying to get sacked? Fresh from infuriating Downing Street by demanding they apologise for the Budget, Bebb has written a column in his local paper arguing that Scotland is “clearly another country” and that his “gut feeling” is Scottish voters no longer see themselves as British. Fair to say these comments from a serving government minister are not in line with Theresa May’s position that “at heart we are one people”. Bebb said:
“We have a huge amount in common with citizens of the Irish Republic, as we do Scotland. Similar TV programmes, popular music and in many ways a shared literature… But, and it’s a real but, read their papers, listen to talk shows and watch the news and it’s clearly another country…
“My brief visit to Edinburgh left me somewhat despondent because I felt the same way as I do when I leave Dublin. For me Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different. That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK. The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK. Even in 2014 a majority saw themselves as British and Scottish. Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us.”
Bebb, a former pro-Welsh independence Plaid Cymru activist, was due to speak at the Tory spring forum in Cardiff yesterday but didn’t show…
This week 194,135 visitors visited 607,167 times viewing 972,760 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:
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You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…
Labour have written to the Cabinet Office complaining about George Osborne’s job at the Standard. Guido has the letter:
London SW1A 2AS
cc: Sue Gray, Rt. Hon. George Osborne
I write to formally raise my concern about a potential breach of the Ministerial Code by the Rt. Hon. Member for Tatton, George Osborne.
Mr Osborne served this country as Chancellor of the Exchequer until July 2016, just over eight months ago. Since leaving this post, the Member for Tatton has drawn considerable controversy over his private appointments and notably his failure to fully declare details of these appointments to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.
In October last year, after learning of one of Mr. Osborne’s appointments in the press, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments wrote to Mr. Osborne stating that: “The Committee would also remind you that advice should be sought on all appointments, paid or unpaid, before they are taken up or announced” and that the “the committee is unable to offer retrospective advice on appointments that have already been announced.”
Today many were again concerned to find that Mr. Osborne had repeated this procedure, announcing his new role at the London Evening Standard prior to consulting the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.
The rules on Business Appointments are established to counter suspicion that the decisions and statements of a serving Minister might be influenced by the hope or expectation of future employment with a particular firm or organisation; and that an employer could make improper use of official information to which a former Minister has had access to.
Disregarding these rules deeply undermines public trust in the democratic processes and does a disservice to those Members that ensure they follow the rules laid out on these matters.
Furthermore, the rules around this process are outlined in Section 7.25 of the Ministerial Code, which states that:
“On leaving office, Ministers will be prohibited from lobbying Government for two years. They must also seek advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office. To ensure that Ministers are fully aware of their future obligations in respect of outside appointments after leaving office, the Business Appointment Rules are attached at Annex B. Former Ministers must abide by the advice of the Committee which will be published by the Committee when a role is announced or taken up.”
In light of the Member for Tatton’s conduct, I request that the incident be investigated to determine as soon as possible if a breach of the Ministerial Code has taken place. The Ministerial Code sets out that in the position of Permanent Secretary, you advise Ministers on potential conflicts of interest, and agree action with them regarding the handling of them.
I therefore ask you to urgently clarify:
Whether the Member for Tatton’s conduct constituted a breach of the Ministerial Code;
Whether you were made aware of the Member for Tatton’s appointment at the Evening Standard prior to it being announced in the press;
Whether you aware that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments had not been consulted;
And, if a breach of the Ministerial Code has taken place, whether you have consulted the Prime Minister about further steps to be taken.
Given the public interest, I am placing a copy of this letter in the public domain.
Andrew Gwynne MP
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
The PM will be consulted on whether it’s a breach…
New Evening Standard editor and sitting Tory MP George Osborne will now have to navigate a minefield of conflicted interests. Guido counts eight off the top of his head…
- MP for Tatton: The Commons sits on four of the weekday mornings that Osborne will be in the Standard newsroom. He can’t be in two places at once. How can he properly represent his constituents?
- Northern Powerhouse: Osborne says he will continue to promote the Northern Powerhouse, while fighting for London at the Standard. Those two interests will surely collide at times…
- Standard’s City pages: Osborne is being paid £650,000 by investment firm BlackRock. He will have a fiduciary duty to the firm. How can the Standard’s City pages now credibly cover BlackRock and its competitors?
- Press regulation: The editor one of the country’s highest circulating newspapers will now have a parliamentary vote on any further issues relating to press regulation. Osborne voted for the full implementation of the Leveson Inquiry. The whole point of Leveson was to stop politicians and newspaper editors becoming too close…
- 1922 Committee: Osborne remains a member of the influential 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, whose meetings are held in private. Not with a newspaper editor in the room…
- Privy Council: Osborne remains a member of the Privy Council, whose members swear an oath to “keep secret all matters treated of in council”. Journalists usually try to discover secrets for their readers.
- Advertising: The commercial side will be hugely important for Osborne at the Standard. Editors have to keep advertisers sweet. Big business has him over a barrel…
- Owner’s influences: Evgeny Lebedev’s dad was a KGB Putin crony. Evgeny is pro-Putin’s actions in Syria, Osborne could not be a bigger critic of Russia and Assad. And he is now in the pay of Russians…
And when will he find time for the wife and kids?
UPDATE: Transparency International call for the appointment to be blocked:
“It is inconceivable that ACOBA, the advisory body for political business appointments, could approve this move, and therefore extraordinary that it should have been proposed. If ACOBA approve this they will be signing their own death-warrant , confirming they are not fit for purpose and unable to guard against conflicts of interest and consequences of the revolving door – two of the most prevalent corruption risks in UK politics.”
Hurricane George hits the Evening Standard. pic.twitter.com/65MVdGPRya
— Joy Lo Dico (@joy_lo_dico) 17 March 2017
Fair to say journalists in the Evening Standard newsroom have had their minds blown at the news that George Osborne is their new editor:
Told the Evening Standard newsroom currently looks something like this: 😮😱😤🤔😲🤐😨😖😫😩🙀
— Media Guido (@MediaGuido) March 17, 2017
The deputy editor of the Standard diary speaks for his colleagues:
Osborne due to address his staff at 12:15 pm, one of his tougher speeches…
The BBC’s Amol Rajan reports George Osborne is the new editor of the Evening Standard. He will edit the paper in the morning and do his MP’s duties in the afternoon. Wow!
Evgeny Lebedev says:
“I am proud to have an editor of such substance, who reinforces The Standard’s standing and influence in London and whose political viewpoint – socially liberal and economically pragmatic – closely matches that of many of our readers. George is London through and through and I am confident he is the right person to build on the fantastic legacy of Sarah Sands.”
“I am proud to be a Conservative MP, but as editor and leader of a team of dedicated and independent journalists, our only interest will be to give a voice to all Londoners. We will be fearless as a paper fighting for their interests. We will judge what the government, London’s politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we’ll support them. If it isn’t, we’ll be quick to say so.
So much is now at stake about the future of our country and its capital city. I will remain in Parliament, where that future is debated. I was elected by my constituents in Tatton to serve them and I intend to fulfil that promise. I remain passionate about the Northern Powerhouse and will continue to promote that cause. Right from the first speech I gave about the North of England, I’ve said that London needs a successful north and the north benefits from its links to a global city like London. It’s not a zero-sum game, but quite the opposite.”
Osborne says he will continue to promote the Northern Powerhouse and represent Tatton while editing a newspaper and advising BlackRock…
The man Jeremy Corbyn wants to be Labour’s next MP in Manchester Gorton criticised Armed Forces Day as “strange“, Guido can reveal. Sam Wheeler, the Unite and Momentum-backed candidate seeking selection in Gorton, made the comment in a blog post about the British armed forces in 2012. Claiming that Britons “use” the armed forces to make themselves “feel good”, Wheeler wrote:
“Increasingly, Britain uses its armed forces to shore up a waning sense of national identity and importance, to make ourselves feel we are on the side of goodness and freedom. When the futility of our interventions becomes apparent, we bring out the bunting, hence the strange new event of ‘Armed Forces Day’ on the 30th of June. We vaunt the heroes collectively as symbols of national valour. We demand young people, disproportionately from the poorer areas of our islands, die, so we can feel good about our country.”
Wheeler went on to criticise “hand-wringing” about the Assad regime’s slaughter of Syrians, mocking those who supported intervention for not going to fight themselves:
“The recent hand-wringing over Syria brings this point home expertly. There is nothing stopping those who believe in Responsibility to Protect catching a plane to Lebanon, buying a gun and taking up the fight against the brutal Assad regime. It’s what the International Brigades did in Spain. Indeed, it’s what the Mujahedeen have been doing for decades… What liberal interventionists really want is NATO to kill Syrians until the Syrians stop killing Syrians. They want a vast military machine that comes at the cost of a social safety net for America’s poor, staffed disproportionately by America’s poor, to kill human beings they have never met.”
Sure these views will go down well on the streets of Gorton…
White House Press Sec talking about Obama using British GCHQ & not US agencies to spy on Trump so that there werent US fingerprints on it 😮😮 pic.twitter.com/KcLZt5KOZS
— CoxeyLoxey (@CoxeyLoxey) March 16, 2017
Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer is making news again this morning after repeating claims first made on Fox News that GCHQ had been involved in ‘wire tapping’ the then President Elect.[…] Read the rest
What do you do when your Chancellor is fighting for his political life and 13 of your MPs are facing CPS charging decisions and the possibility of election re-runs? What about throwing down the gauntlet to Nicola Sturgeon at lunchtime by rejecting IndyRef2, and then at tea time launching your “Plan for Britain”.[…] Read the rest
Meet Sam Wheeler, the Corbynista vying for selection as Labour’s candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election. Unite-backed Wheeler is at the centre of a vicious selection battle after Labour moderates succeeded in getting pro-Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey kicked off the selection panel and replaced with Keith Vaz.[…] Read the rest