While MPs fret over the implications of the boundary review, some Tory MPs are prematurely celebrating the potential loss of one of their colleagues. Dr Neil Hudson – MP for Penrith and the Border.
Since his election in 2019, he’s done a lot to infuriate his supposed comrades on the Tory Benches – much like his predecessor, Rory Stewart. He made a major misstep in June 2020 during the animal welfare Brexit row, during which he wrote a piece for the Mail on Sunday entitled, “Why I rebelled against the Tory whip to protect animal welfare – even if it makes Brexit trade talks more complex”. The piece’s headline told readers it had been written “by the Commons’ only vet” – something he apparently mentions in almost every conversation.
In the article, Hudson falsely implied the Tory MPs who didn’t rebel were happy to see animal welfare undermined by Brexit – an accusation that gave momentum to the noisy remainers already filling MPs’ postbags with their grievances. Some merely told Guido he “wasn’t a team player” given how unhelpful it was “to marginal colleagues.” His then–registering of a £900 payment for the piece had him subsequently labelled as a “Judas” by more than one colleague…
According to The Public Whip, Hudson is also the most rebellious of the 2019 intake – excluding Jason McCartney who previously served from 2010-17 – at 3.6% of all votes since his election.
Under the new boundary reform proposals, Dr. Neil’s seat is set to be torn up, in a redrawing that also threaten’s Tim Farron’s seat. While CCHQ believes the ‘new’ seat to still show a Tory majority, a battle lies ahead between Farron and Hudson, and Guido suspects a good many Tory MPs may not be backing their Conservative colleague in that fight. In the prematurely hopeful words of one senior Tory colleague, “he won’t be missed”…
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Last night at the Cambridge Union, Jeremy Corbyn told a packed audience that Luciana Berger was not “hounded” out the Labour Party and instead left voluntarily. WhatsApp messages from Labour officials tell a different story.
Videos from the event, which took place last night, show Corbyn telling a packed audience:
“Luciana was not hounded out of the party, she unfortunately chose to resign from the party.”
However, WhatsApps from Karrie Murphy – executive director of Corbyn’s office – reveal Berger didn’t merely jump, she was hounded. After Luciana left the party in 2019 Karrie Murphy messaged a colleague:
“F*cking idiots. All the work I did to trigger them and they leave before I had the pleasure”.
In other damning messages, Murphy wrote:
“Angela Smith is a moron. Getting rid of her made my day.”
A source at the event told Guido that staffers were incredibly hostile to the talk’s Jewish compère after the talk finished. Corbyn will never allow himself to be held accountable for Labour’s antisemitism…
The government can’t seem to figure out its line on the England squad’s decision to take the knee during the Euros. On the one hand, Number 10 claims that Boris “fully respects” the team’s move (despite previously opposing it), though notably stopping short of criticising fans’ booing. Pro cake, pro-eating it…
Then last night on Question Time, Skills Minister Gillian Keegan lit a fuse under the whole thing by insisting that kneeling was actually ‘divisive‘, and that it’s “symbolism more than action“. Even going so far as to defend the booing fans, claiming “I’m pretty sure most of them would like to end racism as well”…
Clearly on full damage control duty, vaccine chief Nadhim Zahawi then appeared on the Today Programme this morning to insist that the government does support taking the knee, and that Zahawi “absolutely backs” it personally:
“The elegant way, quite passionate way, that the England manager, Gareth Southgate, put this is exactly where the Prime Minister is, where this government is […] I think he articulated the emotions of young men beautifully and I think it’s only right that we back our team.”
Guido is told that within government circles there is a debate about the whole culture war approach – touched on this morning by Fraser Nelson in his Telegraph column. Old school Tories find it all a bit infra dig, whereas the 2019 intake Tories are keen for the fight. It looks to Guido like the government would rather just stay away from this whole debate…
UPDATE: PM’s spokesman tells the lobby, “The Prime Minister would like to see everybody get behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”
Dom is back as an adviser – on Substack. For a mere £10-a-month, or for a discounted £100-a-year, you can subscribe to his advice and receive his pearls of wisdom:
More recondite stuff on the media, Westminster, ‘inside No10’, how did we get Brexit done in 2019, the 2019 election etc will be subscriber only. Subscribers will also get some extra features like community/regular ‘ask me anything’, and a serious dissent section — I’m interested in the best arguments against what I say. Subscribers will find out first about new projects that I make public. Only subscribers can comment.
That’s not all, he also available for hire as a consultant too. If you have problems that need fixing of a certain kind, such as
1/ You want to win an election.
2/ You want to improve your marketing / communications / digital marketing. E.g A big thing in marketing/campaigning will be ‘causal models’: i.e models based not on normal statistics but on causal models that can answer counterfactuals like ‘did our ad cause the purchase/vote and if we had not run it would the purchase/vote have happened?’. Very few are working on this, almost no normal marketing/political companies have the skills to do it.
3/ You have management problems.
4/ You want to predict something but don’t know how.
5/ You are a government minister/CEO-type figure in an organisation and want to shift from the old world of Powerpoint + Excel to: code + prediction/keeping score + dashboards (and dashboard of dashboards!) + ‘Analytical Private Office’ of the sort I set up in No10 to support the PM: i.e a team with the skills for data-intensive science, reasoning under extreme uncertainty and supporting project management. Few public or private organisations (including No10 before we set up the A.P.O) now do the basics of data right therefore they are not able to deploy advanced tools such as machine learning or causal models.
Something that resonates with Guido is Dom’s diatribe against corporate Powerpoint/Excel consultants – which is basically all of them from McKinsey down. Dom’s consultancy will be different; data-driven, generating actual models with code that predicts, and dashboards that reveal. Unusually for this kind of consultant’s pitch there are none of the platitudes from past clients giving Dom endorsements. Possibly because he has spectacularly fallen out with most of the people who have engaged his talents…