Starmer Appoints Brownites in Shadow Frontbench Refill

Last night Keir Starmer refilled his front bench after the wave of resignations during the SNP’s Gaza ceasefire motion. It’s a fairly mixed bag when it comes to party positioning – there’s no one likely to cause too much trouble. Guido is amused to see Brown’s top man Lord Spencer Livermore back again, along with Steve McCabe. Is his role as Starmer’s top policy producer not enough for Gordon?

Here are the appointments:

  • Spencer Livermore appointed shadow exchequer secretary: Gordon Brown confidante, directed the 2015 Labour campaign which he then declared had “no strategy”.
  • Steve McCabe appointed shadow veterans minister: treasury minister from the Brown years.
  • Alex Davies-Jones replaces Jess Phillips as shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding: Two previous minor frontbench positions under her belt.
  • Jim McMahon appointed shadow minister for English devolution and local government: Was shadow environment secretary from 2021 to September this year when he resigned on health grounds.
  • Feryal Clark appointed shadow minister for crime reduction: Supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, took her first frontbench role in September.
  • Liz Twist appointed shadow minister for local services and communities: Back on the frontbench since the September reshuffle.
  • Karl Turner appointed shadow solicitor general: Corbyn-era shadow Attorney General.
  • Ashley Dalton appointed shadow minister for women and equalities: Elected in February this year after Rosie Cooper resigned as MP for West Lancashire.
  • Tan Dhesi appointed shadow exports minister: Former Corbyn PPS, once argued that Boris used “people of Asian heritage to do his dirty work” in government.
  • Michael Shanks appointed shadow Scotland office minister: Two weeks after entering Parliament.
  • Chris Evans appointed shadow technology and digital economy minister: Labour MP since 2010.
  • Jeff Smith appointed whip: Has held various roles since entering Parliament in 2015.
  • Baroness Sherlock appointed shadow minister for faith.

Starmer’s hoping he won’t have to shuffle his loyalist front bench around many more times. Keep quiet and stick to your lines…

mdi-timer 28 November 2023 @ 09:10 28 Nov 2023 @ 09:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour Attack Rishi for Breaking ‘Conference Ceasefire’… Despite Gordon Brown Doing Same Thing

Labour have been quick to dish out the attack lines over Rishi’s media appearances this morning, claiming he’s broken the sacred conference ‘ceasefire’ by daring to appear on TV while Labour do an early victory lap in Liverpool. According to Politico, a Labour “veteran” claims this is “a bit below the belt and a bit naff“, with another saying it’s “desperate stuff and shows they’re rattled by a changed Labour Party and our plans to change Britain.” In fairness, they would know a thing or two about that…

In October 2007, exactly as the Tories were gathered in Blackpool, Gordon Brown flew to Baghdad to announce the UK was withdrawing 1000 troops from Iraq later that year. He made sure to get a good photo out of the trip too. Even The Guardian pointed out the trip was “clearly timed to coincide with the third day of the Conservative party conference“. Admittedly, Brown went on to lose in 2010 anyway. Even if Labour now think it’s “a bit below the belt”, it doesn’t seem to change much…

mdi-timer 9 October 2023 @ 12:29 9 Oct 2023 @ 12:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
“Impossible” to Know Who Funds Gordon Brown’s Think Tank Despite Labour’s Transparency Vow

Credit where it is due, the left-wingers at openDemocracy have finally included Gordon Brown’s Our Scottish Future in their annual ‘transparency audit’ of UK think tanks. For some reason, they forgot to include it last year despite it being the pet project of a former Prime Minister. Now they’ve corrected their oversight and scored Our Scottish Future an E, the lowest possible rating…

“[Our Scottish Future] publishes no information on its donors and lists a firm of solicitors as its main director. This makes it impossible to know for certain who controls or funds it.”

Back in December, Labour published a weighty blueprint on its plans for “A New Britain“, which included a section on “cleaning up Westminster”. Given Angela Rayner had already promised Labour would “look to broaden the scope of lobbying rules, including transparency on who funds them”, Guido was excited to see how they would go about doing that. The word “lobbying” didn’t appear once. 

What did appear in the ‘acknowledgements’ section, however, was this:

“We also drew significantly on primary research conducted by Our Scottish Future, including Scotland in a Zoom and original polling and focus groups carried out over the summer of 2022.”

What was it Labour said about the “malign impact” of “opaquely-funded think tanks” again?

mdi-timer 4 May 2023 @ 13:45 4 May 2023 @ 13:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
The GPC Files: Damian McBride’s Boozy Private Jet Flights, Thousand Dollar Bar Bills and Thousand Pound Dinners

This week was scheduled on the Labour Party’s media grid to be “Government Procurement Card” week – exposing the “GPC files” of the Tories and their big spending ways. The Labour Press team even mocked up a fake Rishi Sunak GPC:

The reputed author of the dossier is the reformed former attack dog Damian McBride. After a time away from politics following Smeargate, McBride returned to SW1 as Emily Thornberry’s political advisor in March 2016. Thornberry being the Shadow Cabinet MP in whose name all the written questions were asked to create the GPC Files…

Damian was around for the birth of Government Procurement Cards in 1997, climbing government ranks as Labour’s GPC spending soared. His “Power Trip” book provides an explicit account of the sort of taxpayer “put it on the card” spending in the Treasury and No. 10 during his years there, for which he’s now attacking the government…


  • ‘We were going to hold a proper end-of-trip party on board, and would happily serve our own drinks so they could have a break’ 
  • ‘… if the galleys were still full of unopened bottles of champagne, wine and beer when we were on our return flight from Japan, Santiago or Cape Town, that was all booze already paid for by the hacks just waiting to be drunk’ – this last point is a fiction, the ticket charges for hacks barely covered their own flight costs.
  • ‘We were going to hold a proper end-of-trip party on board and would happily serve our own drinks… [after Gordon went to bed] the hard drinking would ensue. I’d kick things off with a quiz then there’d be hours of standing around swapping war stories and jokes, a bit of singing, and … all-night sessions of poker… all while steadily draining what was left of the booze’

Private jets

  • ‘If we chartered a flight from BA, Virgin or one of the occasional private airlines we used, then all the food and booze we’d normally consume on a flight was obviously thrown in as well’
  • ‘Chartering a plane or, less preferably, block-booking dozens of seats on a scheduled flight was always the most expensive aspect of any overseas visit, and the way we paid for it was by inflating the fares charges to the press to subsidise the travel of Gordon and his team’ – in truth it “didn’t pay for it”, it slightly reduced the overall cost to taxpayers.

Luxury meals

  • ‘Gordon did a briefing at the G8 summit in Japan about the need to tackle the world’s waste of food, and then found himself at a luxurious thirteen-course banquet laid on by the hosts that same evening’


  • ‘When Gordon finally came down, Balls said: “Damian’s got a theory about this hotel to tell you.’ Before I could say anything, Gordon said: “I know, we’ve got to get out of here, this place is full of hookers’
  • ‘We’d drive out to Summers restaurant and Sports Bar in Arlington on Saturday mornings, Sunday lunchtimes and weekday afternoons to catch any live Premiership or Champions League games. Gordon wouldn’t drink…’

It is clear that Damian and the Brownites particularly enjoyed their times in America. Guido has come across an old Freedom of Information release from the days when his inseparable pal Ed Balls was Education Minister and he with Damian McBride would let the government procurement card be their flexible friend when it came to drinking and dining. Remember that civil servants not ministers are the ones issued with cards. Note the thousand dollar American bar bills and the thousand pound plus dinners in two of Guido’s favourite Westminster restaurants; Osteria Dell Angelo and the Cinnamon Club:

Apart from the Freedom of Information release above, all the quotes are taken from Damian’s 2014 confessional book “Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin”. Guido asked the Labour press office to confirm or deny McBride ever had a GPC of his own, or whether Labour commits to ending these practices in government. They haven’t answered…

mdi-timer 16 February 2023 @ 07:30 16 Feb 2023 @ 07:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour’s £88,000 Taxpayer-Funded Art Waste Whitewashing

Labour have spent the past few days taking the Tories to task over taxpayer waste – painting over their own profligacy – and one attack line in particular required particular artistic licence. Yesterday, Labour Press tweeted out a criticism of the government spending £3,393 on 13 photographs. That works out to £261 per picture for the Government Art Collection (GAC).

Labour could have done with expanding their focus, as targeting such waste has left their own record overexposed. In 2008 the GAC spent a stunning £88,125 on American Tan XX by Gary Hume – it hung from May-September 2008 on the wall of Gordon Brown’s office. By Guido’s calculation’s that’s over 300 times more expensive / wasteful than the purchases they are criticising. Surely Damian McBride, the former SpAd turned PAd whom is said to be behind this week’s line of attack on government procurement, will surely remember seeing this picture hanging on the wall behind Gordon as he suffered another raging tantrum from the then Chancellor?

mdi-timer 14 February 2023 @ 17:08 14 Feb 2023 @ 17:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour’s Think Tank Funding Foul-Up

During the collapse of the Truss government, Labour weren’t shy in attacking what they claimed was the “malign impact” of “opaquely-funded think tanks” on the agenda of the Government.

Guido’s old enough to remember Angela Rayner claiming “lobbying in Britain is a black box”, and promising “Labour will look to broaden the scope of lobbying rules, including transparency on who funds them.” Business as usual so far…

Given Labour published their hefty manifesto blueprint yesterday – with a section on “cleaning up Westminster” – Guido was interested to see how they’d go about enforcing this new era of transparency.

The word “lobbying” doesn’t appear once in the document.

Perhaps the exclusion of this urgent reform is related to the following reference:

“We also drew significantly on primary research conducted by Our Scottish Future, including Scotland in a Zoom and original polling and focus groups carried out over the summer of 2022.”

Our Scottish Future is, of course, a think tank masterminded by Gordon Brown, with an advisory board and staff made up of former politicians, SpAds, and lobbyists. Yet their funding is entirely opaque.

The recently relaunched Who Funds You campaign, run by left-wingers at OpenDemocracy, also mysteriously omits Our Scottish Future from their opacity index. A bit odd: the think tank is over two years old, and the pet project of a former PM. It is self-evidently lobbying to set the agenda for the next Government. Apparently, where thinking the unthinkable is concerned, it’s one rule for bodies sympathetic to Labour, and another for everyone else…

mdi-timer 6 December 2022 @ 16:30 6 Dec 2022 @ 16:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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