Labour have realeased another video attacking the party on 9% in the polls rather than the party that will likely beat them on the 22nd. Guido would love to see what secret polls Dougie Alexander is looking at that show a pending LibDem resurgence. Something must explain his obsession. Still, it’s better than the last one…
The Deputy Prime Minister fielded a call on knife crime from a Paul Whitehouse impressionist on LBC this morning:
“How are elderly people meant to sleep in their beds when they’ve got lunatics in suits like him who are looking after this country? You created these momsters out there, you like it. You’ve got all your lawyer mates all earning money out of it, the system. Helping all the criminals, Clegg.”
With some LibDems calling for their party to split from the Tories sooner rather than later Labour have minted a new coin (on leaflets anyway) featuring the heads of the coalition parties. Guido suspects that some of the few remaining coalicious types would really like to mint this coin as a memento…
NF: What is your favourite takeaway?
NC: I had a McDonald’s last week at an M1 service station.
NF: Ever had a kebab?
NC: I have had a kebab. I haven’t had one for a while. What I last had was a McDonald’s cheeseburger. With chips. Any more detail?
NF: Did you go large?
NC: What do you mean did I go large?
NF: You can go large for an extra thirty pence.
NC: I had a meal deal.
LBC asking the important questions.
Ssssh no one mention lobbying reform! Clegg has replaced his not-up-to-the-job Comms Director with Edelman’s public affairs managing director Stephen Lotinga. It’s a bit of a slap to Edelman considering the spin-merchant had only been there for a few weeks after signing from those paragons of virtue Bell Pottinger.
Fresh from spinning for the likes of ATOS, Russian banks and Kazak private equity firms, Lotinga’s only other job recorded on his CV seems to be working for the LibDems. Hiring a communications director who has never had a job outside politics or PR is sure to help the party connect to voters. Clegg will be hoping this one lasts more than two months…
Have your say in the comments…
Why are UKIP leaking their attack lines ahead of tonight’s debate, giving the LibDems six hours to sort a line? According to the Telegraph, Farage will fight any Putin allegations with fire:
“Why does Nick Clegg’s CV and his profile on his website make absolutely no reference to his time as a lobbyist? Why is that that omitted? I have no links whatsoever with these sinister global figures, but his links are really very close and very embarrassing. The Clegg family are very closely linked to the European project and to big corporate business and so in a sense the debate tonight becomes a clash of cultures,” he said. “I represent the mercantile, trading, entrepreneurial end of society and he represents big banks, big government and big business.”
It seems Farage has been doing some reading, yesterday Breitbart London had a mudslinging session at Clegg’s lobbying past with just enough links to Putin and Gadaffi to make a story. They went after Miriam Clegg too. Which she’s sure to love…
It feels like Farage is trying to put Clegg off even going there by leaking this stuff early, but Guido is not sure it will have the same cut through as his ‘praise’ for Putin. That one will resonate more than dragging in the wives…
Desperate to draw blood tomorrow, Nick Clegg has cracked out the Student Debating Playbook. The Deputy Prime Minister’s taxpayer-funded Special Adviser Adam Pritchard is secretly approaching bosses from household name firms to try get them to sign this pre-drafted letter to be placed in a paper tomorrow morning:
Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage will this week hold their second debate on the question of Britain’s future in Europe. As leading transport companies representing all sectors, we are clear that the UK should remain in the European Union which has delivered unparalleled benefits for the British transport and freight sector by allowing our companies to cross borders and enter markets across Europe. The dismantling of trade barriers has been responsible for cheaper prices for consumers and a dramatic increase in the choice of destinations at the fingertips of holidaymakers across the country.
It is crucial that we do not cut ourselves off from the rest of Europe and that we defend the future health of the transport sector and the hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of jobs it supports. Leaving the EU would take us from economic certainty to huge uncertainty with the potential for extra costs and burdensome barriers impeding freight flows and harming passengers, businesses and employees alike.
The EU needs reform. The full potential of the single market is yet to be fully realised and we must break down the final barriers to transport and trade. However, to seize these opportunities, the UK needs to be in Europe leading reform, working with other countries and delivering the changes that will boost our trade within the EU and beyond.
Clegg will then brandish this letter from the podium as if he had nothing to do with it. Well that was the plan anyway…
Last week we had Clegg’s office admit that the DPM was being briefed by taxpayer funded civil servants for his robotic ‘fact’ barrage at Farage, now this week his taxpayer-funded gofers are attempting trickery. It’s as if Clegg is scared…
Former Clegg spinmeister Olly Grender had no answer when told by Brillo that, despite the LibDem leader’s assurances, the House of Commons library did not back him up on his claim that only 7% of UK law was made in Brussels. Their figure is actually between 15% and 50%. If you’re going to sell yourself on “leaving the rhetoric aside for a minute and sticking to the facts”, telling porkies might not be the best way to go about it…
LibDem press office is trying to spin its way out of last night’s 22 point thumping, selectively quoting three lines of YouGov pollster Peter Kellner’s methodology to suggest the results were unfair on Clegg:
Yet if you look at Kellner’s reasoning in full rather than the heavily edited LibDem version, if YouGov had done what the LibDems wanted and not “skewed” the poll Farage would have actually beaten Clegg 65% to 28%:
“An alternative approach would have been NOT to have corrected the political skew among our original 3,000 sample. The argument for doing this is that any assessment of audience reaction should take the audience as it is – in this case, accepting that UKIP supporters were much more likely to watch or listen to the debate than supporters of other parties. Had we done this, I estimate that the verdict of the audience would have been Farage 65%, Clegg 28%. Those who prefer to cite this figure, rather than to adjust for the UKIP-rich nature of the audience, are of course free to do so.”
A spectacular trajectory of toys from pram.
The YouGov/Sun poll speaks for itself: Farage had a 12 point boost in his personal approval rating after last night, narrowly winning the debate on jobs and leaving the EU. Worth noting Clegg also saw a 4 point rise in the “positive impression” category. The LibDems are in full damage limitation mode this morning, claiming “the real winners are the voters” and “it’s a marathon not a sprint”. We’re getting closer to the finish line…
UPDATE: Blurt’s Twitter worm analysis confirms a narrow win for Farage:
Nick Clegg’s use of civil service resources to prep for tonight’s debate with Nigel Farage is escalating into a full blown row, with Labour writing to the Cabinet Office permanent secretary to demand answers:
Dear Mr Heaton,
I am writing in response to allegations that the Deputy Prime Minister may have been assisted in his preparations for ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’ tonight, in which he is participating in his capacity as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
As you will know, this debate is a purely party political matter being contested between two Party Leaders in advance of European elections on May 22nd. Indeed, Mr Clegg makes clear that he is participating on behalf of his party in his article in the Daily Mirror today when he says, “Liberal Democrats want Britain to stay in the EU because we are fighting for Britain”.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman has told the website Guido Fawkes:
“[Mr Clegg] has been given factual briefings and facts and figures on Coalition Government policy and how the EU works in relation to Britain.”
If it is the case that work has been commissioned by Nick Clegg or his office from civil servants for the purposes of preparation for ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’, Mr Clegg may be in breach of the Ministerial Code, which states:
6.1 Facilities provided to Ministers at Government expense to enable them to carry out their official duties should not be used for Party or constituency work.
6.3 Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.
In light of this, it is a matter of urgency that we are given reassurances that all rules have been followed and so I would be grateful if you would answer the following questions:
– What information has been requested by Nick Clegg or members of his staff from civil servants regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain over the last month, and have these requests increased compared to previous months?
– How many civil servants and from what Departments have provided written or verbal briefing to Mr Clegg regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain over the last month and for what purposes?
– How many meetings with civil servants has Mr Clegg had in the last month regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain, from which Departments and for what purposes?
– How many civil servants, from what Departments and over what duration have knowingly provided support for Mr Clegg in preparation for tonight’s ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’?
It would be deeply serious if the Leader of the Liberal Democrats were found to have used his senior government position to benefit from taxpayer-funded resources in advance of a political debate to further his electioneering interests.
Sheila Gilmore MP
A UKIP spokesperson tells Guido this is an “establishment stitch up”. We could get to the truth if someone were to ask Clegg what happened this evening…
Has Nick Clegg been using civil service resources for party political preparation for tonight’s debate against Nigel Farage? He is not appearing at the LBC Debate in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister rather, as a LibDem spokesman told Guido this morning: “Tonight is the leaders’ debate so Nick is appearing as the Leader of of the Liberal Democrat Party”. It’s a very political event…
As Deputy Prime Minister Clegg is allowed to request factual briefings on government policy whenever he likes, yet sources familiar with the situation have indicated to Guido that they believe he has strayed beyond this and into party political territory. “He’s asking for all sorts of things, beyond government policy on Europe”, one told Guido this morning. It is believed by some that the briefings have been prepared to back up attack lines on UKIP – a big no, no for civil servants.
Nick Clegg’s spokesman denies that they have done anything wrong, but did confirm that civil servants have briefed the DPM for this specific political event:
“Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister as well as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is regularly briefed on all aspects of Government policy, including Europe, before public appearances, such as DPMQs or Call Clegg on LBC. It is very likely that during the debates he be asked about Coalition Government policies and the relationship between the British Government, of which he is Deputy Prime Minister, and the European Union. To that end, he has been given factual briefings and facts and figures on Coalition Government policy and how the EU works in relation to Britain. But the briefings for the debates are being done by political advisers and HQ staff.”
Guido has requested a copy of all the debate preparation from the Cabinet Office under the Freedom of Information Act.
It is worth noting that the ‘General Principle’ of the Ministerial Code states:
“Facilities provided to Ministers at Government expense to enable them to carry out their official duties should not be used for Party or constituency work.”
Point 6.3 makes things a little clearer:
“Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.”
Should it emerge that Clegg used civil servant briefings on issues beyond government policy on Europe to prepare for tonight’s debate then Guido cannot see how he has not fallen foul of this point.
Dominic Cummings, the ex-Gove adviser formerly known as @ToryEducation, has piled into Clegg’s unravelling free school meals policy on the World at One. He confirms it was part of a deal between Cameron and Clegg involving the Tory conference marriage tax break, that Gove told them it was “rubbish” and that DfE were only told about it an hour before it was announced:
“Clegg’s team tried to persuade us to do it in 2013. We refused. So Clegg said to Cameron in secret before party conferences, ‘you give me this and I’ll give you your marriage tax announcement for Tory conference, Gove refuses to do it so you’ll have to force him.’ The DfE wasn’t told until about an hour or so before the announcement. No policy work was done in advance. Officials in DfE were unanimous that it was a bad gimmick and introduced in a way that makes it hard to avoid implementation chaos. Officials were obviously right.
It was a back of the fag packet number by Clegg’s spin doctors. We told them it was rubbish. It is based on a supposed DfE underspend that did not exist and they were told it did not exist. Because Clegg only thinks about politics – and starts every meeting saying ‘I haven’t been able to read the policy papers but let’s talk about the politics’ – he assumed that our opposition was because it was a Clegg idea but it wasn’t. Our opposition was because it is a dumb idea badly executed that shows why politicians should have less power over schools, and although I had many disagreements with Whitehall officials and the methods of the civil service, this is very firmly the fault of Clegg.”
Not like Dom to sit on the fence about something…
It’s on. LBC have the first hour long debate on Wednesday 26 March at 7pm with Nick Ferrari. The BBC get the TV rights, David Dimbleby has round two on BBC Two on Wednesday 2 April at 7pm. Seconds out…
Talking of Downing Street aides… LibDem council candidate Matthew Hanney’s record is there for all to see on this leaflet he has been handing around in Lambeth. Lives locally, check. A LibDem for years, check. Customary slap for Lambeth Labour, check. Just the one thing is missing. For some reason Hanney makes no mention of the fact that he has been a Special Adviser to Nick Clegg since he became Deputy PM, and a close aide for years before. Does Hanney not want voters to know about his vital role at the heart of government?
Young Harry Payne has been suspended from school and his mum is very, very cross this morning following yesterday’s top banter in which he gave the Clegg the finger. Guido thinks Harry’s explanation that it was aimed at a fellow student and not the Deputy Prime Minister is entirely plausible and completely believable. We’re very sorry for getting you in trouble, Harry.
As a classmate says:
Free the Clegg One!