What’s Claret and Blue?

The speechwriter’s posterior. Somebody is going to get an auto-cue kicking…

west-ham-cam

It is the moment when he coughs uncomfortably as his brain whirs over whether to correct it and draw attention to the gaffe, or hope no-one notices. Tough call…

LibDems Face Tory Wipeout in South West

sw-poll

If this poll is correct the Tories will take all their coalition colleague’s seats.

Tory party chairman Grant Shapps has been predicting strong gains in the South West for months…

Inheritance Tax Highlights Millionaire Miliband’s Hypocrisy

The Tories are going to make it a manifesto commitment (again) to raise the inheritance tax threshold so that only millionaires pay it. David Cameron is giving a speech today highlighting the issue. This morning Harman was less than convincing on Marr about the Milibands’ own efforts to avoid the inheritance tax threshold. Why would the Milibands – as Harman claims – pay expensive lawyers to produce a Deed of Variation to not avoid tax?*

CCHQ’s promotion for their manifesto commitment looks like this:

ihtgraphic

Guido’s version would look like this:

IHT-MILIBAND

Not positive enough?

*Guido’s informed guess is that they entirely avoided paying inheritance tax at the time. Later Ed Miliband and David Miliband probably had to pay some lesser amount of capital gains tax when they realised their profits on the difference in the value they had inherited tax free and the price they received for their shares of what was the family home when it was eventually sold.

Tory Nerves Fraying

one-month-rolling-average

This is the rolling poll-of-polls average for the last month. See how the blue line moves in the opposite direction to the purple line? If the Tories can’t recover those lost UKIP voters this month… the socialist terror will begin on May 8…

Tory Jitters: Backbencher Publicly Slams “Dry Economics Lecture” Plan

Just in time for the Budget, former Tory whip Michael Fabricant has slammed the Tory election strategy, speaking out against the “dry economics lecture” currently on offer:

“The Long Term Economic Plan is a means to an end and so is lowering the deficit.

YouTube videos displaying a reduction in deficit are appropriate for a dry economics lecture, but they are hardly going to win the hearts and souls of the electorate.

We’ve got to say why we want a strong economy, what are those sun lit uplands?

We’ve not just got to win the battle of the minds but the battle of the heart.”

Whatever happened to David “let sunshine win the day” Cameron, who promised the Conservatives would be the “party of optimism”?

Classic “Don’t Let The Other Party Wreck It” Campaign Poster

B_HJWu3U4AAgmg9[1]

They say there are only two types of political campaigns, “Time for Change” and “Don’t let the other guy wreck it”. Can you guess from the new poster above which one Lynton Crosby is running?

Guido vaguely remembers a wrecking ball featuring in a previous Tory campaign which he can’t find, though it is a bit reminiscent of this old Saatchi poster:

img-3[1]

Or maybe it is a Mileyish wrecking Balls?

B_HYCFSWkAIyNVT[1]

Last image courtesy of @GeneralBoles

Tory Stunts: Sol Campaign Sparks Spurs Backlash

Guido’s revelation earlier today that the Tories were using Sol Campbell to campaign in Spurs’ backyard of Enfield has upset plenty of voters, but local MP Nick De Bois is defending the stunt:

Clearly no one from CCHQ was at White Hart Lane when they released 4,000 balloons with the word Judas on them to celebrate last time Sol was in town:

Back of the net.

Tories Silent on New “Volunteer” Allegations

Following this morning’s unpaid Tory “volunteer” row, more stories are coming out of the woodwork. A Tory activist gets in touch to report:

“I recently volunteered at CCHQ and travelled from outside of London to volunteer at a cost of around £20 a day doing around 6 hours work. I was told I could only claim for the cost of a zones 1-2 travel, which was £4.60.”

Guido put the new allegation to the Tories this afternoon but at the time of going to pixel they have so far refused to comment, instead demanding to know the identity of our source. Guido can however reveal that they were not doing phone canvassing as previous spin suggested. Does only stumping up for the tube fare for Zones 1-2 really constitute “reasonable travel expenses”? Come and campaign for the Tory party, so long as you’re rich enough to live in central London…

Tories in ‘Economic Plan’ Row With Campaigners

The Tories landed a cool £8,345,687 in donations last quarter, but a row has broken over whether the miserly skinflints at CCHQ are failing to pay their reams of election “volunteers”. The well respected Graduate Fog campaign site highlight how Tory HQ are advertising for young turks to “assist with different aspects of the party’s work”, an unfortunate choice of words since “work” falls under Minimum Wage Law.

Tory sources insist these are genuine volunteers mainly doing telephone canvassing – and there is of course a distinction between that an real work – but why then do they need “excellent written communication skills” and “knowledge of the Microsoft Office Suite”? “Successful candidates” are only offered “lunch and reasonable travel expenses”.

Westminster North Tories meanwhile are looking for “campaign assistants” to help with “administration, data entry, analysis and day to day running of a busy office”. How much will they be paid for what certainly sounds like real work? “Travel expenses within London” is all that is on offer. Clearly the party is clued up on the internal memo from last year explaining how to word job adverts to get away with not paying interns.

As Graduate Fog put it:

“Are interns at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters really free to saunter in and out as they wish? Having spoken to interns on previous political campaigns, that seems unlikely. They all say they worked like dogs.”

Seems there is no long term economic plan for these hardworking people…

Tories Admit New Voter Software is Busted

A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have now been forced to admit that the upgrade is busted too. In the busiest donation period of the entire election cycle, party bosses have admitted that all donations of over £500 have to be declared manually to CCHQ with a spreadsheet rather than simply entered in the software – as promised. Which defeats the point of the expensive change over…

To: ALL CONSTITUENCY OFFICES, CHAIRMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE
Cc: FIELD STAFF

As you know, the Party is replacing the MERLIN software with a new membership and campaigning system called VoteSource. Over 350 associations have already decided to move to VoteSource, and their MERLIN has not been updated with the new registers of electors that were published on 1 December in England and Wales*. For these users VoteSource must now be used for all election campaigning. Donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on VoteSource, but see below for how to report.

A number of associations have decided to remain on MERLIN. For these seats, donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on MERLIN, but only after you have explicitly been told by the Helpdesk that your MERLIN is being rolled over to the new register. If in doubt about your MERLIN’s status, please email XXXXXX@conservatives.com, or to check donors email their name and address to XXXXXX@conservatives.com

Donation reporting functionality will be added to VoteSource soon. Until then, donations over £500 must be recorded on the attached spreadsheet. We will, as usual, send a spreadsheet at the end of the quarter** showing any donations that reach us through MERLIN, but otherwise this sheet should be your main reporting form. For the password, please call us on 020 7x XXX XXX

Remember that donations for January to March will need to be reported by 10 April, ie in the middle of the peak of campaigning, and so we strongly recommend that you update this sheet as and when you receive donations in order to avoid extra stress in April. Donations that are being made directly to a candidate or the election agent account are subject to the £50 threshold for checks, and are listed on the return of election expenses INSTEAD of reporting to us.

The Helpdesk will announce when donation functionality is available in VoteSource, but until then if you have any donation or reporting queries please do not hesitate to contact us: XXXXXXX@conservatives.com, 020 7XXX XXXX

* In Scotland, registers are not due to be updated until 10 March.

** Donations checked between 1 January and 30 March will be emailed to the association office on 11 April.

There are a lot of rather irate agents out there, facing a load more hassle.

GUY NEWS SPECIAL: Free Amjad Bashir Protest Outside CCHQ

Amjad Bashir has not been seen since he was kidnapped by the Tory party. Amjad’s captors have released a hostage photo of him alongside their leader, but they are not allowing him any contact with the outside world. Protesters outside the captors’ HQ have been threatened by Tory party security. Bring back our Bashir…

100 Days to Go and Tories STILL have 96 Candidates to Select

Research shows that with 100 days to go, the Tories are still short a whopping 97 candidates. Almost a sixth of all seats…

Even if you subtract Northern Ireland, there are still 79 candidate-less seats with just a couple of months to go.

Number crunching by Peter Botting and Anthony Gearing can be found here.

There are some surprisingly marginal seats still looking for Tory representation…

UPDATE: Hold the front page… Guido is informed it’s actually 95 seats. CCHQ’s very own top spinner Richard Holden was recently selected in Preston…

UPDATE II: 5 unwinnable Scottish seats have also selected. Panic over…

UPDATE III: CCHQ claim it is only 40 odd seats that have no candidate. They have yet to send over the numbers and they seem to be missing from their own Conservatives.com website…

Tories Deny Photoshopping Miliband to Make Him Look Fat

Tory sources deny any manipulation of Ed’s face to make him look fatter on their new poster.

We report, you decide…

UPDATE:

This is the source image, via Getty:

UPDATE II:

[gigya src=”https://abfiles.s3.amazonaws.com/swf/audioboom_default_player_v1.swf” style=”background-color:transparent; display:block; min-width:300px; max-width:700px;” flashvars=”image_option=small&imgURL=https%3A%2F%2Fd15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net%2Fi%2F12591067%2F300x300%2Fc&link_color=%2358d1eb&mp3Author=LBC&mp3Duration=104929.0&mp3LinkURL=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboom.com%2Fboos%2F2823963-grant-shapps-admits-tories-photoshopped-ed-miliband-poster-to-make-him-look-weird&mp3Time=04.30pm+23+Jan+2015&mp3Title=Grant+Shapps+admits+Tories+photoshopped+Ed+Miliband+poster+to+make+him+look+weird.&mp3URL=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboom.com%2Fboos%2F2823963-grant-shapps-admits-tories-photoshopped-ed-miliband-poster-to-make-him-look-weird.mp3%3Fsource%3Dwordpress&player_theme=light&rootID=boo_player_1&show_title=true&waveimgURL=https%3A%2F%2Fd15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net%2Fi%2Fw%2F1817387″ width=”480″ height=”150″ allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent”]

The Tory chairman tells Iain Dale:

“This is clearly a mocked up poster and so clearly it’s a bit of Photoshop work.”

Tory Candidate Fury Mounting at “Slack” CCHQ

Given that four months out the Tories still have 81 candidates to select in England, plus all of Northern Ireland still to do, you might have thought it would be all hands t’mill over at the CCHQ candidates department. Apparently not.

According to the ‘out of office’ Gareth Fox – Head of Candidate Selection – it’s still holiday season:

“Thank you for your email, I am currently on leave until 12th January and I will respond when I return.”

Tory sources say everything is tickety boo and Fox is ‘around’ – a fact disputed by angry potential PPCs unable to get an answer to calls and emails. “This man is about as popular as herpes,” writes one co-conspiratorial candidate to Guido…

Exclusive: Tories Block Newmark Comeback

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, the selection process in Braintree to replace disgraced dick pic king Brooks Newmark has been cancelled amid speculation he is planning the unlikeliest of comebacks. Brooks was spotted holding secret talks with his local association after concerns about the quality of the other candidates. Despite him promising post-parliament penance working for charity, he saw his chance. Tory sources confirm from Westminster that Brooks had been “wavering”, however, Guido understands any attempt by him to stand again has been blocked by high command: “It’s not going to happen”. Just as Guido was preparing to stand as the Pyjama Party candidate…

CCHQ Milking Issue of Farage’s Breastfeeding Comments

CCHQ were quick to stoke the breastfeeding story by making it look like Farage had boobed again:

milking the issue

Many a slip twixt, errr, D-cup and lip…

UPDATE:

Nigel Farage took to Twitter to rebut his misrepresentation

Is this another case of media bias or Nigel commenting where angels fear to tread? The aroma, if not the precise truth of the matter, will be once again “blokey UKIP are living in the past with old fashioned values”.

UPDATE II: Nadine Dorries makes a non-partisan point:

UPDATE III: One tweet perfectly conflates the two running UKIP stories; breastfeeding and Trumpton UKIP:

No. 10 Accidentally Reveal CCHQ Writing Gov Top Lines

View the original email

Not a great start for the new No. 10 Head of News Nicola Hudson. In her first week in the job she has just sent this morning’s government toplines for the day out to all of Whitehall’s taxpayer-funded spinners. However, she forgot to remove the Conservative Party’s email signature from whichever top Tory strategist crafted the lines before forwarding them. CCHQ writing government lines… whodathunk?

CCHQ Throwing Kitchen Sink at Reckless

reckless-kent

This is the online version of the main local paper covering Rochester and Strood, and it is running paid for American style anti-Reckless attack ad videos. Whether this is Jim Messina’s influence or just the inevitable next step in digital campaigning is unclear. It is a lot more entertaining than a leaflet through the letterbox…

It is also getting under the skin of Mark Reckless, who is protesting vociferously and unconvincingly on Twitter that he didn’t flop-flop on supporting a massive local housing development for 12,000 people – in doing so making the rookie mistake of repeating his opponent’s charge. It is cheering up Tories who have been on the back foot in this by-election campaign until now…

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Matthew?

probelm-matthew-parris

Even if they privately agree with him CCHQ strategists don’t appreciate the media interventions by Matthew Parris. Lynton Crosby has decreed that UKIP is to be downplayed and all but ignored insomuch as that is possible. The Clacton bullet is to be bitten and the pain taken without too much complaint or squealing. Hence the lack of Tory MPs in the studios stoking up the row or giving biting anti-Carswell soundbites to be lapped up by the media and inserted in stories of Tory splits and infighting. So in their place we have Matthew Parris, a former Tory MP and the arch voice of the Tory left, on the Daily Politics, Newsnight and in his columns he is stoking up the euro-row, amplifying it and providing soundbites, inventing motives and attributing malice to the eurosceptic wing of the Tories. Matthew’s latest column in The Times paints Clacton as full of people so infra dig that they should just be ignored by the Tories. The column is so patronising and sneering that it could be reprinted by UKIP and delivered as a recruiting leaflet to every former Tory voter in Clacton…

Tories Implementing iDemocracy in Clacton

clacton-con-ads

There is a certain irony in the Tories holding an internet driven open primary in Clacton to select their candidate and UKIP HQ imposing Douglas Carswell, the prophet of iDemocracy, as their candidate. Carswell will be pleased his ideas are being taken up…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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