Tories Tipped That Ruffley Row Was About to Go Very PublicConservative Staff Threatened With Sack if They Joined Protest

It has been briefed that it was a ‘pincer movement’ from the Chief Whip and the Party Chairman that sealed the deal for Ruffley yesterday. They were kicked into action, finally, by the leak of this letter from the Dean of Bury St Edmunds, and tens of thousands of people signing an online petition. Crucially the Tories were also made aware yesterday morning of a letter planned for Wednesday’s Times from dozens of women affiliated with the Conservative Party. “Women problem” is an understatement.

Guido has obtained a copy:

We are writing to share our concerns about the behaviour of David Ruffley MP.

We consider it unacceptable that a man who has accepted a caution for assaulting his partner should continue in his position.

This Conservative-led government has a proud record of acting to prevent domestic violence.  On 2 July 2014 the Prime Minister asserted the importance of  Clare’s Law in relation to abusive partners, and on 8 March 2014 the Home Secretary said: “I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out.” It is disappointing, therefore, that despite the Government’s strong moral stance on this issue, our own party has been slow to take any action against one of their own Members, who has accepted a police caution for assault of his partner, one of the crimes we are trying to prevent.

When Andrew Pelling MP was arrested under suspicion of assaulting his wife in 2007, the whip was immediately withdrawn, pending an investigation by the party’s ethics committee. We are pleased that the new Chief Whip, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP decided last week to launch an investigation into this matter, however, given the serious nature of the offence for which Mr Ruffley has accepted a caution, which is an admission of guilt, we feel that the Conservative whip should be immediately withdrawn.

The public has the right to be served by representatives who abide by the legislation that they pass through Parliament.

We are proud to be members of the party who first gave women the vote, produced the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons, as well electing the first female party Leader who went on to be the first female Prime Minister. For generations, the Conservative Party has lead the way in advancing equality of opportunity and equality under the rule of law.  Two people die every week at the hands of an abusive partner, and our party must demonstrate that no matter who you are, domestic violence is unacceptable

It was about to blow up, and blow up very publicly.

To those MPs who emotionally blackmailed and even threatened their female staff with disciplinary measures to stop them signing the above letter – and then grassed the plot to CCHQ – Guido says this. I know who you are, and you know what you have done. What I have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you…

Tories Map Ed’s Inadequacy in Labour Quotes Interactive One Nation of Labour Criticism

This morning as Labour continue their summer assault the Tories are reminding everyone of the Labour Party’s own doubts about Ed Miliband with a new website, JustNotUpToIt.com:

justnotuptoit

The interactive map is populated with pins, click on a pin and a local Labour critique of Ed pops up. The map is, to coin a phrase, Ed’s One Nation Labour in their own despairing words. Have a browse here

South Ribble Tories Select Seema Kennedy

seema-kennedy

CCHQ will be pleased that the South Ribble Tories have selected, on the first ballot, Seema Kennedy to replace Lorraine Fullbrook. With a 5,554 vote majority to hold it is a battleground seat – Fullbrook put in a big campaign to win the seat from Labour in 2010, reputedly the most expensive in the country. Seema – a Conservative councillor for Marshalswick South ward in St Albans – is of Persian-Irish parentage, her family fled Iran after the revolution. A Cambridge graduate she made her money as a property lawyer. From the modernising wing of the Tories…

Confusion as Tories Delay Farage Target Seat Selection

Mystery and misinformation surrounds the selection of a Tory candidate for the Kentish seaside seat of South Thanet. Laura Sandys, one of the many female MPs standing down after just one term, announced her intention to quit last year. She did it early on in order to give her successor a chance to properly ‘bed in’ as a candidate. CCHQ however waited until late last month to open up the selection process. Last week that selection was abruptly halted, and those that had applied were told this was due to circumstances beyond the control of the association:

“Please note that due to circumstances beyond our control, there has been a delay in the Selection process.”

Interviews and tests planned for the weekend were suspended.

When Guido put this to CCHQ on Friday afternoon, the story was flatly denied by a press officer who claims to have checked with the candidates department and was confident that the selection process was continuing normally. A miss-speak, at best.

When this morning Guido suggested that they might like to “revise” their thoughts on the issue, in light of the email, a Conservative spokesman said:

“This is a matter for the local association.”

Yet the local association say it is due to circumstances beyond their control. What could it be about the prospect of Nigel Farage standing in the seat that so spooks the Tories?

Flapping Tories Threaten Candidates in Last Ditch Newark Bid

shapps

In further proof that the Tories are in a bit of a flap about Newark, the party chairman has just threatened the six hundred wannabe Tory MPs that they will be booted off the approved candidates list if they do not campaign ahead of Thursday’s poll. In an email seen by Guido, Shapps warns:

“As you know, a condition for being on the candidates list is the requirement to campaign in by-elections. Having spent 10 years on the list myself, I know that this expectation is no different from that which will be expected from you as an MP. Candidates who do not assist at by-elections without good reason may put themselves at risk of being removed from the list of approved candidates. … As a possible Parliamentary candidate, the Party is looking to you to show leadership and to support it in this critical by-election.”

They will not be able to throw this much effort at every seat UKIP are targeting this time next year…

ConservativeHome Readers Increasingly Favour UKIP Pact

ch-ukip-pact

ConservativeHome’s post Euro elections reader survey shows that the reality of the national vote result was not lost on the site’s readership. Support* for a blue-purple pact has risen…

*Usual caveats about self-selecting samples.

Why Has Owen Paterson Really Been Off Work?

Every morning CCHQ sends its MPs and staff a media monitoring summary of the day’s main news events. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when this morning’s briefing landed in Tory inboxes:

Must have missed that one…

Private CCHQ Briefing Warns MPs How to Stay Out of Trouble

Tory MPs and their staff attended a meeting this afternoon where they were warned about dodgy donations while making their latest declarations. Click through the slides* below to see who they are scared will expose their financial misdeeds:

You have been warned…

*We kept the other 43.

Picture Special: Inside New Tory Headquarters

CCHQ has moved into its new offices at Matthew Parker Street behind the QEII Conference Centre. Here is the scene inside, with Maggie and Churchill taking centre stage:

It’s much more of an open plan setting:

Still, not everything is going to plan…

New CCHQ Security Concerns

As the Tories move into new HQ, Chairman Lord Feldman warns against leaks…

About That New Tory Cost-of-Living Counter-Attack…

Guido likes to think we are more than just a political gossip blog providing readers with the finest in tittle-tattle for a decade.

We’re also a think-tank:

January 24, 2014, George Osborne’s sock-puppet Matthew Hancock is arguing in The Times and on the Today programme this morning that the cost of living crisis is over:

matt-hancockOver the past year, from 2012 to 2013, things have started to turn around. New facts on take-home pay — the pound in your pocket — are stark. Last year take-home pay grew faster than inflation for every group of earners except the top 10 per cent.

In Davos today the PM is also hailing rising take home pay. You’re either in front of Guido, or you’re behind…

Entire Conservative Party Web Archive Still Available

Missing reading old George Osborne speeches about the moral case for low taxes? Or the one when he promised to raise the inheritance tax threshold? Have no fear, they are all still available from the British Library – including the 2006 to 2010 Cameron opposition period:

Click to see Conservatives.com website archive
Guido is of course too modest to mention who else they record for posterity…

WATCH: Cameron Tribute to ‘Our Maggie’

A ten minute tribute to coincide with the launch of a Margaret Thatcher shop tomorrow. The Tories are quick to credit Craig Oliver with the idea…

EXCLUSIVE: Blunt-ly Rejected By Conservative Association Executive Votes Against Him, Faces Reselection Battle

blunt

On Tuesday night following a vote by his local party executive committee, Crispin Blunt, the Tory MP for the safe seat of Reigate since 1997 was asked to re-apply for selection by a vote of the Conservative Association’s membership. Re-selection for a sitting Tory MP is usually an automatic formality. When a Tory Association chairman tells you to re-apply, he is basically offering the MP a tumbler of whiskey and a loaded revolver…

In 2010 when he announced that he was leaving his wife as he was “coming to terms with his homosexuality” members of the association reportedly sympathised with Blunt’s wife, Victoria, who understandably was devastated by him coming out. The situation is being presented by CCHQ, who are in heightened pre-conference damage control mode, as local homophobic bigots are trying to unseat a liberal, gay MP making a difficult personal adjustment. That is not the complete picture. Blunt had a reputation as a particularly high-handed and arrogant MP even when he was in the closet.

The procedure now is that the issue of his candidacy goes to the membership for a simple yes/no majority vote. CCHQ are spinning that he “has the overwhelming support of the ordinary membership”. We shall find out soon enough…

CCHQ Out of Millbank in January

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, the Tories will move CCHQ in January from Millbank to Matthew Parker Street behind the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster. After the students smashed up Millbank in 2011, their insurance bill soared. All three major parties will have moved since 2010 by the next election. Their new building doesn’t have a name yet, but Guido imagines the focus groups will stop them having the balls to christen it Margaret Thatcher House. Global Race for Hard-working People House just isn’t very catchy…

Digital Dave Launches Online Referendum Push

lbd

businessforbritain.org/

The Tories have finally realised that they need to bang on about Europe now UKIP have pushed it up the political agenda. The launch of the all-party Business for Britain campaign was the starting gun for the referendum campaign Cameron is promising for 2017.

Though the LibDems will hate it, the ‘Let Britain Decide’ website will target MPs who are refusing to trust the public with a referendum. Finally we are seeing the Tories utilising their European policy as a strength, it could all have been so different for Ed Miliband…

UPDATEFew teething problems, possibly CCHQ were a bit unwise to brief out the site before it was ready:

lbf-text

Loongate: Where We Are

SWIVEL-EYED-GREG-BARKER

Last night the story broke that a senior Tory close to Cameron said of the EU Referendum and gay marriage backbench rebellions “It’s fine. There’s really no problem. The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad, swivel-eyed loons.” It was reported by The Times and The Telegraph on their front pages in similar terms and also by the Mirror and Mail.

Sam Coates, James Kirkup, James Lyons and Tim Shipman are experienced journalists and will have known the likely repercussions of reporting an off the record / Lobby terms comment even without attribution. They set speculation running by describing the source of the comments as having “strong social connections” to the PM and as a “senior party” figure. For the record Guido has not spoken to any of the journalists concerned.

This morning Guido emailed Lord Feldman

Feldman has publicly denied being the source of the quote

feldman“There is speculation on the internet and on Twitter that the senior Conservative Party figure claimed to have made derogatory comments by the Times and the Telegraph is me.

“This is completely untrue. I would like to make it quite clear that I did not nor have ever described our associations in this way or in any similar manner. Nor do these alleged comments represent my view of our activists. On the contrary in the last eight years of working for the party, I have found them to be hard working, committed and reasonable people. They are without question the backbone of the party. I am very disappointed by the behaviour of the journalists involved, who have allowed rumour and innuendo to take hold by not putting these allegations to me before publication. I am taking legal advice.”

Not sure why Lord Feldman thinks the journalists concerned should have put the allegations to him when they didn’t name him and in any event he says he didn’t say the words concerned.

The journalists concerned are abiding by the conventions of the Lobby and not confirming the source whilst standing by the story. Downing Street “supports Lord Feldman’s position” and denies that anyone in Downing Street was the source of the quote. Which of course is an allegation no one has made.

Guido has not received any legal notices…

Dear Andrew…

From: Guy Fawkes <guido.fawkes@order-order.com>
Date: Sat, May 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Subject: Swivel Eyed Loons
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@conservatives.com

Dear Andrew,feldman

Could you be so kind as to give me an on 
the record quote condemning those who 
describe your party members as 
"swivel eyed loons"?

Thanks in advance.
Editor Guido Fawkes' Blog
Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com

Still no response…

Craig Insists on SpAd Radio Silence

Star guest at this morning’s 10:00 meeting for Tory special advisers at CCHQ was Lynton Crosby. It opened with a warning from party chairman Grant Shapps that they would be “fired by the Prime Minister” if any SpAd was caught leaking the details of the meeting. At which point poor old Craig Oliver – who has been at the sharp end of plenty of leaks and briefings recently – turned around and gave each of them an individual “death stare”That worked well…

Tory Source: ConHome Attacker “Pretty Out Of It”

A tetchy piece on ConservativeHome this morning by their new Contributing Editor called for Grant Shapps to be replaced as Tory Chairman. Putting the boot in, former Telegraph hack Andrew Gimson, concluded: “To leave Shapps there for the next two years would be to insult a party which already feels it has been insulted enough.”Tory sources are kicking back this afternoon, suggesting that the piece makes ConHome’s new hire “look pretty out of it”:

“Shapps should have a word.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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