Cows Moo, Dogs Bark, Labour Deny Tax Increase

Harriet Harman has bitten, writing to David Cameron accusing him of lying about her tax rise comments on LBC:

Dear Prime Minister,

You claimed at Prime Minister’s Questions today that “yesterday Labour announced – in an important announcement – that it is now their policy to put up taxes on middle income people”. This is not true. It is a lie.

In fact, as you surely know, since your own party circulated a transcript later, I had made a straightforward defence of our system of progressive taxation – the idea that people on higher incomes should – and do – pay more in tax overall than people on lower incomes. The full quote is here:

“But I would say Henry one of the things that I would argue that might, should probably make a really big difference to you is having a really good health service. Because you don’t want to have to pay for health insurance. You don’t want to have to pay to go private to get really good healthcare system. And I think that is not just for working class people it’s for middle class people as well. And the same with education, you know, really good school system that helps people from lower income families and middle income families as well so I think that actually the idea that there are some things that help people on low incomes and other that help people on middle incomes. Yes I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes. But actually they need those public services like the transport system.”
Harriet Harman, LBC, 14 July 2014

It is utterly clear that this is not a call for higher taxes, but a defence of a system which has previously commanded wide support, in which people on middle incomes contribute more than people on lower incomes.

While the principle of progressive taxation has been undermined in recent years, by your Government’s decision to raise VAT and to cut the top rate of tax for the highest earners, even you had not seriously questioned it until today.

Our politics, and the quality of public debate, requires that all participants, however much they may disagree, take part in good faith.

Yours sincerely,

Harriet Harman MP
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Does anyone seriously believe Labour won’t raise taxes?

For some reason Harman left this part of the transcript out of her letter, presumably because it included another uncosted spending pledge:

“Well I think that is a very interesting point actually Henry because sometimes people feel that they pay in a lot over a long period of time working hard but when they suddenly need unemployment benefit if they lose their job that actually it is nowhere near enough to actually make them feel that it was worth it for them to contribute. And one of the things that we are talking about is making a higher rate the longer you’ve worked to recognise the contributions you’ve paid in if you lose your job.”

How are they going to pay for that, another bankers’ bonus tax?

The New Cabinet in Full

The Cabinet

David Cameron – Prime Minister

Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister

William Hague – First Secretary of State, Leader of the House of Commons

George Osborne – Chancellor of the Exchequer

Danny Alexander – Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Theresa May – Secretary of State for the Home Department

Michael Fallon – Secretary of State for Defence

Vince Cable – Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Iain Duncan Smith – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Chris Grayling – Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Nicky Morgan – Secretary of State for Education, Women & Equalities Min.

Eric Pickles – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Jeremy Hunt – Secretary of State for Health

Elizabeth Truss – Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Justine Greening – Secretary of State for International Development

Alistair Carmichael – Secretary of State for Scotland

Edward Davey – Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Patrick McLoughlin – Secretary of State for Transport

Sajid Javid – Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Theresa Villiers – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Stephen Crabb – Secretary of State for Wales

Philip Hammond – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Also attending Cabinet

Michael Gove – Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury

Francis Maude – Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General

Matt Hancock – Minister of State for BIS, DECC and Portsmouth

Esther McVey – Minister of State for Employment

Oliver Letwin – Minister for Government Policy, Lord Privy Seal

David Laws – Minister of State for Cabinet Office, Schools

Grant Shapps – Minister Without Portfolio

Baroness Warsi – Senior Minister of State, Faith and Communities

Greg Clark – Minister of State for Universities and Science

Jeremy Wright – Attorney General

Baroness Stowell – Leader of the House of Lords

Campaigners Condemn Emergency Big Brother Powers

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The PM left his Lobby summer drinks party early last night to hammer out an agreement with rowing ministers over new emergency snooping legislation. This morning Cameron and Clegg announced that fast-track laws would be rushed through to allow spooks to keep snooping on our communications, after it was made illegal in the European courts. Civil liberties campaigners Big Brother Watch have condemned the move:

“It is a basic principle of a free society that you don’t monitor people who are not under suspicion. Considering the Snoopers Charter has already been rejected by the public as well as by the highest court in Europe, it is essential that the Government does not rush head first into creating new legislation.

The EU’s data retention laws privatised snooping, meaning companies were paid by governments to record what citizens were doing and retain that information for a year. We need to get back to a point where the police monitor people who are actually suspected of wrong doing and rather than wasting millions every year requiring data to be stored on an indiscriminate basis.”

Open Rights Group adds:

“The government knows that since the CJEU ruling, there is no legal basis for making internet service providers retain our data so it is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse for getting this law passed. The Government has had since April to address the CJEU ruling but it is only now that organisations such as ORG are threatening legal action that this has become an ‘emergency’. 

Not only will the proposed legislation infringe our right to privacy, it will also set a dangerous precedent where the government simply re-legislates every time it disagrees with a decision by the CJEU. The ruling still stands and these new plans may actually increase the amount of our personal data that is retained by ISPs, further infringing on our right to privacy. Blanket surveillance needs to end.”

No. 10 says the legislation will make life harder for terrorists, crooks and paedos. But it gives the state the power to access the phone and email data of everyone…

Old Etonian Who Brought Cam and Clegg Together Leaves No.10

When Nick Clegg went on Desert Island Discs after the election, he told the tale that when he was considering joining David Cameron in a coalition government, he texted a mutual friend and asked him, “Can I trust this guy?”

As Guido revealed for the first time in the Sun on Sunday yesterday, the friend who told him “yes” was Tim Luke. The Old Etonian who vouched for David Cameron is in a way responsible for bringing this coalition government together. Luke’s previous claim to fame was hitting the headlines for walking in front of the camera while James Corden was presenting the Brit Awards.

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The PM later appointed him to No.10’s policy unit. Could Tim’s leaving party next week – he’s off back to Barclays investment bank – be a sign the coalition is beginning to prepare for the end?

Reshuffle Rumour Round UpDiaries Cleared for a Week Today

The reshuffle speculation level has been raised from ‘fevered’ to ‘panicked’. Guido hears that Downing Street have instructed departments not to schedule anything for a week today. This, however, could be anything from an elaborate bluff, to an unintentional display of competence. The latest chatter still says it’s going to be ladies night and whilst plenty of women MPs are expected to rise up the ranks, vivacious and pushy Esther McVey – tipped for the cabinet by many – is in fact still in the PM’s doghouse after her spectacularly unhelpful comments during the Maria Miller scandal. Penny Mordaunt, who has impressed recently, is tipped to replace Andrew Murrison at Defence. 

Whilst previously Cameron has preferred tinkering reshuffles, there are some whispers of a big upheaval that could even see a job swap between Iain Duncan-Smith at Defence and Phil Hammond at Work and Pensions. Hammond is not hugely popular with the top brass, and could deploy his famed safe pair of hands at DWP, while IDS, a former military man, would be unlikely to accept any other job. Speculation about the future of Grant Shapps at CCHQ has all but died out, while Ken Clarke seems resigned to his fate. This is all rumour mill though…

Any government reshuffle will indicate that the new EU commissioner has been decided, which would point to a delay. Andrew Lansley is said to be out, Willetts has let it be known he speaks French and German, while others say Michael Howard is still worth an outside bet. Lord Howard has certainly not ruled himself out of one last big job, and the PM owes him one after Dave’s then boss delayed the 2005 leadership election to let his favoured successor get their campaign in gear. It would also avoid a messy by-election.

Some in No. 10 are anticipating that in all likelihood No. 10’s first option for Commissioner will be ‘Junck-ed’ in petty retaliation. While in the past, Downing Street have allowed reshuffle rumours to last for months, cunningly keeping everyone on best behaviour, they’re running out of time to bed in new ministers in well before the election. It’s hardly like they’re going to be legislating much, mind.

UPDATE:

 

Blogpost Criticising Cameron Removed From the Internet

There is growing concern this morning over Google removing articles from their search results in order to comply with a European court ruling giving individuals with embarrassing pasts a so-called “right to be forgotten”. Talking of awkward things disappearing from the internet, the House of Commons Library last night decided to remove a blogpost on its website laying into Cameron for being generous with his figures at PMQs this week. Commenting on the PM’s boast about improving hospital waiting times, the Library originally judged that the data “did not support” Dave’s claim, accusing him of a “simplistic reading” of the facts. Labour were naturally very pleased that parliament’s impartial research service had gone after the PM so strongly.

Now the blog has been deleted by the Library:

Though they aren’t taking back the criticism made in the original post…

‘Red Princes’ Gets Box Office Treatment

It has been two years since Guido applied the ‘Red Princes‘ neologism to Labour’s nepotistic sons, who are  seeking to inherit power from their political parents. Sorry Bercow, but someone has been reading…

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“We’ve got son of Blair, son of Straw, son of Prescott, son of Dromey. When you take out the Red Princes, you’ll find that 80% of their candidates are union sponsored. They bought the candidates, they bought the policies, they bought the leader, we must never let them near the country.”

Is Joe Dromey going to get his mum to complain again?

WATCH: Forgot About Dre

Poor Craig Oliver. Arriving at the Brussels summit with the PM and his entourage earlier today, Downing Street’s Director of Communications was hauled aside by security and stopped from going in, leaving him stranded at the door as Dave and the rest of his team strolled on through:

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“Motherf**kers act like they forgot about Dre…”

Via Sky.

WATCH: Dave: Juncker is the Wrong Man

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“It is the wrong person. Jean-Claude Juncker has been at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life. He’s not the right person to take this organisation forward. I’m very clear about the right thing to do. I know the odds are stacked against me but that doesn’t mean you change your mind, it means you stand up for what you believe and you vote accordingly.”

Going down fighting…

Doughty Dave Does Battle With Dastardly Continentals

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Dave isn’t backing down over Jean-Claude Juncker. Craig Oliver will be pleased that in the news clips being played this morning, he’s in full on plucky Englander mode, sticking it to Johnny Foreigner even if  he was outnumbered all along. It all sounds good, but Labour have been left with what they think is an open goal:

[Cameron has] turned a Europe divided over Jean-Claude Juncker into a Europe apparently united against David Cameron”.

Opportunistic from Wee Dougie as both Labour and even the LibDems quietly support the principle that Dave is fighting for, namely that national governments determine who is to be president of the European Commission, rather than the corrupt overgrown student union that is the European Parliament putting one of their own in charge.

Juncker is the past. As Fraser Nelson says this morning:

“The idea that the correct response to last month’s Euro elections is the enstoolment of a technocratic federalist is, of course, preposterous – but Cameron is the only leader with the courage to say so openly.”

Europe is moaning because the Prime Minister is not playing ball with them – no bad thing. The implication of their attack is that Labour are siding with the EU. Something they must realise is voter repellent right now, whatever misty-eyed ideological commitment to the project Miliband holds.

Meanwhile, “fears over Juncker’s drinking” have finally cut through to the front pages, with the Telegraph reporting his “drinking habits have been discussed at the highest levels by European leaders who privately have concerns over the lifestyle of the continent’s president-in-waiting“. Guido sees Juncker’s penchant for breakfast wine as his one redeeming quality…

Ken Clarke Trolls Cameron Ahead of Reshuffle

Almost as if he knows he is about to be slotted at the upcoming reshuffle, Ken Clarke has turned up on the World at One to wind up No.10. First he had a dig at Cameron’s statement on Coulson yesterday, which was criticised by the judge but taken with the say so of the Attorney General. Despite that the Minister Without Portfolio insisted: 

“It’s clear that nobody took legal advice.”

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Going on to defend Dave’s nemesis Jean-Claude Juncker: 

“I’m one of the few people that has met Jean-Claude Juncker. Nobody knows exactly what he is supposed to have done wrong. The idea he’s an arch-federalist is slightly exaggerated. He’s not an arch-villain.”

If that doesn’t seal his fate…

WATCH: Cameron v Miliband PMQs Clash in Full

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The full exchange between Cameron and Miliband at today’s PMQs. If Ed can’t draw blood today, he never will…

Miliband’s Kinnock/Westland Moment

You can see the very moment that Ed realised he lost today’s potentially game changing moment in the House. A confident Cameron, armed with the Leveson report quotes, got his apology out early, before Ed could call for it. Just look at his face in reaction to the PM’s gag about Ed standing up to Murdoch, posing with the Sun and ultimately weakly apologising. Video to follow…

UPDATE: Video of the moment Ed knew he had lost it:

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UPDATE II: In GIF form:

Speaker Watch: Bercow Plays Ball With Bryant

Chris Bryant has the sixth question at PMQs. Phone-hacking has been of some mild interest to him over the years and he gets on famously with Dave. However, Coulson’s trial continues over at the Old Bailey and the judge got very cross yesterday at politicians talking publicly about the partial verdict. As did Coulson’s Scottish lawyers…

Unsurprisingly, Mr Speaker has been accommodating to Labour and will allow Ed and Chris their big moment:

Let the butchery begin.

Charlie Brooks on Dave: We Can Still Be Friends

Speaking to LBC’s Kay Burley in 2012, the cleared husband of Rebekah Brooks has revealed he still wants to be friends with the Prime Minister, despite the disappointment felt when the PM spoke out against his wife:

“We were at school together and our families have known each other for a long time I suppose, decades. I’m getting old now. And he’s also our MP at home and our neighbour so we know each other pretty well. We obviously don’t see each other at the moment and that’s his decision and probably his advice and I don’t really blame him for that. He’s got a job to do and if his advisors say there should be a bit of clear water and distance between him and Rebekah and myself at the moment I certainly don’t hold that against him. I just you know think that’s life.”

The interview continues:

KB: Are you content with his behaviour because you were close weren’t you. You played bridge together, he came to ride the horse, we’ve read a lot about that.

CB: I was a little bit disappointed when he commented in Parliament on whether Rebekah should resign or not because I didn’t really feel he had all of the facts at his finger tips to comment on that. When this is all over, I’m sure he’ll explain, ‘I’m sorry but I was, these are the pressures I was under on that particular day’. He also has pressures in this whole thing as well. So I don’t feel any anger towards him at all.

KB: Do you think you can be friends again?

CB: Yeah I do yeah.

The Chipping Norton set are almost reunited.

WATCH: Miliband: “This Taints Cameron’s Government”

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“I think David Cameron has very, very serious questions to answer because we now know that he brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street. David Cameron was warned about Andy Coulson, the evidence mounted up against Andy Coulson, David Cameron must have had his suspicions about Andy Coulson, and yet he refused to act.

I believe this isn’t just a serious error of judgement, this taints David Cameron’s government because we now know that he put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing when it came to Andy Coulson. I think David Cameron must do much more than an apology, he owes the country an explanation for why he did not act on these allegations against Andy Coulson, why as the evidence piled up he didn’t do anything, and he’s got to explain.”

Roll on PMQs tomorrow…

WATCH: Cameron: “I am Extremely Sorry”

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“I take full responsibility for employing Andy Coulson. I did so on the basis of undertakings I was given by him about phone hacking and those turned out not to be the case. I always said that if they turned out to be wrong that I would make a full and frank apology and I do that today. I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I’m very clear about that.

I asked him questions about if he knew about phone hacking and he said that he didn’t and I accepted those assurances and I gave him the job. I would say that no one has made any complaints about the work that he did for me either as Leader of the Opposition or indeed here in Number 10 Downing Street, but knowing what I now know and knowing that those assurances weren’t right it was obviously wrong to employ him. I gave someone a second chance and it turned out to be a bad decision.”

Interesting interpretation of “full and frank”…

Cameron Says Judge Only Him For His “Friend” Coulson

In July 2011 David Cameron said:

“I decided to give him a second chance and no one has raised serious concerns about how he did his job for me … But the second chance didn’t work out. The decision to hire him was mine and mine alone and I take full responsibility for it. People will decide whether it is right to give someone a second chance or not. I do think it is right to judge an individual by the work he did for me. I accept he was an editor of a newspaper where some very bad things happened. Because he’d resigned … it was reasonable to offer him a second chance … People will judge me on that, and I fully understand that. When you work with someone for four years as I did and you work closely, you do build a friendship and I became friends with him … so, yes, he became a friend and is a friend.

Guido imagines they’re now preparing to drop Coulson from a very great height.

But Cameron cannot undo those words.

Although he tried at the Leveson Inquiry, a year later:

“I was reliant on his word but I was also reliant on the fact that the Press Complaints Commission had accepted his word, the select committee had accepted his word, the police had accepted his word, the Crown Prosecution Service had accepted his word.”

Guido imagines that will be the line today…

WATCH: Dave Goes Down Fighting on Juncker

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BB: “How is his campaign going to stop Mr Juncker?”

[LAUGHS]

DC: “It’s a simple issue of principle, much more connected to the principle than the name. The principle is this –  and I think it will be shared on every side of the House – that the members of the European Council, the elected Prime Ministers and the elected Presidents, under the treaties, we should choose who runs the European Commission. And I don’t mind how many people on the European Council disagree with me, I will fight this right to the very end. And what I would say to my colleagues on the European Council, many of whom have expressed interesting views about both this principle and this person, if you want reform in Europe you’ve got to stand up for it, if you want change in Europe you’ve got to vote for it. That is the message I will take, and that is the right message for our country.”

Warning other EU leaders to do in public what they are saying about Juncker in private…

Ed Smashes His Negative Polling Record, Slumps Below CleggOsborne’s Shock Positive Approval Rating Grows

Ed Miliband has hit his lowest ever personal rating by gold-standard pollsters ICM for the Guardian. The Labour leader has dropped 14 points in the last month to -39, below even Nick Clegg, who has a rating of -37. Cameron has lost last month’s positive rating of +2, dropping to -5, though Osborne has seen an increase in his own rating from +5 to +6.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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