May SpAd Drove Dre Mad

may

It’s increasingly rare that Craig Oliver has anything to smile about, but he’ll be happy with the exit of Fi Cunningham, who vocalised what most of the SpAds think about the Downing Street Director of Comms. One ‘pal’ told this morning’s Sun: “She thought he was an idiot.” Another described Mr Oliver as “a Grade A ****”.’ As someone with all the authority of a boy scout, who struggles to command respect at the best of times, Cunningham’s attitude drove poor Craig round the bend.

In Sunday’s Sun Guido recounted his favourite tale involving Cunningham repeatedly fobbing off his orders to report to Downing Street for a bollocking. Seeing the No. 10 switchboard number when her phone rang again, she answered: “Sorry, Craig, I’m really busy.” “Get… here… now!” said a voice. She replied: “Right away, Prime Minister.”

Dave’s Diary Headache

Craig Oliver learnt one thing from Andy Coulson, keeping a diary:

By Guido’s count there are at least seven diaries/books about Cameron being worked on at the moment:

They would all be worthless if published after the election if the Tories have lost…

Another PX Wonk to No. 10

James Forsyth reports that Policy Exchange wonk Max Chambers is to join the No. 10 policy unit to take on the home affairs brief. Yet another helicopter head from the finishing school for SpAds. Guess Patrick Rock ain’t coming back any time soon…

Happy St George’s Day Boris

boris-st-george

As the owner of Boris2020.org the story in The Sun this morning claiming that Boris will decide within weeks if he is to run for parliament caught Guido’s eye. The mayor is denying it:

Guido would like to wish all his English readers a happy St George’s Day. If a man of Turkish origin can become patron saint of England, there is no stopping that other English hero of Turkish origin, Boris…

Put Carswell in No. 10

New City minister Andrea Leadsom achieves fame at last on the front page of the Indy today over her Margaret Hodge-style inheritance tax reducing trusts. Which reminds Guido that now she’s has been promoted to the Treasury that leaves a vacancy on the Downing Street Policy Board. Headed by Jo Johnson, the Policy Board is a Conservative party body, not to be confused with the No. 10 Policy and Implementation Unit. Whereas the Policy Unit shapes government policy, the Policy Board is a party instrument set up specifically to take views from backbench MPs. Some say it is merely a tool for backbench party management and a bauble for ambitious MPs. That may be.

Downing Street need someone who is not a yes-man, someone who is respected by his colleagues and someone who can bring radical, reforming ideas to the table.

They should look no further than Douglas Carswell… would he take the job?

article-2133233-12B48197000005DC-532_634x478[1]

In a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday voters strongly backed Carswell’s ideas. Carswell should surely have a hand in writing the Tory manifesto…

Coetzee Polling Presentation Reality Check

The Times has got hold of some polling slides presented by Nick Clegg’s taxpayer-funded strategist Ryan Coetzee, which give the LibDem leader suspiciously sky high approval ratings:

coetzee-slide-2-500x376

Compare Coetzee’s polling with that of independent companies however and the result is quite different. Back in October Ipsos Mori had 57% of the public saying they were dissatisfied with Clegg. In June they had his net approval rating at -37. YouGov meanwhile said he was the least popular party leader since Michael Foot.

Ed gets clapped by his brainwashed staff. Nick gets fantasy data. And Dave is surrounded by tits

UPDATE: Stephen Tall says he thinks this poll data is of “switchers” in target marginal seats. It still doesn’t explain why these people give a some 20% higher approval rating to Clegg than YouGov attributes to actual LibDem voters. Given these were produced by a civil servant, Coetzee, and the LibDem defence is that it is entirely legitimate and compatible with his role as a civil servant, we’ve FoI’d the presentation. Smells wrong…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

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Craig Oliver: “Gallagher is Talking Rubbish About Me”

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Craig Oliver is in full denial mode after former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher went after him on the Today programme, suggesting that the Downing Street spin boss cited Leveson when trying to shut down the Maria Miller story:

“It is entirely false to suggest that I tried to threaten him with Leveson in any way. The conversation I had with him was about the inappropriate doorstepping of an elderly man (Maria Miller’s father).”

Gallagher has hinted to the Daily Politics that he has a tape.  Craig emailed the show live to say “Tony is talking rubbish about me, and you can use that”.

This is getting serious…

UPDATE: Gallagher has hit back: “it’s almost as if Craig wants to make the story about him. It isn’t. He is a human shield for Miller. He adds “Incidentally, I note there is no denial coming from Jo Hindley.”

UPDATE II: No tape.

Wham Cam Thank You Nan

Congratulations to Gita Lima, the Cameron children’s nanny, who Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun is expecting a baby in early summer.

Usually Gita keeps in the background, hitting the front pages only when bungling immigration minister James Brokenshire claimed the rich, metropolitian elite get their nannies on the cheap because of mass immigration. It soon emerged that Gita had only been granted British citizenship after Samantha Cameron was named on the application as her employer…

Critics nevertheless will not be pleased to learn that Nepal-born Gita, having only got her passport in 2010, will soon be in receipt of maternity and child benefits.

The happy news means that the Downing Street nanny employment crisis is now becoming critical – George Osborne’s nanny is off as well…

Awkward Politico-Media “Conscious Uncoupling” Coverage

Poor BBC News presenter Joanna Gosling is being made to read the Gwyneth Paltrow / Chris Martin split on loop on the BBC News Channel.

Surely they could have got her co-presenter to cover this particular story given her own current “conscious uncoupling” from Craig Oliver?

MEPs Plot to Spike No.10's Choice for EU Commissioner

Despite Downing Street getting to choose the candidate for EU Commissioner, the European Parliament has to approve their pick. Guido understands Number 10 is preparing for the possibility that the PM’s first choice will be spiked by MEPs as revenge for the British vetoing the 2011 treaty. So Dave faces a dilemma. Does he put forward his first choice as normal and risk seeing them vetoed, or does he hold back who he actually wants at the risk of a decoy first nomination scraping through? Andrew Mitchell will be watching closely.

Lobby Won't Miss Another Downing Street Arrest

Downing Street’s failure to disclose to the public that Patrick Rock had resigned and been arrested for three weeks is causing some bother for the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson. At yesterday’s Lobby briefing Jean-Christophe Gray, or JC as he is affectionately known by hacks, was asked by lippy Mirror deputy political editor James Lyons: “Has anyone from Downing Street resigned or been arrested in the last 24 hours?” “No…”, a less than impressed JC sighed…

Labour Point Finger at Llewellyn

Following Guido’s story this morning that Patrick Rock was subject to a second sexual harassment complaint from a junior Downing Street staffer, Labour have written to Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood asking:

  • In total how many sexual harassment allegations have been made against Mr Rock, on what dates were they made, and in each case how were they dealt with and what was the outcome?
  • Was there a formal process for dealing with the sexual harassment allegations against Mr Rock, and what was the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Ed Llewellyn, in that process?
  • What other officials were involved? In your judgement, is it right for a political appointee to handle a sexual harassment complaint made by an official about another political appointee?

Firming up Labour sources this morning taking aim at Cameron’s chief of staff and Rock’s close friend, Ed Llewellyn. Don’t expect a reply any time soon…

Rock Subject of Two Female Staff Complaints Labour Question Rock Chum Llewellyn's Role

Guido understands that Patrick Rock was the subject of two complaints from female staff, Downing Street claims there was only one complaint and it was dealt with properly. The first complaint was from a junior female Downing Street staffer and the second from a senior civil servant who is no longer in No. 10. The dismissal of the complaints is said to have led to disquiet amongst female staff who were uncomfortable with Rock.

Downing Street last night denied there was a second complaint, which might be technically true as the senior female civil servant is thought to have complained informally rather than via the formal civil service grievance procedures. Guido understands that the complaints were about inappropriate pestering rather than anything of a groping nature.

Labour are suspicious and have two questions about the matter, firstly “Did Number 10 deliberately wait to announce [Rock arrest] to let the Harriet Harman story run?” and pointedly given his closeness to Rock “Is Ed Llewellyn the right person to look at this?”

No More Hung Parliament Party

Dave says he will not go into coalition after the election:

“The Prime Minister wants to make a commitment in the Conservative Party election manifesto not to sign a second power-sharing deal with a smaller party in the event of a hung parliament next May, it is understood.”

No.10 are not denying the story, instead saying that the PM is in it to win it. 

Such a promise reminds Guido of a remarkably accurate election broadcast from the Tories just before the last election. Who remembers The Hung Parliament Party? The broadcast went out while the Tories prepared for a Con/Lib government:

Is that a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ Prime Minister?

Delivery for Mr Oliver

That’s what they meant when they said he ‘got TV’.

Clegg: Cameron "Spineless"DPM Claims PM Only Cares 'How It Will Play'

Guido revealed what went on inside a tense recent meeting of LibDem MPs in yesterday’s Sun column. Clegg defended himself against allegations it had been “easy for him” in government, quipping “If I’d been a Tory it would have been easy.”

One crowd-pleasing line stood out: Clegg calling Cameron “spineless” and saying that while he used his Liberal values as guidance, the PM merely asks “how’s this going to play?”

Something that Tory backbenchers might find themselves in rare agreement with Clegg over.

Expect more public airing of dirty laundry as the Coalition’s divorce day draws nearer.

238 Days Later

The PM must have heard it’s Guido’s birthday because he’s got him a gift – the first Downing Street press conference in 238 days – 16.45 at No. 10.

Along with the floods, this is the second sign of the apocalypse. Guido is expecting a downpour of frogs any second.

Another Craig Oliver Image Success

Tory MPs first clocked something was  up when Rachel Reeves almost sat on Ed Balls’ knee to try and squeeze into shot on the Labour front-bench, along with Harman and Caroline “window dressing” Flint. A nice distraction trick for Ed to point out Cameron’s woman problem, but can only really be used once. Still, it’s not like the Downing Street director of communications has a background in TV management or anything…

Pic via @suttonnick

Yeo’s Woes are Direct Challenge to PM’s Authority

Well that was a bad judgement call from Downing Street, with Cameron and Osborne spending their political capital hopelessly backing Tim Yeo. Senior Tories are paranoid that this is just the beginning of the de-selection woes and the crack in the dam is rapidly expanding.[…] Read the rest

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