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. Associations are going to get a taste for this sort of accountability and direct action. 

No. 10 say the deselection “is a matter for the constituency”, but that’s a funny way of describing a direct challenge to the PM’s authority. While the Chancellor hilariously described Yeo as “politician of principle”, just last week Dave wrote:

“You have served your constituency of South Suffolk for over three decades – a record of which you can be enormously proud. I very much hope that you will be selected to stand as the Conservative representative in this seat again, so that you can fight to continue representing your constituents in the next parliament as you always have done in the past, with tenacity and commitment. Your considerable expertise in rural issues and the environment has been of real benefit to our party and our country. You have always provided a strong voice for the people of South Suffolk and it would be a great loss to your constituents, to parliament, and to the Conservative Party if the South Suffolk Conservative Association did not re-select you so that you can continue providing that steadfast representation.”

The hard-working people of South Suffolk politely disagreed. Let the uprising begin.

UPDATE: 

Dear Nick, ‘Please Stop’ Him ‘Before Someone Else is Abused’Tape Proves Downing Street Received Hancock Warning in ’11

The heartbreaking pleas from a vulnerable young woman to Nick Clegg have been revealed. As reported in this morning’s Sun, the Deputy Prime Minister cruelly ignored a letter from “Annie”, sent under her real name, as she begged three years ago to “please stop” MP Mike Hancock “before it is too late before someone else gets hurt and abused by him.” 

The Portsmouth South constituent, who is accusing her MP of abusing her after she went to him for help, sent Clegg this chilling warning in March 2011:

“He cannot be trusted and he is a liability to women, public and also your party. Stop the behaviour from him and his staff and whoever is involved with Mr Hancock as this is holy wrong. And please reply to this letter as it is very important to me that I get answers from you”

Nick Clegg said on Friday that he was “appalled” when he “first heard specific allegations” at the beginning of 2013 and that he had “acted immediately” to suspend Hancock as MP. He said “some letters were sent and some were not received.” This one was.

Guido can now reveal that “Annie’s” damning letter definitely reached the Deputy Prime Minister’s office in Downing Street. A secret tape recording has emerged proving that No. 10 civil servants had received the letter and told “Annie” and it would be specifically passed on to Clegg’s Political Office. Guido is not running the full tape in order to protect “Annie’s” identity, but the extract below proves the Downing Street communications office, having checked “Annie’s” postcode, were clearly aware of the content of the letter and had passed it on to Clegg’s people:

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No.10: Ok, this is a complaint regarding your MP Mike Hancock… 

Annie: Yes

No.10: Because this is a political issue it is being passed to the political section to deal with rather than us at the communication office because we are civil servants we are not really able to comment on matters like this. So what I can do is get in touch with the Political Office and say that you have called up inquiring about your letter.

Nick Clegg’s Political Office never replied to “Annie”, ignoring her warning “before it is too late before someone else gets hurt and abused by him.” Shame on them.

Bright Blue Director’s SpAd Blocking Temper Tantrum

Over Christmas dripping wet Tory pressure group Bright Blue launched a blistering attack on the Conservative Party’s messaging. The group’s director Ryan Shorthouse slammed the Dave for “pandering to prejudice, uncertainty and anger”. Though now it appears it was Shorthouse who was the angry one – he was blocked by Downing Street in December from becoming a SpAd to David Willets at BIS. Revenge is a dish best served on a slow news day.

Running the Country

There obviously wasn’t much to do in Downing Street this morning, as Dave managed to get a jog in for nearly an hour in the middle of the working day. Osborne was giving a speech and Clegg a press conference. Who really runs Britain at 11am on Monday?

Pic via Political Pictures.

Downing Street Confirms Energy Price Freeze Story is Untrue

20131129-094318.jpg

Paul Waugh quotes a Treasury source as saying that the story doing the rounds this morning that the government was going to ask energy companies to freeze prices is “complete b******s”, now a Downing Street source has confirmed to Guido that the story is untrue. Which given their recent record for u-turns, egg-turns and intellectual incoherence is perhaps surprising. Number 10 sources stress that it was the BBC who got the story wrong, saying it appears to have come from a “confused” energy company and so is not a u-turn. Another expertly handled No. 10 press operation.

No.10 'Crippled With Fear' Over Coming NHS Crisis

As Dave jets off on another one of his travelling salesman tours, he leaves behind a Downing Street operation in a bit of a flap. There is a growing mood within No. 10 and Whitehall that as the good economic news keeps coming, with the recovery strengthening, the government’s self-proclaimed central purpose will slip down the agenda. Instead of talking about the economy, the next couple of years will focus on other issues and problems. The NHS, Universal Credit and Romanian/Bulgarian immigration are causing the most sleepless nights. 

Sources claim Craig Oliver is particularly concerned about the NHS and a bucket of bad news set to come down the line. Crisis talks have been held between the Department of Health, No. 10 and the Cabinet Office. When Department of Health officials were asked when the good news from the NHS reforms would start to trickle through, the reply was “never”. Winter is coming, one SpAd tells Guido the Tories are ‘crippled with fear’. If it is a cold winter, high energy prices, poverty and the NHS will come together as a perfect storm, with higher senior citizen mortality…

The Global Race

Always keen to support a good cause, Guido was browsing the Just Giving website when he came across Craig Oliver’s 10k fun run page. He’s already raised over two thousand pounds, thanks mostly to eager hacks opening their wallets for stories. Who said chequebook journalism was dead?

The Mail’s Tim Shipman will double his donation if Craig wears his infamous Dre headphones, Simon Walters “wouldn’t want you to fall flat on your face in the mud”, Jeremy Vine wonders “if you can beat your time last year of 7 hours” and Matthew d’Ancona asks if he has become a Tory donor chipping in a ton.  Sky News have whipped around for another £100 and it seems Mark Easton, the BBC’s home editor who was singled out by the Tories at the weekend for being a pinko-under-the-bed, is not sore enough to hold a grudge.

Number 10’s very own Andrew Cooper wins with “I think you’re taking the global race too seriously.” George Osborne has chipped in £50, plus £12.50 gift aid of course from the rest of us. Though no sign of the PM…

Guido was feeling generous:

Joking apart, you can donate here.

New Number 10 Policy Board Job Allocation

Jobs for the new faces on the Number 10 policy board announced this afternoon:

  • Alun Cairns – environment, energy and local government
  • Andrea Leadsom – part of the public services brief
  • Nadhim Zahawi – economic affairs
  • Priti Patel – home affairs and constitution
  • Chris Skidmore – public services

Softening the blow of being overlooked in the reshuffle.

Via @monitoringuk

Let Them Wear Jumpers

New Deputy PMOS Scot Marchbank’s first lobby briefing went well then. His Marie Antoinette-esque answer to a question about whether families struggling to deal with rising energy bills should wear jumpers at home: “If people are giving that advice it is something they may wish to consider”. Quite a gaffe to begin with. You can see the Mirror splash already…

Sacked Tory MP’s Ex-Wife Does a Tim Loughton Publishes Text From DC’s Gatekeeper Kate Fall

It has been widely reported this morning that Fiona-Natasha Syms did not take the news of her ex-hubby Robert’s sacking as a Tory whip very well:

What has been missed by some, is the swiftly deleted picture of text message from Kate Fall that she posted, but not before it was caught by HuffPo:

There goes the knighthood.

Dowden’s Day Job Perks

dowden

Some rather “unsubtle” and “unsophisticated” politicking from Number 10’s Deputy Chief of Staff Oliver Dowden, who is trying to sew up the nomination for the safe Tory seat of Croydon South. Local co-conspirators tell Guido that Dowden has been calling local party figures who will have a say in the selection and dropping into conversation “oh the Prime Minister’s just walked in, fancy a chat?” before passing over the phone. Wary of this type of pressure, the other safe seat that is also selecting at the moment – Tonbridge and Malling – has opened up the decision to every registered voter in the area. 65,000 such phone calls suddenly gets a bit tricky.

Downing Street Revolving Doors LibDem Joanne Foster Out and Cooper on His Way

As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday Downing Street pollster Andrew Cooper is to leave No.10 shortly. It will be spun that he is going to continue helping out on a part-time basis when he goes back to his old firm Populus. Now the PM has Lynton Crosby on his team does he really need two pollsters? Especially since Cooper was the one who told Dave not to worry about UKIP because they would only be a flash in the pan…

Talking of  flashes in the pan, Joanne Foster, who has only been Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s gatekeeper for 2 years is also leaving to go to the lucrative world of lobbying with her now expanded list of government contacts. Ker-ching.

Labour Accuse Downing Street of Cracking Up

Labour attack dog Michael Dugher has upped the pressure on Hague after Guido’s revelation that it was the Foreign Secretary’s PPS that called Miliband a See You Next Tuesday over Syria. He told LabourList:

“There is a pattern of behaviour in David Cameron’s government. Whether that’s the rather stupid and puerile comments made on a regular basis by Michael Gove; the alleged foul-mouthed outbursts by William Hague’s parliamentary aide; or frankly the rather inept and unprofessional briefings from some very weak performing individuals who simply can’t take the pressure in Downing Street.”

Guido is not sure the sweary opinions about Miliband are exclusive to Downing Street, or even just the Tory party.

UPDATE: A government source hits back:

“This is laughable coming from the man whose only political achievement so far was acting as the mouthpiece for a failed PM who had one of the worst PR images in history. Now he’s just become a cut price version of Tom Watson.”

Ooooooh. Guido will report back on whether they’re going to take that.

Official: Government Ignore UN Loon’s Report

The report of this morning’s Lobby briefing claims “there was no audible reply” when the PM’s spokesman was asked if “the Government would be taking into account the views on housing and benefit policies from a Brazilian UN academic who ‘allegedly dabbled in witchcraft and allegedly made animal sacrifices to Karl Marx'”. Some people heard the reply though, Paul Waugh points out it was: “I think you’ve answered your own question.”

So that went well for the witchdoctor activist posing as an independent expert…

Number 10: “Miliband is a F***ing C***”

A government source tells the Times: “No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***. The French hate him now and he’s got no chance of building an alliance with the US Democratic Party”.[…] 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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