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”. Why? Here is where things stand this morning. Miliband’s threat to oppose the government means the PM doesn’t have the numbers for military action. Today’s vote will now not authorise intervention, there will have to be a second vote next week if Cameron wants war. A case of Miliband outmanoeuvring Cameron or a victory for Parliament? Either way, he is just delaying having to actually make a decision.

This is the government’s motion for today:

motion

Click to enlarge.

It’s going to be a long one…

Sun’s Graeme Wilson New Downing Street Press Secretary

Craig Oliver has hired Sun deputy political editor Graeme Wilson as Downing Street’s new press secretary, reports James Forsyth. Normally sceptical Whitehall sources see it as an “excellent hire by Craig”, rare praise then. Gabby Bertin is also back, she becomes director of external relations.

That angry sound you can hear in the distance is the news reaching down under

New No.10 Head of News

The Number 10 comms team is getting beefed up with Scot Marchbank, the Head of News at the Ministry of Justice moving over to become Head of News and a deputy to Jean-Christophe Gray. A Whitehall source describes Marchbank, who cut his teeth at the Home Office as “hardcore…with a good reputation”.  Just that Press Secretary role to fill now….

Dave's Party Charm Offensive Continues

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, it is not just Tory MPs who are on the receiving end of the PM’s summer charm offensive. Former Chairmen of the Conservative Party also got the Downing Street drinks party treatment. Current Chairman Grant Shapps and his disgruntled predecessor Sayeeda Warsi were joined recently by blasts from the past like Norman Tebbit, Cecil Parkinson, Norman Fowler, Chris Patten and Maurice Saatchi.

The old guard and more modern faces like Liam Fox and Theresa May – all of whom have done time in the Chairman’s seat – were on hand to offer advice, though Guido understands not all of it was greeted with enthusiasm.

No sign of Eric Pickles…

Dave’s Burgers

Nick Robinson was rather happy to disclose on the BBC that Dave is going to great lengths these days to keep his backbenchers sweet. Something Sun readers found out on Sunday:

“Nothing like a nice wet English barbecue to bring people together. David Cameron has invited Tory MPs to an “informal barbecue” in the Number 10 rose garden on Thursday, following the annual official photograph in the Commons chamber. There will be no shortage of burgers available for mischievous colleagues. It’s all part of Downing Street’s drive to keep their backbenchers sweet before the crucial EU referendum vote on Friday. One rebel MP tells Guido Number 10 are “keeping us on a drip” of suspiciously enjoyable activities. While Dave plays good cop, party chairman Grant Shapps and bruising strategist Lynton Crosby have summoned all of the party to a meeting at Friday lunchtime, just incase they were not planning to come.”

A rare outbreak of unity today…

Dave Says Goodbye to Rohan

rohan
It was Rohan Silva’s leaving do on Monday. Rohan was the last remaining Downing Street SpAd in the radical mould of Steve Hilton. The father of Tech-City is off to EC1 to realise his inner tech-entrepreneur ambitions.

The PM spoke at his leaving do and said he was

“…not sure if this is a leaving do or a wake for James Forsyth’s column…”

Whatever could Dave have meant?

What a Difference Two Years Make

Late night?

Via @politicalpics
[…] Read the rest

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Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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