Guido is preparing to relive his more youthful days as Fat Boy Slim is playing in Parliament on 6 March, thanks to the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Foundation. Norman Cook is excited too: “I’ve played some exciting and unique places around the world from Bondi Beach to The Great Wall of China to an Igloo but playing in the House of Commons might be the most unique to date.” See you at the “House The House” event. Sorted.
Slumped in an alleyway outside a bar: this was Sally Bercow in the early hours of Friday morning. The Speaker’s wife had spent a boozy evening with young male Tory researchers, kicking off at the Sports and Social in Parliament before heading to Players’, a regular piano dive for twenty-something staffers. Alastair Whitby, who works for a Conservative MP, tweeted: “Pleased to see @SallyBercow was out and on form last night at Players Bar”, while another Tory researcher told how he was “Yoloing [You only live once] on the dancefloor with Sally Bercow”. No doubt it went down well with John…
Guido was sad to miss two-faced Chuka Umunna dining in a pub popular with the Guy Newsroom team last night. Judging by his choice of meal, the Shadow Business Secretary was putting on his man of the people act, though a co-conspiratorial vintner whispers that the mask slipped and Chuka awkwardly came a cropper with his cutlery:
“He had a burger and a pint of s**t lager. Dropped his knife and waited for someone to pick it up for him. Nobody did of course.”
He does think he’s a cut above the rest, after all…
Guido is off to the Westminster Arms for our Christmas drinks. Join fellow readers, co-conspirators, Westminster wonks, movers and shakers, and seasoned drunks as we toast the end of another year of plots, rumours and conspiracy. Come down…
Say what you like about William Hague, the man certainly knows how to play host. Guido has got hold of the list of wines he has served to visiting kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers over the last year. No expense has been spared, out of our pocket naturally.
The Foreign Secretary’s fine choice of the “flamboyantly scented” Château Cheval Blanc 1985 will have impressed guests, at least it should have at £400-a-bottle. Those looking for something a little more subtle could go for the Château Léoville-Lascases 1989, a snip at just £139. A classic Bordeaux is also on offer, the £142-a-bottle Château Cos d’Estournel 1986 will have been enjoyed by visitors from across the Channel. Let it never be said that Hague lets his guests go away unsatisfied, a glass or two of the £87-a-bottle Warre 1977 is how our host likes to end his soirées. And if he’s sufficiently lubricated, he might even let you see his snake…
If you fancy coming along then make sure you’ve subscribed to the Guidogram for details of the SW1 location nearer the time. Save the date…
After the September reshuffle sacked former ministers got together to form a drinking/dining club, loosely named the Geronimo Club due to the fact they shared the date of their demise with the old chieftain. Guido hears that the name has gone out of the window, but the grouping is going strong, indeed apparently tonight will see their inaugural knees up.
It’s an interesting choice of location: the official residence of the Chief Whip – 9 Downing Street. Sir George Young was an original member of the group and despite being called back to government, Gentleman George is still laying on the drinks. And as revealed in yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday, Caroline Spelman is bringing the canapés…
Tempers are fraying in the run up to tonight’s vote. Guido hears that Cameron was at a drinks gathering for northern Tory MPs. Andrew Bingham was there and got the full Flashman treatment as a consequence of having signed the Reckless amendment. The Prime Minister is reported to have lambasted the Member for High Peak saying:
“What do you think you are doing? This isn’t some f**king sixth-form debating society.”
Temper, temper Dave…
UPDATE: Apologies to Andrew Bridgen whom we originally misreported getting the ear full.
UPDATE II: Bingham denies the story his colleagues report, yet the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was very mealy mouthed.
Yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday column revealed further details about Osborne’s Class A habit and why the BBC’s coverage of it was a little subdued:
CHANCELLOR George Osborne was left red-faced when he was accused of trying to get away with sitting in the first-class carriage of a train with a standard-class ticket. His spokesman and Virgin Trains deny an argument ever took place, even though a witness says his aide tried it on. Osborne does have previous on bending the rules. The same thing happened back in May when a ticket inspector was high-fived by other passengers for refusing to let the multi-millionaire sit in first class without the correct ticket. Strangely, BBC news all but ignored Friday’s incident. Nothing to do with the aide in the spotlight being Poppy Mitchell-Rose – a former BBC employee who is dating Ben Wright, the BBC’s political correspondent.
Guido’s favourite story was the Shadow Public Health Minister’s morning tipple:
LATE-NIGHT TV star and part-time Shadow Minister Diane Abbott was up for an award last week for the “Best Politician on Twitter”. Eyebrows were raised at the nomination, given that Abbott came very, very close to losing her job in January when she was embroiled in a racism row after tweeting blanket insults about all “white people”. There were even more eyebrows raised at the example set by the Shadow Public Health Minister who, upon arriving at the posh ceremony, immediately tucked into the champagne. At 8am.
You can now read the rest of Guido’s Sunday column online here.
Banned from pubs, tales of schoolgirl lovers and a conviction for assault in the Strangers’ bar – and now Eric Joyce could be another £3,000 out of pocket. This time it isn’t a judge demanding he cough up, it is his own Labour CLP in Falkirk. They want Joyce to refund the £3,000 they gave him in election expenses:
“He says the reason for not resigning as an MP is because he was elected personally, not the Labour Party. If that’s the case we want our money back.”
If he doesn’t pay they say they will sue. Eric Joyce is spending more time in court than in parliament these days…
The LibDem conference should by all accounts be an excuse for Clegg and co to distance themselves from their Tory counterparts, but it looks like they will be partying like the 1% next week. While Tories will remain under a strict champagne ban, Ashdown and Farron will be chugging kir, champagne and canapés thanks to spinmeisters Guide Consultancy. VIPs are being invited to drink with the grandees in an invite-only Brighton penthouse.
The lobbyists claim to have “stocked up on some great wine, not the usual conference fare” – presumably as a thank you to the LibDems for their abject failure to introduce lobbying reforms thus far, despite all the promises. Bottoms up.
Speaking to those subversive wets of the Tory Reform Group at the Carlton Club last night, Ken Clarke displayed some characteristic candour. Reports from the room suggest that Ken was rightly introduced as the “only cabinet minister to lead us out of a recession”, but he quickly veered off message and rambled away:
“So now we’ve had the usual comic shambles that happens after every reshuffle… This has been my umpteenth reshuffle… I deny any suggestion that I got that job because I’ve had all the rest of them. My job will be to slot into the bewildering range of things that the government is doing… I’ll be dealing with the alphabet soup.”
Joking aside, Clarke’s insight into his role is rather telling:
“Now George wants me in to keep an eye on Vince and Vince wants me in to keep an eye on George… We’ve got a deficit the size of Greece, we’ve got a real job on our hands… I don’t want to bring too much gloom, but it will be a long haul.”
He doesn’t seem too bothered about having two masters, and why might that be? Apparently:
“the party has accidentally drifted to the right”.
He also noted that Cameron was having to lead “with the right acting up again” and Guido understands that there was a plea “to keep the centre ground, where elections are won”. The number of Clarke’s ilk in the ranks has greatly diminished since the last time he went into battle with his own party.
Picture via @timothy_barnes. Quotes via @asabenn
UPDATE: Ken Clarke’s office are kicking back hard on some of this. They seem to be blaming tweeters in the room for distorting what Clarke was saying, though he does not deny attacking the right, or the his interesting choice of words like “bewildering range” and “alphabet soup”:
“These tweets give the opposite impression to the serious points I clearly made. It is slightly altered little phrases taken from different jokes and put together. I made the case for a successful coalition and stated there was no ideological divide within it on economic policy. On the economy I stressed that we were in for the long haul and that the Chancellor’s approach is the right one. I also said in passing that the reshuffle should not be interpreted as a shift to the right. Twitter is not renowned as an accurate form of reporting, but even I am surprised at distortions on this sort of scale.”
Seems someone is keeping an eye on Ken keeping an eye on George.
A popular sacked Tory minister is setting up a “drinking/dining club” to offer “mutual support, counselling” and a “jolly good time” for fellow “victims of the September 4th reshuffle”. Emailing said MPs with “Dear Colleague Fatality” , the former minister asks for views on whether Lords or even “the dreaded LibDems” should be allowed in. In honour of the date, the proposed name is the Geronimo Club after the surrender of the Red Indian chieftain on September 4, 1886. Just what the PM needs – all his recent enemies plotting together. Mr Brady’s post-bag will surely swell the next day…
Guido is a getting a bit worried about Peter Hain. Yesterday the former Labour minister was lounging by the pool in sunny Spain and decided to pick a fight. Today he came back for more, which is never a good idea. There is not room for the whole conversation here, but this is a flavour:
The sun must have gone to his head…
Millionaire Cabinet Secretary Caroline Spelman spent a year’s salary on a botched injunction the last time her son went off the rails, but ‘roid-popping Jonny’s latest embarrassment has been laid bare for all to see. The disgraced England rugby prodigy posted a video online claiming the Environment Secretary is kicking him out of the family home, then begs for money to support his new chosen career: body-building. According to the Daily Star Sunday Jonny has dropped out of his £31,000-a-year boarding school, moaning:
“My aim is to be the biggest guy there ever was…basically you know I wanna be the next Mr Olympia. Obviously this does come at a price, I’m afraid, as I’ve chosen bodybuilding as my life and my parents have sort of decided that they’re not happy with that. They’ve told me eventually I’m gonna have to move out and they’ve stopped supporting me financially.”
With Dave leaving his daughter in the pub and Spelman leaving her son out in the cold, family breakdown is spreading throughout the Cabinet. Did someone say Broken Britain…
Over the weekend Guido couldn’t help but spit out his Sunday lunchtime Rioja when John Bercow popped up on Murnaghan to claim he’d put an end to subsidised booze in the Commons bars. The Speaker insisted it was no longer a case that there was a “heavy subsidy”, even though House figures show the taxpayer has coughed up some £5 million to quench MPs’ thirsts this year alone. Bercow’s definition of what constitutes a heavy subsidy may differ from the rest of us
The Speaker went on to criticise the Westminster culture of booze, even having the nerve to suggest that some MPs might be better off cutting down on their drinking. His advice certainly wasn’t taken by Labour’s Emma Reynolds and her team at Francois Hollande’s victory party in Paris. Guido has it on good authority that, in true socialist fashion, the champagne was flowing freely. It’s just a shame Emma’s boss, wee Dougie Alexander, wasn’t there to join in the festivities…
Whilst on this occasion the French seemed to manage to handle their drink, the same cannot be said for the LibDem chief-whip Alistair Carmichael. The Scot had one too many glasses of red on the evening, and then made the fatal mistake of sharing the news on Facebook:
Scottish LibDems are joking that never before has one of their MPs seemed less out of touch…
The men in tights at the Commons have come up with a solution to stop our elected Members beating each other up in drunken rages:
· a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks and lower strength beers will be provided in catering outlets
· staff serving alcohol would receive further training and support in refusing to serve customers when necessary
· at receptions and events where alcohol was served, glasses would be topped up less frequently
Guido has a better idea. Just remove the £5 million annual subsidy…
Tristan Pithers, who was the organiser of Ben Bradshaw’s re-election campaign “We’re Backing Ben 2010”, has defected to the Lib Dems stating:
“The class-warfare that the Labour Party is launching on the Government is shameful. It is not the kind of politics a serious Opposition should be engaging in. Mr Miliband should understand better than many that it is not your background that defines you but your ideas. If he believes that governments should not be run by privileged, sheltered millionaires then he and his Shadow Cabinet should hand in their resignations tomorrow morning.”
Yet another Blarite jumps the two Ed’s ship.
It’s not just Labour who are playing musical chairs. No less than 40% of Leeds Conservative Future committee walked out of the Conservative Party this weekend and joined Farage’s growing bandwagon. This latest exodus from the Young Conservatives led to their thirsty chairman Ben Howlett having a near Twitter meltdown last night. He tried to claim that none of the defectors had even been members, despite some of them standing for local council seats. His big mistake was claiming he looked them up on a central membership database…
Personal data relating to an individual’s political opinions constitutes “sensitive personal data”, making it all the more sacrosanct. Where data is not being processed in a manner that complies with the Data Protection Act, the victim is entitled to compensation for damage and distress suffered. Guido is guessing that Howlett was not aware that Section 55 of the Data Protection Act states that a person must not obtain or disclose information contained in the personal data without consent. Guido’s learned friends reckon to tweet said information looks a lot like a criminal offence…
Just when the Mayoral election was getting a little bit dry, the fine people at Oddbins have lined up a special selection of wines relevant to each candidate:
Boris is apparently a Diane de Belgrave Haut-Medoc Bordeaux. “Just like the current Mayor, the wine has been around since 2008, is classic old-school with a posh upbringing and a fruity side” Guido would have gone with Blue Nun…
Thirsty Ken Livingston is paired off with a Cape Chamonix Pinotage.[…] Read the rest