Double Standards in Labour Education

Backbench dunce Ian Mearns wasted no time in sticking his oar in to the bitch fight between Tim Loughton and the anonymous @ToryEducation yesterday. The Member of the Education Select Committee must have thought he was onto a right wheeze up there on his high horse:

“This extraordinary attack is another example of derogatory language…. There is no place for these kind of personal attacks in public life. The Education Secretary needs to take action.”

Guido is looking forward to the poor delicate flower press releasing his concern about another Honourable Member’s sharp words last night. Brownite boot-boy Ian Austin went off on one at Greg Hands, amusingly about the very same Ian Mearns:

Guido has asked Mearns whether he is standing by his line that “there is no place for these kind of personal attacks in public life”. For some reason he has yet to reply…

Shepherd’s Bye

Lamentations across Westminster village as word spreads that upmarket lunch spot Shepherd’s has shut down. What was rumoured to be a gas leak has now been confirmed as a full closure. Guido is shocked and saddened. There are too many poncy restaurants in Westminster and for some reason Shepherd’s  had been recently remodelled and menu changed for worse.

He did enjoy end of meal looks of horror when a politico leaving would realise he had been braying loudly at the next table.

And they made a good Bloody Mary…

Eric Joyce Appeal For Witnesses

Nearly two weeks on from Eric Joyce’s latest brush with the law, this is still up on the door of parliament’s Sports and Social bar. Researchers hawking videos of the commotion around the papers should get in touch…

Clegg Says Scrap MPs’ Booze Subsidy

Clegg initially tried to deny the existence of the Commons booze subsidy on LBC this morning, but when presented with the facts by Nick Ferrari the Deputy PM gave in: “I haven’t seen the prices, but my knee jerk reaction is why should MPs be subsidised for drinking in the House of Commons?”

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The £5.8 million subsidy would be a good place to begin, but it is also worth pointing out that since parliament’s watering holes are inside a Royal Palace, many of the bars pay no rent or business rates whatsoever. Research by the ASI calculates that they are saving £1.4 million-a-year as a result. All at the taxpayer’s expense…

Here are some of the other posts on the issue Guido has put out over the years:

Eric Joyce Staffer Martin Brown Knocked Woman to GroundMP Reacted Angrily When Told His Friend Arrested

ERIC-JOYCE-MARTIN-BROWN

Guido has spoken to witnesses about last night’s fracas, this is what he has pieced together from various accounts.

At about 10.15 pm last night Eric Joyce’s researcher Martin Brown (pictured on the right above) exchanged words with Louise (an MP’s researcher, whose surname is known to Guido) outside the Sports and Social in the area where people smoke in the Commons Inner Court. In the ensuing altercation Louise was knocked to the ground.

alex-cruz-vidal

Alex Cruz Vidal (pictured, right), a researcher for deputy speaker Nigel Evans, intervened to protect Louise and restrain Martin Brown by wrestling him to the ground and sitting on him. The administrator of the Sports & Social came out and with Alex’s help manhandled a shocked Martin Brown into the bar’s little cupboard sized office and locked him inside until the police arrived. Police came to arrest Brown and Eric Joyce showed up shouting at the cops.

Joyce – who had already been involved in some argie-bargie in the Sports and Social earlier that night – is said to have arrived at the scene and reacted angrily to being told by a copper about the incident – he pushed the copper, who came back to restrain him, whereupon Joycey threw a punch at the copper. At this point another copper joined in to restrain him, resulting in the Honourable Member for Falkirk ending up on the floor being handcuffed before being taken away into the back of a police van.

By this time there was a large crowd and around a dozen policemen outside the Sports & Social – including PoliticsHome’s Tony Grew – who only saw the second altercation involving Joyce not the original altercation involving Martin Brown that kicked the whole thing off. Police closed the Sports & Social and the Strangers Bar early…

Police have this morning contacted those witnesses who had their names taken last night, to tell them they will be required to give full statements in due course. Charges will almost certainly follow…

Coincidentally Joyce’s 12-month community order for his last brawl expired six days ago. Two things that are clearly reinforced by this brawl; we need to end the obscene taxpayer subsidy that means the Commons bars are the cheapest pubs in Central London, secondly we need a real power of MPs’ recall. As we were promised by the coalition parties after the expenses scandal…

Join Guido at the YBF Rally, Then Fatboy Slim

Guido is off to parliament to speak at the ultrasound Young Britons’ Foundation rally this evening. Afterwards he is hoping to gatecrash Fatboy Slim’s charity DJ set at the Terrace bar.

Right here, right now – could hardly be more appropriate for YBF…

Lonely Tories Don't Need Dates for Tomorrow Night

This invitation was sent last night from the Whips office to all Tory staffers:

You are cordially invited to attend the
Conservative Parliamentary Staff New Year Party
Thursday 14th February 2013
6pm – midnight

It seems they don’t have much faith in young Tories having dates tomorrow night then.

Right Here, Right Now, In Parliament Fat Boy Slim to DJ Westminster

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.

Sally's Boozy Night With Tory Boys

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…

Knife Out for Chuka

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’s Christmas Drinks

xmas

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…

Vinter William’s Fine Wines

hagye2

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

Guido’s Christmas Drinks

santaGuido’s Christmas drinks this year will be on Wednesday 19th December at 5pm, bringing together readers, co-conspirators, Westminster wonks, weirdos,  movers and shakers, and seasoned drunks.

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…

The Sacked Soiree

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…

Flashman Dave Snaps at Tory Rebel Prime Minister Swears at Andrew Bingham MP

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.

Osborne is a Class A Repeat Offender

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.

Labour Bill Punch Drunk MP £3,000

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…

VIP LibDems Live Conference Lobbyist High Life

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.

Ken Clarke Attacks Tory Right and Reshuffle Tells Allies: "The Party Has Accidentally Drifted to the Right"

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. 

Sacked Tory Minister Forms Reshuffle Victims Dining Club

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.[…] Read the rest

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Embattled Henry Bolton on his battles…

“I’m going nowhere. I have seen people die, I have seen people blown up, I have seen people shot. Even the Taliban doesn’t quite prepare you for UKIP, though.”

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