Hodge Quitting as Minister

Tim Walker is reporting in The Telegraph that Margaret Hodge, the Blairite culture minister and friend of Tony has had enough and will be standing down as a minister from Brown’s cabinet in the next re-shuffle.

Another day another Blairite departs.

Somebody wake McBride and tell him…

UPDATED : Who are the “Handful”?

N.B. This article was first published on the morning of Saturday, 13 September 2008, it is being updated and re-dated on a rolling basis as more names come out.

Guido has yet to see a list of the “handful” of MPs who want a leadership election. So with the help of you co-conspirators shall we compile the list? Guido will start it off:

Openly
Janet Anderson
Stephen Byers
David Cairns
Charles Clarke
Jim Dowd
Kate Hoey
Frank Field
Barry Gardiner
Ian Gibson
Mike Hall
George Howarth
Peter Kilfoyle
Fiona Mactaggart
Siobhain McDonagh
John McDonnell
Alan Milburn
Greg Pope
Gordon Prentice
Joan Ryan
Graham Stringer
Gisela Stuart

Coded
Karen Buck
Jon Cruddas
Patricia Hewitt
Kelvin Hopkins
Eric Joyce
Sally Keeble
Stephen Ladyman
Ivan Lewis
Martin Linton
Shona McIsaac
Denis MacShane
David Miliband
Margaret Moran
John Reid
Tom Levitt
Paddy Tipping

Add names and references in the comments.

UPDATE : Other likely suspects are Jeremy Corbyn, Anne Cryer, Ruth Kelly, Michael Meacher, Tessa Jowell.

UPDATE 20.30 13/9 : This represents the best information emailed in and from the news wires. Cruddas has arguably given an ambiguous steer. No doubt some left-wingers have been missed. The list has been updated throughout the day. Quite a few handfuls at the latest count. Michael White speculates that the numbers could be as many as sixty.

Rat Race Continues

The rats are bailing out of the Downing Street ship fast and furious nowadays. Last week Paul Sinclair jumped, this week it is the turn of Jo Dipple.

The Prime Mentalist’s strategic communications adviser is a former Daily Mirror journalist. She is leaving to become a lobbyist. No news on Stephen Carter’s exit, rumours still circulate in Labour circles that Maguire could succeed him. C’mon Kevin, save Gordon!

23 Requests in Total Rumoured

Tips, rumours, gossip and tittle tattle are coming in from all directions. Some are more plausible than others, here are five:

  1. Iain Martin took Guido to task for making speculative conjectures yesterday, today he speculates that John Reid could be the next Labour Party leader. Iain cites as “evidence” that Siobhain McDonagh was formerly Reid’s PPS. Conclusive? Just what the Labour Party needs as leader, another old Scot.

  2. Jack Straw has been in Vietnam over the weekend, apparently sorting out some stuff to do with judicial cooperation. A source tells Guido that this is a completely non-essential visit that could easily have been sorted out through the embassy in Hanoi. The fact that the “Lancashire Mafia” of MPs allied to Straw have broken cover when he is thousands of miles away from the “scene of the crime” can’t be a coincidence says Guido’s informant. Or perhaps it can.
  3. The number of non-awkward squad woman coming forward is evidence of the manicured hand of the sisterhood in action say some. Harman is to be the beneficiary and her husband Jack Dromey encouraged or allowed the names to come out from Labout HQ.
  4. Which leads Guido to something that had been bugging him. Dale and others say Downing Street leaked the “handful” of names. Why? That would only make sense if this was to be a spin firebreak. It isn’t, it is dangerously close to snowballing, which is why Brown is sacking anyone who is exposed as disloyal pour encourager les autres.

The tip that Guido finds the most credible is the fifth: the original leak was from within Labour HQ and there are, says the source, in total 23 requests from MPs for nomination papers. The same source says that they believe Roy Kennedy leaked the story or caused the story to be leaked. The source paints a picture of Labour HQ as thoroughly demoralised and points out that unlike the Downing Street apparatchiks, the Labour HQ apparatchiks will still keep their jobs if Brown goes. Labour HQ staff have a vital interest in the survival of the Labour Party, not the survival of Gordon.

Blairite Plotters Attack Brown’s “One-Off Taxes and Pay-Outs” Giveaways Do Not Amount to a Strategy

Progress, backed by the billionaire Lord Sainsbury, is the Blairite factional organising group in the Labour Party.

This is a statement they are releasing tomorrow* signed by a dozen Blairites – Janet Anderson, Karen Buck, Patricia Hewitt, George Howarth, Eric Joyce, Sally Keeble, Stephen Ladyman, Martin Linton, Shona McIsaac, Margaret Moran, Tom Levitt, and Paddy Tipping.

LABOUR BACKBENCHERS DEMAND BOLD NEW NARRATIVE

In a joint article for Progress Magazine, 12 Labour backbench MPs, including six former ministers, urge the leadership to develop a convincing new narrative which has to be more than a series of policy initiatives in order to restore Labour’s fortunes.

Writing in the Labour Conference edition of the magazine, they say that Labour has no explanation yet as to how it will steer the economy through the troubled waters ahead claiming that one-off taxes and pay-outs, no matter how justified in their own terms, do not amount to a strategy. There is a yawning chasm which the Labour party needs to fill, or the government will suffer a hammer blow.

They suggest the government needs to be better at communicating what it’s going to do about the things that affect people day to day, noting that Harold Wilson’s pound in your pocket and Thatcher’s likening of the economy to a household budget may have been derided by the pundits but understood by the public.

The MPs label recent policies to deal with the crises of 10p tax and the housing market defensive and suggest instead Labour needs to be championing change, leading the debate about new ideas and renewing confidence in our economic competence.

They note the government’s strong investment in public services, but suggest there is a malaise. They write: “We have spent money, diversified, provided choice. But Labour needs to do more to give the public a sense of ownership of public services and a say in how we design and deliver services. This does not mean, they caution a return to a top-down command economy in the public sector but instead urge the government to shift power away from centralised institutions to the individual.”

The backbenchers criticise the failure to create a wholly democratic legislature as unfinished business and argue there is a lack of coherence in the devolution of powers to subsidiary tiers of government, and what should be the final settlement for Scotland. They suggest that fixed term parliaments could provide some certainty to voters and redress the balance of power between the executive and citizen.

They don’t actually say “Brown must go”, but you get the drift… particularly since many of the signatories are the MPs who have requested nomination papers.

*Full article in its entirety here. Guido called Progress for a copy of the statement, they said rather churlishly that they wouldn’t give him a copy of the embargoed press statement. So Progress – you can stuff your embargo – this was obtained through investigative reporting comrades.

Downing Street is Running Out of Rats

Another rat is leaving the sinking Downing Street ship.  Paul Sinclair, formerly Wee Dougie Alexander’s SpAd before becoming the Prime Mentalist’s Scottish spin doctor, is jumping ship ahead of the Glenrothes by-election.  He is off to spin at Hill & Knowlton according to Paul Waugh.  Sinclair was considered a potential candidate in Glenrothes…

Clarke Loses the Plot

In the New Statesman tomorrow Charles Clarke is superficially writing about the use and abuse of the term “Blairism”. The word is insulting, lazy and misleading he says, calling for an end to “deceitful nonsense”
As various commentators consider Labour’s prospects, the term “Blairite” is being deployed to characterise the policies and personalities of some who question the party’s current direction and urge Labour to face the future. Like “Thatcherite”, the word is not used kindly. “Blairite” (even “über-Blairite”) is a lazy and inaccurate shorthand. It is intended not to illuminate but to diminish, marginalise and insult. It was, for example, the stock phrase used by the Brown political briefing team to traduce David Miliband’s Guardian article in early August.

Moreover, this misleading language damages the vital need for Labour to move on to new, post-Blair ground. Those journalists and politicians who use it are fighting the last political struggle, the War of the Tony Blair Succession, in a way that owes rather more to Just William and the Hubert Laneites than to the challenges of modern British politics.

In the newspapers this summer, I have read about “eye-wateringly ‘Blairite’ gospels”; about “Blairites” “thumbing their noses” at progressive politics; about “Blair privatisers” and how “Blairites” are the “business wing” who “play the markets against the ‘progressive wing’ of the party”. Some argue David Cameron is now more progressive than new Labour and that Labour under Blair became a party of the centre-right.

This deceitful nonsense has to end. Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future…. Similarly, there is no Blairite plot, despite rumours and persistent newspaper reports. There is, however, a deep and widely shared concern – which does not derive from ideology – that Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are, combined with a determination that we will not permit that to happen.

So why no plot? If you are “destined for disaster” with Gordon you really need to plot a new course. This is really not the time to be losing the plot…

See also Clarke’s September 2006 article on Brown: He Lacks Courage and Vision, He’s Delusional and a Control Freak. That turned out to be completely on the money.

Just Like “The Thick of It”

This just in from a co-conspirator’s Crackberry:

I am en route on the 3.18 from Hull to London with two loud mouthed Labourites. Ivan Lewis, [Health PuSS] and his [researcher?].

They are deciding whether to go for a quote based on the Bevan quote that Tories are lower than vermin

“Calling Bob at the Mirror on the rats and hospitals story. Will you tell me if you think this response if too churlish for the Mirror… When Bevan founded the NHS, he said Tories lower than vermin, I wouldn’t describe them like this but their approach to cleaner hospitals..”

His assistant, “If Bevan said that – that is the bollocks stuff”

Guido’s co-conspirators are everywhere, and they are laughing at you politicians.

UPDATE : Guido’s Crackberry wielding co-conspirator emails again to say Ivan Lewis and his companion spent much of the journey slagging of Alistair Darling as useless, his Today outing this morning was particularly ridiculed.

UPDATE II 6 Aug : Looks like the Mirror didn’t use their “Tory vermin” quote.

Into the Killing Zone – “Kill or Be Killed”

Fraser Nelson reckons we have entered the killing zone “Miliband has crossed the Rubicon and is now in ‘kill or be killed’ territory. And he has plenty to do if he wants to avoid the latter option.”

The Weirdo versus the Wonk

Downing Street Rat Dashes for Cash

As Guido pointed out yesterday, the captain is taking down the Labour ship with him and as this email from Fiona Gordon (his Downing Street political secretary) shows, the rats are doing the proverbial:

Dear Colleague,

Tomorrow will be my last day as Gordon Brown’s Political Secretary. It has been a privilege to work for Gordon and the wider team here at No 10 and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity. It has been a fascinating and hectic year.

I have also been lucky to work closely with you, not only in my current post but as the first women PLP Secretary. I will be taking away very many happy memories, particularly of the evening we gathered in the Chamber for the photograph to mark the Centenary of the PLP.

My next venture is to start my own communications business which I am very excited about.

My mobile number will remain the same xxxxxxx, my new email address is xxx@xxx.com Joe Irvin has been appointed to replace me. Joe has for the past year worked as a special adviser to the Prime Minister on trade union, employment and housing issues.

He is a lifelong Labour Party member and previously worked as special adviser to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott 1996-2001, and was for many years a trade union official. I know you will give him all your support.

With my best wishes
Fiona

She is obviously going to try in cash in over the next year before her contacts become worthless…

Balls Bashes Field for Brown

Ed Balls has just given an on the record briefing to the Lobby, the subject was Frank Field’s comments re-broadcast on Today this morning:

“I think people could look at what he was saying a few weeks ago and believe at that time that his intentions were honourable. As for what he said this morning I think I leave you to draw your own conclusions from that… I think it is very unlikely… that Frank Field will support any proposals that are brought forward by the government.”

So the 10p tax debacle is all Frank Field’s fault…

Dave Looks to May 2 at PMQs

Yesterday Guido pointed to the 42-days vote as the post May 2 battleline for the PLP:

Guido believes that constitutionally and practically it is too late to mount a formal leadership challenge to Brown’s under Labour Party rules in time for the September conference. So it would have to be by non-constitutional means that he is dragged out of Downing Street – Jack Straw no doubt will be at the back of the delegation doing the dragging. Another option is to make the 42-days vote effectively a confidence vote. Since the opposition will unanimously vote it down, it will be up to Labour backbenchers if they want to get rid of their unelected leader.

If Gordon kicks 42-days into touch it will signal his fears of the consequences…

Surpisingly today Dave didn’t go off on the local elections, he challenged Gordon to make the 42-days vote a confidence vote. Gordon swerved the opportunity.

A line of questioning from Dave perhaps aiming to sow a thought in the restless collective mind of the PLP…

UPDATE : Ben Brogan is thinking along similar lines. He gives Dave no chance of “getting the ball rolling on the next rebellion”.

Post May 2 : Potential Battlelines

Gordon and the diminishing band of loyal Brownies must be thinking ahead to May 2 about the tactics and strategies to be employed to quell a PLP mutiny. The declining wider membership is so demoralised and disappointed that it is for now quiescient and no grassroots threat is likely. Avoiding giving the PLP opportunities to lash out at Gordon will be the prime goal.

With Mayor Boris in office and Labour suffering triple figure losses elsewhere, the keen sense of self preservation felt by politicians will come into action. Ken will no doubt blame Gordon (and his bad press), the timing of Gordon’s 10p debacle will be blamed by the legions of local councillors who will be mourning their lost jobs.

Guido believes that constitutionally and practically it is too late to mount a formal leadership challenge to Brown’s under Labour Party rules in time for the September conference. So it would have to be by non-constitutional means that he is dragged out of Downing Street – Jack Straw no doubt will be at the back of the delegation doing the dragging. Another option is to make the 42-days vote effectively a confidence vote. Since the opposition will unanimously vote it down, it will be up to Labour backbenchers if they want to get rid of their unelected leader.

If Gordon kicks 42-days into touch it will signal his fears of the consequences…

Burying the Hatchet?

Credit : Adam Myer

Shop-a-SpAd : First Cheat Identified

Guido asked readers this morning to watch out for breaches of the Ministerial Code by SpAds working for Labour deputy leadership candidates. A few tips have come in and a co-conspirator has even sent Guido documentary evidence of blatant SpAd cheating. In fact a SpAd fiddle plan. So be warned SpAd cheat, have your lunch and expect Guido to call for an explanation soon…

No ifs, no buts, we’re targeting SpAd cheats. Call the national Shop-a-SpAd hotline on 0709 284 0531 or fax evidence to 0709 201 2337.

UPDATE 16:00 : We have a SpAd missing-in-action and presumably on the run. Seems unable to answer his mobile all afternoon, do you think he knows Guido is on to him?

New Labour, New Ferrets

So Gordon is a psycho- delusional control- freak according to Charles Clarke in the Telegraph today. Yesterday he claimed that Gordon was “absolutely stupid”. Another fatty, Frank Dobson, is throwing his weight around on behalf of Gordon, saying Blair has to “go before Christmas”.

Harriet Harman, a Brownite, wants everyone to “shut-up” – so Gordon is going on Andrew Marr on Sunday. Will Marr go for it or will it be a poodle job?



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

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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