Westminster Arms Faces Closure Threat

Worrying news for one of Westminster’s favourite watering holes. Guido understands that the Westminster Arms on Storey’s Gate – preferred pub of Nigel Farage and half of CCHQ – is facing a fight to stay open.

The Arms is run by Irish firebrand Gerry Dolan but co-owned by an equity company, which owns the building next door and the downstairs bar. Dolan reveals he is contesting plans to develop the neighbouring offices into flats, which would see punters banned from drinking on the pavement outside the pub. The downstairs bar, which houses the ladies’ loos, is also set to go, meaning the pub faces the prospect of only having a gents’ toilets. Dolan tells Guido “it would be the death of the pub”.

A Call to Arms has been launched to save the pub, fellow boozers can sign up here

UPDATE: The equity company is GM Investment Trustees Limited, a subsidiary of General Motors.

Play It Again, Salm

A once great statesman reduced to loitering around the dingy bars of Westminster putting the world to rights with washed up has-beens.

The other, Alex Salmond.

Health Lobbyists Plan to Spy on Gays and Pregnant Women

Gay people and pregnant mothers will be spied on under controversial plans drawn up by health lobby extremists. Guido has seen a copy of a report set to be released later this month by ASH, that draws up plans for a massive clamp down on the rights of the individual in regard to smoking.

The anti-smoking lobby group have written a wide-ranging wishlist for the coming parliament and it’s about as authoritarian as you can get. History would indicate that this bunch get what they want; from the smoking ban, to plain packs and restrictions on smoking in cars.

The document includes plan to spy on gay people in order to stop them smoking:

“Improve national surveillance to ensure that timely and robust data are available on smoking prevalence including data on all socio-economic groups, people with long-term conditions, people with mental health problems, minority ethnic groups, the LGBT population and other disadvantaged groups.”

And the midwives will be armed in this fight:

“Issue every midwife in England who conducts antenatal appointments with a carbon monoxide monitor.”

Because obviously all pregnant women are liars.

Smoking is set to be banned in prisons and on stage, as ASH demand the government “remove the smokefree exemption for prisons” and “theatrical performances.”

And they’re not done there…

The leaked memo includes plans to investigate “legislative and non-legislative options to make outdoor environments smokefree” and “all enclosed cars and motor vehicles.”

So what will the group recommend to make all their dreams come true? Higher taxes, obviously:

“Increase the tax escalator on tobacco products to 5 per cent above the level of inflation.”

You read it here first…

Big Feartie: Which MP Gassed the Chamber?

Watch as SNP MP Patricia Gibson recoils in horror and wafts the air as one of her colleagues lets rip in the Commons:

And everyone thought the chamber emptied because Clegg got up to speak…

UPDATE: The guilty culprit has been identified as Labour MP Richard Burgon.

The Queen: Psychoactive Drugs

Big Tobacco Firms Take Government to Court

jti-wto

JTI, the owners of Benson and Hedges, follow British American Tobacco (Rothmans, Dunhill) and Philip Morris Inc. (Marlboro) into the High Courts to protect the billions they have invested in their brands. If the High Court does not protect or compensate them for their losses from the planned censorship by plain packaging, they will go to the WTO in Geneva for protection. This battle is not over yet…

24 Hour Drinking: In Numbers

Today’s new Institute of Economic Affairs report by Christopher Snowdon looks at the impact of 24 hour drinking. Guido has crunched the numbers into a handy infographic:

As the report finds: “Facilitating longer opening hours may have been the best thing the Labour Party ever did…”

Hilton’s Hipsters & High Tories

hilton-more-human

Tonight’s launch party for Steve Hilton’s new book More Human brought out an A-list crowd of high Tories and hipsters. Held in Rohan Silva’s SecondHome tech hub in East London it was more a Cameroon re-union party than a book launch. In the wigwam Hilton, dressed appropriately in guru colours of yellow and orange, held court to a crowd including David Cameron and George Osborne as well as Cabinet ministers from past and present. Jeremy Hunt mingled with the likes of Lord Heseltine and Lord Howard among internet hipsters whilst entertained by a Hungarian folk band – much to the amusement of Steve Hilton’s mum. This was the authentic über-modernisers wigwam in which Rohan invited the assembled great and the good to wander barefoot…

Hilton’s speech was one of thanks and a lighthearted powerpoint remembering his time on Team Cameron. He spoke of the stream of emails he received in California before the election complaining about the negativity of the Tory campaign, all imploring him to come and bring some sunshine into the Tory message, “I said, look Dave, you hired Lynton Crosby…”.  The PM laughed…

https://twitter.com/SebastianEPayne/status/600735366556057601/photo/1

The Hungarian band played on – with the crowd joining in to sing “Happy Birthday” to Oliver Letwin. Heseltine flirted with twentysomethings, Samantha Cameron beamed at Gabby Bertin. All is well now Miliband’s red terror has been defeated. Apart from Steve Hilton wanting to overthrow global capitalism…

Watch also: Steve Hilton’s Trippy Newsnight Segment 

Sports and Social is SNP’s Next Target

It’s not just Labour’s traditional seats in the Commons that the SNP are after, now the nationalist horde are coming for their favourite bar. The taxpayer-subsidised Sports and Social Club is popular with Labour MPs and their visiting trade union brothers, earning it the nickname “The Sports and Socialist”, but change is coming. As Guido revealed in the Sun yesterday, plans are afoot amongst SNP MPs to rename the dingy watering hole the “Rabbie Burns Bar”.

Finally Ed Balls Masters the Line

The Shadow Chancellor visited a community centre in Kilburn this afternoon. There was line dancing.

The worrying thing is he knows the moves…

Footage via Richard Osley

Jim Murphy Reacts to Ipsos Mori Poll

An unfortuante juxtaposition as news of Labour’s impending doom in Scotland broke on Sky…

UPDATE:

And Now… a Party Political Broadcast From the ‘Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol’ Party

Bong! Bong! Bong! BBC News Theme is “Massive Club Banger”

Definitely not ripping off Bill Bailey, Radio 1 DJ Greg James says he “realised the full potential” of the BBC News theme as “a massive club banger”. Hereford was on one (o’clock news)…

Tory Ball Goodie Bag

Tory Black & White Ball Goodie Bag

What do you get in a Tory Black & White Ball goodie bag? Despite the pricey £15,000-a-table tickets, you get tat…

A tea-towel emblazoned with “The problem with socialism…” quote from Maggie, a Conservative Foundation paper bookmark seeking a cheery mention in your will, a plastic pen, Tory drinks coaster, a “securing a better future” blue piggy bank (hint), a bumper sticker and a canvas bag with election slogans on them. Not forgetting the auction catalogue… Sadly Guido was outbid on the chance to go shoe shopping with Theresa May…

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett Stoner Shocker! Hesitates Before Admitting Dope Smoking

Green leader Natalie Bennett hesitated just a little too long under the forensic questioning of LBC’s Duncan Barkes this lunchtime:

DB: “Are you a drug user?”

NB: “Um, er, I… have a glass of wine most evenings…”

Natalie revealed she used to smoke dope but insisted she doesn’t “dabble” any more. Could have fooled anyone who has read her manifesto…

Plain Pack Fireworks Expected at CabinetOsborne, May & Hammond Confront Hunt Over Pack Backtrack

Word reaches Guido that there is serious consternation amongst a number of senior Tories over the way in which last week’s surprise announcement about plain packaging was squeezed out like an awkward fart. Usually reliable sources suggest Osborne is set to raise it at Cabinet this morning, with Jeremy Hunt in the sights for a proper going over. In an increasingly rare moment of agreement between the Chancellor and the Home Secretary, Guido hears Theresa May is pretty annoyed too about how the move was snuck out with little or no wider consultation of Cabinet colleagues. Big Phil Hammond is also said to be against the Labour-backed measure, sceptically telling the BBC last week that he “will want to look very carefully at the evidence.” The consensus is ‘bat sh*t’ Jane Ellison has gone ‘totally native’ and will do anything to please the do-gooders and pen-pushers that choke up the Department for Health…

Some Sad News…

A sad day in libertarian circles as it emerges young campaigner Christina Annesley has died while on holiday in Thailand.

The one time Tory turned ‘Kipper turned vocal free spirit was a regular on the young right-wing scene and was just 23 years old.

Guido’s thoughts are with her family and many friends this morning.

 

UPDATE: Foreign Office statement:

“We can confirm the death of a British National in Thailand on 21 January 2014. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”

BREAKING: Plain Packaging is Happening…

CONFIRMED: As Guido predicted, Jane Ellison just announced the government will go ahead with standardised packaging. They have the votes…

You read it here first.

Burnham Bounces Balls into £11 Billion Spending Pledge

BURNHAM-BALLS

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has been out and about this morning pushing Labour’s public health manifesto. It basically amounts to yet another series of caps – the usual series of nanny state, anti–business policies.

It wasn’t the detail which interested Guido – more then timing of the announcement. As part of the policies, Burnham has reiterated his pledge to introduce plain packaging on tobacco (despite dismissing it back in 2008 when he was Health Secretary). Such a move could result in a future government facing an £11 billion compensation bill to Big Tobacco, according to a report by analysts at the BNP Paribas and other legal experts.

Guido wonders why the future Labour leadership hopeful chose today of all days to make his announcement? Could it be because Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is in the US – that he decides today to announce what is effectively a £10 billion deficit busting new spending pledge?

UPDATE: A co-conspirator shrouded in  smoke reminds Guido that in government when he was Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham wrote in a November 2009 letter to Tessa Jowell:

“No studies have shown that introducing plain packaging of tobacco products would cut the number of young people smoking, or enable people who want to quit, to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would need strong and convincing evidence showing the health benefits of this policy before it would be acceptable at an international level.”

What has changed?

Blogging May Be Light This Morning…

Guido is nursing a sore head from yesterday’s Christmas lunch, which overran somewhat.

After Martin Rowson shamelessly cancelled on his promise to sketch the team due to corporate influence, eminent artist Iain Martin graciously stepped in:

https://icmvv6qxwpktq0do-zippykid.netdna-ssl.com/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5cc/7515463/files/2014/12/img_18131.jpg

We’ll be back shortly…[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Angela Rayner on Labour’s economic policy (via Speccie):

“It is a bit of a sh*t-or-bust strategy…”

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