The name “Tim Farron” is met with a wall of groans from the Tory benches. Cameron swatted him away with minimal effort…
Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis has not affected their performance in Bradford, where suspended “zio” hater Mohammed Shabbir comfortably held his seat. Intriguingly he won more votes this time round, since his comments came to light…
LibDem David Ward has also returned to elected office, joining Shabbir and co on what must be a very tolerant and progressive Bradford council. Ward is of course the disgraced former MP who ranted about “the Jews” and the Holocaust time and time again, even while he was a candidate a few months ago. The party did nothing then and they’ve done nothing now. A reminder that the LibDems have an even worse record on dealing with anti-Semitism than Corbyn’s Labour…
Last night Channel 4 further explored allegations of Tory election expense fiddles, interviewing angry LibDems in the South West who claimed it played a part in their wipeout there. Well it appears the LibDems themselves have some questions to answer…
Guido understands the party has suspended its parliamentary candidate for Thanet North from their candidates list. George Cunningham faces a string of allegations of impropriety, including claims that he attempted to bring in donations from abroad during the general election campaign. Cunningham is the chair of Brussels & Europe LibDems…
The irregularities were noticed by his agent who kicked off a long “review” process that eventually saw Cunningham struck off the list controlled by LDHQ’s Candidates Office. He denies the allegations and has launched an appeal, which will be heard on Friday 13 May. What is it with fiddles in Thanet?
Tim Farron has accepted a £2,000 donation from a disgraced lobbying company which smeared critics of the Rwandan government. BTP Advisers boss Mark Pursey, who used to work for the LibDems, was caught boasting how his firm set up an “attack site” targeting people who “over-criticised” over “who did what in the genocide”. The firm was accused of running a “dirty tricks” campaign in the 2013 Kenyan election, and also acted for human rights violators in Azerbaijan. BTP was paid by some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, now that money is lining Farron’s pockets…
The LibDem leader even signed a pledge condemning the Rwanda genocide. Yet he is happy to take cash from those who spin for the regime…
Why has Tom Brake taken the unusual step of praising his “apprentice” by name in the Commons? Last month the LibDem MP told the House he “should like to start by paying tribute to my apprentice, Callum Morton”. What he didn’t mention is that Morton is also one of the councillors who signed off on a very fishy million pound discount for a company of which Brake is a trustee. Perhaps Morton deserved the tribute for his other hard work down in Carshalton?
Or not – Morton managed just a 53% attendance record for the last year, which is the poorest of any local councillor including those with serious illness. Still, kind of an MP to namecheck the man who rubber-stamped a million pound deal for a company of which he is a trustee…
Eco-hypocrite Tom Brake has finally proffered a explanation as to why he was caught with the lights on at his Sutton home during Earth Hour. This was despite having told his constituents to “turn off their lights or show their support for the future of this planet in any other way on the 19th at 8.30pm.” Speaking to the Sutton Guardian, Brake gave them this classic:
“I never said I was going to take part in Earth Hour.”
The glorious Sutton Guardian article goes on:
‘Mr Brake added he “wasn’t able to turn the lights off at this time,” but declined to elaborate.
He would not confirm whether he had been watching rugby during the switch-off, which coincided with England clinching the Six Nations grand slam.’
“Do as I say, not as I do…”
Yet another example of glaring eco-hypocrisy from Tom Brake. The LibDem MP spent the past few weeks loudly promoting Earth Hour, a green initiative where the whole world supposedly turns their lights off for an hour. Here’s what Brake was preaching in the run up:
“It is crucial that we work towards a sustainable future and make the environment a priority. I encourage residents of Carshalton and Wallington to turn off their lights or show their support for the future of this planet in any other way on the 19th at 8.30pm.”
Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Brake’s enthusiasm for saving the planet extended to him actually turning his own lights out. A co-conspirator took the above shot of Brake’s pad at on Saturday evening – right in the middle of the rugby and during Earth Hour. Of course it could be that the lights are on but nobody’s home. Something many have said about Tom Brake…
A Lib Dem MP has been caught bragging that the weak pound has recently meant that her €96,000 pay has risen some 10% in sterling terms. Catherine Bearder laughed telling the Lib Dem’s Regional Conference in Theale that it had been “a good week for me”. Stunned silence greeted her comments which she claims were intended only as a joke. The South East England MEP tells Guido:
“This was meant as a comic aside in a much longer discussion about the impact of Brexit on the UK economy.“
Guido presumes that from these remarks she is in favour of Brexit. If the pound plummets further she – like Britain’s exporters – can keep coining it in…
You know how it is, you’re arranging a photo op for the Deputy PM and you accidentally take him to a dogging site. We’ve all done it. Well, no, but former LibDem press officer Ben Rathe did:
“It was the Liberal Democrat Conference 2013, and my role back then was planning all of the visits that Nick Clegg was doing over the course of the 5 days in Glasgow. This included finding somewhere suitable to announce a new 5p charge on plastic bags.
I picked out a lovely nature reserve just south of Glasgow called Cathkin Marsh, which allowed us to tell the story of how discarded carrier bags murder cute, furry animals, damage the environment and ruin picturesque landscapes.
Now, as part of arranging any visit for Nick, who at that time was obviously DPM, you had to recce the site with his Metropolitan Police protection team. As we were in Scotland, we were also accompanied by some officers from Police Scotland, who opened my eyes to a startling fact.
‘Interesting place for a visit’ said one officer after the recce, which had mainly involved walking around a marshland on a wooden boardwalk.
I, thinking he meant they usually take politicians to schools, factories or nursing homes, launched into an explanation about why we’d chosen this location, the environmental impact discarded bags can have etc etc. I was swiftly cut off.
‘No, I mean because of what the locals use it for’ he said.
Now, ‘what the locals use it for’ is never a good sentence to hear, because usually ‘the locals’ are never using ‘it’ for anything good. I didn’t want to ask what he meant, mainly because I knew what he was going to say if I did, but felt that I had to.
So I did. And then came the reply I had both expected and dreaded.
‘Oh, it’s a dogging site.’
A dogging site. I’d arranged for the Deputy Prime Minister to visit a dogging site…
I’d just about accepted that I had to come clean when my phone rang and James Holt, a Number 10 Special Adviser told me that the policy had been leaked and that we’d need to bring the visit forward to the next morning.
Decision made then. There was no way we could find an alternate location in that time, and the announcement needed a visit for the pictures. So I made the very brave (or very stupid) decision and told James that would be fine.
So the next morning came, and off went the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council on his morning visit. To a dogging site.”
Read the whole story on Rathe’s blog here. Armando Iannucci eat your heart out.
While Nick Clegg is tweeting away about why we should all vote to Remain, his wife is cashing in on the prospect of Brexit. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, a top lawyer and trade expert at Dechert, is offering advice on how companies can respond if we Leave. Under the headline: “BREXIT? Are you prepared?”, her pitch says:
“Companies need to make the most of the little time they have to understand the immediate and long-term regulatory and economic impact that any vote to leave may have on their business… Dechert’s International Trade and EU law team offers not only high quality legal analysis which understands the commercial pressures… Our team also has extensive experience in various parts of the UK Government prior to joining Dechert, including HM Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office that help to provide a unique perspective”
The extra business will come in handy considering Nick only earns a £9,000 an hour speaking at Goldman Sachs…
A good day for the LibDems to quietly slip out their report into why they were wiped out last May. So, who was to blame? The public of course:
“the weak public understanding of our party and political opinions meant that our move into government was not well understood”
And the media, obviously:
“media system that did not wish to demonstrate that the first peace-time coalition at Westminster could deliver stable government worsened the experience”
Though to be fair, the LibDem report is considerably more candid than Labour’s whitewash. Tuition fees was top of the list:
“critical disjunction between what we had published on the front page of our 2010 manifesto… namely, the abolition of tuition fees”
Intriguingly, they all ended up having blazing rows with each other:
“Some of the most problematic staff relationships came with overzealous party committee members, who took their frustration with the structure out on staff members”
No one was in charge, despite hiring expensive South African strategist Ryan Coetzee:
“lack of a single, professional campaign director responsible for taking strategic decisions about all aspects of campaigning”
They were seen as Tory patsies:
“we unwittingly manoeuvred ourselves into a position of appearing content to be willing appendages to our coalition partners”
Remarkably, due to “dwindling finances”
“no polling activities of note were undertaken at all during the first years of Coalition”
And morale was, well…
“these factors combined to lead to a daily reality for the party of public rejection, falling internal morale, and consistent electoral destruction”
Despite all this they bizarrely conclude:
“the political plight of the party could have been far worse”
Nine months on from losing his seat in May, Simon Hughes has found himself a new gig. The former LibDem justice minister has just been appointed as a maternity cover spinner at the Open University on a year’s contract, where:
He will support the Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks, and report into the university’s Director of Communications, Lucian Hudson. He will lead the university’s public affairs team, which forms part of the Communications Unit.
From minister in Whitehall to stand-in junior press officer in Milton Keynes….
You’d have thought Nick Clegg might have had enough of everyone thinking he is a massive hypocrite, apparently not. Clegg has just been in front of a Lords committee to slag off high pay for Special Advisers. He’s outraged, apparently:
“We’ve now got the almost loopy situation where the Chancellor is whacking up the pay of his Special Advisers an astronomical amount. Special Advisers in government are now being paid far, far, much more money than they were in the past… Double standards doesn’t even scratch the surface.”
Is he serious?
Clegg is so outraged about SpAd pay that he bunged his aide Ryan Coetzee £110,000-a-year out of the public purse.
He also ordered the taxpayer to pay his SpAd Jonny Oates £98,500-a-year.
Three more Clegg SpAds were on £80,000.
This was the 2013 FoI request revealing Clegg had a total of 15 SpAds costing the taxpayer an “astronomical” £1 million a year.
“Double standards doesn’t even scratch the surface…”
It is three years ago that former LibDem MP David Ward marked Holocaust Memorial Day with that rant about “the Jews” on Sky News. Since then, Ward has been booted out of parliament and now spends his time campaigning against “Zionists“. So, how did he mark this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day?
Long-suffering LibDem press officers – who always loathed Ward for repeatedly ruining their day at the office – will be relieved to know he is no longer their responsibility. He never did learn…
Those remaining LibDem aides who have not quit politics for the private sector are getting ready to pack their bags. Party staff expect to move out from their HQ on Great George Street imminently, after the go-ahead was given to a planning application to turn their office into flats. Just a coincidence that Westminster council is one of the most Tory councils in Britain…
Guido hears that the most likely new home for the LibDems will be Westminster Tower. Where they would be sharing chats around the water cooler with the Vote Leave campaign…
Those concerned for the fate of Nick Clegg will be pleased to hear that the former Lib Dem leader has netted a cool £22,500 giving a keynote speech for Goldman Sachs. Clearly the company have forgiven him then for slamming them as a reminder of the banking industry’s “recklessness and greed” back in 2010.
Clegg was also tasked with moderating a Q&A session, with the entire engagement lasting a total of 2½ hours, meaning the Sheffield Hallam MP was earning exactly £150 a minute. Well that’s a living wage…
Jokes aside, Guido extends his congratulations to Nick, who would make his millionaire investment banker father Nicholas proud…
Vince Cable was at Buckingham Palace today to receive his knighthood from Prince Charles. The glamour was short-lived:
Well at least it hasn’t gone to his head…
Alistair Carmichael, who told voters he knew nothing of the infamous ‘Sturgeon memo’ before admitting he was actually responsible for leaking it, has been cleared by an election court. So no by-election in Orkney and Shetland despite the massive porkie. At least the Cybernats are handling it with their usual charm and good grace…
No trip to sunny Shetland for Lobby hacks next year either…
Readers who have been following Guido’s stories about the rotten borough of Sutton will be aware of the stink around LibDem MP Tom Brake. Ecolocal, the prominent environmental charity of which Brake is a trustee, was oddly silent about plans to build a 300,000 tonne a year incinerator in the borough.[…] Read the rest