Don't Mention the Debt

There is something a little Gordon like about Ed Miliband’s flurry of activity today. The Prime Mentalist went through relaunch after relaunch and the Son of Brown’s latest attempt to lead the agenda has all the hallmarks of his metaphorical father. Ed is set to tell the people of Newcastle that they won’t have the same opportunities that their parents did because of the spending cuts. Once again the head is in the sand and the fingers are in the ears.

If the next generations suffer it will be for because of the tax burden they are under to service the government debt. Given every kid born under the last Labour government will have to overcome the weight of £17,000 as their share of the debt, it’s no surprise Labour’s pollster Stan Greenberg can pull out stats that say over 60% of people think life will be tough for the next generation. They’re broke…

Quote of the Day

On the Andrew Marr show Ed Miliband was asked…

“Do you accept that before the crisis happened, actually Labour was spending too much?”

“No I don’t.”

Quote of the Day

Neal Lawson of Compass says

“Labour needs to demonstrate different thinking and Ed is doing a pretty good job at that. He does seem extremely calm through his Zen-type socialism…”

Moment Red Ed Became "Son of Brown"

[vodpod id=Video.5028172&w=480&h=266&fv=]

You can still get reasonable odds that Ed won’t be leading Labour at the general election…

Labour Source: "People Have Made Up Their Mind"

Guido has called round a few Labour sources after that PMQs. The sentiment seems to be, particularly from those that didn’t vote for Ed Miliband, that “he is as bad as we feared”. Given that the majority of Labour Party members and the parliamentary party didn’t vote for him that is something of problem for the current leader of the Labour Party. Ed doesn’t have command of the shadow cabinet, Balls is on manoeuvres, even Yvette is being awkward. One senior apparatchik described her recent hiring of Roger Baker for her staff as “an act of war”. Roger Baker was until recently Labour’s director of press and broadcasting in Victoria Street. He walked out when David Miliband lost, openly telling all and sundry Ed would be useless. Another former Labour strategist told Guido that he thought Ed was safe because the only alternative was Ed Balls, he claimed “if there is one thing that unites the Labour and Tory front benches it is that they don’t want Ed Balls as leader of the Labour Party”. David Miliband won’t challenge Ed for the leadership.

One former member of Ed Miliband’s campaign team lamented that the government should be far more unpopular as a result of making cuts and raising taxes “we have an open goal”, adding that it was unfortunate for Ed that “people have already made up their mind”, another pointed to the establishment of the “Big Society Panel” as a strategic mistake “even if we were going to try to figure out a response to the ‘Big Society’ we should have called it something else… Ed needs to get on and make appointments; chief of staff, press, his own economics advisers”. A common theme was Ed’s procrastination and a lack of decisiveness, a shadow cabinet source said there was “no clear direction from him, and his office takes ages to turn things round”. Son of Brown indeed…

Read Ed's Speech, Not Impressed

“Being rooted in people’s lives is not about a slogan, it’s not about going out and just saying ‘tell us what we should think’, but it is about saying we need to be reconnected to the hopes and aspirations of the people of Britain.”

Having read Ed’s speech twice and learnt nothing from the platitudes, Guido fears he still knows where Ed wants to take a Labour Party “rooted in people’s lives”. Ed says he is a “socialist” and wants to tax people who are successful more than half their earnings, which sounds like a Labour government too rooted in people’s bank accounts. More of a blank cheque policy than a blank policy sheet.

Guido was never going to be impressed with a younger, more humanised but still wonky version of Gordon Brown, unfortunately for Ed his own cabinet also seem unimpressed; on the Sunday shows Alan Johnson told Marr, in coded language, that he wants to dump the 50% tax rate policy before the election, Douglas Alexander confirmed to Adam Boulton the shadow chancellor was looking to dump it and Liam Byrne said just now on the Politics Show “…you have to decide your tax priorities closer to the time”, translation “we’ll dump it before the election”. They all know that Ed stood for the leadership ideologically committed to squeezing the successful: ‘Let me say plainly: I would keep the top rate of income tax at 50p permanently’.

Punters are beginning to write Ed off and the left-of-centre commentariat is unimpressed. The only conclusion to draw from all these cabinet David Miliband supporters opposing Ed’s key policy objective is that they don’t really want him to lead them into the next election.

Red Ed's Euro Piggies

Last week ten deficit-denying Labour MEPs voted against a freeze in the EU’s budget. What is it that  could possibly make them want to defend the status quo? Well in the last year alone the the luddites have claimed £786,478.66 between them from the taxpayer. Even more infuriating is the fact that over a hundred grand of that went to the MEPs wives and families.

Michael Cashman who claimed £92,028.27 in expenses last year, Richard Howitt (£78,248.42), Stephen Hughes (£86,951.70), David Martin (£64,458.76), Arlene McCarthy (£88,168.31), Brian Simpson (£79,326.21), Peter Skinner (£78,082.73), Catherine Stihler (£64,324.39),  Derek Vaughan (£75,765.10) and Glenis Willmott (£75,765.10) all voted to keep the gravy train flowing. Given that half of them supported Red Ed, yet again the new leader is put in an awkward position by his party, his Shadow Foreign Secretary Yvette Cooper is in disagreement with them. Ed’s silence over Ken’s explosion worthy behaviour, the growing union stranglehold over his party and now the ongoing troughing behaviour of ten members of his thirteen strong European delegation, five of whom voted for him, adds to the mounting proof of what a lame duck leader Ed is turning out to be.

Shadow Cabinet of Millionaires

Guido has noticed a few Shadow Cabinet members using the phrase “Cabinet of Millionaires”, a charge usually made by trots selling papers. Red Ed clearly calculates this will harm the government in an era of cuts. Over the weekend he said it didn’t matter if millionaires were given child benefit because “there aren’t that many millionaires in this country”. Well there seems to be disproportionate amount in his top team.

There are quite a few millionaires around the Shadow Cabinet table, some inherited their money, some made their money. If the politics of envy is back we should look at the net worth of those making the charge. Guido is estimating net worth based on pension assets, property and other known assets.

Millionaire Ed Miliband inherited a share of a multi-million pound property from his Marxist father, some nifty footwork by him and his brother David allowed them to avoid paying six-figure inheritance taxes. Combining marital assets and his inheritance from his father Ralph, Ed himself is comfortably a millionaire.

Millionaress Harriet Harman, privately educated at St Paul’s girls school (Osborne went to St Paul’s boys school) is, given her eighteen year parliamentary career, set to get at least a half a million pounds from her pension pot. Along with her husband’s salary and pension, things are looking comfortable with one house in Herne Hill and a country pile in Suffolk. Putting the trade unionist and the toff well into the millionaire’s class…

Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper trousered a joint household income of some £300,000 per year for their five years or so in goverment positions. Ed trousered nigh on £100,000 in 2005 for writing a few pamphlets for Gordon Brown’s now struck-off dubious charity known as the Smith Institute. With the couple’s triple-house-flipping, generous expenses claims, on top of their ministerial salaries and taking into account their gold-plated ministerial pension pots, they will comfortably have a net worth that puts the power couple in the millionaire’s bracket by now. Though they are however down to a meagre two homes…

But it’s not just the big names at the forefront, Baroness Scotland spent many years at the top of the Bar and the ennobled QC’s bank balance would reflect that. The millionairess will have had no problem paying her five-thousand pound fine for employing an illegal immigrant as a maid…

Baldemort himself, Liam Byrne, benefitted handsomely from his time as an investment banker at Rothchilds. He certainly won’t have left their employ without having trousered enough to put him in the millionaire bracket before counting his six-figure government salary…

Oh and let’s not forget Shaun Woodward whose property empire includes a castle. He even has his own butler.

Can co-conspirators crowd-source evidence of other millionaire members of Red Ed’s new generation?

See also: More Millionaire Shadow Cabinet Members

Quote of the Day

Dan Hodges blogs of Ed Miliband’s appointment of Alan Johnson…

‘… one former Downing Street aide said to me: “It shows he’s not going to have any truck with the deficit deniers”.’

Continuity TaliBrown Not Happy

Kevin Maguire and Charlie Whelan are two of the most high profile former members of the inner-circle of the TaliBrown, now they are at the core of the continuity-TaliBrownies. Both are allies of, and boosters for Brown’s heir, Ed Balls. Both of them today are not happy…

Our Kevin says Not-So-Red-Ed was “scared of his shadow – or at least the notion of making either Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper his Shadow Chancellor. So the timid new Labour leader fluffed his first big call and played safe with Alan Johnson. As a result he missed a glorious opportunity to recast his party’s economic policy and to turn the tables on the Tories.” Maguire, in his role as TaliBrown propaganda chief, makes no secret of his preference for deficit denial.

Despite swinging the unions behind Red Ed to win control of the Labour Party, the TaliBrown bully and union-fixer Charlie Whelan is still unhappy; mainly with Peter Mandelson and David Miliband. Telling The Times that David Miliband was annoying and should “get a life” after his failed leadership battle, adding for good measure that his exit from the Shadow Cabinet was ungracious.

“It was slightly self-indulgent to just go off. It didn’t look good. It would have been best for him to say straight away what he was going to do. It’s a tragedy when you lose your job, you are on the dole and you have no money for your family. Politician losing top job is not a tragedy. It’s personally uncomfortable but that’s all. This is why David’s attitude annoys me. He didn’t get the job but it’s not a disaster. Get a life.”

Whelan also backs Ed Balls to be Chancellor in the Shadow Cabinet claiming “He’s got a grasp of the economy and his position on the economy is the right one”. Charlie adamantly rejects the accepted wisdom that Labour’s defeat in the last election was in any part down to Gordon Brown’s deficit denial, claiming

“We could have won that election. Peter Mandelson went round at Christmas saying it’s going to be a catastrophic defeat. Well, if you’re going into the election with your main man telling you you’re going to be defeated then you might as well pack up and go home. Obviously the campaign was an unmitigated disaster.”

Guido can see Balls and his boosters waging low intensity political warfare on Red Ed for as long as he seeks to get on the reality-based side of the deficit denying dividing line. That is something Balls and the rest of the continuity-TaliBrown will be determined to block…

We Khan't Go On Like This

Once could be seen as a mistake, twice a habit, but three times? Miliband campaign manager and expenses cheat Sadiq Khan is in yet more hot water. Once again he has been caught breaking expenses rules. First there was “the rose” incident, then the pending police investigation for fraud and now he faces the humiliation of John Lyon finding him guilty of sending out a political mail shot on his taxpayer funded communications allowance during his tight re-election campaign. Shadow Cabinet contenders should keep a close eye on their rival, it seems cheats do prosper.

With the rise of Red Ed, his most loyal follower looks set to be rewarded. His extremist views rule him out of the FCO, and quite extraordinarily, Labour are talking about putting another expenses cheat in the Home Office briefPerhaps Jacqui could come back as a Special Adviser…

Lunch at Red Ed's Diner

The CCHQ boys and girls do like a tease:

The beer was a little flat…

Red Ed Cracks the Whip

Prior to Saturday most of the Parliamentary Labour party were formulating Shadow Cabinet predictions around a David win.  Hitherto confident David supporters are now frantic about their futures. At this point zealous Labour spinners and Red Ed defenders will be itching to point out that the Shadow Cabinet is elected independently of the leadership however it seems that is not strictly true. One veteran Labour MP recently describe the process to Guido:

“Anyone who’s remotely ambitious and fancies themselves either a decent shadow cabinet portfolio or junior shadow ministerial role is paid a visit by one of the whips – whereby they hand over their ballot and the whip fills it out for them.”

No wonder ruthless Red Ed was so keen to get his Chief Whip in place immediately.

Friday Caption Contest (Poisoned Chalice Edition)

Ed Tries to Lose the Red, Again

Red Ed has called up the BBC strikers and asked them not to black out coverage of the Conservative Party conference next week. Before you start thinking this socialist isn’t so evil he ha intervened not because of any objection the strike action but in the ‘interests of impartiality’.

He’s going to need a better spinner than that.

UPDATE: Punters are giving the strike an 80% chance of going ahead.

The New Generation

Red Ed has just finished his speech, it was a pep-talk for a “new generation”.

To Guido it still sounded like left-lurching, deficit raising, money wasting, demotivating, buzz wording, fool talking, high taxing, fast spending, ever wasting, vote losing, Labour.

UPDATE : It was apparently 8,000 words long, took over an hour and the weird staring into the distance blank pause at the beginning was Ed waiting for the autocue to start.

Red Ed The Taste of a New Generation

Red Ed’s speech is going to be, in the words of one who had seen a draft of it yesterday, “vacuous” and full of talk of a “new generation”. It will be a saccharine speech sharing not just a slogan with Pepsi, its content will also be sugary and vague, without New Labour’s ideologically bitter edge. Red Ed is the synthetic taste of New New Labour…

Red Ed V the IMF

On only his second day as leader Ed Miliband has come up a pretty big obstacle to his message on the economy – the IMF. Red Ed’s job has been made a lot harder by the IMF’s analysis that “the government’s strong and credible multi-year fiscal deficit reduction plan is essential to ensure debt sustainability.” Red Ed believes the Coalition’s plan is ‘economically dangerous’ whereas the IMF says it is ‘essential’.

In his keynote speech to conference tomorrow, the first time most of the voters will really see him, the broadsheet commentariat will be watching to see if he will call for a slower rate of deficit cutting than even Darling wanted before the election. He campaigned, like his rival Ed Balls, as a deficit denier so it remains to be seen if winning the leadership will see him dump his left-wing “Red Ed” campaign rhetoric. The IMF says the government’s plans are ‘appropriately ambitious” and will lead not to a double-dip recession but ‘sustainable recovery’. If this doesn’t trigger a rewrite of his campaign script then Red Ed is even more of a loser than his Blairite critics suggest…

How the Unions Won it for Red Ed

This morning’s papers could not have been comfortable reading for the majority of the Labour Party who did not vote for Ed Miliband. Despite attempts to say “so what” to the fact that Unite and the other unions have the leader of their party by the balls, Red Ed is being defined by his opponents (and supporters) before the voting public have any idea who he really is. Not without good reason, imagine the outcry from Labour if the Tories biggest donor had been given the deciding say in who the party leader is, against the wishes of the membership and MPs. Try as Ed may to claim he is his own man, the results speak for themselves and how they were achieved is very telling.

Not only was there the £135,000 given to Ed’s campaign directly, but money was spent elsewhere pushing his face and name. Take this ballot paper envelope from the GMB for example:

Unite the Union broke not only the spirit but the letter of the leadership election laws by sending a mailshot endorsing Ed when they sent the ballot papers to their 950,000 members.  Unite even set up a website backing Red Ed which linked to the Electoral Reform Society’s online voting page. If David Miliband had a little less dignity he would have pretty solid grounds for an investigation.

The unions gave help-in-kind worth millions. There is no way the unions will not want a return for their investment and in the campaign Ed promised to support strikes and even show his face at the TUC’s coordinated action day. Guido is fairly confident this won’t happen and Ed will have to attempt to distance himself from his puppet-masters. Expect tame words calling for political solutions and the like…

Charlie Whelan Wins by a Whisker

Unite’s massive effort to persuade disinterested union members to vote for Ed Miliband paid off. Ed won 50.65% of the vote. He lost in the MP and membership sections of the electoral college but took so much of the union vote it didn’t matter.[…] Read the rest

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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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