Labour Promised More Cash For Northern Ireland in 2010

Labour are complaining today that Northern Ireland should not get more funding than other parts of the UK and that May has given them a deal “to help her cling to power”.

“Where is the money for the Tory-DUP deal coming from? And, will all parts of the UK receive the much needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal? This Tory-DUP deal is clearly not in the national interest but in May’s party’s interest to help her cling to power.”

Almost gotta admire the hypocrisy…

In 2010 Gordon Brown wrote to the DUP seeking a deal to help him cling to power. He guaranteed money for Northern Ireland and implied Northern Ireland would need more cash than the rest of the UK:

“I am writing to confirm my continued commitment to the block grant for Northern Ireland for the current financial year and to confirm the financial settlement for the budget of the newly established Department of Justice… As you know, I believe it is an imperative to stabilise the economic recovery in Northern Ireland…. I recognise that the legacy of the past will make this more difficult to achieve in the coming months than we may expect in other parts of the United Kingdom. This is a challenge we must all meet. The achievements made by you and the political leaders of Northern Ireland have been an example to us all. I remain firmly committed to doing all I can to support this momentous progress and you can count on my continued support.”

In 2015 Labour under Miliband did the same. Read Gordon’s letter to the DUP, there are lots of similarities with May’s words today…

Hammond’s “Sound Money” Speech Sadly All Spin

Philip Hammond’s Mansion House speech this morning was sound in its rhetoric. “We must make anew the case for a market economy and for sound money,” he said, warning that “higher taxes and higher borrowing” must be rejected, taxes must be kept “as low as possible” or else they will “slow growth, undermine competitiveness, and cost jobs”. He repeated this language at Cabinet, telling colleagues of the “importance of making the case for a market economy and sound money”. This is all positive rhetoric. The policy truth is alas very different.

Hammond confirmed this morning that he still wants to push back closing the deficit until 2025, ten years later than the Tories promised. The Tories have added £500 billion to the national debt in 7 years, Hammond now plans to add a billion a week to the burden. That is not “sound money” by any definition of the term.

Taxes have risen under the Tories. The claim by the Tories to be a low tax party has not been true this century. They raised VAT almost immediately upon coming into office. They argue they have cut business taxes, yet they raised dividend taxes on small business owners and tried to raise National Insurance contributions. Hammond ditched the triple tax lock at the election. He has signalled further tax rises are likely. The tax burden under this Chancellor will rise to its highest level since 1969. That is not keeping taxes “as low as possible”. 

Hammond is sounder on economics than Theresa May and her former aides. Talking up the “market economy” is clearly a slap down of the PM’s failed attempt at interventionism in the manifesto. Though his claim to be funding public services by anything other than more borrowing and more taxes is sadly all spin…

Corbyn Winning With Politicised Grenfell Fire Response

Rightly or wrongly the Grenfell Tower fire has been quickly politicised – and Corbyn is winning. His photo opportunity speaking to residents on the ground is being replayed repeatedly on the news channels, the BBC is carrying pictures of locals telling the Labour leader “the country needs you”. Online, Corbynistas are sending tenuous stories about Boris / Gavin Barwell / the Tories being somehow responsible viral. That is what people are seeing on their Facebook feeds today.

By contrast the pictures from Theresa May’s visit are all long lens shots, with no footage of any conversations with residents. True to form, the Maybot did a piece to camera in Downing Street rather than at the scene. An online story about the new Kensington Labour MP being on the board of the management company – equally tenuous as the attacks on Tories – has not gone viral.

This all fits into the narrative that Corbyn is a modern-day Jez-us, May is aloof, the Tories are out of touch and Number 10 is unable to communicate any positive message to the public. Downing Street is chaotic and understaffed – it has yet to appoint a comms chief, the Lobby is unhappy about lack of information, broadcasters are pulling their hair out and yet another of May’s SpAds has quit.

The Tories thought Corbyn weaponising the terror attacks would seem tasteless and backfire. Instead it turned attention on police cuts and helped him. That is happening again today…

Farron Loses Top Spinner

Guido understands Tim Farron’s top spinner Paul Butters is leaving. This will be a major loss to the LibDem leader, Butters is a page lead wizard with a journalist’s mind who was single-handedly responsible for getting his boss’ name in the paper over the last couple of years. His instantly recognisable catchphrase “mate” will be missed by Lobby hacks struggling for stories in the Red Lion. This election really was the massacre of the contacts…

Gove Fights Dangerous “Austerity is Over” Narrative

Encouraged by her new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, Theresa May is aggressively pursuing the dangerous narrative that “austerity is over”. Barwell told Newsnight that he lost his seat because public sector workers in his constituency wanted a pay rise. May has apparently accepted this analysis and told Tory wets she will pursue Labour-lite economics to win back Corbyn voters. Hers was already the most economically left-wing Red Tory manifesto since the seventies and it was rejected by the public. By contrast David Cameron won a majority while Labour screamed about spending cuts. The Tories had a 24 point lead before the manifesto was released – it was the dementia tax and the student offer not austerity that lost them their majority. Ending austerity is the wrong inference from May’s failure…

The national debt is nearly £1.9 trillion. It grows at a rate of £5,170 per second. The debt burden is 86% of GDP, more than double what it was pre-2008. Public sector borrowing is £51.7 billion this year – that is government overspending by £1 billion a week. May’s manifesto already kicked the deficit reduction can down the road to 2025, ten years later than George Osborne’s original so-called austerity programme. Young voters chose Corbyn, now May wants to win them back by saddling them and future generations with even more debt.

The only Cabinet minister who so far seems to recognise the recklessness of all this is Michael Gove, who told the Today programme “we need to get on with the job of reducing the deficit so that we do not saddle the next generation with a burden of debt”. The trouble with the government’s “austerity is over” spin is the deficit and debt can’t be spun away. If the gilt market loses confidence interest rates shoot up, as inflation takes off wage demands will spiral and the UK’s own version of Chavez will be installed. CPI has hit a 2.9% high this morning, above expectations. Not a good signal to loosen the fiscal stance and abandon austerity…

SPIN WARS: Boris and Davis ‘Trying to Stitch Each Other Up’

Boris and David Davis are both trying amusingly hard to convey that they are not manoeuvres. Boris has enthusiastically thrown his support behind Theresa May on TV and in The Sun. Those WhatsApp messages expressing loyalty yesterday were self-evidently written to be leaked. Davis did a broadcast round this morning where he offered “100% support” for May, telling ITV he would not challenge her. And yet…

Allies of both Boris and Davis believe the other is trying to stitch up their respective leadership chances. Boris’ supporters accuse Davis, a prolific texter, of hyping up Johnson’s alleged behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to journalists, with the aim of making him look like a dastardly plotter. They see Davis’ hand in Sunday newspaper stories claiming Boris is set to launch a bid. Team BoJo quickly and strongly denied the stories when the papers came out on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, those backing Davis accuse Boris of going too early in an attempt to steal a march on DD. Davis himself took a barely-veiled dig at Johnson on the Today programme, accusing unnamed “colleagues” of “self-indulgence”. Boris met with a number of high-profile old allies and former advisers in the days before the election, and anti-Boris MPs say he was touting support in the early hours of June 9. Wherein lies the truth?

It was already obvious that if May goes Boris and Davis will be the front-runners to replace her. Ignore the wish fulfilment fantasy forecasts of the pro-Remain broadsheet pundits who tip Amber Rudd, she has little chance of getting the support of enough Tory MPs and would win a derisory vote from the rank and file. The shadow boxing between DD and BoJo over the last 48 hours all but confirms their ambitions. Notwithstanding the chance that somehow tonight’s 1922 goes nuclear, they both know going too early is mad and that patience and perceived loyalty is a much better strategy…

Seumas Ordered Corbyn to Spin His Real Views on Defence

Seumas Milne ordered Jeremy Corbyn to spin his real views on defence in order to “close down” criticism in the last few days of the election. In the Mail on Sunday’s recording of Seumas having a loud conversation with Jezza on a train, Labour’s strategy chief says:

“We need to find, I think overnight, without looking defensive of trying to seal down the Trident thing so it doesn’t keep intruding in the next few days… It might be worth thinking in the morning how when you do this thing in Lincoln… then maybe do a clip later where you will be asked about it.  We should maybe find a formula to close it down… We just, I think we just need a form of words.”

Corbyn found that “form of words” in his response to the London Bridge attack:

“I will take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country. That includes full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night, as they did in Westminster in March.”

Corbyn’s overnight conversion on defence is not a reflection of his true views. It was a “formula” conceived by Seumas to fool voters…

CCTV Footage Shows “Caged Tiger” Seumas Milne

CCTV footage obtained by Guido shows Corbyn’s left-hand man and chief of spin, Seumas Milne, making a call across the road from Labour’s HQ that he does not want overheard by his co-workers (after all, moderates have ears). What struck Guido was how he paced up and down for a very long time, in the way that caged zoo animals do when stressed. This is a short excerpt from footage of what was a very long, animated and stressed call. Message from the ground not tallying with the polls?

Seumas Keeps Having to Correct Clueless Corbyn

The image of Jeremy Corbyn searching in vain on his iPad for the childcare figures this morning got Guido thinking about how much Jez relies on his aides to bail him out. This is a recurring theme. Time and time again he doesn’t know the party line and has had to be saved by a member of his team…

In an interview yesterday Corbyn bizarrely let slip that he would “obviously open discussions with the government of Scotland” about another independence referendum. This caused an almighty stir and forced Corbyn’s spokesman to put out the fire with a clarification: “Labour firmly opposes a second independence referendum”.

Last weekend Corbyn refused five times in a TV interview to condemn the IRA or say that they were terrorists. Why couldn’t he just do it? Later that day his spokesman had to put out a statement clarifying that Corbyn does indeed believe the IRA were terrorists.

Then there was the benefits freeze fiasco at Labour’s manifesto launch. Corbyn caused much confusion when he told journalists “we have not made a commitment” to end the freeze on benefits. Except, Labour party policy does make that commitment. A Labour spokesman had to clarify that Jez supports “an end to the freeze”.

Asked by a journalist about his Brexit policy last month, clueless Corbyn inexplicably failed to rule out a second EU referendum. His spokesman once again had to jump in and save him, clarifying: “A second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto”.

Corbyn didn’t know his numbers this morning, and some Corbynistas are trying to dismiss it as a meaningless one off. The truth, evidenced by how often his spokesman has to clarify his random ad-libs to journalists, is that Jezza is a 68 year-old man who is not on top of his brief. Time and time again he gets the basics wrong and Seumas has to step in and correct him…

Tory Placards: Compare and Contrast

Before the manifesto Tory activists taking part in photo opportunities with the PM would tend to hold up placards bearing the words “Strong and stable leadership in the national interest“. The word “Conservative” was seldom seen, “Theresa May’s team” took top billing. At the Tory campaign relaunch today gone were the old slogans, replaced by “The Best Brexit deal”, “A Secure Nation” and “Vote Conservative”. Not so strong and stable?

May Also Misleading on “Dementia Tax” Origin

At her speech this morning Theresa May chastised a reporter for using the phrase “dementia tax”, insisting it is a term “used by Labour to try and scare people”. Hmm. The first person to use the phrase “dementia tax” in an article was the Spectator’s Will Heaven, a former Tory speechwriter. Hardly a Labour supporter. “The Dementia Tax Backlash” was the front page splash of yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. Hardly a Labour supporting paper. It was first tweeted by a chap called Phil Lewis, who appears to have nothing to do with the Labour Party. Even the Tories have used the phrase “so-called dementia tax” in Google adverts targeting people searching for the issue. Labour might be using the phrase “dementia tax” as well, but they are far from the only ones…

Labour Campaign Group’s Fake News NHS Poster

Labour Future, the centrist grassroots Labour Party campaign group, has posted a fake NHS poster telling voters to buy health insurance, claiming that “from January 2018 the NHS will no longer be a free service”. The poster, bearing the official NHS and Public Health England logos, is complete fake news. It’s pretty distasteful too given it says: “Don’t put your family at risk”. The phone number on the poster puts you through to NHS England, and the poster has been shared over 3,000 times on Facebook. Labour Future are fundraising off the back of this BS, the Facebook post links through to a GoFundMe page. The NHS and Public Health England will not be happy to have their name put to such blatant lies…

UPDATE: Labour Future has now taken down the post.

UPDATE II: An NHS England spokesman tells Guido:

“We treat misuse of the NHS logo extremely seriously and we are investigating the origin of this clearly fake poster. As soon as we became aware that Labour Future had reposted this image we contacted them and asked them to remove it from their social media, which they did.”

Katie Perrior Joins News UK

Guido hears Theresa May’s recently departed Director of Communications Katie Perrior is joining News UK. She will be working as an election pundit for talkRADIO, News’s burgeoning radio station, alongside journalists from the Times and Sun. It has been well-documented that the advisers who have recently left had a frustrating time working in May’s Downing Street. Will make for interesting listening…

Lying Lib Dems Peddle Fake News

The LibDems are widely regarded as the dirtiest campaigners in British politics, stooping to lows well beneath their Tory and Labour rivals. This takes the biscuit even by their standards. In Wimbledon and Raynes Park the LibDems have produced a fake newspaper with the aim of deceiving voters into believing they are reading neutral coverage about their candidate. There is no imprint on the front page, the imprint at the bottom of the back page is not visible to the naked eye. This really is quite something – it includes a finance ‘column’ by a ‘finance editor’ called Phil Ling. This is a straight lie. Phil Ling is not a ‘finance editor’, he was the 2015 LibDem candidate down the road in Tooting. 

The LibDems are doing this – deliberately misleading and lying to voters – around the country. Here is Sarah Olney’s fake newspaper in Richmond. It has a tiny imprint that many won’t be able to read. It includes a “special report” purporting to be written by a journalist. This is a lie – it is campaign literature written by a spinner in LibDem HQ. There has been a lot of hand-wringing recently about parties paying for adverts in local newspapers. This from the LibDems is a hundred times worse.

Tories Make “Nonsensical” Election Attack Buzzword

Forget “strong and stable”, the Tories have made “nonsensical” their attack buzzword of the election, using it to bash Jeremy Corbyn 25 times on TV and in press releases over the last two weeks. The first use Guido can find was by Theresa May 13 days ago while answering questions during a campaign visit to Bridgend. The Tories clearly liked it, they’ve used it around twice a day ever since.

7 May, Luke Hall: “A coalition of chaos and instability led by a weak, floundering and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn.”

7 May, Nicola Blackwood: “A strong economy which Corbyn would risk with his nonsensical economic ideas.”

7 May, Priti Patel: “The man Jeremy Corbyn wants to make Chancellor believes that the nonsensical ideas of Karl Marx should be at the heart of Britain’s economic policy.”

3 May, Luke Hall: “A vote for anyone other than Theresa May and the Conservatives risks a floundering, weak and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.”

3 May, Philip Dunne: “This is just another nonsensical plan from Jeremy Corbyn.”

3 May, Gavin Barwell: “This nonsensical and unfair idea would punish people who have worked hard.”

3 May, David Davis: “Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical and irresponsible ideas pose a grave risk to the future of Britain’s economy.”

3 May, Jeremy Hunt: “This is just another nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea.”

2 May, Steve Baker: “Every vote for the Lib Dems risks putting the weak and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.”

2 May, Philip Hammond: “Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical ideas would put our economy at grave risk.”

2 May, Amber Rudd: “Their nonsensical promises aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.”

1 May, Brandon Lewis: “This is just another nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea which he can’t pay for.”

1 May: Gavin Barwell: “This is just another misjudged and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea.”

30 April, Theresa May: “I think Jeremy Corbyn’s economical policies are nonsensical I think they just don’t add up.”

30 April, David Gauke: “He wants to clobber Britain with nonsensical tax rises, and families would pay the price.”

29 April, David Gauke: “This is another set of nonsensical promises from Jeremy Corbyn that he simply can’t deliver.”

29 April, Patrick McLoughlin: “His nonsensical speech today demonstrated that he is just not up to it.”

28 April, Patrick McLoughlin: “The weak, floundering and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn who doesn’t even have the confidence of three quarters of his own MPs.”

28 April, Stuart Andrew: “Senior Labour figures will cut deals with anyone to put floundering, nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.”

27 April, Boris Johnson: “People watch his meandering and nonsensical questions.”

27 April, Maria Caulfield: “A floundering, weak and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn that will put our nation’s future at risk.”

26 April, Bob Neill: “Jobs would be lost if the weak, failing, nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn ended up in Downing Street.”

26 April, Nigel Adams: “A floundering and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn propped up by a coalition of chaos.”

25 April, Philip Dunne: “All that’s at risk with Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical economic policies that would mean less money for the NHS”

25 April, Theresa May: “It’s yet another nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn plan for the future in terms of Brexit.”

Makes sense…

Tory MPs Told: You’re “Her Local Conservative Candidate”

Much has been made of Tory candidates being given only one design for their election billboards, with the words “Standing with Theresa May” in large letters in the centre. Guido hears Tory MPs were further amused by the guidance sent round by CCHQ this week:

The only way to be sure of strong and stable leadership through Brexit and beyond is by voting for Theresa May and her local Conservative candidate on 8 June.

Naturally “strong and stable leadership” is underlined. So too is “voting for Theresa May”. Though it says a lot about the belief in her personal brand that everyone from veteran parliamentarians to newbies have been told to describe themselves simply as “her local Conservative candidate”. Mummy…

Labour HQ Rebuttal Contradicts Corbyn Five Times

Good to see a bit of fight from Labour – they snuck into the Hammond and Davis presser earlier and handed out this rebuttal document accusing the Tories of “mistakes, misinformation and misrepresentation”. Except, bizarrely, Labour’s rebuttal document completely contradicts Jeremy Corbyn’s public statements over the last year…

Labour says “It is not current Labour Party policy to buy out NHS contracts”. Except in August 2016 Corbyn said Labour would “instruct the Treasury to take control of the PFI situation to ensure the debt burden imposed on so many hospitals across the country is removed”. Is this a u-turn?

The Labour document says “Nursery access for all children” is not current policy. Yet in an interview with the Guardian last year Corbyn committed to “all children getting access to preschool facilities”What happened to that pledge?

The document says it is a “mistake” to say Labour wants to spend on infrastructure, manufacturing and new industries because this is financed from government capital spend, not revenue spend. Er, capital spending is still money. It has to be funded somehow, whether through cuts, borrowing or taxes.

Labour says it is not current policy to increase benefits for under-25s. This commitment was in Corbyn’s manifesto for young people: “Labour should abolish the different payments in benefits for under-25s, so all people seeking work can claim the same rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance”. Has he suddenly ditched this pledge?

Finally, Labour says reversing savings in the arts budget is not current policy. Eh? This commitment has repeatedly been made by Corbyn, for example: “Labour will reverse Tory real terms cuts to arts expenditure and restore grant in aid funding of the Arts Council” and “The next Labour Government will over the course of the next Parliament aim to increase the proportion of GDP the British Government spends on arts”. Have they dropped this too?

Have Labour announced five policy u-turns in a rebuttal document handed out as a stunt this morning? Or is this another example of non-joined up opposition between the Leader’s Office and the “dark side” at HQ…

Labour HQ Trolls Corbyn

Labour have sent out a press release with a quote from Jeremy Corbyn calling on Theresa May to “come out of hiding and face the public”. The author of the press release is very naughty:

Speaking at Labour’s HQ this morning, Jeremy Corbyn said: 

“Theresa May is hiding from the public…”

See what they did there. More proof for the Corbynistas that HQ is not exactly onside in this election…

H/T Jason Groves

Corbyn Is For Turning

A quick thinking aide ducks and dives to tell Jez to give his speech facing the television cameras…

Another No.10 Spinner Quits

Theresa May’s press secretary Lizzie Loudon (above right) is leaving government, the second departure from the PM’s spin team this week after she lost her Director of Communications Katie Perrior (above left) as well. Lizzie was on the Vote Leave campaign and widely respected in the Lobby.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

According to the Mail, when Tory MP Marcus Fysh called Venezuela a ‘socialist experiment gone wrong’ at PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn mouthed:

“What a complete w*nker.”

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