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. A lot of vacancies to be filled on June 9. Of Theresa May’s female aides featured in those “Here come the girls” newspaper profiles earlier this year, only Fi remains… 

Guido also understands Priti Patel’s SpAd Rob Oxley, also formerly of Vote Leave, has been appointed as CCHQ’s Head of News for the election. Vote Leave take control…

Downing Street Comms Chief Quits

Guido can reveal Downing Street’s Director of Communications Katie Perrior is quitting. She says:

“Always said I wouldn’t stay past an election. Good decision, right choice. A vote for Theresa May and a Conservative Government is the only route forward. As for me – new opportunities ahead. Exciting times!”

There had been rumours – denied – that Katie would be departing for several months. With Fi straying onto her patch it was a challenging job…

Keir Starmer: Secretary of State for Exiting the UK

Shadow Cabinet aides and spinners have been getting a lot of criticism recently. Very unfair, as you can see above. Worth noting this press release was sent 13 hours ago and has only just been noticed by Lobby hacks. Goes to show how much interest there is in reading them…

To be fair to the Labour press office, they did resend the press release. On the downside…  

Khan’s Website Says Election Promises Now “Out of Date”

Sadiq Khan has been getting a lot of deserved stick over his election campaign website, which awkwardly still lists the promises he has failed to keep since becoming mayor. Head over to Sadiq.London and you will find Khan’s pledges to build 80,000 homes a year, to plant two million trees by 2020 and to reduce bus fares in his first year. None of which have been kept. How is Team Sadiq dealing with his embarrassing website? They have updated it to include the following disclaimer:

“Some of the information on this page may be out of date and does not reflect campaign pledges or Mayoral policy.”

Eh? So the promises on Khan’s website don’t “reflect campaign pledges” and are now “out of date”? Asked about the disclaimer at Assembly questions, Khan said he isn’t sure who added it. A novel approach to promise breaking from London’s increasingly slippery Mayor…

UPDATE: Tory Assembly member Andrew Boff says:

“Since I began asking him some awkward questions about it, a disclaimer has mysteriously appeared on the site, effectively conceding the promises amount to nothing. You couldn’t make it up. This is about a Mayor presenting a misleading picture of himself during an election campaign on an official and very public website. He may now claim the information is out of date and irrelevant, but that will be little comfort to those who no doubt voted for him on the back of these phantom pledges.”

Lobby Hacks: Never Go to Debbie Abrahams With a Story

Frustrated Lobby hacks have been sharing horror stories of their dealings with the press operations of the Shadow Cabinet. It’s a tough gig being a Labour spinner at the moment – Keir Starmer seems to be on an eight hour time lapse and Diane Abbott’s migraines must prevent her from signing off press releases. The most amusing gripe is Paul Waugh’s complaint about an unnamed Shadow Cabinet minister, who he this week gave an idea for a question to the Commons Library, only to see them place the answer with a rival publication.

“Friday arrives. I ring aide. No answer. I text. Radio silence. An hour and 15 mins later I get an email saying sorry they missed my call. The email then says: “When we got the library figures back this afternoon there were some quite shocking figures…” But then I read the next sentence. “On this basis, we thought it best to go with [a rival media organisation] on the story, who wanted it as an exclusive.” My response was unprintable. Safe to say it involved the F-word. I’ve worked in Commons for 19 yrs (which is more than 10 yrs longer than this Shad Cab minister and a lot longer than the aide). And never have I been so appalled at such a duplicitous, discourteous and plain counter-productive media tactic.”

Who could this duplicitous Shadow Cabinet minister be? If you Google “cuts“, “Commons library figures” and “Labour” there is only one news story from the last week: this Guardian report about benefits cuts. It contains a quote from the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams. She has been in the Commons for six years, which fits the clues in Waugh’s timeline. Lobby hacks beware: never go to Debbie Abrahams with a story, she’ll sell you down the river…

CCHQ Tell MPs to Say Labour Are Revolutionary Trots Soft on ISIS

Labour are revolutionary Trotskyists who are soft on ISIS and want to dismantle the army – that’s what CCHQ has told Tory MPs to say on the airwaves in coming weeks. A broadcast briefing note sent to MPs and passed to Guido orders Tories doing TV and radio to say that Corbyn “thinks Britain doesn’t need an army”, “would work with the SNP to scrap nuclear weapons”, “would abandon military action against Daesh” and opposes shoot-to-kill. Nothing we don’t know, but these are the four lines CCHQ think will kill Corbyn with voters…

Tory MPs have also been told to quote Tom Watson’s claim that Labour has been “infiltrated by Trotskyists” who see Labour “as a vehicle for revolutionary socialism”.

A taste of what’s to come if Corbyn were to lead Labour into an election…

Gravy Train: HS2 Awards Contracts to 17 PR Agencies

The taxpayer is funding a preposterous 17 (seventeen!) PR agencies to provide communications advice to HS2, the Department for Transport have disclosed in response to a parliamentary question. The 17 comms firms which have been paid by the taxpayer to spin for the beleaguered project are:

JBP Associates, Blue Rubicon, MHP Communications, Brand and Deliver, Brandnew, M-is, Precedent Communications, Crown Business Communications, PRgloo, Booz & Company, SKV Communications, Emergn, Stairway Communications, Gorkana, Hopscotch Consulting, Weber Shandwick, Westbourne Communications

12 other consultancy and production firms have also been handed lucrative contracts:

JBP Associates, ATK Productions, Future Thinking, NLA Media Access, NTA Monitor, Consultation Institute, Dialogue by Design, Elro Associates, Emergn, The Edge Picture Company, The Skills Show, Tomboy Films

Why does the taxpayer need to fund all these companies when not a rail on the HS2 line has yet been laid? Why does HS2 possibly need 17 taxpayer-funded spin shops? Know they are getting bad press but come on…

May Launches “Plan For Britain” After Another Day of Dire Headlines

What do you do when your Chancellor is fighting for his political life and 13 of your MPs are facing CPS charging decisions and the possibility of election re-runs? What about throwing down the gauntlet to Nicola Sturgeon at lunchtime by rejecting IndyRef2, and then at tea time launching your “Plan for Britain”. Here it is…

UPDATE: Plan For Britain site down. Unfortunate. 

Hammond: Laura K First to Say NI Rise Broke Manifesto Pledge

Philip Hammond tells Alex Salmond the first person outside the chamber to say he had broken the Tory manifesto pledge on National Insurance was the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. An extraordinary statement – and one which Hammond is defending by arguing disingenuously that the NI didn’t breach the manifesto. Did Downing Street really not realise this would be an issue? Friends of George Osborne say they immediately knew it would be a breach of manifesto when they saw this Times story on a possible NICs rise back on 1 March. Hammond leaving himself open to complete ridicule…

Leaked Burnham Draft Manifesto Reveals Made-Up Stories About Women

Guido has obtained Andy Burnham’s draft manifesto for the Manchester mayoral election, which is set to be unveiled tomorrow. The section above is particularly moving, telling the tragic stories of a woman “who found it difficult to find work and was forced to take up a zero-hours contract”, as well as another woman “who had her retirement plans ruined and has now lost her independence”. All very unfortunate. Just one problem: these stories are not real and the women do not exist. Despite the apparently personalised stories, there are no names in the draft text, instead the letters “XXX” appear as Team Burnham try to find women who fit the gloomy narrative. Struggling to find case studies for their tales of woe? 

For those interested, here is the draft manifesto in full:

Downing Street: Article 50 Triggered at “End” of March

So much for all those newspaper stories guesstimating that Article 50 would be triggered tomorrow – a “government source” is briefing various political editors that it won’t happen this week or next. A Number 10 spokesman claims they always said it would be at the “END” of March, their capital letters. (They’ve actually previously said “by the end”). Was this the plan all along? Or bounced into it by Sturgeon this morning?

Senior Leavers: No.10 Must Prepare Public For WTO Brexit

Senior Leave figures want the government to do much more to publicly prepare the public for a Brexit on WTO terms. Theresa May’s speech in January arguing that “no deal is better than a bad deal” pleased Tory Leavers, but they fear not enough has been done by Downing Street to prevent continuity Remainers seizing the narrative and convincing the public that WTO terms would be a disaster. This is why over the weekend Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox all came out and made encouraging noises about the possibility of no deal. 

There are three reasons why Leavers want Number 10 to do more to make the WTO case. First, the chances of a Brexit along WTO lines are much higher than the government publicly admits. While the official line is that no deal is “unlikely“, behind the scenes senior figures in Number 10 have said they put the probability at around 30%. Most Leavers think this figure is optimistic. Another government source tells Guido they believe the likelihood of a WTO Brexit is 50-50.

Second, demonstrating that WTO terms are acceptable is vital for the negotiation. If Brussels believes Britain thinks WTO rules are a disaster, the threat to walk away is not credible. Going into the negotiation without being happy to accept WTO terms is obviously the worst possible negotiating hand. A Whitehall source says: “People are being told that WTO rules would be the end of the world. We need to explain to them why it isn’t”.

Third, Leavers want to learn the lesson from Cameron’s failure to make any contingency planning for Brexit. This is seen by the government as Cameron’s worst betrayal – Leavers are determined not to repeat the mistake. This means proper preparations for a WTO Brexit, both in terms of contingency planning in Whitehall and preparing the public for that outcome. Matt Ridley’s piece in today’s Times is the sort of narrative Number 10 should be pursuing…

Number 10 Blaming Number 11, Number 11 Blaming Number 10

Treasury sources tell Newsnight’s Nick Watt that “Number 10 just wants to spend money” and that “some of the senior political advisers around the Prime Minister have anti-Tory ideas about raising taxes”. They say Hammond had to fight against May and claim she wanted to raise Capital Gains Tax and NICs for higher-rate taxpayers. Meanwhile there is pushback from Number 10 in the Times, which quotes a source saying of Team Hammond: “They just forgot the manifesto”. Trouble…

Treasury Spin Falls Apart

The Treasury is shamelessly spinning that the Tory manifesto commitment on National Insurance only referred to Class 1 NICs, not Class 4. This is untrue. There is no mention of Class 1 or Class 4 NICs in the Tory manifesto, it says very clearly in black and white that there will be no increases to National Insurance whatsoever. As Tom Watson says, they must have put the words “Class 1” in invisible ink. The Treasury won’t be getting away with spinning these alternative facts…

Corbyn Blames Tax Row on Media / Cabinet Office Conspiracy

It has been a long day of spin, claim and counter claim, rebuttal and pre-buttal, three on-the-record statements, multiple off-the-record briefings and questions to three government departments. Finally Jeremy Corbyn has tried to clear up his tax return, sort of. Guido takes you through it, blow by blow…

9pm last night: Journalists first began to query whether Jeremy Corbyn’s tax return included his salary as Leader of the Opposition. Corbyn’s team did not provide an answer.

1am this morning: Corbyn’s team released a statement explaining that he included his LOTO payments in the pensions and benefits section, rather than the employment section. They did not say why.

9am this morning: It emerged that the government’s accounts show a different figure for his LOTO earnings, and say it is a “salary“. Corbyn’s team did not have an explanation for the discrepancy.

3pm this afternoon: Corbyn’s team explain the discrepancy in a new statement: “This figure is calculated after deducting the waivers Jeremy has made of earlier increases to the benefit… A parliamentary pension contribution of £3,395 was also deducted”. They blame the Cabinet Office for not clearing it up and offshore media owners for having ulterior motives:

“The owners of the media companies that have attempted to cast doubt over Jeremy’s transparent and accurate tax return are of course among those who could stand to lose from the tax transparency and justice the British people demand. Jeremy believes firmly in transparency. These media barons have tax questions of their own to answer.”

Interesting conspiracy, or could it just be that Corbyn’s team didn’t understand the numbers and it took them 18 hours to work it out?

Diane Abbott’s Trumpian Tax Denial

This tweet from Diane Abbott is positively Trumpian. She says it is “wrong” that Corbyn bungled his tax return. To be clear, he declared his Leader of the Opposition salary in the pensions and state benefits section. Tax accountants agree this is bizarre and unorthodox, and there is no explanation from his team why it was declared like this. Diane says the media did not read Corbyn’s return properly. No – journalists asked Corbyn’s office for an explanation, they were unable to provide one for several hours. And they are still unable to answer the outstanding questions

UPDATE: Statement from Labour six hours later.

Clive Lewis: “None of This is True. I Haven’t Done This”

Much excitement following the HuffPo report that four websites, cliveforleader.co.uk, cliveforleader.org.uk, cliveforlabour.co.uk and cliveforlabour.org.uk, had been registered on 29 June last year. The story took off when Lewis stupidly gave HuffPo a flowery statement quoting LBJ, which was immediately interpreted as a non-denial. He has now flat out denied the story to the Guardian:

“None of this is true. I haven’t done this.”

It would be pretty extraordinarily thick of Lewis to register these sites in his own name. Let alone two days after he was appointed as Shadow Defence Secretary. Much more likely a scheming Labour enemy did it with the aim of doing him in. Guido can disclose that junior Corbynistas had been excitedly talking about the alleged Lewis websites for days before the story broke…

Corbyn’s New Spinner Worked For Copeland ‘Baby Killers’

Jeremy Corbyn’s new spin doctor is a lobbyist whose firm works for the Cumbria Success Regime, the controversial NHS programme which Labour said would kill babies in Copeland. Steve Howell, Jezza’s new Deputy Director of Strategy and Communications, is founder and director at PR company Freshwater.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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