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. 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.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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