RCN Raps Lansley's Knuckles by 98%

The Royal College of Nurses just passed a motion of no confidence in Andrew Lansley by 98.76. There was a shocking six votes against. The one pragmatic nurse on the platform who said they were risking their place at the top table and thus influence, was angrily heckled and booed. Both Miliband, Cameron and Clegg have been in a TV war all morning, trying to play  it up and trying to play it down.

Guido wonders how Scargill’s NUM would have voted at the height of Maggie’s trade union war…

Yes To Vaguer Votes

The Yes campaign broadcast that is going out tonight consists of slightly odd-looking LibDem types annoyingly screaming through megaphones into people’s faces. It pretty much sums up their entire campaigning style.

It’s notable that they don’t even try to explain how their complex system works or how it would make centrist MPs, like the LibDems, work any harder. They are the ones that will benefit with  AV as they are naturally the second preference choice of most Labour and Tory voters. But they’re hardly going to cough that this late in the game.

The Indy have regurgitated a Yes press release this morning “revealing” that the No team has a fair sprinkling of Tories among its staff, yet fail to note the senior Labour players. It’s hardly a surprise that the Tories are on board given which way the parties are split on the issue and it’s not as if they tried to hide them. Campaign chairman Matthew Elliot and Finance Director Charlotte Vere even popped up in their broadcast last night:

The Yes campaign is a LibDem front, funded by LibDem donors and reliant on LibDem supporters. Pushing Labour’s Jessica Asato out as fig leaf is never going to disguise that.

Big Hearted Mrs Duffy Is Back"I'm Sorry Nick"

And she’s turned her fire on to Clegg:

Click above to play the video or there is a transcript here. Clegg manages to avoid implying she is racist, but is rather patronising. He held the line against a newly loyal Gillian though…

UPDATE: Interesting to see the video of Mrs Duffy congratulating Ed Miliband on his victory back in September doing the rounds of Twitter already. They have subsequently met up. Is she just his pawn now? The questioning was certainly on message…

Bank Break Up Sends Beeboids Bonkers

The speculation that the Vickers Commission was going to force the banks abroad by breaking them up clearly got the better of some hacks sympathetic to the idea. At his press conference earlier John Vickers fielded questions from the all the financial press scribes. Not one mentioned a perceived failure to split up the banks adequately until the not-for-profit BBC waded in. Both Peston and Paul Mason opened fire. Mason had a rant about “casino banking” and Peston accused them of “bottling it”. Guido’s eyes and ears in the room described the contrast with everyone else’s questions as “striking”…

Coulson's Mountain To Climb

As his former underlings are being cuffed and questioned over what was once dismissed as “molehills”, the FT boys note that one Mr Andrew Edward Coulson and his wife Eloise have registered “Elbrus Consultants” with Companies House. Mount Elbrus, on the border of Russia and Georgia, is the tallest mountain in Europe.

There is a reputation/long-climb joke there somewhere…

UPDATE: EyeSpyMP spotted Coulson in Madrid last night…

At the footy rather than on the run after the arrests.

The Violence of the Left

Remember when the British left joined the passing bandwagon from the States and suggested that violent political rhetoric could be blamed for violence against actual politicians? Guido never bought the line, but for all the song and dance they made, it’s funny that there has been no outcry about this posting from online looney lair Left Futures:

The Photoshopping is pretty poor, but you get the point. Left Futures is run by senile old fool Michael Meacher and his head-banging, Lufter Rahman supporting, aide Jon Lansman. The list of reasons Labour might want to tread with caution around them grows ever longer…

Via Harry’s Place

Public Don't Buy Wed Ed

After he was rounded on by the media and widely mocked for not only his appearance at the Riot for an Alternative, but the content of his speech, Ed seemed to think that announcing he was getting married a couple of days later would make up for his mistakes. However the latest YouGov figures show the public saw straight through it. Just 29% of people asked think he proposed for genuine personal reasons compared to the 43% that think it was to improve his personal image.

Oh well, Justine looked happy anyway.

Another Spending Balls Up

As Ed Balls let out a huge sigh of relief, having narrowly avoided decapitation from Tory rival Antony Calvert last May, he couldn’t help put the boot in:

“You can come along with all your posters, and all your leaflets, and all your advertising, but you cannot buy this constituency”

Despite having his office funded by the unions and a parliamentary communications allowance to fall back on, Balls made the wholly incorrect assertion that Calvert was being funded by Ashcroft cash, when the opposite was true. Calvert used YouFundMe to raise money from small donations from across the country that tapped into the low regard the Shadow Chancellor is held in. Now neighbouring Tory candidate Nick Pickles has digested the election spending figures and guess what:

Yes, despite accusing his opponent of trying to buy his seat, Balls spent £26,659 to Calvert’s £24,911. Has there ever been a sum he’s got right?

One thing is for certain, Balls is terrified now his seat has been put into play by an outsider. There is a very high chance he will lose it under AV. There is nothing Guido enjoys more than seeing constant Twitter pictures of him canvassing his ultra-marginal in the pouring rain every Saturday morning. This weekend he had to stoop even lower to beg for funds:

Please make cheques payable to the “Washed Out Celebrities and Transvestite Fund” c/o The Labour Party.

Loyal Balls Blames Blinking

The long interview with Ed Balls in the Staggers tickled Guido. The humanisation project is rolling on:

So what does he think his biggest weakness is? There is a long pause. “I think three or four years ago, people would have said my biggest weakness was that sometimes I was awkward on television, with my stammer, but I think they’d say that much less now.”

Yeah that must be why everyone hates you Ed.

I try again. What would he say his biggest weakness is now? Another long pause. “I’m a very loyal person and I allowed myself to be defined as somebody who was doing Gordon’s bidding. I should have fought back harder to define myself at an earlier stage.”

Blinky BallsNothing that a good unleashing of the “forces of hell” couldn’t have fixed. Balls topped Guido’s poll yesterday for the most annoying MP, with 39.4% (2600 of the 6,600 people polled) in agreement with the PM that he was the one. A smaller poll for The Times had 66% of those responding opting for Balls as the prime irritant.

But only because he’s a bit awkward and too loyal!

Red Ed's "Refounding"

Ed Miliband has apparently promised to ‘refound’ the Labour. When he is done with that he is going to town on the English dictionary.

The document is straight out of the Cameron-detoxify playbook but interesting to see the unions being diluted by the public potentially having a say over the leader. It’s lucky for Red Ed that this rule wasn’t already in place. It’s pretty cosmetic stuff…

Guido can’t help think that a lot of these measures would have been unnecessary on a Miliband (D) and Cooper ticket.

Labour's Leaky Legacy

The word has gone out from Labour to moan about the number of Budget leaks that have happened. It’s easier than offering up real arguments. MPs and the dutiful Twitterati have fallen in line and are evoking the spirit of Hugh Dalton, the Chancellor who resigned in 1947 after briefing the Lobby before his Budget speech. But when did that precedent go out the window?

The BBC noted back in 2008:

“During former Chancellor Gordon Brown’s time at Number 11, he installed a system of briefing for the press around his pre-Budget Statement.”

In 2005 the entire Budget made it into the first edition of the Standard before Gordon had even started his speech. Amazing how quickly a party can develop a new set of principles once it is in opposition…

UPDATE: Leaks to Labour are of course in the public interest:

Murphy's Law

When Wee Dougie stands up there is something about him you just cannot quite take seriously. When monotone Jim Murphy stands up, you are normally asleep before such a judgement can be passed. The dour Scot, who makes Gordon look like Cicero, hasn’t had a very good day. When doing the rounds of Millbank this morning he dutifully stood by the government’s intervention and held his tongue if he had any complaints. It’s odd that Labour, and their sympathisers in the media, aren’t using Tom Baldwin’s “Tory-led” government this week.

Sky’s new political correspondent Sophy Ridge tweeted a few minutes later:

Anyone with an eye on the clock would have immediately worked out which Shadow Cabinet Minister had just walked out of the studios. If Murphy wanted to put Fox back in his box why didn’t he just say so? If he wanted to try to politicise the issue, why was he too afraid to put his name to it? Murphy ended up having to out himself as the the source after a hoohaa, on his normally neglected blog of all places. Hardly a master of the dark arts. Any credibility he might have had in his brief has been shot to bits.

Baldwin At It Again

Man of letters and Labour spinner extraordinaire Tom Baldwin has penned another of his now infamous rants to the media with a host of outlandish demands and decrees.  Labour are too broke for a proper spring conference, instead their one day event in Nottingham next week looks set to achieve all the press coverage it deserves. Baldwin has other ideas though. Writing to the broadcasters he demands:

“We are keen to resolve this amicably and would suggest a couple of options to you going forward… give us coverage of this event with no comment from other parties… Alternatively, you could reflect the fact the Conservative-led Government has thus far been given far more coverage, given the two party political conferences covering four days in total, and restrict the air time given to the government parties in the run-up to the balance period.”

Clearly designed to rile Guido and everyone else in order to generate coverage and get people talking, the tactic seems to work though Baldwin hasn’t got  a leg to stand on. A quick peek through the weekend telly round ups from the weekend of the Tories conference found on the Saturday, Channel 4 News covered Miliband’s speech to Labour councillors on the squeezed middle. Sky had the same speeches live. The BBC trailed an interview with David Hansen on fuel duty. On the Sunday David Miliband was on Marr while Alistair Darling did Sky.

Fair and balanced…

Red Ed Should Learn To Never Say Never

Ed Miliband asked the audience to be the judge on how he is doing so far when he appeared on Boulton & Co this lunchtime. With classic sound-bites such as “I can’t make a promise no, because I’m not going to make … I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep… I’m not, I’m not going to make promises now four and a half years beyond election…” it wasn’t a great pitch. Prezza-lite articulation aside, it seems Ed has dug himself into a hole.

Boulton pushed him on whether Labour would use their proposed extended bank levy to reverse Child Benefit:

“Yeah sure.  I, I mean I, we’ve, we’ve never said, look we’ve never said that we would use the bankers’ levy for that”

Oh really Ed… Are you sure?

Let’s rewind five months to The Politics Show on the 10th October last year:

“If we can get more for example from the banks in a higher bank levy, to protect ordinary families, like on Child Benefit… we should do so.”

The video evidence is here. Saying “we’ve never said” over and over again won’t make it true Ed.

The Tory Party at Prayer

The congregation of St Peters Church in Hammersmith are getting used to a new star amongst the flock. A slightly more-on-the-ball parishioner noticed some subtler changes too. Naturally the people of Japan were at the forefront of the vicar’s request for prayers, but there was some confusion to why the local Tory council was in his thoughts this week. The government too…

The vicar also discussed the importance of solving unemployment and even invited his flock to a big society-esque meeting about  finding  jobs this Wednesday at a local pub. Regulars definitely noticed a change in tone that can only be explained by the leather jacket-clad “trendy dad” Craig Oliver, who was seen chatting away with the vicar for so long at the end that he caused a queue to get out. Guido can only assume Oliver was thanking the vicar for the government’s new found backing from God.

Next week the St Peters will be treated to a correspondent from the BBC World Service speaking about how his faith inspires his work. Who could have organised that…

Balls Brings Back Mrs McBride

Mrs McBride, Balshan IzzetWhen Damian McBride had to hide out from the cameras during Smeargate, he holed up with long-suffering girlfriend and former Treasury civil servant Balshan Izzet. When Balls had to deny the disgraced spinner was advising him about his leadership bid last summer, it turns out it was “Mrs McBride” that was on the campaign trail. And now Balls is beefing up his Shadow Treasury team and has bought her back into the fold as an advisor.  The talk in Labour circles is that the pair are still smearing the sheets together…

Oliver Strikes Back

After a hounding from the Lobby and the print press in the last few days, there are already those who question whether Craig Oliver will last very long in his new role. Though he may have had a rough time since accidentally briefing against Andrew, as well as being stand-offish with the darlings of the Lobby, the former Beeboid has come out fighting…

Infuriated hacks seeking to cover John Hutton’s pension review for this morning’s editions of the papers were under a strict embargo of 8 a.m., meaning the coverage could be crafted on the airwaves by interviews this morning. A grumpy spinner said last night “It’s meant to be for broadcast tomorrow and the papers the next day”, something the Mail and Express promptly ignored. Seems someone is getting the hang of this string pulling malarkey…

Mitchell's Manoeuvres

“A well-placed source” told Tim Shipman at The Mail today:

“Andrew Mitchell is very well thought of and familiar with all the issues. He sits on the National Security Council. He would have been sent over last year if William had gone and he’s still the man. William has lost his mojo. He seems tired and often unengaged. He just doesn’t seem that interested.”

Would that be the same cheerleaders that were promoting Mitchell as a new Chief Whip to Ben Brogan back in December:

“Andrew Mitchell’s supporters are promoting him as a suitable alternative, arguing that Mad Mitch knows a thing or two about plots and discipline”

He’s certainly displaying a dubious understanding of discipline with his briefings. His choice of words regarding Hague’s decline are remarkably similar to the thoughts Mitchell shared with the FT about the current Chief Whip in February“The trouble is if you spend a long time as a Whip, the iron of cynicism starts to corrode your soul.” Guido knows the International Development job would be enough to corrode any man’s soul, but Mitchell is hardly being subtle in his desire to move on up. Is all that pillow talk going to his head?

Downing Street Struggles in the Thick of It

There is an air of chaos in Westminster today. Firstly Craig Oliver was all in a spin after being refused entry by Downing Street security, but that’s nothing on the mess that the capture of the SAS troops and our “diplomat” in the desert has caused. Hague, who has taken his eye off various balls recently, looks like he is being hung out to dry on this one. He will be before the House at three thirty, but not before a Whitehall source mouthed off to the BBC confirming he personally authorised the mission, despite little evidence our overtures were welcome. It’s almost as if No.10 has other matters on their plate…

The Prince Andrew story has gone nuclear, not least because an-as-of-yet-un-named SpAd briefed in Cardiff over the weekend that “one more story” and Andrew would be out. Cue a mass shaking of the branch by every hack. Another briefing, perhaps by the same chatty character, said “no tears would be shed” at Andrews departure. A long cry from the official line this morning that the Duke has the government’s full confidence. It’s times like this that real weak spots are being exposed and a bad day for Dave and co to go gallivanting up north for a gimmicky Cabinet Away Day. No wonder it’s open season on SpAds according to Ben Brogan

UPDATE: Mark Wallace notices that SpAd’s are even using Malcom Tucker’s favourite “omnishambles”. You could make it up…

Reddies from the Reds

Sometimes there is just easy money to be had. When Guido saw Labour pushing a story that Pickles’ SpAds had been busted “smearing” Jenny Watson of the Audit Commission as incompetent and a public purse milker he couldn’t quite see where a crime had been committed.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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