Progressive Labour

Rumour has it Ed Miliband is looking to stamp his mark on the Labour Party by renaming it “Progressive Labour”. Deck chairs spring to mind. With “New Labour” being ditched, Guido thought he would throw it open to the wisdom of the crowds. What would you rename the party?

The last few copies of the Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze are up for grabs if there are any laugh out loud suggestions.

Mr Oliver Snr.

Michael Crick said last night that Craig Oliver came with no baggage. This is almost true about the previously apolitical “workaholic”. In 1998 his father was forced out of his job as one of Scotland top coppers after a bungled investigation into a child’s murder by a paedophile. Dr Ian Oliver, the former Chief Constable of Grampian Police quit after he was busted shagging someone else’s wife in a rural car park. For three grand you can book the disgraced copper for an after dinner speech.

Deal or No Deal?

Scotland’s disgrace of a Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said yesterday that a Wikileaks cable alleging that a UK government minister had advised the Libyans about how to get Al Megrahi released “vindicated” his decision to release Al Megrahi. Guido isn’t so sure given the terrorist released to die within three months is still standing.

This month’s Vanity Fair will make for awkward reading for not only MacAskill, but Blair, Straw and Salmond too. David Rose’s deep investigation concludes that Salmond had a remarkable change of heart about releasing the only person convicted of the mass murder on his patch after he cut a deal with Straw to save a few million. The Scottish executive was facing numerous legal cases over making prisoners use slop buckets. According to an official listening in to phone calls

“Salmond indicated that the Scottish government would drop its objections if the Parliament in Westminster would engineer an amendment to the Scotland Act,”

A change that would kill the legal action from former prisoners dead in the water. Salmond’s spokesman Kevin Pringle says the story is “complete and utter garbage without a shred or scintilla of truth.” That’s the same Kevin Pringle who doesn’t have the greatest track record in being open and frank with the facts.

AV: What Would Jesus Do?

The looney left and the church don’t often go hand in hand, so imagine Guido’s surprise as Yes to AV declared this afternoon that they are walking in the path of the righteous man. In what is becoming an increasingly surreal campaign from the well funded LibDem front, ten Church of England Bishops have been lined up as a big-hitting endorsement:

“Voting systems are not value free. I am supporting a change on the grounds of justice and accountability. AV will increase the likelihood that the general preference of a majority rather than a plurality will shape the choice of MPs, and so Parliament.”

Although liking a two-thirds majority, the Papal conclave still uses first past the post in a dead-lock so Guido won’t be taking much notice of the new church’s view.

UPDATE: The No Campaign point out that one of the Bishops is the vice-president of the Electoral Reform Society, one of the Yes campaign’s biggest donors.

UPDATE II: Jonathan Bartley, the Yes spinner is also a religious fundamentalist. The Jihad has begun…

Shed Ed

The FT note how Tom Baldwin has saved his boss from near media oblivion, but the re-branding doesn’t stop there. Apparently in preparation for what will no doubt be an in depth interview with Piers Morgan in next month’s GQ, Ed has called in a personal trainer.

It did wonders for Gordon…

Gabby Goes Favourite

Money is moving on who is set to replace Andy Coulson. Current press secretary Gabby Bertin has just gone favourite. The internal promotion would be a safe option. Does someone in Downing Street know something?

Balls Miss-Speak

Ed Balls gave a point blank denial to Brillo that he had ever criticised Darling’s plans to halve the deficit on the Daily Politics. As you can see, the Shadow Chancellor has barely been able contain his glee at the frosty numbers, but he seems to have forgotten exactly what he told Bloomberg in his pitch for job:

“I told Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling in 2009 that – whatever the media clamour at the time – even trying to halve the deficit in four years was a mistake. The pace was too severe to be credible or sustainable.”

Just like he never briefed behind anyone’s back…

Tories Turn on Turbulent Tom

According to Dan Hodges Ed Miliband’s interesting questioning of David Cameron’s judgement, less than 24 hours after losing his disastrous Shadow Chancellor, has gone down like a cup of sick in Tory circles. In revenge for the scalping apparently a mysterious and shadowy unofficial figure is funding private detectives to dig around at Tom Baldwin’s past:

“Although the investigators were initially recruited prior to the announcement of Coulson’s departure, the events of the past week have added to the determination to gather information that could embarrass Ed Miliband and senior members of his staff. “Before Coulson resigned it was business. Now it’s personal,” said another informed source.”

Tom might want to change his answer phone PIN and lose Charlie’s number.

Old Habits Die Hard

Peter Sissons has launched a huge broadside against the built-in left-wing bias at the BBC. Yesterday there was a comment that was actually funny and newsworthy for once:

Thursday.
BBC interviewer: Is Alan Johnson resigning today in an attempt to distract attention away from Tony Blair’s attendance at Iraq inquiry?
Labour Spin Doctor Lance Price: No of course he’s not.
BBC interviewer: Thank you.

Friday:
BBC interviewer: Is Andy Coulson making a statement today in an attempt to bury bad news on the day that Tony Blair’s attends thet Iraq inquiry?
Labour Spin Doctor Lance Price: Yes of course he is.
BBC interviewer: Thank you.

Guido thought he would highlight this rarity with a full post. Get in touch and there’ll be a T-shirt heading Desperate Dan’s way…

Baldwin Enforces Line

Guido noticed the less than subtle use by Labour since the new year of the term “Tory-led government” in every media hit or speech, but he didn’t realise Miliband’s bad-boy spinner Tom Baldwin was quite so brazen in his attempts to sign the media up to the theme. This went out to all the media:

As you may have noticed, we have changed our language in recent weeks to avoid describing the Government as a coalition or a partnership of equals. We believe a more accurate description is that this is a Conservative-led government. I understand that the phrase a “Tory-led government” is two words too long to be repeated on every occasion. But I also think that you are making a choice whenever you call it “the coalition”. When we were in power, no one was left in any doubt that our most unpopular decisions were those of a “Labour government”.

The word “Coalition” is one that avoids party labels while also suggesting a degree of inter-party harmony and co-operation which is, day-by-day and split-by-split, being shown as false. Unless Nick Boles gets his way, “the Coalition” will not be standing for election.

Can I suggest you at least vary your description of this Tory-led government. On some occasions, you might call it a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. On others it might be just “the government”.

When you are talking about this government in a political context, I think it would be fairer to refer to it by reference to party labels.

With best wishes, Tom Baldwin,
Director of Strategy and Communications

Guido got thinking, given that Baldwin is constantly referred to as “the former Times journalist”, despite the fact he was on the way out anyway rather than being poached, perhaps there should be a redesignation of how he is described:

That should do it…

Did Pesto Passo?

Since the new year it has become clear that Ed Miliband has upped his media game. Despite the obvious flaws in the Son of Brown, Bob Roberts and Tom Baldwin have begun the long process of shaping a message. You could say the two hacks have taken to their jobs much quicker than their boss, with Baldwin crafting lines in the back-room, leaving it to Bob to prowl the corridors and slap backs. However was this double act really Miliband’s first choice?

“Sky sources” work two ways and Guido hears Jon Craig, who wasn’t the happiest bunny at Sky last year, was talking to Team Ed but the idea fizzled out. More intriguing was the suggestion that “Mr. Exclusive“, and Darling favourite, Robert Peston had been approached. Guido spoke to Pesto earlier and despite adamant sources, he laughed heartily at the suggestion. “Of course I’ve not been in bloody talks with them.” But then he’d have to say that, wouldn’t he?

Miliband Does a Dave

Ed Miliband has jumped on the town hall meeting bandwagon. Jacket off, unseen questions, no holds barred – right out of the Cameron Direct playbook. Having said that, the questions from the audience are remarkably on message. Though outside the room it seems Ed is having some problems getting traction in terms of viewing figures:

Unlucky for some…

Labour Trying to Spin Blogosphere

Over at the New Statesman Dan Hodges has confirmed that the cat is out of the bag and revealed the most obvious online conspiracy. Namely that the leading left-wing blogs coordinate their strategy and attack lines with Miliband’s office. As Guido pointed out during their NetRoots circle jerk last weekend, it is blindingly obvious that this is going on.

A line is pushed out across the tame loyal blogs in the hope that it will be taken up in the mainstream press.

Ed Miliband’s new blog-spinner, Alex Smith, former editor of LabourList and protege of Derek Draper, is not just Ed’s Twitterer-in-Chief. He is being credited by Hodges for the coordination strategy in his role as head of the Labour online-rebuttal team. Left Foot Forward and Political Scrapbook seem fully signed up to the plan and are now regularly taking Smith’s copy. Old timers like the more independently minded Sunder Katwala of Next Left and the less reliable “nutroots” – like the Liberal Conspiracy crowd – row in when need be. The New Statesman’s Mehdi Hassan is also on the emailed briefings list – one of which Guido has seen. Labour Uncut, the bastion of Sion Simon, benefits from Tom Watson’s research team’s resources yet seems less willing to join the circle-jerk and is all the more readable for it.

What will it achieve? Guido is not convinced that collectively following “lines to take” does them any good. When you  are spoon fed something it usually isn’t that interesting – if it were it wouldn’t have to be pushed. Readers want original content, hard news, not echoes…

UPDATE : Former Labour spin-doctor emails, “fair enough for Labour to try to spin them but they’ll soon realise that the ones who come up with the best analysis get the most readers / invites to appear on TV etcectera. At least one hopes they soon realise that.”

Wes's Unwise Words

Today’s unsophisticated storm whipped up by the left about political rhetoric came at a rather unfortunate time for the former NUS President and Labour councillor/MP wannabe Wes Streeting. In his headline piece on the Progress website he talks about turning Labour guns on the Tories:

He better hope that no Tory politico is ever violently attacked because obviously, following their logic, the left would instantly blame him. There goes that safe seat…

Roberts Suited to the Job

New suits all round at Miliband’s press conference. While Tom Baldwin brooded at the back incessantly chewing gum, fellow new spinner Bob Roberts worked the room in a brand new blue whistle. Lots of smiling and winking at hacks . Though it wasn’t quite the fashion disaster his new boss is used to, someone might want to have a quiet word with Bob and suggest he cuts the white cotton sewing up the vents on the back of his jacket …

Though Guido has promised to be nice to James Macintyre this year, he did have to laugh when he heard that he had asked Team Ed for a job after he was kicked out of the New Statesman, it seems he will have to settle for writing the biography. At least he can still turn up to the press conferences. Guido noticed a couple of faces missing from the crowd though. No sign of  Sky’s Jon Craig and, despite the press conference being about bankers, why no Robert Peston?

Baldwin's Blizzard

Tom Baldwin is biting. Guido isn’t the only one to notice how sharp Labour’s attacks have been on the Coalition today. For the first time Ed Miliband has had a press strategy that is cutting through and his “coalition split” line is leading the news. It was the CCHQ and Downing Street Christmas parties last night. Were there some sore heads this morning that weren’t quite on the ball?

It’s the first day of recess today yet it doesn’t look like are Labour are going to let the Tories forget that Vince was right – though damaged he wasn’t sackable. Baldwin is proving his ability to nail a decent line. If Downing Street spinners thought they might be able to sneak off early for a bit of Christmas shopping then they have another thing coming.

Leaky Brown-Era Downing Street Aide "Resigned"

Back in those heady days of June as the government were getting their grip on Whitehall, Guido highlighted a strange move in the Downing Street comms department:

“Interesting to note that Mark Flanagan, a Brown-era hire, brought in from the private sector by Stephen Carter, hasn’t been dumped but instead booted upstairs to a “strategic role”…”

Well Mark didn’t last long upstairs. He ended up at Portland PR after it was discovered he had been leaking sensitive information out via email. Funnily enough Mark isn’t returning Guido’s calls.  It isn’t clear why he was allowed the dignity to “resign” instead of being sacked outright…

Baldwin: Dividing Lines II

Ed Miliband’s appointment of the former Times hack Tom Baldwin has sent ripples through the stagnant Labour pond, the Alastair Campbell protege is supposed to bring substance to a weak team and perk up Ed’s image However Labour backbenchers have been left slightly confused by the employment of a controversial Murdoch man, blunting the sustained attacks upon Coulson. Further to that, it’s going to be tough for Red Ed to deploy class based attacks, as he so savoured at last week’s PMQs, given Baldwin’s heiress wife has the nickname “Just Sixteen”, given that was her response when asked how many million she had just inherited…

Another thing that isn’t going to go down well is the rumours of Baldwin’s former closeness to Dave. Roughly contemporaries at Oxford, it is said they both shared their “normal university experience” and their friendship bloomed though the lively world of PR and journalism when the young Dave was working long hours spinning for Carlton. Baldwin and Steve Hilton remain firm friends.

If it’s true that Bad Al Campbell put Baldwin up to the job, it’s going to be a hard sell for Ed to his backbenchers, who didn’t vote for him in the first place and claim to want an end to the dark days of New Labour spin…

Wheels Come Off Protester's Complaint

Jody Macinytre, radical pro-Palestine supporter and sufferer from cerebral palsy has made much hay of the fact he was dragged out of his wheelchair by riot police at Thursday’s protests. Yet he has previously admitted to be coordinating breaking police lines. He claims on his blog he is a revolutionary yet spent a BBC interview declaring his innocence and denied live on Sky that he was in fact a revolutionary before going on to claim that the police had no reason to move him out of the way. However he has revelled in, and incited, violence on his website.

His argument is undone when a quick glance at his blog shows that he has been at the forefront of the protests so far at Westminster and managed to walk all the way up to the top of Millbank back in November, blogging that “It was an epic mission to the top. Nine floors; eighteen flights of stairs. Two friends carried my wheelchair, and I walked.” Macintyre can’t hide behind his disability when the police treat him like any other violent trespassing thug. It’s called equality…

Hat-Tip : Phil Taylor

UPDATE: Further pictorial evidence emerges of the police being as gentle as possible in moving Macintyre and in doing so the officers put themselves in personal danger from the hail of missiles. Here is a quote from Graham Mitchell the photographer “Mr McIntyre was in the front row of the crowd and in a very precarious position, especially as he is wheelchair bound. It was clear from my vantage point that the police moved him as gently as possible and in doing so the officers put themselves in personal danger from the hail of missiles. Once he had been moved away from the front line to a safe distance, the officers sat him  on a low level wall.  Mr McIntyre got up and started arguing with an officer.  He was so wound up that he eventually tried to strike an officer and was only stopped from doing this due to the intervention of a famale passer-by.”

Exclusive : Mirror's Bob Roberts Joins Miliband's Team

Reliable sources tell Guido that Bob Roberts, the Mirror’s political editor for the last three years, is apparently about to be announced as Ed Miliband’s director of communications.

Developing…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Leader of Anti-UKIP Protest Embroiled in SWP Rape Scandal Leader of Anti-UKIP Protest Embroiled in SWP Rape Scandal
Hollobone Agrees Tory-UKIP Pact Hollobone Agrees Tory-UKIP Pact
David Mackintosh Quits David Mackintosh Quits
Happy Ed Balls Day Happy Ed Balls Day
Campaign Report: 42 Days To Go Campaign Report: 42 Days To Go
Zac Back? Watch Our Guy News Special Zac Back? Watch Our Guy News Special
Campaign Report: 43 Days To Go Campaign Report: 43 Days To Go
Gallery Guido’s PMQs Sketch Gallery Guido’s PMQs Sketch
Farron U-Turns and Sacks David Ward Farron U-Turns and Sacks David Ward
‘Spring’ Breaks: Jolyon’s Short-Lived New Party ‘Spring’ Breaks: Jolyon’s Short-Lived New Party
More Selection Shenanigans More Selection Shenanigans
Bouattia Ousted Bouattia Ousted
David Ward Becoming a Problem for Farron David Ward Becoming a Problem for Farron
Clive Lewis Slammed by ICM for Fake News Poll Clive Lewis Slammed by ICM for Fake News Poll
Radio 4 Gossips Link Peston to Today Radio 4 Gossips Link Peston to Today
Mirror Chicken Fattened for Election Slaughter Mirror Chicken Fattened for Election Slaughter
Len Tries to Stitch Up Liverpool Walton for His Bag Carrier Len Tries to Stitch Up Liverpool Walton for His Bag Carrier
Starmer on Corbyn: Then and Now Starmer on Corbyn: Then and Now
Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down? Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down?
Banks Bottles It Banks Bottles It