The Bookies’ QC is a Smooth Silk

Paul Darling QC, Chair of the Association of British Bloodsuckers (Bookmakers – Ed) (ABB), is so smooth that at the ABB 2017 AGM he said of betting shops: “In my view they are community hubs, they’re a key part of employment in the local communities, just as they are a place of vibrancy and an important opportunity to socialise for many customers.”

Let’s imagine for a second how else he might sell the betting shop experience in 2017 and it could go a little something like this…

“The diverse community hubs cater for East Londoners, Eastern Europeans, East Asians, East Africans and more, with 20 different languages on “self-service” betting terminals to assist with integration into gambling.

The bookies employ FOBTs, automated cash extraction machines, which avoid blowing the whistle on money launderers. Even when FOBTs get damaged, the machine health and safety repairs team soon get then up and running again so that the FOBTs never bother HR.

Customers socialising in these hubs include the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicts and the underage. Other customers help support the hubs through “charitable” cash donations to FOBTs from the drug-dealing, pimping, thieving, benefit fraud and tax evasion communities.

The colourful linguistic expressions of frustrated players as the FOBT speeds up roulette and creates the illusion of the spinning wheel and ball with addictive near misses, provides a unique electric vibrancy.   

There are so many local authorities who must be so happy that these hubs are clustered together. The proposal by them under the Sustainable Communities Act must surely be for a £2 minimum stake per spin on FOBTs, rather than a £2 maximum?”

Of course, 100 local authorities want the stake reduced from £100 to £2 for a reason!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

Steve Donoughue: A Westminster Prowler

Steve Donoghue is the secretariat of the Betting and Gaming Group led by Philip Davies MP. He acted as an unpaid secretariat to a Culture, Media and Sports Committee that visited casinos in Macau and Australia, with Mr Davies and John Whittingdale MP. This Committee only visited one UK betting shop and recommended more FOBTs per shop in 2012!

Mr Donoughue spoke about Mr Whittingdale, at a recent Westminster eforum saying that: “He told me that he didn’t give crap about FOBTs“. A FOBT review was denied when Mr Whittingdale was in charge at DCMS.

Other comments by Mr. Dongouhue at that event were:

“Horseracing has a fabulous lobby in Parliament, 60 MPs because of 60 racecourses, every Lord owns a horse or is married to one…

“Evidence based is bollocks, it’s what you do as politician when you are trying to back up the reason to do something…

“I deal with politicians on a daily basis, they don’t know what an FOBT is, they don’t care…

“The National Lottery is evil, it’s the most awful form of gambling there is, telling the idiots they can change their lives.”

Mr Donoghue has also acted as consultant for bookies.  Maybe that is what he is doing dealing with politicians daily – representing the same views as the Association of British Bloodsuckers (Bookmakers)

His daddy, Lord Donoughue, helps out the bookies by running the Starting Price Regulation Committee, ensuring that horserace punters get fair final odds returned on winners – right?

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

The Clock is Ticking for FOBTs and the ABB

The “tick, tock” of a clock was all that could be heard at the ABB HQ on Buckingham Palace Road last week. A silent gloom has descended over the bookmakers’ trade body.

After a frenzied few weeks of spinning, lying, blustering, wining and dining, Malcolm George (CEO) and his “crack” team of lobbyists were told “brace yourselves” by former DCMS Minister John Whittingdale – the man who once protected their beloved “crack cocaine machines”.

As he addressed the bookies’ annual meeting in London, he warned them that “significant” changes will soon be announced. The latest rumour swirling round is that an announcement and decision on the £1.8 billion a year machines is very near and the news isn’t good for the bookies and their trade body.

Former Ed Balls’ Chief of Staff, turned bookie lobbyist, Gary Follis was dispatched to seek help to avoid Armageddon as local journalists were sent into betting shops by their news desks on missions to get addicted to the machines.

As Councils, Councilors, MPs, MSPs, AMs, push forward with their demands for fewer betting shops on their high streets, the ABB granted their wish referencing a “confidential” report they had commissioned which showed a small number of betting shops could close in each Parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales should stakes be cut. For the Council leading calls for stakes to be cut to £2, losing a couple of their 84 betting shops might not be enough.

As the clock ticks, the ABB and their bookmaker members wait for the inevitable.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS.

Clueless and Crazy

HSBC analysts estimated that share prices are building in a cut to a maximum limit of £10-£20” was the warning from city analysts as bookmaker share prices went from “buy, buy, buy” to “hold” and then “bloody well sell as quick as you can”. 

The impending regulatory clamp down on the bookies’ two golden geese, FOBTs and advertising, has got CEOs and budding CEOs in a right spin. One such aspiring CEO, Philip Bowcock, was trying to maneuver himself into pole position for the top job at William Hill and proudly announced his solution for the Government stating: we are sympathetic to some sort of curb or some sort of review around the level of advertising”.

Someone better wake up bright spark Bowcock. The Government just held “some sort of review” and is planning “some sort of curbs”. As well as being clueless on the political front, he isn’t that sure about Hills’ company status either stating, “you could say that we are a little bit more corporate”. That’s right Phil – the big blue company you have today been put in charge of, is a PLC!

Over in the red corner, Ladbrokes CEO Jim Mullen continued his FOBT crazy tirade claiming: “ministers are gambling with the jobs of thousands over betting terminals”. He urged ministers and MPs to step back from the fray and take a serious look at the facts”.

However, as ministers and MPs opened their newspapers the next day, the evidence and the facts hit them that Mr Mullen is gambling with the lives of his staff every single day with another lost life just this week!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

The One-Man Lobbying Machine

Marc Etches’ dream of Vegas-style casinos and £1m jackpots is coming true”, was the prediction made in 2004 by the man who now heads up the bookmaker funded, and recently rebranded, Gamble Aware.

Etches who headed up the doomed bid to turn Blackpool into the UK’s Las Vegas was described as “the gambling lobby’s most visible face” and “a one man lobbying machine”. No wonder the bookies kept him on as CEO when they rebranded their discredited Responsible Gambling Trust after its Chairman was found lobbying to defend FOBTs.

Despite Etches narrowly avoiding the chop, word has it that the Parliamentary Office of Information Science and Technology is investigating UK gambling research and their early comments should spark a little concern for the one-man lobbyist “..with funding and research grant awarding largely determined by the industry-funded RGT. There is a debate as to what extent this arrangement encourages high quality independent research on gambling to take place.” There certainly is!

More direct criticism of Etches came from the recent All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into FOBTs which noted “… the Group urges [the RGT] to consider undertaking research in this important area [FOBT stake reduction] and was not convinced by their explanation as to why they had not.”

You may not have heard of Marc Etches, but this “one man lobbying machine” has been and remains to be, the bookmakers’ “Maginot Line” defending FOBTs, but in the end we all know what happened to that!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFFG)

Now The Bookies Have Gone Nuclear, Who Will Be To Blame For The Fallout?

Analysts are forecasting problems for the betting industry” warned an industry trade magazine last week, as bookmakers pressed the nuclear button in their latest offensive to protect FOBTs.

Share prices have dropped, sounds from Government aren’t good and in an echo of the Pay Day money lender battle, even the Church is now taking on FOBTs. The penny has finally dropped at the ABB HQ, that the game is very nearly up for their £100 stake roulette machines.

So, they’ve launched their nuclear option – dishing the dirt on MPs, their industry colleagues and spinning a stream of lies to any journalists still listening to them.

As the Independent commentedWhat do you do if you’re having trouble countering your opponent’s argument? You shout a lot and wave your fists and try and obscure it with smoke and steam. Which is what the ABB has done here and explains why the fire brigade might want to hightail it down to its offices.”

Rumour has it one “leading” CEO is claiming he wants to cut the stakes on FOBTs, but “fears for his job” if he speaks up! Real bookmakers have never had any trouble speaking up – “FOBT machines really frighten me as they’re so addictive”.

Now the Bookies have gone nuclear, they can only blame themselves for the fallout that lands on their betting shop doorsteps. The ABB’s CEO Malcolm George will need to get his radiation suit on!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Government To Hire Porn Watching Bureaucrats

The Digital Economy Bill will force all websites that display porn to age verify their users – forcing any Brit wanting to look at risqué websites to enter their personal details into a government-backed plugin. Not only could this open UK internet users up to state-sponsored hacking and Ashley Maddison style leaks, in practice it means the government is going to have to hire a load of bureaucrats to check whether a website contains porn or not. Do MPs really know what they are letting themselves in for? 

The BBFC which currently categorise films will decide whether to ban websites in the UK for failing to add age checks. If they try to ban every pornographic website that doesn’t behave itself, this could cost tens of millions of pounds. That’s great news if you want a new job watching porn all day at the taxpayer’s expense…

The bill gives the BBFC the power to ban millions of websites without getting a court order – China style – if they don’t comply, even if the content on these sites is perfectly legal. Twitter and Facebook may have to block accounts from non-compliant porn sites. Theresa May’s proposals would make Mary Whitehouse blush…

If, like the Open Rights Group, you don’t want Chinese restrictions on the internet, sign here:

Content produced and sponsored by the Open Rights Group

Shining a Light on Fred Done

Punters stood bemused and dazed in Betfred betting shops up and down the country last week as Fred Done announced he’d just lifted £32 million from their pockets and then turned their televisions off on them!

Fred, who has finally dragged his ever-struggling business back into the black, decided to pull the plug on live racing pictures to his shops just as his cheque cleared at the bank. As punters stood staring at blank screens in Fred’s shops, William Hill staff ran to the rescue shining torches into his shops shouting “there is light at the end of the road – in our shops”.

Pay day money lender Fred, renowned for his scrooge like manner, poured his heart out in an open letter and stuck a 2nd class stamp on it, proclaiming “draconian action to limit stakes on FOBTs, would leave the racing industry irretrievably damaged.”

Conveniently overlooking the fact he had just switched off live racing broadcast to his shops and was refusing to cough up to the racing industry, Fred pleaded “don’t take my FOBTs away”.

Charlie Brookes at the Telegraph took umbrage with Fred and Ladbrokes, who also switched the TVs off. At the same time as cutting live racing pictures to their shops and broadcasting pirated pictures instead, they were pressuring the racing industry to support them on FOBTs. The bookmakers get smarter by the day!

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

FAKE-BAKE NEWS: ORANGE IS THE NEW PRESIDENT, BUT THERESA MAY BACK HIM

Theresa May is jetting off to meet Donald Trump tomorrow, under pressure to simultaneously criticise his chauvinistic actions while convincing him to support post-Brexit Britain. The Prime Minister will almost certainly be on her high heels, but will need to climb down from her high horse pretty rapidly if she’s to get the newly empowered President on side. With that in mind, bookmaker Paddy Power has come up with a slew of mischievous betting specials for tomorrow’s momentous meeting.

  • Trump certainly doesn’t lack presence, but the bookie wonder if May might produce a gift on arrival – a matching spray tan in tribute (8/1).
  • While they think it’s a 10/1 shot that the pair match fashion-wise – that’s the price Paddy Power offers for the two leaders to each turn up wearing tartan suits.
  • Other bets include the possibility of Trump giving May a gift – showering her with gold (25/1) – the announcement that Britain will pledge funding for the Mexican wall (40/1), and the likelihood of self-elected-unofficial-and-totally-unwanted British ambassador to the US Nigel Farage being present for the meeting (7/1).

Paddy Power say: “May will need to put a lot of oomph-a loompa into her pitch if she’s to appeal to Trump and convince him to let Britain into the chocolate factory that is America’s wealth. May could take a deferential approach and pitch herself as The Apprentice to Donald’s all-knowing emperor.” Alternatively, she could offer him Downing Street cat Larry – that way letting him grab her by the pussy…

All the bets are offered here.

Content produced and sponsored by Paddy Power.

Bank of England Must Stop ‘Depending on Kindness of Strangers’ to Bolster Economy

We’re fast approaching the eighth anniversary of UK interest rates being lowered to 1%. This is unprecedented, as is QE. This “unconventional monetary policy” is having severe economic consequences, argues Brian Sturgess for the Centre for Policy Studies in Stop Depending on the Kindness of Strangers.

In the foreword, Sir Martin Jacomb writes: “The idea that credit should be cheap, that savings are pointless, and that borrowing levels do not matter, is contrary to common sense. Harm is being done to individuals, to businesses and to the next generation.”

Sturgess warns these policies have failed to stimulate economic growth and encouraged ‘zombie capitalism’ and the rebuilding of corporate balance sheets ahead of productive investment, among multiple other side effects, contributing to the kind of unfairness that Theresa May and Donald Trump have both highlighted. It’s time to grow up and return monetary policy to normal, or we could be in for even greater pain.

Content produced and sponsored by the Centre for Policy Studies.

Bookmakers found a present in their stocking over Christmas

Sacked former Labour frontbencher Michael Dugher, popped out of his Christmas wrapping into the Sun newspaper decrying Conservative plans to deal with FOBTs. Instead, he argued that the Government should be looking at problem gambling on the National Lottery – those darn dangerous twice weekly draws and scratch cards you must keep queuing up to buy. They are so much more dangerous than those £300 a minute fast action roulette machines that Dugher’s mate – the CEO of the bookmakers’ trade body – has been taken on to protect.

Dugher must have stopped reading the newspapers and conveniently overlooked the plethora of FOBT associated violent incidents being reported in betting shops when he said “Compared with alternative places to gamble, betting shops have professional staff to help punters and they are subject to stringent checks”. The professionalism of staff is not in doubt, but the ability of one member of staff, lone working in a betting shop to deal with the often violent fall-out created by excessive FOBT losses is certain to dampen that professionalism. Those “alternative places” to gamble refuse to operate their premises with one member of staff.

Dugher, who sees himself as some sort of working class hero riding to the defence of betting shops has inadvertently overlooked the fact that his own party wants action on FOBTs; the Liberal Democrats want action on FOBTs, UKIP want action on FOBTs, the Greens want action on FOBTs, the Church is getting ready to call for action on FOBTs, the Scottish and Welsh Governments want action on FOBTs, 93 Councils (mainly Labour) want action on FOBTs and even the Tories want action!

Looks like Dugher is carving out a new role for himself on the Labour back benches teaming up with Tory embarrassment, Philip Davies, in the FOBT awkward squad!

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

Stop the Gagging Order – Save the Free Press

MediaGuido’s Impress File has exposed Max Mosley’s state-recognised press regulator as a bunch of cranks who are unfit for purpose. Impress is the press regulator which hates the press. Now any paper which refuses to be put in Mosley’s shackles faces financial ruin.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, cooked up by Hacked Off and Brian Leveson, is designed to punish newspapers for reporting the truth. Even if a paper publishes a story that is completely true it will be forced to pay costs should a legal case be brought. Even if a newspaper wins a case, it will still have to fork out for the other side’s fees. It’s a charter for anyone who fancies it – from crime bosses to celebrities, from local councillors to foreign dictators – to try their hand at shutting down stories exposing wrongdoing. 

You have just a few days to let Culture Secretary Karen Bradley know that gagging the free press with ruinous costs is unacceptable. The consultation closes at 5pm Tuesday 10 January. Take 10 seconds now to make a stand against cover-ups and for free expression, by completing this form:

If you want to read the next MPs’ expenses scandal, sign the form above…

Content sponsored by 89up Ltd.

It’s Payback Time

With Christmas just around the corner, the fight is on against Government plans to let the banks keep billions of pounds they wrongly took from innocent consumers. There are still billions of pounds of mis-sold PPI stashed away in the bankers’ coffers. And it’s no surprise that the bankers are now doing all they can to stop punters getting their hard-earned cash back. So much for the season of goodwill to all …

Behind closed doors the banks have been furiously lobbying the Government to let them shift these remaining billions onto the profit sheets used to calculate their bonuses instead of giving it back to their loyal customers. And it looks like the Government is about to cave in! They are planning a New Year cash windfall for bankers by limiting how customers can get their money back from the banks who took it illegally from them in the first place.

It’s clear that this Government has been captured by the banks. Protecting the Scrooges running the big banks instead of helping ordinary consumers. That can’t be right!

It’s payback time – don’t let them get away with it again.

Ahead of the government’s expected announcement in early 2017, the Payback Time campaign has been launched to provide a platform for supporters to lobby their representatives about the unintended consequences of the PPI proposals. Click here to find out more…

Content produced and sponsored by the Alliance of Claims Companies

Making a Marc

Bookmakers battered as Government cracks down on ‘crack cocaine’ machines” screamed a Telegraph headline last week, bringing a leprechaun’s smile to former Paddy Power boss, Stewart Kenny, who had been calling for such action for some years.

You got it, another big bookmaking boss came out against the “crack cocaine” of gambling. Mr Kenny told the Irish Government, “Let us learn from the mistake in the UK of allowing them into betting offices. Once they are in it is impossible to get rid of them or even curb their more addictive elements.” He joined the growing ranks of industry insiders, (which includes another former Paddy power boss), who are all urging action on FOBTs.

Though the Telegraph headline may have been a little presumptuous as the Government hasn’t yet announced a “crackdown” on FOBTs, but an All Party Parliamentary Group has. The cross-party group of MPs has backed a stake cut saying “Government now has clear case for significantly reducing the £100 stake”.

So, MPs from all Parties, the media, the Scottish and Welsh Governments, the public and an increasing number of bookmakers themselves all want action on FOBTs, whilst just 4% of the public are in favour of keeping them!

Marc Etches, the CEO of “Gamble Aware” – the rebranded version of the bookmakers’ FOBT lobbying vehicle, hasn’t yet caught up with the times. He is still trying to persuade the Government NOT to act and joins an ever-decreasing club of industry CEOs desperately clinging to FOBTs (or their bonuses to be more precise).

As the Campaign told the Scottish Daily Record, those who continue to defend FOBTs will have blood on their hands.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

Are There Any Psycho Execs in Bookies?

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Theresa May announces crack down on Executive Pay” read the headlines this week, just as disgraced former HBOS executive, Andy Hornby, pocketed a whopping £7.8 million from the newly merged Ladbroke Coral group.

That’s right, the man who knowingly mis-sold PPI to unsuspecting UK consumers for years and made millions from it, moved on to pillage and rape yet another company – and got away with it again!

But, Hornby’s multi million windfall pales into insignificance compared to that of his boss, Jim Mullen – the CEO of the new gambling conglomerate. Rumour has it that after an extensive career at Ladbrokes spanning a whole 2 years, he is set to get over £20 million despite question marks over his handling of issues concerning the rape and murder of his staff by FOBT users.

Then you’ve got the “Arthur Daley” of the bookmaking world, Fred Done – the man who linked his workers BASIC wages to his “crack cocaine machines”, then offered them pay day loans at 39.9% APR. Walk into any Betfred shop and ask punters and staff what they think of the “Bonus King” – if you are offended by expletives, cover your ears.

In September 2016, an Australian study found that about one in five corporate executives are psychopaths – roughly the same rate as among the prison population. One wonders whether the bookmaking sector needs to recruit more psychiatrists!

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

BBC and Russell Howard are right about Philip Davies MP

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Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies or “toad faced hypocrite” as he is more commonly known, has been busy defending the “freedom” of people to be allowed to work for nothing!

He “Philip Blustered” along with David “All Nuts” Nuttall MP just droning on and on and on in order to block one of their fellow Tory MP’s Private Members Bill. All Alec Shelbrooke was proposing was that minimum wage levels should be applied to interns. We think poor Phil may be confused of the definitions of an “intern”. For the record Phil, they are not people who have been confined to prison for political or military reasons!

But, the bookmakers’ cheerleader has form on this and he gives comedians like Russell Howard the opportunity to brand him an “arsehole, a wanker and a bullshitter” on prime TV. More embarrassingly for Davies, when he penned a complaint, he was told to get lost by the BBC.

Filibustering Phil once said in a radio interview “personally I’ve got no particular objection to people having their free speech however objectionable it may be”. He was talking about the right to express homophobic and racist comments. But when it came to Russell Howard’s expression of opinion on him, he certainly took objection.

The bookmakers have been rolling old Phil out at every opportunity over the last few years to help them defend their indefensible FOBTs, because that’s what Phil does. He takes their freebies to the race courses and fails to declare it when questioning his CEO bookmaking friends; enjoys preferential treatment on his betting accounts and has to apologise over his non declarations. Maybe the BBC and Russell Howard are right about this MP.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

Nanny and Baby in Unusual Relationship

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Wanda Goldwag is the CEO of the Senet Group, funded by the bookies and acting as their advertising and responsible gambling standards watchdog. A recent complaint to the ASA about a Senet “responsible” ad succeeded and Nanny Goldwag was guilty of breaching the standards she was hired to uphold!

Malcolm George is the CEO of the Association of British Babies (ABB) representing the bookmakers. He spoke at an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) co-sponsored event at Tory Conference and was heard crying that the Panorama program on FOBTs had victimized him! This event was covered in the last issue of Private Eye as FOBT ODDITIES on page 12.

At another recent event, a debate on “Does Britain have a Gambling Problem?”, Baby George was assisted yet again by the IEA with Mark Littlewood touting his usual virus of “freedom of the individual” to be screwed by corporations.

Baby George was hired by the ABB for his Labour contacts when they thought that Labour would win in 2015. Michael Dugher MP, for a while shadow Labour DCMS with gambling responsibility, had previously worked in the private sector for Baby George.

Baby George has been spotted in Westminster with his pants on fire. Did Nanny Goldwag offer a nice big wet Senet nappy as a “political firebreak”?

Now that the DCMS is holding a “Call for evidence review into gaming machines and social responsibility measures” will Nanny and Baby both be wetting themselves? Will the evidence show that the Senet Group is a sham and that Baby is controlling Nanny?

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

IEA LAUNCHES £50,000 PRIZE

The Institute of Economic Affairs has just launched the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize.

First prize of £50,000 will be awarded to the best and most innovative entry outlining a ‘Free-Market Breakthrough’ policy to tackle poverty in the UK.

There will be runner up prizes of £7,500 each, and a student prize of £2,500. Judging panel includes former Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne (chair) and the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith.

The deadline for entries is Monday, 9 January 2017.

To learn more about the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize and the entry requirements, click here – and watch the video below!

Paddy Power Paying Out On Hillary Win

paddypower-clinton

This gutsy call sees one of Europe’s largest betting companies put their neck on the line for over $1,000,000. Prior to paying out, the former First Lady’s odds fell to a low 2/11 (84.6 per cent chance of winning) and over the past week Paddy Power have seen a flood of money on Clinton.

Guido’s Paddy Power bookie says:

‘Trump gave it a hell of a shot going from a rank outsider to the Republican candidate but the recent flood of revelations have halted his momentum and his chances now look as patchy as his tan. Recent betting trends have shown one way traffic for Hillary and punters seemed to have called it 100 per cent correct. Despite Trump’s Make America Great Again message appealing to many disillusioned voters, it looks as though America are going to put a woman in the White House.

Should Trump upset the odds and win it will trigger the biggest political payout in bookmaking history and leave Paddy Power with some very expensive egg on its face. They are still taking other US election bets

Check the small print on the bet terms here.

2,000 business owners ask the Chancellor to scrap Osborne’s soft drinks tax

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Pressure is mounting on Hammond to ditch his predecessor Osborne’s nannying soft drinks tax. Over 2,000 newsagents, publicans and other small business owners today wrote demanding he scrap the tax.

The letters were delivered to The Treasury by the Face the Facts: Can the Tax coalition, which represents thousands of businesses from across the UK who oppose the tax.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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