Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner is under heavy fire in the Commons over Labour’s student debt u-turn. Sarah Champion threw Corbyn under the bus on the Daily Politics earlier rather than defend the broken promise. Over on Facebook, Tory videos on Jezza’s fantasy policy shambles have now been viewed 1.3 million times in three days, and shared over 50,000 times – more than the vast majority (possibly all) of anti-Labour posts during the election. This is hurting, and deservedly so…
All smiles, sort of…
Since the election there has been much talk of the need for a “Tory Momentum”, a grassroots, youth-based movement to hit the streets and take the fight to the Corbynista hordes. The problems with this are numerous. The Tories are not in vogue. There is no young, modern leader and the boring old grey hairs are in charge. Labour has the marketing advantage: it is much easier to capture youthful imagination with idealistic fantasies about writing off student debts, than honest and uninspiring messages pointing out the other lot would ruin the country. And there is also another issue which Tory MPs have identified…
There was a Tory Momentum in 2015. It was called RoadTrip, organised by Tatler Tory Mark Clarke. With the promise of free booze and getting laid, it inspired hundreds of young Tories to sign up. Like Momentum it aroused media attention and controversy: bullying, factionalism, rule-breaking, lines crossed, wrong ‘uns misbehaving. Yet it was punchy, aggressive, ideologically committed, hugely successful and played a significant role in the 2015 election victory, managing to get large numbers of activists to travel across the country and help Tory candidates. It then became mired in scandal – battle bus expenses and the death of Elliot Johnson – so was shut down and not replaced at the 2017 election.
A number of MPs believe the RoadTrip scandals and ensuing collapse of a pugnacious Tory youth movement cost them the election. MPs felt outnumbered and outgunned by Labour’s highly organised young activists, yet there was no Tory equivalent because replicating RoadTrip had become politically impossible. Flashy Twitter graphics and videos produced centrally from CCHQ are one thing, they don’t compare to an organic, genuine youth movement which can push the boundaries with a degree of plausible deniability for HQ. If RoadTrip 2015 hadn’t ended in disgrace, RoadTrip 2017 might just have tipped the Tories towards a majority…
Social media savvy readers will have noticed that Jacob Rees-Mogg joined the picture-based social network Instagram a few weeks ago. He already has 35,000 followers, more than double Theresa May’s following – and her account is a year old. Follow for pics of Jacob’s new baby and days out with Nigel:
Now the Mogg has joined Twitter too:
Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) July 15, 2017
Which means “Times change, and we change with them”. The man who many younger and grassroots Tories want to run for leader has already amassed 14,000 followers in two days. Moggmentum?
— Salman Anwar (@_SalmanAnwar) July 17, 2017
Labour last night used a spurious three hour plus-long debate on procedure to block the scheduled debate on hard-left abuse of MPs. The Commons was supposed to spend the day discussing the abuse received by MPs during the election, instead Labour filibustered with a nonsense debate about how many debates they get to have until well into the night. As Anna Soubry quite rightly said:
“As a result of Labour’s filibusting tonight, this chamber will not debate the appalling abuse which many women candidates on this side of the House endured during the general election from the hard-left… There are many members on this side of the House that stood up for women on that side of the House when they were abused by their hard-left leadership.”
Vicky Atkins criticised Labour for blocking the abuse debate “to talk about their diaries” instead, Andrea Leadsom blasted “Members on both sides of this House have been victims of vile abuse from anarchists and hard-left activists, but obviously Labour are not interested” and accused Jeremy Corbyn of having “prevented this debate“. That’s what Tory MPs get for defending their Labour counterparts when they were on the receiving end…
Top Torbynista Justine Greening has come to the Commons to announce that she lost her fight with the Treasury for new money for her department. The Education Secretary dressed up her “extra £1.3 billion for schools” as a new spending commitment, leading the Lobby up the garden path:
Big question is where this extra £1.3 billion is to come from #moneytree ?
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) July 17, 2017
Oh look. Another £1.3bn for schools from the magic money tree. The thing about minority governments. They’re expensive.
— Tony Grew (@ayestotheright) July 17, 2017
Justine Greening: extra funding for schools of £1.3bn across 2018/19 + 2019/20 – she’s won battle with Hammond but where’s cash coming from?
— Rowena Mason (@rowenamason) July 17, 2017
Greening has won her argument for extra cash for schools, an extra 1.3 billion for next two years
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) July 17, 2017
The answer? There is no new money, no magic money tree, she has not “won the battle with Hammond“. The cash is coming out of the existing Education budget, which means cuts elsewhere in the department. Remember Greening wanted new cash. Treasury win.
Extra cash for schools will come from savings within Education Department – says Justine Greening
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) July 17, 2017
So the money’s not coming from the Treasury -Greening taking £1.3bn from free schools and capital budget to pay for extra £1.3bn for schools
— Rowena Mason (@rowenamason) July 17, 2017
Greening spins it up as more cash, the Lobby falls for it, Greening admits there is no new money, the herd follows. Wonder who could possibly have a motive to brief against Hammond…
Defeated Tory MP Ben Howlett, who lost his seat at the election, has delivered a lecture to Tory youngsters on “how to win”. The Tory Progress talk on Saturday saw Howlett impart his wisdom on “how to win with younger voters”, which is ironic considering his Bath seat is full of students and they voted to kick him out of parliament. Those who can’t, teach…
A narrative has formed that the ongoing Tory briefing wars are a Brexiteer plot to do in prominent Remainers. Readers and viewers are not being told the whole story by the pro-Remain elements of the media. The most damaging smears and negative briefing have in fact been conducted by hardcore Remainers…
The “Brexiteer plot” narrative went into overdrive following the Sunday Times story on Hammond calling public sector workers “overpaid“. Sky News and the Remain Twitterati immediately blamed the leak on Brexiteers. This is untrue. Tim Shipman, the Sunday Times pol ed who actually wrote the story, says “the majority of my sources are not Brexiteers”. This fact is being conveniently ignored by Remainers.
The allegation that Boris bonked a “top female Theresa May aide” is the most vicious and nasty negative briefing. This is not just “allies” of Davis trying to wreck a leadership rival. It is being put around by hardcore Remainers trying to hurt Brexiteer Boris.
Boris was the victim of another negative briefing on Sunday. An “ally” of Davis said if DD became PM he would demote Boris to party chairman and smear him in the press if he refused to accept. Talk of DD’s potential Cabinet appointments are being spread by prominent Remainers.
Then there is the Hammond sexism revelation in The Sun. This is being blamed on Brexiteers too, without a shred of evidence. Hammond is briefing that Michael Gove is behind the negative stories. Gove flat out denies this and again there is not a jot of evidence. It appears it is Hammond’s negative briefing that is untrue.
Last week George Osborne’s Evening Standard called Brexiteer Stewart Jackson “wacko jacko” and quoted “a source” saying his potential appointment as a DExEU SpAd “will undo the credibility that Davis has earned”. Another anonymous, personal, pro-Remain negative briefing.
Then unnamed sources with apparent insight in DExEU told the Guardian there had been a “dramatic change of mood at DExEU since the election” and that Davis was essentially going soft on the ECJ. This was untrue. Yet another BS pro-Remain briefing.
There is a lot of mud flying around and all sides are guilty to some extent. Yet the narrative that the negative briefing is being solely conducted by Brexiteers to hurt Remainers is demonstrably untrue. The truth is the most unhinged stuff being whispered to journalists is from Remainers who have had too much warm prosecco and beer…
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) July 16, 2017
On Marr Phil Hammond claimed the briefing against him in the weekend papers is coming from Brexiteers: “people who are not happy with the agenda that I have tried to advance of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit which is focused of protecting our economy”. Andrew Marr replied “I think you can guess” who that means. This might fit the narrative of Hammond, the BBC and excitable Twitter Remainers, but it isn’t true…
Tim Shipman, the Sunday Times pol ed who received today’s anti-Hammond briefing, has shot down the theory:
“Some will see this as a plot by Brexiteers to undermine the leading remainer in the cabinet. All I can say is that the majority of my sources are not Brexiteers. Others will see a plot by Hammond’s leadership rivals to kill off his chances. Again, my sourcing doesn’t stack that up.”
A Brexiteer plot against Hammond carried out by Remainers? That’s a new one…
Theresa May’s YouGov positivity rating has gone from just less than zero to minus 50 in the last 12 months.
Last year IPSOS Mori gave her an impressive plus 35 net approval rating, she has swung 42 points to a minus 7 rating. She still has a higher rating than Corbyn, though her 68 point advantage is now just 4 points. She’s going to need a lot more of these ‘human’ interviews with Emma Barnett if that is going to change…
The PM used to take pride of place on the Conservatives.com website splash:
There she was during the election:
And on election day:
Today, she is nowhere to be seen:
The lady vanishes… (© Labour’s Toby Perkins)
George Osborne has defended his employer BlackRock’s half-a-billion pound investment on the front page of the Evening Standard. In the most glaring conflict of interest since his editorship began, today’s Standard blasts Rebecca Long-Bailey as “out of touch” for criticising Uber, and favourably quotes her own colleagues who support the taxi app. BlackRock, which invested in Uber in 2014, has a stake now worth some £500 million. BlackRock pays Osborne a salary of £600,000 for 48 days work per year.
BlackRock keeps Osborne on retainer and it is in BlackRock’s direct financial interests to see Uber defended, Osborne will no doubt argue that he defends Uber on the Evening Standard front page for liberal reasons. Guido did warn him that as editor he would have to navigate a minefield of conflicted interests when he took the job. This was inevitable…
UPDATE: The first edition of the Standard had no mention of Uber on the front page. Second edition splashed it. Did someone pick up the phone to the editor?
This is not quite the government line from Boris – David Davis has talked of the need for contingency planning in the case of a no deal Brexit. BoJo ever the optimist…
Tomorrow MPs vote in the select committee chairmanship elections, always one of the more entertaining events of a new parliament. Eyes are on the Foreign Affairs and Defence select committees, where there is a feeling among many MPs that the incumbent chairs are too old, too stale, too outdated in their views and too out of touch with modern day politics.
65-year-old Julian Lewis, the current Defence committee chair, is old-fashioned both in his personal style and working methods. He doesn’t believe in email, is brusque with colleagues and at one meeting his behaviour over the agenda caused such consternation that staff were asked to leave the room. He is the Speaker’s closest friend and shares some of Bercow’s personality traits. His blinding hatred of David Cameron was petty. He will be 70 at the next election.
Crispin Blunt, the Foreign Affairs committee incumbent, aroused concerns when he demanded private investigators be brought in to find out who exposed his determination to water down criticism of the Saudis – an odd look in Britain in 2017 – and then had his report on Libya embarrassingly debunked. Blunt has been dubbed the “Corbynista candidate” by some Labour moderates who note his views align with Jezza on Israel and western foreign policy.
As the Tories lick their election wounds and discuss how to appeal to modern voters, tomorrow’s select committee elections provide a chance to see how serious they are…
Theresa May statement:
“I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable. I immediately asked the Chief Whip to suspend the party whip. Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society.”
Canned in under three hours. Inevitable.
A major restructuring of CCHQ is underway. There was a feeling among senior Tories that they needed to improve coordination between the party’s research, press and digital operations, and make sure that going forwards they are all on the same page. CCHQ has been revamped accordingly, those three branches will now work much more closely together.
Iain Carter, who most recently worked with Lynton Crosby at CTF, has been hired as the Tories’ Political Director. Carter is a Conservative Research Department veteran and former SpAd who has fought two elections at CCHQ. Tory sources describe him as a “very effective operator“. PFL?
Guido hears Richard N Jackson will be Co-Head of Operations and Head of Regional Media, in charge of all visits and regional press. “N“, as he is known by colleagues, is one of the good guys, a former Tory Head of Press and CCHQ veteran who has been there a decade. Carter, Jackson and Carrie Symonds, who yesterday Guido revealed is the new Director of Comms, worked together in CCHQ before the 2015 election.
CCHQ has taken a kicking from Tory colleagues since the election. ConservativeHome recently accused it of “resting on laurels”, describing it as a “weaker machine than needed” and arguing “there must be a reckoning”. Tory MPs will hope this restructuring and these senior hires are that reckoning, and will turn CCHQ back into a powerhouse in time for the next election…
Guido can reveal CCHQ’s new Director of Comms is Carrie Symonds. A former special adviser to Sajid Javid and John Whittingdale, Symonds most recently helped mastermind Zac Goldsmith’s stunning win in Richmond, which was probably the best result of the night for the Tories. A true Brexit believer in CCHQ – Symonds has years of press experience and gets broadcast. Another strong and much-needed Tory hire…
Guido hears ousted MP Stewart Jackson is in talks to become David Davis’ chief of staff in the Brexit department. Davis is yet to replace his departed spinner James Chapman, an arch-Remainer who has nonetheless left former colleagues perplexed at his relentless determination to damage the government.[…] Read the rest