Constitutional Reform: Another Tory Job for the Boys

Len McClusky attacked the ‘posh boys’ deciding the country’s future in a country house today and it turns out he wasn’t far off. ConservativeHome have the list of the Chequers constitutional lunch:

Guto Bebb
Nigel Evans
Dominic Grieve
Mark Hoban
Bernard Jenkin
Andrew Jones
Marcus Jones
Andrew Lansley
Peter Lilley
Bob Neill
John Redwood
John Stevenson
James Wharton
Heather Wheeler
Lord Strathclyde

Just one woman invited?

UPDATE: A Downing Street source points out that Mary Macleod and Margot James were also at the summit.

Labour Cynically Attack English Votes as "Politically Driven"

“We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard,” said David Cameron this morning, strongly suggesting that he will press for English votes for English laws and finally answer the West Lothian question. Within five minutes Labour had come out against the idea:

Very amusing of Wee Dougie to attack the plan as being “driven by politics”. Of course Labour’s opposition to English votes for English laws definitely isn’t driven by their cynical, anti-democratic need for Scottish MPs to pass legislation in England. Normal politics resumes…

Vid via @liarpoliticians.

Top Tories Vow to Fight Cash for Scots

Rail minister Claire Perry has become the highest profile Tory to threaten to scrap the £1,500-a-head subsidy English taxpayers pay to Scots in the event of a No vote. Perry says:

“Cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed from tomorrow and onwards. [A No vote must not result in] a whole raft of goodies on offer for Scotland that will be paid for by us south of the border to try to appease the Yes voters.”

John Whittingdale agrees:

“I for one would be very concerned at the idea that my electorate would continue to subsidise the Scots even after they have been given all these powers to raise even more money.”

As does backbencher James Gray, who writes in his local paper:

“I do not agree with the ‘Devo Max’ proposals which the three party leaders seem to be offering. Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want.. The Barnett Formula, under which every Scottish citizen gets £1,500 per year more spent on him/her than their English counterpart must be swept away with no delay. We want greater powers for the long-suffering people of England.”

The PM will be eternally grateful to them for airing their views on polling day…

Meanwhile, in Clacton…

UKIP’s by-election headquarters have come up with a novel way to motivate their men and women on the ground. Awarded to “the most heroic volunteers” at the end of each day is:

The arch-voice of the Tory left providing Carswell’s troops with their ammo and their inspiration…

Tory MPs Sharpen Knives Ahead of Tomorrow's Vote

24 hours before the polls open and we have the first MP to call for Dave to resign should Scotland vote Yes. Andrew Rosindell tells the FT, “if it goes wrong… the prime minister will have to decide what the honourable thing is to do”, while another Tory MP adds, “Everyone I speak to thinks his position would be untenable”. No.10 are so concerned that, the Times reports, Michael Gove did a ring-round of Tory MPs to gauge the mood, with one backbencher warning Dave faces a “rebellion on a scale not seen before”. The Sun says the PM faces a “dangerous revolt” even if Scotland votes No, with Tory MPs set to defy Cameron over his £1,300-a-head bribe for Scots under the Barnett formula. The Mail say he will face a “bloodbath” even in the event of a No vote, one Tory MP telling them the “panicked offer” means Salmond has won whatever happens. Tory conference is just two weeks away…

EXCLUSIVE:Minister Funnels Expenses Cash to Firm Run By Former Agent

Energy minister Amber Rudd has channelled thousands of pounds of taxpayer cash to a Tory-linked company run by her former agent. Over the last two years Rudd has claimed £6,000 on expenses for “professional services” to organise several local jobs fairs in her constituency. The jobs fairs were organised by Events Office, a company run by Terri Lock, who is a Rudd’s former agent and a Tory council candidate in Hastings. Terri is married to Matthew Lock, former leader of Hastings Conservative group. Events Office seem to get a lot of business from the Tories, having organised a number of jobs fairs in the constituencies of other Tory MPs including Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Charities minister Brooks Newmark.

Guido’s favourite Labour MP Karl Turner says:

“Amber Rudd has serious questions to answer about whether the rules have been upheld. There can be no question of funnelling taxpayers’ cash to cronies against the rules. I hope David Cameron will investigate the behaviour of his new Minister.”

Fishy…

TORY WARS: May / Oliver Airwaves Briefing Spat

As you read in last week’s Sun on Sunday or this morning’s Times, Theresa May is on the war path with the Number 10 operation, again. Rachel Sylvester reports:

‘Theresa May got into an argument with No 10 over the timing of a policy announcement. She wanted to reveal the government’s plans in the House of Commons, observing parliamentary propriety, but the prime minister’s office pressed her to give an interview to Radio 4’s Today programme instead. If she did not do so, she was told: “We will lose the next three hours.’

Now which expert spinner could that have been? 

As Guido reported ten days ago, “tension boiled over recently with Oliver going shouty-crackers and demanding the Home Secretary show him some respect.” It seems May’s idea of showing him some respect was briefing Rachel Sylvester.

The Two Eds Effect: Tories Open Up 25% Poll Lead on Economy

The gap between the Tories and Labour on trust on the economy has widened by 22% since Ed Balls became Shadow Chancellor. In March 2011, two months after Miliband gave Balls the job, Ipsos Mori had the Tories three points ahead at 31% to Labour’s 28%. Today they report the Tories are now up at 45%, while Labour have sunk to 20%. Who would have thought putting the two closest advisers to Gordon Brown in charge of Labour’s economic strategy would result in a lack of trust from the voters?

Clegg Faces Recall Rebellion

Nick Clegg is facing a rebellion over his Recall fudge denying voters the chance to sack disgraced MPs unless the Commons or the law agrees. Chief opponent Zac Goldsmith has dissected yesterday’s Bill:

“As before, it is a weak pretence at reform. If the Govt’s Recall Bill goes through as drafted, voters will be no more empowered to hold MPs to account than they are today. At the very first scandal, people will realise they’ve been duped, and the resulting anger will do our democracy harm. A [very] serious mistake.”

The Sun reports Michael Gove will give Tories a “free hand” to rebel against Clegg’s government proposals, with 70 MPs from all parties signing Goldsmith’s rebel motion, which you can read here. The David Ruffley case shows exactly why we need a proper Recall Bill which gives the public a say; local voters in Bury St Edmunds are and would be prevented from booting Ruffley out immediately under Clegg’s proposals. A Recall Bill which only lets the public act when an MP has been sent to jail or suspended by his colleagues is no Recall Bill at all…

Nigel Evans Makes £21,000 From Post-Sex Trial Media Interviews

Cleared Nigel Evans was paid £21,000 for selling the story of his trial to the press. Evans is being paid £1762.50 a month until June 2015 by management company Exclusive Press & Publicity, in respect of three media engagements with the Mail on Sunday, Mirror and ITV. Following his not guilty verdict, Evans gave emotional interviews to the MoS, Sunday Mirror and ITV’s Daybreak. He says he spent three hours with each outlet, so it wasn’t a bad way of helping towards paying his £130,000 legal bills. If he’d been found guilty he would have got a column in the Guardian…

WATCH: Don't Give "Effing Tories" a Kick Pleads Cameron

After an hour’s delay parts of Cameron’s speech finally trickle out:

“Because it’s an election, because it’s a ballot, people can feel like it’s a general election. That you make a decision and five years later you can make another decision. If you’re fed up with the effing Tories give them a kick. This is totally different.”

How long before Salmond uses that one…

TORY WARS: Home Office Threat Level Raised to Severe

The Tory threat level has been raised to ‘severe’ as the rumbling conflict between the Home Office and Downing Street goes nuclear. Theresa May is struggling to disguise her contempt for the Craig Oliver and, as revealed in yesterday’s Sun, it boiled over recently with the Super Spinner doing himself no favours by going shouty crackers and demanding the Home Secretary show him some respect. Eye rolls all round. “Craig did a great job briefing the counter terrorism statement,” says a Home Office source.

Knittaz With Attitude Leaked Plan Reveals Left-Wing Charities Target Tory Minister

Brooks Newmark is feeling the sharp end of the needle after commenting that charities should “stick to their knitting” and stay out of politics. Below Guido unravels details of a plot to stitch Newmark up coordinated by Friends of the Earth, spinning a yarn by organising a group letter to be printed in the national press. A conspiracy by left-wing charities to fight the idea that there’s a conspiracy by left-wing charities.

Dear Minister/ Dear editor

It was very ill-considered for you/the Minister for Civil Society to tell charities to “stick to their knitting”.

We are pleased that you have/ he has clarified your/his view that “charities absolutely have the right to campaign but should stay out of the realm of party politics”.

Charities, by law, cannot and do not take part in party politics and it is misleading to suggest this is a problem that needs to be tackled. We are proud to be party politically independent and to speak truth to power – even if that is uncomfortable for politicians.

The Lobbying Act, coming in to force on 19 September, was opposed by over 150 charities and campaign groups – from Cancer UK to the Quakers, Water Aid to WWF. We are concerned that it contains provisions that may well limit the ability of charities and other organisations to speak out on some of the most important policy issues facing the country and the planet.

From women’s suffrage to stopping the sell-off of our forests, campaigning on politically contentious issues is vital to democracy and to Governments making the right decisions. No ill-considered new laws or comments by ministers should stop charities and campaign groups from this important work.

Signed lots of NGOs..

The seamless plan also aims to buttonhole Newmark on social media, in what the charities minister will be hoping is a vain attempt to make him reap what he has sewn:

If you can take a photo of yourself knitting that would be great. (We actually have a box of knitting in the Edinburgh office. It turns out charities really do like knitting!) If you can’t get hold of any knitting a text tweet will do! Just remember the hashtag! Some examples:

In between knitting, I like to help solve youth unemployment in Scotland. #stickingtomyknitting

After a hard day’s knitting, I like nothing better than to help get disempowered people get online #stickingtomyknitting

European Funding Policy is fun and all, but I’d rather be knitting! #stickingtomyknitting

The email has been sent out to left-wing charities by Liz Hutchins, a former CND agitator who describes herself as a “senior political campaigner” and currently works for the Friends of the Earth “Political and Legal Unit”. Somewhat giving the game away. Other proposals of direct action suggested by Liz include turning up at Newmark’s constituency office in Braintree and making him undergo re-education in a meeting at the Cabinet Office. You can read the email in full here and have your say in the thread below…

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Matthew?

probelm-matthew-parris

Even if they privately agree with him CCHQ strategists don’t appreciate the media interventions by Matthew Parris. Lynton Crosby has decreed that UKIP is to be downplayed and all but ignored insomuch as that is possible. The Clacton bullet is to be bitten and the pain taken without too much complaint or squealing. Hence the lack of Tory MPs in the studios stoking up the row or giving biting anti-Carswell soundbites to be lapped up by the media and inserted in stories of Tory splits and infighting. So in their place we have Matthew Parris, a former Tory MP and the arch voice of the Tory left, on the Daily Politics, Newsnight and in his columns he is stoking up the euro-row, amplifying it and providing soundbites, inventing motives and attributing malice to the eurosceptic wing of the Tories. Matthew’s latest column in The Times paints Clacton as full of people so infra dig that they should just be ignored by the Tories. The column is so patronising and sneering that it could be reprinted by UKIP and delivered as a recruiting leaflet to every former Tory voter in Clacton…

Tories Implementing iDemocracy in Clacton

clacton-con-ads

There is a certain irony in the Tories holding an internet driven open primary in Clacton to select their candidate and UKIP HQ imposing Douglas Carswell, the prophet of iDemocracy, as their candidate. Carswell will be pleased his ideas are being taken up…

Charities Minister Warns Third Sector to Stay Out of Politics

A welcome move from the new charities minister Brooks Newmark, who has this afternoon launched a stinging attack on partisan charity sock-puppets:

“We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics. 99.9 per cent do exactly that. When they stray into the realm of politics that is not what they are about and that is not why people give them money. The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others.”

Predictably a minister daring to suggest anyone in the third sector might possibly do anything wrong has gone down like a cup of cold sick among charities themselves. Newmark is however making an important point and speaks from experience too, having himself set up his own charity in Rwanda. Guido has written previously on how sections of the third sector are stuffed full of Labour acolytes, spin for Labour and even write policy for political parties. Good to see the new charities minister is on board with the campaign to get charities out of politics…

PMQs Order Paper: Quitting Chris Kelly to Question Cam

Douglas Carswell’s decision to do the honourable thing means we will likely be denied a box office showdown with the PM for a few more weeks. There is however a question for the departing Chris Kelly on today’s PMQs order paper:

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Eric Joyce (Falkirk)

Q2 Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) 

Q3 Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) 

Q4 Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) 

Q5 Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) 

Q6 Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) 

Q7 Richard Drax (South Dorset) 

Q8 Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon)

Q9 Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South) 

Q10 Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes)

Q11 Jim Shannon (Strangford) 

Q12 Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East)

Q13 Mark Menzies (Fylde) 

Q14 Chris Kelly (Dudley South)

Kelly famously denied bursting into tears during his last showdown with Dave in 2010. And emotions are still running high among Tory backbenchers…

ConHome Calls for Bercow's Head

John Bercow is facing growing calls to resign, with Conservative Home calling for his head in a blistering criticism of his failings his afternoon. The party’s in house journal argues “the Speaker ought to resign, for the good of the Commons”, that today’s “imitation of a u-turn… isn’t sufficient to save him”, and that following his statement today “Bercow’s position has become untenable”.

“His authority over the House as a whole has evaporated. In his statement this afternoon he was openly heckled by various MPs. His declaration that “a number of colleagues have expressed disquiet” about Ms Mills, when in reality at least 84 MPs are in open revolt on the matter, elicited a loud “Ha!” from Michael Fabricant. His proposal of a “modest pause” has been met by rebel demands for a full debate on his conduct of the affair. It’s no use suggesting this is a group of usual suspects who dislike him personally – the objectors have visibly multiplied in proportion to his misbehaviour. This is an unsustainable state of affairs, and his failure (or refusal) to satisfy his critics now threatens to disrupt the running of parliament.”

The damning piece concludes:

“He ought to go of his own accord or be made to go by MPs. We need a new Speaker who can live up to the job and restore the role to its former standing.”

If this were to snowball…

Will the Last Tory MP Standing Down Turn Out the Lights?

Tony “Baldrick” Baldry, Tory MP for Banbury since 1983 and parliament’s most senior Freemason, has announced he is off:

“After careful thought over summer recess & discussions with my family, I have decided to stand down at the next General Election. It is an enormous privilege to represent the people of N.Oxon. I’m grateful for the friendship & support from constituents over so many years.”

Baldry has an 18,000 majority so it will be hard to spin it as a conspiracy, unlike with last night’s resignation of 2010 intake right-winger Chris Kelly, whose 3,800 majority was under threat in the UKIP target seat of Dudley South. Kelly says he’s not joining UKIP but wishes Carswell the best…

Presumably standing down to spend more time with Nadine Dorries’ daughter.

8 Tory MPs Headline is 2012 Re-Run

If the eight Tory MPs weighing up defection headlines sounded a little familiar this morning, it’s because they were a rehash from an old story that was debunked at the time. Here is what Stuart Wheeler told the Telegraph way back in 2012:

“I have had lunch secretly if you like, in a completely confidential way, with eight different Tory MPs.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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