George Osborne’s expression after Ken Clarke accidentally let slip that Vince Cable is going to be Chancellor in the coming Coalition
Monthly Archives: February 2010
Jane Kennedy the MP for Wavertree is one of the many MPs standing down from the exhausting and underpaid life that is the lot of those in New Labour. She was first elected in 1992 and served forgettably as a minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Last June, after Zanu came third behind UKIP, Jane saw the five-foot writing on the wailing wall and told Gordo the Great he should go. This earned her the sack, but before that Jane was charging the taxpayer £83,367 for ‘staff’ at her Liverpool HQ, her own £200,000 detached house. She omitted to mention that most of this was the salary for her ‘assistant’ Peter Dowling. Oh…and the fact he was her Rumpy-Pumpy partner also slipped the Member’s mind.
But cry not for her, because she is off to the land of Rompuy-Pompuy. It seems the only thing able to rekindle the excitement of New Labour mobile wars is life with a Belgian shepherd.
Had she left the Party for a Belgian chocolate, I’d have understood it. But a Belgian shepherd? I wonder what happened to Mr Dowling.
The deeper the mire into which Gordon Brown’s reputation sinks, the more New Labour seems to narrow the gap.
It’s never easy to explain fully what opinion polls mean, but those of the last ten days seem at first sight to defy logical analysis. The more obviously staged the Piers Morgan ‘interview’, the more unconvincing Mandelson’s praise for the PM on Marr, the more heavily the evidence piles up that Gordon Brown is utterly unfitted to run a country….the more David Cameron’s lead disappears.
In truth, there are three possible interpretations – but no way of proving any of them beyond doubt:
1. UK voters of a certain bent and IQ are now so totally lacking in any discernment, every attempt (no matter how corny and ham-fisted) to make the obviously counterfeit look genuine is likely to succeed.
2. The voters hate the idea of a Tory Government even more than they hate the current collection of hobgoblins.
3. The Cameroons are running the most inept, tentative and generally lacklustre campaign in the history of British politics.
My money is on all three, in no particular order. But there is a fourth possibility, which isn’t mutually exclusive from the above: that the electors won’t give power to any of them…and are looking for a hung Parliament to create a crisis.
To which my gloomy answer is that they won’t get it (the Tories would rule with tacit Libdem support) and even if it did happen, the crisis is coming with or without a hung Parliament.
Respected Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin today described Gordon Brown as ‘a dangerous weirdo’.
If you do nothing else today, read Minette’s column in today’s Times Online. It tells everyone with any discernment why Gordon Brown is a danger to himself and others, and makes reference to The Slogger’s original exclusive about the Prime Minister’s compulsive depressive disorder last September.
Hurry up and read it before Mandelson’s Knitting Circle of Darkness suppresses it…as they did with Clarkson’s piece of six weeks ago.
There may be rather personal reasons why Lord Mandelson is keen to talk up the Euro.
If you’ve been wondering why Mandy wants to show British confidence in the Euro, we may be able to offer you a clue here and there.
First off, to retain his European Union pension, Peter mustn’t criticise its institutions. The pension pays him £31,000-a-year (just enough to cover his wristwatch bill).
Second, continued good behavior will allow him to have this sum index-linked in perpetuity, should he by some misfortune reach 65. An annuity on this basis would cost the Lord of the Ring in excess of half a million quid on the open market.
Third, Manglesum will not get his EU contract pay-off of £230,000 (and a £15,000 relocation fee) if he commits the cardinal sin – to paraphrase Peter’s own syntax – he ‘talks the Euro down’.
I always find that it helps to work out the agenda these days, don’t you?
Confusion worsened by Tessa Jowell’s ‘economical’ Commons answers
Sir John Chilcot has told associates he is ‘angry’ about Government stalling on document declassification, The Slog has learned. We understand that most if not all of the panel members resent the growing perception that it is the Inquiry itself which is delaying publication.
In a classic piece of New Labour Double-talk, Tessa Jowell recently gave this Commons reply to a question about Chilcot being furnished with the information it needs:
“Government Departments have provided, or are in the process of providing, copies of all documents and electronic information they hold which the inquiry has so far requested.”
This could of course cover up a multitude of sins. Being in the process of doing something means not, as such, having done it. As yet.
“Chilcot himself has asked for information but has not yet been given it” said our usual mole, “And one or two of the panellists are furious about it”.
We understand that Sir Roderic Lyne is the most outspoken of the critics.
The Pound may have fallen against the Euro this week, but the Tsunami of sovereign deficit faced by the EU will produce cataclysmic results. The UK will be a mere disaster area by comparison: so in the medium term, taking a position in Sterling would be no bad thing.
The Daily Mail today reported (with fairly flimsy back-up)that Hedge Fund dawn-raider George Soros and other HFs ‘have been placing huge bets on the currency’s decline, which could make the speculators hundreds of millions of pounds.’ But for once, it’s no good blaming the Hedgies: they’re merely backing a potential winner(the Mark) against what they see as the ultimate loser – the EU’s Mickey Mouse currency.
The real crisis from now on will not be one of budgets, but of Union. Three years ago, The Slog’s mother-site nby asserted ‘by 2015, the EU as we know it will not exist’. Thursday last, a senior currency trading source told us:
“The deficit crisis is destabilising the political union. Tensions are at top-treble between the careful nations like Germany, and their southern neighbours.”
Old enmities have been quick to surface. In a series of astonishing outbursts, Greek ministers dragged up memories of everything from Nazi occupation to German reunification this week. And German tabloids have been railing against ‘lazy free-spending Mediterraneans’.
In turn, accusations have been flying that Greece conned its way into the Eurozone by using currency swaps during 2001. In fact, the only thing uniting European nations at the minute is a hatred of the role played by Goldman Sachs in the Greek crisis.
But the most significant trend is towards a virtual unanimity among currency traders and top credit managers that the Greek deficit crisis will spread. This is less a form of virus, and more the function of Euro fiscal controls that have been lax since the outset. Lest we forget, France has failed to meet Euro public finance standards since the Euro launched in 2000. A senior credit expert told us on Friday afternoon, “The sight of EU finance ministers dicking around over one country’s problems has to be worrying. Soon it’ll be three and then four. This is the sort of thing that terrifies the markets”.
When The Slog revealed six weeks ago that Alistair Darling had said of Gordon Brown “That man has got to go” the media ridiculed the report. But the same source categorically asserted this afternoon that Darling’s frank comments will cost the Chancellor his job if Labour is returned to power.
The Prime Minister has admitted at last that his relationship with Alistair Darling is ‘difficult’. Today The Slog reveals how the Prime Minister has already made his mind up to fire the Chancellor should he win the election.
For Gordon Brown, making the decision to stab a colleague who contradicts him is a relatively easy process. It’s the more tricky stuff about when to hold an election that seems to elude him. But Alistair Darling’s aside to aides last week that his boss ‘simply can’t face the truth’ has sealed his fate. In private, Darling accepts this, but regards the likelihood as academic.
“Tory wobbles or not” a Treasury source told us today, “Alistair has accepted that Gordon won’t be around after May…and it is looking increasingly like May.”
This in turn reflects the widely-held view that even if there is a hung Parliament, Brown will not survive. Said a senior Libdem last week:
“Brown is unacceptable to us – and that includes Nick Clegg. I cannot imagine any circumstance under which Brown could remain as PM, apart from an outright win. Even if that happened, the anti-Browns would get him within weeks”.
In the last month, two Slog Labour sources have concurred with that analysis. A third told the Telegraph last week that the first Party task after winning the election would be “getting rid of Gordon”.
Having rowed with Brown in January, Darling went off in search of coup supporters. But Clerical Ali isn’t that good at the plotting thing: Geoff Hoon was wearing a sign at the time saying ‘Coups arranged, apply here’, but the Scottish solicitor seems to have missed it.
In a sensational move today, the Conservative Party issued an obvious suggestion for voters to support somebody else. The new campaign strapline ‘Vote for Change’ (being in and of itself no change at all from the slogan Dave was using two Conferences ago) is a clear direction: ‘We have no plans for change, so people should cast their votes elsewhere’. Perhaps the leadership has fallen under the influence of play-it-safe Parris.
Playing it safe has seen the Cameroons’ lead halved during a fortnight in which New Labour has suffered one disaster after another: terrible economic data, a Leader accused of bullying, a Health Minister fingered for serious disaster, Mandelson branded a liar (again) and the BoE Governor Mervyn King as good as saying “Without printing money, we’re going back into recession”.
The Conservatives have not so much as dented a single one of the brass necks who have destroyed Britain’s present – and hocked its future.
Play it safe was the daftest idea any Establishment Party could have right now – because it tars them with the same brush as this waste of space trading as New Labour.
In the last three days, The Slog alone has given the Conservative press boys three serious allegations to ram home against the Government. They haven’t picked any of them.
This morning, Polly Curtis in the Guardian writes:
‘A major survey of political opinion by the Hansard Society will reveal next week that the way to secure a majority in the general election is to win back the disillusioned, uninterested and detached voters who have lost confidence in the democratic system..’
And the Tory answer is….Vote for Change. With no policies in place about changing anything from the Whips’ role and the power of the executive to Social Care or even the voting system.
The Slogger has insisted from the start that the Tories will win this election – in the sense of being the largest Party after it. But since I wrote about the reasons for their lead being understated, that lead has halved. I can’t go on rationalising failure forever.
David Cameron’s neck is on the block here. Had he been forthright, clear and harsher on the Big Facts about Labour’s economic, ethical, fiscal and social failure, he would be twenty points clear today. He should get tough, change tack, and nail the real outlook for Britain: Heaven knows, there are enough weighty commentators out there revealing it to anyone with a brain and an attention span beyond thirty seconds.
But I’m not holding my breath. A senior media figure who hired him as a trainee said to me two years ago of Cameron, “Nice enough bloke – but thick as a plank”. Harsh but fair? We shall see.
But the Tory Party is never fair with leaders who lose elections.
And for the record, no – I’m not voting Tory. I’m spoiling my ballot paper with ‘none of the above’. But if I lived in Buckingham, my spoiler would be ‘anyone but Bercow’.
As family protection system careers towards the cliff-edge, Minister responsible Ed Balls uses racism to fight for his life
It’s a tight race in the Balls seat, as Fat Eddie fights for his political life. So the man we all thought couldn’t stoop any lower has managed to limbo under another ethical line…by playing the race card.
‘I want you to help me keep the pressure up on the Government in relation to reforming and updating our immigration and citizenship rules and laws’ says one leaflet which the Mail says (correctly for once) ‘would shame the BNP’.
Oddly enough Ballsy, you are the Government. You are the Minister for Families who promised radical Family Courts reform in 2006…and then joined Twitter instead.
Hence the Staffordshire meltdown…and the flurry of articles emanating from this site about the mess he (and his chum Andy Burnham) helped create.
Footnote: The Slogger has been banned from Twitter – I would guess because Ed Balls complained about me hounding him….and showing how much time this obese twerp spends tweeting. Anyone on Twitter start campaigning now: Free the Slogger’s Roost One to go back on Twitter!
A new development suggests that there is a culture of corrupt secrecy embedded in Stafford Hospital. And the man who was ultimately responsible is now in charge of the whole NHS.
Kate Levy, Stafford Hospital’s Legal Secretary, is undergoing an internal investigation. Local activist Julie Bailey confirmed the case to The Slog late yesterday.
We understand the investigation concerns alleged conspiracy to falsify the death certificate on a 21 year-old male patient. The local coroner’s office refused to comment yesterday,but we are told the County Coroner Andrew Haigh has given evidence to the investigation.
A third party (believed to be a doctor at the hospital) appears to be alleging that Levy asked for the cause of death to be altered in favour of natural causes, but we cannot confirm this. Further Slog enquiries yesterday failed to reveal the identity of the complainant.
Alistair Darling talked a good game about the Lloyds/HBOS takeover being ‘the ideal solution’. But it isn’t looking especially ideal this morning.
The Slog’s mother-site nby (Not Born Yesterday) has always had good contacts inside HBOS; the Slogger worked as a marketing and advertising adviser to the then Halifax for over a decade. A mole therein told me in mid 2009 that “the outstanding bad debt and other crap in the pipeline is unbelievable”. The piece was – needless to say – denied by everyone with something to deny.
Yesterday, the whopping £42 billion write-off hit shareholders in the crotch – and there are another £12 billion down the road aways. Thus the original Lloyds takeover sold to shareholders (purchase price £8 billion) now looks like one of those ‘Fly free’ airline tickets where the airport charges come to a grand.
More to the point, the write-off is four times the amount Lloyds lent in that fiscal year. As The Slog keeps on saying, Bankers are stupid and greedy – but they are also broke. They don’t have that much money to lend…as the Government knows perfectly well. And zero-rate interest doesn’t help.
Anyway,it’s good to see that things are all under control,and the worst is now behind us.