Friday 4 September 2009

McNulty trying to make a come-back?

Lobbydog has missed the little spats this blog used to have with Tony McNulty.

The former minister disappeared from the public eye after he resigned following the scandal over his shameful expenses claims – which were being looked into by the police.

But for some reason McNulty has been popping up all over the place today – this morning on Radio 4 and also on Sky News – putting across the party line on Afghanistan.

Why has the leadership fallen back on McNulty – over whose expenses there are still unanswered questions – to hit back? Why not some cabinet minister or member of the Government?

Surely it can’t be that no-one else wanted the job.

Neighbours from hell

Next week Belgian police will try and extradite Laura Newman, a well known show jumper, in connection with a case of horse rustling.

Yes, horse rustling, that thing that happens in cowboy movies.

The Belgians want to talk to Newman, who has jumped with Zara Phillips and is a hopeful for the 2012 Olympics, about a pre-dawn raid at stables near Liege on December 27 last year.

She denies any involvement. What has all this got to do with politics?

It turns out that Miss Newman lives next door to none other than Geoff Hoon, our esteemed former Transport Secretary.

Their street parties must be interesting.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Vaz keeps a dignified silence…well, a silence anyway

A couple of days ago Keith Vaz’s band-wagon alert went off and he called for the new energy drink Simply Cocaine to be banned.

He reckoned the name promoted drug use.

Lobbydog decided it would only be fair to speak to the drinks maker, a guy called Garry Shepherd, to see what he had to say about Vaz. This is what came out:

"Mr Vaz should concentrate on his job rather than go about stopping a British firm producing a drink with a humorous name on its product.

"Yves Saint Laurent produced a perfume in the 70s called Opium, but not everyone that bought it went on to become opium addicts – in fact, now it’s a well known accepted brand – and it does not follow that the people that drink this will go on to use cocaine.

"He’s treating his constituents and the people he represents like complete idiots if he thinks that people between 18 and 35, our target audience, cannot make a reasoned decision over this.

"We’ve got a huge banking crisis, there is global warming, a terrorist threat and our young servicemen are dying overseas and all he can do is get in front of the TV cameras and on the radio to get media coverage on an issue like this."

Mr Vaz said he would not be minded to respond to the absolute slating.

Brits and Americans baulk at Euro controls

While the G20 kicks off British and American politicians had their own little meeting in Westminster this morning.

Congressmen on the Senate and House of Representatives Finance Committees had a private meeting with members of the Treasury Select Committee.

They were trying to agree a common approach to world financial regulation – some of which is predictably turning out to be an Anglo-Saxon defence against European style rules.

Hedge-funds and private equity were areas where the groups looked at European controls with particular disdain.

During their trip the American group, which is comprised mainly of Republicans, will also meet with Financial Services Authority Chair Lord Turner.

At today’s meeting they apparently baulked at the idea of a Tobin Tax – a levy on all financial transactions – which Turner recently publicly supported.

Furthermore, word is they plan to take him to task over suggesting that banks should have a “social function”.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Nice to see you, to see you...

After his successful audition as a game show host Eric Pickles has won a regular slot at the Tory Party conference.

TV debate is well overdue

The leaders of the three main political parties are all fingering invitations to a live TV debate today.

Clegg and Cameron have indicated they’re up for it Brown has remained noncommittal.

The format would probably not suit the PM but he can’t afford to turn it down – an empty chair at the debate would create a neat picture for a Tory campaign poster.

Lobbydog wants to see the leaders fight out their positions in front of the nation.

Sign the petition to make it happen.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Scotland wins independence…

Apparently Number 10 now recognises that Scotland has a Government, rather than just an executive. At least for a short while this morning it did.

Simon Lewis was doing his first tentative Lobby briefing as the PM’s official spokesman – he has just taken over from Michael Ellam who left recently.

The session was dominated by the controversy over the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi.

Lewis referred to the Scottish “Government” (it was all their decision to release a bad man) until halfway through when one hack pointed out that previously it had been taboo to refer to anything but the Scottish “executive”.

A Government, of course, has much more power than an executive.

Looking nervous Lewis said he thought he’d been told to use the word “Government” instead of “executive” and then asked his assistant, who laughed sheepishly and said she didn’t know which was the right term either.

To be fair to Lewis it was his first outing – no doubt it’ll be a sharp learning curve.

Phillip Schofield for PM...

Imagine if Anne Robinson had become Mayor of London – it would set an unnerving precedent.

What next? Michael Barrymore might aspire to being Health Secretary or Matthew Kelly to being one of Mandy’s ministers at DBIS.

Robinson, of Weakest Link fame, says today in The Independent that she turned down an offer to be the Tory candidate in last year’s mayoral election before Boris Johnson was even approached.

Just how desperate were the Tories for a candidate to run for them? In fact, just how desperate was Cameron to avoid approaching Boris Johnson?