Tuesday 2 March 2010

To readers...

Dear Lobbydoggies,

I must take a break for a few days, but I promise I will be back on Monday.

See you soon.

Runners and riders in north Notts

The race to win Labour’s candidacy for Geoff Hoon’s Ashfield seat is now officially on.

The position has been advertised and the contenders have to submit their CVs by March 5, with an all women shortlist (AWS) to be announced on March 8.

We already know that former GMTV presenter Gloria De Piero (below) is in the running – she has now moved to the area in a bid to combat inevitable accusations that she’s an outsider.

Expect Fiona Twycross – a former regional director of Labour in Yorkshire – to have a go as well.

She recently lost out in the contest to be PPC for Erewash – a seat vacated by Liz Blackman MP in which a new candidate was chosen through an all women shortlist too.

Along with the obligatory union people, Christine Shawcroft, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, has also been linked to the seat.

With the local party feeling miffed about Hoon and the imposition of the AWS, it should be an interesting one to watch.

Gove struggles

No better way to start the day than by watching a frontbencher squirm, particularly the usually eloquent and solid Gove.

Courtesy of Political Scrapbook

Monday 1 March 2010

Denham's double-speak...

A nifty piece of double-speak came out of Community Secretary John Denham's briefing just now.

He was rolled out to shoot-down stories flying around about council spending cuts. They were “confused”, Denham told us as we waited to be enlightened.

Public services would not be cut – they would be protected, even improved. But they would probably not get any more funding.

There would be less money around past 2010/11, but at the same time the "innovative" way services were managed would mean they were improved.

Two councils, for example, could share a chief executive (i.e. sack one), share backroom operations (i.e. sack lots of people) use the internet more instead of people (bet no-one’s thought of that yet) and streamline etc...

In other words – services would be protected through spending cuts. ‘Peace through war,’ said a little voice in the back of my head.

Denham then provided us with ten ways that councils could make savings. The irony of putting numbers 8 and 9 in sequence seemed to go unnoticed.

8 - Make managers leaders of innovation to improve services. (Translation: Encourage managers to think up ways to save money)

9 - Streamline management. (Translation: sack managers)

Could he at least tell us how much spending would have to be tightened next year. Nope – sending plans were worked out in blocks and they hadn’t done the figures yet.

In fact, he suggested, we won’t know what we’re spending next year until they work out what we might have to spend in 2014 too.

Hmm. Story successfully shot down then.

The Tories have their own problems in deciding how tough to sound about spending cuts, but the Denham episode encapsulated the difficulty of Labour’s current line.

You can’t claim you will protect services and attack the other party for wanting cuts soon, while suggesting you too will make spending cuts but refusing to say when.

Good morning Ashfield...

We pondered here whether the Labour party was parachuting someone into Geoff Hoon’s Ashfield seat – the Mail on Sunday yesterday claimed they are.

The would-be Labour MP that party chiefs want to take up the party’s candidacy is Gloria De Piero, GMTV political editor.

Lobbydog can confirm she is definitely in the running with the national party’s backing. But she is apparently keeping quiet, as all candidates are required to do under Labour rules until a certain point in the selection process.

It’s going to be a tough sell for the journo. I doubt there is a constituency Labour party anywhere in the UK more fed up of being sidelined by their MP’s ambitions, than the one in Ashfield.

The feeling was that Hoon delayed announcing his resignation not because he wanted to fight on for the electorate, not even because he wanted to rid the country of Gordon Brown, but because he hadn’t found another job yet.

If there is any feeling that De Piero wants to be the MP because she wants into Parliament, rather than because she wants into Ashfield, then she and her national Labour backers may well find Ashfield a cold, unwelcoming place.