Friday 26 March 2010

Heppell stands down...

It turns out that rumours going round about John Heppell’s future as an MP were true.

The Labour whip and Nottingham East MP will stand down at the election after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

We’re so close to polling day now that there won’t be time to have a full selection contest.

Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) may simply select a shortlist for local members to have a quick vote on or they may simply thrust someone in.

Nottingham Labour people have already spoken to LD warning that the NEC should not attempt to parachute someone in.

Thursday 25 March 2010

The De Piero Interview

Click to read the full text, here is a taste…

The interview takes place as news breaks that Geoff Hoon had been caught on camera saying he wants to turn political contacts into something that makes money.

In some ways the current Ashfield MP's legacy is the trickiest question for her; she needs to differentiate herself from her disgraced predecessor, while at the same time not drawing attention to him.

Hoon's name is like a fingernail down a blackboard to Labour ears these days. So does she think he was a good MP? The sidestep this time is not so neat.

"I can't comment on Geoff Hoon. I don't know in particular whether he was a good MP because I wasn't living in Ashfield at the time," she says.

"He had a successful Cabinet career and I respect him for that. But this seat needs someone who will be here, it needs someone who will listen to people here."

Hoon - tamed and half dead

I have to say, dear readers, that I’m starting to find Geoff Hoon kind of pitiful.

It’s not that I’m now supporting him or anything.

But in the same way one feels at the end of a Godzilla movie, when the rampaging lizard has finally been tamed and is now lying bloody and half-dead with a small monster’s tear gathering in its eye – he’s just so weak.

His fall from grace has been a spectacular political implosion. Nine months ago he was a secretary of state. Since then he’s been sacked, passed over, blamed for a botched coup, suspended and investigated.

When he was caught on camera in the ‘lobbygate’ film it was obvious that the post-MP job offers have not exactly been rolling in, like they have for Pat Hewitt (see post below).

In fact it was pretty clear that Hoon hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing when it comes to this kind of thing.

Now he’s been sacked from his UN job – the only thing he had left practically.

All that can happen now is for the bank to repossess his home/homes and the destruction will be complete.

No shame...

...are the only two words that spring to mind today in connection with Pat Hewitt.

We learnt yesterday that she was taking advice from former Downing Street communication director David Hill on how to handle the fallout from ‘lobbygate’.

I doubt he’ll be telling her simply to apologise and stop doing whatever it is that she’s doing.

Instead we learn that she is going to take yet another directorship with Eurotunnel.

This is on top of the positions that she already has with Boots, BT, Cinven and Barclays.

On top of that she still hasn’t revealed whether she is going to turn down her “golden goodbye” resettlement grant – worth £54,000.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Tory stunt...

Here is the latest Tory stunt. I wonder who all these people that put masks on for these things are?

With a cull likely in the Tory comms team after the election, I guess people will do anything to show how loyal they are.

UPDATE: I’ve been dutifully informed by the Tory press team that it is volunteers and not staff that don the masks.

Monday 22 March 2010

Hoon sits on LD's sofa...

LD spoke to Geoff Hoon earlier. He went into a bit of detail about how he’d been duped by an undercover reporter behind the lobbying scandal.

“I received a perfectly straight forward e-mail from what appeared to be a straight forward US company asking whether I’d like to have what they described as an informal chat.

“They had a website that checked out and they had an address and telephone numbers in London that, when called, were answered by professional people.”

When asked about the comment he made to the undercover reporter about wanting to turn his contacts and knowledge into something that “frankly” made money, he said:

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have put it that way. But please bear in mind that we were having private conversations and she was pushing me hard about what I might do for the private sector.”

There was more, but to read it all you’ll have to wait till the full story is published in the Evening Post tomorrow morning. I’ll tweet link.

Ends and beginnings for Ashfield

Gloria De Piero was selected as the Labour candidate for Ashfield last night – just in time to divert a little attention from her predecessor Geoff Hoon.

While she was busy trying to make some new political contacts, Hoon has been focusing on trying to turn his old ones into a profit.

“One of the challenges that I’m really looking forward to is translating my knowledge and contacts about the international scene into something that, frankly, makes money,” said Hoon.

He later denied any wrongdoing. No doubt he’d been “acting within the rules”. But let him fade away. Ashfield has a new story.

The Lib Dem candidate in the constituency, Jason Zadrozny, is already basing his campaign on the fact that he’s a local – his goal will be to portray Labour’s De Piero as an outsider and a party stooge.

It will be an interesting fight, but odds are that the former GMTV presenter will be the next MP for Ashfield. She is defending a 10,000 vote majority.

I’ve a feeling the tougher challenge for De Piero will have been getting the support of Labour members to win the candidacy, rather than the support of Labour voters to win the seat.