Red Len and the Morning Mouthpiece

Posted on April 22, 2013

Guido reports that Len McCluskey, the newly re-elected general secretary of Unite, has issued an edict demanding that the union’s branches subsidise the struggling Morning Star. The Star has the dubious distinction of being the only paper I can think of to run a “Fighting Fund” just in order to stay afloat. It’s almost like extreme left ideas are unpopular, and those who propose them are incompetent, but I’m sure there’s another explanation for their permanent state of near bankruptcy.

So what did Red Len get in return for the bail-out? Well, let’s have a look at the Morning Star’s recent coverage during the Unite leadership election.

There are the fawning letters headlined: “Plenty of reasons to back McCluskey“, “McCluskey brings fight to Tories and employers“, and “McCluskey shows he can deal with our enemies’ hard talk“.

Plus the 1,300 word report of Len McCluskey explaining err why Len McCluskey is the right candidate. Then there’s the coverage of the branch element of the election process itself, most notably “Branches give massive support to McCluskey” – published before the ballot papers went out to individual members.

They may not believe in greed or the profit motive – but some would suggest principles are a commodity the hard left are still more than happy to sell.

Kevin Maguire joins the foxhunting set

Posted on September 25, 2012

Kevin Maguire – one of Westminster’s most amiable lefties, even if he is a Mackem – never normally misses a chance to take a potshot at the ranks of the Right. Over the years, the Countryside Alliance has been a regular target, with a stream of hunting puns flowing from his pen.

So it was no surprise to see him join the Andrew Mitchell fray yesterday:

But wait a second, that cardboard copper looks rather familiar. Whose stand at the Lib Dem conference could that be?

Ah yes…

Perhaps Kevin’s not such a city boy after all?

After G4S, the 5 Worst Corporate Music Videos Ever

Posted on July 13, 2012

As I’ve written before, the lifetime of any scandal – no matter how serious – is largely dependent on the absurd props that have cameos in the story. Rebekah’s Horse is a case in point.

And lo, almost immediately after the G4S Olympic scandal was revealed, the G4S corporate song was discovered. It’s a cross between a low-rent Bon Jovi cover and the kind of lyrics you might hear in the background in a gig scene from American History X, offering up such gems as:

Because the enemy prowls, wanting to attack
But we’re on the wall, we’ve got your back


24/7 every night and day
A warrior stands ready so don’t be afraid

It’s truly special, so in celebration of the long history of awful corporate songs, I’ve put together a Top Ten Worst Corporate Music Videos Ever.

5) Ernst and Young: “Oh Happy Day” – a particularly happy day for the bearded man at 12 seconds in, and for the lyricist, whose workload was evidently limited.

4) Starbuck’s: “We Built this Starbucks…On Heart and Soul” – and on the absurd insistence of replacing “small”, “medium” and “large” with our own terms. Full-fat venti awfulness to go.

3) KPMG: “A firm you can’t touch” – yes, auditors doing MC Hammer, with attempted rapping. About KPMG.

2) Bank of America: “One” – what U2 would be like if they were middle managers in an American bank.

1) The Gazprom Song – undoubtedly best purely on the beautiful scenes of hydrocarbon extraction, and the winning lyrics:

Let’s drink to all the Russian gas
That it never comes to an end,
Though it’s so hard to obtain

Feel free to sing along:

(Thanks to @mattholehouse, @hwallop, @willardfoxton, @ToryTattler, @Adam_Grant_Bell for their nominations).

A shameless plug

Posted on September 08, 2011

I very rarely write about my day job on this blog , but many of you in communications or politics may well find this helpful – we’ve just launched a new, free app for iPhone and iPad, called Portland Contacts.

The concept is simple – it’s an interactive contacts database of key people in Westminster and the media, providing you with phone numbers, email addresses and sketch biogs. It also gives you the latest intel and insight from Portland’s Political Notebook.

With digital technology making it cheaper and easier for people to publish their opinions, share research and run campaigns, the app makes it easier and far cheaper for anyone to publicise their work to the people at the centre of the media and politics.

Anyway, shameless plug over – it’s free, so do check it out and let me know what you think. You can download it by clicking here or by searching for Portland Contacts on your iPhone or iPad.

Vote Crash Bang Wallace

Posted on August 17, 2011

There are now only two days left to vote in the annual Total Politics Blog Awards. If you’ve enjoyed reading Crash Bang Wallace over the last 13 months as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it and interacting with so many readers, please consider casting your vote for this blog.

Last year, only 5 weeks after launching, I entered the rankings for Libertarian blogs at Number 21 – that was really pleasing, and obviously I’d hope to do as well or better this time round. However, I can only do that with your support. Remember, you can vote for up to 10 blogs so there’s plenty of opportunity to include all your favourite reads. Click here to cast your vote.

Whether you vote or not, thanks again for continuing to read Crash Bang Wallace.

The Conservative Party’s game of musical Chairs

Posted on July 21, 2011

Ever since ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie tweeted on Tuesday that a “top source” had informed him that Cameron was planning to get rid of Sayeeda Warsi as Conservative Party Chair, the blue corner in Westminster has been alive with speculation.

First, it’s worth considering the motivation for such a decision. Some think it’s about making a public sacrifice to signify a change after the phone hacking scandal. They’re wrong – Warsi isn’t implicated in the scandal and the last thing Cameron would want to do is imply he’s making her take the fall for an issue that he is himself trying to shake free of.

In reality this is about institutional effectiveness. There has long been a school of thought that she isn’t tough enough in on the ground campaigning, attack dog duties or defence in a crisis. A lot of people hark back to Eric Pickles’ time as Chairman by contrast, when he fought and won by-elections, took chunks out of political opponents and robustly defended against incoming fire.

As you can imagine, most of the speculation in the Westminster Village is about who the new Chairman will be, if Tim’s source is correct. Here are a few of the names being touted, some big names and some perhaps unexpected candidates:

Eric Pickles

In the post of Party Chairman from 2009 to May 2010 Pickles did more than most of his predecessors to make the job his own. His videos from Campaign Headquarters, his well-publicised speeches to activists in key battlegrounds and his by-election record all won him a lot of praise from the Conservative grassroots. Everyone knows he was good at the job so his name is widely tipped for it again. However, his heart has always been in reforming local government and as Communities and Local Government Secretary he has his ideal job. Also, going back to being Chairman having been a senior Cabinet Minister might feel like a step backwards.

Chris Grayling

Having been Shadow Home Secretary in the run-up to the General Election, the general feeling in Westminster is that he was hard-done-by in the Coalition deal, getting a job as a Minister of State in the Department of Work and Pensions rather than a Cabinet job. In the 2005-2010 Parliament he showed considerable and formidable skill as an attack dog, shooting David Blunkett’s ministerial career to pieces, and a compassionate, radical side in his early role in developing new Conservative welfare policies. Negative publicity struck at just the wrong time a few weeks before the election when he was recorded saying that Christian B&B owners should be allowed to refuse to accept gay guests. The Chairmanship would be a definite promotion, and the role requires many of the battle skills he showed in Opposition.

Priti Patel

A perhaps rare example of a popular, successful A-lister, Priti Patel was first elected in 2010. She has impressed the grassroots and Parliamentary colleagues in her first year in the Commons, delivering strong questions in the House and combative, skilful answers on the TV when her Party has needed her. It would be unusual to appoint a Party Chairman who was so recently elected, but she could benefit from the mounting calls for an infusion of new blood and in a Coalition era old-fashioned conventions have gone out of the window. It would also work in her favour that she has strong eurosceptic credentials at a time when the Euro is in crisis and her position on the Right is not in doubt amongs the grassroots or backbenchers. Dare I say it, those who made a PC argument in favour of Sayeeda Warsi’s appointment as a female from an ethnic minority would find Patel easier to accept than a white middle class man, though she herself would be furious if she was to be appointed on that basis.

Michael Fallon

A more old-school choice, Fallon would nonetheless bring a lot to the table as Party Chairman – particularly as he is the current Deputy Chairman. Well-liked, well-read and in touch with the brains as well as the heart of the conservative movement, he originally entered Parliament in 1983. Having lost his seat in 1992 and then won in Sevenoaks in 1997 he also knows the bitter taste of political defeat, which means he understands the importance Party members and leaders place on not revisiting the mess of the mid to late 1990s. In his favour in the current climate is his expertise in economic affairs, having been a member of the Treasury Select Committee for more than a decade. Someone with experience as Deputy Chairman as well as the ability to make the case for the Government’s economic and spending plans could be appealing to a Party that currently feels a bit embattled.

Grant Shapps

A Cameron loyalist, Shapps has carved out a good reputation as a political fighter as well as a fresh face for the Conservative Party. Like Chris Grayling, he is a Minister at the moment rather than a Cabinet Minister – which has the benefit that promoting someone from that level would save Cameron the need to reshuffle the Cabinet. As a Minister in Pickles’ DCLG and an attack dog in his own right, he has plenty of experience in landing punches on Labour and rebutting assaults whether from Paxman or Gordon Brown. He has got his teeth into his Housing brief, and clearly feels strongly about it, but no-one is under any illusion that he sees his career peaking at that level. Significantly, he was one of the few non-Shadow Cabinet members who Cameron invited to Shadow Cabinet meetings when in Opposition.

Stat Prawn – May 2011

Posted on June 02, 2011

Pleasingly, this blog’s readership continues to grow – with May 2011 making yet another record-breaking month. Here’s the run-down:

Pageviews: 34,646

Visits: 21,060

Absolute Unique Visitors: 12,564

Top stories:

1) Don’t let Gordon be forgotten or forgiven

2) The knives are out in Cowley Street

3) Exclusive: Phillip Blond’s ResPublica rumoured to be in serious trouble

4) Ken, rape sentences aren’t large enough to salami slice

5) Awkward HS2 moments at the watercooler

The top 5 traffic sources were:

1) Guido Fawkes

2) Google

3) Iain Dale’s Diary

4) Twitter

5) Conservative Home

This is an interesting trend – for the first time Google has lept up the rankings, which is encouraging because more and more people are coming here organically. Twitter remains a strong source, bolstered by the addition of the Twitter button to each post.

The chart since the blog’s launch from last year is an upward line, so thanks to all of you for continuing to come back, read, comment and tweet.

Tatwatch: A Royal Wedding…erm…sex toy?

Posted on April 07, 2011

All sorts of different items of Royal Wedding Tat have been sent in since I started my occasional Tatwatch series, but this is definitely the weirdest. Submitted via Twitter by John Linford, here it is – perhaps the first ever Royal Wedding Sex Toy. Yes, really.

The “Commemorative Royal Wedding Ring” has obviously been seriously thought through to make it a serious product, and definitely not a slightly desperate attempt to jump on the hype:

Issued to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Catherine, this limited edition ring is cast in a deep royal blue silicone and features a delightful raised motif reminiscent of crowns of regency past. Rejoice in a very special union of your own.

Stat Prawn – breaking records in March

Posted on April 04, 2011

It’s that time again – the Stat Prawn is here to update on the ebb and flow of traffic. I’m pleased to say March has gone really well – helped by exclusive stories on the failures of various Conservative Associations and the revelation that Ed Miliband freely confessed to some pretty massive foreign policy blind spots.

Pageviews: 23,477
Absolute Unique Visitors: 12,361

That makes March this blog’s biggest ever month in terms of Visits and Pageviews, and second biggest month ever in terms of Absolute Uniques.

Particularly interesting is the fact that Twitter has overtaken ConservativeHome to become the 3rd biggest source of traffic after Guido and Iain Dale – this shows the growing power of social media. The fact that it is closely followed in the rankings by Google shows the growing amount of word-of-mouth referral to this blog. That’s down to you lot out there, so thanks for your support, comments and Tweets.

Tatwatch – taking us for mugs

Posted on March 16, 2011

Via MisanthropeGirl, the Telegraph have a gloriously awful piece of Royal Wedding Tat today which deserves pride of place in anyone’s Tatwatch collection. It’s pretty standard at first glance – a Royal Wedding Mug celebrating the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton…until you look at the photo labelled “Will”.