Yes, Prime Minister – one leg of the holy tripod of British political comedy, the others being The New Statesman and The Thick Of It – is back. And I am pleased to present a CrashBangWallace exclusive preview of the new series:
The new series starts tomorrow at 9pm on Gold. Will it live up to its legendary status? We’ll have to wait and see…
ResPublica’s Phillip Blond – Red Tory philosopher king and the think tank world’s most notable wearer of the Emperor’s new clothes – has had a difficult twelve months. Much of it, admittedly, due to this blog’s interest in the real value, or lack thereof, in his ideas.
First I revealed that ResPublica was facing money problems, leading to the ditching of the majority of their staff. Then the Sunday Times followed up my post with revelations that staff had been locked out of the office due to non-payment of rent, and Blond had loaned himself £38,000 from company funds. The media interest continued, with the Mail reporting bizarre behaviour like the purchase – with ResPublica money – of “a garish Regency-style chair decorated with pictures of women in bikinis and high heels sitting astride motorbikes”.
Then this Spring I exclusively published leaked documents in which a ResPublica donor – NESTA, which is taxpayer-funded – tore apart the “research” which Blond’s outfit had produced for them, including such damning comments such as “too vague to be useful”, “lacking originality”, and “none of the reports are of a sufficient quality to be published”.
It’s understandable, given that Westminster has started to see through his act, that Blond decided to branch out abroad, presumably in the hope that people who’d never heard of him would be more supportive.
Last week the Red Tory messiah headed off to Australia, to attend a “leadership retreat” on a tropical island with Australian politicians, and then meeting Tony Abbott, the leader of the Opposition.
Fortunately, it seems the Aussies lived up to their notorious disdain for people who spout pretentious nonsense – no sooner had Blond’s grand tour begun, but prominent figures right across the political divide started calling him out.
Links through to this blog’s revelations about the Red Tory’s behaviour in practice abounded, with Tweeters including the President of one of Australia’s largest Trade Unions, one of Australia’s most influential political consultants and one of the nation’s flagship broadcasters. Overnight, thousands of Australians came to read the truth about Phillip Blond, and Australia leapt up the rankings to become CrashBangWallace’s main source of traffic.
In the age of the internet, it’s far harder to keep pulling off the same stunt over and over again – as Phillip is experiencing, things do tend to follow you around.
Hopefully, for their sake, Australia has seen through Red Toryism before it infects their politics with meaningless, paternalist gobbledegook. Or, as Blond himself might put it, “Let us seek manifold aspirations that the Antipodean demos has become immunised prior to the pestilential tainting c-change of its domestic dialectic with antediluvian flim-flammery.”
Understandably, there’s a lot of speculation over the future of certain Cabinet Ministers at the moment. The strongest argument against predictions of Andrew Lansley’s impending departure is the claim that David Cameron wants to avoid a reshuffle in the foreseeable future.
However, it seems that it’s not only those on the outside of Government who think one might be coming.
Two of this blog’s readers were out for a curry last week and found themselves next to a very loud table who, it soon became clear, were staffers from the Private Offices of Ken Clarke and his fellow Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt.
The civil servants in question were nattering away about the internal politics of the Coalition, so my correspondents decided to talk loudly about politics, SpAds and other Westminstery topics in order to give them a subtle message that people could hear them.
They carried on regardless, and it’s interesting to learn that the prime topic of conversation from Ken Clarke’s aides was who is going to replace him as Secretary of State for Justice.
I’m told by my man with the tikka masala that the civil servants’ top tips for the MoJ job were Francis Maude and Chris Grayling. Ones to watch…particularly if you’re Ken Clarke.
EXCLUSIVE: Charles Moore steps down as Policy Exchange Chairman. *UPDATE*replaced by Finkelstein*UPDATE*Posted on June 15, 2011
I understand that Charles Moore, the journalist and long-serving Chairman of Policy Exchange, is going to announce that he’s stepping down from PX very shortly.
This means one of the most influential jobs in centre-right thinktankery is up for grabs. Who will be taking over at “David Cameron’s favourite think tank”?
We will find out soon, I’m told – apparently it will be a senior centre right commentator with exemplary Number 10 links. Intriguing.