Advice to Conservatives: When in hole stop digging

Francis Maude has given a very good impression of a man sliding down the edge of an oversize razor blade today. Painful to watch.

On Today this morning his performance was ludicrous in the extreme.

In the Commons he says it’s all Labour’s fault – they have been “shameful” on this Cruddas affair he says.

It’s all quite ridiculous. It has been obvious all along that Cameron should reveal his dinner guests at the Number Ten flat, as he has now done for donors. We’re told these are private affairs. Cameron pays for the dinners out of his own pocket. Bollocks! It’s a state-owned property for pity’s sake!

All the guests should be revealed. It’s just the same as when the US President lists all the guests to the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House.

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In a nutshell: That "granny tax" = tax break they never had in the first place

From my friend and occasional commenter here, Mark:

For nearly 90 years, pensioners have enjoyed more generous personal income tax allowances than working adults: a legacy of the days when retirement was a short, painful and often rather alarming business. Now, in order to help fund large and continuing hikes in the personal tax allowance for low and middle-income workers (which have so far seen two million people lifted out of income tax altogether by this coalition government), those more generous pensioners’ allowances are being frozen in real terms so that the working adults’ allowance can catch up, until the distinction between workers’ and pensioners’ allowances vanishes and the two systems can be merged.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make a snappy Mail headline though, does it?

Mitt Romney: The "Etch A Sketch" candidate

The LA Times reports:

Eric Fehrnstrom, one of Mitt Romney’s top aides, torpedoed what should have been a gangbusters news cycle for the campaign with this answer to a question about how damaging the primary has been to his chances in November.

“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Romney’s critics suggested it was proof of what they’d long been warning conservatives — that he’d taken positions now to appeal to the party’s base that he’d quickly distance himself once he locked up the nomination.

Political Wire states:

Joe Klein thinks the Etch-A-Sketch gaffe “may go well beyond a momentary embarrassment and become a campaign-defining disaster, much as John Kerry’s ‘I voted for it before I voted against it’ gaffe — which came at almost exactly the same point in that campaign.

The key reason: “Most obviously, this was a classic Kinsleyan gaffe — an inadvertent blurting of the truth — that goes to the very heart of the character problems that have bedeviled Romney throughout this campaign.”

But more important: “It makes it much harder, perhaps impossible, for Romney to begin to tack back to the center to appeal to the centrist voters, an absolute necessity for the fall campaign after the free-range extremism of the Republican primary. Every time Romney makes a move, or even a head-fake, it becomes an Etch-a-Sketch moment.

One in the eye for Alex Salmond

This’ll wipe the smug grin off his face (or perhaps probably not). The Shetland Isles and the Orkneys are threatening to go it alone and opt out of potential Scottish independence.

From the Telegraph:

The Orkney and Shetland islands could remain part of the UK if the rest of Scotland votes to separate, according to a report submitted by their MSPs to the Government.
The islands could even declare independence themselves, it adds.
Alternatively, they could agree to join a separate Scotland only if they are granted a much bigger portion of North Sea oil and gas revenues, around a quarter of which lies in Shetland’s waters alone.
Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, agreed the threat was political “dynamite” but questioned why Mr Salmond was the only politician who could use oil wealth to argue for self-determination.
The paper, submitted to the Coalition Government’s consultation on the forthcoming independence referendum, concluded the islands should exploit the ballot to negotiate a more advantageous constitutional settlement.

Another sub-30 minute 5k at Newbury Park Run. Woohoo!

After a bit of a slow start at my first Newbury Park Run (on Greenham Common) two weeks ago, this morning I managed a sub-30 minute run. In fact, if Charlie, my dog and running companion, hadn’t stopped for a poo which he didn’t do, I think I would have done my best ever Park Run. Oh well, there’s always next time.

The Newbury Park Run really is quite superb in many respects. There’s ample car parking. The scenery is awesome. It’s great to have just one circuit to do – it’s much easier for the brain to work out how much longer is left of the track. And there are no significant hills.