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White van SLAM

Congratulations to Ed Vaizey for – hopefully – giving the question of ‘does any of your family drive a white van?’ a humane ending.

Echoing fellow Labour MP Jamie Reed’s performance at PMQs today, Sadiq Khan took the opportunity to inform us that his nephew and brother drive a white van before laying down the gauntlet to Tory guest Ed Vaizey.

“I’m sure Ed has members of his family who drive a white van as well. Ed?” he poked on the World at One.

While he fell short of the rhetorical flourishes of Nadhim Zahawi, Vaizey made his point:

“My kids are too young to drive. They’re only eight and six. I think about my neighbours and I think about Sadiq’s family. I will from now on, anyway.”

Watch and learn, Ed

Labour has been having a few problems with celebrities in recent weeks.

After Myleene Klass’ run-in with Ed Miliband, Angelina Jolie has now revealed she might not buy a house in Britain if the ‘mansion tax’ goes ahead after all.

So when Sol Campbell made a film for Daily Politics about why the mansion tax is a bad idea, there may have been a few at Labour HQ holding their breath.

Owen Smith, Labour’s chosen prize fighter today, decided to take a different tack to his leader and come out swinging at the millionaires.

Having prepped in advance, Smith pointed out that Campbell had recently put up his house in Chelsea for sale at £25m, owned another flat in Chelsea as well as a “big country pile”.

“People in this country who are, frankly, struggling under this Government will have zero sympathy for millionaires like you pleading poverty," he charged. 

Campbell, who probably hadn’t seen such aggression since marking Duncan Ferguson, seemed a bit taken aback and claimed he “can’t afford” the tax. A job well done for Labour.

Perhaps buoyed by his first scalp, Smith decided to carry on, taking aim at his fellow guest Grant Shapps. In an exchange about political merchandising, Smith swiped:

“I’m loath to engage in a conversation about branding with Mr Green because he’s such an expert on branding.”

At this point Andrew Neil decided to put an end to the rampage.

“Cheap,” was his assessment.

“I thought it was vaguely amusing,” Smith pleaded.

“No, it wasn’t."

Fun and games over, Owen. 

De-risking Duncan Smith

Jargon enthusiasts will have looked forward to their dose of Iain Duncan Smith on the airwaves this morning – and he didn’t disappoint.

The "pathfindering" pioneer delivered more “roll outs” than you could fit in a lobster pot. And then he effected a real beauty of a phrase:

“The independent Major Projects Authority said to us, as they reviewed it in the last few months, they said this is the right way to roll out a programme so that it de-risks the roll-out.”

Eh? 

Clegg channels his inner Islington drain pipe

Never mind Notting Hill and Chipping Norton, after Islington MP Emily Thornberry’s badly-judged tweet, it’s now officially open season on her constituency.

Yesterday the Mail on Sunday published a guide to the ‘Thornberry set’ in leafy north London. "Emily Thornberry’s Islington home is at the heart of the liberal elite’s dinner party circuit," it noted.

One Labour MP has told the Mail: "It’s a typical cock up from one of this Islington cabal who are terrified of stepping out of London."

And now Nick Clegg has weighed in, calling Ms Thornberry’s image from Rochester "jaw droppingly patronising". The Lib Dem leader then added: “It may be what happens if you become MP for Islington.”

Of course, Clegg lives in the down-at-heel cultural melting pot that is Putney.

There may well be more of this nonsense to come, but can anyone beat William Hague’s classic attack on the borough in his 1997 Tory conference speech?

Hague told delegates: "I'm not one of those politicians who looks at the United Kingdom through a pair of binoculars from inside the M25....

"I don't look at the world through the wrong end of an Islington drain pipe."

 

Council goes off-message

Ministers have been advising councils to think creatively when it comes to dealing with cuts in government funding, but they probably didn’t have this in mind.

At today’s Business Statement, Tory MP Pauline Latham spoke of her disdain for one innovation from Labour-led Derby City Council: an answering machine message used to “smear” her party.

When a resident can’t get through, they hear: “Sorry we can’t get to the phone. It’s the Government imposed cuts.”

"I am appalled at this politicisation of a public service. May we have a debate on council funding and how it is used for party political purposes?" she asked.

William Hague suggested an alternative:

“Perhaps her council should have an answerphone message referring to the £5 billion that the Government have supplied for council tax freezes for five successive years in order to keep down council tax, which doubled under the previous Government. That would be a good message to send out to the whole country.”

Probably not quite as catchy.