Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Total Politics is Full of Divas

Guido had long suspected it to be the case, but it seems like Total Politics have made it official. Well sort of, Antonello Sticca who has been heading up a redesign of the magazine and website, came over from lesbian lifestyle mag Diva. Guido reckons more covers like these would get copies flying off the shelves. Shiny new website here

Quote of the Day

Fraser Nelson breaks the news that McBride is off to spin for the Catholic charity CAFOD:

“He will be doubtless be brilliantly effective at briefing against its enemies (in CAFOD’s case, hunger and the devil)”

An Open Letter To Alan Rusbridger

Guardian Invested Millions in Hedge Funds During Banking Crisis
Editor Rusbridger on Board Which Approved Strategy

Earlier this month the Guardian front paged a story revealing that the City of London accounted for £11.4 million of the Conservative Party’s funding in 2009 – 10, in lurid terms we learned of the millions passed to Tory coffers by rich hedge fund managers. Guido can reveal that during that same period the Guardian Media Group’s coffers gained £39.3 million from investments in hedge funds. More than three times as much as they castigated the Tories for taking from hedgies…

GMG owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers, where journalists and columnists rail against the City, hedge funds and the short-termism of pin-striped financial traders. Documents obtained by Guido reveal that the GMG board approved investments now totalling £223.8 million in speculative funds in a range of assets. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, sat on the board which approved the hedge fund investment plan, the board was at the time chaired by Paul Myners who also sat on the board of GLG partners, a hedge fund which is widely reported to have made big profits shorting UK banks.

The funds are traded by a number of specialist fund managers, overseen by the giant U.S. based asset manager Cambridge Associates. Cambridge Associates is a secretive, privately held firm with a client list which includes billionaires and government sovereign wealth funds. Guido has discovered that the £223.8 million is invested in emerging markets, bonds and hedge funds. The investments are principally in US Dollars and offshore from the UK.

In the small print of GMG’s 2009 Accounts

These short-term funds are in addition to the GMG assets held in Cayman Islands domiciled corporations where the rate of corporation tax is zero. Sources suggest that GMG has between £300 million and £500 million held offshore in these opaque special purpose vehicles. Such tax haven domiciled corporate vehicles are used to shield assets from tax. Guido has discovered that one GMG controlled Caymans corporation was incorporated as recently as March 2008, a mere 5 months before the banking crisis wreaked havoc on the global economy.

So far GMG has ignored embarrassing questions posed since the winding up of the old Scott Trust. What Guido and many confused Guardian readers would like to know is how the use of these opaque investment vehicles is compatible with the public positions taken by the newspapers and even members of the board. Will Hutton for example is a former editor of the Observer who sits alongside Alan Rusbridger on the board of the Scott Trust Foundation. Is Hutton, a noted campaigner against hedge funds, comfortable with GMG having hundreds of millions in assets both offshore and invested in hedge funds? Are the perennially loss making Guardian newspaper’s columnists like Polly Toynbee happy to have their six-figure salaries paid out of the profits of hedge fund raids on the currencies of emerging market countries? Isn’t it about time the Guardian’s senior executives explained openly and honestly to its readers how it really survives despite losing money every year?

Jacqui: “It Was Dick”

It’s amazing what a former MP will do for money, especially one whose career ended in tatters. Jacqui Smith is taking part in a Radio 5 documentary about the nail in a her political coffin – porn.

“In the programme she will talk about her own attitudes to the industry. She also speaks to film-makers, actors, feminists and politicians, as well as men and women who consume pornography.”

Well it shouldn’t be too hard to find a consumer, she’ll just have to call downstairs to the sofa. At time of the scandal, word was put about to sympathetic ears that Smith’s researcher and husband Richard was covering for their son who was actually the late night viewer, but that has today been dismissed:

“Let me just say, I knew he had used porn. Did he use it very much? No. Having said that, there were two movies on the same week”

Smith apparently also claims “some people say to me, “Oh well, at least you didn’t have to leave because of a great policy ****-up”. Yes, because she was such a successful Home Secretary…


Seen Elsewhere

It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun
Feminist War on Children | Laura Perrins
An English Parliament is Inevitable Whatever Happens | Alex Wickham
Union All But Over Even if Scots Vote No | Janan Ganesh
Unionists Outgunned | Times


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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