Guardianistas’ Politically Correct Concern for Gaddafi

Christopher Elliot, the preposterously named “Guardian Readers’ Editor”, has been pontificating this morning. This email went out to all the editorial staff about how to address the clearly top-of-his-game Mad Dog of the Middle East:

To: editorial.gnm
11:03

Dear Colleagues,

We are receiving a steady stream of emails from doctors and mental health campaigners complaining of the constant and often casual references to Col Gadaffi’s mental state in print and online. Even Col Gadaffi gets the benefit of the Guardian’s editorial code and the campaigners are right, we are breaching our guidelines on the way we use mental health terms in relation to him so please be aware in news, comment and features to avoid inappropriate language.

Chris

You couldn’t make it up…

When is a Smear Not a Smear?

There has been an ongoing rumbling about the Audit Commission’s Jenny Watson being smeared as an incompetent who milked the taxpayer by one of Eric Pickles’ SpAds in a briefing to Sam Coates of the Times, which he then obediently reprinted.

Figures have been plucked out of thin air to suggest that the Department of Local Government had spent “thousands” on legal advice because of the case, though Guido was confident enough to bet the editor of Political Scrapbook £50 that the figure was closer to zero. Labour are pushing the story around, though it’s hardly up there with Damian McBride. What it comes down to is that Jenny Watson did milk the taxpayer. The truth cannot be a smear…

UPDATE: Paul Richards, author of Be Your Own Spin Doctor tweets piously that taxpayer funded SpAds “are not employed to slag people off in anonymous briefings to hacks.” Totally different to the time when he as a taxpayer funded SpAd ghost wrote an article in the Guardian slagging Guido off as a “vicious nihilist”…

Lobbying Register Warning Bells

Guido has to laugh at the audacity that some of the more brazen members of the lobbying community have shown in defending the new voluntary register of “political consultants”. As Spinwatch said, this is no more than a “PR stunt from PR experts”.

As the new UK PAC site with public registers went live this week just 251, out of an estimated 14,000 spinners, had  voluntarily signed up. A further 1,362 were put on the list automatically by their companies, but where are the big hitters? Search the register for power-lobbyists like Roland Rudd, Tim Bell, Alan Parker or Matthew Freud and you get “Your search did not return any results.” Francis Ingham, spinmeister for the widely discredited PRCA trade body, makes hyperbolic claims for the nascent self-regulator: “It provides a foundation on which to grow self-regulation. It is – though doubtless our detractors will dispute this – a good thing.” It is an abject failure, with an estimated 90% of lobbyists ignoring the register.

Guido is no fan of government regulation of the private sector but the political lobbying industry thwarts democracy and pollutes the body politic to such an extent something has to be done. Guido’s idea is that all politicians and civil servants should be required to transparently publish all details of meetings with lobbyists – Cameron’s government ministers and Downing Street SpAds already have to do this. The idea should be rolled out as a requirement for all those paid by taxpayers and involved in influencing legislation. Obviously this means the question of identifying political lobbyists will have to be addressed.

To avoid any confusion by ministers or civil servants when unknowingly or inadvertently meeting lobbyists socially, taking up tickets to the opera or lunching at Michelin-starred restaurants and the like, registered lobbyists should make themselves easily identifiable.  The historically tried and tested solution for just this problem springs to mind. They should be made to wear bells around their necks, like lepers…

Quote of the Day

Lord Mandelson told ITV1’s Daybreak that Ed Miliband is…

“…so quick to say he’s not New Labour, he’s not Tony Blair and the rest. Well, it’s fine to be something different but you’ve also got to make clear what that something else is, and I don’t think he’s done so yet.”

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

The gentlemen of the Lobby are as thin-skinned and status conscious as a gaggle of gay hairdressers on a night out, so Craig Oliver will need to up his game. The Lobby already have their noses a little out of joint because Downing Street hired a bloke off the telly, BBC TV at that, rather than one of their own. Downing Street implicitly signalling to the ink-stained old hands of the Lobby that telly is more important than they are in the great scheme of things.

When Craig visited the press gallery this week to introduce himself (sans bumbag) there was the usual faux bonhomie on both sides. The inkies and the TV luvvie meet and greet was respectful if not warm. Asked for his mobile number Craig put one political editor in their place thus “you can get me through the switchboard”.

Hunt Says Yes

Murdoch has been given the green light from the Culture Secretary to take over the rest of BSkyB. It came at a price though. Sort of:

“The undertakings offered would ensure that shareholdings in Sky News would remain unchanged, and indeed offer it more independence from News Corporation than it currently has.”

That same line worked during the takeover of the Times didn’t it? Murdoch only sits in on editorial meetings occasionally. Funding is secured for the loss-making channel and it will have its own board, but not everyone is convinced it will be enough. Brillo isn’t holding any punches this morning and just told Today:

“When it comes to deals, Murdoch is an Italian – The real negotiations begin once you have signed the deal. He will get his way in the end.”

Let the games begin…



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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