Arianna & Dale, They Can Huff & Puff
But They Won’t Blow Guido’s House Down

So Arianna Huffington is coming to London and Iain Dale is having his second coming. He tells the Guardian:

“I’ve recruited 40 or 50 friends to write for the site. Some are well known, others aren’t. The thing they have in common in that they’re all great writers. And I’m giving a second life to some of the best bloggers who’ve stopped blogging over the last year. Will it work? No idea. But it’s costing nothing and if it fails the only red face will be mine.”

Which is the Arianna strategy and AOL paid her $315 million. Dale reckons the mainstream media has ‘eaten up the blogosphere’. It is true to say of the Dead Tree Press “we are all bloggers now”, but has it hit our audience? Guido thinks not, look at the numbers (and this is excluding RSS, Twitter, Kindle and other pay per view distribution platforms) the trend is still positive :

In terms of mindshare if anything our audience is firming up where it matters – amongst opinion leaders. Comment is free, but news is what people want, and news is what people don’t want you to know, all else is advertising. Bring it on…

Friday Caption Contest (Tories Flout Champagne Ban Edition)

Up for grabs this week:

The Cameron-Clegg Government: Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity 

Edited by Simon Lee and Matt Beech.

Normal rules apply, try to be witty, not weird.

The Cowley Street Massacre Staffer Learns She Was Sacked Via Facebook

The LibDems lost thousands of pounds in deposits last week and are struggling to keep their headquarters going after losing the opposition “Short Money”. Mark Wallace began picking up on this yesterday, but it seems there is to be an absolute massacre of staff at Cowley Street. Partly out of blame for the dismal election results, and partly for financial reasons. 

The whole campaigns department is facing redundancy, all thirty-two officers across the UK. They have been told that the Department is being cut back to only nine positions. Guido’s sandal-wearing source even confirmed that one of these Campaign Officers found out she was being sacked via Facebook as high command forgot to invite her to the redundancy meeting in London because she was on maternity leave. Very new media!

Tom Smithard Elsewhere the Yes2AV backlash has begun,  Andy May who was the grandly titled “National Manager of the Regional Staff ” has written a damning and must read report exposing the chaos of the campaign. A lot of blame is being shifted towards Tom Smithard, the loathed Field Operations coordinator. Guido has had dealings with Smithard before after he popped up doing dirty tricks for the LibDems in the general election campaign, and it’s not hard to see how he lost so many friends, so very quickly, during the campaign. Take his charming email style for example:

From: Tom Smithard 
Sent: 27 April 2011 ██:██
To: ██████████
Subject: Calling all attractive people

████ ████ requires your presence at Vauxhall Cross bus / tube station for a photo op at 9am sharp tomorrow morning. Should only take 20 minutes and then there’s a 344 bus direct to the office.

I get to decide who the attractive people are and you (just about) qualify. See you tomorrow?


PS can you let me know if you can make it.

Tom Smithard
Deputy Head, Field Ops

The words used to describe Tom to Guido are not publishable on a family blog, but lets just say they’re not “attractive”. While the rest of the Yes campaign work out what the hell they are going to do next, Smithard took great pleasure in rubbing salt into their wounds. He was not afraid to share his own good news, with his own special brand of charm:

From: Tom Smithard
Sent: 09 May 2011 ██:██
To: ██████████████████
Subject: Re: Debrief and learning lessons of the Yes campaign

No matter the result I don’t think any one of you should regret your time at Yes. Many of you are early on in your careers; I just want to reassure you that the experience you gained in this short, sharp, single-issue and high-profile campaign will stand you in great stead for any future career you want to pursue in politics at whatever level.

I’m returning now to the Lib Dems, from where I was seconded, to become Political Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister. I mention this for two reasons: firstly, to prove that being associated with this campaign is not career-ending(!). Secondly and more importantly, because I know a lot of you will be searching for jobs in the political sphere in the near future.

Yes, that’s just the sort of feather-smoothing, polite, modest and humble help that Nick Clegg needs in Downing Street right now.

UPDATE: An outraged Sandalista emails demanding a correction: “She did not find out through facebook, a colleague informed her over the phone.” Much better.

Quote of the Day

Ex Labour Downing Street insider Phil Collins claims:

“…listening to Labour on the economy is like letting the arsonist criticise the fireman.”

Why the Laws Punishment Was So Severe

Neo-Guido took on Mark Pack of LibDemVoice last night on the BBC News Channel to discuss why Laws was dished out the humiliating and potentially career ending punishment:

One thing really stands out in the Parliamentary Commissioners report:

“In July 2007, Mr Laws and his landlord moved to a second London property. This was financed in part by a gift of £99,000 from Mr Laws. Mr Laws remortgaged his Somerset property to provide this sum.”

Laws “gifted” the £99,000 to his boyfriend. Effectively he put up part of the deposit. Of course if he had an ongoing interest in the property he would not have been able to claim for the “rent”. Laws deliberately and knowingly played the system to allow him to claim rent to pay for a property in which he would have had an interest if his £99,000 share hadn’t been technically written off as a “gift”. No amount of spin that he could have saved the taxpayer money if he had lived elsewhere can disguise the fact this stinks. A seven day suspension is a humiliation, but Laws, Grender and Pack etc should be glad it’s wasn’t seven months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure…

Mr Osborne, Tear Down This Debt

Guido has penned  today’s Thunderer column for the Times  behind the paywall. Before people moan, it is for a good cause, tomorrow’s planned Rally Against Debt and for those of you without a log in, he will push the limits of the fair use rules.

…Government borrowing is merely deferred taxation, so this generation is passing on a terrible inheritance of indebtedness that will burden my children, and my children’s children, with higher taxes. The Chancellor will protest that he is cutting the deficit, that he is overspending less, that political reality will not allow him to do more.

This is simply not good enough. Under Mr Osborne’s plans, the Government will still spend more cash every single year. Debt interest payments are set to double and will eventually cost more than the education budget. That is a stupendous waste of money that could be spent educating our children instead of servicing the bloated debts to the bond markets. Cutting the deficit is not enough: cutting the debt is required.

We don’t have big public sector unions organising coaches to London, and no political party is backing us, so we certainly don’t expect the Rally Against the Debt to number in the hundreds of thousands. I am taking my children with me on their very first demo and my first since back in Berlin 1989, to demand on their behalf: “Mr Osborne, tear down this debt.”

See you tomorrow, 11.00 a.m., Westminster.

Tip offs: 0709 284 0531

Quote of the Day

Sepp Blatter speaks:

“I am not corrupt. I believe I will go to heaven one day.”

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