Guido’s Advice to the Chinese Communist Party’s Propagandists

It is not often that Guido is invited to speak to an audience of Communists, so the invitation to speak to twenty or so visiting Chinese Communist Party propagandists and Information Ministry officials was hard to resist. The audience at the seminar included security officials, it would be fair to say that this was not a home crowd. Almost as bad as a Goldsmith’s Media Studies audience, but not as left-wing.

Guido had difficulty logging into his Google mail account to download the Powerpoint file, having temporarily forgotten the password, the joke that maybe one of the audience could help seemed to get lost in translation.

The Q&A afterwards was what the FCO would describe diplomatically as a “frank exchange”, genuine interest in how political blogging works, great interest in the possibility that it could be an anti-corruption tool. Laughter at the sex scandals, the TBGBs and the influence of Mrs Fawkes on the economic imperatives of blogging. Towards the end of the presentation Guido tried to make it relevant to China. The last slide provoked a sharp intake of breath, some of the audience laughed nervously, some choked, some argued that Ai Weiwei had committed economic crimes. Nixon had the IRS investigate his political opponents.

Apparently he has not filled out all his tax returns, not something that makes him a bad person in Guido’s book. Afterwards this was the focus of one-to-one discussions, it became clear that they – and these were propagandists – have no media strategy to deal with human rights abuse allegations. When challenged that even a criminal suspect should have freedom of speech, they were silent. Maybe in China that is safer.

Judge Orders Balls to Pay Bad Debt

Court Papers Ed Balls Bad Debts

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The master of deficit denial did not turn up to court today to defend himself against accusations over unpaid rent and damage to his Normanton constituency office. The judge has ordered him to get his cheque-book out.  Now about that other debt he ran up…

UPDATE: Judge orders Balls to pay debts of £1,095 plus expenses. Balls used an expensive London firm of solicitors so who knows how high it could be, perhaps thousands. Legal source says “he could so easily have settled at lower cost if he wasn’t so belligerent”. Guido hopes the taxpayer isn’t going to suffer because of his pig-headed stubbornness..

Friday Caption Contest (Brotherly Love Edition)

Ed Calls Gordon Daddy

Guido speculated the other day about the role Douglas Alexander played in the onslaught that Ed’s leadership faced last week, and apparently the “Ed” book sheds some more light about his fraught relationship with his leader. Andy Grice reports:

Ed told his fellow Brownite Douglas Alexander that toppling Mr Brown “would be like killing our father”. The authors remark: “This vivid phrase again signifies Ed’s loyalty to his political ‘father’, Brown, not his real-life brother, David.” 

Although he was one of Ed’s oldest political friends, Mr Alexander decided to run David’s leadership election campaign. This was a blow to Ed. The two of them had gone on holiday together and their partners – Justine and Mr Alexander’s wife, Jackie – had also become close. “Ed’s desire to be leader meant his personal relationships were taking a battering,” says the book.

Ed told friends Mr Alexander was annoyed that a man younger than him was standing and believed a brother should not challenge an elder sibling. Mr Alexander was said to believe that Ed’s challenge had its roots in a long-established sibling rivalry and that the Labour leadership should not be “sacrificed” on the altar of it.

Is Wee Dougie avenging the spilt blood?

Off to Speak to Chinese Communist Propagandists

Blogging will be light. Guido has accepted an invitation to speak to twenty government information ministry officials and Communist Party propagandists on their visit to London. Looking forward to explaining why they should allow anti-government bloggers. Will be illustrating the benefits of freedom of expression with Powerpoint examples of the resignations of Peter Hain, Damian McBride and Chris Myers. The 5% drop in the poll ratings of the Brown government the week following Smeargate should convince them methinks.

Oh, and why they should free Ai WeiWei…

Quote of the Day

The Sun says

“Ken Clarke…the paedophiles’ pal”

Fake Gay Girl in Damascus Humiliates Guardianistas

How much more right-on can you get than a blogging gay girl in Damascus? An oppressed lesbian fighting for Arab liberation and lipstick lusts? Well it is pretty unbeatable in the right-on victimisation stakes, sure enough the Guardian and the BBC went overboard. When she was supposedly arrested by the Syrian authorities, her cause celebre exploded… before it unravelled under scrutiny.

Tom McMaster, a left-wing, bearded, middle-aged American, married to an academic specialist on Syria, living safely in Edinburgh had taken in the liberal-left media completely. He used his wife’s pictures to illustrate his blog.

Both the Guardian and the BBC’s Newsnight have lashed out at McMasters, insinuating that he is some kind of pervert. Could that be because they are bitter that they were taken in? (For a comprehensive cataloguing of the Guardian’s risible “authentication” of the Gay Girl see the Les Politiques blog.) The Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, for the last seven years its Middle East editor, now editing Comment is Free, admits he regularly consulted the blog and he had “no reason to doubt that the author was a westernised Arab lesbian”. That the author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East fell for the “Gay Girl in Damascus” fake is revealing. And a bit humiliating.

Guido wonders if they were happy to believe in the “Gay Girl in Damascus” fantasy in part because she/he promoted a hardline anti-Israel line? They wanted to believe it was an authentic voice rather than a fiction. Do you think a pro-Israel gay girl in Damascus would have been as widely read in the newsrooms of the BBC and Guardian?

UPDATE: According to the excellent Biased BBC blog “MacMasters studies at St Andrews University where his wife works in their Centre for Syrian Studies, as an Associate Fellow, partially funded to the tune of £105,000…” Saif Gaddafi was donating to LSE to study good governance before he started shelling his own citizenry, St Andrews studies the Syrian dictatorship with sponsorship from the regime? What the hell is going on?



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Quote of the Day

Andy Burnham finally repents on the deficit…

“If we are to win back trust we have to start by admitting that we should not have been running a significant deficit in the years before the crash.”

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