Couldn’t happen to a nicer chap…
Guido has often highlighted the magpie tendencies of Mail columnist Andrew Pierce. He has been known to shamelessly lift content from this blog, now however after regular highlighting of this habit, he has stopped. It seems however that Andrew has found new pastures for “inspiration”. Pierce writes today:
The excellent BBC Radio 4 series The Reunion brought together five past pupils of The Courtauld Institute Of Art, whose most famous director, Sir Anthony Blunt, was sensationally exposed as a Soviet spy.The former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures was unmasked by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a member of the notorious 1950s Cambridge spy ring. Blunt’s pupils told listeners that they were worried Blunt would be remembered not as an art historian but as a spy. Most people, surely, will remember him for what he really was — a traitor.
Which strangely reads just like a letter from yesterday’s Telegraph:
The Blunt fact
SIR – A group of worthies on Radio 4’s The Reunion were concerned that Anthony Blunt may be remembered not as an art historian, but as a spy.
They need not worry. Although his Soviet controller was indeed a spy, Blunt himself was not.
He was a traitor.
At first Guido thought this was just a coincidence, but then he had a look at some of the other snippets that would have been filed after lunch yesterday. Pierce writes:
The ludicrous Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother House. What are the odds now on her husband soon being evicted from the Speaker’s House?
A good point, well made, in Saturday’s Telegraph:
SIR – Sally Bercow has entered the Big Brother house. The smart money is now on her husband being evicted from the Speaker’s House.
Petts Wood, Kent
As a previous Assistant Editor of the Telegraph, Andrew should know about the audience crossover with the Mail…
Bundesbank documents reveal insistence on fiscal Fourth Reich…
“Overall, there is a risk that the originally agreed institutional framework of the monetary union will increasingly become eroded… Unless and until a fundamental change of regime occurs involving an extensive surrender of national fiscal sovereignty, it is imperative that the no bail-out rule that is still enshrined in the treaties and the associated disciplining function of the capital markets be strengthened, and not fatally weakened.”
Guido’s critique of Miliband’s handling of the first days of the Libyan uprising upset some of his apologists, who dispute the fact that the Labour Party are losing an ally today. In order to put this to rest once and for all, Guido thought he would take a last look at Gaddafi, his family and the key players in the last government.
In September 2009 Gordon Brown told the Andrew Marr Show “there was no deal” to have the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi released early on compassionate grounds. Two years later the convicted terrorist was seen cheering on Gaddafi from the comfort of sunny Tripoli. “So if you’re suggesting there was any deal, there was no deal. There was no conspiracy, there was no attempt to make anything conditional on anything else” Brown promised. The line was pushed the next day by Ed Balls, when he told the Today program“none of us wanted to see the release of al-Megrahi.” However we know now that this is just not true…
Far from it in fact. A Cabinet Office report in July 2010 revealed that the Labour government did “all they could” to get Megrahi released. And it wasn’t just the Cabinet Office blowing Gordon’s line out of the water. Guido brought you leaked emails from former Blair adviser John McTernan that explicitly mentioned a deal. Jack Straw let slip that British trade had been a major factor in the release. As Guido reported back in February, the Scottish nationalists tried to line their pockets too.
“Scot’s justice was bought and the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s price was £100 million. The Labour government in Westminster brought forward legislation to get the SNP government in Scotland off the Somerville judgement hook in June 2009, two months later Megrahi was released.”
Far from Gordon’s line that the decision was made in Scotland and that he couldn’t of possibly have had anything to do with it, a dirty deal was concocted at the heart of the British government. It involved Downing Street, the British intelligence services and BP. In September 2009 Guido brought you the players:
“Nick Butler is the Economic Adviser brought into Downing Street when Gordon became Prime Minister. Prior to that he was a senior strategist for BP. He joined the firm in 1977 and helped to develop close links between BP and New Labour in the 1990s.
Incidentally Butler is a mate of Peter Mandelson who has also been treasurer of the Fabian Society for more than 25 years. He helped to bring close to half-a-million into Brown’s coffers from his city chums.
“Sir Mark Allen is a Special Adviser to BP. Before that he was the senior MI6 officer who negotiated with Saif Gaddafi to end Libya’s international isolation in 2003-04…”
It was these two men, one ex-BP then at the heart of government, the other ex-MI6 and then at the heart of BP, who conspired to give Gaddafi what he wanted for access to Libya’s oil. Less than twenty-four hours after Guido revealed the cast more details began trickling out. Allen had called Jack Straw twice in November 2007 to put pressure on him for a deal. Despite initial denials, BP also coughed that they had lobbied the government over the slow progress of the deal, highlighting that there would be “negative consequences for UK commercial interests”. And what was Peter Mandelson’s disingenuous take on these allegations? “It’s not only completely wrong to make such a suggestion it’s also quite offensive…”
No doubt Mandy had plenty of time to make up his mind as to what is offensive whilst he spent a shooting weekend with Gadaffi’s son and Nat Rothschild. A tight and close gruesome threesome. There is no denying the closeness of the upper echelons of the last government to the murderers currently being hounded out of Tripoli. Just last year Gaddafi was asking the Libyan people to “pray for Gordon Brown”, but it’s the hand of Gaddafi’s “good friend” Tony Blair which is never far away. The deal was concocted on Tony’s watch and he even approved the training of Gaddafi’s special forces by the SAS. So close were they that it was Blair that Gaddafi phoned to seek advice on how to deal with the uprisings. Mandelson was keen to help out too – speaking of Saif Gadaffi’s chilling threats to slaughter the rebels, Mandy thinks he could have spun it better:
‘I’d rather have had a couple of minutes with him beforehand to say that you know this sort of performance in a very clumsy and ham-fisted way is not going to get you anywhere.’
Even Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary who was so keen to talk down the threat of No-Fly Zone, took to the airwaves to claim Blair was right to make friends with Gadaffi, even after he had begun slaughtering his own people. With such a shameful past you would think the “next generation” of the Labour Party might have been more careful to keep their distance from the Mad Dog of the desert. But no…
As the crisis kicked off in February Guido brought you the Miliband family’s own connections to Saif Gaddafi. LSE Professor David Held, who is seemingly in charge of desecrating Ralph Miliband’s memory, welcomed Saif to LSE as a “representative of the Miliband program” – a series of lectures in memory the Labour leader’s father. Held failed to mention the £300,000 he had taken off Gaddafi in his sycophantic introduction. Showing his trademark judgement, it turns out Ed is a very big fan of Professor Held.
Yesterday Guido warned that News International executives have and know things which could prove excruciatingly embarrassing to the Tories. The Telegraph’s Mandrake highlights one today. Minor but still cringe inducing.
Mandrake’s Tim Walker says a Whitehall toiler told him “I used to see him signing letters to her with the words ‘love, David… I suppose I should have known that this was going to land us into trouble, sooner or later.”
Guido has often opined, based on the sum of his life experiences, redheads are trouble…
In what was to rapidly become his custom style, Cameron was late to the Libyan crisis. British oil workers were stranded for a hairy few days in the middle of the desert. However credit where credit is due, he was quick to get the No-Fly Zone plan discussed, risking an international kicking at the early stages when other NATO countries were not so keen.
Back at the very end of February and into the first days of March, Labour were quick to try stop Cameron’s No-Fly Zone plan from getting off the ground. Miliband, conscious of the anti-war vote he hoovered up in the leadership election, tried to humiliate the Prime Minister at PMQs on 2nd March by suggesting that firstly nobody supported his plan, and secondly that our armed services were unable to cope:
“On Monday, the Prime Minister floated the idea of a no-fly zone. On Tuesday, however, a number of foreign Governments distanced themselves from the idea…
Can he reassure the House and the country that any increase in our military commitments that he is talking about, including in north Africa, can be met at a time when we are reducing capability?”
And it wasn’t just Ed. The Shadow Foreign Secretary took to the pages of the Observer to mock Hague for“talking up” plans for a No-Fly Zone, only to be forced to climb down on them. Remind us how that worked out again wee Dougie?
Ed eventually fell into line and had to resort to having his big brother advise him on how to deal with the crisis. Just remember all this when you see the Labour leader pop up on television any moment now to praise the end result…
He didn’t believe it enough to stop him trying to score points…