Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coogan Tells Guido: I’m Brave to Take Murdoch Shilling
Press Freedom Under Attack at Hacked Off Meeting

20120925-220946.jpg

Hacks, MPs and LibDem delegates assembled in a packed Grand Hotel conference room last night for the Hacked Off debate on press reform. Hugh Grant was bundled away from his meeting with Clegg by his many minders before proceedings began, leaving Steve Coogan as the sole star attraction. Somewhat predictably, the evening quickly descended into an all-out assault on press freedom.

Panelists and delegates focused their ire on the likes of Page 3, Boris and Kelvin Mackenzie, so it seemed as if Coogan was playing to the gallery somewhat when he exhorted: “I float between Labour and LibDem. But never Tory. I’d rather pull out my own eyeballs than vote Tory. Alan Partridge backs David Cameron”. The journalists present looked on with horror as NUJ boss Michelle Stanistreet condemned editors and Hacked Off professor Steve Barnett laughably admitted that “I have this vision of Kelvin behind bars”. The mood was summed up when a technical issue saw the lights briefly go down, only for delegates to shout “Murdoch!”. They promised a debate, but there was none to be found.

20120925-222412.jpgThen came the star of the show. Guido found it interesting how Coogan spent at least a minute beforehand standing and pretending to speak in order that paps could get their money shot. Evan Harris plugging his new book for him was no coincidence either – Coogan is only too happy to use the press when it suits him. When it came down to it, the Latvian-loving tabloid star was full of style but no substance. Apparently “press freedom is a lie peddled by proprietors and editors who only care about profit”, and when it comes to the Mail and the Sun there are “dark forces afoot”. Afterwards Guido asked Coogan about the charge that attacking Murdoch then selling his show to Sky could be seen as hypocritical:

“I am aware of it but I see a flipside, I think it makes me even braver. It would be even more hypocritical if I took his money and didn’t criticise him. What I’m doing puts me in even more danger.”

Just how brave do you have to be to trouser a seven figure sum…

He’s Still Jonah Brown

As we predicted beforehand, the Jonah effect wiped over 100 points off the value of the Dow and saw the NASDAQ experience its worst day since June. If you watch the video closely you’ll see that he even screwed up “ringing the bell” to open Wall Street.

He’s still the accursed one-eyed son of the manse…

Oops, He Did It Again

Just 24 hours after having to apologise for blowing his top at the coppers on the Downing Street gates, Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell tried to use the main gates again on the Thursday of last week.

No surprise then that the story broke on the Friday.

Don Mitchell, tilting at gates…

UPDATE: Talking of history repeating itself, a co-conspirator writes:

“About 18 months ago, I walked past the back of Downing St on the way into HMT. En route, I observed Mitchell at the gates screaming (not muttering …) at police that he was a Cabinet minister and was late for a meeting with the PM. It was fairly clear that he had basically forgotten his pass (or couldn’t be bothered to get it out) and decided to adopt a shouty version of ‘don’t you know who I am’ (clearly they did not). I don’t think he actually swore, but the outline as reported by the Sun seems entirely credible.”

It was only a matter time.

Knowing Me Alan Partridge, Knowing You Nick Clegg

It does not get any easier for the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg is having a one-on-one right now with Steve Coogan. Apparently the coked-up starf**ker is back on his high horse and is seeking “assurances from Nick Clegg that he will continue to stand up to the power of newspaper editors and owners when the moment comes to decide” whether the press will be able to point out his hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy like waging a war against Murdoch and then taking his money as soon as he needed a channel for his new so-so Sky TV show.

Guido will be at the Hacked Off fringe meeting at 18.15 to ask him about it. Details of the meeting in Brighton at LibDem conference are here.

It’s All of Them, Janet

Janet Daley has caused a bit of a stir this afternoon after she has declared that lots of Tories are rude to her:

“Time to tell the truth about the “nasty” party: as someone who has defended the Conservatives (or at least defended their arguments) for so many years, it is time to come clean. Tories can be bloody difficult to like. The Andrew Mitchell Debacle is not an uncharacteristic, deranged and inexplicable lapse. It is just an extreme example of the kind of attitude with which many people who circulate in this world are familiar.

…it is the Tory modernisers – perhaps because they are more likely to be “toffs” than striving achievers from ordinary backgrounds – who are the worst. It is not the Thatcherite, aspirational, state school-educated Tories who look over your shoulder when they are talking to you: it is the snotty, condescending “one nation” paternalists for whom you are only of interest so long as you are being “supportive” (ie as faithful as a Labrador). No names, no pack drill, but you know who you are.”

Guido is not sure he agrees completely with her analysis. He tends to find that if you ask a politician of any persuasion a question they don’t want to hear, and they can very quickly turn into a Mitchell of the highest order.

Yes there are some spectacularly rude Tory politicians, but then there were equally poisonous elements of the last government. Instead of being forced out of politics, many of these thugs have been given key positions on the Labour benches and in the highest echelons Ed’s team. The main difference being that at least under this government hacks and commentators – like Daley – are speaking out about what they see, rather than being complicit in a pact of silence that allowed a lunatic to become our Prime Minister. Arrogance and rudeness is sadly often part and parcel with the personality required to want to go anywhere near the green benches, you don’t have to scratch very far below the surface to find it on all sides of the House…

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Any whisper of greenshoots will be wiped out at 14:30 GMT when Jonah Brown rings the bell at the New York Stock Exchange:

“On Tuesday, September 25, Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former UK Prime Minister, and his wife Sarah Brown, founding Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education will visit the New York Stock Exchange and ring The Opening Bell. In his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Brown is joining with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UNGA this week to launch Education First, a UN initiative to put education on top of the development agenda.”

Arrrrrgh…

UPDATE: Oh no:

Huhne’s Ladies Day at Conference

Looks like we will have to wait until the courtroom for the Chris Huhne/Vicky Pryce showdown – Guido hears that the much talked about duo tactically avoided each other at the LibDem conference today. While Vicky was smiling her way around fringe events after arriving in Brighton this morning, Huhne slipped away last night. It was no coincidence either, delegates tell Guido the move was carefully orchestrated to avoid an awkward reunion moment. Probably for the best…

Meanwhile the latest woman in Huhne’s life – Carina Trimingham – was overheard at conference telling friends about her new life as a fresher. Apparently she’s gone back to university. To study law…

Heir to Blair: Tony and Cherie Called Robinson For Euan

Geoffrey Robinson has responded to Guido’s story about  him standing down at the next election:

 “I’m standing. Period”

A denial of Thraser ineptitude, but it was the Coventry Telegraph that really caught Guido’s eye:

“Senior Labour party sources close to city MP Geoffrey Robinson’s office claim both Tony and Cherie Blair have contacted the MP inquiring about his Coventry North West constituency seat for the next election.”

On the record, Labour spinners have dismissed the idea of Euan Blair going for the seat in three years time, but crucially they did not deny that he had been attending constituency meetings – as Guido exclusively reported – and that he had been delivering in the local area. Apparently it’s because he’s involved in the local party. You have to wonder why that is when he lives in a £1.3 million bachelor pad 95 miles away in Marylebone…

Despite Robinson denying he was helping Euan, the evidence is mounting up. Since quitting his job at Morgan Stanley, Blair junior has recently taken up a part time, and possibly voluntary role, at Sarina Russo Job Access – a company based in Coventry that is part of the government’s Work Programme. That will look better on the local CV than investment banking…

Meanwhile the Telegraph’s deadly rival, the Robinson patsies over at the Coventry Observer, have swallowed old Geoff’s denial hook, line and sinker. The story was right under their noses…

CCHQ Spinning Close to the Wind on Mitchell

This morning’s top lines to take for Tories is pretty vague on Mitchell, but Guido would avoid the two middle sentences:

Chief Whip
Andrew Mitchell has reiterated the apology he made last week after the incident. He did not show the police the respect he should have done. He has apologised to the police officer involved and the officer has accepted the apology. He is absolutely clear that he did not use the words that have been attributed to him. He is now getting on with his work.

In light of the full leak of the police log, we now know that “the police officer involved” accepted Mitchell’s apology before he spent five days trashing their word and has all but called them a liar. As has the PM by “accepting” Mitchell’s side of the story. Mitchell’s denial accused the Sun of “attributing” the words to him. We now know it was the police. Some new words from this officer could prove very tricky…

@Dave

Yet another Cameron u-turn is in the pipeline. The man who once said “too many tweets might make a t**t” is set to join Twitter. The news comes despite Dave reiterating his 2009 comment this summer: “I did once say something about people who use Twitter, particularly politicians, and I think in this case I was absolutely spot on.” What could possibly go wrong?

Well if Ben Brogan is accurate about Cameron’s choice of username is anything to go by, the fun and games will start early. Apparently “@DavidCameronLeader, or something similar… will bring us the daily thoughts of the Prime Minister.” Why not Glorious Leader?


Seen Elsewhere

Bercow ‘Wounded’ | Speccie
This Goes Further Than Rotherham | Simon Danczuk
Bercow Mocked | Times
Indy Deletes ‘Jewish Lobby’ Headline | MediaGuido
Cracknell v Boris | Sun
British Muslims are Failing to Integrate | Dan Hodges
Dear Sarah Wollaston… | ASI
Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun


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Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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