May 29th, 2013

Hammond Surfaces to Defend MoD Bureaucracy

Phillip Hammond popped up for a passive aggressive performance on the Today programme:

“We can look for efficiency savings which everyone should be seeking all the time. If we need to go beyond our efficiency savings, we would need to have a discussion over how and where these would be achieved.”

It sounds like defence secretary would make sure that conversation happened in public. He might not want to cut more troops, but there are still savings to be made. The MoD has 400 press officers and communications staff, for example. There is a battalion of cuts there Mr Hammond.

UPDATE According to data obtained by Think Defence

The latest figures for the numbers involved in specialist communications roles are for financial year 2009-10 and were produced in support of a Cabinet Office led exercise to capture such information across Government. They are as follows:

MOD/armed forces Trading funds Non-departmental public bodies
Press officers 112 8 1
Internal communications officers 52 8 0
External communications officers 365 26 0
Communications strategy officers 67 2.5 0
Other 101 7 3

Presumably these numbers have been reduced over the last three years.697 spin-doctors of one kind or another is 600 too many…

See latest update: Latest MoD Figures: 604 Spinners


  1. 1
    Latimer Alder says:

    I always knew the MoD was full of time-serving wastrels…but 400 failed journo parasites is really OTT

  2. 2
    Julie b says:

    We should pull out of Afghanistan and take half the defence budget and give it to the EDL.

  3. 3
    Peep Peep says:

    He should take a look at boarding school allowance. It is probably one of the most mis-used(polite version) allowances (mainly by the officer class).

  4. 4
    By Gum says:

  5. 5
    Where are Tony Blair's expenses says:

    What has happened to the investigation into Lord Reynard’s lurid behaviour, is Clegg trying to kick it into the long grass.

    Something for Guido to follow up on

    Sarah Teather and Jo Swinson have still to explain as single young women how they got through the Reynard Candidate selection process in winnable seats against far more qualified candidates

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:

    We should give our foreign aid budget to the MOD.

  7. 7
    I SAY I SAY I SAY everyones a winner says:

    How about off loading the biggest waste of money of all

    The BBC
    £100 million on a computer scheme that would never work , is just the tip of the iceberg

  8. 8
    Steve Miliband says:

    400 press Officers will be serving officers, attached to Embassies?

  9. 9
    Thrift says:

    If Hague starts a war with the Russians over Syria, then he will be able to use all the Tridents reaching their best before dates. It’ll save a fortune from not having to recycle them.

  10. 10
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    Get rid of it and there won’t be any Officers.

  11. 11
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    Just close down the BBC or privatise it. How much would that save us all?

  12. 12
    Latimer Alder says:

    Why would the Foreign Office want MoD press officers?

  13. 13
    Julie b says:

    I assume rennard was drunk

  14. 14
    General Richards says:

    On to Syria! For the love of Eretz Israel!

  15. 15
    It's not what Guido thinks. says:

    Every unit, ship, base etc has a press officer. In the main they are just ordinary serving officers who also wear a press officer cap when needed.

  16. 16
    Butch Dave says:

    no, get rid of it. too much bumming.

  17. 17
    Anonymous says:

    And how many Pilgrims in the MOD?

  18. 18
    SleeplessInKirkaldy says:

    Has her account been hacked? Must have been – i understand what she’s written

  19. 19
    MOD press office spokesbody says:


    I love your site

    But you must not knock those who are in the same trade as you

    Nulabour taught us all that the lies and spin are how to win in this world

    We are all lelft-overs from Saint Tony’s ruination of Whitehall and eveything he touched

    And remember,

    You are vulnerable since you are part of a lobbying group called :

    Media Intelligence Partners, which will spin anything for a few bob…

  20. 20
    Bender B!lly says:

    For the love of Yahweh, invade Syria!

  21. 21
    Owen Jones says:

    No, there is no excuse for this. You justify the actions of mad fanatics with these statements.

  22. 22
    Steve Miliband says:

    ”Press Officer” at a Consulate/Embassy does not necessarily write press releases if yo know what I mean

  23. 23
    Ellie-Mae (8) says:

    Ecstasy dear heart

  24. 24
    Abbott discovers that come Thursday Lunch the Consultant rooms are MT and the Golf courses Full says:

  25. 25
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    If the armed forces are/or will be so depleted, why do they hang on to so many senior ranks generals in the army, admirals, vice admirals, commodores in the navy, and very senior ranks in the RAF, they are not operational battle field personnel, the armed forces will be becoming like an inverted pyramid in command.

  26. 26
    Vote Tory, get heir to Blair says:

    Blind drunk.

  27. 27
    The British Public says:

    Syria is none of our business

  28. 28
    Vote Tory, get heir to Blair says:

    Pot, kettle, black.

  29. 29
    The British Public says:

    Well, you have blown all their covers so they are no use as spies now. Sack ‘em.

  30. 30
    Vote Tory, get heir to Blair says:

    What else do you expect from the crap NHS? People in other countries would not stand for this routinely mediocre service.

  31. 31
    Andy Burnham cereal killer says:

    Come to Mid Staffs, we can beat that

  32. 32
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    It is the universal political party thing of placing the favoured ones into very winnable seats, what has selection got to do with it?

  33. 33

    Errm there are 697 to many spin doctors, that would be a big saving

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Got a badger for a head says:

    That is a staggering amount of press officers. Surely they just need one to say ‘yeah we kill people’

    Having said that it is a drop in the ocean compared to how much money the MoD pisses up the wall on botched procurements

  36. 36
    Long John Silver's parrot says:

    That is an awful lot of people to employ isn’t it.

    I wonder how many of them are combat ready.

    Can one of them in accounts please email me all those invoices (paid and unpaid) for the non lethal aid given to the Syrian rebels by Mr Hague during the lifetime of this Parliament.


  37. 37
    The British Public says:

    The MOD is stitting on some prime real estate, especially for the use of senior officers. Haw about selling it?

  38. 38
    Lord Flashman says:

    Media Intelligence Partners? Guido do tell us more. Do you still have the Russian Embassy contract?

  39. 39
    The British Public says:

    Sack ‘em.

  40. 40
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    That’s chicken feed to what HMG can do, for incidence aircraft carriers drawings changed then costed hundreds of millions spent, then changing their minds again, drawings altered again millions spent and wasted.

  41. 41
    The General Public says:

    The British Army has 500 generals – proportionately 4 times more than the US Army does.

    Like every other public sector organisation, the army has too few people actually doing the things that matter because the budget also has to fund legions of paper-shufflers and meeting-attenders.

  42. 42
    Your PC Prime Minister says:

    Hello. I’m Dave, and I’m doing fuck all to cut the deficit again today.

    I’m a gay luvving tosser and proud of it.

  43. 43
    Axe The Telly Tax & Religion & Kill All Ecoloons says:

    About time she had a gastric band fitted.

    How about this Friday ;-)

  44. 44
    Steve Miliband says:

    Overpaid Medics are keeping Private Schools in business

  45. 45
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    All the big embassies of countries have press officers and usually from one of the armed services

  46. 46
    SleeplessInKirkaldy says:

    Might not be that straightforward. A surgeon on Today this morning explained that he timetabled riskier patients for a Friday because they would have more time in intensive care over the weekend to recover – but riskier means more would die post op. Not quite the story critics want to push.

  47. 47
    Wastrels says:

    Have a look at the number of spinmeisters working in Stormont

  48. 48
    Anonymous says:

    Extremely lazy ‘journalism’ here. Every major organisation has press/communications staff and defence is an enormous and multifarious organisation.

  49. 49
    The British Public says:

    And what about the ‘no in the main’ press officers? How many are there of those and when will they be sacked?

  50. 50
    The British Public says:

    500? That has to stop.

    50 would be too many.

  51. 51
    Hague is a Warmongering Posing Shit says:

    Give the cnut a revolver and a pair of boots, and he can lead from the front.

  52. 52
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    Very true probably, more admirals than ships they would have to fight to be in command of a rowing boat

  53. 53
    Andrew Efiong says:

    Just fire half of these people today and nobody would notice… except for the taxpayer.

    Just imagine the other departments across Whitehall that are brimming with waste and non-jobs.

  54. 54
    Ivor Biggan says:

    WRONG WRONG WRONG – 697 spin dictors is really 697 too many – get shot now.

  55. 55
    Vote Tory, get heir to Blair says:

    That doesn’t make sense. Why put people in intensive care at weekend when there are less nurses about?

  56. 56
    Boris Carloffe says:

    I cannot beleive anyone could consider Hammond as a replacement to Cameron. I accept that Cammeron has got to go now to let whoever takes over build bridges with UKIP and prepare for General Election, and more important show courage and leadership now, putting the liberals in their place. (Most of all the two faced Vince Cable) However I think Hammond would be a worse leader than IDS. To me he is far too wishy washy.
    I think they have only one credible person who has the capability for the job, and that is Gove. He has the strength of character and determination to see the job through.

  57. 57
    Anonymous says:

    Still at least they won’t be starved to death afterwards.

  58. 58
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    He could put his karate suit and his black belt that would impress the Syrians

  59. 59
    The British Public says:

    And possibly not the whole truth either. Nearly everyone I know has been lied to by a doctor at some time in their lives. Why should we believe the self-serving statements of a profession which systematically fails us?

  60. 60
    Pays yer money and takes yer choices says:

    Odd because another surgeon said he booked the high risk patients in for the beginning of the week when staff were around to deal complications and knifed the fit and healthy young things at the end of the week so they could recover quietly over the weekend

  61. 61
    Spinokill says:

    Don’t forget the fire everyone in HR who has been ‘supporting’ them, everyone who has been ‘line managing ‘ them and sell off their office furniture – if you don’t, you will be sure that the infestation will return.

  62. 62
    da lil finga. says:

    gordo the commentateriat.
    if gordo wants the 1st job he should commit 2 the second.

  63. 63
    Taxpayer says:

    And nearly every major public sector organisation in the UK is fucked.

  64. 64
    A connoisseur of the female form says:

    Teather and Swinson both qualify as 2-baggers.

  65. 65
    Northern Benefits Sponger says:

    How many thousands of other parasites are sitting or sleeping at the MOD?

  66. 66
    Owen Jones says:

    Watching Jeremy Kyle with my pain au chocolat and cafe au lait, not understanding a word of it

  67. 67
    The British Public says:

    That should be in reply to 46 below. Apologies

  68. 68
    Major Disaster says:

    Compare and contrast with the Isreali military, and army largely made up of reservists, (as ours will now be), but with a mere 2000 paper pushers, and all on a semi war footing…

    Now look at the MOD, less and less boots on the ground, ships, at sea, or aircraft flying, but with 80,000 civilian staff…

    The MOD is also top heavy with top brass, we have one admiral per ship!

    THE MOD is alas not fit for purpose…

  69. 69
    Stanley Baldwin says:

    Round her neck?

  70. 70
    Benny Fitz-Clements says:

    Get ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Labour’s Chavs’. We are your voters, ffs.

  71. 71
    Stanley Baldwin says:

    No, it makes sense. If they die on the operating table he can legitimately down tools and change into his golfing kit.

  72. 72
    Sir William Waad says:

    Another idea: only buy equipment that works.

  73. 73
    Procurement. says:

    It’s procurement. The MOD is mainly all about procurement. and by God is it corrupt, bloated and badly run.

  74. 74
    Sir William Waad says:

    697 people employed to conceal the truth.

  75. 75
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    That’s onl;y at the state schools where the pupils are taught it’s ok to roger each other up the bottom and then have same sex marriage

  76. 76
    Guppy says:

    Oh come on. How can a bloke with a rubber sucker under his nose cut the mustard on the world stage?

  77. 77
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    Watch the Tories split the UKIP vote

  78. 78
    Many a Welshman lit a fag. says:

    So the earth moved for the sheep last night.

  79. 79
    The British Public says:

    Persona non grata. Simples.

  80. 80
    i don't n eed no doctor says:


  81. 81
    Toby Young says:

    Owen Jones is very gifted, he can do both.

    Watch Jeremy Kyle 7 read “The Idiot’s Guide To Labour’s Chavs”

  82. 82
    The British Public says:

    There will be no safe seats next time.

  83. 83
    Magic 8 Ball says:

    This country will very soon learn the importance of efficient and effective administration.

  84. 84
    ThePublicSays says:

    Fuck Hammond – boycott Morrisons

    “Morrisons has sparked outrage by suspending a checkout assistant for wearing a Help for Heroes wristband and poppy badge in tribute to murdered soldier Lee Rigby.
    Father-of-two Adam Austin was escorted off the supermarket’s premises and told he faced disciplinary action after he refused to remove the items.
    The 28-year-old said he was left feeling embarrassed and angry by the incident, adding: ‘I was disappointed and partly furious.
    ‘I have got friends in the Army and friends who have been in the Army. I wore them out of respect.’”

  85. 85
    Back to Barracks says:

    MOD is top heavy has been for years, we have the high command for armed forces at least twice their actual size. No one will reform it too many vested interests. All Defense Ministers go native or have insider deals with the defense sector and the ‘revolving door’ culture so no much chance of it being changed. The real shame is our front line forces get crap kit or not enough kit and then suffer the insult of being made redundant!

  86. 86
    Gen Melchit says:

    Already there as an inverted pyramid – total officers 1* and above in the UK armed forces at the moment:434! ( ) Why does the Army need 180 Brigadiers? They can’t even have a battalion each? The RAF and Navy each have 80 Air Commodores and Admirals respectively – not enough squadrons/ships to go around. While the hammer has fallen on the junior officer ranks these posts remain untouched.

  87. 87
    Lost in Clacton says:

    Safe pair of hands, I was told.

  88. 88
    The British Public says:

    We clearly have too many officers as it is if they think that being spin doctors is a good use of their time.

  89. 89
    Shopper says:

    Stupid of Morrisons. They won’t sell very much bacon when their only customers are muslims.

  90. 90
    Abdel from Tooting says:

    It still remains one of life’s mysteries how horse meat got into my 100 % frozen beef burgers.

    Long may this situation continue.

    Let us all move on shall we to the next unsolved taxpayer funded story.

  91. 91
    Taxpayer says:

    Time to touch them.

  92. 92
    Owen Jones says:

    I love a man in a uniform

  93. 93
    The Taxpayer says:

    There are no safe pairs of hands in Westminster. Those days are long gone.

  94. 94
    Axe The Telly Tax & Religion & Kill All Ecoloons says:

    I prefer piano wire and lamposts.

  95. 95
    Anonymous says:

    The deficit would be higher under any of the other three parties sadly enough.

  96. 96
    Gordon Brown says:

    You’ll like this then – one of my better shots if I do say so myself

  97. 97
    Local culturally enriching drug dealer says:

    How many do you want?

  98. 98
    Ernestine Tentions says:

    So, he wants to wear a poppy, in May, so badly that he is willing to risk his job.

    Also, his employers’ policy on wrist bands would have been made clear in his contract of employment.

    ‘Two sides to every story’ but it seems to me that he might be a bit of a twit.

  99. 99
    Someone says:

    No-one cares what you think, Mr Jones

  100. 100
    National Death Service says:

    I’m not surprised.

  101. 101
    Axe The Telly Tax & Religion & Kill All Ecoloons says:

    Sell shares in Morrisons.

  102. 102
    Sun Tzu (updated with a modern for Dummies section) says:

    A general who squanders his treasure on propaganda will not be able to afford swords for his warriors. Winning an imaginary war is a false victory if reality cannot be defended.

  103. 103
    Village Idiot says:

    Has the “Task Force” reached the Falklands yet?????

  104. 104
    Liberate says:

    You may think that, but you would be an arsehole.

    Employers do not own their staff. They are people, and entitled to their own views and opinions and, within reason, to choose what to wear. Escorting someone off the premises for supporting a national charity is despicable.

  105. 105
    The NHS says:

    Our spin doctors are the envy of the world

  106. 106
    Advice for Owen Jones says:

    Your diet indicates that you are more in tune with French chavs.

    Move to France and watch their version of Kyle.

    Au revoir, mong.

  107. 107
    Village Idiot says:

    Eight pint-ers,more like!!

  108. 108
    Andy Burnham, who committed crimes against humanity using the NHS and is thinking of a defence, says:

    Well, death is the new living isn’t it ?

  109. 109
    Owen Jones says:

    My phone has finally given up its struggles; please contact me via twitter or email.

    And yes,I mean that most sincerely.

  110. 110
    MOD press office spokesbody says:

    Too mad to look up this website?!

  111. 111
    Polly Waffle says:

    Tuscan ‘E’?

  112. 112
    B&P now plans to REVERSE mass immigration says:

  113. 113
    Owen Jones Mother says:

    Owen I told you if you kept looking at gay porn on your phone this would happen.

  114. 114
    Back@woodsman says:

    Sadly, an idea the MOD has repeatedly not thought of.

  115. 115
    Eric Joyce says:

    Nah man, ‘ e was merely refreshed.

  116. 116
    Point of Information says:

    > ‘The MOD is also top heavy with top brass, we have one admiral per ship!’

    Buy more ships.

    >’THE MOD is alas not fit for purpose…’

    They can still do what counts when needed. The damage which Labour inflicted, cutting budgets after engaging in several major conflicts which were not necessarily in the countries interests, will take time to repair.

    > ‘Now look at the MOD, less and less boots on the ground, ships, at sea, or aircraft flying, but with 80,000 civilian staff…’

    Procurement problems exist. Buying from Ch!na or EBay may be the only option as the US suppliers are taking the pi$$ on price. Russ!a could be an option if this nonsense with Syr!a is addressed properly.

    Lots of cash was wasted on failed Joint European projects which really are not fit for purpose, and following the closure of major suppliers such as Qinetiq under Labour the ability for the UK to produce locally is greatly diminished.

    Getting shot of the PR bods would be in their interests for cost savings. But one suspects that the only thing giving the MOD an appearance of strength at present is the PR.

    That is no way to run a nations armed services.

  117. 117
  118. 118
    Boris Carloffe says:

    A safe par of hands till Boris is available? Not a good idea. We need strong leadership now.

  119. 119
    Oy Vey Maria says:

    OECD cuts eurozone growth forecasts

  120. 120
  121. 121
    Bazinga! says:

    600 parasite Guardian readers no doubt. Time to disinfect the public sector. You can bet all these cuunts are on 100K a year or more as well.

  122. 122
    smoggie says:

    I think you really are blind and have got your labrador to type this drivel.

  123. 123
    Owen Jones new voicemail / intercept message says:

    ‘We’re sorry; you have reached a number that has been disconnected because the deadbeat you are trying to call has not paid his b!ll. If you feel you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try your call again.’

  124. 124

    Qinetiq didn’t close, it was privatised wasn’t it?

    making some ex civil servants incredibly rich iirc

    not sure you can pin the MOD crisis on Labour alone, it seems to be a cross party clusterf@ck.

    the problem – imo – is the military is a sacred cow in the more tub thumping sections of the r/w media and any attempt to reform it is failing ‘our boys’. it’s pretty hard to have a constructive conversation with that background

  125. 125
    London says:

    Boris is an untrustworthy waste of space.

  126. 126
    Lord Stansted says:

    The Army uses Glock 17 pistols – “revolvers” belong in the Wild West.

  127. 127
    Canary Wharf Rat says:

    On a Friday

  128. 128
    Ernestine Tentions says:

    Well, I always appreciate a civilised and even minded debate.

    Which charity do you refer to? Is it the one that asks us to donate and wear a poppy for a week or so in November? Or is it the one that was formed to make provision for injured service personnel because the UK government is too disgracefully disloyal and stingy to do the same?

    Does it really make one an ‘arsehole’ to think that any person who enters into a contract with another has a legal right to expect the other to stick to that agreement.

    Or is one an arsehole to think that it would be a very childish person who insists on breaking the rules of his contract and sacrifice the security of his children because of his high moral principles.

    There are many challenges of principle to be faced in every life but I just happen to think that this is not the greatest to challenge us in the recent past.

  129. 129
    Reichsführer says:

    Very interesting. Is Mid-Staaf und Arbeitslager?

  130. 130
    Paul says:

    Shouldn’t we let our tanks do the talking?

  131. 131
    Polly Watch says:

    Well she’s a raving lunatic.

  132. 132
    Wyle Cop says:

    Alan Clark chronicled the waste, blinkers and vested interests at the MoD in the first volume of his diaries, when he was Min. Defence Procurement. He, too, had a devil of a job getting anything done.

  133. 133
    Liberate says:

    You are an arsehole for claiming, without evidence, that there is such a clause in the contract. ( Even if such a clause existed, and it were enforcible, only an authoritarian no-brain aresehole would enforce it. )

    You are also an aresehole who wants to justify opporessing someone for the free expression of their support for our armed forces.

  134. 134
    Reichsführer says:

    My poor English – I meant to say of course is Mid-Staaf ein Arbeitslager?

  135. 135
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  136. 136
    Ernestine Tentions says:

    Can you prove that there is no such clause? You must be pretty assured if you consider yourself justified in repeated public insults.

    Is it relevant that the charities are associated with the armed forces? What if someone believed strongly in the reduction of the age of sexual consent – as some prominent political figures have – and insisted in wearing, say, a tee shirt to work?

    Why do you associate employers ownership of their employees with this issue? Whilst the employers might have been more tactful in this case, they do have a right to enforce the contracts of employment.

  137. 137
    Nothing Better To Do says:

    Talking of time serving wastrels I know a place in Westminster that has 650 of them. Better to start there if we talking sackings.

  138. 138
    Point of Information says:

    This story in the mail broke on this blog last night.

    Check the previous article, towards the bottom.

    Un-redacted formal letter from employer included.

    Breaking terms of employment / dress code / customer facing b/s procedure.

    But at this point in time it would perhaps have been wise to handle a little more sensitively.

    Morrison’s sell themselves as a UK owned and company who do stock primarily good quality UK sourced food.

    The strong UK nature of their operation may be significant, and it surprises me that the management in that store reacted the way they did. Common Purpose in Portsmouth ???

  139. 139

    100% agree with Orwells quote btw. We’d be damned without them.

    and your posts are interesting, generally Point of Information

  140. 140
    I thought this site was about free speech says:

    697 won’t be nearly enough to explain the colossal mess that’s now going to be made in Syria with our arming rebels, whoever the rebels might be. Plus of course there’ll be UK forces in Syria before long, the politicos are desperately paving the PR ground for that albeit not all that successfully

  141. 141
    Tupping Point says:

    About bleating time. Where is Rambo-peep when he’s needed?

  142. 142
    Ernestine Tentions says:

    Bugger. It was only a tiddler but it was the first bite of the day!

  143. 143
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    Sally claimed to have a safe pair of hands before she married

  144. 144
    Latimer Alder says:

    Well, there are more Admirals than ships……….

    Let that be an indication…..

    And there’s a f…g big building in Bristol with its own railway station to (mis)handle ‘procurement’

    Draw your own conclusions.

  145. 145
    Hertford and Stortford says:

    How much money needs to be saved?

    Shut down the BBC. Just stop paying. Simples. The voting public will love Camoron. Everyone a winner except the few lefties and trots stuck in Salford.

    Where do I get my 10% reward for the best suggestion sent?

  146. 146
  147. 147
    Regular Guido Reader says:

    Have any of you thought that if the MOD do as you’re suggesting, and cut all their “spin” staff, there won’t be anyone left to pick up the phone and answer the queries of journalists and bloggers. How will the media (deadtree and digital) write their stories if they can’t pad it out with the official comment of Government? For a department with an annual budget of £35B, a staff of 300,000 (military and civilian), and a duty of public accountability for how it uses those resources 604 “spinners” doesn’t sound that many. By the way, that works out at approximately one press officer for every 500 staff. How many “spinners” would an equivelent private sector company employ?

  148. 148
    Socialism = starvation says:

    One spinner per 500, or if they were all troops, per battalion? Sounds like vast over-manning to me.

    Mind you, in the Red Army, there was a political officer from the Party in every Company, and the ‘Stukachi’ for the KGB.

  149. 149
    jimbo says:

    F, more like

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Boris on British Jihadis. Apparently based on MI5 intel:

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w***ers. Severe onanists. They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”

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