As Dave welcomed Schwarzenegger into Number 10 he said, rather cringefully that “He’s going to help me terminate the budget deficit.” Perhaps given the fact that California is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the Prime Minister should take Arnie’s advice with a pinch of salt. Entertaining Maggie and the Terminator in one day, there’s got to be a joke there somewhere…
Despite promising to create countless quangos during the election, the promised axe is coming down hard today on 192 quangos that will be abolished, with another 289 being radically overhauled. 380 quangos are staying including the BBC World Service, despite the Beeb’s scaremongering graphics. The sound of public sector fat cats gasping was audible across the airwaves this morning.
UPDATE: The list goes up on the Cabinet Office website, which subsequently goes down with all the quangocrats seeing if they still have a job. Try for yourself here.
UPDATE II: The DCMS confirms the UK Film Council is a goner.
UPDATE III: The full list:
All of Rupert Murdoch’s British rivals have got together to complain to Vince Cable that he is better than them. In a charge led by the Guardian Media Group (readership down 10%, losses up 77% to £171 million this year) they argue that he will be too dominant in newspapers and broadcasting. People forget that Murdoch bet everything on Sky, it almost bankrupted him. The Daily Mail also set up a satellite channel about the same time – younger co-conspirators won’t remember British Satellite Broadcasting’s “Squarial” – it failed. Now the Mail has joined with the Guardian demanding that the government handicaps Murdoch for being successful. The rivals put forward a specious argument about media plurality – though how News International buying the bit of Sky they don’t already own changes plurality from a consumer’s point of view escapes Guido. Murdoch succeeded and in doing so he single-handedly broke the BBC / ITV duopoly. Before the advent of Sky we had less media plurality.
What is really the biggest danger to media plurality? Failure, newspapers going bankrupt and out of business. The editor and management of The Guardian would be better employed trying to reduce their losses rather than pulling down their competitors.
The BBC, Channel 4, the Telegraph and Mirror groups have all joined in the complaint to Vince Cable. Ironically it is the BBC that arguably crowds out potential competitors by offering products which it is very difficult to compete against, because the BBC has no need to make a profit. If the Guardianistas are really concerned about media plurality why don’t they do what Murdoch did – set up their own satellite channel. Guido for one would love to see a Guardian/Mirror channel launched, with their media brand’s partisan values up against a Fox-style Sky.
Go on Rusbridger, do something to increase media plurality, rather than just moaning about a lack of it…
Former Labour MP Chris Mullin’s diaries have been a runaway success, their candid look at the rise and fall of New Labour from the perspective of a minor character in the saga is compelling stuff. However just because an MP has written a book, however good, is that an excuse to throw the rules out of the window?
Tonight Mullin will be in conversation with The Time’s Peter Riddell at an event organised by publishers Profile Books. Strangely no one has batted an eyelid that a former MP is using the Parliamentary estate for commercial gain. According to an email that did the rounds today, Mullin will be flogging and signing his book in a venue designed to pull politicos, while the taxpayer picks up the tab. Could the paper or publishers not have found a private venue, or was the allure of the free room too tempting?
The perks continue long after the days on the green benches …
David Nuttall’s Ten Minute Rule Bill to have the smoking ban amended so that private clubs and pubs would allow smoking, if they wanted it, has sadly just been shot down in the Commons. But the result of ayes 86, noes 141 shows the growing popularity for such an idea. This was a mere lone backbencher’s campaign thrown together hastily on the luck of a draw. With a coordinated movement within the coalition who knows what could happen…
Portsmouth City Council has been left reeling at the arrest and questioning of Mike Hancock for indecent assault. Inter-party email exchanges through the night have left the LibDems spinning “move along people, nothing to see here”. The grandly named Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the LibDem Council Leader said in the early hours:
“When I knock on doors in Portsmouth I find someone on almost every street who tells me how Mike Hancock has help make their lives better. Mike is by far the best MP this city has had for many years. I continue to think that Mike should continue to be allowed to continue his work for local people.”
Perhaps not the wisest choice of words. It was his attempts “to make their lives better” that got Hancock into this mess in the first place.
UPDATE: Surprisingly LibDemVoice fail to omit the key detail that Hancock was arrested and bailed. Compare and contrast the two statements. Firstly from Hancock:
“I can confirm that I was questioned on Tuesday 12 October by officers of the Hampshire Police in relation to allegations made against me by one individual. I attended the police station voluntarily, cooperated fully and answered all questions that were asked. ”
And the law:
“Hampshire Constabulary spokesman Ian Sainsbury said in a statement: ‘A man has been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault following a complaint from a woman in Portsmouth.”