Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lord Sugar v Quentin Letts

Lord Sugar is threatening to sue Quentin Letts for calling him stupid and for
suggesting that he only got his peerage and government job because he is a TV personality. Sugar’s lawyers, Herbert Smith, sent Quentin a menacing letter talking about putting the matter before a “jury of his peers”.

The threatened suit is against Letts personally, not LBC (where he made the comments). An interesting little tactic, designed no doubt to frighten other journalists. (Guido is used to this kind of sabre-rattling, dead tree press hacks are more delicate than rough bloggers).

If things do reach court Quentin promises to call as witnesses Brown and Mandelson as the two most likely to know and thus be able to say why Sugar really got his job. Quentin doesn’t think he would have any alternative but to summon them to the witness stand. That should be fun.

Quentin’s sharp tongue does seem to be upsetting politicians, there were calls for him to be thrown out of the press gallery for being rude about MPs. Which is precisely why Guido thinks it is worth showing solidarity with Quentin.

Baron Sugar of Shortarse, you are stupid and the only reason you got your peerage is because you are a telly celebrity. If you weren’t stupid you would realise we all know your chair is raised up in the boardroom so that you don’t look like the chippy, midget tycoon that you really are.

Friday, July 31, 2009

De-Whipped Tory MEP Fights Back Over Polish Group Leader

MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, the Tory who had the whip taken away for disobeying Cameron over letting Michal Kaminski represent the new Tory grouping as Vice-President of the European Parliament, has hit back and hit back hard. Writing in the Yorkshire Post he claims

On July 14, in Strasbourg, I stood and won against a Polish MEP, Michal Kaminski, for the post of Vice-President of the European Parliament, because he symbolised the rise of disguised extremism in Europe.Although Kaminski was nominated by the new Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) created by David Cameron, I decided to take the issue head on, even at the discomfiture of my own party. I did this at great personal and political risk – I could have lost everything and have now lost the whip – but I did it on principle.

It was not my principle – it was a higher one. To oppose a menacing political movement at a key moment in Europe’s politics…

He goes on to accuse Kaminski of pandering to anti-semitism and tacitly supporting it. Read the whole article: Why we must stop rise of a new face of fascism.

This plays into Labour’s whole Tories “have left the mainstream in Europe” meme. Hague will not be happy…

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dave Dines With Deripaska’s Spinner

Will caveat this story with a warning that no one concerned has confirmed (or denied) the veracity of the story. Did try to confirm it with Cameron’s spokesgirl, but she is probably too busy with Twatgate…

According to an impeccable source, Roland Rudd had David Cameron over to his Holland Park mansion for dinner at the beginning of the month. Rudd is the spinmeister for Oleg Deripaska, Nat Rothschild and a few nationalised and bailed out banks, including if Guido’s memory serves him right, Lloyds and RBS.  (Rudd is also a good mate of Robert Peston, who coincidentally had the inside track on those same banks during the banking crisis).

Didn’t the Tories claim recently they were telling lobbyists to “back off”?  Odd therefore that the party leader is dining with Rudd.  Guido hopes he supped with a long spoon.  Rudd represents a number of corporate interests critically exposed to government regulation – BSkyB, BAA, and telecoms companies like Cable & Wireless and Vodafone.  No doubt his clients at the bailed out banks are critically keen to protect their interests and bonuses as well.

We seem to be on the path to transparency in politics – the incoming Tory administration is committed to opening up the workings of both  parliament and government to sunlight.  Fine words and promises…

What about the shady world of political lobbying?  People like Roland Rudd, Matthew Freud and Alan Parker are not in favour of an open democracy.  When they lubricate corporate deals with politicians behind closed doors, or nowadays more likely on private beaches, on behalf of their clients you can be sure that the interests of the taxpayers and voters are not on their minds.  Osborne has learnt his lesson with Yachtgate, Cameron should likewise distance himself from these corporate schmoozers. 

Guido’s five year Porkbusters campaign against troughing by MPs is now winding down.  Guido’s new campaign over the coming years will be to highlight the fat cats of spin and their hidden hand in politics, in particular how they corrupt and seduce politicians.  Ironically Cameron is an ex-corporate spinmeister himself.  Guido thinks it extremely unhealthy for democracy that the next Prime Minister is hitching freebie lifts on Matthew Freud’s jet to Santorini, or taking a beach holiday in South Africa with Brunswick boss Alan Parker.  It is human nature to be helpful to people who have been generous hosts towards you.  That politeness is ruthlessly exploited by the likes of these spinmeisters: there is no such thing as a free ride on a jet…

UPDATE : Cameron’s office have got in touch to say it was more like a year ago rather than a month ago that he last dined with Roland Rudd.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

High Tory Versus Trad-Modern Cameroon

Guido very much enjoyed reading the Geoffrey Wheatcroft broadside at the Cameroons.   He complains that “the party of Pitt and Salisbury uses the vocabulary of the criminal classes”.  It is a marvellous attack, deriding Cameron for being downmarket.  Just goes to show, one man’s toff is another man’s “unprincipled bounder”.  Hope they dig out Perry Worsthorne for more of this sport…

MPs Quietly Increase Unreceipted Expenses By 25%

The post Expensegate updated “Green Book” of rules for MPs for expense claiming written essentially by MPs, for the benefit of MPs is front-paged on the Telegraph this morning.  Surprise, surprise they have upped the amount they can pocket in cash, tax free, without the need for receipts from £400 a month to £500 a month for “subsistence”. A benefit worth over £9,000-a-year if they paid tax on it. They of course don’t.  Troughers like Tom Watson and Alan Duncan all took the full amount available in the past for “subsistence”“. Will they dare do it again? Guido will be watching…

Why are MPs paid subsistence for just doing their jobs, they would presumably still have to eat if they were not MPs?  Families of four survive on less than the £125 a week the MPs claim they need to pig out on groceries. It is just a tax free bung to themselves.

Incidentally, they will spin that this was done before Expensegate and is all the fault of that idiot Speaker Martin. It was indeed initiated by Speaker Martin, but it was approved and finalised on the quiet by Speaker Bercow. So much for a new era…

*Dizzy updates in the comments that this was out earlier, just it got little coverage. The FT blog is keeping score. Worth bearing in mind that MPs still trouser more in tax free expenses alone than a person on minimum wage working a 40 hour week takes home:

ComparisonThis post has been re-written to reflect Dizzy’s  fact checking. Back to the rosé for Guido…

Monday, July 27, 2009

Drunk Trading

Guido had lunch a couple of weeks ago with a reader who had promised to buy him a decent bottle for slotting Damian McBride.

This co-conspirator happens to be one of the most successful traders in the City and a wine buff, so when he says a “decent bottle of wine” we are talking a bottle that you can get a mortgage on.

Over lunch he said that his big break in the early days was trading drunk, a few drinks gave him the confidence to take risk. Guido explained that his drunk trading merely got him carried out the back door of the dealing room by worried co-workers back in his investment banking days.

Anyway, this Friday after a few bottles of rosé* Guido finally steeled himself to short the stockmarket rally via U.S. stock futures. They subsequently rallied into the close taking about 20% of this year’s trading profits with them. Damn the Bloomberg for Blackberry app, damn being able to enter trades from your Blackberry when tipsy.

Anyway the holiday has not been completely blighted, stock markets are going south today. Who knows, Guido might even make a profit…

*People knock rosé wine, including the farmer who is our neighbour here. There are some cracking underestimated varieties which suit Guido’s palate – they go very well with salads. Honestly. Not too bad on their own, in a deck chair, in the shade.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Staggering Sillyness from Macintyre

The New Statesman is running an implausible story that relations between Dave and Boris are ‘at breaking point’. Predictably, it’s written by James Macintyre.  Silly season must have started before recess for him.

How can we take seriously anything that comes from James Macintyre? He was already under suspicion of being a willing conduit for Labour spin inventions after he reported – unsourced – a claim that Obama thought Cameron was a “lightweight” – a story that Guido knows to be an invention.  Ask yourself – does young Macintyre really have Whitehouse contacts that would provide him with that kind of insight – if it were genuine?  His journalistic credibity vanished altogether when his email exchanges with Derek Draper were made public in Private Eye. They revealed Macintyre’s desperate disappointment at not becoming a Labour SpAd for Ed Miliband. Wily Draper played his former intimate, young James, like a sucker and “borrowed” several thousand quid from him to boot. Gullible Macintyre remains owed the money.

Macintyre has no Tory contacts at a senior level around Boris or Dave, this will within ten months prove something of a career crippling problem for the political editor of a serious political weekly. In view of Macintyre’s latest spin invention, we can safely assume he’s back on the hunt for a government job.

UPDATE : Boris has publicly called the story piffle. A source not a million miles from Cameron’s office was (via email) scathing about Macintyre after this story went up. Boy Macintyre himself has been in touch to complain that he didn’t claim his source for his “Obama thinks Cameron is a lightweight” story was Whitehouse, it was apparently a “diplomatic source”. It was transparent spin is what it was.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings

Guido is not following things as closely as normal so forgive him if none of this is news. The wireless mobile connection out here in the sticks from France Telecom is a painfully slow EDGE rather than G3 connection, they charge by the hour rather than by the megabyte, so the worse the service the more expensive it is – French rationalism for you.

Bad Al Campbell is kicking the blogging habit for the summer holidays, Paul Waugh is as well, Iain Dale told Guido he was too – yet he seems as prolific as ever.

Guido has been amused and irritated by these articles:

The Guardian amused with Take the Profit Motive Out of News. They managed to do that long ago, now the the rest of the “quality” vanity publisher broadsheets are following suit. See a small flaw with this business model?

Apparently the Tories are telling lobbyists to back off. So Conservative Party conference won’t be packed to the gills with expense card flashing drinks buying lobbyists? How many Tory PPCs are or were lobbyists? How many Tory MPs have links to lobbying firms. How many Tory HQ staffers are being poached by lobbyists? Backing off? More like backing up a truck…

Malloch-Brown changing tack on helicopters for Afghanistan infuriated Guido. If you are for or against the occupation of Afghanistan, in fact whatever your view on the strategy (Guido asks what is the exit strategy?), we should all be agreed that they should be given whatever resources they require. The spin from Downing Street is nauseating. They care more about covering their arses politically than protecting the boys in Helmand. Fox is right the retraction was a “pathetic spectacle“.

Am very much enjoying revelations about Berlusconi’s sexual shenanigans (he is 72 after all) and the best story of the silly season so far: the lesbian music mistress and the teenager at City of London School for Girls. Very St Trinians…

Incidentally to those complaining that their comments are in the moderation queue. They will probably stay there until late August. Haven’t you got something better to do than monging on a moribund blog when the sun is out?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Question of Priorities

Ring Ring Ring

BBC Hi I’m calling from the BBC
GF I’m on the beach..
BBC It is about Damian Mc..
GF in France
BBC Would you be…
GF No.
BBC OK
GF Au revoir

Monday, July 20, 2009

Political Holidays

In Ireland the economic downturn is the worst for a generation, unemployment is rising and the political class is trying to ram the rejected Lisbon Treaty down the electorate’s throats on October 2. So last week was a perfect time for them to go on holiday until mid-September.

In Westminster the political class disappears this week.  No taxpayers will be harmed by Guido’s holiday for a month in France and he will be back before the MPs to hound those going on taxpayer funded “fact-finding” missions to the Carribean.

This year, as in previous years, the blog will be sporadically updated during the holidays (though remember the year when Guido revealed John Prescott’s long term mistress over a glass of rosé from the maison secondaire).  The ensuing media malestorm did not amuse Mrs Fawkes.  Guido has promised no scoops will disturb us on the beach and that the Blackberry will be consulted only sporadically.


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