"Did You Discuss Tariff Cuts With Deripaska?" Four Times Mandy Refuses to Deny Allegation

In a tough interview the BBC’s Richard Galpin asked Lord Mandelson four times if he had discussed cutting tariffs with Oleg Deripaska. Mandy tried using the same kind of spin lines that he bluffed with Sophie Raworth; “I’m not distracted by media squalls, sensationalist headlines… there was no conflict of interest, no impropriety”.

We know, as Trevor Kavanagh reminds us, that Mandelson is a proven liar, however he is not an idiot. He no doubt has heard the rumours of tapes and boasts by oligarchs that they have western politicians in their pocket. So perhaps the explanation for his reticence in answering the question, and uncharacteristic aversion to risking a lie to deny ever discussing tariff cuts worth billions to Deripaska, is the fear that he will be contradicted.

Paul Waugh reckons “the only sensible conclusion to draw is that Mandelson did indeed discuss the tariffs.” He is surely right.

Competition :You Do a PMQ and Win Tickets to Frost/Nixon Movie Preview

This could be a lot of fun. Get your webcam out and ask Gordon your question about the economy and upload it to the YouTube Downing Street channel before the close of tomorrow. Then we all go back and vote on which questions Gordon has to answer next week. Remember WebCameron? The co-conspirators always got their questions voted the ones Dave had to answer…

As well as the fun of asking Gordon a question that will undoubtedly be seen by tens of thousands of co-conspirators, Guido will throw in an extra prize of his own to the video submission he judges best- two tickets to the preview screening of Frost Nixon – An Epic Battle for Truth in London next week. The prize includes the opportunity to quiz the screenwriter and producer Peter Morgan afterwards. The film dramatises how three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency.

This competition requires you to be Frost and ask the question that confronts Gordon about how his handling of the economy will end his Premiership. Go here for instructions on how to upload your question for Gordon, then email Guido the link to your video when you have uploaded it and Guido’s geeks will copy it – just in case Downing Street tries to erase your question in the same way Nixon wanted to erase those tapes. Gordon increasingly reminds Guido of Nixon…

Why Can’t Mandelson Stay at the British Embassy in Moscow?

Surely given that we are in a new cold war with Russia it would be safer from a security point of view to stay at the Embassy rather than the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel? Presumably the embassy is less likely to be as comprehensively bugged by the FSB as Moscow’s most luxurious hotel? It is normal for ministers traveling overseas to avail themselves of the Embassy’s guest rooms.
Could it be that Lord Mandy of Corfu has got so used to the high life of the oligarchs that he would rather lord it at a 5-star hotel. The British businessman he is with are staying in another hotel costing £300 a night, whereas his suite normally rents at circa £5,000 a night. They are paying their own bills of course. No credit crunch worries for Mandy, the taxpayer picks up his bill…

Obama Presidential Internship

Pound Collapse Shows Britain Not "Best Placed"

You can’t buck the market someone once said, perhaps that is why every time Gordon and Alistair tell us that “Britain is best placed to weather the global crisis” the pound falls another notch. As you can see from these charts the pound is down 25% against the dollar and the yen in the last three months and over 10% against the euro this year.

This has one benefit, it helps exporters. However Britain runs a current account deficit and imports more than it exports. Key commodities are priced in dollars, so although oil has fallen 50% in price, the fall in the pound against the dollar means that that benefit is reduced by 25%.

The reason the pound is falling is because foreign investors don’t want to hold sterling assets. Money supply (M4) is off the chart, the government is flooding the debt markets with cash, gilt issuance is going to be a massive £100 billion, the government is still a AAA risk for now, but so were many investment banks until recently. Nobody believes Gordon’s “we have reduced government debt” routine, it is laughable, where did the money for all the schools, hospitals, quangoes and bureaucrats come from Gordon? Include all the taxpayers liabilities and UK government debt is up there with Italy at over 100% of GDP.

There is a lot of scepticism about Gordon’s borrow more, spend more solution. It will be years before any capital infrastructure spending will come through to the real economy, it will worsen the government’s indebtedness and crowd out the private sector. The Tories seem incoherent and without a macro-solution, a little help here and there for small business isn’t going to turn around the economy. “Sound money and economic responsibility” is all very well, if that had been government policy rather than just an opposition slogan we might not be in this mess. It has come to something when the LibDems offer voters more in tax cuts than the Tories. Today Britain desperately needs a real growth package for the real economy. The Tories are too timid and scared of the old Labour attack lines. Voters understand that government spending has to be tightened, Clegg senses that too, why not the Cameroons?

BBC Drama Shock : Not Left-Wing

What has happened to Spooks? Have they got a new script writing team? The heroes in tonight’s episode were MI5 agents, saving the lives of innocent women and children – service families. Adam the hero dies in the process despite having already saved the life of a British soldier from would be Al Qaeda terrorists set on a beheading. The soldier was presented sympathetically, as a father and husband who refused to read out the speech dictated to him, preferring death to dishonour.

The ultimate baddie was a Russian spymaster. What no evil Christians? No duplicitous Americans, no Israeli Mossad manipulators, no big business plutocrat exploiters? This is the BBC, we expect to be force fed left-wing platitudes and propaganda, not given a patriotic tear jerker.

The 10 O’Clock News returns things to normality: “Tonight America is accused of terrorism…” Don’t start paying the TV licence fee just yet.

Osborne Admits Mistake

Mandelson remains unrepentant and says he would be happy to meet Oleg the Oligarch again. At least George Osborne won’t be cavorting around on billionaire’s yachts:
“I think I did make a mistake. In politics it is not just what you say and what you do, but how things look. This did not look very good and I regret that…”

He sounds like he is willing to take his punishment.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Woolas Gets Pied

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Deripaska / Mandelson Tapes Rumour +++

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Friday Caption Competition

[…]

+ READ MORE +

"Shoot to Kill" News Management

Guido said that Labour would take a tougher line with news management now that Mandelson is back and Alistair Campbell is lurking about in the background. Rami Okasha, Labour’s head of communications in Scotland, was in charge of handling Sarah

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Adam Boulton says David Cameron campaigned as a neo-Thatcherite…

“The manifesto programme, with its sell-off of social housing, clampdown on public sector strikes, EU in/out referendum and benefit cuts, represents a much more traditional, neo-Thatcherite conservatism than that offered by Cameron Mk 1…”

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