Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Caption Contest (O-bum-er Edition)

obama-sarko-bum

Ed Balls Spamming Followers

In a Draperish move Ed Balls has signed up to some dodgy site that supposedly generates you lots of Twitter followers so you seem more popular than you are. What a twat:

Egotistical Twat

It actually just annoys everyone.  Which is par for the course for Blinky…

UPDATE : Note the grammar from the Schools minister.

Hat-tip : Dizzy

Remembering Running with the Bulls

pamplonaGuido was rummaging in the attic last weekend and found his old blood spattered pañuelo and faja (the sash and neckerchief worn by the runners in Pamplona).  This week is the festival of San Fermin and the news this morning that a runner was gored to death made Guido feel a bit misty-eyed. The second week of July every year for a decade from Guido’s mid-twenties to his mid-thirties would see him in Pamplona doing the run, usually with his brother or friends.   As a veteran of some 30 runs it is fair to say it was an adrenaline addiction – partying all night and running for your life in the morning.  Hangovers clear fast when you hear the rocket fired that signals the release of the bulls.

In a sterile world of safety belts, safety helmets and safety nazis, the Pamplona bull run is a glorious celebration of the irrational side of the human spirit.  They say that an old man who has not risked his life for his country feels less of a man than an old soldier, so to have never risked your life must be far worse.  To risk your life makes you feel more alive.  Guido prays the cloak  of San Fermin will protect los corredores who will run this week and wishes he was with them.  May God have mercy on the soul of the corredor who so vicerally lost his life: Saludo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Will Coulson Survive the Select Committee Grilling?

Tory MP John Whittingdale is the chairman of the Labour dominated DCMS Select Committee.  He is expected to call Andy Coulson to give evidence at a hearing next Tuesday.  Coulson has to get through what will inevitably be a tough grilling relatively unscathed if he wants to keep his job.  For Labour Alastair Campbell is trying to frame the terms of the media narrative in such a way that if it is shown Coulson did “anything improper or illegal, or condoned, used or benefited from anything improper or illegal, in his time as editor of the News of the World he has to go. In Guido’s experience almost every newspaper editor at some point condones something improper or illegal to get a story.  Stolen documents appear in the Guardian and on the BBC all the time.  News is what people don’t want you to know, everything else is advertising.  Campbell knows this, and is deliberately setting up a false threshold.

Dave’s defence of Coulson basically tries to prevent double jeopardy;

“It’s wrong for newspapers to breach people’s privacy with no justification. That is why Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World two and a half years ago. Of course I knew about that resignation before offering him the job. But I believe in giving people a second chance”

Essentially the Tory position is that Coulson has taken his punishment already, so it doesn’t matter.  Not exactly occupying the moral high ground.

If it all goes wrong on Tuesday, the editor’s job at the Sun is becoming vacant shortly…

+++ Yates : Insufficient Evidence of Widescale Tapping +++

A Lib Dem Writes…

This email from a seat losing LibDem councillor is a cracker

Dear Cowley St and Campaigns Dept.,

Please do not employ apparatchiks to telephone me at home to tell me how well the Party did in the local elections only days after I and many of my colleagues lost our seats.

I do not appreciate being told how the public decided to teach Gordon brown a lesson nor that a General Election is around the corner and we have never been in a better position.

I no longer subscribe to that particular variety of bull****.

I was particularly taken aback to be asked if I would make a substantial donation and increase my standing order. Is that not the equivalent of frisking a mugging victim for any more pickings?

Sally Morgan is not impressed – she cancelled her subscription and membership.

Via Lobbydog (go there for the full letter).

Mindtracking PMQs – Crowdsourcing v Punditry

Yesterday’s Mindtracker for PMQs was very interesting datawise for political geeks, over a thousand people (1,150 people between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.) twiddled their knobs online, so the poll is statistically valid. In comparison Frank Luntz typically has only 30 people polled in a room.  Watch the video above to see how people responded in realtime.  The chart below shows how viewers scored the PMQs exchange at key points:

pmq-mindtracker-chart

Overall yesterday was a win for William Hague. Crucially voters who defined themselves as being in the centre scored the contest as a win for Hague, even those who defined themselves as being on the left tended to think that Hague won the argument.  If you want to drill down the full analysis and get a look at a bigger chart it is all here.

Next week following PMQs the experiment will run across a number of blogs from across the spectrum.  Will be very interesting to compare differing responses from different readerships…

“Coulson, Coulson, Coulson”

coulson guardianAn excited Labour spin-doctor called Guido yesterday evening and said “we’re going to do to Coulson what you did to McBride”… “it’s going to be Coulson, Coulson, Coulson all day”.  Guido isn’t convinced that comparison being made by Alstair Campbell with McBride is a good one in this situation.  The comparison with Alastair Campbell himself is a better one.

Before spinning for Blair, Campbell had been a loyal servant of Robert Maxwell when everyone knew the pension stealing crook was a rogue.  Before dining at Maxwell’s Mirror boardroom table Campbell had knocked out a few porno fantasy stories to make ends meet.  This was before he went to Downing Street.

Before spinning for Cameron, Coulson dined at Murdoch’s boardroom table and oversaw an aggressive “get the story by any means necessary” culture at the News of the Screws.  The hacking of mobile phones was a simple trick known to many a tabloid reporter.  (Call the mobile number, when it went to voicemail tap in the network default pin code.  If the phone owner hadn’t set a pin code you were in and could listen to voicemails.)  When the News of the World’s royal reporter was caught at it, Coulson resigned saying he took “ultimate responsibility” for the hacking affair.  He also avoided having to explain himself to the PCC in so doing.  This was before he went to Millbank - that is the key difference between this situation and the situation with McBride – it happened years ago in a former job, not yesterday.

Coulson won’t be in any danger of having to resign unless evidence emerges linking him directly to phone hacking – and you can safely bet there won’t be a smoking gun memo or email.   When Coulson won the Press Gazette Newspaper of the Year award in 2005 he said “The News of the World doesn’t pretend to do anything other than reveal big stories and titillate and entertain the public, while exposing crime and hypocrisy”. Guido suspects that the newspapers that will be wringing their hands over illegal hacking won’t include the Telegraph, Mirror or the MailNow that would be hypocritical…

Incidentally, despite dark hints to the contrary from the likes of Kevin Maguire, Guido has never met or spoken to Andy Coulson. Not even an email. Now Kevin, he met McBride and got emails from him, didn’t he…

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Newsnight’s Politics Pen

Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale have got quite worked up about the Newsnight line-up for its Politics Pen experiment. Essentially the charge is they had four Labour insider / cronies vetoing public expenditure control policies from wonks (and a comedian).

pen_participantsThe political Dragon’s Den / Politics Pen types were Lord Digby Jones (former Labour Minister), Deborah Mattinson (Gordon Brown’s pollster), Matthew Taylor (Blair’s Head of Policy) and Greg Dyke (former Labour donor and luvvie of the nineties).

Not being known as one to miss a chance to bash the BBC you might be surprised to hear Guido thinks the Newsnight editor Peter Rippon has a point.  He can balance this panel in another show with a panel of right-of-centre panelists giving the thumbs up or thumbs down to advocates for quangos and big spending departments. 

The next panel could listen to those making the case for spending just as the previous panel listened to those making the case for expenditure control… they will do that, right?

Crowd Sourcing Opinion v Commentariat Opinion

Mindtracker
Until now we have had no way of knowing what the public really think of the party leaders performance. Instead, the members of the commentariat simply form their insider consensus, unsupported by anything other than their own shared metropolitan prejudices.

For example, the current consensus among the pundits is that it’s not a good idea for Cameron to get angry with Brown. “Too much like Flashman” think the hacks. But lots of voters are angry as hell at the PM and want to see him get a great big slap in the face (hence the popularity in Dan Hannan’s viral video in which he gave the PM the full hairdryer treatment).

Are the pundits right? What do swing voters actually think? At the moment that knowledge isn’t available to anyone unless they have pots of cash to spend. In the U.S. Frank Luntz charges corporate clients a small fortune to run dial groups (as seen on Newsnight) which capture exactly how voters feel about what politicians are saying. If you have the money, the effect of every word and weird facial expression can be measured precisely.

Now that technology is about to be democratised… it is time to cut out Sir Michael White and find out what voters actually think.  Let the crowd-sourced experiment begin – click here or on the button above and you will be able to record your responses blow-by-blow to today’s PMQs clash.  We’ll have the results back later…


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