Sky News to Up Online Coverage

Adam Boulton has found out that this blogging lark is harder than he thought and has brought in reinforcements, his blog is now re-branded Boulton & Co with more of the newsroom collaborating.
Sky News is re-launching next month as well, with a 7.30pm slot with a net focus. They are looking to get some of the UK’s most influential bloggers to comment on the news stories that are moving up across the web. Alas they can’t lure Guido out of his cellar, so if you fancy becoming a talking head, email their multi-media producer Ruth Barnett. Or else it will be Iain…

Nadine Dorries Fails Conference Security Check

Nadine Dorries MP is having problems getting a pass for the Tory conference, her researcher has already been refused a pass on the grounds that his pass was taken in front of a tree.

Is CCHQ trying to tell the garrulous Cornerstone supporter something?

Research May Clear Pelling

Too Late…

King Holds His Own

Mervyn is coming over as calm, collected and straight forward. He said something interesting about the Treasury guarantee, or rather the form of words used about it was interesting, “my understanding…as far as I know”, signalling that he was not the author of, or privy to the details.

Watch Labour Blame King

The entire Labour apparatus is straining to blame Mervyn King for the Northern Rock debacle. He will without doubt be mauled at the Treasury Select Committee today.
The BBC’s Robert Peston is leading the media charge against Mervyn King. In reality it is of course the Northern Rock board, in particular Derek Wanless, who should be resigning. Alastair Darling’s own fumbling performance and if house prices tumble, the taxpayer guarantee’s open ended recklessness will be a catastrophic matter for resignation. Another resignation candidate is Andy Burnham, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he simply hasn’t got a clue. When he was asked in an interview should the government “guarantee 100% of all bank deposits”, he replied that it would be “the wrong thing” for politicians to get involved “in that way”. Within that very hour Darling did exactly that. The only reason Mervyn King should resign is in disgust at Brown and Darling politicising the Bank of England.

Cherie Does a Hilary

Cherie’s husband is out of office, so she has decided to cash-in and write her autobiography. Obviously the quicker she does it the more she’ll make, so no surprise there. It is apparently going to be “warm, intimate and often funny”. Must be fiction.

Look at the cover picture, does the whole black roll-neck thing remind you of another political wife’s post-husband -leaving-office autobiography?

You don’t think Cherie is going to copy Hilary and try running for office as well? She really does hate Gordon*…

*You can see what she thinks of Gordon on GuyNews.TV.

Who is Really to Blame for Northern Rock?

Robert Peston’s reporting for the BBC of the whole Northern Rock saga has had a “blame Mervyn” undertone to it. Today he basically peddles one of the two Treasury favoured spin lines;
  1. The Treasury’s primary spin-line is that it is all because of the sub-prime crisis in America and that no one could predict it coming.
  2. The second line of spin is that it is the Bank of England’s fault for not flooding the market with liquidity when trouble came.
The first point is easy to deal with, Mervyn saw it coming as did half the City, that is why Northern Rock shares halved long before the headlines. The blame really lies first and foremost with the board and management of Northern Rock. They failed to foresee the problems and they alone bear responsibility for the dash for growth and profits through securitisation which has unravelled. The LibDem’s Vince Cable was spot-on when he blamed the Northern Rock management for their own undoing. So should Mervyn King discourage or encourage bankers to make mistakes?

King thought not on September 12, yet under pressure from Alastair Darling, the very next day he supported the bail-out of the Northern Rock management. There was no systemic risk to the financial system which could justify such a move. Now with the Treasury promising to guarantee all bank deposits, the British banking industry has become Moral Hazard central. The news that King has been forced to effectively reverse a sound policy means all risks have been transferred to the taxpayer. So if today an RBS trader “did a Leeson” the Treasury would end up picking up the tab.

The second line of Treasury spin is that the Bank of England should have flooded the markets with liquidity. That is never generally a good idea for an institution obliged to fight inflation. Market participants were in any event able to borrow from the bank window at penalty rates (and some did). Northern Rock could not do it because they did not have the necessary collateral.

The blame lies not with Mervyn King but squarely with Northern Rock’s management. The Northern Rock board took the risk in their dash for profit growth, a risk that should have been spotted at board level by their risk management committee chaired by Sir Derek Wanless.

Wanless should resign immediately and be stripped of any bonuses and performance related payments.

Sith’s Deborah Mattinson is Advisor to Northern rock

Gordon Brown’s personal pollster, Deborah Mattinson, advises Northern Rock on corporate responsibility programmes. Presumably it was she who advised giving circa half-a-million quid to New Labour’s IPPR think-tank. How many more of Gordon’s circle have their hand in the Northern Rock till?

Gordon’s New Convictions Revealed

Some of the comrades don’t seem too impressed with Gordon’s new conviction politics.

Update : Dizzy reports that the blog post has now mysteriously disappeared from the “grassroots” independent LabourHome website. Fancy that.


Picture-credit :
LabourHome

++ Source : IPPR Think-Tank Got”Massive” Donations from Northern Rock ++

Wonks for Sale : New Labour’s favourite think-tank and source of policy ideas has confirmed it received funding from Northern Rock.

IPPR has yet to get back to Guido, so am as yet unable to confirm that they received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from Northern Rock. Reminds Guido of how generous Enron was with political donations before the end…

UPDATE : Northern Rock promised £191,018 to IPPR in May 2006 alone. Still awaiting total amount to be confirmed.

UPDATE II : Another £180,000 spotted in the 2003 IPPR accounts. Source says it will total over half-a-million.

Trouble on the Fringe

Something tells Guido that the news that education policy dissident Graham Brady will be speaking at a Tory fringe event organised by the National Grammar Schools Association will not fill CCHQ’s Cameroons with joy. The media will be looking for “Tory division” stories in what will be a packed room. Shouldn’t be too hard to find plenty of old school Tories there…

Hat-tip : Ben Brogan

iPhone Hack

Every geek Guido knows is twitchy about getting an iPhone from Apple. The snag is that in addition to the high handset cost (£269) the monthly rental includes an overcharged lock-in to Apple’s partner 02 mobile network.

Now hackers have figured out how to unlock the phone and connect it to any network without the high-priced monthly charges. Apple have put their U.S. lawyers on the case, trying to enforce some kind of corporate communism. You buy the phone, but it is not your property to do with as you please if Apple get their way. (The big pharmaceutical companies try to do the same with their products, stopping you importing them from cheaper markets.)

Big business uses lobbyists to get politicians to pass laws that favour their clients rather than the common good. It is special pleading and protectionism of the worst kind. In the coming months Guido will be on the look out for examples of lobbyists using MPs to further private corporate interests at the expense of consumers. It is a murky world that people in Westminster are reluctant to talk about. Full of ex-MPs, ex-SpAds and on-the-make spivs. They like to do business behind closed doors, but you’ll catch rare sight of them in the open at the party conferences. Lavishing food and drink on anyone they think useful to their client’s interests…

Email Guido with any examples of lobbyists trying to screw the public for their clients.

Where’s Wanless?™

Derek Wanless – Gordon Brown’s most trusted banker – is due to speak at a fringe meeting at the LibDem conference on “Caring Choices”. One of the other speakers will be Vince Cable, who yesterday railed at the “collapse of Northern Rock; a product of greed and reckless gambling by overpaid executives”.

Will Derek Wanless, the chair of Northern Rock’s audit and risk committees, show his face in public? Or will he go missing, like Gordon?

Where’s Gordon?™ 4

Benedict Brogan and Adam Boulton shout the traditional cry which goes out when trouble is about – “Where’s Gordon?™”. Guido suspects Gordon will stay hiding behind the sofa if there are still queues outside branches of the Northern Rock or the Alliance & Leicester this morning. If there are no queues he’ll show his “courage”.

The open ended government guarantee promise is unprecedented. It could prove to be insane. If the housing market drops dramatically, mortgage repossessions could become even more endemic than they already are, with the result that the government could be left losing tens of billions of taxpayers funds. Bear in mind that Greenspan expects double digit percentage falls in house prices. Of course all we know of the terms is that Alastair Darling says “his word is his bond”. (He also said last week there was no problem with Northern Rock.) Equitable Life’s unfunded pensioners know the value of the government’s implicit rather than explicit guarantees. Zilch…

A & L CLOSES DOWN 30%Investors Head for the Alliance & Leicester Exit

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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