Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Gordon Press Adviser Exits

The FT has it “on good authority that John Woodcock, one of Brown’s two spokesmen, is to quit; the move could come soon.” He is after his old boss Hutton’s seat.  Now is he the one who, post McBride, went round telling the Lobby that he would have Guido for breakfast or was it the other one, Michael Dugher?

They come and go so fast in Downing Street nowadays you barely have time to get them in your crosshairs…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sign the Times Leaders

Times Masthead

The Fink responds to Guido’s call this morning for leader writers to lose their anonymity.  Tom Harris agrees.  Not sure this is a campaign so much as a reflection.  Fink basically says Philip Collins, Michael Binyon, Antonia Senior, Camilla Cavendish, Oliver Kamm, Joe Joseph and himself write the leaders in various combinations and permutations.  Is that really a good reason why the contributors can’t all sign the leader?

Reading between the lines Fink seems to be saying that the editor sets the direction and we just write the stuff.  Like Fink, Guido has written a few speeches for others in his time, Fink knows as well as anyone that actually he who crafts the words gets as great a chance to set the tone and direction as he who speaks or commissions them.  If Fink is intimating that leader writers, like barristers, say things they don’t believe for good professional reasons (such as the editor told them the line to take) that is in itself interesting. Wouldn’t it be better that instead of hiding behind collective anonymity, they took personal responsibility for something they themselves take quite seriously?

Incidentally, some newspapers employ very young leader writers to pontificate.  It seems laughable to be lectured on the strategic geo-political imperatives of Iran by someone who has just completed their gap year.  We deserve to know who the authors of a leader  are so we can judge with what authority they write and weigh their words accordingly.

Incidentally, Guido wrote his first newspaper leader when he was 21 (for The Sun).  As it happens it was on a topic about which the young Guido was pretty well informed and was in any case more of a polemic.  It was re-worded by the great Ronnie Sparks who was the official leader writer at the time during the reign of Kelvin MacKenzie.  It was unsigned.

Overwhelmed by Piggery

Guido is overwhelmed by emails and the abundant evidence of expense fiddles. So Guido is going to sit back and let everybody else go through the available data. It proves Guido was right about one thing that he has repeated over and over again for the last five years: they are all at it

Time to End Anonymous Times Leader Columns

Times Masthead

When Guido started back in 2004 he tried to be an anonymous blogger until he was outed by the Guardian duing the 2005 elections (a Labour party employee had traced back the fax number).  A major part of the reason for that was to save my wife embarrassment.

nightjackNowadays the third person anonymity on this blog is just a stylistic device, for Richard Horton it was for essential career reasons, blogging policemen are breaking regulations. The Times claims public interest is behind the reason for outing the Orwell prize winning Nightjack blogger. Mr Justice Eady, who fancies himself to be a legislator as much as a judge, ruled that the mere fact that the blogger wanted to remain anonymous did not mean that he had a “reasonable expectation” of doing so or that The Times was under an enforceable obligation to him to maintain that anonymity.  He is clearly correct in law.

The Times journalist says he wanted to discover the true identity of the author of blog,  for with that knowledge he would be able to judge the standing and authority of the author.   The Times has daily leader columns, these famously thunder out the considered view of the newspaper on the issues of the day and seek to influence the direction of the country. It would enable Guido and the rest of us to better judge the standing and authority of those leaders if they were signed rather than anonymous.   Was the recent leader on Investment v Cuts,  which was so favourable to the Shadow Chancellor’s arguments, written by a former work colleague and friend of George Osborne?  It would be nice to know.

Which employee of BSkyB supremo James Murdoch argued for a smaller BBC and against giving licence fee money to Channel 4?  Who wrote the last leader calling for interest rate cuts?  Was it Rupert Murdoch himself?  All News Corp’s newspapers worldwide argue without exception for interest rate cuts.  Hardly surprising when you know  News Corp struggles to service interest payments on $14 billion of debts…

Pay Points for Political Piggies

If you see any good expenses spots link to them in the comments and Guido will highlight them here all day:

pig-in-shitPaul Waugh notes George Osborne had us pay £47 for a DVD of his speech on “Value for Money”.

pig-in-shitJames Arbuthnot thinks it wholly necessary for us to pay £138 for a “chainsaw for logs”.  Massacre him at the general election.

pig-in-shitTerry Rooney claims off us £125 pcm for “cleaning” and his landlord bills him for cleaning too. No receipt was required for the cleaner because it is was below £250. He cleaned up.

pig-in-shitJulia Goldsworthy made us pay £734.30 for her Meniscus “rent” under incidental expenses.  What is that about?

pig-in-shitDoug Henderson claimed for tax advice from the taxpayers and claims frequently for the maximum amount for food.

pig-in-shitAlan Duncan takes £250 petty cash each and every month without any justification. Because he could.

pig-in-shitLembit Opik claimed £19.99 for the “Mother of All Wigs” – justified apparently as a sundry cost “incurred while supporting a Charitable Event”. It actually appears that we taxpayers supported it with cash Lembit.

pig-in-shitDid Jim Devine MP really claim £938 for a Mink coloured suite? He could have just made it up like his electrical bills.

UPDATE : There is just so much troughing that it is impossible to do it all justice…

Random Spot Check on a Political Piggy

Watson

Guido will be going through MP’s expenses at random today, amazingly Tom Watson’s expenses are the first randomly selected for detailed examination Fancy that, him looking just like a piggy and all…

Redacted Expenses Save Blushes

Guido has had a quick look through some expense claims – the redactions hide a lot of sins and seem to have been applied inconsistently.  Despite the censorship it is still  possible to discover some interesting stuff.

Have a look for yourself here.

Blair : We Paid to Shred His Evidence

There is an Irish saying that sums up Blair.  He is one “cute hoor”. You have to laugh, we paid to shred his receipts…

Shredding

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

+++ Kitty Usher Resigns Over Expenses +++

Downing Street Spins Malik is Different from McNulty

Tony McNulty resigned from the government when he came under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over £60,000 claimed on a second home, where his parents live.

Malik Reported to Parliamentary Standards commissionerYesterday the PM’s spokesman, Michael Ellam, was asked whether the Prime Minister thought it was premature and unwise to bring Shahid Malik back into Government so quickly.  He was also asked why it was right for Shahid Malik to step down while Sir Philip Mawer held an inquiry, but not while  John Lyon held one?  Ellam gave some waffle which didn’t really make sense.

McNultyMcNulty admitted in his letter of resignation that “It has been immensely difficult for me to give full attention to my job as Minister for London and for Employment and Welfare Reform with this issue hanging over my head.” Malik on the other hand wants us to believe he can give his ministerial duties his full attention despite being under investigation for corruption. 

Why is he different from McNulty?  Why is John Lyon’s investigation less important than Sir Philip Mawer’s investigation – which had less damning evidence to consider?


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