Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not Nihilistic, Realistic

Yesterday afternoon Guido put in a call to Paul Richards, Hazel Blear’s SpAd, after being tipped off that she was going to attack Guido in a speech later today to the Hansard Society. Guido also called the Hansard Society to arrange to attend the speech. He was told it was a closed meeting. The subject of the meeting, ironically, is political disengagement.

The pre-speech spin to the press is that corrosive cynicism, fueled by politically nihilistic blogs and a retreat from dispassionate reporting is endangering British political discourse and fueling growing political disengagement in Britain. She will say:
“We are witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture… Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a ‘Samizdat’ style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?

“But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

“Until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.”

Paul Richards, Guido understands, wrote her speech. (Guido has written about him a few times.)

Anti-establishment and occasionally vicious Guido may be, but nihilistic? Never. Nihilists deny that an objective morality exists. Guido has a clear sense of morality – Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Blears really shouldn’t use words she doesn’t understand. Does Blears actually think that Guido rages against political corruption because he cares not for morality?

She is however correct to say that Guido has disdain for political corruption and seeks to unearth scandal and hypocrisy. Does Blears really think that is a bad thing?

Asking political bloggers to “add value” is to misunderstand the relationship between a free press and politicians. Take a memo Ms Blears, we are not here to “add value”, or do what politicians want, Guido has his own values and aims to hit back at political hypocrisy and lies. Politicians make laws, so they should be held to account, to a higher standard. The Nick Robinsons, Peter Riddells, Michael Whites and Steve Richardsons of the world don’t do investigative digging, they report back their impressions from their lunch meetings. They re-package and interpret spin from the party machines. That is how they “add value”. They are what Peter Oborne memorably described as the “client media”.

Guido has, without the platform of a newspaper or broadcaster backing him, achieved a position of influence for some reason. From nowhere this blog has become one of the most widely read political sources in Britain. It reaches a lot of people who were once disillusioned with and disinterested in politics, it is written (on a good day) in an accessible and entertaining way. Why does Hazel think this fuels political disengagement? The Labour Party would love to have a website that engaged as many people as this blog.

What has deservedly brought about disengagement from and cynicism towards politicians is spin, triangulation, focus group derived policies, positioning purely for partisan advantage, vacuous slogans and meaningless promises. Add in personal self enrichment from expense fiddles, petty corruption and barefaced lying to that toxicosis. Hazel has herself personally defended with repulsive sophistry everything from 45 minutes to mass destruction and cash for honours in her time. Who has really fueled corrosive political cynicism? Look in the mirror Hazel.

Labour Re-Treads Plot Online Battle, Draper Mulls Blogging

Dale’s story yesterday that Dolly Draper had convened a war council of would be cyber warriors had Guido’s ears burning (a day ahead of schedule). Attendees names you might recognise include Ben Wegg-Prosser (Mandelson’s protege now based in Moscow), Tim Allan (Ex-Blair spin merchant under Campbell, now boss of Portland PR), David Prescott (son of Prezza and another spin merchant). Dale missed Luke Akehurst (Weber Shandwick’s spinner for arms dealers) off his list.
Derek wouldn’t confirm who else attended but he was keen to emphasise there were younger bloggers there as well – “don’t just say it was a load of re-treads” he protested. Derek was pleased that, despite not actually blogging, he now knew “his RSS from his elbow”. Guido encouraged him to become the Iain Dale of the Labour Party, “it looks like a lot of work” he said uncertainly.

Can’t help wondering if this plan to ignite the Labour blogosphere isn’t a bit top-down and over-laden with lobbyists and spinners with few grassroots bloggers involved, if it was going to happen it surely would have happened spontaneously already. What hope is there for any authenticity from this crowd?

This video is apparently only the first salvo in their battle to motivate the Labour base:

It is at least mildly amusing and a welcome change from Labour’s earlier online attempts to motivate activists with videos of Ed Balls boasting about achieving child poverty targets. Guido can’t figure out the strategy here. What do they hope to achieve?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cut Out and Keep Masks for Tomorrow


Downloadable Guy Fawkes Mask

Get your own at Scribd or explore others: Politics

You’ll need a scissors, some glue and a piece of string. Gunpowder optional

"Ask the PM" Competition Winner

Guido’s competition to submit a question to Gordon has closed and was won by Luke. His question on the economic value of his Gordon mask (together with clunking fists) amused Guido.

Meanwhile over on the Number 10 site currently there is once again some confusion. Guido spoke with Mark Flanagan from Downing Street’s web team. He says they changed the closing date for entries because they wanted to lengthen the time available (now until November 13) for entries which was previously too short. Nothing to do with Guido or anyone else asking tricky questions about the economy. Well he is a non-partisan civil servant and he wouldn’t fib would he? However the Downing Street site still says that questions have to be in by 30 October.

Guido is happy to send the Downing Street site an extra bit of traffic and thinks it important that you get to ask Gordon about the economy. Alex Masterly has done just that brilliantly – see his question here:

Unfortunately it is over a minute long so no doubt they will rule the question out of order. Remember to keep it non-partisan and shorter than a minute – a little birdie tells Guido that they are going to look for excuses to not answer video questions. Wonder if Gordon will avoid answering Guido’s question?

Poppycock

European Commission Forecasts UK Economy to Fare Worst

Despite Gordon’s claims to the contrary, nobody seems to believe him that Britain is “best placed to weather the global financial turbulence”, not the currency markets, not foreign investors and nor now the European Commission.

The FT reports that the Commission is forecasting EU growth will slow from 1.4% cent this year to just 0.2% in 2009, while the eurozone economy would expand by 1.2% this year and only 0.1% in 2009. Among the EU’s largest economies, the UK would be the worst performer next year, when its economy would contract by 1% the Commission forecast.

Spin that Gordon…

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Parties Tomorrow

Tonight is the launch party for AmericaInTheWorld.com, tomorrow however the hot ticket to have is a ticket to the U.S. Embassy Party in Grosvenor Square. The only party to rival the embassy’s party is the one 5 minutes away in Leicester Square being organised by Progressive Vision’s Mark Littlewood. With 750 people seeing in the new president, this will be even bigger than his 2004 election night party (pictured).

Big screens will be showing feeds from CNN and Fox News (depending on taste) and Guido will be making bets as the night goes on via the venue’s WiFi connection. Guido’s betting will be nowhere near as dedicated as that of the PoliticalBetting.com crowd, who will be gambling the night away in a dedicated multi-screen dealing room somewhere in Islington.

There are less than 100 tickets available for the Leicester Square party tomorrow night. See you there…

Exclusive : Paxman : The Faked Evidence of Support

Jeremy Paxman writing in the Mail on Sunday this weekend “Wear a poppy… for the lions killed in war, not the donkeys who send them there” has fine words about the wars that have cost the lives of so many heroes:
“I shall wear a poppy because an act of remembrance once a year is the very least that those of us who have not been asked to risk our lives can offer those who did not have a choice.”

Empty words. In the picture byline above the article bearing his photo he is wearing a poppy. Hypocritically it is faked.

We know what Paxman thinks of faked evidence (watch him grill Policy Exchange’s Dean Godson here). He told Godson with his trademark sneer: “Authenticity is all, as you well know.”

Paxman, who is paid by the BBC £1 million for a three day week on Newsnight, was not available to answer Guido’s questions.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Cameron : BBC is Bloated and Left-Wing, But I Appreciate It

Dave writes in the Sun this morning that he wants the BBC to change its ways, crucially however on funding he would rather stick with a structure that has produced good television and radio programmes, led by an institution — the BBC — that is still respected at home and abroad.” Is the BBC really respected in America and Israel?

Dave is reported elsewhere as telling BBC executives that he is all that stands between them and an angry Conservative Party. Is that his role? To blunt the will of Conservatives?

Poll after poll finds that Conservative supporters strongly feel that the BBC is biased against them. Dave apparently tells Conservative advocates of wholesale BBC reform that “I have an election to win”, suggesting he recognises a problem but does not want to risk the repercussions of taking on the BBC’s vested interests. He writes this morning that the BBC’s funding via the Telly Tax “tends to make the BBC instinctively pro-Big State, distinctly iffy about the free market and sometimes dismissive of a conservative viewpoint.”

Dave seems to be accepting that without a change in the funding model there will be no culture change at the BBC. It will remain a cultural drag on Britain, always wanting government “to do something” and deaf to other solutions. Lets not forget the way the BBC crowds out private sector competition, sucks up technical talent thus stifling innovation and is the primary reason we do not have a vibrant Silicon Valley equivalent. The only way to effect change is to change the funding model in 2013. The BBC does not need to do everything, in fact a larger cultural breathing space for other voices, rather than the current monolithic dominance of the BBC undercutting the competition all the time, would be extremely healthy. It will be interesting to see if the Policy Exchange report on the BBC that is in the pipeline will indicate future policy direction…

UPDATE : The BBC is cutting back the champagne for its huge Obama Victory Party in New York.


Seen Elsewhere

Bercow ‘Wounded’ | Speccie
This Goes Further Than Rotherham | Simon Danczuk
Bercow Mocked | Times
Indy Deletes ‘Jewish Lobby’ Headline | MediaGuido
Cracknell v Boris | Sun
British Muslims are Failing to Integrate | Dan Hodges
Dear Sarah Wollaston… | ASI
Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun


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Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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