Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Gordon Brown

58 years old today. We would have got you a card, but Woolies seems to have closed down. Was going to get you a DVD as a present, the collected speeches of Obama seemed like an inspirational idea. Unfortunately Zaavi was boarded up too. Instead Guido has decided to throw a party for you at McDonalds, with credit crunch friendly £1.99 Happy Meals for everyone, bring the kids. At least they won’t have gone bankrupt. Thanks to you Ronald McDonald is a better credit risk than Britain.

Happy Birthday from Bankrupt Britain, we are all forever in your debt…

Bethell Pops Up at PoliticsHome

James Bethell, the former Portland PR spinner, left Policy Exchange after less than three months, flouncing out after failing to get the top job when Neil O’Brien became the think-tank’s director.

Former Google PR Amy Fisher replaced Bethell in December as Policy Exchange’s director of communications. Previous to Google she was a CCHQ press officer.

He has now joined PoliticsHome as director. The site has become a useful utility for a lot of people in politics and the media. Bethell is going to try and commercialise the loss-making site, a tough task at a time when rival ePolitix.com is cutting back.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matthew Taylor is Ruining the RSA

A few months back Guido was invited to speak on a panel at the Royal Society of Arts. The enthusiastic American staffer on the phone was more than a little taken aback when told that Guido wasn’t interested.

Expanding further on the subject (it was after lunch), Guido told her that essentially Matthew Taylor was ruining a great institution by turning it into just another left-of-centre think-tank – sort of like Demos with a better designed Adam Brothers HQ building.

Matthew has subsequently been a bit defensive with Guido, pointing to the fact that they invited George Osborne to speak and venture capitalist Luke Johnson is the incoming new chairman. Good. Luke is good at kicking ass and Matthew Taylor needs his ass well and truly kicked.

The RSA has a fabulous history of achievements in public life, it was founded as the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce. Past members have included Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, William Hogarth, Charles Dickens and Guglielmo Marconi. It was founded to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce”.

Now Matthew Taylor is turning it into a Blairite third-way think tank “to remove the barriers to social progress”. Well we have enough of those think-tanks already. He spends his days indulgently expounding on the “new progressivism” like some self-appointed high-priest of the chattering classes. Taylor seems to forget he is no longer the “Downing Street Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to Tony Blair” but the CEO of the RSA off the Strand. No wonder the number of paying RSA Fellows is dropping.

Obama’s Online Guru : "I Don’t Think We Could Win the Re-election for Brown"

So says Blue State Digital’s Thomas Gensemer in The Times today. His firm helped Obama raise $300 million online. If anyone can do it, he can. Yet, with Brown in front, he thinks it is mission impossible. Labour are trying to fight back, but so far their only online campaign that has escaped from the politico-geek ghetto is John Prescott’s campaign against banker’s bonuses. That broke out of the few hundreds and made it into the tens of thousands signalling their support.
Putting aside the comedic value of Derek Draper, Labour’s efforts are undermined by the rivalries, whereas the Tories have one successful community site, Labour has four or five not very successful attempts to match ConservativeHome. They also don’t seem to have realistic expectations.

What is the point of Alastair Campbell’s videos? Nobody watches them:

Compare the number of views Campbell got to the two videos produced in the same week mocking Derek Draper and LabourList. Tens of thousands of views versus a couple of hundred views for Alastair’s efforts. Alistair got lots of press coverage for his efforts – even though hardly anyone actually watched them – because he understands how to manipulate the Dead Tree Press. The anti-Labour video guerillas understood what would play well on the web: humour.*

Prescott is doing a far better job of reaching out using authenticity, humour and his own celebrity. He has real box-office appeal and is better advised. Draper has, like Campbell, not really got a feel for online.

The coming general election is going to be fought online more than ever before. Labour are going to lose that fight badly if they don’t learn fast.

*The various Gordon Brown nose-picking videos have been watched three-quarters of a million times on YouTube. By far the most watched YouTube videos of any British politician.

Comedy Candidates

The London Standard is pushing a story claiming that a cabinet minister is urging Yvette Cooper to stand as a “Stop Harriet” candidate. Very amusing. If you believe the papers the list of candidates could see Miliband major versus Miliband minor as well as Yvette Balls versus Ed Balls. The list of runners for Gordon’s succession is said to even include Andy Burnham. Some of this press speculation can only be for the purposes of satire…

UPDATE : Ben Brogan points out that Cruddas is backing Harman in the Indy.

Osborne : Brown is a "Walter Mitty"

Osborne has once again come close to saying what many in Westminster think – the PM is at the very least delusional, if not bonkers.

The FT reports Gordon’s fantasy that the tripartite regulatory system worked and is being copied around the world. Osborne clearly could not bite his lip, retorting that Gordon is “still living in his Walter Mitty world where his system of banking regulation didn’t fail, where boom-and-bust had been abolished and where Britain is best placed to withstand the recession”.

Just say it straight : Brown is Bonkers.

Prayers for His Holiness

This morning the Fawkes household said prayers for the safety of His Holiness, for the citizens of the Eternal City and for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. For today the one-eyed, ill begotten son of the manse goes to Rome to meet the Pope. The Catholic Church has survived for two millenniums, it has battled with Satan and his works and it will, with the blessing of God, endure the curse of Jonah Brown.

Incidentally, yesterday on the day that Obama authorised funding for international abortion groups, the Pope called on politicans to defend the unborn. It is the custom of the Holy See to deny visiting Catholic politicians a photo-opportunity if they do not take the orthodox Catholic line. As a non-believer who supports abortion it is probable that Gordon will get his publicity shot.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jonah Brown Curses Ericsson, Wishes Jade Well

Guido forgot to mention in his story on Monday (Jonah Brown Mini-Curse) that the Prime Mentalist had also visited workers at the Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson’s new research and development plant at Ansty Park, Coventry. Inevitably Guido reads today that Ericsson is cutting 5,000 jobs.

At his monthly press conference this morning he sent best wishes to Jade Goody. As if she isn’t suffering enough.

UPDATE 21:00 : This just in: Angry drivers are urging Mini to recall almost a quarter of a million cars following a spate of sudden power steering failures“. Guido thinks he knows the cause.

Doh!

Hat-tip : Recess Monkey

Standards Commissioner Asks Jacqui to Explain Herself

Paul Waugh has the scoop – John Lyon has finally written to Jacqui Smith asking her to explain her £116,000 fiddle.

She is going with the “it was all approved” line. Guido very much doubts she told the Fees Office she was going to spend most nights of the year with her family rather than at the “main home” (actually her sister’s spare bedroom).

On the basis of the Trend ruling, where the Tory MP in parallel circumstances had to pay back £90,000 and the precedent established ironically by Mr & Mrs Balls, she has a prima facie case to answer. (The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London at their constitutency home, therefore on the basis that they spend more nights there, that was their main home). The Standards Committee needs to take a hard look into the evidence of where she spent most nights.

UPDATE : Isn’t there a huge conflict of interest here? The best independent source of evidence for where Jacqui spent her nights will be the records of the police protection unit. Who oversees the police?


Seen Elsewhere

Does Europe Really Want Britain to Quit? | Nick Wood
Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


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Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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