Obama’s Empty 14 Moments?

Guido has watched his first Obama speech tonight and is not that impressed with the vacuous platitudes in Berlin. It might play well with his domestic liberal media fan club and our own swooning BBC – Guardian – Indy axis of anti-Americanism. He came close to saying sorry for America – would not think that would play well at home in middle-America.

14 times Obama repeated the phrase “this is the moment”

when our nations − and all nations − must summon that spirit [of the Berlin airlift] anew.

when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it.

when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets.

when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday.

when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably.

for trade that is free and fair for all.

we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East.

when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

when we must come together to save this planet.

to give our children back their future.

to stand as one.

when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world.

Using the tried and tested speech negation method simply put “this is not the moment” in front of all 14 of those lines. It is pretty obvious nobody would oppose his speech. It was as empty as a Kinnock speech.

Who Nicked Dave’s Bike?

Dave has had his locked bike nicked.

Guido is currently travelling by bicycle far more. In the past in London the bike would get nicked once or twice a year. Since Guido has put a baby seat on the back the bike thieving has been much reduced. Though some toe-rag nicked a wheel while Guido was in a shop. So Dave, put a child seat on the back and see if that acts as a deterrent.

(Last month Guido did a radio show on the “politics of bicycles” – we cycled around various London sites of political interest and talked about bikes. “So here we are at Buckingham Palace, we don’t have a cycling monarchy, do you think that would be a good idea Guido?” Most of the answers where given when Guido was out of breath.)

Charity Commission Attacks Sith for Spinning Report

According to charity sector specialist magazine Third Sector, Andrew Hind, chief executive of the Charity Commission, has said he is “extremely concerned” that the Smith Institute is misrepresenting the contents of the regulator’s report into the think tank.
The commission reprimanded trustees of the think tank this week for failing to protect the charity from claims that it is supporting the Labour Party.

Paul Myners, deputy chair of the institute, responded by saying the commission was asking trustees to ensure that all speakers were politically neutral and that the regulator had “shown a fundamental lack of understanding of the work that all think tanks undertake”.

But Hind responded: “We are not saying we expect trustees to guarantee that no party political statements will be made. What we are saying is that if you want to have politicians at your event, as a think tank charity you have to ensure that there is balance.

“The trustees are disputing some of the clauses of the report and are alleging that the Charity Commission is naive and doesn’t understand how think tanks operate. But we have had extraordinarily in-depth discussions with them over the past few months.”

At the commission’s open board meeting in Liverpool yesterday, Hind again defended the report and said it would be “a reference point for the future” for other think tanks.

He said: “Not only are there some important findings about the Smith Institute, but there are also some important points of principle for all charity think tanks.”

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, said the enquiry had produced “an exemplary report from an independent regulator”.

Guido has been pleasantly surprised with the thoroughness of the Charity Commission report – the way the Sith’s trustees have tried to spin it has demonstrated their unsuitability to be a charity. Paul Myners really ought to resign.

The Centre for Open Politics has summarised the web of close links to Gordon Brown in a single document to go with this graphic:

click to enlarge

Westmonster R.I.P.

Westmonster is no more and has gone the way of the now forgotten Honourable Fiend. It won’t be missed.

Traffic was small and they were losing money despite the low costs of blog publishing. The owners couldn’t make it work and honestly admit that they just couldn’t find the talent. Once Sadie Smith* left they did it themselves and then had young, cheap writers – the last of which was dire. They also made the classic mistake of commenting on comment too much and just rounding up other peoples stories instead of getting original news stories. It was a car crash.

*She has her own blog here.

New Statesman Owner Buys LabourHome

Guido has been hearing rumours that LabourHome was “in play” and that two bidders were after the site. Tom Miller’s Newer Labour has the exclusive confirming that LabourHome has been bought by Mike Danson, the new owner of the New Statesman.
Newer Labour reports that it went for a “high five figure sum… with some of the existing editors, like Alex Hilton, one of the foremost Labour bloggers and co-founder, Jag Singh, staying on board.” PoliticsHome had also shown an interest in bringing the site into the “home” network – Freddie Sayers had been in negotiations with the site but got gazumped.

Guido called Alex Hilton, LabourHome’s chief commissar, to commiserate with him for not getting a six-figure valuation. (Guardian Media Group just bought PaidContent for $30 million, the Gawker group of blogs is valued at over $100 million.) Alex would only say “We are very pleased to have the support of the New Statesman” from his yacht in the Caribbean.

Guido reckons that if the valuations being achieved in the U.S. were reflected here, the leading blogs would be worth seven figure sums. Mrs Fawkes has become noticeably less intolerant of Guido’s blogging of late…

Vote to See Sky’s Miranda Semi-Naked

Iain is doing his annual blog guide, compiling a list of the top 100 political blogs in the UK.

Miranda from the Boulton & Co. blog is canvassing for votes with the promise that if they get into the top 10 there will be “semi-naked photos of all our political correspondents made available on the blog.”

So if you want to see Miranda, Adam Boulton, Jon Craig, Cheryl Smith and Niall Paterson semi-naked vote for Boulton & Co in your list of top 10 favourite political blogs.

Email your top 10 list to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

How Will MPs Cope With 76 Days of Unsubsidised Booze?

As they slip off this afternoon to face a tough 12-weeks holiday in the real world without subsidised drink, Guido wonders how will MPs cope?

The House of Commons Refreshment Department operated on a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/08 financial year, which is equivalent to the total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs. The subsidy is equivalent to £8,500 per MP – that is approximately £50 per diem on top of the £30 per diem they voted to award themselves every working day in cash.

The subsidy, which for some inexplicable reason was not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was £693,000 higher than in 2006/07 – a 15% increase. No belt tightening for MPs despite the Chancellor’s warnings.

It accounted for 43% of the operating costs, meaning that the taxpayer coughs up £4.30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians: even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through the expenses system. These figures don’t include the multi-million pound re-fit of the wine cellar.
MPs are members of the best London club with a dozen bars on the parliamentary estate, plenty of dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites all operating without a licence and no restrictions on hours – you can even smoke in some.

A pint in the Stranger’s Bar costs £2.10, outside parliament in the West End you pay £3.50 to £4.00. An 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the pleasant Thames-side terrace for just £1.65 – which is a third to a half of prices a mile down the road. Do you really think they need to pay politicians more to attract people?

*Not including all the additional expense claims for essential new kitchens, appliances, window cleaning, garden pergolas, plasma TVs….


[Incidentally to all PRs who send Guido press releases – the AMLR press release was the best Guido has seen in years. Clever, on a relevant subject, well aimed and timed.]

Shanghai Surprise Just Chinese Takeaway

The spin from Downing Street is that an unnamed aide was the “victim of honeytrap operation by Chinese agents.” The incident occurred in Shanghai on the second day of the China tour. That night a crowd of Downing Street staffers and Lobby hacks went to a packed hotel disco, Michael Jacobs was approached by an attractive Chinese woman. The couple fooled around on the dance-floor and later disappeared together back to his hotel room to further Anglo-Sino relations.

Anyone who has spent time in Asia will laugh at the honey-trap-spy media spin, far more likely that it was just a good time girl who pinched his Blackberry and wallet. Why on earth would Chinese intelligence agents care what Michael Jacobs, the right-on former secretary-general of the Fabians, hero of Hampstead, fully paid-up Guardianista and now Gordon’s environmental adviser, had on his Blackberry? Laughable.

Why are the newspapers being so coy about reporting the name? After all, Guido understands that the political editors of the Sun (George Pascoe-Watson), Mail (Ben Brogan) and Telegraph (Andrew Porter) were at the same disco. “What goes on tour, stays on tour”, eh boys?

Right’s Think Tanks Enjoying Revival

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: James Purnell’s “workfare” proposals are being warmly welcomed by Chris Grayling his Tory welfare shadow. “Much of today’s package is a straight lift from our Green Paper in January… Because these are Conservative proposals we will support

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Will He Make Another Illegal Donation?

As Barack heads to Europe the Washington Post asked yesterday of Obama, “Surely a man who has said he would talk with U.S. adversaries such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can spend a few moments with journalists from friendlier countries.”

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Policy Exchange Boss Joins Team Boris +++

So what is arguably currently the top job in wonkland is now up for grabs…

Via CoffeeHouse

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Waning Warm-Up Act

Despite having promised Palestinians mortgages (Eastern Rock?) he is not getting much coverage in Israel. The coverage he is getting is not exactly warm:

Brown’s arrival is also in the shadow of the recent visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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