Andrew Sparrow is chasing a rumour that Shriti Vadera, a trusted loyalist Brownie is quitting. HMS Gordon Brown will be like the Marie Celeste at this rate. Although credible rumours abound that Alastair Campbell will be joining the ship for the election campaign. No doubt bringing his moral compass with him…
Obama swerved no fewer than five requests from Downing Street to hold a bilateral meeting either at the UN in New York or at the G20 summit starting in Pittsburgh today. Obama himself was in New York to deliver a speech to the UN. Brown’s own speech to the UN was delivered to a half-empty auditorium.
Brown is paying a price for encouraging the release of the Lockerbie bomber…
UPDATE : Downing Street is denying the story and briefing that the two leaders had already had one “wide-ranging discussion”. Here is where it gets comical. The “wide-ranging discussion” appears to have taken place in a kitchen at the UN.
Guido thinks it might have gone something like this:
Gordon: Mr President could you pass the salt?
Barack : Sure. How is Tony?
Gordon : He’s fine I imagine. Nice weather you are having for this time of year.
Barack : Gotta go. Enjoy your tofu. Tell David I’ll see him next year. See you in Pittsburgh.
UPDATE II : Despite invitations to all, only one American banker turned up to a meeting with the man who “saved the world” and the global banking system. How ungrateful of them.
Rumour going around that the first Gordon knew about this resignation was live on BBC Radio Five:
10 Downing Street
23 September 2009
Dear Gordon Brown
It is with considerable personal regret that I find myself writing to inform you of my decision to resign my positions as PPS to several ministers, principally the Solicitor General.
My decision comes about because as an aide to the Law Officers, whilst I have great personal regard for the Attorney General, I cannot support the decision which allows her to remain in office.
In my view the facts of the case do not matter. It is the principle which counts, particularly at a time when the publics’ trust of Whitehall is uncertain to say the least. We have to be seen to be accountable.
In addition, could I just mention matters of policy where I believe leadership is vital.
On the constitution: We must legislate to offer a referendum on how we elect Members of the House of Commons. We must finish off reform of the House of Lords. Generally, I would urge you to move as quickly as possible to withdraw from Afghanistan and to signal a change in our position over Trident replacement.
Finally, on the economy, the Government is to be congratulated upon its clear-sighted and effective response to the downturn. You have my continued support in your resistance to David Cameron’s myopic and siren calls for an “Age of Austerity”. My constituents benefit greatly from using our much-improved public services and they would not wish to see these jeopardised nor have our continued economic recovery put in doubt.
With best wishes
Stephen Hesford MP
Lord Mandelson — who knows a thing or two about being sacked from the cabinet in the middle of a front page scandal — says of the Baroness “You have to inform yourself properly before rushing to judgment. That’s what the Prime Minister has done…”
The graphic above shows how the New Statesman has lost ground over the last two years. With the paid-for print circulation now in the low teens of thousands it has only a quarter of the Spectator’s paid-for circulation. Online the advantage the magazine enjoyed when it was ahead of the game has now evaporated. It was at one time one of the better online political websites and despite a recent revamp it has continued to lose ground. “Why?” is the question the new owner Mike Danson must be asking himself.
There are two reasons Guido thinks* – the decline of the enthusiasm of the left as a decade of disillusion takes a heavy toll and the fact that it isn’t a very good read. Serious writers like Martin Bright and the effervescent Nick Cohen have been lost and replaced with new blood who are hardly “must read” material. Mehdi Hassan is finding his footing, James Macintyre’s articles betray his mentoring by Derek Draper, often reading like the work of a student journalist on a college newspaper. For a serious political weekly they lack serious political reporters.
The dullness quotient can be high elsewhere in the magazine. Maguire’s cheeky diary was often a work of fiction, but at least it was entertaining fiction. Peter Wilby usually has something interesting to say, Pilger is Pilger if you like that sort of thing. A lot of the rest of the stuff is worthy and boring. The Spectator is far more fun, mischievous and readable.
It is hard to see how even as canny a publisher as Danson can avoid losing money if it doesn’t change editorial course. If of course he bought it vainly for influence, fine, though even there how much influence does it have nowadays? The circulation numbers don’t lie, with a declining readership half the size of this blog’s audience, Guido thinks the announced “greater focus on photography” is unlikely to cut the mustard in Labour’s inner circles. A political weekly needs to get great political stories to succeed. When was the last time the New Statesman had a real scoop?
*Third possible reason applies to all left-wing, politically correct publications since the late sixties – it is hard to be fun when you are earnest and have to watch your words. Fun sells.
Bookies William Hill are offering odds of 9/4 that the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, will resign or be sacked before the end of this year.
The headlines don’t look very good for her.
Andrew Rawnsley has resigned as editor-in-chief of PoliticsHome:
I became Editor-in-Chief on the basis that PoliticsHome was dedicated to being a non-partisan site clearly independent of any party both editorially and financially. It was essential for users of the site that they could feel absolute confidence in the political independence of PoliticsHome. I do not believe that can be compatible with being under the ownership of the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.
Rawnsley has his reputation to think of, but the proof will be in the pudding. Politicshome has been hitherto a utility that doesn’t originate commentary. The official announcement that Lord Ashcroft has taken a 57% stake in ConservativeHome and PoliticsHome is here. Though none of the parties is commenting, Guido understands that it was a
six-figure sum £1.3 million that changed hands. Which is a fairly good price for a media publishing operation without a penny of revenue.
Incidentally Lord Ashcroft, since you appear to be on a buying spree, Guido won’t sell for less than
seven eight figures…
Patricia Scotland is not out of the woods yet – despite receiving the Prime Minister’s backing. Guido has checked with the Bar Council and it is true that she will not have to report herself on the grounds that it is a civil offense to “unknowingly” employ an illegal immigrant. She is making a lot of play of the claim that it is an administrative error and a “technical breach of the rules”, as if she had been caught by the offside trap. It isn’t a game, it is a breach of the law by the highest law officer in the land, a breach of a law she introduced.
The Cabinet Office is trying to defend the Baroness over her expense claims. Ridiculously they are now claiming that all ministers are entitled to claim the London allowance regardless of where they live. Effectively giving all peers who are ministers an immediate pay rise…
Baroness Scotland has been served with a “Notice of Potential Liability”. This is the first stage before a decision is made to issue a fine. According to a single source, most of the enforcement team is keen to nail […]