Monday, May 12, 2008

The Profundity of the Punditry : Janet Daley


Still looking for examples of Janet Daley’s stunning insights into Gordon Brown from last year. Send any gems you have found to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com

Incidentally the Telegraph today repeats the mistake that the Tories have not taken a seat from Labour in a by-election for “30 years”, a mistake also made by the Sunday Times yesterday. That error was compounded by the article claiming Margaret Thatcher’s constituency was Grantham. Mistakenly they refer back to the famous Ilford North by-election of 1978 which presaged the fall of Jim Callaghan’s government. In fact the Tories more recently gained Mitcham & Morden from Labour in a 1982 by-election, when Maggie was of course actually MP for Finchley.

Balls Bashes Field for Brown

Ed Balls has just given an on the record briefing to the Lobby, the subject was Frank Field’s comments re-broadcast on Today this morning:
“I think people could look at what he was saying a few weeks ago and believe at that time that his intentions were honourable. As for what he said this morning I think I leave you to draw your own conclusions from that… I think it is very unlikely… that Frank Field will support any proposals that are brought forward by the government.”

So the 10p tax debacle is all Frank Field’s fault…

Northern Rock Shareholders Offer to Buy Bankrupt Labour Party

click to enlarge

The letter from the Northern Rock Shareholders Action Group makes an offer of £100 for the Labour Party and gives “the existing Party members the opportunity to buy it back in 5 years time at the same price”. This will give the Labour Party a “period of temporary private ownership under a new management team…which may well give it the breathing space it needs to recover and protect the interests of all the stakeholders.” Well they are bankrupt and those are reasonable terms, better than the Treasury offered…

Jason and the Illiterates

If you are going to make classical references, best you spell ‘em correctly…

Hat-tip : Phil Donohue

Burma : Send in the Bombers

Nick Cohen is surely right that we should send in the bombers to Burma. All the pious hand-wringing is worthless in the face of Burmese intransigence. The West has the military capability to arrange airdrops of medical supplies and food. We did something similar when the Communists tried to starve Western Berlin. Perhaps the Luftwaffe and the airforces of some of the less robust European states could take the lead for once, since they seem less willing to take risks in the Middle East.

Not an ideal solution admittedly, but it is surely better than sitting impotently around the UN security council. Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister once hired a ship to rescue boat people fleeing the Communists in Vietnam. Go on Kouchner, give the Armée de l’Air something to do…

UPDATE : Reading between the lines Dave supports sending inunilateral aid. In the comments a co-conspirator reminds us of Operation Manna, the World War II effort using Lancaster Bombers to bombard the starving Netherlands with 6850 tonnes of food during one week in May 1945.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning Views

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Coming Next Week : Holding the Punditry to Account

The exasperated collective counter-attack by the establishment Commentariat on bloggers has inspired Guido to start a new regular feature. When the great and the good assembled at the RSA last Wednesday, shepherded by Julia Hobsbawm, John Lloyd (in absentia) and Matthew Taylor*, to bemoan their diminished status, they drew the battle-lines for a battle that should be joined and won for the blogosphere. The Commentariat desperately want to maintain their monopoly role as media gate-keepers, as the sub-edited filters of democracy and the monopoly producers of public commentary. Guido has said this before; in an age of near costless technological disintermediation “the news” is no longer what they say it is, we can make the news ourselves, unfiltered by the metropolitan media elite. Successful boutique news sources are proliferating. The media Goliaths now face an army of blogging DavidsA lot of what was said at the Editorial Intelligence event was plain ignorant, the conflation of blog writing with blog comment interaction in particular. It is true that the comments left here and on the Guardian’s CiF can be pretty vitriolic and profane, but they are genuinely reflective of what readers really think. Polly Toynbee hates the contradictory “barrage” of comments that follow her articles because she has an over-inflated view of the value of her analysis. Many of us only read her articles for the pleasure of seeing them torn to shreds in the comments that interactively follow. Polly is highly paid and successful because she is a provocative columnist, not because she is a better analyst of social affairs than Frank Field. That is a valuable hack talent she shares with Richard Littlejohn…

The fear and ignorance heard last Wednesday did not showcase the “Power of the Commentariat”, it highlighted their decline. They are weakened and rightly so, for they have time and time again failed to hold political power to account successfully. Proximity breeds compromise and the politico-media class has for example tolerated lying about expenses by politicians for decades and that toleration spread to tolerating spin, which is as often as not professional lying. Democracy is worse off because the Commentariat are compromised by being so embedded in the political class – or as Polly Toynbee explains “in sympathy with politicians”.

Laughably the Commentariat simultaneously fear and deride what they perjoratively term the “cult of the amateur”. The irony of this is not lost on Guido. The pundits of the unpopular press really need a re-think here, very few journalists earn as much as top bloggers. Guido can think of a few lone website owners who produce their content and make far more than most journalistsof the Dead Tree Press. They are also profit making publishers, unlike the Independent, Guardian and Telegraph.

This misplaced arrogance of the Commentariat deserves a research-based response. The writings of the Commentariat no longer just end up as fish and chip wrapping, their writing is accessible via the internet forever. So tomorrow, hopefully with the assistance of the wisdom of the blogging crowds, Guido will start putting the profundity of their punditry in context and under the microscope, starting with Janet Daley.

What did she, with all her intellectual authority, tell us about Gordon Brown last summer? Feel free to be profane…

*Matthew Taylor has complained bitterly about bloggers before. Contrast Taylor’s attitude to Rupert Murdoch’s attitude to the democratising of commentary. Overwhelmingly the Commentariat basically has a protectionist attitude, the increasing pluralism of news sources scares them because it devalues them. Shrewdly and counter-intuitively, Murdoch has an enabling attitude, expanding by freeing the market for commentary. He gets it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

ICM Whisper Number Puts By-Election Closer Than Thought

An ICM poll for the Mail on Sunday tomorrow will put it neck and neck in Crewe & Nantwich, with the Tories on 43% to Labour’s 39% and the LibDems trailing far behind on 16%. Believe it or not Guido has backed Labour on Betfair on the back of this, their 3.5 price seemed a bit rich given the narrow 4% difference.

What will have the mobile phone ricocheting around No. 10 is the startling finding that Labour voters would rather have Cameron than Brown as PM. Gordon is dead man ranting.

Class War By-Election

This is from an official Labour leaflet being distributed in the poorer socio-economic areas of Crewe & Nantwich. You can’t be wealthy and vote-worthy apparently. Do they realise that Gordon is a multi-millionaire?* Point 4 is real knuckle-dragging dog-whistle stuff. Surprised they didn’t stick on a picture of Gordon with a Union Jack and quote his British Jobs for British Workers speech. Desperate times require desperate tactics…

Incidentally, the Tory candidate’s farmhouse is nowhere near as grand as, say, David Miliband’s multi-million pound inherited home…


*Gordon’s assets include a pension package, paid for by you, worth over £2 million.

By-Election, What By-Election Prime Minister?

Guido can imagine Stephen Carter telling a heavily sedated Brown on Wednesday after PMQs of the plans for the weekend:-

Carter : We’re going somewhere nice for the weekend, get some sunshine. We have booked a trip to the Eden Project in the South West, Cornwall, then on to Plymouth.

Brown: [rocking in his chair] What about the by-election? Where is it?

Carter:
No by-election PM, we are going to see the flowers in Cornwall and visit an old peoples home in Plymouth. Take it easy, have a weekend break.

Gordon is on an official visit to Plymouth, which is 251 miles away from Crewe. Brown couldn’t be further away if he went to Edinburgh (242 miles), in any event he wouldn’t want to go for a weekend rest in Edinburgh now it is under Salmond’s control and Wendy is rebelling against him.

Whereas Cameron and Clegg are up in Crewe and Nantwich backing their candidates to the hilt, taking every local photo-op available, Brown’s handlers are keeping him as far out of sight as possible. No doubt fearful of the inevitable consequences of the Jonah curse of the one eyed son of the manse…

UPDATE : At the old people’s home, Gordon was introduced to Maisie Wright, 94. “Hello, I’m Gordon Brown, the prime minister” he said as he proffered his hand. “That’s nice” replied Maisie, “Wilf over there thinks he is Jesus Christ.” Old, but good.


Seen Elsewhere

Polling Averages Trend | PoliticalBetting.com
Speaker Faces Questions Over Pass for Donor | Sun
Tory MPs’ Visit to Israel Condemned | Guardian
Labour Was Too Slow for the Squeezed Middle | FT
Papers Pan Cam’s Immigration Pledge | ConHome
Deane of St Edmundsbury? | Times
Pay Volunteers and They Become Cheap Labour | Jill Kirby
UKIP Fundraiser Was Jailed for Running Brothels | Times
Bercow Faces Probe Over Pass Mystery | Mirror
Harman Breaks Rules on Paying Staff | Express
Labour Whinge About Sandi Toksvig Joke | Mail


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John McTernan told Channel 4 News

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, you don’t win in politics without breaking legs.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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