Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Guys Arrested, Searched, and Ticketed


Start:

Outside Downing Street:

+++ Police Arrest and Search Ten Guy Fawkes in Parliament Square +++

Remember, Remember

Since Guido is a tourist in Westminster today, this lunchtime seems like a good day to go for a walk. Assuming that he isn’t arrested (again) Guido will then be sauntering along to Millbank to listen to Hazel give her speech to the Hansard Society and responding to it at about 4pm. Later tonight having tunnelled inside the House of Commons, Guido will be shining a light on the normally opaque world of those shysters known as lobbyists at an event chaired by David Hencke, the Guardian’s delver into dirty deeds. It is organised by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency who ironically are a front group for totalitarian greens. Your enemy’s enemy etcetra…

With the Public Administration Select Committee shortly to publish its recommendations from a year-long inquiry into the lobbying industry, now seems like a good time to put the boot in. Should say incidentally that sleazy lobbyists Morgan Allen Moore have told the Association of Professional Political Consultants that they will withdraw from the self-regulation group if Robbie Macduff speaks on the same platform as Guido. Hopefully that is a promise, good riddance to bad rubbish…

Averting the Next Crisis: why transparency in lobbying matters

Panel

David Hencke, Westminster correspondent, The Guardian (Chair)

Robbie MacDuff, Chair, Association of Professional Political Consultants

Robert Siddall, CEO, Airport Operators Association

Peter Facey, Director, Unlock Democracy

Prof David Miller, Director, SpinWatch

Guido Fawkes, Westminster blogger

6 -7pm, 5th November 2008

Committee Room 9, House of Commons

Sponsor, John Grogan MP

Contact for further information, stories or comment
Tamasin Cave: Tel: 07973 424 015; email: tamasin@spinwatch.org

No PMQs live-chat today, am in Westminster all afternoon. Media bids for Guido re Walk / Blears / Lobbyists to 0709 284 0531. Later…

Congratulations America

Watch with amusement as the Hilary-backing Brownies claim the rookie, inexperienced Obama for their own and laugh as the sister party to the Republicans congratulate the Democratic candidate.

Palin who?

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…


Seen Elsewhere

Moral Bankruptcy of the BBC | David Keighley
UKIP’s ‘Starsky and Hutch’ | Total Politics
Innocent Sun Journo Just Doing Her Job | Sun
Boris Sent Up North | Times
The Only Way to Mend the EU | Leo McKinstry
Northern Labour Tearing Party Apart | David Aaronovitch
Osborne is Son of Brown | Peter Oborne
Uber Needs to Mind Its Manners | CapX
Sun Victory in Court | MediaGuido
UKIP Gains Coming at Labour’s Expense | Elections Etc
Farage’s Migrant Muddle | Indy


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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