Friday, May 9, 2008

The Blog You Love, They Hate

Julia Hobsbawm’s Editorial Intelligence held a soiree at the RSA on Wednesday about the “Power of the Commentariat“. They had surveyed a hundred or so of the pundit class and invited them to the event to discuss their findings. The great and the good of the chatterati voted Polly Toynbee the most influential columnist and (outside Big Media) Guido the most influential blogger in Britain. Some of the great and the good didn’t like that one little bit.
What insight did these editorial titans take from that? Simon Jenkins, Suzanne Moore, Charles Clarke and Polly obsessed about the uncouth comments from the co-conspirators and CiFers. They are the people. The people you don’t meet at Hampstead dinner parties or in the village deli of your Italian villa. The people who are sick and tired of the metropolitan elite can now tell you so at the bottom of your own article. Polly clearly hates the indignity of being told she is wrong by the CiF mob where her colleagues can see it and laugh along. They really don’t like it up ‘em do they?

Polly basically said Guido can’t be good because he doesn’t like politicians. Simon Jenkins reckoned Guido, Dale and ConservativeHome were too SW1-focused. Charles Clarke said we were self obssessed (nobody laughed). Suzanne Moore said Guido is a wanker in his bedroom. Daniel Finkelstein was the only one of the Commentariat to defend bloggers.

Lets deal with these in order:

  • Guido is cynical about politicians and their motives – as are most people outside the Commentariat – so what? Is that the wrong approach? Not in Guido’s judgement, forinstance apart from Matthew Parris, who of the Commentariat said Gordon Brown would be a total disaster and found out as such rapidly? From right to left he was applauded and lauded by the entire herd of metropolitan chatterers.
  • Guido does despise most politicians, unlike Polly, who showed her good judgement in boosting Gordon Brown so fervently. Now by her own admission, though even recently so full of admiration, she realises he is not up to the job.
  • Guido, Dale and Tim Montgomerie are political bloggers, so it would be odd if we did not in fact write about Westminster where they do, errrm, politics.
  • Charles Clarke’s comment is very odd because he is so full of amour propre as to be risible.
  • The humourless feminazi Suzanne Moore has said it before and she is still wrong. Guido has an office…

If you can bring yourself to listen to them whine at length, the podcast is here. Of the voices heard only Hobsbawm, Finkelstein and a chap from Microsoft “got it”, he said he thought it sounded like he had entered a room full of whigs complaining about pamphleteers. Exactly.

Where Are Clegg’s Expenses?

It is 43 days since Nick Clegg told us with regard to MP’s expenses

“…there is no earthly reason why the rest of the information should not be published immediately. Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”

It is a month since they were due to be delivered according to the time-table given to Guido by his spin-mistress Hannah Gardiner. Where are the expenses?

Hannah gave an entirely different (and somewhat irrelevant) explanation to Sky’s Cheryl Smith. If there is one thing Guido learnt from Hain’s expenses scandal, is that delay is a sign of something to hide. Guido has called Clegg’s office repeatedly asking when his expenses will be published. As Clegg told us himself, delay will only add to distrust…

Portillo is a Broadcaster Not a Tory

Iain Dale gave Portillo a great tongue lashing on election night which has sparked off a wave of Polly-bashing. Guido has a confession to make, he was if not a Portillista certainly a sympathiser. In fact a couple of decades ago Guido worked for David Hart,* the breaker of the NUM and Scargill’s nemesis. Less well known is that Hart had been grooming and encouraging Portillo for years in readiness for greater things. Hart was also the man who installed the phone lines prematurely in preparation for an abortive Portillo leadership challenge. It backfired when it leaked out and undermined Portillo badly. In retrospect perhaps this was fortunate.

Portilllo’s living is nowadays derived from him being respected as someone who understands the Conservative Party and he is drafted in to provide balance and a non-left-wing perspective on the BBC. Oddly he seems completely unsympathetic to Cameron, in fact peevishly hostile. Reports that he voted against the Conservatives last week are incredible if true. Might it not be appropriate therefore for the BBC to find another balancing figure who is a broadcaster and a Tory? Like, errm, Iain Dale?

*Something I have been meaning to blog for sometime – David Hart is seriously ill. He has done his country great service. His role in defeating NUM thugs and ending Scargill’s Marxist dreams make him deserving of the highest honours. He also personally financed and supported a network behind the Iron Curtain which was crucial in assisting dissidents and later in pressurising Gorbachev on perestroika in the Western media. These are just two examples of his good works. For some unexplained reason he was not ennobled by Margaret Thatcher, perhaps an oversight, perhaps he fell out of her favour. By convention the leader of the Conservative Party is able to put forward some names for honours every year for services to the party. David Hart may not have made any donations to the party lately, but he did help Thatcher with her speeches and battles back in the day. His work deserves recognition.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

+++ YouGov Whisper Number : 26% Tory Lead +++

Did Guido mention before that we told you so?


John Hutton didn’t mince his words when he gave Nick Robinson his prediction. He was right.


He made this forecast (video here) to a Question Time audience. He got it wrong, it took five months.


They are going to miss three times election winning Blair when he is gone. Wait and see…
26 June 2007

UPDATE : It occurs to Guido that Michael Portillo may now have to revise his opinion. So Brillo, tonight on the This Week show, ask Polly if he still thinks, as he did only two months ago, that “Brown will win the election”.

Taxation is an Intrusion

The Speaker’s barrister yesterday told a High Court judge that forcing MPs to publish their exp­enses is a “substantial intrusion” into their private lives. Disclosing a detailed breakdown of their claims for running a second home, including addresses, might attract “the mad and the badThey might simply not want the world to know the details of how they were furnishing their home in some particular respect”, Nigel Griffin QC claimed.

The Devil puts it well on his blog:
Well, might I humbly suggest that—if this is the case—that MPs do not use taxpayers’ f***ing cash to buy their furnishings?

By all means remove the address if they are afraid of the people they supposedly represent – the important principle is that we should know what they are spending our money on. It is obvious that they really don’t like us watching them pigging out at the trough. They are clearly ashamed of their greed becoming publicly visible.

Dan Watson Fails to Board the Family Gravy Train

Sadly the trouncing Labour got in the local elections meant that Dan Watson, of Tom Watson’s West Midlands political clan, failed to get on the taxpayer’s gravy train.

Still the Watsons will just have to manage on the £300,000 or so they claim between them from the taxpayers..

UPDATE : A co-conspirator emails to tell Guido that Amy Watson’s candidacy saw a 25% fall in the Labour vote in Birmingham Kings Norton. Another £15,000 in expenses denied to the Watson family fortune.

Miliband is the New Heseltine

Last night Miliband was on Newsnight, unlike Gordon he does have the courage to face Paxo, and was arguing that “Green is the new red”. All very worthy and dull eco-technocratic-tosh. More interesting were his protestations about not wanting Gordon’s job. That is something that Alan Johnson emphasises as well. Clearly if you want to survive and not be mauled by the Brownies briefing behind your back, you have to say repeatedly “Gordon is the best man for the job”. Despite the fact that, as Martin Bright writes in this week’s New Statesman, the Labour Party is no longer in denial post the May Day Massacre.

Miliband’s word formula is that he is getting on with being foreign secretary, it is becoming almost as familiar as Heseltine’s old word formula: Heseltine used to say that there were “no circumstances imaginable currently in which he would…”

Last night it was nuanced very deliberately in Guido’s opinion:

Paxo : How much longer can you resist these calls for you to take on the burden of leadership?

Milibland : For as long as it takes until Gordon Brown calls the next general election. Gordon was the right leader last year and he is the right leader this year, and to take us into the general election

Clearly Gordon is the captain and he can go down with the sinking ship, then it is everyone for himself…

Miliband’s word formulations have to allow for the non-cerebal Brownies’ psychotic tendencies. Hence he pledges completely over the top total fidelity and loyalty – with a time limit – until the day after the general election. The truth is Gordon has the job until election day because no one else now wants it. That is also why Alan Johnson doesn’t want the job of spinning on broadcast media, the job Hazel Blears undertook in the past for Blair. He clearly does not want to be associated in the public eye with the Brown disaster.Guido still stands by his 2005 prophecy: Cameron will be PM and Miliband will immediately challenge for the leadership…

Labour’s Credit Crunch

The FT this morning reports that the Labour Party can’t pay back loans made to the party under the Blair / Levy Loans for Lordships scheme. The party
is in emergency talks to renegotiate more than £10m of loans from wealthy businessmen to prevent itself running out of money.

Most of the millionaires who secretly lent money to Labour in the run-up to the 2005 election ought to be repaid in the coming months but the party – which is £20m in the red – is in no position to do this.

The rolling re-scheduling has been going on for three years, unless a billionaire steps in the party will never be in a position to re-pay the £20m or so it owes. Lakshmi Mittal has given over £5 million, Sainsbury has given some £15 million (more than Ashcroft has given the Tories). You have to ask why, if they can’t manage their own party finances, should they be trusted with the national finances? Labour is a sub-prime credit risk, led by a sub-priminister…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The First Days of Mayor Boris

It got off to a good start with the police making good on his tough crime stance promise – shooting a drunk gun toting lawyer. However this banning of drink on public transport* has Guido worried (for one reason and another). Will hip-flasks be confiscated?

Will we be able to travel intoxicated, will one be able travel with bottles of booze? What are the mechanics of this? Guido may have to resort to Cameroon style transport arrangements in London – cycling one-handed while swigging from a jug of Pimms. Oh, hold on…
The thing is Boris, if you go to Beijing to hob-nob with Tibet’s oppressors (and don’t send the right signals) as well as getting all authoritarian in your first week with the G&T swilling classes on the long march to Zone 6, we will remember your treachery come 2012. This may be the most rapid disillusionment with a politician ever…

*Pretty sure that Guido was served alcohol on public river transport between Westminster and Canary Wharf one evening. It was pretty civilised for public transport. Is that to be banned?

Taxodus : Aberdeen Asset Management Packs Bags

Aberdeen Asset Management manages £114 billion and is rumoured to be following Brit Insurance to Dublin. The Times adds Smith & Nephew as well as Cadbury heading for the tax exit doors. Will the last multi-national to leave switch off the light…

Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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