This Wednesday he will be troughing at the Ritz-Carlton in the Cayman Islands, where he will no doubt be ranting to bankers, fund managers and other running dogs of capitalism as a guest of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association. Clearly he is taking the fight for socialism to the enemy…
As for the rest of the Lobby – Guido is distinctly unimpressed with most of them. Why do thirsty Lobby hacks have an annual taxpayer subsidy of £210,000 for their bar? Where is the public interest in this subsidy? What other profession needs a bar at their place of work? The only other business that Guido can think of that gets leads in bars is the oldest profession.
Why can’t News International and Associated Press pay for their own office space and telephone lines instead of sponging subsidies* off the taxpayer? They are hugely profitable businesses.
The lossmaking Indy, Guardian and Telegraph collectively make less profits than Guido does, so perhaps they need their offices subsidised by the people who refuse to buy their papers. Or perhaps there are just too many newspapers and not enough readers willing to pay for them? The Lobby is full of drunken hypocrites recycling spin from the party machines. A cull of their numbers would hardly be a loss to the world.
Peter Oborne in his Triumph of the Political Class characterises the Lobby system as having produced a tame “client media”. He is absolutely right, the Lobby is far too cosily embedded in the politico-media system, far too close to their subjects, with the likes of Nick Robinson flashing his taxpayer-financed credit card to pour the better vintages down the throats of ministers who have their lunch on the BBC telly-taxpayers. The same ministers have their groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home paid for out of the costs allowance fiddle by low income taxpayers who have just had their tax rate doubled. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians benefit from the system staying the same.
Too much public money is sloshing around Westminster effectively keeping them cosy together. No wonder Nick Robinson and Michael Martin don’t want us to see their expenses – they are the biggest beneficiaries of keeping taxpayers in the dark. At the British Press Awards last night Cameron began with “I haven’t come here to try and suck up to you” then went on to paraphrase H. L. Mencken saying that the relationship between newspapers and politicians should be “fractious, edgy and confrontational”. H. L. Mencken actually said that the relationship between a journalist and a politician should be like that between “a dog and a lampost”, journalists should be pissing on politicians not getting pissed with ’em…
*No taxpayers are harmed in the making of this blog.
The Mirror does a lot of Cameron bashing. Kevin Maguire, political editor, writes Beano-like articles with references to Lord Snooty and druggie Dave, the Bambi-killing toff. All good knock about stuff (though Guido does wonder if this means he patronisingly thinks Mirror buyers have the reading age of a Beano reader?)
The story last week that Samantha Cameron was guilty of “snubbing a charity trying to stop mothers dying in childbirth… because she was too busy with her job… at posh stationer Smythson” struck Guido as pretty low.
The Daily Express had to pay £500,000 to the parents of Madeleine McCann after admitting just making up stories. The Mirror does seem to be going down the same path with this kind of story. It is one thing to follow Dave about on his bike and root through his bins for disposable nappies, to see if his words match his deeds, that is just about defensible. This was just a completely manufactured story to paint Samantha Cameron in a bad light.
*Circulation down year after year for years, it now has a circulation nearly half that of The Sun.
Elsewhere in the Mirror today Maguire makes the point that the most revealing moment of “Cameron’s reckless ride to Westminster was the toff’s removal of his cycling helmet.” You can take the man out of PR, but you can’t take the PR man out of the photo-op.
Maguire went on to moan that the Brownies electorally “hoping that Tory toff Cameron cycles through one red light too many won’t work.” Quite. Guido learns from Kevin that Gordon has a new slogan: “New Labour, Your Britain.” Maguire helpfully suggests “with the government behind in the polls, what about: ‘Labour, Not As Bad As You Think’?
Guido twice in agreement with Kevin Maguire in a single day? Must lie down…
*Guido was taught at an early age that “a smear is not a smear when it is the truth”.
Colvile also got quite a lot of coverage for saying that the BNP’s website was the most popular politics site. It wasn’t. Can you guess which gossipy politics site beat them all with the most visitors last month?
Guido contacted Robert Colvile immediately on seeing the chart, he blamed the CPS and insisted that he had told them to include Guido in the chart. The CPS’s Tim Knox told Guido “sorry” and that they would correct it immediately. Of course if Guido has been included it would put all those millions spent by the Telegraph on new media in a different light – wouldn’t it? To come second to one not-always-sober Guy with a lap-top after losing £10 million on developing your website last year?
This grumble aside, it is still worth reading, particularly the point about voters now expecting government to be as good as Google. Responsive instantly, open and transparent. Something that Guido would have emphasised, is the idea of the blogosphere as the Gramscian “site of struggle” for the politico-media world’s mindshare. In this world new media can compete vigorously with Big media. In the U.S. the Drudge Report, according to the respected Pew Research Centre, is the second most important online source of campaign information in politics, behind only the New York Times and ahead of the Washington Post. So it will be over here too, and the readers will still enjoy insulting the politicians…