Where’s Billy?™ : Rifkind Revisited

Hillary Clinton said in her presser yesterday that “a counterpart” told her “well, don’t worry about it, you should hear what we say about you…” An interesting line, clearly from a native English speaker in its idiomatic use of “well” and “don’t worry about it”, which is bordering on slang. No one with English as a second language, however fluent, would ever come up with a line like that. Add a barbed sense of humour and the fingers are pointing at William Hague.

Talking of Hague, Guido isn’t the only one to have noticed that in the past few days former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has been put on Sky News, BBC News, BBC Radio 2, 4, 5 and Channel Four speaking about Wikileaks and other foreign policy issues. It’s almost as if the current Foreign Secretary has been sidelined and a new spokesman found. Guido can’t think why Hague might not want to hit the airwaves to discuss why the Americans were featuring his personal life in their intelligence dossiers. Rifkind seems well on top of the brief still and would be high up the list of likely candidates for the job, were a vacancy to arise…

UPDATE: Paul Waugh questions why Hague isn’t representing the UK on the international stage in Kazakhstan tomorrow.

It Was Ivan

Further to Guido’s speculation as to who is the “hound-dog” minister that the American diplomats referred to, an authoritative source gets in touch. Apparently it wasn’t Prezza who the American’s found handy, but none other than Ivan Sex Text Pest Lewis.

It was McBride that briefed the story to the News of the World, was he also gossiping with American diplomats? Guido wanted to ask Ivan how he felt about being described in such explicit ways, but it seems he isn’t so keen on phones anymore. No reply from his office yet…

UPDATE : Guido put it to someone in Ivan’s office that this was about to break. They said they were “aware”…

Hound Dog Minister

According to the Guardian one cable reveals how the US embassy in London passed on intelligence about a British Labour minister, picked up from civil servant contacts, saying he “reportedly remains a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned” he was “forced to apologize … to a female … who accused him of sexual harassment … and has had marital troubles in the last few years … Contacts who know him well report he has manic depressive tendencies – ‘he’s very up one minute, very down the next’, and at least one … colleague has described xxx as a ‘bully’.”

Guido’s money is on Prescott, this rumour went around some years ago and concerned not Tracey Temple but another civil servant. The Guardian’s quest for transparency has limits – they are holding back the name – your media betters keeping you in the dark…

UPDATE : Some suggestion that it is Ivan Lewis. To be fair, it could be any one of many randy Labour ministers…

+ + + Confirmed : D-Notice Issued Over Wikileaks + + +

Two issued of types:

DA-Notice 01: Military Operations, Plans & Capabilities

DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services

+ + + RUMOUR: D-Notice Issued on Wikileaks Stories + + +

The Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) which consists of top MOD civil servants and representatives from the media have according to Wikileaks issued a “D-Notice” – an attempt at a news black-out, on the imminent release by Wikileaks of two million diplomatic wire conversations between US Embassies and the White House/CIA. Rumours have been swirling around all day of US envoys meeting counterparts in Israel, London and Australia etc preparing them for extremely embarrassing news. Guido wonders what the US had to say about Blair, Brown and Cameron before bi-lateral meetings. Apparently Obama has been smoothing feathers on the phones.

Guido has just put a call in to Andrew Vallance, the DPBAC, secretary and is awaiting confirmation. If it is true something tells Guido that this isn’t going to work.

Remember what happened to Trafigura and their super-injunction…

Election Night Blogging from ITV News

Keep your tweets coming in if you are at counts, let Guido know what you are seeing in the real world rather than only online.

Log on to :

www.itv.com/news/election2010/

For instant rolling results from around the country.

Watch to see if Will Straw kicks off as his night falls apart…

Who Really Broke the Hoon-Hewitt Scoop?

As so often happens, who broke the story first is fiercely contested.  Guido doesn’t have a dog in this fight, but for the record, since the Staggers is trying to cite Guido as evidence to back up its claim that it broke the news, here is the timeline:

  • Unnoticed by Guido when it happened was Andy Sparrow’s PMQs live-blog, which had this at 11:57:

    11.57 am: Hot news: We’ve just heard that Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt are going to make some kind of statement about Brown’s leadership after PMQs. That’s all I know at the moment.

  • The first Guido knew was when someone shouted out across the newsroom after Andy Sparrow’s Tweet came up on the Guy News Tweetdeck screen, that was time-stamped at 12:01.
  • The Guardian’s website also had a teaser headline at 12:15.
  • The New Statesman at 12:17 publishes what it calls an Exclusive that “A letter is being circulated among Labour MPs this afternoon calling for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown’s leadership. According to one MP who would like Brown to leave office, the letter is being co-ordinated by a number of rebels, including the former cabinet ministers Charles Clarke, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon.”

So there you have it. The Guardian was first, though in the augmented reality of the Staggers It was the NS wot got itIn reality, you snooze, you lose, it ain’t news.

Sparrow told Guido that “it would be nice to take the credit myself, but actually Patrick Wintour obtained the information.” Incidentally, Guido understands that ITN’s Channel 4 News has changed policy on breaking news.  Whereas it restricted scoops to the 7 p.m. broadcast they now put it up as soon as they can on the website and tweet the link.  A cultural change for a mainstream media source.  Steve Hilton getting nicked was tweeted last night by Cathy Newman in advance of telly viewers being told.

It almost goes without saying that Guido tries to be first.  If not first, fast.  When inevitably occasionally wrong, not for long.  We no longer have news cycles, we have news streams…

Guido Killed the Lobby Star

guido killed the lobby starThe PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, yesterday announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings is to be reviewed  “in light of the changes in the reporting of the work of government in an increasingly fast-moving and on-line media world”.  On hearing the news Guido – enjoying a two bottle lunch since PMQs was delayed – paraphrased  lyrics from the Buggles hit on Twitter in celebration.

A working group of six lobby hacks and five government spin doctors is going to come up with recommendations to be implemented next year. No one from the fast-moving online media world is on the working group. Guido has made his views about the Westminster embedded client media that constitutes the Lobby system clear over the years (see Newsnight and The Times). The meek acceptance of non-attributable briefings, often of questionable truth, is hardly helpful to the functioning of an open democracy. This method of information distribution is glorified as “on Lobby terms”.

Comical AliFriends of Mandy have spun the Guardian the idea that the Dark Lord himself should give twice weekly televised briefings* in a new information minister role.  The prospect of Comical Mandy batting off questions from the Lobby has some appeal.  It will all be a pantomime until the clubby culture of the Lobby changes.

*Guido has long supported televised Lobby briefings, ask yourself why is it that Lobby hacks oppose televising them?

A Case Study in Media Disintermediation : #Trafigura

The blogosphere and Twitterati come out of this quite well. M’learned friends will have to rethink strategy. Guido will have more to say about the bigger picture tomorrow. It is time to take the freedom of the press into our […]

+ READ MORE +

More New Media Muscle Flexing – Montgomerie Takes a Scalp

Who really removed the Shadow Leader of the House from his position? David Cameron?

duncan_poll

No, not really. Tim Montgomerie and Heydon Prowse, the blogosphere’s sheperd of the Tory grassroots and the angry young man with a video-cam did the job:[…]

+ READ MORE +

Channel 4 Snooze

cathycorporatepic_biggerThe race for exclusives and scoops is of more interest to hacks and bloggers than it is to the readers and viewers.  News distributors take great pride in being first with the scoop.  Guido is no different in this respect […]

+ READ MORE +

Reporting from the Guardian

IndexGuido was at the Index on Censorship Awards ceremony last night, deep in the bowels of the Guardian’s new fancy offices. The purpose built modern building will make a great museum when the paper eventually goes bust.

The event was […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Janan Ganesh on Labour’s soft left

“Ms Cooper does not believe the previous Labour government was wrong to run a fiscal deficit after 15 years of economic growth. Both she and Mr Burnham think families should be entitled to tax credits for a third child. These views are not mad. They are just a bit too left-wing for Britain. For any serious party, that amounts to the same thing. The soft left is more electable than the hard left but then Mars is more habitable than Neptune: neither planet will host human life anytime soon.”

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