Friday, May 16, 2008

The Sheep With The Wool Pulled Over Her Eyes


Janet Daley’s stunning insights into the character of Gordon Brown in her Daily Telegraph column last year caused disquiet with many on the right because she is seen to be of the right. She firmly bought into Gordon’s project, thinking that he would be intellectually firm in the face of the shallow flim-flammery of Cameron.

She wrote immediately after the Glasgow terror attack:

Mr Brown made a terse and perfectly judged statement. For all its brevity, it conveyed the essential message of calm resolution and national unity: “I know that the British people will stand together, united, resolute and strong.” This was High Seriousness delivered in the old-fashioned way, with spare wartime urgency and without sentimentality.

He even became to her a great, non-neurotic TV performer:

Again, yesterday, in his interview with Andrew Marr, Mr Brown did not put a foot wrong … Interestingly, these were the first television appearances I have seen in which there was no sign of his peculiar nervous mannerism of rolling his tongue inside his mouth that is so beloved by satirists. Has he been trained out of it, or has he been transformed by his role and the state of national emergency? Either way, its absence helps to remove the impression of neuroticism that would not have inspired public confidence.

So no more laughing at Gordon the Great. The next month in August 2007 she contrasted Brown’s biblical strength to the effete Dave. Gordon had, in Janet’s view, the strength to withstand the trials of power:

First the terror attacks, then the floods, now the pestilence. Gordon Brown seems to be undergoing the trials of Job. But in this case, it is not so much his faith that is being tested as the country’s in him. And, my goodness, isn’t he rising to the challenge?

Once again he has appeared on our television screens within hours of terrible news, not just to assure us that he personally is taking charge of the foot and mouth crisis but to thank the authorities in affected communities for their cooperation and competence – to make it clear, in other words, that he is in command but also deeply respectful of people on the ground who must deal with the problems over which they have singular expertise.

Wow! Will this guy ever put a foot wrong?

Gee, Janet, who knows? Your psephological predictions suggested not: What the voters will look for is not a leader who bangs on about how things look, but one who can cope with reality.

Reality struck Janet hard in September :

Can Gordon pull it back? This week is the true beginning of the Brown era, as opposed to the fag end of the previous one. With the Queen’s Speech and the first Brownite legislative programme we should get the answer to the political question of the moment: was the New Brown a figment of our imagination, the most transitory illusion ever to capture the imagination of the Commentariat, or was there really something there worth grasping?

Almost a redemptive mea culpa.

The Commentariat collectively, Janet in particular, wrote in the summer of 2007 with all the considered judgement of a herd of sheep. They however would have you believe that they possess valuable insights and good judgement based on their intellect and access to the key players. They have opinions just like everyone, no better, no worse. They merely express them better than most. More often than not their access and close proximity to the subjects they write about clouds their judgement. Mostly their opinions are not worth the chip-wrapping they are written on…

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

+++ Live PMQs Chat Here 11.45 +++

We will be watching Daily Politics. Would a co-conspirator like to volunteer to be a moderator? Basically let everything pass with few exceptions even if it upsets Suzanne Moore. No drinking before midday. Email Guido.Fawkes@order-order.com.

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PMQs : Don’t Shout Abuse at the Telly

After the alcohol driven success of the local election night live-chat Guido will be hosting on the blog another live chat session from 11.30 until 12.30 covering PMQs. We will be watching the Daily Politics as our point of reference.

On election night it was fun and profoundly profane. No doubt this time it will be full of respect for our political masters, completely free from bad language and vitriol. Or maybe not…

The system allows Guido to let 10 chatterers go freely unmoderated, the rest have to have their comments click-approved. So if you want to be unmoderated, be wittier and more amusing…

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ofcom : "Guido is a Public Service"

Guido has only just become aware that Ofcom has published a consultation paper on Public Service Broadcasting in the Digital Age. So what?

Well, this blog is cited in the review of “public service content available online” as “an example of a widely read and influential blog that has become a must-read in Westminster.” Of course, but is it a “public service”? It is, after all, primarily for Guido’s personal amusement and mischief making merriment. This is not a public space, it is private property.

On the other hand, the Tories have a policy proposal to top slice the telly-tax to other public service providers to promote diversity and stimulate the creative industries market. If Guido is a public service content provider, does that not mean as content goes multi-platform, with online video-on-demand and suchlike, that Guido should get a splash of the £3 billion gravy train? Drinks all round on the telly taxpayer, why waste all that money on the BBC?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Politics Home" Beta Snapshot

“Politics Home”* is the beta working title of the still-under-wraps site that aims to be the Bloomberg News of politics – it certainly looks a little familiar to the users of the financial newswire service. No original editorial as far as Guido can see, more rolling news headlines from not just the blogosphere, the entire English speaking online political universe. The rolling news feed will take headlines from mainstream media sites and video feeds as well.

It looks like it will kill off the ailing ePolitix site, which has now taken to cutting and pasting stories from Guido. Rumours of staff losses including the abrupt leaving of the finance director might explain the 80% drop in Huveaux plc shares. (Huveaux is the parent company of the House Magazine, Dods and ePolitx). “Content is king” is the view of Guido and Rupert Murdoch (originally). Convenience is cool too, could this overcome the info-overload tsunami that political junkies now suffer?


*They say that is not going to be the final name.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gordon Tells Court His "Manifesto Pledges are Not Subject to Legitimate Expectation"

Guido thought that this attempt to take Gordon Brown to Court by a UKIP member for breach of contract over not holding a referendum on the EU Constitution was crazy. It was in the manifesto and a manifesto commitment is a promise. So they do have a case of sorts but with little chance of success methinks.

But it was absolutely worth it for the admission in Court by Gordon’s barrister that you should not believe a word Gordon writes in the manifesto. Q.E.D.

Incidentally, the quote was taken down in Court and blogged before any broadcaster, newswire or newsroom got it out by Is There More to Life than Shoes? Good work pussycat…

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guardian Online Doesn’t Have Much to Boast About

The Guardian was boasting this week that it has 3.6 million UK users a month. Guido has got the breakdown of those numbers from the online industry’s competitive intelligence monitors Hitwise.

In December the Guardian politics pages had some 455,000 UK users, compared to Guido’s 305,000 users. Iain Dale is on a similar number. In fact any two of the top five blogs get more British readers in a month than the whole of Guardian Online’s politics pages. Something that should be worrying the boys and girls on the Farringdon Road…

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Story You Won’t Get from the BBC, Guardian or The Times
The Secret of Three of Westminster’s Media Gate-keepers

Yesterday on the Today programme there was a discussion as to if the mainstream media would sit on a story that Guido would not. Sarah Montague dismissed the idea that there is in fact a cosy media elite.

Well here is another story that everyone in the Westminster media knows yet won’t publish. It involves three household names; Jackie Ashley, the Guardian’s cheerleader-in-chief for the Brownies, Alice Miles of The Times, who cheers for the Cameroons and Andy Marr, Gordon Brown’s much favoured BBC interlocutor.


If this story was about soap stars, footballers or chart-toppers it would be all over the papers. If an actress on EastEnders had an affair with an actor on Coronation Street who was married to the star of Emmerdale which resulted in a love-child it would be front-page news on every newspaper.

Yet Andy Marr fathering a child with Alice Miles whilst married to Jackie Ashley goes unreported. Across newsrooms, at Islington and Hampstead dinner parties it has been common knowledge for years. These three journalists are at the heart of the politico-media nexus that constitutes the new ruling class. The producers and editors who are the media gate-keepers would not be keen to dish the dirt on their own… despite the fact that it would be of huge interest to the public.

UPDATE : Lots of high minded left-windbag pomposity about this story. Excellent. The great Stanislav returns in the comments with a verbal tour-de-farce which very eloquently mirrors Guido’s thinking. Don’t recall any of those now attacking “gutter blogging” raising any such hackles when another prominent political journalist’s sexual foibles and follies were exposed. In fact most of them rejoiced everytime Boris Johnson was caught with his pants down…

UPDATE 2011: According to reports, following a DNA test Andrew Marr turns out not to be the father despite having paid paternity for years.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Today Radio 4 : Guido on Drudge

Guido will shortly be paying homage to Matt Drudge on the tail end of the Today programme this morning. They will probably wheel out some old Guardian hack to tell you how it was better in the old days, before the internet. Wonder who…?

UPDATE : It was David Hencke, the Guardian’s sleaze investigatior, so not a confrontation, more a consensus. Be warned Tango-man fans, we swapped titbits in the green room…

UPDATE II : You can catch-up on BBC listen again. Scroll down to 08.30 – 9.00, fast forward 22 minsutes, it is some 7 minutes from the end.


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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