Tonight Newsnight is hosting a four-way debate – with the BBC giving the Greens the fourth seat despite UKIP currently polling higher. During the debate Ken will no doubt make his usual magic money promises and claim that Boris plans to kill all London’s first born sons. So, to make it easy for you to keep track of Ken’s unfounded claims during the debate, the NotKenAgain.com website has created a positive fun little game they’re calling KEN-GO.
Filmed live at the Barley Mow, Westminster.
Last night Jeremy Paxman hosted the final round of Twitter’s Next Top Model. And what a heated final it was…
Taking Newsnight by storm was GQ’s cover-girl Louise Mensch. The successful chick-lit author sported a vintage cocktail dress, with a simple yet elegant jacket, Mensch perfectly mixed old school Tory for a sexy new-age feel.
Joining her was the recent New Statesman cover-girl Laurie Penny, the former burlesque dancer turned political pundit went for the classic little black dress, accessorised with a small pink badge. A bold colour palette was on display with her hair. With Laurie wearing her political allegiances on her head, we now know why they call her Penny Red.
It’s hard to choose a winner, as all the ladies looked so lovely.
UPDATE: The full cat fight:
Guido understand’s that Allegra Stratton is the new Newsnight political editor, a welcome successor to Michael Crick. She actually started years ago on Newsnight, before going on to the Daily Politics and This Week in the not too distant past. She hails from the left whilst sharing a pillow with the Spectator’s James Forsyth, which provides her with a reality check. She will be a fresh, younger face for late night political telly. Guido will try to stay awake…
Sir Richard Lambert, was not amused, demanding “do we have to go on with this rubbish Jeremy” when Peter Oborne threw his Guilty Men pamphlet at him across the table with the words “you’re in it, read it”. At the same time a eurocrat version of Comical Ali who had been praising the euro stormed out of the Brussels studio on air after being repeatedly called an idiot by Oborne – at one point even Paxman referred to him as “Mr Idiot in Brussels”. It was an ode to joy…
Those of you following Guido on Twitter will know that for weeks Guido has been using the hashtag #CircularFiringSquad to drip out names of journalists from other newspaper groups, in particular the Mirror group, who are as guilty as those arrested at the News of the World. Illegal hacking and blagging, with no public interest defence, has been endemic at Mirror titles. Last night on BBC Newsnight they produced testimony from former employees that at the Sunday Mirror
- they hired a voiceover artist to imitate celebrities to blag information
- they “saw Liz Hurley’s phone being hacked and a reporter listen to her mobile phone messages”
- Ex-Sunday Mirror journalist Richard Watson confirmed hacking took place “pretty much every day”
Last week this blog reported on the record accusations against Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, that she was at the heart of a culture of journalistic illegality. Max Keiser claimed that she personally told him in 2002 about Piers Morgan’s working knowledge of phone hacking – at a time when he was editor of the Daily Mirror. Guido has extensively reported allegations against Piers Morgan dating back to his time at the Daily Mirror which have been followed up worldwide. We have reported testimony that when Mark Thomas was editor of the Sunday People, he was according to Guido’s source – who is a household name, “the biggest phone hacking enthusiast”. The evidence of the Information Commissioner against the Mirror group is compelling.
If it turns out that Sly Bailey’s Mirror group was a criminal enterprise, they will have to face the consequences, with a market capitalisation of only £140 million and damages that could mount up to tens of millions the consequence could be bankruptcy. Plus jail time…
Meantime, and until the due process of the law takes its slow course, Guido thinks it beyond credibility that Tina Weaver is a member of the self-regulatory Press Complaints Commission. Tina should step down.
On a personal note, if Mirror group newspapers “go after“ Louise Mensch MP, as they are openly threatening to do, they will be making a big mistake. She sits on the DCMS Select Committee and is determined to widen their inquiries out to other newspapers beyond the News of the World. Tina and Sly should remember that it was a similar threat by Rebekah Brooks against Tom Watson that eventually led to News International being brought to crisis point. Louise is just as tough as Tom…
Imagine a secretive organisation whose members have privileged access to Downing Street. Imagine that the members of this organisation receive information covertly. Imagine that the rules of this organisation force the members to withhold information from outsiders if the Prime Minister tells them so to do. Then consider that the members of this closed, opaque, secretive organisation are supposed to hold politicians to account on behalf of the public. After 208 years it is time to end the Lobby system.
The gentlemen of the Lobby drink in subsidised bars, from which the public are excluded, with the politicians they are supposed to hold to account on behalf of that same public. Cowardice and cronyism runs right through the Lobby because they are fearful of being taken off the teat of pre-packaged stories served to them. That is not journalism, that is copy-taking, this blog was established in part because Guido believes the Lobby system fails the public. The Fourth Estate may not have a formal constitutional role, but the role is real. The role is not to produce “client journalism”.
Peter Oborne in his brilliant 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 who had their expensed groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home at the taxpayers’ expense. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians – journalists – and the politicians themselves, are the only ones who benefit from the system staying the same.
Two years ago the then PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the then chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings was 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”. A working group of six lobby hacks and five government spin doctors was to come up with recommendations to be implemented last year. No one from the fast-moving online media world was on the working group. Did anything change? No.
Tom Watson has just called for an end to the Lobby system and off the record briefings. Cameron has said he supports all contacts between politicians and newspaper executives being a matter of public record. More transparency is clearly a good thing. That transparency should be applied to the Lobby system…
See also: In 2007 Guido filmed this polemic against the Lobby system for Newsnight:
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