And you thought Emily Maitliss was the leggy one…
And you thought Emily Maitliss was the leggy one…
Guido is grateful to Newsnight’s David Grossman for revealing how it passed that Jacqui Smith’s investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and critical report to to the Committee on Standards and Privileges resulted in a mere slap on the wrist.
Guido has, for once, no complaints about Commissioner John Lyon’s report to the Committee. Paul Waugh says that the Commissioner “confided during the course of his inquiry that he has to “keep a keen eye on the blogs”. Government sources feel that Lyon believed he was under heavy pressure to do a tough report…” Good. It is fair to say that John Lyon and the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics were in correspondence from the outset – remember the Commissioner at first rejected Sunlight’s original request for an investigation into Jacqui Smith. Sunlight persisted, citing precedent and the existence of witnesses and he reluctantly began an investigation. (Sunlight’s correspondence was noticeably omitted from the final report.)
The former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alastair Graham, is shocked that despite the findings, which include that the former Home Secretary attempted to mislead the investigation as to where she spent most of her nights, the MPs’ Committee on Standards and Privileges ruled she just had to apologise. Guido has said it before; MPs judging MPs will always give them the benefit of the doubt, it is like selecting jurors from prison. In this case the composition of the Committee was disgraceful. One Tory, Greg Knight, was outnumbered by five Labour MPs, Andrew Dismore, Chris Mullin, Kevin Barron, Paddy Tippin and Dr Alan Whitehead. So despite being found to have wrongly claimed £116,000, to have mislead the investigation and broken the rules, her ‘honourable’ friends ruled she had to merely apologise. She was not ordered to repay a single penny. This is crime without punishment…
Remember Fraser Nelson pleading with the Prime Mentalist to tell the truth?
The tape doesn’t lie. Unlike Gordon.
UPDATE 23.10 : Newsnight’s David Grossman has just run this pooled clip, without the Sky overlays. If you look carefully you can spot Grossman smirking in the front row.
Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale have got quite worked up about the Newsnight line-up for its Politics Pen experiment. Essentially the charge is they had four Labour insider / cronies vetoing public expenditure control policies from wonks (and a comedian).
The political Dragon’s Den / Politics Pen types were Lord Digby Jones (former Labour Minister), Deborah Mattinson (Gordon Brown’s pollster), Matthew Taylor (Blair’s Head of Policy) and Greg Dyke (former Labour donor and luvvie of the nineties).
Not being known as one to miss a chance to bash the BBC you might be surprised to hear Guido thinks the Newsnight editor Peter Rippon has a point. He can balance this panel in another show with a panel of right-of-centre panelists giving the thumbs up or thumbs down to advocates for quangos and big spending departments.
The next panel could listen to those making the case for spending just as the previous panel listened to those making the case for expenditure control… they will do that, right?
Until now we have had no way of knowing what the public really think of the party leaders performance. Instead, the members of the commentariat simply form their insider consensus, unsupported by anything other than their own shared metropolitan prejudices.
For example, the current consensus among the pundits is that it’s not a good idea for Cameron to get angry with Brown. “Too much like Flashman” think the hacks. But lots of voters are angry as hell at the PM and want to see him get a great big slap in the face (hence the popularity in Dan Hannan’s viral video in which he gave the PM the full hairdryer treatment).
Are the pundits right? What do swing voters actually think? At the moment that knowledge isn’t available to anyone unless they have pots of cash to spend. In the U.S. Frank Luntz charges corporate clients a small fortune to run dial groups (as seen on Newsnight) which capture exactly how voters feel about what politicians are saying. If you have the money, the effect of every word and weird facial expression can be measured precisely.
Now that technology is about to be democratised… it is time to cut out Sir Michael White and find out what voters actually think. Let the crowd-sourced experiment begin – click here or on the button above and you will be able to record your responses blow-by-blow to today’s PMQs clash. We’ll have the results back later…
Won’t be about his personal mores, just his financial dishonesty. That Cowley Street moral high ground looking increasingly shaky..
Hat-tip : Liberal Vision
Not often that Polly Toynbee, Tim Montgomerie and Guido agree: popular anger with the political class is rising. Something that Polly wants Labour to adjust to by moving policy to the left as well as limiting public-sector fat-cat pay. Tim Montgomerie agrees on the latter but wants the Tories to wake up to popular anger by putting on hair-shirts and getting their own snoughts out of the trough. Guido welcomes both pundits to the anti-politics banner.
Democracy is broken, the political media elite distant from the people with the two main parties offering no choice and no change. Osborne is promising no change and blaming the economic crisis. Taxation will remain penal, spending will remain prolific, there will be some reforms of a failed state bureaucracy but no rollback and no radicalism. Hannan is at least making the case for a radical shift of power from the centralised state bureaucracy to people at local level.
The Cameroons can’t seal the deal with the people with pragmatism, “Triangulation Now!” is not the banner that will get people marching. Voters are angry with Brown and disenchanted with politicians offering more of the same. Bedazzled during the Blair years, Cameron, Osborne and Hilton have yet to show that they realise the times have fundamentally changed. Taking strategic advice from the wrong Danny* has left the Tories outflanked on their USP – the LibDems are now the only party promising to reduce the tax burden on the low paid. Hannan told Newsnight last night that people are fed up of being, “ripped off, lied to and ignored” by politicians. Disenchantment with politicians has never been higher, most think they are overpaid and dishonest. Hannan gets it. This crisis is an opportunity to radically change the plan.
“I shall wear a poppy because an act of remembrance once a year is the very least that those of us who have not been asked to risk our lives can offer those who did not have a choice.”
We know what Paxman thinks of faked evidence (watch him grill Policy Exchange’s Dean Godson here). He told Godson with his trademark sneer: “Authenticity is all, as you well know.”
Paxman, who is paid by the BBC £1 million for a three day week on Newsnight, was not available to answer Guido’s questions.