Profundity of the Punditry : the President Blair Delusion

It was only a few weeks ago that the papers were full of punditry warning that Tony Blair was about to become the President of Europe.  He would, we were assured, stop the traffic…

The Thunderer front-paged the news that “Tony Blair is in line to be proclaimed Europe’s first president within weeks if the Irish vote “yes” in today’s referendum. Senior British sources have told The Times that President Sarkozy has decided that Mr Blair is the best candidate and that Angela Merkel has softened her opposition” written with authority by the paper’s chief political correspondent, Philip Webster.

“Tony Blair’s star in the ascendant as presidency chances grow.” “EU prepares to welcome President Tony Blair” wrote David Charter in Brussels for The Times. Blair “is now a front-runner to become the second most powerful man on the planet after President Obama” claimed a breathless Andrew Pierce. “Number 10 believes that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, will add her support to the move if she is allowed to choose a German for the other new role created by the Lisbon Treaty, the high representative for foreign affairs” said Porter, also in the Telegraph.

The idea that Tony Blair was the favourite for the job was taken as read by most of the serious broadsheet pundits from across the political spectrum (and James Macintyre).  A form of parochialism that was much more than just a collective fantasia of social-democratic and europhile wishful thinking.  How did the pundits get it so wrong?

Broadsheet pundits are quick to dismiss bloggers, but the error of their ways was pointed out here:

“…overlooked by our somewhat delusional and europhile media elite is one glaring inconvenient fact; centre-right parties are politically dominant in Europe currently, the President is likely to come from their ranks.”

And what happened?

UPDATE : Co-conspirators have pointed out some more missing names from the directory of the deluded; even Fraser Nelson succumbed, Simon Richards frothed Blair is The Only Man for this Job, Oliver Kamm, Jackie Ashley, Matthew d’Ancona (“the former PM is certainly the best candidate available”), John Rentoul “Yes, Oui, Ja”.  Who called it right?  The Telegraph’s Dan Hannan, who has a day job as a eurosceptic MEP.  Perhaps he understands the EU reality better than his chattering-class critics…

UPDATE II : The Indy’s John Rentoul emails to protest “I said he SHOULD be.  I said he WOULDN’T be.  Get me out of that list of losers.”

Tune In, Turn On, Hang About

Do pay attention chaps, PMQs is at 3pm, not midday today…

Speccie BoobooThe PMQs live-chat will be live on this blog starting at 2.55 pm…

Speccie v Staggers on Communism and Circulation

speccie-v-staggers

In the week we celebrate the Fall of the Wall (more in this coming week’s Guidogram) the covers of our political weeklies are worth comparing.  The Speccie reveals and condemns Soviet agents at the highest levels of the Labour Party.  The New Statesman glories in a cover with a flattering (old) picture of the communist tyrant Fidel Castro.  On the inside is a feature on his allegedly ‘popular’ variant of socialism.  So popular is Castro’s socialism that he has turned the island into a prison, locked up dangerous poets, not held an election in half a century and jailed dissident democrats.  No mention in the article of the people who to attempt to flee to Miami on floats made out of car tyres or the level of destitution to which the country has been reduced.  Perhaps Castro is popular in the same way that the Staggers is ‘popular’.   Up to date ABC circulation figures are no longer available, but the suspicion is that since they have got rid of the adult political reporters the weekly circulation has gone below 20,000 – less than the daily readership of this blog.  Online data  since the beginning of the year shows the relative downward trend:

Relative Trends

Perhaps if it was more in the real world politically – the latest claim is that the Chief Rabbi of Poland is a Tory stooge – the downward trend of the Staggers might be arrested.  Perhaps they are hoping, vainly in Guido’s view, that a change of government will boost circulation…

The Blair Delusion

Splashed across the opinion pages of Britain’s lower-circulation, loss making newspapers the punditocracy claims Blair is The Only Man for this Job. Steve Richards, Oliver Kamm, Jackie Ashley, Matthew d’Ancona (“the former PM is certainly the best candidate available”), John RentoulYes, Oui, Ja, and most of the rest of the Islington chattering classes are agreed:  Blair should be president.eu-blair

For a reality check let Guido quote the Süddeutsche Zeitung

The chances of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair going to the post of President of the European Council’s are zero…  At the meeting of Socialist leaders before the start of the EU summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was not listened to in his plea in favour of his predecessor… Thus Blair is in fact out of the race, because for this task no one wants to trust him.

Also overlooked by our somewhat delusional and europhile media elite is one glaring inconvenient fact; centre-right parties are politically dominant in Europe currently, the President is likely to come from their ranks.

Yesterday Brown fibbed in Brussels that “People would be pleased if a British person became president. I think most people would prefer a British person taking this job rather than citizens of other countries.” Polls show that less than a third of Britons support ‘President Blair’.  Brown has perhaps the worst case of delusion, out of touch with the will of his own people.  Guido knew that Blair would definitely not get the job once Brown cursed threw his backing behind him

Assinder’s Dark Unsubstantiated Hypocrisy

HypocriteOn his somewhat dark looking blog, Nick Assinder, fresh from resigning from PoliticsHome on a point of high principle, suggests this morning that as a result of The Sun switching “Brown will be hurling staplers and mobiles across his hotel room tonight.” Suggesting that the Prime Mentalist is prone to uncontrollable rages and throwing office equipment around the room.

Who said

So, here is a classic example of a dark, unsubstantiated rumour about the Prime Minister’s personal life that owes its existence entirely to a single blog.

about allegations that the Prime Mentalist pops pills?

Does Nick Assinder have a shred of first hand evidence that Gordon Brown is prone to Nokia throwing? Or is this just a classic single example of a blogger’s hypocrisy?

Steve Richards Says “No Bank Collapsed”

Steve Richards in the Indy begins his panglossian column with “Labour activists heading for their pre-election conference in Brighton this weekend have cause to be in a mood of giddy euphoria. The Government called it right during the recession. No bank collapsed.”

Apart from Northern Rock of course. Oh, the Royal Bank of Scotland as well. Errrm, didn’t Halifax Bank of Scotland almost bring down Lloyds TSB into the bargain?  Almost forgot Bradford & Bingley. Every UK household has the equivalent of £3,000 invested in shares in RBS and Lloyds.  The taxpayer 100% owns Northern Crock and Bradford & Bingley because they collapsed.

Giddy Steve Richards’ grasp of the facts is worse than his analysis…

See also The Case for Elite Politics and Not Listening to the People, Steve Richards: Fails Numeracy Test and Steve Richards : “Voters Aren’t As Clever As Me”.

Jackie Ashley, Tory Strategist

Don Paskini laments the profound insight into political strategy offered by the Guardian’s Jackie Ashley, the self-confessed Brownite also know as Mrs Marr:

jackie ashley

June 2009: “what is silly is to imply that Labour would not make cuts or that they would not have to raise taxes for ordinary families…Better to admit the obvious and draw clear lines between Labour policies and Tory ones. There is a sensible, grown-up argument to be had, and it’s one that Labour could end up winning.”

Labour took the advice and how did it work out?

“It’s certainly now much easier for the Conservative government to make cuts. Labour has provided cover and, deliciously, Ed Balls has started the process.” ConservativeHome.

ConservativeHome is now reporting that

Today Jackie Ashley’s column is on the need for Labour to set out its plans for tax rises.

Guido has some sympathy for Paskini when he foams at the mouth “next time don’t write a newspaper article about how Labour would be more popular if they did what George Osborne wants them to do.” Quite.

The High Pay “Problem”

David Aaronovitch suggests, not completely seriously, that perhaps it would be better to just publish people’s tax returns publicly rather than having a High Pay Quango to regulate banker’s bonuses.  As Aaronovitch says, it would be fun.

It will also destroy any semblance of privacy.  If private individuals have made money in the private sector why does anyone apart from their paymasters – the shareholders – have a right to know what they are being paid?

On the other hand everyone in the public sector and in public life should be transparent with their paymasters – the public.  So BBC mandarins, Newsnight presenters, civil servants and politicians should reveal how much of our money they are trousering, down to the last penny.  We are the paymasters.

It seems eminently sensible that members of parliament should, as in America, publish their tax returns. It would be nice to know how Mandelson in less than a decade has gone from being broke and tearful in his Hartlepool constituency with “water pouring down the walls”, to being able to afford a £2.4 million mansion off Regent’s Park for cash. He did this during a decade in which he was a selfless public servant.  Multi-millionaire John Prescott’s tax returns would be similarly interesting.  Alan Duncan is wailing that he might be a millionaire, but he isn’t rich, show us the truth Dunky and we will understand.

Polly Toynbee, the multi-millionairess toff and three-house-owning, Tuscan redistributionist friend of the down-trodden,  made the same demand some time back, namely for everyone to have their tax return in the public domain.  Guido emailed her to ask how much she made, she demanded to know details of Guido’s tax return first.  Guido gave the figure, she declined to reciprocate.  She did later reveal she was getting by on a mere £117,000 basic before book advances, royalties and appearance fees.  Barely enough to maintain her three residences.

So Aaronovitch, here is a chance for you to lead by example: how much did you make last year?

*Well not Guido in the case of the BBC, he refuses to pay the telly tax.

Ding Dong and a Gong

debateLast night’s panel debate on the internet and democracy was as expected a bit of a bunfight, Guido got to deliver about half his speech (intended full text here).   Sir Michael interrupted as soon as Guido gave him some […]

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Polly is Rabidly Pro-Politics

Polly is moaning again: “The blogosphere could have been a source for better information, but purveys even more rabid anti-politics bile.” Guilty as charged.

Of course it could equally be said that Polly is rabidly pro-politics.  Which of us […]

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Candid Polly’s Contradictions

Polly has written an article on ‘candour’ today

Osborne’s plans will be set out “in due course”, he says, but watch out: “Some savings will only become apparent when we have the chance to look at the books in

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Over Three Million Hits for the Blog You Love and They Hate

April saw a total of over 3.6m pageviews from 1,382,879 visits by 347,994 visitors making 2,995,765 pageviews plus 680,207 views via RSS feed readers.  Not bad for one guy with a laptop, Blackberry and a penchant for Guinness. With traffic […]

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