Monday, September 21, 2009

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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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 stick (no one had interrupted him). Nick was more reasonable in BBCish way, he bemoaned his blog’s comments – something we have in common.  He was a bit sarky, characterising Guido as a self-absorbed, overgrown student political hack, which was odd given we first met and clashed when he was the dripping wet chairman of the Young Conservatives in the 80s.  He did try to shift the debate back to the big picture.

Grant Shapps was all starry eyed about the possibilities of the internet.  Peter Kellner didn’t like direct democracy.  Questions from the floor complained that we were all in broadcast mode not listening mode.  When the debate organisers (Delib) listened and read out some of the abusive #idebate Twitterings from the large screen feed, it kind of confirmed the panel’s prejudices against listening to crowd sources.  All in all Guido enjoyed himself, hopefully it was entertaining if not that informative for those there.

Guido had to dash, to pick up an alternative award, bumping into a very hurt Lembit at the ceremony.  Had a few pints with the entertaining Stephen Pound, stopping to chat at the bar briefly with the chief whip, Nick Brown, who claims he enjoys avidly reading this blog.  Hmmm…

Friday, June 26, 2009

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 is right?  Polly with her frothing  at the mouth endorsements of one social democratic politician after another, or Guido, warning against believing the promises of politicians?

Since the days of David Owen she has seen her hopes dashed by one social democrat after another promising her a good time and big government spending.  You would have thought that she would have learnt by now, they all fail to deliver in the end and to expect more from politics is to delude yourself.  This is not cynical nihilism, this is the age-old reality of politics.

Polly has singled Guido out in the past, saying that he couldn’t write about politics well because he has no sympathy for politicians.  If Polly looks at the polls she will see that none of the voters have any sympathy for politicians. Which of us really, truly understands politics: Polly with her over-the-top endorsements and flattery of politicians, or Guido with his anti-political cynicism. Who is rabidly unrealistic?

See also : The Class Contradictions of Polly, For the Love of an Older Woman and a philosophy of life that is anti-politics.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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 government.” So we won’t know until after an election – and that’s not honest. There is nothing hidden in government books. It’s all in the Treasury’s red book.

Got that?  When the Shadow Chancellor says he needs to have a look at the books once he is in government, he isn’t being honest because he need only look in the government’s openly published Treasury red book.  Polly has caught Osborne out!

A few paragraphs down she writes

The red book’s own predications are usually wrong.

Errrm…

N.B. Want to see Richard Littlejohn’s classic bitch-slap of Polly again? The video is here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

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 averaging over 100,000 pageviews daily this blog puts traditional political publications like the New Statesman in the shade, forcing the likes of the Indy’s Steve Richards (no fan of Guido: “neither daring or clever”, the feeling is mutual*) to admit that  nevertheless yours truly

is in my view one of the most influential figures in the British media. One day this week I heard five items on the Today programme that followed up his stories or his observations. Politicians have not learnt how to cope with an individual who has as much impact as entire newspapers.

How that growing realisation must really burn Polly, Aaronovitch, Yasmin, Jenkins, Sir Michael and the rest of the commentariat’s mediasaurs.  Like acid.

Examine the front page media agenda last month: Smeargate, Snouts in the Trough, MPs’ expenses and of course the developing “Gordon is bonkers” meme, all topped off nicely with a round of mea culpas on the inside comment pages from the shamed copy takers in the Lobby.  Not forgetting the Damian McBride coup de grâce and resignation tributeWhose acid house tunes were the media elite humming?

Many thanks to you the readers and the advertisers who make this blog more profitable than both the Guardian and Independent combined.

*See also Steve Richards: Fails Numeracy Test and Steve Richards : “Voters Aren’t As Clever As Me”.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Grand National Tip

Guido got a call yesterday from the Spectator -

Speccie : Who are you tipping for the Grand National?

Guido : No idea, when is it?

Speccie : An Irishman who knows nothing about horses?

Guido : I know one thing, don’t take any tips from Peter Oborne.

On the basis of Peter’s tips Guido would consider laying (betting against) Brooklyn Brownie and Golden Flight on Betfair.  Oborne has finally got the full measure of Gordon Brown.  His demolition of Gordon’s G20 boasts is fantastic; Hubris, hoopla and claims that were false, cynical and very, very dangerous.

Hard to believe that Oborne was once Brown’s last commentariat fan.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Potty Mouthed Populism is an Antidote to Political Spin

Just noticed (via the ASI Blog) that David Aaronovitch fears the populist influence of “potty-mouthed right-wing bloggers on some political journalism”.   His Times colleague Daniel Finkelstein credits Guido with helping to focus mainstream media attention on the sleaze and petty corruption of politicians.  The raison d’etre of this blog is to foster an anti-political atmosphere by encouraging popular scepticism about politicians and their client media.  This is because Guido wants to de-politicise more areas of human action, increasing the non-political space in our society and culture, for which a necessary pre-condition is the discrediting of politicians by exposing their venal, self-interested behaviour.  Aaronovitch is right to fear.

He is wrong on one thing, and Polly Toynbee makes this mistake as well, Guido is not the “potty mouthed” author of profanity on the blog.  The readers comments however are a different story, there the anger is allowed to let rip.  If it tells our political masters anything, it tells them they are hated.  It may not be polished prose, but it is genuine anger.  They read it, they know it is real and it stings them.  David Miliband, Peter Hain and Ed Balls will, if you ask them, tell you how much they despise this blog.  Yet they still read it, just as Caesar listened to the baying mob at the circus.  You can’t spin the booing of a crowd.  Politicians should consider the blog’s potty mouthed comments a free and unfiltered focus group.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Guardianista Accuses Boss of Too Much Testosterone

Sorry to bore on about Guardianista hypocrisy, but it just keeps coming. Jackie Ashley (Mrs Marr) writes this morning under the headline To Chop City Bonuses, Start by Cutting the Testosterone. Leaving aside the casual sexist stereotyping, is it really true? After all her boss the Guardian Media Group chief executive, Carolyn McCall, was paid a package of £827,000, comprising a salary of £424,000, plus a bonus of £385,000 and benefits in kind of £18,000.

Does she have too much testosterone?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Guardian’s Tax Hypocrisy is Ridiculous

The multi-millionaire columnist Polly Toynbee is this morning ranting against tax dodging corporations in the Guardian. The paper has even set up a campaigning website with fancy interactive graphics. According to the their own annual report Guardian Media Group made £306.4 million before tax. Using astute tax planning and legal manipulation of the tax laws; such as the use of an equity owning trust and a Caymans Islands offshore corporation to avoid stamp duty, they managed to only pay get a rebate of £800,000 in tax last year. That is less than they paid the Guardian Media Group’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, she got a package of £827,000 whereas so the media fat cats got paid by HM Revenue Commissioners a mere £800,000 in corporation tax. Unbelievable isn’t it?

Here it is in black and white:

 

GMG P + L

The hypocrisy of the Guardianistas is just beyond satire, they are starting a campaign to get corporations to pay more tax, just like they campaign to undermine private education yet themselves went to private schools, they rail against City bonuses yet pay the editor and CEO hundreds of thousands in bonuses. Media fat cats attacking City fat cats is just laughable. Polly says “it’s time to rattle and bang in protest at this outrage”. Quite. Guido has tried to mention this on the Guardian’s Tax Gap campaign blog to no avail…

UPDATE 11.55 : Richard Brooks from the Guardian’s “Tax Gap” blog emails to say they are going to explain the Guardian Media Group’s situation using the same approach they used on the FTSE 100 corporations. Incidentally, before anyone points it out, this blog is published by an offshore corporation owned by an opaque charitable trust, in a remarkably similar way to the Guardian set-up. However, crucially, this blog takes an editorial line which is hypocrisy free, Guido is opposed to most forms of taxation in principle: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

UPDATE 12.09 : As some have pointed out, that looks like an £800,000 tax rebate, rather than a payment. Even worse. No wonder the Guardian can afford shiny new fancy offices…

UPDATE 16.50 : Note amendments and strike-throughs, also note that the Tax Gap blog has now let Guido’s comments through. They also cite Richard Murphy as a tax expert who approves of GMG’s tax strategies. Richard Murphy is hardly independent, he is a regular writer for the Guardian. The Cayman’s dodge was tax neutral they claim. Except when, in the future, it comes to capital gains tax of course.


Seen Elsewhere

Guido’s Column | Sun
NUT’s Loony Defence of Status Quo | Jago Pearson
A Dozen Reasons to Be Cheerful | John McTernan
Political Bloggers Are Equal Opportunities Attackers | ConHome
Michael Gove Should Resign | Conservative Women
Sarah Wollaston’s Naming and Shaming of Bloggers | LibDemVoice
Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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