Tuesday, October 18, 2011

George Monbiot brings Tom Watson back to reality:

“The Labour government weakened the rules on lobbying transparency. The ministerial code published in 2007 dropped the requirement that meetings between ministers and lobbyists should be recorded. It also rebuffed MPs’ demands for a register of lobbyists. You’ll be surprised to hear who the villain was: Tom Watson, then a Cabinet Office minister, now a heroic campaigner for corporate accountability. He brushed aside the call for a register with the claim that “we have a pretty good system in the UK”.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Watson v Whittingdale

Tom Watson has officially been bought into beef up Ed’s machine. As Deputy Party Chairman in charge of campaigning he will sit in the Shadow Cabinet. John Whittingdale the chair of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, where Watson has clawed back his tarnished reputation, suggests there is a conflict of interest. It’s extremely rare for a frontbencher to be allowed to sit on a Select Committee, but Watson is digging in, suggesting that Michael Fallon, who is on the Treasury Select Committee, holds a similar party role for the Tories:

Fiiight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lewis’s Looney Licensing Plan Disowned By Miliband

Ivan Lewis’s plan to licence journalists has dominated discussion around the conference zone today. It’s been met with near universal derision. Guido hears that Tom Watson and Ivan met up last night, keeping Ed most definitely out of the loop, not least because he was having a polite tête-à-tête with Hugh Grant at the time. Ed, and those around him, were kept in the dark…

Lewis didn’t mention the idea to the fringe event he spoke at last night , despite the fact he had clearly already briefed the press. Conspiracy theories are rife, with party staffers scratching their head at why Lewis dropped this dumb-bomb today of all days…

UPDATE: Ed Miliband’s spokesman has just pulled the rug out from under Ivan to The Sun:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DCMS Select Committee’s “Wilful Blindness”

“Tea with Tony Blair at No. 10. He was yawning a lot and drinking endless cups of tea. I tried to wake him up a bit.”

The above is Piers Morgan’s own diary dated March 26, 1997, taken from his 2005 account of his days in newspaper journalism, The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade.  Those of you who are political insiders will realise that John Major, not Tony Blair, was in Downing Street in March 1997. Morgan just lies and lies. As this example shows, he isn’t even a good liar.

Nevertheless for some reason the DCMS select committee isn’t planning to recall Piers to explain his claims to them, in the light of subsequent evidence uncovered, that he cleaned up The Mirror and should be congratulated for the same. He claimed:

“If there are particular grievances about how the Daily Mirror has behaved, and I say that our record in this area is exemplary, exemplary. I don’t say this because we somehow got away with this, I say this because we operate the [PCC] Code of Practice effectively and seriously.”

Yet we have by his own written admissions the clear implication that under his editorship hacked voicemails from Sven-Göran Eriksson to Ulrika Jonsson as well as  from Paul McCartney to Heather Mills were the basis of stories. Data from “Operation Motorman” also reveals that the Mirror Group paid private investigators some £442,878.73 to illegally procure personal data like tax records, DVLA records, medical and phone records. 65 invoices for criminal transactions can be traced back directly to Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror during his time as editor, a time when he told the DCMS he should be “congratulated” for cleaning up the paper and operating the Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice “effectively and seriously”. His claims of exemplary behavior are not just an exaggeration by Piers, they are the exact opposite of the truth, he lied to the parliamentarians to their faces.

During the last hearings James Murdoch was asked if he was aware of the term “wilful blindness”, in not knowing or choosing not to know what was going on at the News of the World. The committee plans to recall him as a result. The ongoing failure of the DCMS Select Committee’s chairman John Whittingdale to recall the second most prominent procurer of blagging and hacking, besides Andy Coulson, is unfathomable. In fact it is bordering on “wilful blindness”…

UPDATE: DCMS Select Committee member Louise Mensch tweets in response:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Watson Denies Leaking Letter

Once again the Guardian mysteriously got the latest twist the phone-hacking scandal first. Their rivals and members of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee are furious. Asked about the leak  live on Sky, Tom Watson was forced to deny having any idea about how it got out. Given that he ended up blurting out praise about the channel,  politely describing it as an august organisation, you might be wondering where the real Tom Watson has gone. Perhaps he could explain how, if he had “no idea” about it, did Watson manage to be quoted in the article that the Guardian put together from the leak?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watson Was Sent Reply

Downing Street released the text of the letter in reply to Tom Watson regarding Andy Coulson which Tom claimed not to have received. Toby Young reckons the whole thing is a red herring in any case because Tom was merely telling the PM to watch Channel 4’s Dispatches, which had rehashed some of the Coulson allegations. Tom claimed in parliament that he had received no reply. Perhaps he should kick one of his many union funded researchers to re-check the files…

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guardian Says Sorry to Sun

Guido understands that Nick Davies* had a breakfast meeting on Tuesday morning with Gordon Brown. That meeting was a two-way information exchange and the erroneous article – with David Leigh and Nick Davies bylines – was published the same morning. Brown’s speech in the Commons chamber on Wednesday came in the wake of the Guardian story. This combined Guardian / Brown line of attack has now completely unravelled, with the Sunday Times editor John Witherow rebutting the claim that it employed a criminal to blag for information about Brown’s flat purchase from Robert Maxwell’s estate in a dubious deal brokered by Geoffrey Robinson.  Witherow is adamant that it was a legitimate investigation, in the public interest.

Sun Front Page - Brown WrongThe Sun is unsurprisingly crowing about the apology, Rupert Murdoch himself has stuck the boot in an interview in the Wall Street Journal saying of Brown “He got it entirely wrong… the Browns were always friends of ours” until that is The Sun switched support to the Tories. Brown has handed Murdoch and Wapping a chance to fight back…

Murdoch is bullish about appearing before a committee of MPs next week, saying he wants to address “some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies.”  Tom Watson has lost his bet that the Murdochs would chicken out of coming to the hearing. He won’t mind, his consolation prize is a chance to grill Rupert, James and Rebekah.

*A previous version transposed Nick Davies and David Leigh. You know how it is, these Guardian journalists all look the same to Guido. Corrected and apology on page 37.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Reddies from the Reds

Sometimes there is just easy money to be had. When Guido saw Labour pushing a story that Pickles’ SpAds had been busted “smearing” Jenny Watson of the Audit Commission as incompetent and a public purse milker he couldn’t quite see where a crime had been committed. The truth cannot be a smear.

It got better though, the line was pushed that the Department for Local Government had been forced to spend fifty grand on legal fees consulting about how to deal with the situation. If that is the going rate, who knows what the legal advice concerning McBride ran up to…

Political Scrapbook dived on the story and have been hammering it for weeks. Guido smelt bullshit early on and bet the PS team £50 that the actual sum was more likely to be closer to zero. And guess what?

The sum was infact zero. In reply to a Parliamentary Question on the subject, Bob Neil said:

“I wish to use this opportunity to put on record a short comment. Pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 937W, no expenditure has been undertaken on legal fees on potential defamation cases relating in any way to that whole topic.”

Guido would like two twenties and two fives please.

It’s not only Political Scrapbook with egg on their faces though. The Local Government Chronicle broke the story, PR Week followed it up and rent-a-quote Caroline Flint was even deployed to ask awkward questions. Funny how it was Tom Watson who asked the PQ that was shot down by Bob Neil. It’s almost as if his fingerprints were all over this from the start…

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friendly Printers

Tom Watson has been in Court today as a witness in Jim Devine’s fraud trial,  The Telegraph reports that Devine alleges that Watson and Labour whip Steven McCabe told him when “merry” in the Strangers Bar that he could take money from his office allowance to resolve his staffing problems. All he would need is a “friendly printers” to knock up the receipts. Not an excuse in law and both men deny the conversation ever happened, but it was the mention of “friendly printers” that got Guido thinking. What is a “friendly printer”?

Surely an organisation that was run by former Labour staffers and with a willingness to send differently worded invoices for the same product must be a “friendly printer”. Public Impact Printers are a “friendly printer” who were so helpful to the current Shadow Justice Secretary. Chris Huhne knows a thing or two about “friendly printers” too. Especially that one based in the same building as his constituency office.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What if Watson Was On To Something?

Today is the day that Tom Watson predicted Andy Coulson would resign. He was clearly woefully inaccurate, out by 96 hours, but then he also said it would be over by Christmas. In the same long rambling piece from a couple of weeks ago, Watson suggested that the same excellent source told him the Cameron was planning to go to the country in May. Needless to say most people dismissed the idea immediately, and they are highly likely to be right, however since Watson’s Coulson tip nearly came true, Guido has been thinking. The CCHQ research department has been restocked after being raided for SpAds, the press office has been boosted by the unexpected return of Henry Macrory and the digital team is beefing up. Are they on a war footing?

The LibDems would be obliterated by an early election and Miliband has not had enough time to settle into the role, so you can see the logic. The only problem being that Dave doesn’t want to obliterate the LibDems.

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed commenters notice that Political Betting suggested yesterday that Tom Watson’s source should be revisted. Guido hadn’t seen the piece, it was the jobs in CCHQ that got him thinking, but they do point out another factor – the Tories are certainly the only ones who could afford an election.


Seen Elsewhere

The School That Proves Michael Gove Was Right | Toby Young
Full Jenkin/Beckett/Straw Letter to PM | Politics Home
The ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ is Cornered | Speccie
Coalition: The Movie | Indy
Lefties Moan About Messina Working For Cameron | MSNBC
Karen Danczuk V Louise Mensch: Round 48 | Sun
Jack Straw Slams Bercow | Sky News
Putin Shuts Down Red Square McDonalds | Telegraph
Paper Trail Suggests Ashcroft Still Funding Tories | Indy
Bradford Bun Fight Coming | Speccie
Former Minister’s Join ‘Canberra Caterer’ Outcry | The Times


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Lord Glasman tells it like it is:

“The first thing is to acknowledge that Labour has been captured by a kind of aggressive public sector morality which is concerned with the individual and the collective but doesn’t understand relationships.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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