James O’Brien Too Much For Newsnight

MediaGuido had heard a few whispers about why James O’Brien had been canned by Newsnight – chiefly that BBC bosses were fed up with his Trumpian hyper-partisan attention-seeking both on their programme, on Twitter and elsewhere. One insider says they simply ran out of patience with him always going off on one. O’Brien has today essentially confirmed that version of events, tweeting:

“I withdrew from the roster some months ago to retain my right to criticise Brexit and Trump in my other work”

To the relief of those who had to work with him, there are no plans for him to present again…

PMQs Sketch: Jez The Builder Should Be Privatised

Jeremy Corbyn should have arrived at PMQs ready to swing a wrecking ball at Theresa May over Carillion, but, in scenes beyond parody, Labour’s Bob the Builder forgot his tools. Geriatric Jez ruined his digs at May by digging himself a hole: yet again he forgot to ask the Prime Minister a question, to which May – somewhat surprisingly – responded:

“I’m very happy to answer questions when the right honourable gentleman asks one. He didn’t.”

To remind Jez to do his job properly, Carillion could offer the bearded wonder a few tried and tested techniques. Fix flashing orange lights to his folder beside each question, perhaps, or equip Labour MPs with fluorescent jackets emblazoned with reflective question marks. Rig up a siren to blare “NOW ASK THE QUESTION”, punctuated by loud beeping, like the audible warning emitted by a reversing lorry. Get a demolition team in (there should be a few short of work now), fix explosive charges to the Labour front bench, and detonate one every time Corbyn speaks for more than a minute without asking anything. Alternatively, equip loudmouth Thornberry with a nailgun, and let her remind the fool who’s boss every time he cocks up…

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Crowdfund Legal Challenge to Keep Worboys in Prison

Two victims of John Worboys are launching a judicial review of the decision to release him – their last hope to keep the black cab rapist behind bars and be told on what grounds the Parole Board believe him to safe to the public. Judicial reviews are expensive, the victims’ legal bid is being crowdfunded as they try to raise the cash to get it to court. Guido cannot think of a better cause – you can donate here

Chi Onwurah Brillo’d on Iran

Labour’s Chi Onwurah completely unable to say whose side she is on in Iran… painful. 

“Have I?” Thornberry Can’t Remember Backing Carillion

Some brass neck from Emily Thornberry at PMQs, heckling May over Carillion and then, when it was pointed out she had previously backed the company, asked “Have I?” Guido can refresh her memory:

She even wore their hat…

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 17 January.

Q2 Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough)

Q3 Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington)

Q4 David Linden (Glasgow East)

Q5 Simon Hoare (North Dorset)

Q6 Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West)

Q7 Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)

Q8 David Simpson (Upper Bann)

Q9 Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe)

Q10 Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Q11 Imran Hussain (Bradford East)

Q12 Stephen Timms (East Ham)

Q13 Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

Q14 Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)

Q15 Scott Mann (North Cornwall)

Comments in the comments…

Labour Digital Guru Andrew Gwynne Member of Multiple Racist Facebook Groups

Andrew Gwynne is always giving it large about his groovy role as Labour’s National Campaigns Coordinator, churning out essays about the crucial part he played as the digital guru of Labour’s campaign. He wrote last June:

“[We] linked our voter database technology with Facebook. This cutting-edge tool allowed us to deploy targeted messaging to key voters on a more personal and localised level than ever before… When we saw improved local canvass returns in Sheffield Hallam, we were able to target anti-Lib Dem Facebook messages at all the voters in the seats that we thought were being contested between Labour and the Lib Dems. In the last week alone 24 million people viewed our shared content on Facebook.” 

For such a Facebook expert, Gwynne’s activity on the social media site is rather eyebrow-raising. Gwynne’s personal account has joined a variety of bonkers, racist and antisemitic group. According to Facebook, Gwynne is a member of:

  • Stop Zionist USA: a group dedicated to sharing antisemitic material including pictures comparing Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler, memes which blame Israel for ISIS and spreading Rothschild and Soros conspiracy theories

  • United Against the Monarchy: a republican group which shares pictures ridiculing the royal family
  • Stop the Mosque: a campaign against building new Mosques which warns “Islamic conquest is well underway in Europe”

  • Truth Is Rising: a nutjob group for conspiracy theorists which has suggested ‘7/7 was an inside job’ and is awash with antisemitic material

Either Gwynne has managed to hide some pretty radical views or – perhaps more likely – he is simply blanket-accepting all the group invitations he gets from randomers. Tell us more about your Facebook expertise, Andrew…

Priti Accuses Electoral Commission of Bias and “Double Standards”

Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?

What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at [25] of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at [31] – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.

In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.

Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:

I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.

She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie

Lily Allen: I’m Sorry for Spreading Anti-Tory Fake News

Millionaire musician Lily Allen has apologised for spreading fake news about the Tories. The socialist songstress is well known for her lefty Tweets, infuencing countless young fans. This time she claimed Chris Grayling was having lunch with George Osborne “at the Ivy on the day Monarch went under” (she would know). Nice line, but it turns out Grayling was not in London; instead he was dealing with the crisis and meeting Monarch passengers at Manchester airport that day. When Tory MP James Cleverly pointed this out, Lily tweeted: “my bad, I do apologise”…

Yet she hasn’t deleted the original tweet…

Back to Work: “Sick” Jared Makes Miraculous Recovery as Media Pressure Mounts

Good news! Jared O’Mara has briefed the Mirror that he is feeling much better after his four months off and will be making a “phased return” to work. The timing of his miraculous recovery is surely just a coincidence and definitely, absolutely nothing to do with the Yorkshire Post turning on him yesterday. Guido is glad to hear Jared is fighting fit – this means Labour’s paused investigation into his conduct can resume and report back swiftly. Right?

Now Rachel Reeves Baffled by Labour’s Brexit Position

Now Rachel Reeves completely caught on the hop trying to describe Labour’s ever-uncertain position on the single market and Brexit in general. You can’t blame her…

Facebook’s Retreat from News and Algo Change Panics Buzzfeed

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it is getting out of the news business and going back to connecting people with personal stuff:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers…” 

Good for people who want to share pictures of their cats, bad for media organisations that have a business model based on cat GIFs. Twitter’s stock price rose 5% on the news that they will now be the main social news platform…

For Buzzfeed and other Facebook traffic driven organisations this is bad news, Buzzfeed gets some 23% of their traffic at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg. Unsurprisingly Buzzfeed bought adverts on Facebook on Friday pushing soon to be lost users to download their app. At one time Buzzfeed were spending millions on Facebook adverts, they may well have to do so again if their content is dropped from the Facebook feed. In the political sphere those sites that specialise in clickbaity headlines designed to go viral on Facebook may see a drop in traffic…

Approximately 7% of Guido’s traffic is referred from Facebook. Twitter on the other hand drives 23% of our traffic, just behind Google on 24%. The Spectator and Breitbart also rely on Facebook for some ~7% to 8% of their traffic. Skwawkbox and The Canary rely on Facebook respectively for a massive ~40% and ~48% of traffic…

N.B. Traffic data sourced from Similarweb.

Sleepy Swayne Nods Off During Clarke Remain Speech

Desmond Swayne appears to nod off during Ken Clarke’s droning remainer speech in the Commons. Definitely deliberate from Dessy, he must have known he was in shot…

Labour NEC Purge: Red Terror Strikes Black

Momentum is wasting no time using its new NEC majority: today it purged longstanding Disputes Panel chair Ann Black and replaced her with top Momentum chief Christine Shawcroft. It took only 24 hours for the red terror to strike Black: the NEC voted 22 to 15 to oust her in a move which was not backed by many of the unions. NEC sub-committees are usually re-constituted without opposition – but not in the new world of Momentum’s red terror. The NEC’s Disputes Panel is crucial part of Labour’s disciplinary machinery, not least as it is responsible for deciding whether to investigate allegations of antisemitism. Gaining control of the Disputes Panel will effectively allow Corbynistas to be their own judge and jury…

Ann Black was a strong critic of the Blairite wing and undoubtedly was on the left – but she wasn’t left enough for Momentum. Many Labour MPs will be aghast at the move: they generally consider Black a fair arbiter with a good understanding of the rulebook. Outspoken Corbynista Shawcroft (whose lack of political judgement is summed up by the fact she said ISIS should be invited for tea and backed corrupt Lutfur Rahman), by comparison, will be instinctively distrusted by moderates or non-Corbynistas undergoing disciplinary procedures. As if to underline just how bad things are getting in Labour, nutjob Tony Greenstein – who was suspended from the party for calling people “Zionist scum” – called for the move on Facebook:

“She (Black) is the one who’s been victimising people. She is in control of disputes which works hand in hand with compliance. She has to go and we have to call for her to go… it’s absolutely imperative that Anne (sic) Black is targeted by name… it’s the same with Iain McNicol”

The new red purge begins…

Parole Board Admit Processes Breached, Decision May Be Wrong and Worboys Could Reoffend

The chairman of the Parole Board has all but admitted that procedures were breached during the John Worboys case, that the decision to release him could be wrong and that the black cab rapist could reoffend. In a statement welcoming the judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision, Nick Hardwick says “there should be an independent investigation” because “some victims who should have been kept informed were not and victims and the public deserve to know exactly what happened”. Hardwick concedes that the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys could be wrong: “Do they always get it right? No”. And he admits it is possible Worboys could reoffend: “I would not be honest if I pretended risk could be eliminated completely”. Hardwick implies the decision to release Worboys was based on “evidence of how the prisoner has changed”, yet also confirms he was deemed too dangerous to move to an open prison just two years ago. This is clearly the Parole Board trying to cover their backs knowing they’ve messed up. How can the Justice Secretary possibly let Worboys out now?

Paul Mason “Aggressive and Intimidating” Towards Female LBC Producer

Latest on Paul Mason’s shouty crackers descent into mid-life crisis. Shelagh Fogarty has just revealed on air that the leather-jacked Corbyn outrider this morning “bellowed” down the phone at a female LBC producer in an “aggressive” manner, leaving the woman feel “intimidated“. Apparently he was ranting that LBC want to destroy Corbyn and the Labour Party, which is a bit odd given the previous show was James O’Brien. Calm down Paul, step away from the phone…

Jared’s Staff on Speechwriting Course Despite Absent MP Never Speaking in Commons

Disgraced Jared O’Mara’s office staff have been on a taxpayer-funded speech-writing course despite their chronically absent MP never having spoken in parliament. O’Mara’s researchers are loading-up on free courses available to parliamentary staff while their boss continues to lie low – he has been off sick for four months. The Sheffield Hallam MP employs two researchers at Westminster whose training costs are met by the taxpayer. Both of Jared’s London staff recently attended a day-long speech-writing course from 10AM to 5PM despite their boss never having said as much as a single word in the House or in committee. O’Mara didn’t even deliver a maiden speech. Guess they must pumping-up the CV in the search for a new boss…

Paul Mason: I Want to Have Deselections Hanging Over Every Labour MP

Paul Mason is jubilant after Lansman swept on to the Labour NEC. This morning he again confirmed he would like to see compulsory re-selections for all Labour MPs, adding “I want to have it hanging over every MP that they could get deselected if they don’t do their job properly”. Does that include Jared?

UK Contribution to EU is £363 Million-a-Week*

According to the latest official figures from the ONS, the UK contribution to the EU was £18.9 billion in 2016. That is £363.5 million a week, slightly more than was on the side of the Vote Leave bus…

After the rebate is taken into account the net figure becomes £13.9 billion or £267 million a week. The ONS reports that a further £4.4 billion came back to the UK public sector and private sector in credits in 2016, taking the net figure down to a final £9.4 billion or £180 million a week. That is £143 for each man, woman and child a year.

Labour’s “Very Clear” Brexit Position Explained

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Angela Rayner on Labour’s economic policy (via Speccie):

“It is a bit of a sh*t-or-bust strategy…”

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Sick Jared Back to Work Sick Jared Back to Work
Ann Black Purged by Red Terror Ann Black Purged by Red Terror
Parole Board Admit Processes Breached Parole Board Admit Processes Breached
Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating
James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral
O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months
Credit Where Credit’s Due Credit Where Credit’s Due
Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now
Paul Mason’s Column Axed Paul Mason’s Column Axed
Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review
“Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle” “Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle”
Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council
Dover Traffic at Record Levels Dover Traffic at Record Levels
10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked 10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked
Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords
Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases
BBC Reined In Over False Climate Claims BBC Reined In Over False Climate Claims
Corbyn Said Davos “Conspiracy” is “Cause of World’s Problems” Corbyn Said Davos “Conspiracy” is “Cause of World’s Problems”
Khan’s ‘Independent’ Brexit Study Written by Leave-Bashers And Corbynistas Khan’s ‘Independent’ Brexit Study Written by Leave-Bashers And Corbynistas
Press-Hating Peers Pave Way for Leveson 2 Press-Hating Peers Pave Way for Leveson 2