Quote of the Day

Nick Denton says

“One law of media competition applies as strongly to web properties as it did to their predecessors: scoops drive audience growth.”

Do They Know They're Born?

This has to be a pretty compelling argument for students paying their way. Guido presents to you the best and brightest of Northumbria University:

Comparing the privileged life of an undergraduate to kids starving in Africa, who have to worry about their next meal rather than their media studies assignment. Nice.

Where's Billy?™ : Rifkind Revisited

Hillary Clinton said in her presser yesterday that “a counterpart” told her “well, don’t worry about it, you should hear what we say about you…” An interesting line, clearly from a native English speaker in its idiomatic use of “well” and “don’t worry about it”, which is bordering on slang. No one with English as a second language, however fluent, would ever come up with a line like that. Add a barbed sense of humour and the fingers are pointing at William Hague.

Talking of Hague, Guido isn’t the only one to have noticed that in the past few days former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has been put on Sky News, BBC News, BBC Radio 2, 4, 5 and Channel Four speaking about Wikileaks and other foreign policy issues. It’s almost as if the current Foreign Secretary has been sidelined and a new spokesman found. Guido can’t think why Hague might not want to hit the airwaves to discuss why the Americans were featuring his personal life in their intelligence dossiers. Rifkind seems well on top of the brief still and would be high up the list of likely candidates for the job, were a vacancy to arise…

UPDATE: Paul Waugh questions why Hague isn’t representing the UK on the international stage in Kazakhstan tomorrow.

Another One Bites the Dust

As the news emerges that The Telegraph is set to join the FT, News of the World and The Times behind the paywall, Guido is intrigued to why such a decision was made when all the evidence shows it’s not a winner. The Times has lost 95% of their online traffic, but the bad news doesn’t stop there. Since they introduced their pay-wall in June their paper sales have headed south as well:

Introducing a pay-wall was supposed to increase revenue by forcing people to buy the paper or subscribe online. Instead the decline of newspaper sales is unmitigated. There will be glum faces over in Victoria as it dawns on the hacks that soon nobody will be reading their work…

End of the Line for Ruffley's Staff

The parliamentary rumour mill was running away yesterday that it was all change at David Ruffley’s office. Apparently the two staffers who were in to cover Ruffley’s recent absence did not have their contracts renewed. The timetable for replacements has been delayed.

Maybe they needed some more training…

Hoon-Work

On the day we  learn Jacqui Smith, who was so good with her sums in the past, is off to accounting firm KPMG, Guido thought he would check out how Geoff Hoon’s project that “bluntly, makes money” was coming along…

It seems the former Defence Secretary is so desperate for clients, for a little “Hoon-work”, that he’s openly publishing his mobile number. From a gate-keepered senior cabinet minister, who most would have to go through six people to talk to on a good day, to being open to all sorts of random calls. Oh how the mighty fall…

Obviously Guido couldn’t resist…

GF: Are you going to join the APPC?
GH: Err…I must be a bit slow this morning.
GF: The Association of Professional Political Consultants…
GH: <silence>
GF:  …The register of lobbyists to declare their clients etc?
GH: To be honest I haven’t actually heard of it. I’m not really a lobbyist… When people have asked me to lobby the government I’ve told them to go elsewhere.
GF: Will you be publishing your clients list on your website?
GH: No, can’t really see a case in which that would happen. Maybe one day.
GF: Do you have a Former Member’s Pass to the Parliamentary Estate?
GH: Err yes, yes I do.
GF: Have you used it yet?
GH: To be honest, not yet.

Sure it will come in useful one day, oh and not a lobbyist? TaylorHoon state:

“Our aim is to provide business with market intelligence on ways to gain competitive advantage. To do this we are able to offer a distinctive combination of advice, skills and experience from the highest levels of business and politics.”

Sounds like lobbying to Guido…

Quote of the Day

Greg Hands asked the Deputy Leader of the House yesterday:

“My Honorable Friend has spoken of the success this year of the orientation programme for new members. But existing members should not be overlooked. I note that one member has spoken only once since the Election; hasn’t asked a single question; and has made only 5 of the possible 131 votes. Would the Deputy Leader of the House agree to approach the Member for Kirckaldy and Cowdenbeath, if he can find him, and see if some orientation might help?”

"Make It Up" Macintyre Tweets Another "Exclusive"

James Macintyre no longer has a column in the New Statesman in which to share his insights. He now has only his Twitter to pass on wisdom. Yesterday he had a ground breaking “Twitter Exclusive” revealing that Gordon’s new book makes no mention of Tony Blair.

For Macintyre it is an exclusive from “a top Whitehall source”, for the rest of us it is a month old story we read everywhere. Wonder how his book is coming along?

Iceland Shows the Way Forward for Ireland:Decouple, Default, Devalue and Develop

Iceland’s President, Olafur R. Grimsson, told Bloomberg TV on Friday that his country is better off than Ireland because they allowed the banks to fail two years ago and devalued the krona:

“The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail. These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.”

The Irish bank bail-out is being foisted on them by the EU and the IMF whereas sovereign Iceland let the banks go bust and restructured the financial sector to keep the commercial sector serviced. As a consequence, “Iceland is faring much better than anybody expected” says Grimsson:

“How far can we ask ordinary people – farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses – to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks… That question, which has been at the core of the Icesave issue, will now be the burning issue in many European countries.”

Under this plan 20 cents of every euro of Irish taxes will go to pay the interest on the bank bail-out debts. The Irish bail-out plan will cost €54,800 per Irish household. Ireland’s future thus looks a lot more bleak than Iceland’s path of debt default and a devaluation of 60% two years ago which has the country rebounding: exports and manufacturing are growing by 20%, tourism is back near all-time highs, real wages are rising, unemployment is declining sharply, interest rates fell from 18% to 5.5% and the stock market has rebounded 50% from its lows. In contrast this euro-banker’s bail-out will only burden the next generation of Irish who don’t flee with crushing debts not of their making…

Britain and europe should keep their bail-out billions rather than foist them on Irish taxpayers to cover the responsibility for bad investments made by their own private banks. They can use the billions to bail-out their own banks directly if they want, without involving the Irish taxpayers…

De Piero's DCMS Ding-Dong

It was an unusually catty Department of Culture Media and Sport Questions in the House yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t just that an embarrassed looking Ivan Lewis showed up but, his fellow Shadow Minister Gloria de Piero was particularly feisty.

Given the brief closeness she once had with Ed Vaizey, who she now shadows, it must be tough coming to blows all the time…

Tatler's Intriguing Top Tory Totty

It is seemingly slim pickings for a single girl in Westminster. Tatler’s annual list of London’s most Eligible Bachelors 2010 is out. In the top ten we have one Christopher Myers, presumably going for the lifetime achievement award, and our miniature Member from Penrith, Rory “definitely not a spook” Stewart.

While the the girls might find it tough to win over Mr Myers, Guido is pretty sure both he and Chris are better dancers than Rory:

Form an orderly queue…

(Video courtesy: Sam England, Penrith)

How Liam Byrne Could Help the "Squeezed Middle"

Liam Byrne says that the “squeezed middle” are those on between £16,000 to £50,000 and Labour’s task in reviewing policy is to help them. Guido is glad to hear it. Presumably he would therefore support those struggling on middle incomes being taken out of the higher-rate tax bracket, which kicks in at a ridiculously low £37,401? That is smack bang in the middle of the range he defines, surely it should kick in at £50,001, above the income levels of those hard squeezed middle classes. C’mon Liam, review that policy…

Quote of the Day

A Labour hack tweets

“Phoned Lib Dem Head Office and asked for copy of manifesto. They said they’d sold out. I said “I know, but can I have a manifesto?””

Boris Faces Mistress Scandal Probe

The ongoing mystery surrounding Boris’s mistress, her then boyfriend’s £80,000 donation and her subsequent landing of a job as an Olympic fundraiser just got a little more serious for the wayward Mayor.

Boris is now facing an official investigation regarding Helen Macintyre, the mother of his love child and the latest “love of his life”, and why exactly she got her job. The Standard neatly summarises some awkward questions that need answering:

What are the claims Boris faces?

That he has breached several sections of the GLA code of conduct. This states he should never “improperly confer an advantage on any person”, “place yourself in situations where honesty and integrity may be questioned” or make any decision which affects the “financial position of… any person with whom you have a close association”. It also states that he must “make decisions on merit, including making appointments” and “indicate that you have a personal interest” when one arises.

Labour have triggered the investigation and smell blood after Boris’s election promise to end cronyism at City Hall, something that so damaged the last months of Ken’s regime, though it should be borne in mind that the post was unpaid. Still, not sure this one can be dismissed as an “inverted pyramid of piffle”…

UPDATE : Whilst we’re on the subject, Guido has been meaning to mention for some time that Helen Macintyre’s nickname at Edinburgh University – given to her by a boyfriend – was “mini-cheddars”.

Quote of the Day

John Kampfner says

“Newspapers that have no compunction about invasions of privacy or about shrill comment devote precious little time or energy to challenging authority through rigorous investigative journalism. Most political “scoops” are merely stories planted by politicians on pliant lobby hacks. … They love being invited to the “D-notice” committee to discuss how they can all behave “responsibly”. It makes them feel important. Many suspend their critical faculties as a result. Far from being “feral beasts”, to use Tony Blair’s phrase, the British media are overly respectful of authority. Newspapers and broadcasters tend to be suspicious of those who do not play the game, people like Mr Assange who are awkward outsiders.”

It Was Ivan

Further to Guido’s speculation as to who is the “hound-dog” minister that the American diplomats referred to, an authoritative source gets in touch. Apparently it wasn’t Prezza who the American’s found handy, but none other than Ivan Sex Text Pest Lewis.

It was McBride that briefed the story to the News of the World, was he also gossiping with American diplomats? Guido wanted to ask Ivan how he felt about being described in such explicit ways, but it seems he isn’t so keen on phones anymore. No reply from his office yet…

UPDATE : Guido put it to someone in Ivan’s office that this was about to break. They said they were “aware”…

Monday Morning Cartoon

Hound Dog Minister

According to the Guardian one cable reveals how the US embassy in London passed on intelligence about a British Labour minister, picked up from civil servant contacts, saying he “reportedly remains a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned” he was “forced to apologize … to a female … who accused him of sexual harassment … and has had marital troubles in the last few years … Contacts who know him well report he has manic depressive tendencies – ‘he’s very up one minute, very down the next’, and at least one … colleague has described xxx as a ‘bully’.”

Guido’s money is on Prescott, this rumour went around some years ago and concerned not Tracey Temple but another civil servant. The Guardian’s quest for transparency has limits – they are holding back the name – your media betters keeping you in the dark…

UPDATE : Some suggestion that it is Ivan Lewis. To be fair, it could be any one of many randy Labour ministers…

Coulson Unhappy with the Happiness Index

The Mail’s Black Dog reports:

The Prime Minister’s spin doctor Andy Coulson has banned No. 10 staff from
referring to Dave’s laughable ‘Happiness Index’. Essex boy Coulson thinks the initiative, dreamed up by Cameron’s ‘branding’ guru Steve Hilton, is ‘airy fairy b*******’. He insists it keeps its dreary official ‘general wellbeing’ tag – in the hope that it is forgotten as quickly as most of Tory hippy Hilton’s other gimmicks.

Guido is still waiting for the first fearless broadsheet political editor to detail to his readers, in a lengthy article, the SHAC Attacks. Currently they are just meekly gossiping about them in Westminster bars…

Read Ed's Speech, Not Impressed

“Being rooted in people’s lives is not about a slogan, it’s not about going out and just saying ‘tell us what we should think’, but it is about saying we need to be reconnected to the hopes and aspirations of the people of Britain.”

Having read Ed’s speech twice and learnt nothing from the platitudes, Guido fears he still knows where Ed wants to take a Labour Party “rooted in people’s lives”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

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