Thumbscrews

UPDATE:

Guardian Kick Back at Telegraph Crisis Story

The Telegraph has this afternoon published a story claiming that GNM is ‘close to axing the print editions of the Guardian and Observer’.  It is a rehash of a blog written on a small advertising website.

I can confirm this is completely untrue.

The newspaper makes up two thirds of our revenue and remains core to our strategy.  The figures for going digital only and abandoning print simply don’t add up.

As David pointed out in his email this morning, Guardian content is accessed by 5.8m across print, web and mobile in GB every week – more than any other national quality title, including the Telegraph.

This is something that we should all be incredibly proud of.

Andrew

Rusbridger’s sword of truth has spoken…

Exclusive: Deputy Chief Whip John Randall ‘Threatens To Quit’

Guido understands that the Tory Deputy Chief Whip John Randall has threatened to resign if Andrew Mitchell does not jump. He is currently not returning Guido’s calls, but a senior Tory confirms that there is serious consternation in the Whips office and has indicated that Randall is not the only one considering radical action. Guido speculated about this earlier and the threat is said to have “not fizzled out”.

A possible safe pair of hands if Mitchell does go, Randall was very close to former Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin. Randall has form in walking on matters of principle: he resigned as an opposition whip in 2003. He is well regarded on the backbenches and Mitchell’s position would be untenable were he to go. Developing…

UPDATE: Looks like Tim Shipman has been doing a phone around:

UPDATE II: And within 15 minutes Sky are running with the story:

Video: Dave Wants An In/In Referendum

Referendum-pledging Dave admitted in PMQs today that he actually doesn’t want an in/out referendum at all, but merely a “new settlement with Europe”, whatever that means. Effectively he is saying that the only choice he will give the British public is whether they want to stay in the EU… or stay in the EU. Ukip gain.

UPDATE: James Forsyth has the detail in tomorrow’s Spectator about Cameron’s plan:

“As a precursor to this renegotiation, the coalition is undertaking a ‘balance of competences’ review. This might sound a thoroughly dull, bureaucratic exercise. But it is terribly important because for the first time it will reveal just how much the European Union influences our national life. It will call for evidence from government departments, business, civil society, think tanks and parliamentary committees. And the government plans to publish the evidence submitted.

The review won’t make any recommendations, but when it concludes in 2014 it will form the evidential basis for renegotiation. Cameron’s plan is, before Christmas, to commit to a referendum after the next election. The Cameroons hope that this will be enough to satisfy the party’s Eurosceptics. Conservative strategists believe such a move would check Ukip’s advance. The prospect of Nigel Farage’s merry band pushing the Conservatives into third place in the European elections in 2014 sends many of them into cold sweat, and worse.”

Guido is not sure that will be enough to buy off the growing legion of ‘merry men’…

It is being reported that the Guardian’s newspaper operation could be shut down…

Read all about it over on MediaGuido

Guardian Bosses Threaten to Kill Newspaper Rusbridger Frozen Out as All-Digital Operation Considered

Rusbridger’s broadband poll tax was laughed all the way out of Guardian HQ when it was floated through David Leigh last month, the family silver is being sold off and up to seventy hacks face the sack. Now media analysts are reporting that, for the first time, the paper’s bosses are seriously considering ditching the print edition altogether in favour of an all-digital operation. Rusbridger has been left isolated by the Scott Trust, GNM’s owners, and is reportedly close to becoming the only person left on the company’s board opposed to signing the newspaper’s death warrant. This could be the beginning of the end…

UPDATE: Rusbridger himself says it’s untrue.

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied…

Rumour: Whip Threatening to Quit Over Mitchell

Whispers are making their way to Guido that well respected member of the Whips office is threatening to resign himself if Mitchell does not go.

The Speccie have speculated that there is trouble in Mitchell’s team but this is now beginning to snowball.

It could be hot-headed post lunch tearoom chatter, but if it were to come good Mitchell’s position would be totally untenable given said Whips reputation amongst his colleagues.

Said Whip is not currently taking calls…

Sacked Whip Fabricant Confirms Mitchell Engaged

Sacked Whip Michael Fabricant who has taken to Twitter in a spectacular fashion since the reshuffle has stuck an helpful oar in to this afternoon’s debate over whether Mitchell engaged and said “I didn’t” swear, or whether Miliband was, well, imagining it:

No camera seems to have picked up the fateful words…

UPDATE: A comment from Fabricant:

“I was not sacked. I told the previous Chief Whip that I could not remain silent in the Chamber indefinitely. I have a number of major constituency issues including HS2. The original plan was to leave June 2013, but when I heard that Patrick McLoughlin was to be moved, I wrote to the PM and resigned! Just wanted to get THAT straight.”

Massive apologies!

Mitchell: Party ‘Threw Me Under a Bus’ and ‘Peed on’ Me

Outraged Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell is not very happy about how his party has treated him. Last night he took to Twitter to suggest that he had been thrown under a bus and then the party ‘peed on’ the body:

You didn’t think the headline was about someone else?

Mitchell F-Bomb Mystery

When pleb-gate exploded nearly a month ago now Andrew Mitchell admitted to the Sunday Telegraph that he had sworn at the police. This is how they reported it:

“The Sunday Telegraph understands that the Chief Whip’s version of events is that after asking officers to open the main gates to Downing Street for his bicycle, and being refused, he said:

“You guys are supposed to f***ing help us.””

At PMQs Thrasher responded to Ed’s claim he had sworn by shouting, from a sedentary position, “I didn’t”. This was meant to be the day that the story was killed, now by engaging with Miliband at PMQs the whole thing has been reopened. So, Mr Mitchell, did you swear or didn’t you?

PMQs LIVE: Plebgate Edition

Comments in the comments please…

Prince Philip to Jeremy Hunt:

“Who are you?” 

Gove: Mitchell Has To Go

The news is full of reports claiming cabinet ministers want Andrew Mitchell to go, Lobby hacks report that up to six cabinet ministers are openly ridiculing the Chief-Whip and want him gone. None of the stories name the cabinet ministers…

So who are the mysterious ministers ridiculing the Chief-Whip? The most senior minister who thinks the Chief-Whip should go is Michael Gove. He was openly mocking Mitchell’s position at a drinks reception at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. Not that the Lobby hacks who heard Gove joking at Mitchell’s expense seem to want to tell their readers and viewers what they know. The Lobby system once again ensuring that they keep the truth about a politician’s real views from the public. Tory MPs are queuing up to tell all and sundry that the Chief-Whip has had his chips. On the doorstep for Police Commissioner elections Tory activists are fed up of hearing the plebgate story thrown back in their faces…

Labour Bill Punch Drunk MP £3,000

Banned from pubs, tales of schoolgirl lovers and a conviction for assault in the Strangers’ bar – and now Eric Joyce could be another £3,000 out of pocket. This time it isn’t a judge demanding he cough up, it is his own Labour CLP in Falkirk. They want Joyce to refund the £3,000 they gave him in election expenses:

“He says the reason for not resigning as an MP is because he was elected personally, not the Labour Party. If that’s the case we want our money back.”

If he doesn’t pay they say they will sue. Eric Joyce is spending more time in court than in parliament these days…

IMF Reality V Balls Deficit Denial

The Prime Minister is not going to have a very nice day in the Commons as he faces his first PMQs since siding with Andrew Mitchell over the word of the coppers. One bit of news he will inevitably fall back on is the IMF declaring today that Britain’s structural deficit was £38bn worse than originally thought and running at £73bn or 5.2% in 2007 – a year before that ‘global economic crisis’ Ed Balls hides behind.

Instead of apologising for this economic terrorism that saw the UK the least well prepared country in the G7 to face a crisis and running one of the largest peacetime deficits in the developed world, Balls simply pretends it never happened. Here is what he told Marr in January 2011:

“I don’t think we had a structural deficit at all in that period [before the recession]”

Given the Shadow Chancellor’s fondness for throwing IMF statements around, will he now concede that he was wrong and say sorry?

We can autotune it if it makes it easier…

UPDATE: More ammo for the PM on what should be a tricky day – Employment has reached a record high at almost 30m, with unemployment down by 50,000 in the last quarter from 8.1% to 7.9%. Youth unemployment has also dropped below one million for the first time in a year.

Ed Burns Burnham Speech

Tensions between Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham are spilling out across the papers, again. Just before Labour conference Ed cocked up a Q&A by declaring that Labour would not try to repeal the Lansley Health Act, Burnham immediately took to Twitter to helpfully say the exact opposite, leaving his leader wriggling and forcing a complete turnaround. Today it seems the Shadow Health Secretary has got a little slap in the Guardian:

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, watered down policy plans to integrate social and healthcare after an intervention during the Labour party conference from Ed Miliband’s office involving heated discussions. Burnham wanted to make the commitment in his speech a fortnight ago but was told by the Labour leader’s office that the pledge had not yet been costed and its implications for the health service had not been fully explored. There were also concerns that Burnham was telling fringe meetings about giving local councils powers to commission health services – a plan that had not been adequately examined, sources said.

Guido heard an amusing tale not long ago of Burnham using a four letter word, not suitable for a family blog, whilst in the company of senior newspaper executive to describe Ed in the dying days of the Labour leadership election. He also vowed not to serve in his shadow cabinet if he won. You have to wonder whether he’s regretting his change of heart yet…



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Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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