Will need some sturdy cuffs for those hands…
A lovely new vase for Dave here, a multi-million pound arms deal there – but it’s not all forced handshakes and stony smiles in Bahrain. Today the country’s Industry and Commerce minister Hassan Fakhro has issued a decree banning imports of Guy Fawkes masks. Apparently the Bahrain authorities are worried about the masks being smuggled in through ports by anti-government freedom fighters. As the most famous wearer of the mask memorably declares:
“People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people. Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof…”
Ever mindful of the little guy, Guido read with some interest a report recently of a university student union going to court to silence its own student newspaper. The Guardian reported two weeks ago:
“Edinburgh University Students’ Association, a charity independent of the University, has been granted an interim interdict (the Scots version of an injunction) preventing publication of an edition of the weekly paper carrying a story based on those confidential documents. The content of the documents cannot be disclosed by anyone because of the interdict and it is not unusual to obtain such orders in confidentiality cases. What is unusual is the breadth of order sought by the Eusa, which asked for an interdict because of the reputational harm it would do to the body. It asked for an interdict preventing publication of any material that suggests the Eusa is poorly governed and whose management is inexperienced and unaccountable.”
Guido has got hold of the confidential documents in question that can be read here. He’s not quite sure how the judge thought that an article posted on the blog of the student directly responsible for the provision of services entitled “Why We Spit In Your Drinks” was not in the public interest. The elected official in question, a Max Crema, backed the legal action. Unsurprisingly…
Not only did Guido reveal that Owen Paterson has set up a swear jar for any Defra staffer brave enough to crack a horse pun in yesterday’s Sun column, but there could be more equine trouble ahead. Sources whisper that ‘bute’ may be the least of our worries; if the horse tranquilliser Ketamine – which doubles as a rave drug – has not been tested for, it won’t be a laughing matter. One to keep an eye on…
Meanwhile, the results of the House of Commons horsemeat tests are in:
“As a precautionary measure, on Monday 18 February the House of Commons Catering Service removed from its menus four beef items supplied by Brakes, as they carried out tests on their products containing beef.The items were:
- beef and onion pie
- steak and kidney pie
- steak kidney suet pudding
- and beef Italian meatballs.Tests on all four items have been completed and all have concluded negative for equine DNA.The items are back on menus from today.”
It’s one mule for us…
Yesterday Clegg told us: “my office only received concerns indirectly and anonymously”. We now know they were detailed, specific allegations. The Telegraph have just upped the Rennard ante, revealing the specific allegations they put to the LibDem election head of comms Jonny Oates back in April 2010. Oates is now Clegg’s Chief of Staff. The lawyers eventually sat on the story after the strength of the denials, but the four out of the five allegations now emerge:
To which Oates responded:
The obvious question arises: without putting the specific allegations to Clegg, how could Oates have issued this denial to the Telegraph? Yesterday Clegg insisted only “indirect and non-specific concerns” had been raised with his office, back in 2008. This correspondence proves detailed allegations were presented to a senior aide, and judging by the response evidently him, in 2010. That is not what Clegg told us yesterday…
Having flown in from Spain last night to make the Rennard crisis worse, Nick Clegg has done a runner. Guido just spoke to the LibDem press office who said he had got on a flight at Heathrow. They did not know, or were not saying, where he is going, but it was not mentioned in the timetable briefed to the lobby this morning.
A LibDem, Labour and Green attempt to wreck Boris’ budget, kicking him out of the Assembly meeting as part of the stitch up.
Vid via ITV.
Ayn Rand deserves some credit today…
“A is A.”
As Guido revealed in his Sun column yesterday, one fellow yellow peer has jumped to the defence of randy Rennard. Weirdy-beardy Lord Greaves has been fighting his corner on an internal party message board, suggesting the sex pest allegations were merely “mild sexual advances”.
“Are the allegations true? We will have to wait and see. Meanwhile I suggest people just calm down a bit. Is the alleged behaviour criminal? We don’t know the details of anything that may have happened. But it is hardly an offence for one adult person to make fairly mild sexual advances to another. What matters if whether they are pursued if they are rebuffed…In passing I would note and guess that if the allegations as made are a matter for resignation, perhaps around a half of the male members of the Lords over the age of 50 would probably not be seen again”
Then on a thread titled “Just a devious Beeb/Labour plot to steal Eastleigh thunder”, Lord Greaves continues:
“Interesting to consider what is “sexual harassment”. Does one proposition constitute sexual harassment? If that is not normally the case (which seems common sense) might it do so in the particular context of the relationship between two people? And once there has been a refusal by the other person, how many more propositions constitute sexual harassment? We only know the identity of two of the complainants, as I understand it. In at least one case, if the event that is alleged too place, I’m surprised the response was not a slap in the face. But why the complaints have been made now is a mystery.”
Guido wonders what the party’s paltry female contingent would make of Greaves’ hands on attitude to dealing with the Rennard crisis. With friends like that…
Last night’s statement went well then. As if today’s papers were not bad enough for the LibDems, the party leader and party president have given a masterclass in being unable to stick to the same line this morning. First, Tim Farron went for a straightforward approach on the Today programme, admitting “we screwed this up”. Minutes later Clegg refuted that suggestion, telling Radio Solent “we have nothing to hide as a party”. Last night Farron refused to deny this would be a resigning issue for his boss if last night’s revelations were true…