Question Time Expert Is Labour Member who Called Britain an ‘Embarrassing Dirty Little Country’

Professor John Ashton used his prime slot on last night’s Question Time to repeatedly slam the Government’s four-stage coronavirus response policy. Fair enough. He was introduced as a “former regional director of Public Health England for the North West”. What viewers were not told, however, is that two years ago the Professor described himself as a:

“broad left , radical,non trot , baby boomer , green, gender inclusive , feminist labour .Party member for 53 years”

Ashton seems very angry with the Government for a whole host of reasons beyond Coronavirus, not least of all Brexit:

  • The day after the result of the referendum was announced, Ashton tweeted “What an embarrassing dirty little country we live in.”
  • He claimed that “after Brexit, the U.K. could disintegrate”.
  • Ashton is also a long-standing supporter of Labour’s radical four-day week policy, which would cripple the NHS.
  • He also had to take a leave of absence after attacking e-Cigarette advocates as “onanists” and “c**ts” on Twitter.

Ashton is so partisan to his core that he even called his son “Fabian Che”, or Che for short, after the Fabian Society and Che Guevara. A little more context from the programme last night would have been illuminating…

UPDATE: And now Professor Ashton has been on Sky News with no nod to his politics…

mdi-timer March 13 2020 @ 10:26 13 Mar 2020 @ 10:26 mdi-comment View Comments
‘Dirtiest’ News Websites Revealed

Despite sustained focus on industries like aviation by environmental campaigners, digital technology – including the internet – is responsible for just as much in global carbon emissions – around 2-3%. To get websites sorting out their environmental efficiency, has been set up, allowing you to see the amount of carbon emissions generated by each website. Guido thought he’d check out the competition…

  • The Star: emits more than 61% of websites
  • Guardian: emits more than 63%
  • Telegraph emits more than 70%
  • The Times: emits more than 81%
  • The Star: emits more than than 82%
  • Guido: emits more than 84%
  • The Sun: emits more than 84%
  • The Independent: emits more than 87%
  • Metro: emits more than 88%
  • Buzzfeed: emits more than 98%

While publications like the Guardian, Independent and Buzzfeed preach to about the ‘climate crisis’, each visit to their polluting websites generates 1.67g, 2.99g and 9.38g of CO2 respectively. We calculate that The Guardian creates 500 tonnes of carbon emissions a month, that is 6,000 tonnes a year. Guido expects Extinction Rebellion to be heading to their offices imminently…

mdi-timer March 12 2020 @ 15:49 12 Mar 2020 @ 15:49 mdi-comment View Comments
Carrie Slams “Total Crap” Shaggy Dog Story from The Times

Carrie has not held back this morning about The Times story from Ben Ellery claiming she wants to rehome Dilyn the dog now the baby is on the way, she tweeted:

“What a load of total crap! There has never been a happier, healthier and more loved dog than our Dilyn. 100% bs. The people behind this story should be ashamed of themselves.”

Despite a blanket denial from Downing Street last night “It’s completely untrue that there are plans for him to be rehomed” the paper still ran with the story. This shaggy dog story could bite Ben Ellery…

mdi-timer March 11 2020 @ 08:49 11 Mar 2020 @ 08:49 mdi-comment View Comments
Channel 4’s Dorothy Byrne Out As Head of News

Channel 4 has announced that Dorothy Byrne will be stepping down as the Head of News and Current Affairs, taking up a “specially created role” of Editor at Large. This follows a recent diktat from the organisation precluding nonpolitical journalists tweeting about politics…

In August, Byrne’s McTaggart lecture provoked a storm of criticism, as she called Boris Johnson a “known liar” who is aping Vladimir Putin. Not the most impartial thing to say for a broadcaster’s Head of News…

This follows several Channel 4 impartiality controversies, with the broadcaster employing senior anti-Tory journalists, declaring war with Number 10 over a climate change debate, and falsely reporting that Boris Johnson said he favours “people of colour coming to this country, but I think it should be democratically controlled.” He actually said “people of talent“…

Byrne denied that she would be standing down when Guido put the story to her last month. She now tells Guido that she “didn’t lie” because she will be “staying on as editor-at-large part-time!!

mdi-timer March 9 2020 @ 15:45 9 Mar 2020 @ 15:45 mdi-comment View Comments
Struggling Tortoise Media Gets £50,000 Public Subsidy

The public via the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has awarded £50,000 to Tortoise Media, the online publisher on a mission to slow down and open up journalism. It has opened up journalism by doing things like (Guido has counted them) hiring 13 people who studied at Oxford University.

The public’s money is funding live discussion events called “Think Ins”, in local newsrooms in Grimsby, Plymouth and East Marsh. Co-conspirators who have attended tell Guido they are like a liberal hand-wringing therapy session. The idea, they told NESTA in their funding application, was to “pave the way towards a sustainable future for local journalism, based on real-life conversations in communities”. How sustainable is the Tortoise model of journalism?

According to a Guido source on the inside, everyone knows it’s not working and James Harding runs it like a private fiefdom. The same source says they employ some 60 people* with a monthly wages-only bill in the hundreds of thousands. They now publish two pieces a day.

The source says

“Its whatever James Harding is interested in, and so he’s creating a magazine for himself. But his contacts and world view are so 2008. His speed dial political contact is Andrew Feldman. Him and Matthew d’Ancona are like visitors from another era. Of their claimed 26,000 members, 6,000 are people who were part of the Kickstarter campaign before they launched, 5,000 are student members, 14,000 are ‘network members’ which is a bulk buying scam where corporates buy cheap memberships for disadvantaged people who supposedly don’t have access to good media, and then they of course never log on. And 1,000 proper members, who actually read the site. Articles normally get reads measured in the hundreds, thousands is like hallelujah.”

Guido ran a comparison a few months ago which supporters said was unfair and not comparing like-with-like, so we have repeated the comparison with a like-for-like: Unherd, another not-for-profit online publisher that was also founded to do more highbrow journalism not covered so well elsewhere. Over the last 90 days this is how they have done in terms of reader visits, with only a handful of staff Unherd is beating Tortoise in readership terms by a factor of ten:

That chasm in reader numbers is not narrowing, the month of February was just as dire:

Two months ago co-founder Katie Vanneck-Smith told Guido Tortoise had 19,470 paying members, which if true would mean they visit the site on average less than once every two weeks. In reality much of their registered readership must live in the village of Potemkin…

*LinkedIn says they have 82 employees.

mdi-timer March 6 2020 @ 15:43 6 Mar 2020 @ 15:43 mdi-comment View Comments
Guardian Editorial Conference Descends into Trans Row over Moore Article

Such was the expected turn out for the Guardian’s editorial conference this morning it was held in the larger downstairs conference room. Lisa Nandy was due to address the editorial conference…

The discussion kicked off with – unsurprisingly – the Coronavirus issue. After a while this was exhausted when a voice not heard before explained she no longer felt safe working at The Guardian following Suzanne Moore’s article this morning. Colleagues stared at their shoes as Jess, who works for the commercial rather than editorial side, ranted on. Another woke colleague spoke up to back up Jess. The columnist Hadley Freeman spoke up to say that columnists were supposed to be provocative. A third person spoke against Suzanne Moore being given a platform for her views, a back and forth followed with it turning into what was described to Guido as a “full-on, high pitched tense debate”.

The article’s reference comparing the treatment of Polanski and the feminist Selina Todd was a particular point of controversy – even though it was not in reference to trans people. Somebody claimed it was a dog-whistle. People wondered where Lisa Nandy was. Jess repeated she was not safe and walked out. Guardian editor Kath Viner summed up the discussion. Lisa Nandy was a no-show. Probably for the best…

UPDATE: In 2013 a previous Moore article was eventually removed in an act of self censorship by Alan Rusbridger. See Have Cocks and Have Nots

mdi-timer March 3 2020 @ 13:00 3 Mar 2020 @ 13:00 mdi-comment View Comments
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