Congratulations to Grimer who won this week’s cap comp with:
Spare a thought for Labour MP Neil Coyle. Neil is perhaps the most publicly aggressive Corbyn-hating Labour moderate in parliament. An arch-Remainer, he is taking Brexit particularly badly. And his Bermondsey seat is under significant threat from the LibDems. So this weekend Coyle tried to cheer himself up by going shopping. In a package for the Sunday Politics, he paid a visit to the Brindisa Spanish food shop in hipster heaven Borough Market. It really is the pantry of the metropolitan elite, you can buy an “artisan selection box” for £65, a single Spanish ham for £800, as well as an assortment of expensive hampers and tapas sets perfect for a London Labour dinner party.
Set to sad, slow jazz, Coyle reported the sob story of how Brindisa prices are going up post-referendum. Brexit is just terrible, dahling, how will we ever afford our £800 Spanish hams now?
Nick Robinson’s comment in the Radio Times that “the referendum is over. The duty we broadcasters had to ‘broadly balance’ the views of the two sides is at an end” revealed much about the Today programme’s attitude to covering Brexit. Take a look at Mishal Husain’s line of questioning during her interview with Sadiq Khan this morning. This was her cringingly deferential first question:
“You’ve talked at length about how concerned you are to protect London as a global financial centre after Brexit. How much assurance have you been given, and what could the government say that might stop jobs moving out of London in a way that we’re already seeing, from banks, from people like Goldman Sachs, Lloyd’s of London is opening up a Brussels office. The movement is already happening.”
Completely softball, no scrutiny of Khan’s position, simply inviting him to speak without challenge. Husain also repeats the Remain spin about Lloyd’s (who actually say London will remain their major financial sector). Her final statement that “the movement is already happening” is overt Remain topspin to the point of being untrue.
Husain’s next question simply invited Khan to explain his new “flexible immigration” policy, again with no scrutiny. The job of interviewers is to probe, scrutinise and hold politicians to account, not repeat their spin and invite them to talk about how brilliant they are…
Shadow Cabinet aides and spinners have been getting a lot of criticism recently. Very unfair, as you can see above. Worth noting this press release was sent 13 hours ago and has only just been noticed by Lobby hacks. Goes to show how much interest there is in reading them…
To be fair to the Labour press office, they did resend the press release. On the downside…
Sadiq Khan has been getting a lot of deserved stick over his election campaign website, which awkwardly still lists the promises he has failed to keep since becoming mayor. Head over to Sadiq.London and you will find Khan’s pledges to build 80,000 homes a year, to plant two million trees by 2020 and to reduce bus fares in his first year. None of which have been kept. How is Team Sadiq dealing with his embarrassing website? They have updated it to include the following disclaimer:
“Some of the information on this page may be out of date and does not reflect campaign pledges or Mayoral policy.”
Eh? So the promises on Khan’s website don’t “reflect campaign pledges” and are now “out of date”? Asked about the disclaimer at Assembly questions, Khan said he isn’t sure who added it. A novel approach to promise breaking from London’s increasingly slippery Mayor…
UPDATE: Tory Assembly member Andrew Boff says:
“Since I began asking him some awkward questions about it, a disclaimer has mysteriously appeared on the site, effectively conceding the promises amount to nothing. You couldn’t make it up. This is about a Mayor presenting a misleading picture of himself during an election campaign on an official and very public website. He may now claim the information is out of date and irrelevant, but that will be little comfort to those who no doubt voted for him on the back of these phantom pledges.”
Ken has been on the Today programme to blame the Jewish Chronicle for his Hitler Tourette’s. The JC say:
“Somehow, out of all the coverage his words have received over the past year, he has decided it is all the Jewish Chronicle’s fault. One might wonder what conclusion can be drawn from that.”
He also doubled down on last week’s new slur about Jews collaborating with Nazis, insisting: “Literally there is such a history of collaboration”. Decision expected today – surely Labour won’t let him off, right?
The Spanish have long argued – years before the referendum – that Gibraltar existing as a British enclave means the “disruption of national unity and territorial integrity” of Spain, and that it hurts the Spanish economy. There is just one question Theresa May and Boris Johnson need ask their Spanish counterparts: what about Ceuta? Ceuta (and another city, Melilla) are two low tax Spanish enclaves on the northern coast of Morocco. They are the EU’s only land border with Africa. Morocco want them back, but the two enclaves are autonomous, have their own governments, and return deputies and senators to the Spanish parliament in Madrid. Well, Spain, do Ceuta and Melilla disrupt the economy, national unity and territorial integrity of Morocco?
Contrary to reports, Guido is told Corbyn’s events chief and personal stylist Gavin Sibthorpe, the man who came up with the infamous Sibthorpe Doctrine – “let Jeremy fail in his own time” – has not resigned. Guido is told he has certainly not quit and will not be leaving. We can however report that Jezza’s press officer Angie Williams is off to work on Steve Rotheram’s mayoral campaign, though she is due to return to Norman Shaw South when it’s over. Happy to clear that up for crowing Labour moderates…
The Green Party’s proposal to introduce a three day weekend was a surprisingly populist policy this Monday morning. Job-sharing party leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley say Britons should be given an extra day off because “when people are exhausted, their productivity goes down”. Just one catch: over-worked tree-hugging sources claim the Greens only allow their own staff regular, energy-sapping two day weekends. A Green Party spokesman would only say:
“We don’t comment on staffing matters.”
Won’t somebody think of the bag (for life) carriers?
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will share a platform with two Syrian government officials loyal to the butcher Bashar Al-Assad. Williams – who is now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge – will address a conference hosted by The European Centre for the Study of Extremism, described by Syrian campaigners as a pro-Assad puppet organisation. The former Church of England leader will speak alongside Ali Haidar, a minister in the Assad government and general secretary of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (which runs a notorious militia fighting for Assad), and Bishr Riyad Yaziji, another Assad government minister. Both Haidar and Yaziji are asset freeze targets of the British government…
The conference will also be attended by Hamid Baeidinejad, the Iranian Ambassador to the UK. Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock was a patron of the group, but last week withdrew his support citing its “pro-Assad stance“:
@BobDeed I was informed 27 Mar of pro Assad stance of ECSE.Told them 10.53 I withdrew all association with them immediately.Neil Kinnock
— Glenys Kinnock (@GlenysKinnock) 30 March 2017
Williams has proven more stubborn, despite pleas from an alliance of UK Syrian interest groups:
“We are concerned that a great many people who we expect not to share pro-regime sympathies are involved with this propaganda exercise.”
Williams is understood to be issuing this standard reply to concerned:
“I have made it clear that I have no intention of defending the Government of Syria against well-founded charges of human rights abuses, and I have as yet seen no clear evidence that the event is designed simply as a propagandist exercise. You may be sure that I should strongly resist any attempt to make it such. My concern is simply to ask what can be done to move the discussion further towards a just and sustainable peace, guaranteeing the democratic rights of all.”
UPDATE: Rowan Williams tells Guido:
“No other comment beyond the fact that I’d hope others will wait to see if this conference actually delivers a independent perspective.”
Kinnock did the sensible thing and pulled out as soon as he was made aware of the situation, remarkable that Williams is still attending…
Readers of PinkNews must have felt their hearts skip a beat when they read the headline “BBC to announce that the UK is to withdraw from Eurovision” on Saturday. It was of course an April Fool, somewhat given away by the article’s eyebrow-raising claim that Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon wanted a referendum on whether Scotland would still put forward an entry. No one would fall for that, right?
Well it was enough to worry the BBC, who got in touch with PinkNews to demand they took the lighthearted story down because people might believe it. PinkNews refused. Two days later, MediaGuido hears Beeb jobsworths are still going on at Pink News to take it down. Makes you think the April Fool might be onto something…
George Galloway has declared himself the real Corbynista candidate in Manchester Gorton’s by-election. Speaking at an event in Manchester yesterday Galloway said:
“Keith Vaz chose the Labour candidate in Manchester Gorton. Keith Vaz and his boss Tom Watson: the back-stabbing coup plotters against Jeremy Corbyn.
“So don’t imagine that I’m asking you to vote against the ideals of Labour. I am – and always will be – a real Labour man.
“In fact, if I’m elected, I’ll be one of the only MPs sitting behind Jeremy Corbyn without a knife in my hand trying to stab him in the back.
“If you think about it these by-elections, one after the other, are a continuation of the coup against Corbyn by other means.
“They choose an anti-Corbyn candidate and if he or she wins that’s another back-stabber in Parliament behind Corbyn.”
Hard to disagree…
LibDem leader Tim Farron’s Twitter profile picture shows him smiling sweetly at an event during the referendum. Look closely: arranged behind him in the background are 16 wine glasses, set out on glass shelves in front of a mirror:
Now look at this tweet below sent by Cambridge University two weeks ago when Farron came to visit. The glasses have vanished:
The same photo – without glasses – also appears at least twice on the University’s website:
Somebody has been busy on Photoshop here. Here are Inspector Guido’s theories:
Guido will update you when we hear back from the Lib Dems and Cambridge. Can you solve the mystery?
UPDATE: Cambridge University are saying that they did not mess with the photo. The LibDems say “You can tell it’s recess”. A non-denial…
HS2 chairman David Higgins faces a showdown with the Transport select committee over the £170 million cancelled contract debacle. Transport committee chair Louise Ellman says she wants a session on the fiasco “as soon as possible”. Pressure is beginning to be applied to the beleaguered HS2 board, which has been hit by a spate of recent high profile departures, including of its director-general David Prout, strategy director Alistair Kirk and information chief James Findlay. Rumours have been swirling that Higgins – who has just taken on a second job as chairman of Gatwick Airport – may not be long for the world of HS2. Select committee members will want to ask if HS2’s double jobbing boss took his eye off the ball…
With Chris Grayling rejecting suggestions that the £170 million tender should be re-run, US construction giant Bechtel is the favourite to take the contract. So it is unfortunate that the weekend papers revealed links between Bechtel and a middleman named in British courts as involved in corruption in Abu Dhabi. One to watch. For the £170 million HS2 contract to be mired in sleaze allegations all over again would heap further pressure on the project…
Michael Howard makes the direct comparison between a small group of Brits threatened by a Spanish speaking country and another woman PM. War!
Miriam Clegg, who is being used increasingly by TV producers as an ‘expert’ pro-Remain talking head, made some revealing comments on Gibraltar on Mair this morning. She reckons there are “two sides” to the dispute and defended Spain’s apparently “conciliatory tone”. Brave tactic for the wife of Britain’s chief zombie Remainer. The only “two sides” are the right one and the wrong one…
Frustrated Lobby hacks have been sharing horror stories of their dealings with the press operations of the Shadow Cabinet. It’s a tough gig being a Labour spinner at the moment – Keir Starmer seems to be on an eight hour time lapse and Diane Abbott’s migraines must prevent her from signing off press releases.[…] Read the rest