Blair : I’m Not Listening

The Downing Street e-petitions exercise tells us something fundamental about Tony Blair and his government. They are not listening, your opinion is irrelevant. They view the e-petitions project as a means by which they can put their case to opponents. Tony doesn’t take note, a million signatures against road pricing merely means that they will have to explain it again and again until they get their way. As soon as the anti-ID cards petition closed, signatories got an email telling us why ID cards would lead us to Nirvana. Consultation in New Labour’s dictionary means “to seek approval”.

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Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Peter Hitchens R.I.P., the Hitch Lives

The showdown has led to a gracious climb down. Peter Hitchens’ bicycle visit to the Hitch convinced him that the poor chap had suffered enough. The Hitch blog lives on mind you, and it is still an homage to Peter Hitchens.

The Hitch is funnier of course. Like you imagine the original would be like if he hit the bottle harder, swore more and was a little less restrained – a Viz version of the original. The demo outside the Mail’s offices complaining about the parody Hitchens’ blog still ranks as one of the most amusing moments in left-wing, po-faced protestor stupidty. Hitchens crying to Iain Dale about his suffering made Guido laugh as well.

Incidentally, some months ago Peter Hitchens’ producer contacted Guido to assist with his upcoming docu-turnover of Cameron. The producer talked an unbearable amount of bollocks about how it was going to be a fair and balanced portrayal of Cameron. Guido said he’d be happy to discuss Dave over a bottle or two with Peter (trans. not bloody wasting time with the dreary media studies graduate who makes Hitchens’ tea). Have heard nothing since.

Peter Hitchens Stalking The Hitch

Something about the zeitgeist this month means that every successful blogger has to acquire a stalker. The Hitch has surpassed Guido in this sense. Whilst Guido has cyber-stalkers and comment trolls galore, the latent tension between “the real” Peter Hitchens the controversialist right-wing writer and the Peter Hitchens that writes for the Mail on Sunday is reaching hysterical levels. It was funny first time, but this round is bonkers.

First Hitchens complained to Yahoo that the Hitch was using the name Peter Hitchens in his Yahoo mail address. The complaint resulted in Yahoo removing his service. So he simply re-registered as therealpeterhitchens@… Then Guido got a phone call from the Hitch – “Peter Hitchens has just cycled up my drive”.

On his blog he elaborates –

I didn’t answer the door for a few reasons.
1, He didn’t ring the bell
2, I was wearing nothing other than my underwear
3, I thought “Fucking no way is that Peter Hitchens”

Having put a pair of pants on and gone to the door he was gone, If he hadn’t I would have invited him in. I have to say I admire his balls for doing it, the man has made a career out of touring some of the scariest places on earth and confronting far nastier folk than your humble blog host.

This “Hitch” admires the other “Hitch” but thinks he is a bit up himself and should lighten up, having said that , as long as he keeps threatening me he can fuck off and I will ratchet this up as high as he likes.

At first Guido thought the Hitch had been at the sherry, but no, he claims Peter Hitchens is moaning and making vague threats via email continuously. It is hard to see what course of action is open to him in law. There is no law against parody. In fact it seems to Guido if anyone is guilty of anything, it is Peter Hitchens for having a total lack of a sense of proportion. Cycling around peering through people’s letterboxes, he should be charged with travelling without a sense of humour. That’s stalkers for you…

Never Was Good at Deadlines

Whoops, have just noticed the Direction under Section 8(3) of the Charities Act 1993 sitting on the desk. Blah blah blah seven days blah blah blah liable to imprisonment blah blah. Have just had a very pleasant pissy lunch with Bryan Appleyard and now have to pick up Baby Ms Fawkes.
It will therefore have to wait until Monday. So Dame Suzi Leather, if you can just hang on and pop round for it then when Guido has found the tippex and got rid of all the fax numbers etc. But please, none of that “Kumbaya socialism” sing song thing you Christian socialists do. Coffee, dossier, on your way…

Friday Caption Contest (Papal Edition)

Is the New Statesman Compromised?

The old New Statesman historically was the discussion journal of the Labour party. Issues and personalities of the left were analysed within its pages and it still has serious journalists holed up at its offices. Yet compare the vitality of the Spectator to that of the Statesman, all shades of conservative and other strands of thought appear in the Speccie. But search for anything critical of Brown in the Statesman and you will find little.

Improved as it has been under Kampfner’s editing it still lacks something because the hand of Geoffrey Robinson is suffocating it. He is prone to wandering up to writers post publication and congratulating them with the line “Gordon liked your piece”. As if any self respecting serious writer on the left would care.

The whole issue of Robinson’s ownership and his total devotion to the Brown cause depresses staff. The embarrassment of being known as the Brownite house magazine with the symbiotic “independent charitable non-partisan think-tank” – which just so happens to have moved offices three times with them in the last ten years (can you guess who?) – makes staff blush.

Guido was filming outside their offices recently when Kampfner came out, “What are you up to?” he asked of us. “We’re doing a piece on the Smith Institute, care to comment?” “Oh no”, he said and walked off. What kind of state of affairs is it when the editor of the liberal left’s house journal won’t discuss the question of the independence and integrity of his magazine? It shares offices with a controversial think-tank under investigation by the Charity Commission for dubious practises involving the future leader of the Labour party. Every newspaper in the country is covering the story and the New Statesman ignores the elephant literally in the same room as it. Not a single story about the Smith Institute has appeared in the magazine with which it shares offices. Bizarre.

Nick Cohen, a New Statesman journalist, has a bestselling book out, What’s Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way. Guido can’t help but wonder if part of the answer can’t be found in the silence and timidity of the left’s leading journal when it comes to discussing what is going on under its own roof.

UPDATE : Guardian’s Greenslade challenges Kampfner, Martin Bright tries a Sith mind trick, these are not the stories you are looking for, you can go about your business…

Sith’s Allies Fightback

Will Hutton, failed ex-stockbroker, failed ex-editor, has been wheeled out to provide covering fire for the Smith Institute in the Guardian. According to Hutton, saying there is in fact something very sleazy about the cozy Gordon/Treasury/Sith nexus, is some kind of attack on democracy. (Incidentally, Will, we have previous).What is democratic about holding private meetings behind closed doors? What is democratic about the Treasury quietly paying £11,000 to the Smith Institute for arranging 2 meetings on it’s behalf, but not charging the self-same Smith Institute a single penny for holding 165 meetings on it’s premises? Isn’t that anti-democratic? Isn’t that something we should openly shine a light on? Gordon’s Treasury tax-kickback-subsidised charity paying Bob Shrum to devise an anti-Cameron strategy, is that something we should keep secret?

What is democratic about using Tom Watson MP to spread the most vile false smear campaign against Guido the week after he made an official complaint against the Smith Institute? Even by the shrill standards of the blogosphere it was a step too far that forced Guido to threaten immediate High Court action against Gordon’s failed putsch leader. When they are cornered they fight hard and dirty.

Now a statutory authority has issued a direction threatening Guido with contempt of court, imprisonment and fines unless Guido hands over documents obtained from whistleblowers. Guido will provide evidence of the Sith’s wrongdoing, but he intends to protect his sources as well. Now I’m off for a drink…

What’s the Story, No More Glory?

Back in the day Noel Gallagher was part of Blair’s Cool Britannia. This picture was emblematic. Remember it was all going to be whiter than white, have an ethical foreign policy and put education, education, education of the children first.

“When the Labour Party got in it was all about children and education and yet 10 years down the line there’s people saying that kids are better off in Poland… I don’t really think there’s anything left to vote for. That’s why people don’t vote… why people would rather vote for celebrity talent shows than would vote for politics.” says the Oasis front man today.

Don’t look back in anger Noel, roll with it. He clearly won’t be supping champagne at No. 10 any time soon…

Frank Field : “Miliband Should Run for Leader”

Remember Guido’s 2005 prophecy?

Frank Field is calling on David Miliband to run now, he condemned Gordon as

“a candidate whose hands have been on the steering wheel for the last decade”

Labour’s Yoda said his party’s best hope lay in the

“younger generation, in a candidate who is not linked in the public mind with what will soon be seen as stage one of New Labour’s journey.

Step forward, David Miliband.”

Why wait? Gordon will not win an outright majority at the General Election, because he cannot be a “renewal” candidate. Why wait until you lose to go to the next generation?

Sleazy Levy Shaky

Reports are reaching Guido from different directions as to the increasingly erratic personal behaviour of the man at the centre of the Loans for Lordships scandal.

Well the mental pressure must be immense, what will his defence be? Guido fears it may all get too much for him in the way that it did for Ernie Saunders. Whatever happened to Ernie?

Valentine MPs

Sky’s Adam Boulton has compiled a list of the most fanciable MPs for Valentine’s Day. No real surprises; the ladies side is topped by Julie Kirkbride and Caroline Flint, the himbos are headed up by Nick Clegg and Angus MacNeil.

This is another small step forward in the Guidoisation of democracy. When the chairman of the Lobby starts doing totty-watch pieces to camera, victory will be total…

Douglas Alexander Listens

Douglas Alexander is said to be furious that his attempt to introduce trials for his poll-tax-on-wheels scheme has been derailed by a Downing Street e-petition, which is approaching one and a half million signatures – up 100,000 in one day.

“We cannot be seen to bend, but we have to listen. There is a difference between listening and capitulating,” said an anonymous government source yesterday. The unnamed source (not a million miles from Douglas Alexander) is said to have claimed that “whoever came up with this idea might be a prat”. Guido emailed his friend Tom Steinberg of MySociety for a comment about that on Monday, but unusually no reply has been received from Tom. He is presumably very busy.

Ooofy Wegg-Prosser is the “web-genius” at No. 10. He apparently saw the e-petition plan as an answer to the interactivity and popularity of WebCameron and, err, Guido. Well that worked brilliantly didn’t it Ooofy?

Breaking News : Mark Clarke Wins Tooting Selection

Despite an excruciating campaign video, the high profile leader of the Tory youth wing has been selected to fight the Tooting Popular Front. He needs a 7% swing away from Labour…

Oooh www.CherieBlair.org.uk

Pendennis has noticed that our old friend Martha Greene has registered www.CherieBlair.org.uk.

Domain name: cherieblair.org.uk

Registrant: Martha Greene

She has also registered some predictable variations. CherieBlair.tv and MoneyGrubbingScouser.org. are however still available.

Smith Institute : Gordon’s Slip is Clearly ShowingBelow the Hem

“Britain is a better country because of the choices that voters made in 1997, 2001 and 2005….”*

Is that a quote from the draft 2009 Labour party manifesto to be signed by Gordon Brown? In a sense it is, in that it comes from an invitation sent out by what is effectively Gordon’s preparatory campaign committee. The Smith Institute is, even Brownite allies admit, now in its final days as a charity. One Brownite sneered to Guido that “even if it does lose it’s charitable status, it won’t matter, Gordon will be PM by then.”

That may be, but we will know that he is just as slippery as Blair when it comes to covert funding. We’ll know that his big business friends with interests in government contracts, government preferment and personal advancement, backed his campaign with cold cash given behind closed doors. Gordon glad-handed them at events at No. 11 organised by the Smith Institute, subsidised the Sith’s events by allowing them to use No. 11 rent free, the Treasury paid tax kick-backs on donations to the “educational charity” and even went so far as to pay thousands directly to the Smith Institute’s private company to organise events.

Gordon then tried to get a peerage for his allies Wilf Stevenson, the director of the Smith Institute and Ronnie “PFI” Cohen, the financier and Gordon backer. When Blair goes will anything really change when it comes to New Labour sleaze?

*Hat-tip to Hencke

Point of Order-Order

Nick Robinson says you have to filter what Guido says, that you have to watch “the agenda” and that Guido gets things wrong.

Of course mistakes can be made by anyone in pursuit of the truth.

Can you remind Guido which unfiltered, agenda-free broadcaster confidently predicted with a knowing, worldly-wise smirk to camera, that ‘the police will simply go through the motions of investigating allegations of “cash for peerages’? in March 2006?

New Logo : Cannabis Conservatives

Demos Calls in Two-Brains

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: The new director of Demos, Catherine Fieschi, seems to be steadying the ship and pointing it in a new direction after the short-lived captaincy of Madelaine Bunting produced a mutiny of the wonks.
Catherine Fieschi is respected as a real academic wonk who hails from the soft liberal school (she is on the editorial board of Prospect, the bible of Hampstead liberals).[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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