Despite claims made on Twitter whenever right-of-centre types appear on talk shows or panels, statist groups receive more media attention than free-market groups and are mentioned six times more frequently in the national media. According to our research, groups advocating higher spending have 40 times more funding and 37 times as many staff at their disposal than groups supporting lower spending. As a consequence, they unsurprisingly appear in the media far more often.
Using a media monitoring agency* we looked at media coverage for one week in the summer between the Tory leadership election and the general election. We found that well-funded groups advocating left-of-centre statist policies dominated coverage:
Amongst the three-day-long period of outrage from the media class over Andrew Sabisky’s hiring, the question of what his day-to-day ‘contractor’ role is within Downing Street remains shrouded in mystery.
The current rumour doing the rounds is that Sabisky is working on the Government’s defence review announced in Boris’s post-election Queen’s Speech. No one’s been able to stand this up yet, either via Downing Street or the MoD. When updating his SpAd list today, Guido noticed that the abrupt firing of advisor Christopher Brannigan on Saturday left a gaping hole in Downing Street’s Policy Unit. What was Brannigan’s brief? Defence…
Beyond cognitive research, Sabisky has spent years banging on about defence strategy and spending, most famously flamboyantly appearing on Daily Politics to call on the Government to triple defence spending and, as Guido uncovered this morning, has quite a dim view of the Government’s previous choices for defence secretaries – calling Gavin Williamson and Penny Mordaunt “proper morons”.
Climate change protestors have moved on from illegal road closures to the active destruction of property. Following their Home Office attack last week, the Extinction Rebellion group have turned to ripping up the lawn of Trinity College Cambridge today. This forms part of their action in Cambridge including stopping a council meeting, blocking roads (including forcing an ambulance to turn back), all in order to seize legislative powers from the council.
Today’s destructive stunt was overseen by police, who confirmed to Cambridge News that they are refusing to make any arrests. Ray Bisby, the acting Police and Crime Commissioner for the area said:
“The constabulary is in a challenging position where they will work in partnership to provide a proportionate policing response to the protest, balancing the needs and rights of protestors with those impacted by the protest.”
Surely an excellent new tactic for other petty criminals. Simply call your trashing of property rights “a protest” and get off escape arrest!
The world of SpAds continues to be in disarray following the reshuffle. Although Guido’s list remains the most accurate and up-to-date, there’s lots of moving and hiring still going on, with many SpAds still awaiting their specific fate. As always email in with any changes.
Guido has made a number of changes to his SpAd list, not least culling the number of Ministers entitled to hire a departmental political advisor based on the trimming down of cabinet attendees; including James Cleverly, Kwazi Kwarteng, and Chris Pincher.
The biggest change was the merging of the No. 10 and No. 11 SpAd teams. Rishi Sunak became Chancellor without any SpAds of his own, following Claire Coutinho’s election as an MP in December. It’s also presumed Stephen Barclay – Sunak’s successor as Chief Secretary – will participate in the new joint economics team arrangement; currently comprising Nerissa Chesterfield (transferred from DfIT), Rob Oxley (on secondment from FCO), Liam Booth-Smith and Douglas McNeill.
Cameron Brown joins the new Secretary for International Development, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, after Jake Berry left Government as Northern Powerhouse Minister. He is joined by Will Holloway – Greg Clarke’s former SpAd.
Out in the provinces, Jack Sellers – a senior advisor for the Welsh Conservatives in Cardiff – has joined Simon Hart at the Wales Office. Guido understands newly-appointed Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, is currently SpAd-less; which explains why he was spotted returning from his first official trip to his new district thumbing through his ministerial folder containing a document entitled “A beginner’s guide to the political scene in Northern Ireland”. Sounds like he urgently needs a hire – any Northern Ireland experts get in touch with him…
Finally over in No. 10, Guido understands the Events & Visits team has been slimmed down following the election. Nick Vaughan has left Downing Street and Chloe Sarfaty has moved across to work with Chloe Westley on Boris’s digital content. Boris’s now-former parliamentary office manager of five years, Catherine Rostron, has moved over to No. 10. Once Westminster’s tectonic plates stop shifting, Guido promises to bring you the full internal SpAd list once again…
Keep up to date with Guido’s rolling SpAd list here…
In this morning’s briefing the Prime Ministers’ spokesman Jamie Davies spent ten long minutes taking questions from Lobby hacks on Boris’ views on IQ. The repeated answer to all lines of inquiry was that “the Prime Minister’s views are well documented.” What are those views?
The best answer we have is from the speech Boris gave in 2013 to the Centre for Policy Studies, where he touched upon the subject. In the speech entitled ‘What Would Maggie do Today?’
“No one can ignore the harshness of that competition, or the inequality that it inevitably accentuates; and I am afraid that violent economic centrifuge is operating on human beings who are already very far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth.
Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.”
The speech causes a furore at the time, with Boris having to defend his comments, claiming by way of explanation that “What I was saying, actually, is that there is too much inequality, and my speech was actually a warning, as correctly reported by many newspapers, against letting this thing go unchecked.” Which seemed to Guido at the time to be a bit of a reverse ferret…
The point fits with his regular refrain in contemporary speeches that ‘talent and brilliance is equally distributed across the country, but opportunity is not.’ Discussions of IQ are a minefield, the left explodes when it touches on race, whereas most of the right is deeply convinced that IQ is relevant to achievable outcomes. It goes to their respective fundamental beliefs in human nature.
Incidentally, has anyone noticed that “super-forecaster” Andrew Sabisky, whose musings have triggered this latest round of outrage, described Penny Mordaunt and Gavin Williamson as “morons“:
it says something about how badly defence is regarded that we keep getting proper morons as SecDef, Mordaunt somehow being even worse than Williamson— Andrew Sabisky (@AndrewSabisky) May 1, 2019
Guido wonders if the autistic Sabisky can forecast what their reaction will be to finding this out?
In a statement on Twitter, BBC News Deputy Political Editor John Pienaar has announced that he is jumping ship to the soon-to-be-launched Times Radio.
“after nearly three decades at the BBC I am leaving to join the soon-to-be-launched Times Radio as Drive Time presenter.”