Front Page News

Nick Sutton has announced that he will no longer be tweeting out the nightly newspaper front pages with the hashtag . He has handed over the responsibility to @, @ and @He is busy enough running the BBC News website…

It is fair to say that his tweets influence front pages in terms of layout and timing. When tabloids have a scoop they have to weigh up the publicity versus the risk of giving away the one fact story for free. Some of us wonder about Sutton’s definition of a newspaper; the Independent’s digital “front page” only exists in virtual reality to be tweeted and the union-printed Morning Star has fewer readers than Guido, yet is still worthy of BBC promotion. These are quibbles, the initiative sets off nightly social media conversations and is a valuable public service for the chattering classes…

LibDem Rising Star Suspended After Complaint From Teenage Member

A Liberal Democrat rising star has been suspended from the party and is under investigation over alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a teenage member. Guido can reveal that Paul Halliday, a parliamentary candidate in Newport who was being lined up for another Commons run in the event of a snap election, is facing an internal probe. He has also been a minister at two churches and gave a campaign interview to Christian station Revelation TV. Halliday, who deleted his Facebook account yesterday after we approached his party for comment, denies the allegations and tells Guido his name will be cleared. A spokesman for the LibDems confirms: “He has been suspended and an internal investigation is underway”. A LibDem source says the complainant is under 18. Not the best start for the LibDem fightback…

Bank of England Boss Boldly Blasts “Scare Stories”

Savour this mea culpa from Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane, when asked why experts had got the aftermath of a Leave vote so badly wrong:

“It’s true, and again fair cop…If you look at how the consumer performed during the course of the last year it’s almost as though the referendum had not taken place. In terms of the real things like pay and jobs not very much happened during the course of last year. It’s pretty much business as usual. The spending power in people’s pockets was not materially dented… Maybe some of the scarier stories politically will be seen to be just that – scare stories.”

Haldane calls “the crisis in economic forecasting” its “Michael Fish moment”. At least Michael Fish genuinely misread the data unlike the Bank of England which under Carney chose to join the Osborne’s Project Fear…

Sunday Times’ James Lyons Off to Spin For NHS

MediaGuido can reveal a major Lobby move: the Sunday Times’ deputy political editor James Lyons is leaving to take up a communications role for NHS England. Lyons has been in the Lobby for 16 years, on the Tories’ case at the Mirror before becoming the scourge of the Corbynistas at the Sunday Times. Spinning for the NHS is a job that typically pays well into six figures, certainly a nice little earner. Congratulations to James. Half the Lobby will be sniffing around his old job, stay tuned for what will no doubt be an epic MediaGuido runners and riders…

Neil Hamilton Endears Himself to His Constituents

How is Neil Hamilton getting on as leader of UKIP in Wales? A politician you could never accuse of being out-of-touch, Hamilton this week announced he is opening a new office in his constituency. Unfortunately Team Neil spelt the name of the town and county wrong in the press release. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice. But four times.

“People wanting to know more about the party and speak to either Neil Hamilton or his advisors will be able to do so at Whitlands (sic) Town Hall, in Whitlands (sic), Camarthenshire (sic) from Monday January 16… Neil has been busy planning where to site an office in his constituency and is delighted that he is now being able to open one in the town of Whitlands (sic)”.

Aides blamed computer issues for the faux pas. Fel rhech mewn pot jam…

Compare and Contrast: Economist on Cameron and May

On the left, The Economist on Dave a few months after he became PM, mocked up with a mohican with the headline “Radical Britain: the West’s most daring government”. On the right, The Economist on “Theresa Maybe” this week: “Britain’s indecisive premier”. The Economist might be Remainer whinge-fest at the moment but the new Number 10 has failed to kill this narrative in its first few months…

Multi-Millionairess Polly Toynbee Calls For Property Tax

Guido enjoyed listening to three home-owning multi-millionairess Polly Toynbee rail against inequality and demand a US-style property tax this morning. Six-figure salaried Polly also wants a new levy on “the wealth of the very old, very rich to pay for a care system”. Wealthy socialists are of course free to voluntarily pay more tax if they feel so strongly about it. Bad news for the kids’ inheritance if mum’s assets are whacked with new taxes, though at least she sent two of them to private school so they can still check their privilege. The Italian property transfer tax means selling her Umbria villa will have stung too…

Balls Loose on ITV

Glitterballs was showered with TV offers after dad-dancing his way to stardom on Strictly. Today he’s done the dirty on Auntie and announced he will appear as “honorary man” on an ITV Loose Women special tomorrow. That’s a promotion from his occasional role as a guest on the show grinding Janet Street-Porter. Now for a whole hour of Balls…

UK Service Sector Growth At 17 Month High

Britain’s powerful services sector is motoring: the services Purchasing Managers’ Index is now at its highest for 17 months. Services make up 80% of the UK economy and the PMI surge to 56.2, up from 55.2 in November, is a noteworthy uptick in business activity. A Bloomberg survey of City economists predicted the services PMI would fall to 54.7 this month. More of that group-think, wrong-think

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said:

“A buoyant service sector adds to signs that the UK economy continues to defy widely-held expectations of a Brexit-driven slowdown. The faster growth of services activity follows similar news of improvements in the manufacturing and construction sectors at the end of 2016.”

Brexit Britain booming!

Chuka’s U-Turn on Migrants Speaking English

Chuka Umunna’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration has a report out today calling for migrants to learn English before they arrive in the UK or be given compulsory language lessons once they arrive. The report states:

“The APPG believes that all immigrants should be expected to have either learned English before coming to the UK or be enrolled in compulsory ESOL classes upon arrival… speaking English is the key to full participation in our society and economy, and is a prerequisite for meaningful engagement with most British people.”

Chuka’s newly hard line on the language requirement is at odds with his previous criticism of those suggesting the policy. On Question Time in 2014 he tried to shut down Nigel Farage for suggesting essentially the exact same measure as today’s report:

“[You are] letting this debate descend into something that is quite nasty and quite ugly. There are a lot of buses and trains if you got on… where you would hear other people talking different languages other than English and you say that makes you feel awkward, what you say makes me feel awkward Nigel.”

Two-faced Chuka strikes again…

Farage Joins LBC as Presenter

LBC has just announced Nigel Farage has joined their team sheet as a permanent presenter – he has been doing guest slots on the popular talk station for months. The Nigel Farage Show will be on Monday to Thursday evenings from 7-8pm. Farage promised Nick Ferrari the slot will feature: “short, sharp, snappy contributions and at the end my final thought for the day, no holds barred.” He revealed the show will broadcast live from Washington on January 20th at President Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Farage once again Leading Britain’s Conversation…

Lineker Reveals Naivety and Personal Vendettas of Section 40 Lobby

Gary Lineker is a Hacked Off backer and high profile supporter of Section 40. Last night the respected media law expert David Banks explained to Lineker why Section 40 is so dangerous: because it will charge newspapers costs when corrupt, powerful people make vexatious legal claims against them. Lineker extraordinarily tried to argue that no one makes libel threats against newspapers with the aim of killing true stories:

As Banks and several others pointed out to Lineker, this is demonstrably untrue. Some examples: police boss Gordon Anglesea obtained libel damages from two papers and threatened many others before eventually being convicted of child abuse. The Guardian received legal threats from over a hundred clients of HSBC’s Swiss bank when they investigated their leaked account data. Last year Guido received a number of legal threats over true stories, for example from Nick Clegg. Vexatious legal threats aiming to shut down news stories happen every week, this is an irrefutable fact. One which the worryingly naive Lineker refused to acknowledge. 

Lineker then called for collective punishment of the national media, local newspapers, the entire magazine industry and student papers, justified in his mind because of “the Sun and Mail”. When Guido pointed out the problem with this non-argument, he replied:

I.e. The newspapers Gary has a personal problem with.

These three exchanges show the issue with Lineker, Max Mosley, Hacked Off, Impress and the Section 40 lobby. They are rich celebrities with personal vendettas against the press, either naive or wilfully blind to the facts, unable to offer any reasonable arguments other than ill-thought out policies driven by their own prejudices. Lineker revealed a lot about the people behind Section 40 last night, there are just five days left for it to be canned…

Brexiteers Welcome Tim Barrow as New EU Ambassador

Foreign Office political director Tim Barrow has been appointed as Ivan Rogers’ replacement as EU ambassador. Who he? A career diplomat of 30 years who was the ambassador to Russia and head of the FCO’s Russia section, as well previously serving in two senior positions in Brussels. A Boris ally with a famous beard, but well and truly part of the Foreign Office machine and hardly the Brexiteer this morning’s Telegraph claimed would be chosen. That said, Brexiteers are welcoming the appointment: Vote Leave Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan says it is “great news” and that Barrow is “eminently qualified”, Steve Baker says he is “ideally qualified” and a “first class appointment”, Owen Paterson endorses it as “a really good step”, Nadine Dorries says it is a “Very welcome appointment”, Boris Johnson says: “He is just the man to get the best deal for the UK”. Brexiteers will be happy with that result…

New Brexit £2 Coin

Above is the new £2 coin being released in 2017. Notice anything different from previous years? A numismatic co-conspirator observes that on the new coin Britannia is facing to the left, or west, with her back to Europe and looking out into the world. A marked difference from her appearance on the old 1d and 50p coins, where she is facing to the right, towards the continent:

Britannia for Brexit!

Just 4% Public Support for Mosley’s Impress

Max Mosley was on the radio yesterday promoting his pet press regulator Impress, pledging more cash on top of the £4 million he has already spent bankrolling his vindictive revenge project. Today a YouGov poll finds just 4% of the public support a media watchdog funded by “rich and powerful” trusts like Mosley’s Impress. 49% say any press regulator should be funded by the press itself, rather than a millionaire with a vendetta. Somewhat outside the margin of error. Read WikiGuido on how Section 40 will gag the next expenses scandal, and why the Impress regulator is unfit for purpose here

Olney Summed Up

Sarah Olney is looking for your support, something doesn’t add up…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

The FT’s Wolfgang Munchau on the “fake maths” of economic forecasts:

“The truth is that our ability to forecast the future beyond the current quarter is limited… The curse of our time is fake maths. Think of it as fake news for numerically literate intellectuals: it is the abuse of statistics and economic models to peddle one’s own political prejudice… The fakeness of the maths lies in an exaggerated inference. Economic models have their uses, as do opinion polls. They provide information to policymakers and markets. But nobody can see through the fog of the future.”

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