Priti Accuses Electoral Commission of Bias and “Double Standards”

Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?

What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at [25] of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at [31] – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.

In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.

Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:

I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.

She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie

Lily Allen: I’m Sorry for Spreading Anti-Tory Fake News

Millionaire musician Lily Allen has apologised for spreading fake news about the Tories. The socialist songstress is well known for her lefty Tweets, infuencing countless young fans. This time she claimed Chris Grayling was having lunch with George Osborne “at the Ivy on the day Monarch went under” (she would know). Nice line, but it turns out Grayling was not in London; instead he was dealing with the crisis and meeting Monarch passengers at Manchester airport that day. When Tory MP James Cleverly pointed this out, Lily tweeted: “my bad, I do apologise”…

Yet she hasn’t deleted the original tweet…

Back to Work: “Sick” Jared Makes Miraculous Recovery as Media Pressure Mounts

Good news! Jared O’Mara has briefed the Mirror that he is feeling much better after his four months off and will be making a “phased return” to work. The timing of his miraculous recovery is surely just a coincidence and definitely, absolutely nothing to do with the Yorkshire Post turning on him yesterday. Guido is glad to hear Jared is fighting fit – this means Labour’s paused investigation into his conduct can resume and report back swiftly. Right?

Now Rachel Reeves Baffled by Labour’s Brexit Position

Now Rachel Reeves completely caught on the hop trying to describe Labour’s ever-uncertain position on the single market and Brexit in general. You can’t blame her…

Facebook’s Retreat from News and Algo Change Panics Buzzfeed

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it is getting out of the news business and going back to connecting people with personal stuff:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers…” 

Good for people who want to share pictures of their cats, bad for media organisations that have a business model based on cat GIFs. Twitter’s stock price rose 5% on the news that they will now be the main social news platform…

For Buzzfeed and other Facebook traffic driven organisations this is bad news, Buzzfeed gets some 23% of their traffic at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg. Unsurprisingly Buzzfeed bought adverts on Facebook on Friday pushing soon to be lost users to download their app. At one time Buzzfeed were spending millions on Facebook adverts, they may well have to do so again if their content is dropped from the Facebook feed. In the political sphere those sites that specialise in clickbaity headlines designed to go viral on Facebook may see a drop in traffic…

Approximately 7% of Guido’s traffic is referred from Facebook. Twitter on the other hand drives 23% of our traffic, just behind Google on 24%. The Spectator and Breitbart also rely on Facebook for some ~7% to 8% of their traffic. Skwawkbox and The Canary rely on Facebook respectively for a massive ~40% and ~48% of traffic…

N.B. Traffic data sourced from Similarweb.

Sleepy Swayne Nods Off During Clarke Remain Speech

Desmond Swayne appears to nod off during Ken Clarke’s droning remainer speech in the Commons. Definitely deliberate from Dessy, he must have known he was in shot…

Labour NEC Purge: Red Terror Strikes Black

Momentum is wasting no time using its new NEC majority: today it purged longstanding Disputes Panel chair Ann Black and replaced her with top Momentum chief Christine Shawcroft. It took only 24 hours for the red terror to strike Black: the NEC voted 22 to 15 to oust her in a move which was not backed by many of the unions. NEC sub-committees are usually re-constituted without opposition – but not in the new world of Momentum’s red terror. The NEC’s Disputes Panel is crucial part of Labour’s disciplinary machinery, not least as it is responsible for deciding whether to investigate allegations of antisemitism. Gaining control of the Disputes Panel will effectively allow Corbynistas to be their own judge and jury…

Ann Black was a strong critic of the Blairite wing and undoubtedly was on the left – but she wasn’t left enough for Momentum. Many Labour MPs will be aghast at the move: they generally consider Black a fair arbiter with a good understanding of the rulebook. Outspoken Corbynista Shawcroft (whose lack of political judgement is summed up by the fact she said ISIS should be invited for tea and backed corrupt Lutfur Rahman), by comparison, will be instinctively distrusted by moderates or non-Corbynistas undergoing disciplinary procedures. As if to underline just how bad things are getting in Labour, nutjob Tony Greenstein – who was suspended from the party for calling people “Zionist scum” – called for the move on Facebook:

“She (Black) is the one who’s been victimising people. She is in control of disputes which works hand in hand with compliance. She has to go and we have to call for her to go… it’s absolutely imperative that Anne (sic) Black is targeted by name… it’s the same with Iain McNicol”

The new red purge begins…

Parole Board Admit Processes Breached, Decision May Be Wrong and Worboys Could Reoffend

The chairman of the Parole Board has all but admitted that procedures were breached during the John Worboys case, that the decision to release him could be wrong and that the black cab rapist could reoffend. In a statement welcoming the judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision, Nick Hardwick says “there should be an independent investigation” because “some victims who should have been kept informed were not and victims and the public deserve to know exactly what happened”. Hardwick concedes that the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys could be wrong: “Do they always get it right? No”. And he admits it is possible Worboys could reoffend: “I would not be honest if I pretended risk could be eliminated completely”. Hardwick implies the decision to release Worboys was based on “evidence of how the prisoner has changed”, yet also confirms he was deemed too dangerous to move to an open prison just two years ago. This is clearly the Parole Board trying to cover their backs knowing they’ve messed up. How can the Justice Secretary possibly let Worboys out now?

Paul Mason “Aggressive and Intimidating” Towards Female LBC Producer

Latest on Paul Mason’s shouty crackers descent into mid-life crisis. Shelagh Fogarty has just revealed on air that the leather-jacked Corbyn outrider this morning “bellowed” down the phone at a female LBC producer in an “aggressive” manner, leaving the woman feel “intimidated“. Apparently he was ranting that LBC want to destroy Corbyn and the Labour Party, which is a bit odd given the previous show was James O’Brien. Calm down Paul, step away from the phone…

Jared’s Staff on Speechwriting Course Despite Absent MP Never Speaking in Commons

Disgraced Jared O’Mara’s office staff have been on a taxpayer-funded speech-writing course despite their chronically absent MP never having spoken in parliament. O’Mara’s researchers are loading-up on free courses available to parliamentary staff while their boss continues to lie low – he has been off sick for four months. The Sheffield Hallam MP employs two researchers at Westminster whose training costs are met by the taxpayer. Both of Jared’s London staff recently attended a day-long speech-writing course from 10AM to 5PM despite their boss never having said as much as a single word in the House or in committee. O’Mara didn’t even deliver a maiden speech. Guess they must pumping-up the CV in the search for a new boss…

Paul Mason: I Want to Have Deselections Hanging Over Every Labour MP

Paul Mason is jubilant after Lansman swept on to the Labour NEC. This morning he again confirmed he would like to see compulsory re-selections for all Labour MPs, adding “I want to have it hanging over every MP that they could get deselected if they don’t do their job properly”. Does that include Jared?

UK Contribution to EU is £363 Million-a-Week*

According to the latest official figures from the ONS, the UK contribution to the EU was £18.9 billion in 2016. That is £363.5 million a week, slightly more than was on the side of the Vote Leave bus…

After the rebate is taken into account the net figure becomes £13.9 billion or £267 million a week. The ONS reports that a further £4.4 billion came back to the UK public sector and private sector in credits in 2016, taking the net figure down to a final £9.4 billion or £180 million a week. That is £143 for each man, woman and child a year.

Labour’s “Very Clear” Brexit Position Explained

Labour Brexit spokesman Jenny Chapman scolded ITV’s Paul Brand for claiming her party’s position on Brexit is unclear. Before awkwardly stumbling when she attempted to explain it…

James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral

LBC leftie and sometime Newsnight presenter James O’Brien helped fake news about the collapse of Carillion go viral yesterday. Keen to find a damaging line, O’Brien tweeted that the company’s chairman is “an adviser to the Prime Minister Theresa May on corporate responsibility”. Nope…

O’Brien was later forced to correct his assertion in another tweet:

His original tweet was retweeted more than 8,000 times. The correction has been retweeted 170 times. And James still hasn’t deleted his fake news…

O’Mara Has Not Helped a Single Constituent in Months

You get the feeling something has got to give with Jared O’Mara. A damning editorial in the Yorkshire Post this morning dubs him “Yorkshire’s missing MP”, bemoaning the watered down Recall Act’s inability to let his constituents get rid of him. The paper went down to his office to try to find him – obviously he wasn’t there, but even more revealingly his office manager admitted O’Mara hasn’t helped any of his constituents since he’s been off work – the last four months.

“In December, O’Mara’s office said he would not be attending Parliament on medical advice but added that he was continuing to work “very hard” for constituents in Sheffield. But after The Yorkshire Post visited his constituency office on Friday, the day he previously held constituency surgeries, O’Mara was not there. His office manager Maggie Flude said he did come to the office but would not reveal how regularly he comes to work or when the last time he turned up was and couldn’t give a single example of him helping a constituent.”

If O’Mara is too stressed to turn up, why are his office claiming he is working “very hard” for his constituents? If he is working “very hard”, why are they unable to give a single example of a constituent he has helped? The reality is O’Mara is trousering his £75,000 MP’s salary for as long as he can before his inevitable departure from politics – and doing no work for it. Labour don’t want to act in the interest of his constituents and tell him to go in case they lose the seat in a by-election. Until he quits, for all purposes the people of Sheffield Hallam do not have an MP…

Ken Livingstone on Blair’s “Gay” Hug With Gaddafi

Ken Livingstone compares Tony Blair’s infamous embrace of Colonel Gaddafi to “two lovely old guys in a gay bar”. Which other megalomaniac world leader was rumoured to be gay?

Credit Where Credit’s Due

Theresa May has been claiming credit on Twitter for the new ban on credit card charges, even tweeting out this handy graphic about how “we” are responsible:

The ban is actually an EU-wide directive that has been imposed on the UK government. Nothing to do with Theresa May or the Tories.

We’ve fixed your graphic for you…

Mandelson’s Policy Network Being Wound Down

Policy Network, the organisation presided over by Peter Mandelson that he once claimed was “part of the alternative to Government”, is being wound down according to Chairman Lord Riddle. Policy Network received core funding from billionaire Lord Sainsbury and he is withdrawing funding from centrist Labour organisations. Progress similarly has had some post-Sainsbury difficulties.

The organisation’s Chairman Lord Riddle admits in a qualification to the accounts that

The company’s main donor has indicated that the year ending 31 December 2017 will be the final period that funding will be available. He has indicated that at the end of this period he is prepared to fund any reasonable costs associated with down scaling the company, including the cost of redundancies and the early settlement of property and other leases.

The ability of the company to continue as a going concern is dependent upon this final tranche of funding being secured. The Directors are currently assessing whether the company can continue on a scaled down basis without the support of the main funder and are confident that they will be able to do so. As a result the accounts have been prepared on a going concern basis.

Policy Network won’t be missed much. One Blairite tells Guido that they didn’t really do much beyond “What next for social democracy” events and pamphlets. A spokesman however claims they are “very confident that, working with partners and new supporters, its work will go on, taking forward the important agenda that Lord Sainsbury has so generously supported for so long.”  Policy Network was a Blairite’s redoubt, something that is no longer necessary now Blair has his own eponymous think-tank… 

Osborne on Carillion: Then & Now

George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorial on Carillion today“Why has the state found itself so dependent on a few very large outsourcing firms? The failure to use a variety of smaller, mid-size companies undermines innovation and leaves services hostage when things go wrong.”

George Osborne, signing off on another Carillion contract as Chancellor in 2014: “It is great to see successful companies like Carillion winning contracts around the world. This deal, the first in a pipeline of many, will help us reverse the age-old trend of not exporting enough, boosting growth and creating jobs.” 

He even wore their hat…

H/T Chris Williams

Guardian Axes Paul Mason’s Column

Paul Mason’s weekly Guardian column has been axed. Mason announced the move on the day the paper launched its tabloid redesign, saying there would no longer be room for his pieces. Asked by a Twitter fan if his columns would still be on the Guardian website, he replied, “no”.[…] Read the rest

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Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

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