Over Three Million Hits for the Blog You Love and They Hate

April saw a total of over 3.6m pageviews from 1,382,879 visits by 347,994 visitors making 2,995,765 pageviews plus 680,207 views via RSS feed readers.  Not bad for one guy with a laptop, Blackberry and a penchant for Guinness. With traffic averaging over 100,000 pageviews daily this blog puts traditional political publications like the New Statesman in the shade, forcing the likes of the Indy’s Steve Richards (no fan of Guido: “neither daring or clever”, the feeling is mutual*) to admit that  nevertheless yours truly

is in my view one of the most influential figures in the British media. One day this week I heard five items on the Today programme that followed up his stories or his observations. Politicians have not learnt how to cope with an individual who has as much impact as entire newspapers.

How that growing realisation must really burn Polly, Aaronovitch, Yasmin, Jenkins, Sir Michael and the rest of the commentariat’s mediasaurs.  Like acid.

Examine the front page media agenda last month: Smeargate, Snouts in the Trough, MPs’ expenses and of course the developing “Gordon is bonkers” meme, all topped off nicely with a round of mea culpas on the inside comment pages from the shamed copy takers in the Lobby.  Not forgetting the Damian McBride coup de grâce and resignation tributeWhose acid house tunes were the media elite humming?

Many thanks to you the readers and the advertisers who make this blog more profitable than both the Guardian and Independent combined.

*See also Steve Richards: Fails Numeracy Test and Steve Richards : “Voters Aren’t As Clever As Me”.

Can Brogan Really Restore the Telegraph's Reputation for Political Reporting?

SmokescreenStephen Glover’s media column in the Indy rakes over the Labourgraph’s dishonest handling of Smeargate.  It is a pretty fair summary of the affair which Guido went over briefly here.  Suffice to say the Labourgraph’s political team don’t come out of either account very well.

Glover reckons Ben Brogan is the best hope of  restoring a semblance of sane editorial coherence from the Telegraph‘s political reporting:

Last week, Ben Brogan joined The Daily Telegraph as its chief political commentator, having been political editor of the Daily Mail. Perhaps he will help restore some balance to the paper’s political coverage. On the one hand, its political staff has been closer than was prudent to No 10. On the other, Simon Heffer has been tossing rotten cabbages from the right in the direction of the Cameroons.

Disorder has flourished under the editorship of a man, Will Lewis, who is neither a natural Tory nor especially knowledgeable about politics. Brogan’s role will be partly to mend fences with David Cameron, but there is also a good deal of general reconstructive work to be done to the paper’s political reputation. How could The Daily Telegraph ever get so close to a man like Damian McBride?

Ben BroganBen Brogan is a good journalist, his blog was just about the only MSM political reporting blog that Guido really respected as a competitor.  Most hacks use their blogs for stuff they can’t get in the paper.  Brogan’s Daily Mail blog was often better than his stuff in the paper and it was very much a real-time competitor.  There is however one prophetic blog post that Guido suspects he would rather forget.  It was written after McBride’s 3 a.m. knifing of Ruth Kelly:

One Day the Truth About McBride Will Out
03 October 2008

Damian McPoisonWhen the Day of Reckoning comes and those of us who know are free to say what we know, Damian McBride will emerge with great credit from the madness of the past few years. … When the cry went up that there had to be changes in No 10, what they meant was McBride had to go. By the time we left Manchester he was being blamed for everything, including the credit crunch and the disappearance of Shergar. Such was his influence that like Macavity his prints were seen on every bit of damaging briefing. It became easy to blame him for every transgression, real or imagined. In fact, he was a victim of his own success. Damian is many things, but not an innocent. His role, by its nature, involved bad business at the crossroads.

But the McPoison of caricature is just that. There is far more to him than most realise. Few can match him for political insight, mischief making exuberance, stamina or that see-round-a-corner skill that few in politics possess. His intelligence was always Grade A, whether it was on election outcomes or how power was flowing. The Tories certainly have nothing like him, save perhaps George Osborne.

What does his departure mean for Gordon Brown? McBride remains in No 10 as an adviser on long-term strategy. The PM will continue to have him to hand. But his enemies will be on the look-out for signs that he is still speaking to the likes of me, so I don’t expect him to return phone calls for a while. Which means the PM will be without the best media handler he’s had. We’ll miss the service, not to mention the in-flight quizzes, and perhaps that’s no bad thing. He may wonder whether it was wise to give up a high-flier’s career in the Civil Service to run away with this circus. Of course, I’m an unreliable witness. But I’m certain of this: you will read a lot in the coming days about Damian McBride, and you shouldn’t believe more than a fraction of it. The true story is far better.

Or perhaps far worse.

Iain Martin Leaving Labourgraph

Iain MartinDon’t know why or if he even has somewhere to go, but source is reliable.   Maybe Iain is too Conservative leaning for the newspaper’s political team.  The political team has just been strengthened by importing Ben Brogan from the Daily Mail.  On the other hand it has been weakened by the loss of contributing editor Damian McBride, who supplied stories to the chief copy-taker, Andrew Porter.

Guido is also all too well aware that there are internal recriminations at The Telegraph over how it has handled Smeargate.  The Guardian this morning is reporting something of the story.  The Telegraph’s official line is that they aren’t bothered, a TMG spokesperson told the Guardian “As you might imagine, we did not entirely buy [Guido’s] version of events. But we are relaxed about it, to be honest.”

Well perhaps they might like to explain their version of events after everyone has seen this:

From : Christopher Hope
To : Guy Fawkes

Date : Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 6:09 PM
subject :  Non-disclosure agreement
mailed-by telegraph.co.uk

…This is to confirm that we, the Telegraph Media Group, are happy to give you our assurance that anything that you show to us tomorrow (April 3) will be in confidence, for our information, and will not be published in any form without your explicit and prior agreement.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Hope
Whitehall Editor
The Daily Telegraph
111 Buckingham Palace Road
London
SW1W 0DT

SmokescreenAs far as Guido is concerned they have behaved abysmally. They tipped off Downing Street with details of a politically serious story, publishing a spoiler that might as well have had Damian McBride’s byline (it didn’t mention him), they then alone of any newspaper in the world published a hatchet job of a profile. So if you are a source with an important political story, best you give the Telegraph a wide swerve.  They can’t be trusted.  They are likely betray your confidence and reveal you as the source…

UPDATE : Iain Martin has not responded to Guido’s emailed request for comment. So read into that what you will. Also have just noticed that Michael Ellam told the Lobby in the first briefing in the aftermath of Smeargate that the first Downing Street knew about Smeargate was when they were contacted on Friday night (by “national press” aka The Telegraph.)

Reporting from the Guardian

Guido was at the Index on Censorship Awards ceremony last night, deep in the bowels of the Guardian’s new fancy offices. The purpose built modern building will make a great museum when the paper eventually goes bust.

The event was packed to the gills with media luvvies and Islington’s finest. David Hare gave a splendidly acerbic speech. Chairman Johnathan Dimbleby raged against the “censorship” of the BBC’s Middle East reporter Jeremy Bowen, who was mildly criticised for his blatant anti-Israeli bias by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee. Guido thought it a gentle rebuke to Bowen given how biased his broadcasts from the supposedly impartial state broadcaster seem. Hardly makes him a dissident, does it? He has been given no punishment, no demotion, nothing. Wonder if he had been criticised for anti-Palestinian bias would the room have been so concerned?

Stereotypically the auction fundraiser saw a week in a Tuscan villa get the top bid from the assembled Hampstead liberals and Guardianistas. No, it really did. Guido was very pleased to win the auction for a copy of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto signed by Václav Havel himself. The dissident playwright was imprisoned multiple times during the Soviet era by an authoritarian socialist Czech regime, his plays were banned and he was reduced to working as a sweeper in a brewery. After the Velvet Revolution he ended up being President of the freed Czech Republic. It went for a tenth of the price of that week in Tuscany. Guardianistas really do have different values…

Copy-Taking Culprit

From : guido.fawkes@order-order.com
To : foiteam@cabinet-office.xxxxxxx

Dear Sirs,Smokescreen

Further to my Freedom of Information Request and Subject Access Request made under the provisions of the Data Protection Act (1998) on March 27, 2009, please can you assure me that you will be including all emails to and from Damian McBride and The Daily Telegraph in the days before he resigned.

Particularly but not exclusively the emails referring to myself (pseudonymously or not) or my blog which were sent to Andrew Porter.

Regards,

Labourgraph Doing Downing Street's Dirty Work Again

SmokescreenFantastic profile of yours truly in the Telegraph which, as hatchet jobs, go is a pretty good example of its kind. Love the way they go on repeatedly about Guido’s “criminality”, which amounts to being arrested drunk four times in forty years, a crime which most Fridays Guido usually gets away with.  The criticism for having an offshore tax-haven based publisher for this blog is ironic when the Telegraph is published by the Barclay Brothers, who are of course based in the tax-haven of Sark.

So to the rebuttal:

Guido has fond recollections of his Acid House raving days.  If you are not going to dress up in psychedelic pajamas, take hallucinogenic drugs and dance all night in your youth, when are you going to do it? Guido wrote two decades ago about his adventures in Acid House here.

It is true that Guido worked for David Hart and the Committee for a Free Britain in his twenties.  That is not a new revelation.  For those that don’t know, David Hart helped smash Scargill’s thugs,  we countered Marxist subversion and exposed Soviet support for the NUM.  We helped dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, tangling  many, many times with the KGB, we provided support to freedom fighters in their armed struggles against Marxist tyranny from Nicaragua to Angola.  We were free agents in the Cold War.  David Hart did more for the cause of freedom than you can imagine.  Guido is intensely proud of his small part in that struggle.

The article did some pretty comprehensive digging, the journalist seemed very pleased that he had got hold of copies of both Guido’s birth and marriage certificates.

For some reason he skips over the two years spent working for a human rights organisation and the decade slaving as an investment banker.  That probably didn’t fit the poison portrait required of a louche and unsavoury character. Louche, living fast and high, running with the bulls in Pamplona – they don’t know the half of it.

As for Guido’s finances, everyone will tell you it is hard to make your first million, nobody tells you how easy it is to lose it all.  Having been a millionaire and a bankrupt in the space of four years, a personal boom to bust journey if you like, Guido is now somewhere in between.  Despite all their digging they found no shadowy Dr Evil character funding this blog.  They reckon the blog sells £15,000 of adverts a year.  A very low figure pulled presumably out of thin air.  Either they don’t understand the economics of online publishing – quite possible given the Telegraph has lost millions online – or they are just trying to imply Guido must have another source of funds.  They also say that Guido hawked the emails around for £20,000.   Notice they don’t actually say Guido sold them, because that would be a demonstrable lie.  The fact is that Guido turned down money offers and gave the emails to the BBC, News of the World and Sunday Times for free.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zippo.  Nowt.  For absolutely nothing but the pleasure of seeing Damian McBride and Derek Draper removed from politics.  Call it a public service.

The usual McBridesque tactic of bringing the family into it and the “we know where you live” menacing give away the real agenda here.  The Telegraph has done Downing Street’s bidding all this past week from running a spoiler to this hatchet job.  It is the only paper taking an aggressive anti-Guido line.   Shame on them, because Guido is ashamed of nothing.

UPDATE 0930 : They are not letting reader comments through. Wonder why?

UPDATE 10.00 : Should say that there are still some great writers  left on the Telegraph including Hannan, Randall (left and is now an occasional contributor after his copy was spiked after he wrote unflattering stuff about the Barclay brother’s lenders), Halligan and Heffer (who, very decently, made inquiries on Guido’s behalf yesterday).

Ex-Lobby Hack "Guido is Right"

This morning one senior political editor called Guido about his Times article. “Get off your white horse.  Some of those criticisms are petty.” To which Guido replied

“It wasn’t f***ing petty on Friday night when Downing Street was referring to “security breaches” in the Telegraph and I was wondering if the police were going to kick down my door.”

So far no new mea culpas from the lobby pack. Iain Macwhirter, a decade long Lobby veteran and persistent Guido critic, did blog this:

My bete noir, Guido Fawkes, makes a number of very good points in his article in the Times today. The Westminster lobby is a cabal. Print journalists should have exposed Damian McBride and his wrecking crew long since. The parliamentary system has been corrupted by the explicit and implicit deals done between governments and journalists over access to important stories.

I suffered from this myself in the ten years or so I spent in the Lobby from 1989 -1999. It was a very unpleasant place in many respects. Hacks are extremely insecure and require a reliable stream of stories to please their editors. No stories, no jobs. This allowed people like Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell to have undue power over a sometimes supine and biddable press corps.

Have not noticed any major admissions from the guilty.

Spectator Piece Spiked Poke of Telegraph

spec_coverGuido has written a recap of recent events for the Speccie.  The piece explains how Guido rolled the barrels of digital dynamite towards Westminster last week. The editor, Matthew d’ Ancona, liked the piece enough to put it on the front page with a portrait that captures Guido’s dashing good looks quite well. Strangely he said some of the text submitted would not get past the lawyers.

Can’t see why saying that the Telegraph journalist Chris Hope is a slippery bastard who broke his word to Guido and revealed that Guido was his source, could be in any way libellous.  It is absolutely true.

Never mind that the Telegraph signed a non-disclosure agreement (which it breached spectacularly) and tipped off Downing Street as to what was coming. They did everything they could to spoil the story. Did Guido forget to mention the worst thing about Chris Hope? He always seems to go missing when it is his round…

Smeargate Still Rumbles On

The Smeargate story still has legs, though it has moved from the front-pages to the comment pages.   John Lloyd in the FT makes the point that the all party shift towards non-ideological, centrist politics means the personal becomes more political – “That view is a rational one, in a politico-media space as tuned to scandal and personality as the British one now is.”

The Sun editorialises against Tom Watson, the Downing Street Minister for Mudslinging,

THE stink of a cover-up hangs over Downing Street.

tom_w

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell rules out an inquiry into whether minister Tom Watson knew about the “Smeargate” emails. He says he is happy to accept the minister’s denials, and the case is closed. That might be good enough for Sir Gus. It isn’t for The Sun. How can we know the full facts without an investigation, which means examining ALL emails involved?

The Sun is gunning hard on this issue saying “Watson, McBride and Draper are the true face of today’s Labour Party: A party that has lost all decency, all sense of honour, all connection with the people it was elected to serve.”  Guido has a theory that Watson has swallowed Gordon Brown’s moral compass.

The Times say Whelan has to go. Well maybe he would go if we could find him. He has gone into hiding. Another public interest service from Guido.

The Lobby's Shameful Complicity in McPoison's Reign of Terror

Guido’s eyes welled up when he read Alice Miles piece in The Times this morning.  For five years this blog has squarely blamed Lobby journalists for failing the people.  The Fourth Estate may not have a formal constitutional role, but the role is real.

Journalists are to there to “speak truth unto power”.  Not trade favours for tittle tattle, not report spin as truth.  From the start of this era of spin the Lobby pack have been willing accomplices. It is actually hard to name journalists who can hold their heads high.  Peter Oborne – seen as an eccentric maverick, Martin Bright – hounded out of a job by Brown’s henchmen, Fraser Nelson – frozen out by Downing Street despite being Britain’s most widely read political columnist.   Who else stood up to McPoison and revealed his text message terrorism?

Cowardice and cronyism runs right through the Lobby.  Fearful of being taken off the teat of pre-packaged stories served to them.  That is not journalism, that is copy-taking.   The many stories filed this week which reveal just how horrible Brown’s cabal have been are of mere historical interest.  They would have been brave if they had been written before McPoison was toppled.  You all knew and said nothing.  You knew and went along with it.  Your revelatory articles are merely confessions of previous personal cowardice.

It is not as if it was a secret, as an outsider Guido went on Newsnight and laid out his manifesto, telling the Lobby to get some backbone and stand up to the spin machine.  That j’accuse was met with a ferocious counter-attack from the doyen of the Lobby system, Sir Michael White,  Nick Robinson cried foul, Paxman sneered.  The issue was glossed over.   The Lobby felt relief.  The little boy who had pointed at the naked Lobby was rebuffed.  Who has ended up looking the biggest fools?  As you write your reviews of the years of terror and spin, do you not feel just the slightest tinge of guilt at your complicity?  Guido, considered too far below the salt, remembered that speaking truth in a time of deceit was a revolutionary act, and the Lobby journalists now sleep safe in their beds tonight, because a rough blogger was prepared to do violence on Damian McBride.

You knew and did nothing, you failed your readers, you failed the truth.  Hang your heads in shame.

+++ Danson Takes 100% Control of New Statesman +++

Guido thought the deal was that he would buy out Geoffrey Robinson’s 50% when Gordon left office. Oh, hang on…

The Backlash Begins

Watch all the Dead Tree Press journalists who have felt the sting from this blog start carping:

Janet Daley, the former mega-fan of Gordon (see The Sheep With The Wool Pulled Over Her Eyes), is doing daily whines about Guido in the TelegraphNow that wouldn’t be anything to do with the teasing she has got on this blog, would it?

Stephen Pollard, the former wonkish lobbyist for Pfizer, complains  in The Times that Guido pointed out he took money from people from whom he took money.  He claims that is libel.  Guido never claimed he took money from McDonalds for his fake “think-tank”.   However he actually did spend years writing articles in praise of Big Pharma’s profits.  Pfizer was the main funder of his now defunct “think-tank”.

Stephen Pound MP has changed his studio soundbite today from saying Guido “is laughing all the way to the bank*”.  That would be the same Stephen Pound who will get a cab to Sky’s Osterley studio at any hour to provide a rent-a-quote for £50.  He now says Guido is Popbitch with a blue rosetteLeave Guido’s mother out of it Pound…

*Despite what you might have read in the source revealing, confidence breaking, Downing Street tipping-off Telegraph, Guido did not take a penny from either the Sunday Times or the News of the World for their front page stories.

Maguire Missed the Scoop Under His Nose

Guido’s Westminster Arms drinking buddy, Kevin Maguire, is kind enough to shower praise on “an old-fashioned scoop for the newish media. So hat’s off to my old mate Guided Fawkes. And I admire his ability to spin himself as well as his story.”

Guided?  Only one of us has been guided by Damian McBride’s spin.  Funny thing is, Maguire could have had the front page scoop himself.  After all – despite today’s disingenuous spin from Liam Byrne* that this was a private matter between only Damian and Derek – Maguire was very much in the know.  He could have had the scoop about “Red Rag” himself, months ago.  Guido has been calling Maguire all evening to ask him why he didn’t run the scoop himself, or why didn’t he advise his mate Damian against the whole idea?  What a scoop Kevin could have there, eh?

Strangely Kev isn’t taking calls from Guido or any of his Lobby friends.  When Guido texted our Kev a few questions, someone else called back claiming that he had a missed call from Guido.  James Lyons, Kevin’s Mirror mate was the caller.  Odd.

Still, no doubt some of Kevin’s fellow Lobby journalists, ruthless investigators that they are, will get the facts from Maguire. When did he know?  What did he know? Isn’t that what proper journalists are supposed to ask?

*Liam Byrne is not very polite is he?  We already know he is a shit to work for, however when Guido said a cheery “hello Liam” to him in the Sky studio yesterday he just stood there and stared at yours truly, silently, (a bit weirdly to be honest).  Maybe his morning soup was cold.

Grand National Tip

Guido got a call yesterday from the Spectator

Speccie : Who are you tipping for the Grand National?

Guido : No idea, when is it?

Speccie : An Irishman who knows nothing about horses?

Guido : I know one thing, don’t take any tips from Peter Oborne.

On the basis of Peter’s tips Guido would consider laying (betting against) Brooklyn Brownie and Golden Flight on Betfair.  Oborne has finally got the full measure of Gordon Brown.  His demolition of Gordon’s G20 boasts is fantastic; Hubris, hoopla and claims that were false, cynical and very, very dangerous.

Hard to believe that Oborne was once Brown’s last commentariat fan.

Guardianista Fat Cats Tighten Belts 10%

Do you think Guido’s relentless goading of  the media fat cats Alan Rusbridger (Guardian editor) and Carolyn McCall (GMG CEO) has touched a nerve?  Guido has taken every opportunity available to point out their lavish bonuses and rewards for failure.

The very same things their staff criticise in the paper when writing about City fat cats:

They have announced they will not be taking their bonuses this year and in addition will be taking a 10% pay cut.  Rusbridger will have to scrape by on a £1/3 million while McCall will be reduced to a £1/2 million pittance.  GMG is expected to make a big loss this year…

MP's Expenses Scans Update :£10,000 Reward Offered for the Truth

They are being hawked around again. The Sun (as well as The Times) has been offered the disks, but are worried about handling “stolen” goods. Sources at the Mail on Sunday and News of the World say that have not been offered the scans and would in any case have to consider legal obstacles.  So much for a fearless free press.

After the last story a number of co-conspirators contacted Guido suggesting we have a whip round.  If you want to pledge support in the comments, feel free.

To the person who has the disks, what you have is of great public interest, what you have done is heroic, Guido and his co-conspirators will pay £10,000 cash in gratitude for the disks – today – no questions asked.  Call 0709 284 0531.

Potty Mouthed Populism is an Antidote to Political Spin

Just noticed (via the ASI Blog) that David Aaronovitch fears the populist influence of “potty-mouthed right-wing bloggers on some political journalism”.   His Times colleague Daniel Finkelstein credits Guido with helping to focus mainstream media attention on the sleaze and petty corruption of politicians.  The raison d’etre of this blog is to foster an anti-political atmosphere by encouraging popular scepticism about politicians and their client media.  This is because Guido wants to de-politicise more areas of human action, increasing the non-political space in our society and culture, for which a necessary pre-condition is the discrediting of politicians by exposing their venal, self-interested behaviour.  Aaronovitch is right to fear.

He is wrong on one thing, and Polly Toynbee makes this mistake as well, Guido is not the “potty mouthed” author of profanity on the blog.  The readers comments however are a different story, there the anger is allowed to let rip.  If it tells our political masters anything, it tells them they are hated.  It may not be polished prose, but it is genuine anger.  They read it, they know it is real and it stings them.  David Miliband, Peter Hain and Ed Balls will, if you ask them, tell you how much they despise this blog.  Yet they still read it, just as Caesar listened to the baying mob at the circus.  You can’t spin the booing of a crowd.  Politicians should consider the blog’s potty mouthed comments a free and unfiltered focus group.

Rewards for Failure at Guardian

The Guardian Media Group has just announced it is making 78 journalists redundant and closing all its weekly newspaper offices in Greater Manchester – 39 jobs will go at the Manchester Evening News and another 39 at the weeklies. Further cuts in advertising, distribution and IT will bring the total job losses to 150. For them, management have failed.

The NUJ’s Joe Slade and Bethan Dorsett, said: ‘There is some hard talking to do now. We cannot stomach a pay freeze for the masses alongside bonuses for the top table.

Polly will no doubt be supporting the workers railing against the bonus culture which saw her boss, the Guardian Media Group chief executive, Carolyn McCall, paid a package of £827,000, comprising a salary of £424,000, plus a bonus of £385,000 and benefits in kind of £18,000. Not to mention her editor’s six figure bonus…

Hat-tip : Mantex Blog

Telegraph: "It Was Only a Little Bit of a Hack"

Nothing to worry about apparently.

Just as well. Wouldn’t want an august journal of record being hacked in any way that would be disrespectful. This is the paper that had Gordon Brown as guest of honour at their big party this year after all.

James Kirkup’s article today has an amusing angle:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/gordon-brown/4961897/Gordon-Brown-is-a-cunt.html

+++ Telegraph Users Passwords and Emails Hacked +++

You should change your password if you are one of the 700,000 registered Telegraph.co.uk users.

Hackers boasting here. Security warning here. The Telegraph, as far as Guido can tell, has not alerted users that their passwords have been compromised.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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team@Order-order.com

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