“Torygraph” European Coverage Attacked by Own European Correspondent

Guido went all out on European gravy affairs last week. Speaking to one of the most media-savvy players on these issues Guido ventured that the Telegraph’s coverage was surprisingly thin (in the dead-tree-version) – which given their hardline Euro-sceptic editorial stance seemed bizarre.

“Bruno was spiked” came the reply – which explains some of the more bizarre blog posts by Bruno Waterfield their Brussels correspondent. Guido is not referring to the four-letter flecked references to dick sucking or his identification of the actual high-speed Euro gravy train. It has been deleted now, but he actually complained on his own Telegraph blog about his story not appearing in the paper with words (from memory) like “what do you expect, it is the Torygraph”. Bruno clearly not a happy Brussels bunny…

Didn’t We All in the 80s?

The incoming editor of the New Statesman, Jason Cowley, has confessed to liking to dress up with “arch ostentation” and stealing his mothers’ make-up. Nothing wrong with that…

The Price of Freedom of Information

After spending over £100,000 and losing his appeal the Speaker is going to finally hand over the 14 MPs expenses to Heather Brooke tomorrow at 4pm. She will then be chauffeur driven to Wapping, where the Sunday Times will pore over the expenses of 14 leading politicians going back three years.
They have bought from Heather exclusive rights – the Sunday Telegraph is only getting the details of the two MPs it FoI’d and the rest of the media is being carved out completely. The Speaker is desperately keen to smother the story in the post Crewe and Nantwich media wake. The other papers are up in arms that the normal practice with FoIs is not being followed – once the applicant has been given the information it is normally freely available. The Sunday Times has effectively bought up an FoI with the connivance of the Speaker.

Guido doesn’t blame Heather – she along with her co-litigant Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas have got their hands on the one and only copy of the material – she wants to look at it herself first before throwing it open – which she plans to do on Sunday. The Speaker is not following normal practice – it is not his job to give exclusives out.

Heather told Guido that

I get the bulk as I asked for 10 over several years. Initially I asked for all 646 MPs but the Commons authorities said that would cost too much so I was forced to narrow it down. Funny how they had no money to compile the expenses but plenty to go to Court to stop them being made public!

As is always the case, the money I get for my articles goes back into my campaigning. Unlike the Speaker, I don’t have unlimited taxpayer funds on which to draw so this is how I make my living. It’s certainly not a profitable venture I can assure you (3 1/2 years for one story is not a good business model) but worth doing I think.

The receipts will number in the thousands. The sooner Heather gets them online – the faster we will be all able to hold our pigging politicians to account…

The Speaker is now hiring a dedicated Legal Counsel for £100,000, plus bonus and package. Heather financed her legal fight herself, the political class uses taxpayers’ money to fight against the public interest. Trebles all round for them and you pay…

The Guardianista Class

guardian logo

Ever wonder why it is that the Guardianistas are against grammar schools? A co-conspirator points out that this post keeps getting mysteriously deleted from the Guardian’s CiF comments:

Editor Alan Rusbridger (Cranleigh); political editor Patrick Wintour (Westminster); leader writer Madeleine Bunting (Queen Mary’s, Yorkshire); policy editor Jonathan Freedland (University College School); columnist Polly Toynbee (Badminton); executive editor Ian Katz (University College School); security affairs editor Richard Norton Taylor (King’s School, Canterbury); arts editor-in-chief Clare Margetson (Marlborough College); literary editor Clare Armitstead (Bedales); public services editor David Brindle (Bablake); city editor Julia Finch (King’s High, Warwick).; environment editor John Vidal (St Bees); fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley (City of london School for Girls); G3 editor Janine Gibson (Walthamstow Hall); northern editor Martin Wainwright (Shreswbury); and industrial editor David Gow (St Peter’s, York).

If only Guido had had the advantages they did…

UPDATE : A school chum draws attention to Seumas Milne who is an Old Wykehamist (Winchester College) and at Balliol, Oxford, another mentions the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley – Rugby School and Cambridge University.

Sir Michael White Concedes to Guido

Many will remember fondly Guido’s spit roasting by Paxman and Sir Michael White last year. Guido remembers that they both took particular umbrage at Guido’s news priorities. At the time the top story on the blog was a video of Gordon picking his nose. Paxman went into his faux outraged Grande Dame routine at this prioritising of political tittle tattle. Today in his column Sir Michael concedes that perhaps Guido knew better what the public want. He has obviously been studying the YouTube charts:

“YouTube’s clip of chancellor Brown picking his nose is twice as popular as his PM’s debut last June.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrives at Downing Street
Views: 118,600 on the Downing Street YouTube channel

Prime Minister Gordon Brown picks his nose on budget day
Views: 233,649 on the Guido Fawkes’ YouTube channel

So you can teach an old dog new tricks…

The Sheep With The Wool Pulled Over Her Eyes


Janet Daley’s stunning insights into the character of Gordon Brown in her Daily Telegraph column last year caused disquiet with many on the right because she is seen to be of the right. She firmly bought into Gordon’s project, thinking that he would be intellectually firm in the face of the shallow flim-flammery of Cameron.

She wrote immediately after the Glasgow terror attack:

Mr Brown made a terse and perfectly judged statement. For all its brevity, it conveyed the essential message of calm resolution and national unity: “I know that the British people will stand together, united, resolute and strong.” This was High Seriousness delivered in the old-fashioned way, with spare wartime urgency and without sentimentality.

He even became to her a great, non-neurotic TV performer:

Again, yesterday, in his interview with Andrew Marr, Mr Brown did not put a foot wrong … Interestingly, these were the first television appearances I have seen in which there was no sign of his peculiar nervous mannerism of rolling his tongue inside his mouth that is so beloved by satirists. Has he been trained out of it, or has he been transformed by his role and the state of national emergency? Either way, its absence helps to remove the impression of neuroticism that would not have inspired public confidence.

So no more laughing at Gordon the Great. The next month in August 2007 she contrasted Brown’s biblical strength to the effete Dave. Gordon had, in Janet’s view, the strength to withstand the trials of power:

First the terror attacks, then the floods, now the pestilence. Gordon Brown seems to be undergoing the trials of Job. But in this case, it is not so much his faith that is being tested as the country’s in him. And, my goodness, isn’t he rising to the challenge?

Once again he has appeared on our television screens within hours of terrible news, not just to assure us that he personally is taking charge of the foot and mouth crisis but to thank the authorities in affected communities for their cooperation and competence – to make it clear, in other words, that he is in command but also deeply respectful of people on the ground who must deal with the problems over which they have singular expertise.

Wow! Will this guy ever put a foot wrong?

Gee, Janet, who knows? Your psephological predictions suggested not: What the voters will look for is not a leader who bangs on about how things look, but one who can cope with reality.

Reality struck Janet hard in September :

Can Gordon pull it back? This week is the true beginning of the Brown era, as opposed to the fag end of the previous one. With the Queen’s Speech and the first Brownite legislative programme we should get the answer to the political question of the moment: was the New Brown a figment of our imagination, the most transitory illusion ever to capture the imagination of the Commentariat, or was there really something there worth grasping?

Almost a redemptive mea culpa.

The Commentariat collectively, Janet in particular, wrote in the summer of 2007 with all the considered judgement of a herd of sheep. They however would have you believe that they possess valuable insights and good judgement based on their intellect and access to the key players. They have opinions just like everyone, no better, no worse. They merely express them better than most. More often than not their access and close proximity to the subjects they write about clouds their judgement. Mostly their opinions are not worth the chip-wrapping they are written on…

The Profundity of the Punditry : Janet Daley


Still looking for examples of Janet Daley’s stunning insights into Gordon Brown from last year. Send any gems you have found to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com

Incidentally the Telegraph today repeats the mistake that the Tories have not taken a seat from Labour in a by-election for “30 years”, a mistake also made by the Sunday Times yesterday. That error was compounded by the article claiming Margaret Thatcher’s constituency was Grantham. Mistakenly they refer back to the famous Ilford North by-election of 1978 which presaged the fall of Jim Callaghan’s government. In fact the Tories more recently gained Mitcham & Morden from Labour in a 1982 by-election, when Maggie was of course actually MP for Finchley.

Coming Next Week : Holding the Punditry to Account

The exasperated collective counter-attack by the establishment Commentariat on bloggers has inspired Guido to start a new regular feature. When the great and the good assembled at the RSA last Wednesday, shepherded by Julia Hobsbawm, John Lloyd (in absentia) and Matthew Taylor*, to bemoan their diminished status, they drew the battle-lines for a battle that should be joined and won for the blogosphere. The Commentariat desperately want to maintain their monopoly role as media gate-keepers, as the sub-edited filters of democracy and the monopoly producers of public commentary. Guido has said this before; in an age of near costless technological disintermediation “the news” is no longer what they say it is, we can make the news ourselves, unfiltered by the metropolitan media elite. Successful boutique news sources are proliferating. The media Goliaths now face an army of blogging DavidsA lot of what was said at the Editorial Intelligence event was plain ignorant, the conflation of blog writing with blog comment interaction in particular. It is true that the comments left here and on the Guardian’s CiF can be pretty vitriolic and profane, but they are genuinely reflective of what readers really think. Polly Toynbee hates the contradictory “barrage” of comments that follow her articles because she has an over-inflated view of the value of her analysis. Many of us only read her articles for the pleasure of seeing them torn to shreds in the comments that interactively follow. Polly is highly paid and successful because she is a provocative columnist, not because she is a better analyst of social affairs than Frank Field. That is a valuable hack talent she shares with Richard Littlejohn…

The fear and ignorance heard last Wednesday did not showcase the “Power of the Commentariat”, it highlighted their decline. They are weakened and rightly so, for they have time and time again failed to hold political power to account successfully. Proximity breeds compromise and the politico-media class has for example tolerated lying about expenses by politicians for decades and that toleration spread to tolerating spin, which is as often as not professional lying. Democracy is worse off because the Commentariat are compromised by being so embedded in the political class – or as Polly Toynbee explains “in sympathy with politicians”.

Laughably the Commentariat simultaneously fear and deride what they perjoratively term the “cult of the amateur”. The irony of this is not lost on Guido. The pundits of the unpopular press really need a re-think here, very few journalists earn as much as top bloggers. Guido can think of a few lone website owners who produce their content and make far more than most journalistsof the Dead Tree Press. They are also profit making publishers, unlike the Independent, Guardian and Telegraph.

This misplaced arrogance of the Commentariat deserves a research-based response. The writings of the Commentariat no longer just end up as fish and chip wrapping, their writing is accessible via the internet forever. So tomorrow, hopefully with the assistance of the wisdom of the blogging crowds, Guido will start putting the profundity of their punditry in context and under the microscope, starting with Janet Daley.

What did she, with all her intellectual authority, tell us about Gordon Brown last summer? Feel free to be profane…

*Matthew Taylor has complained bitterly about bloggers before. Contrast Taylor’s attitude to Rupert Murdoch’s attitude to the democratising of commentary. Overwhelmingly the Commentariat basically has a protectionist attitude, the increasing pluralism of news sources scares them because it devalues them. Shrewdly and counter-intuitively, Murdoch has an enabling attitude, expanding by freeing the market for commentary. He gets it.

Steve Richards: Fails Numeracy Test

The man who told us last week that if we were only as clever as him we would vote for Ken Livingstone, demonstrates his genius again this morning in the Indy.

So what, if anything, can Brown do to avoid a 1997 landslide in reverse? Currently, a fatal narrative is in place. It can be summarised in three words: “Brown is a disaster”.

Via Dizzy

Steve Richards : “Voters Aren’t As Clever As Me”

Apparently if only voters were as clever as the Indy’s Steve Richards they would vote as he tells them. If they don’t vote for Ken they will have failed Steve’s test. They will have failed themselves. They will be punishing themselves. There are windbags, there are really pompous windbags and then there is Steve Richards.

UPDATE : Da Fink is more polite, Shane Greer less so.

Aaronovitch Reveals Something Interesting

David Aaronovitch, refreshed after addressing the jolly ranks of hedge fund managers and brokers in the Caymans, has a revealing article in this morning’s Times. He basically bemoans the lack of unflinching loyalty to the Brown cause from the Guardianista commentariat.Is it the job of journalists to be boosters? Are they expected to keep to a rigid discipline? To follow the line? Aaronovitch has got a reply from Jackie Ashley where she basically reminds him that she is a commentator not an agitator. Glad she remembered…She also gives a shorthand listing of her Guardianista colleagues’ ideological bents:-
George Monbiot – Green
Martin Kettle – Blairite
Jackie Ashley – Brownite
Polly Toynbee – Labourite
Jonathan Freedland – Labourite
No surprises there. The speed of Polly and Jackie’s disappointment with Gordon is a pleasant surprise. Remember how they wailed for the end of Blair? Aaronovitch was the last out of the bunker with Blair and looks likely to again be the last out of the bunker with Brown. What does that say about his psychology?

UPDATE : A co-conspirator calls with this thought – Aaronovitch (like many ex-communists) admires raw power and is a trailing edge indicator. So in three years time he will probably be a booster for Cameron…

Murdoch Moves : The Beginning of the Endgame

Murdoch backs winners as a matter of good business practice. He told a Lords Select Committee last year that whereas he does not interfere in his broadsheets, he acts as “a traditional proprietor” with his tabloids. This morning The Sun says “Vote for Boris”. The first time it has backed the Conservatives since 1997. Murdoch clearly thinks Labour will lose the next general election.

Schrödinger’s Guardian

Guido is really getting into the concept of quantum politics, it certainly raised the tone of the discussion in the comments on the blog above the usual webmong level on Saturday. It appears that the developing theory of quantum politics will also have to factor in the time dimension to explain the Guardian’s headlines. The subs must be under instruction to make every poll positive for Ken Leavingsoon. Last Wednesday it was good news for the newt lover. He was in the lead!Today it good news as well. Ken is catching up on Boris!

How do they do that? Quantum duality again?

Elsewhere Sir Michael White says (There is no alternative to Gordon) his Guardian colleague Polly is only writing nasty things about Gordon because she is bored and it is parliamentary recess. There may be some truth in that, still Guido is so enjoying the whole meltdown by former Brown fans. The most vicious attacks on the Brownies are coming from Guardian writers and readers. It is really getting like here over there (with a little less swearing).

Aaronovitch : From Walthamstow to the Caymans

Loudmouth commie turned warmongering Blair fan, David Aaronovitch, has come a long way on his political journey. He will also travel a long way for lunch it seems. Last month he was speaking at a dinner in Walthamstow, troughing at a fundraiser with Neal Lawson of Compass, the left-wing pressure group that pushed so hard for Brown to replace Blair.

This Wednesday he will be troughing at the Ritz-Carlton in the Cayman Islands, where he will no doubt be ranting to bankers, fund managers and other running dogs of capitalism as a guest of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association. Clearly he is taking the fight for socialism to the enemy…

No News from the New Statesman

The Staggers remains rudderless and loss making. Geoffrey Robinson has gone on holiday for a fortnight, so don’t expect any news until he gets back. Meanwhile over at the loss making Indy, Roger Alton is taking over as editor. They don’t call it the Dead-Tree-Press for nothing…

You Won’t Read This in the British Press

Andrew Gilligan deservedly won the Journalist of the Year award last night at the self-congratulatory British Press Awards. Who else in the political reporting world deserved an award for actual investigative work? Maybe Johnathan Oliver for the Scoop of the Year, unearthing the David Abrahams proxy funding scandal.

As for the rest of the Lobby – Guido is distinctly unimpressed with most of them. Why do thirsty Lobby hacks have an annual taxpayer subsidy of £210,000 for their bar? Where is the public interest in this subsidy? What other profession needs a bar at their place of work? The only other business that Guido can think of that gets leads in bars is the oldest profession.

Why can’t News International and Associated Press pay for their own office space and telephone lines instead of sponging subsidies* off the taxpayer? They are hugely profitable businesses.

The lossmaking Indy, Guardian and Telegraph collectively make less profits than Guido does, so perhaps they need their offices subsidised by the people who refuse to buy their papers. Or perhaps there are just too many newspapers and not enough readers willing to pay for them? The Lobby is full of drunken hypocrites recycling spin from the party machines. A cull of their numbers would hardly be a loss to the world.

Peter Oborne in his Triumph of the Political Class characterises the Lobby system as having produced a tame “client media”. He is absolutely right, the Lobby is far too cosily embedded in the politico-media system, far too close to their subjects, with the likes of Nick Robinson flashing his taxpayer-financed credit card to pour the better vintages down the throats of ministers who have their lunch on the BBC telly-taxpayers. The same ministers have their groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home paid for out of the costs allowance fiddle by low income taxpayers who have just had their tax rate doubled. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians benefit from the system staying the same.

Too much public money is sloshing around Westminster effectively keeping them cosy together. No wonder Nick Robinson and Michael Martin don’t want us to see their expenses – they are the biggest beneficiaries of keeping taxpayers in the dark. At the British Press Awards last night Cameron began with “I haven’t come here to try and suck up to you” then went on to paraphrase H. L. Mencken saying that the relationship between newspapers and politicians should be “fractious, edgy and confrontational”. H. L. Mencken actually said that the relationship between a journalist and a politician should be like that between “a dog and a lampost”, journalists should be pissing on politicians not getting pissed with ’em…

*No taxpayers are harmed in the making of this blog.

Is the Mirror Going Down the Express Way?

The ailing* Daily Mirror has a noble history, but in the last decade or so it has lost its way terribly. Publishing fake pictures of British soldiers in Iraq committing “outrages” and the editor and the financial reporters involved in a share ramping scandal at the expense of readers.

The Mirror does a lot of Cameron bashing. Kevin Maguire, political editor, writes Beano-like articles with references to Lord Snooty and druggie Dave, the Bambi-killing toff. All good knock about stuff (though Guido does wonder if this means he patronisingly thinks Mirror buyers have the reading age of a Beano reader?)

The story last week that Samantha Cameron was guilty of “snubbing a charity trying to stop mothers dying in childbirth… because she was too busy with her job… at posh stationer Smythson” struck Guido as pretty low.

The Daily Express had to pay £500,000 to the parents of Madeleine McCann after admitting just making up stories. The Mirror does seem to be going down the same path with this kind of story. It is one thing to follow Dave about on his bike and root through his bins for disposable nappies, to see if his words match his deeds, that is just about defensible. This was just a completely manufactured story to paint Samantha Cameron in a bad light.


*Circulation down year after year for years, it now has a circulation nearly half that of The Sun.

Dave’s Spinning Cycle, New Labour’s New Slogan

On holiday Guido missed out on all the fun of Dave’s killer-bike-ride-of-crime last week. Have now caught up with it on the Daily Mirror’s website. Tory loyalists are shooting the messenger over this, accusing the Mirror of running a smear campaign* against Cameron. Guido begs to differ, this is what a free press is supposed to do – investigate our rulers, hold them to account, exposing their hypocrisy and shortcomings. That to Guido is good popular campaigning journalism.

Elsewhere in the Mirror today Maguire makes the point that the most revealing moment of “Cameron’s reckless ride to Westminster was the toff’s removal of his cycling helmet.” You can take the man out of PR, but you can’t take the PR man out of the photo-op.

Maguire went on to moan that the Brownies electorally “hoping that Tory toff Cameron cycles through one red light too many won’t work.” Quite. Guido learns from Kevin that Gordon has a new slogan: “New Labour, Your Britain.” Maguire helpfully suggests “with the government behind in the polls, what about: ‘Labour, Not As Bad As You Think’?

Guido twice in agreement with Kevin Maguire in a single day? Must lie down…

*Guido was taught at an early age that “a smear is not a smear when it is the truth”.

Spot the Missing Blog Competition

The Telegraph’s leader writer, Robert Colvile, has written a very well judged pamphlet “Politics, Policy and the Internet for the Centre for Policy Studies. Guido comes in for some praise for shaking things up a little in the Lobby and some criticism for letting the co-conspirators throw tomatoes at politicians and use rude words. Fair enough, but that’s the way we like it here isn’t it? This chart on page 7 caught Guido’s eye, it is based on industry data from Hitwise. Can you spot one missing blog that might have slightly more market share? As it is it shows Colvile’s Telegraph colleagues to be the most successful political bloggers in Britain.

Colvile also got quite a lot of coverage for saying that the BNP’s website was the most popular politics site. It wasn’t. Can you guess which gossipy politics site beat them all with the most visitors last month?

Guido contacted Robert Colvile immediately on seeing the chart, he blamed the CPS and insisted that he had told them to include Guido in the chart. The CPS’s Tim Knox told Guido “sorry” and that they would correct it immediately. Of course if Guido has been included it would put all those millions spent by the Telegraph on new media in a different light – wouldn’t it? To come second to one not-always-sober Guy with a lap-top after losing £10 million on developing your website last year?

This grumble aside, it is still worth reading, particularly the point about voters now expecting government to be as good as Google. Responsive instantly, open and transparent. Something that Guido would have emphasised, is the idea of the blogosphere as the Gramscian “site of struggle” for the politico-media world’s mindshare. In this world new media can compete vigorously with Big media. In the U.S. the Drudge Report, according to the respected Pew Research Centre, is the second most important online source of campaign information in politics, behind only the New York Times and ahead of the Washington Post. So it will be over here too, and the readers will still enjoy insulting the politicians…

Kampfner Gone from New Statesman

Sudden exit is say sources not because he was sacked and it wasn’t over editorial direction, which has not been as Brownite as the proprietor, Geoffrey Robinson, would have liked. Paid for weekly circulation is now only some 25,000 print editions which is a third of the Speccie’s print run.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Scruton reflects on Twitter’s vigilantes…

“We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes. We are being cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of official doctrines and told to adopt a world view that we cannot examine for fear of being publicly humiliated by the censors. This world view might lead to a new and liberated social order; or it might lead to the social and spiritual destruction of our country. How shall we know, if we are too afraid to discuss it?”

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