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. Shane?

Trans-Atlantic Refusal to Apologise :Brown Rants "Let's Have It Out Now"

It is worth reading the account pieced together from witnesses to the mid-Atlantic back-of-the-plane confrontation between Brown and his press tormentors. The Mail on Sunday gives a pretty full account of Brown’s aggressive refusal to give the Lobby even an off the record acceptance that he is in any way culpable in the tiniest way for the particularly dire economic situation Britain faces.
ITN’s political editor Tom Bradby says that after an interview ‘Off camera, the mike was ripped off and we exchanged a few tart remarks… He has a bad temper.’ So it was mid-air with the off-the-record, no notebooks, no tapes, Lobby briefing turned rant:

Pressed to admit he had made mistakes, he said: ‘No, it was supply. If inflation is low, people are going to borrow money to buy houses. You can’t stop that. You don’t understand it.’

At one point the man from the Labour-supporting Guardian threw him a lifeline saying: ‘Can I just make it clear we aren’t all saying that?’

When another journalist tried to defuse the situation, Mr Brown refused to be diverted. ‘No, let’s sort this out now, let’s have it out now,’ he said, jabbing his finger.

Not exactly the bonhomie of the Blair Force One days on the return flight. The Mail’s report does not identify the cringe-makingly obsequious Guardian hack doing the journalistic equivalent of bringing teacher an apple.

Guido can tell you it was the political editor, Patrick Wintour.

Fancy a Bet, Kev'?

Guido has remarked previously on Kevin “Make it Up” Maguire’s unhinged hatred of one particular frail old lady. In his (always a good read) New Statesman Diary column this week he insists

Maggie Thatcher’s salivating disciples, eagerly awaiting their heroine’s Downing Street resurrection, may soon be frothing and foaming instead. Richard Stone’s oil painting of the Rusty Lady will not be hung, as was widely anticipated, on No 10’s grand staircase. Once unveiled she will, I hear,* be confined to an attic – or, more specifically, a corner room up the stairs and left down the corridor. Once installed in the Thatcher Study, as the room in which she long toiled is known, Maggie will languish unseen except by escorted visitors.

If Kevin fancies a bet, Guido is willing to make a wager, for he has it on good authority that by June 4, 2010 at the very latest, Margaret Thatcher’s picture will be hanging in pride of place at the top of the grand staircase.

Back where she belongs – in Downing Street.

*“I hear” when written by Maguire in this context can be translated as “Damian McBride told me in the Westminster Arms”.

Scottish Dead Tree Scribblers Flee the Press

Guido doesn’t usually do local, particularly not local Scotland. However this is a bit too fun to ignore. Some thoughtless council official has made the mistake of putting this minute on the North Lanarkshire council website and it has put into the public domain the entire short list of applicants for the job as their Head of Spin.
Looks like there is a rush to get out out of the Dead Tree Press and into the safe harbour of the public sector with easy hours and gold plated pensions to accompany the job security.
  • “J. Allardyce” must be Jason Allardyce, associate editor of the Sunday Times Scotland.
  • “A.F. Carlin” could be Tony Carlin, Group Content Editor of Herald newspapers
  • “J.B. Currie” could be Brian Currie, former Evening Times’ political editor and now group political editor of Herald newspapers
  • “S. Dalgety” is probably Susan Dalgety, a former Labour councillor and aide to First Minister Jack McConnell and formerly of publishers Holyrood Communications.
  • “T.J.J. Little” must be Tom Little, Scotland on Sunday columnist
  • “S. Penman” is almost certainly Stephen Penman, currently Deputy Editor, Sunday Herald
  • “K.C. Symon” sounds like Ken Symon, currently with public affairs company McGarvie Morrison Media

One surprise, “J.P. Murdoch” – surely things can’t be that bad….

Comedy Candidates

The London Standard is pushing a story claiming that a cabinet minister is urging Yvette Cooper to stand as a “Stop Harriet” candidate. Very amusing. If you believe the papers the list of candidates could see Miliband major versus Miliband minor as well as Yvette Balls versus Ed Balls. The list of runners for Gordon’s succession is said to even include Andy Burnham. Some of this press speculation can only be for the purposes of satire…

UPDATE : Ben Brogan points out that Cruddas is backing Harman in the Indy.

Obama Prioritises Bloggers Over Press Corps

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3161356&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

The Whitehouse press corps are up in arms that Obama called on Huffington Post’s Sam Stein to ask a question during the Presidential press conference. It was the first time a President called on an online-only publication during a press conference. Obama ignored hacks from the Dead Tree Press, in favour of the blogger. Political blogger, Anna Marie Cox, the original Wonkette, Twittered: “LOTS of grumbling post-press conf about HuffPo getting a q; but accusing O of ‘filibustering’ seems to ignore HuffPo q was smart and tough.” Cry a river…

If the Lobby was being honest, they know that the next government, Cameron and Osborne in particular, start the day the Guido way. That must hurt – a lot…

Guardianista Accuses Boss of Too Much Testosterone

Sorry to bore on about Guardianista hypocrisy, but it just keeps coming. Jackie Ashley (Mrs Marr) writes this morning under the headline To Chop City Bonuses, Start by Cutting the Testosterone. Leaving aside the casual sexist stereotyping, is it really true? After all her boss the Guardian Media Group chief executive, Carolyn McCall, was 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.

Does she have too much testosterone?

Bright Moves Up from Statesman to Spectator

Paul Johnson did it. Melanie Philips did it. They of course had God by their side when they shifted. Bright hasn’t found God as far as Guido knows and he still sees himself, perhaps needs to see himself, as a man of the left. Bright, until recently political editor of the New Statesman, is now blogging for the Speccie.“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Can it be long before Nick Cohen follows?

LBC Get Wikileaked

Guido loves Wikileaks. They are like a risk management tool for bloggers. Ben Goldacre of Bad Science blog hosted an MP3 excerpt of an LBC show where a presenter, Jeni Barnett, gave an “irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves.” MMR jabs are a subject of intense debate in the Fawkes household. Mrs Fawkes is in the don’t-care-if-it-is-irrational camp, consequently Guido is in the forced-to-cough-up-£300-for-single-shots camp.

LBC threatened to sue Ben Goldacre for breach of copyright.* Big mistake. He took it down and in his place others put it back online. It has probably now been heard online by more people than originally heard it broadcast. Download it via Wikileaks (MP3).

Distributed defiance of lawyers is something the Dead-Tree-Press can’t do. Bloggers are the free press.

*In any event Guido is under the impression that damages in copyright cases are limited to the financial loss caused by the breach of copyright, which in this case would presumably be very limited.

Tax Justice Protest Against Guardian Tax Dodging

Tax Justice campaigners had a small demonstration outside the Guardian’s offices today to protest at the hypocrisy of the Guardian campaigning for FTSE 100 companies to pay more corporation tax when, despite GMG making £300 million in profits last year, it paid none itself. GMG took advantage of a perfectly legal loophole to avoid paying taxes on the capital gains made on the sale of Auto Trader. Without exploiting the law they would have had to pay more than £50 million in tax!

The campaigners also highlighted that as well as being adept tax avoiders nowadays, the Guardian’s heritage is one of tax evasion. The Trust that owns the paper, the C P Scott Trust, was set up for the sole purpose of avoiding death duties following the 1932 death of C P Scott. By depriving the revenue of its due, the Scott family succeeded in avoiding the heavy taxes which would have otherwise meant them selling their interest in the paper. Neat dodge, eh? What did the Guardian say about Osborne’s plan to raise inheritance tax thresholds?

It is ridiculous hypocrisy for the GMG fatcats to lecture the CEO’s of British industry on paying more corporation tax when they don’t pay a penny themselves. At the very least they should voluntarily pay the £600,000 that would have been payable as a result of the Auto Trader transaction on the transfer of GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited (a Caymans incorporated Special Purpose Vehicle) if it had been incorporated in the UK rather than the Caymans. If they won’t pay the £600,000 to the Revenue, why do they expect other corporations to behave differently? Hypocrites.

Vince Gets Aggressive

Vince Cable, writing in the Guardian this morning, has his usual mixed-bag of platitudes and soundbites on corporate taxation. He wants to widen the base, raise the take, simplify and cut corporate taxation. Fantastic, Guido wants world peace and to help children as well, just like any other beauty contestant. Vince also says;

“there is a strong case for a more aggressive approach to tax avoidance. The systematic and widespread avoidance of stamp duty land tax by corporate vehicles can be stopped quickly.”

Does he mean corporations like GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, set up in the Caymans Isles where the corporation tax rate is zero? This corporate vehicle allowed the Guardian Media Group to dodge stamp duty saving itself a mere £600,000. Surely not?

Incidentally, do you think when Cable was Shell’s chief economist, he pestered the board to drop all their tax base narrowing, take reducing, complex corporate tax dodging? Aggression, Guido suspects, has come late to Vince…

Guardian’s Tax Hypocrisy is Ridiculous

The multi-millionaire columnist Polly Toynbee is this morning ranting against tax dodging corporations in the Guardian. The paper has even set up a campaigning website with fancy interactive graphics. According to the their own annual report Guardian Media Group made £306.4 million before tax. Using astute tax planning and legal manipulation of the tax laws; such as the use of an equity owning trust and a Caymans Islands offshore corporation to avoid stamp duty, they managed to only pay get a rebate of £800,000 in tax last year. That is less than they paid the Guardian Media Group’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, she got a package of £827,000 whereas so the media fat cats got paid by HM Revenue Commissioners a mere £800,000 in corporation tax. Unbelievable isn’t it?

Here it is in black and white:

 

GMG P + L

The hypocrisy of the Guardianistas is just beyond satire, they are starting a campaign to get corporations to pay more tax, just like they campaign to undermine private education yet themselves went to private schools, they rail against City bonuses yet pay the editor and CEO hundreds of thousands in bonuses. Media fat cats attacking City fat cats is just laughable. Polly says “it’s time to rattle and bang in protest at this outrage”. Quite. Guido has tried to mention this on the Guardian’s Tax Gap campaign blog to no avail…

UPDATE 11.55 : Richard Brooks from the Guardian’s “Tax Gap” blog emails to say they are going to explain the Guardian Media Group’s situation using the same approach they used on the FTSE 100 corporations. Incidentally, before anyone points it out, this blog is published by an offshore corporation owned by an opaque charitable trust, in a remarkably similar way to the Guardian set-up. However, crucially, this blog takes an editorial line which is hypocrisy free, Guido is opposed to most forms of taxation in principle: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

UPDATE 12.09 : As some have pointed out, that looks like an £800,000 tax rebate, rather than a payment. Even worse. No wonder the Guardian can afford shiny new fancy offices…

UPDATE 16.50 : Note amendments and strike-throughs, also note that the Tax Gap blog has now let Guido’s comments through. They also cite Richard Murphy as a tax expert who approves of GMG’s tax strategies. Richard Murphy is hardly independent, he is a regular writer for the Guardian. The Cayman’s dodge was tax neutral they claim. Except when, in the future, it comes to capital gains tax of course.

Polly Should Look at Her Bosses’ Fat Cat Bonuses

The Tuscan redistributionist friend of the down-trodden, the three-house-owning, multi-millionairess toff, Polly Toynbee, is ranting against undeserved bonuses. With the colourful prose that earns her £117,000 basic (before book royalties, media fees and advances) she lays into the worth of “performance-related pay” and the bonus culture that sees loss making Northern Rock bosses get a 10% bonus.
[…] Read the rest

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