Disgraced former celebrity publicist Max Clifford has died aged 74, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed. He collapsed in prison three days ago and suffered a heart attack on Friday. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said:
“As with all deaths in custody, there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. Our condolences are with Mr Clifford’s family at this difficult time.”
A collective OMG in the BuzzFeed listicle nerve centre last night as staff were told planned redundancies are set to be more than doubled. Last month the outlet’s millennial scribblers were warned that 20 London roles would be axed, now they have been told 45 staff will go – grim news just weeks before Christmas. 14 of 33 news reporters are set for the chop as well as subs and six on the Buzz team. If 45 go that’s a third of BuzzFeed UK’s 140 staff.Average salaries of £60,000 were just not sustainable…
The Brexit bill of £35-39 billion (as is being reported) is way less than the newspapers have been telling us it would be over the last few months. The Sunday Times reckoned May would agree to a £50 billion bill, the Telegraph said she had been handed a £50 billion bill by Brussels, most other papers ended up at a figure of €60 billion,the Express feared it could rise as high as €90 billion, and who can forget the FT taking copy from the Commission: “EU raises UK Brexit bill to€100 billion as Paris and Berlin harden stance”. In the end the profundity of the Remain punditry has ended up providing some handy expectations management for Downing Street, who can call this a significant win. A price well worth paying for Brexit…
UPDATE: Special mentions to Matt Holehouse who called it at £40 billion and Harry Cole who called it at £38 billion.
Top banter from the Daily Mail this morning teasing TheGuardian over its decision to go tabloid. The Guardian has said it will ditch its ‘Berliner’ format in the new year. The Mail’s editorial shows just what can be done with a smaller page:
“The Mail congratulates the Guardian on finally seeing the light and becoming a tabloid. True, it’s taken a long time and – through awesome business ineptitude – losses of hundreds of millions of pounds. We sincerely hope that by joining the tabloid club, the paper might now begin to make financial sense, rather than depend on massive subsidy. Just one bit of helpful advice. Commercially-viable tabloids – even mid-market ones like the Mail – rely on putting stories on their pages that actually interest people.”
What will actually sting the Guardian newsroom is the realisation that the paper wasted £50 million on Berliner format presses in 2005 – they were expected to roll for much longer. TheGuardian also spent £30 million that year upgrading printworks in London and Manchester. Another £80 million down the Guardian gutter…
George Osborne didn’t rule out a return to parliament at his press gallery lunch today. The Evening Standard editor gave a lively speech and when asked if he would return to parliament he said: “I don’t rule it out”.But he did rule out joining the NUJ…
Osborne had the following to say:
On Boris: “A pretty effective mayor of London.”
On the Tory leadership: “It is the consensus party view that there will be a Conservative Leader contest this parliament.”
On Corbyn:“If the Labour movement was led by a social democrat of even middling ability they would now be 20 points ahead in the polls.”
On Freezergate: Taught him “a thing or two about editorial conference.”
On why Remain lost: “We looked like the establishment.”
On the importance of the metropolitan elite: If the Tories are “anti-modern and anti-metropolitan then people will be anti-us.”
Mayoral bid or return to the Commons? A George / Amber / Ruth Remoaner dream team…
On Monday Guido reported on anti-press freedom cranks Stop Funding Hate targeting much-loved children’s charity the NSPCC in their hellbent crusade to stamp out free discussion and debate in Britain’s media. The mask slipped and the true nature of the group was revealed…
In this morning’s Sun Boris takes apart Stop Funding Hate’s anti-freedom campaign, lambasting “cowardly” Paperchase and Pizza Hut for capitulating to a few hundred Twitter trolls:
“A small but dedicated group of left-wing activists has launched a campaign to undermine the financial base of some newspapers whose views they dislike. They have attacked the advertisers who help to fund those newspapers, and who make it possible for reporters to bring new facts into the public domain. The tactic of this campaign – misleadingly called “Stop Funding Hate” – is to urge a boycott of all companies who place advertisements in the Sun, the Daily Mail or the Daily Express. This week they even attacked the NSPCC – a much loved national charity – for the sin of running a promotion in the Sunday Express. It is deeply disturbing to learn that this campaign is beginning to have an effect. Last year Lego dropped all advertising in the Daily Mail, and actually apologised to its customers. In recent weeks Paperchase and Pizza Hut have followed suit. I believe that these decisions are sad and mistaken and indeed cowardly.
“It is not as if this internet campaign commands overwhelming public support. Despite all the noise and virulence of their campaign, there are said to be fewer than a thousand people who are actively involved. And these companies should realise that they are bowing to a ruse – the attack on advertisers – that comes straight from some of the worst authoritarian regimes in the world. As for those who are mounting the campaigns, they do not seem to appreciate the irony of what they are doing. They may not like the editorial line of these publications, or the way in which they cover certain issues. But this country has the world’s strongest laws against libel and defamation. We have highly progressive legislation against hate speech and the whipping up of prejudice of any kind. By attempting to drive some newspapers underground they risk fomenting a further sense of alienation in the public – and pushing some into the arms of extremists. They are not sticking up for liberal values. They are not sticking up for freedom. They are attacking the freedom which is the foundation of our democracy. They should remember the great French sage Voltaire, who summed up the approach that has served Britain well for generations. “I may not agree with what you say. But I defend to the death your right to say it.”
On the front page of the Guardian website last night, apparently “we’ll all starve” due to a labour shortage caused by Brexit. Clearly the Kent winemaker quoted in the story wasn’t being entirely serious. Not that you’d know that from the write up.
Above is the tweet that scuppered an historic “no border” deal with Ireland on Monday. Tony Connelly is the widely respected RTE journalist covering Brexit – British journalists have recently discovered his output and it now often underlies a lot of their “reports from Dublin”. At 11:16 he tweeted that he had seen a draft text promising ‘no regulatory divergence’. This spooked the DUP, who had been promised a form of words that would satisfy them that as Downing Street had reiterated that morning: “The UK is leaving the EU as a whole. The territorial and economic integrity of the UK will be protected.”
This tweet ricocheted around the media, Remain-leaning journalists went hyperbolic, some claiming that this meant Northern Ireland was staying behind in the single market, others claiming this meant the whole of the UK was not really leaving the EU’s regulatory regime. With broadcasters starved of developments, because May and Juncker were lunching behind closed doors, they continued to pile up punditry of this kind. All this was despite RTE’s Tony Connelly having tweeted a corrective only four minutes after the first tweet that the phrase, as anathema to Brexiteers as it is to the DUP, had been replaced by “continued regulatory alignment”.
Meanwhile Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, waiting impatiently before the Dublin media at a pre-scheduled press conference, unwisely claimed that the wording was basically the same either way. It isn’t. The DUP – never the most trusting when Westminster is dealing with Dublin – unsurprisingly pulled the plug. Who failed to keep the DUP in the loop…
Stop Funding Hate, the anti-press freedom campaign behind advertising boycotts of newspapers, has plumbed new depths this morning – hounding the NSPCC on Twitter. The children’s charity ran a promotion in the Sunday Express yesterday, causing Stop Funding Hate to tweet out the NSPCC’s handle and attempt to set their Twitter trolls on them. The NSPCC often runs campaigns and promotions in newspapers – it runs a ‘Block the Bullying’ campaign in the Sun for example. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Stop Funding Hate are opposed to anti-bullying campaigns.
The NSPCC knows appealing to millions of Sun and Express readers for support and donations is a sensible way to help children – yet the cranks at Stop Funding Hate want their army of vicious trolls to target them for it. The mask slips on this nasty press freedom-hating campaign…
Dough! Pizza Hut clearly didn’t learn from Paperchase’s humiliating cowardice in the face of a few lefty Twitter trolls – the fast food chain has apologised for offering Sun readers a free pizza over the weekend. This is the height of spinelessness. Pizza Hut’s food has been enjoyed by millions of newspaper readers down the years yet they have capitulated to just a few hundred press freedom-hating Twitter moaners. Pusillanimous PR departments need to grow a backbone and ask themselves if it’s really worth ditching promotions used by millions of people just to stop their social media intern getting a few angry tweets from mental keyboard cranks. Virtue signalling right-on execs at Pizza Hut and Paperchase think they’re on the right side of this new advertising culture war because they’re obsessing with Twitter. Their real-life customers are the ones who are losing out…
UPDATE: A Sun insider gets in touch to say the Pizza Hut promotion will continue until Thursday as planned: “While the Twitter armies may fill our timelines, they will never take our takeaways.”
GQ editor Dylan Jones tells the Today programme Corbyn’s aides didn’t understand that Jezza “would have to be presentable and couldn’t just turn up in his anorak” and that they “pushed him around like a grandpa”. Jones says the younger GQ staff who attended the shoot went in as fans and came out underwhelmed. Never meet your heroes…
This from the Independent is the precise opposite of what actually happened, as you can watch here. You’d have thought after their animal sentience embarrassment the Indy would be more careful, but then again they’re making Skwawkbox look good at the moment.
Layoffs at the “Buzz”, Commercial, News, and Admin teams at Buzzfeed UK announced in an all-staff email this evening:
“As our strategy evolves, we need to evolve our organization, too – particularly our Business team, which was built to support direct sold advertising but will need to bring in different, more diverse expertise to support these new lines of business. Unfortunately, this means we have to say goodbye to some talented colleagues whose work has helped us tremendously. In the US, we are restructuring select functions of the Business team, including Sales, Creative, Client Services, Ad Solutions, and Marketing, to better support our diversifying revenue model. In the UK, we are realigning the organization to focus on content for global audiences and our core U.K. News beats — investigations, politics, media, and social justice — and intend to make reductions across Buzz, Commercial, News, and Admin as a result. We will communicate today with everyone impacted by these changes. I’d like to thank the departing employees for their many contributions to BuzzFeed. They will be missed, and I know they will go on to do big things in the future.”
How’s this for more glorious hypocrisy from the press-hating cranks at Stop Funding Hate? The group’s founder Richard Wilson accepted £1,000 for the serialisation rights of his book… from the Daily Mail. The anti-press freedom campaigner agreed to the deal for a 2006 tome. He hates Britain’s popular papers so much he wanted to feature in one…
The Mail on Sunday and the Observer’sCarole Cadwalladr seem to believe Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the Legatum Institute conspired with Putin and the Russian state to deliver Brexit. There are more than a few problems with this theory, though Guido is going to focus on the most obvious: Boris, Gove and Legatum are all staunch critics of Putin and Russia. Anyone who listens to these Gove comments from 2015, in which he rails against Putin and Russian money “subverting” the West, can be in no doubt as to his view.
“You see the influence of Russian agency and Russian money. We should not underestimate the extent to which Putin and those behind him are seeking to throw off balance and to subvert everything that we’re doing… His aim is to divide, to destabilise, and if not necessarily to conquer, at least to consolidate and advance. And inside Russia the widespread view of the Russian people is that Putin is right and the West is seeking to keep Russia down and to divide and to weaken. And for that reason we need to be sensitive to where Russian public opinion is but also vigilant about the threat. Now what does that mean we need to do in terms of our security and defence profile? The answer to that is several steps above my pay grade. But I don’t believe that any of us for a moment should be naive about what Putin is interested in or fall for some of the interpretations we might get on Russia Today or elsewhere about what his real intentions are.”
Boris meanwhile is on the record condemning Putin as a “ruthless and manipulative tyrant” who has been “illegally occupying parts of Ukraine”, adding “Putin’s proxy army was almost certainly guilty of killing the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that came down in eastern Ukraine” and “he has questions to answer about the death of Alexander Litvinenko”.
As for the Legatum Institute, the focus of the latest Remainer conspiracies, as Mark Wallace notes they have a long record of opposing Putin and employed Anne Applebaum, one of the leading anti-Putin voices around. Legatum was even condemned by Russia Today for anti-Kremlin bias. Which kind of ruins the story.
Perhaps all this was an elaborate double bluff. Or it could be, as the FT’s ultra-Remainer editor Lionel Barber concludes, “a stretch”…
UPDATE: Eurosceptic source: “The idea of Gove and Boris as agents of Putin is about as believable as Geordie Greig’s claim to be an impartial editor offering a clear eyed view of Brexit.”
Thousands of people were sent into panic last month after the BBC reported ‘up to 100,000’ in-work Universal Credit claimants would get no benefits over Christmas. The claim was first made by Paul Lewis on Radio 4’s Money Box programme, repeated by BBC Breakfast, the BBC News website and across its TV and radio output. It was also repeated by Labour, including by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams…
Now, Paul Lewis has admitted the story was wrong, conceding that not only were his figures incorrect but that he ignored journalist colleagues who pointed out his mistake. Lewis said:
“In fact, it’s not as many as that number, so I have to plead guilty to that… I don’t know why I assumed that because I have to say colleagues on the Money Box team told me that wasn’t right… “
Are Labour and Debbie Abrahams going to make any effort to correct themselves too?
UPDATE: IDS tells the Beeb to offer a proper correction:
“Welcome as such an apology is, this apology is a small and inadequate correction. After all, having given the department no proper opportunity to rebut the false item, the item then ran on all their news headlines without correction. This should have been broadcast on the news headlines too. Finally, it is clear from the tone of the apology dialogue that they think this is funny, it’s not, for many people would have been needlessly concerned about it.”