Tory Rat T-Shirt on “Momentum” Question Time

A bizarrely shouty crackers episode of BBC Question Time last night – even by its current standards – during which the audience was allowed to heckle and jeer questions on Grenfell and the situation on the Gaza border. One audience member quipped to the mob: “this is not a Momentum meeting”…

Meanwhile, in the close-up cuts, it emerged one audience member sitting behind a questioner had worn their “you’re never more than 10 feet from a Tory” t-shirt, emblazoned with a giant rat and anarchist logo. Political banners and signs are not allowed in the audience. After a series of controversies involving hardcore Labour activists posing as audience members on the show – including one veteran agitator who was ejected – the producers last year boasted of the programme’s “rigorous background checks” to ensure balance. Looks like some more basic checks might be in order…

Who’s On Question Time Tonight?

Only one Brexiter, again…

Brexit Drama Cast List in Full

Channel 4 have today announced a new drama about the referendum starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings. Guido has some suggestions for the rest of the cast…

Rimmer from Red Dwarf as Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott. He’s already nailed the mannerisms.

Vote Leave comms chief Paul Stephenson would have to be played by Bob Odenkirk, aka Saul from Breaking Bad. “Better Call Saul” becomes “Better Call Paul”.

Surely Damian Lewis as Vote Leave spinner Rob “Roxstar” Oxley? He already has the coat and scarf.

Vote Leave’s Lee Cain and James Starkie, above right, were key players behind the scenes and are now SpAds for Boris and Gove respectively. They’d be played by Right Said Fred.

Seriously, how good is this one?

Perma-tanned Leave.EU wind up artist Andy Wigmore would be played by Deuce Bigalow’s Rob Schneider. He knows why.

Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix is the spit of Stephen Merchant. And about as comical a character. 

This being Channel 4, the show will no doubt be a big Remainer whinge about data. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory is BeLeave money man Darren Grimes.

Kelly Osbourne just needs a slight trim and a pair of glasses and she is Observer whistleblower Chris Wylie.

Fellow whistleblower Shahmir Sanni promised Watergate and delivered a dodgy Zoolander. He’d be played by Ben Stiller.

And, guest starring as Carole Cadwalladr, Homeland’s Claire Danes.

Coming soon…

Corbyn-Backed Candidate in Lewisham East is Russia Today and Press TV Pundit

Claudia Webbe, who is the new Corbyn and Unite-backed candidate in Lewisham East, is a regular pundit for the Russian and Iranian state television channels. Webbe, a former adviser to Ken Livingstone who defended him when he compared a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard, appeared on Russia Today as recently as last week. She has appeared on the infamous Kremlin propagandist Afshin Rattansi’s programme at least twice.

Guido has also found at least six appearances by Webbe on Press TV. She tells Guido she never accepted any money for the appearances, but says “I wish I’d known” she could claim a fee. Can’t think why she’s the choice of Corbyn’s office…

The previous Corbyn-backed candidate in Lewisham East was Phyll Opoku-Gymiah, who pulled out from the race after Guido revealed she compared Israel to the Nazis. Guido also revealed the Momentum-backed candidate, Sakina Sheikh, last week shared a platform with the extremist imam Shakeel Begg. Labour having real problems with their selection for Lewisham East…

Thomas Markle Warns Paps Despite Staging Pics

Newsapers have been warned off publishing pap shots of Thomas Markle by Kensington Palace despite him being caught staging pictures with snappers. Meghan Markle’s dad was the subject of a Mail On Sunday story which revealed he had joined with paps to produce a set of too-good-to-be-true images days before the Royal wedding this Saturday. He has since pulled out of the wedding and US media reports say he has suffered a heart attack…

Yesterday Kensington Palace communications secretary Jason Knauf contacted newspapers warning them:

“Kensington Palace say Mr Markle is concerned about the conduct of photographers. He says that he has been pursued by members of the press while going about his daily life. He says in particular that he was followed while in a chemist, purchasing medical supplies.”

That’s some brass neck…

Remainers Tell Aussie Brexiter to Go Home

Chloe Westley of the Taxpayer’s Alliance has been putting the case for Brexit on TV over the last week, culminating in her Question Time debut on Thursday. Remainers, including MPs like Stephen Doughty who should really know better, have shown a real lack of class by using Chloe’s Aussie heritage to suggest she doesn’t have the right to an opinion.

Reminds Guido of when the likes of Alan Sugar attacked Gisela Stuart because she was born in Germany. Come on then Remainers, tell us again how it’s Brexiters who are the racists.

Eco-Warrior: Bring Back Rationing

Sonia Sodha is the Observer’s chief leader writer, she has a plan to cut emissions. Stop people travelling, by rationing their air miles. In the new Avengers Marvel super hero movie the baddie – Thanos – is an eco-warrior who wants to save the planet by killing half the population. So in comparison Sonia is quite moderate.

Where to start, how can you stop people travelling in a free society? Bonkers idea. Guido (92 flights last year) has an alternative idea to cut emissions. Why not just stop the senseless waste of trees and energy involved in printing and distributing the Observer? After all it loses money and only produces hot air contributing to global warming…

Leveson 2 Defeated, Watson Bottles Section 40 Vote

MPs have voted against Ed Miliband’s Leveson 2 amendment by a majority of nine. And…

Labour have just confirmed to Guido that the Watson amendment will not go to a vote. They didn’t have the numbers and have bottled it. Victory for the free press.

Ed Miliband, Tom Watson, Max Mosley, Impress, Hugh Grant, John Cleese, Brian Leveson, Gary Lineker, Steve Coogan, Evan Harris… your boys took one hell of a beating (well, just)…

Watson Amendment Would Fund Crime Bosses, Expenses Fraudsters and Drugs Cheats

Tom Watson’s Trump-style Section 40 amendment to the Data Protection Bill would force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. It means all sorts of wrong ‘uns could bring legal challenges to newspapers, with the papers having to pay whatever the outcome. Watson would have seen the Sunday Times pay crime boss David Hunt’s legal bills. He would have put the Telegraph on the hook for MPs suing over the expenses scandal. The BBC and the Guardian would have had to pay the law firm Appleby over the Paradise Papers revelations. It means the Rotherham child abuse scandal, Fifa files and Lance Armstrong’s doping might never have been published. What do MPs voting for Watson’s amendment have to hide?

Miliband Smears the Free Press Ahead of Tonight’s Vote

On the Today programme this morning, Ed Miliband made the very serious allegation that journalists impersonated medical staff after the Manchester Arena terror attack. Miliband cited Bob Kerslake’s report to claim:

“We had journalists posing as medical staff… it is a minority that’s bringing down the good name of the press, that minority hasn’t changed.”

From listening to Miliband, you’d think that the Kerslake report found evidence of this happening. All the report (PDF) actually contained was three unsubstantiated claims: one from a member of the public who spoke to “someone saying they were a Bereavement Nurse”, another from a member of the public who spoke to someone “they felt sounded to be more like a journalist”, and a third who claimed “TV journalists went to her school and phoned the hospital pretending to be from the police“. The Kerslake report did not find proof that any of this happened, or that any journalist was responsible. Despite Miliband’s assertion to the contrary, no evidence was found that any journalist posed as medical staff after the Manchester Arena attack. The claims were so lacking in substance that Kerslake does not even mention them in his report’s conclusions or recommendations. They would not stand up in a court of law (let alone meet the IPSO guidelines on accuracy). Miliband is peddling fake news to smear the press ahead of the vote tonight…

Guardian Condemns Watson and Miliband’s Anti-Free Press Amendments

Tonight the Commons votes on Tom Watson and Ed Miliband’s amendments declaring war on press freedom. The amendments are a Trump-style assault on the media, outrageously attempting to force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. Watson and Miliband, backed by former fascist Max Mosley and Hacked Off’s press-hating millionaire celebrities and oligarchs, last night lost the support of the Guardian. In an excoriating statement condemning Watson and Miliband, Guardian News and Media warn the amendments “would further erode press freedom and have a severe chilling effect for the news environment in the UK”. They are particularly damning of Watson:

“The inclusion of Condition A has been widely interpreted as ensuring that news organisations structured along the lines of the Guardian and the Observer should be excluded from the scope of the broader clause. This clause was not discussed with Guardian News & Media and we disagree with attempts to impose a selective sanction on the media.”

These amendments are driven by Watson and Miliband’s personal loathing of the free press, rather than any concern for victims of intrusion. Miliband has semi-retired from his £77,000-a-year job as MP for Doncaster North – he seems to spend most of his time making podcasts and he couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the Syria debate last month. Even the Guardian is horrified by this blatant attempt by Watson and Miliband to undermine the free press in Britain. Any MP who votes for their amendments tonight is an enemy of press freedom…

Mail Warns May

Theresa May values the Daily Mail more than any other news outlet, it is said, and she can be left in no doubt as to what the paper thinks of her customs fudge this morning. Today’s Mail editorial directly backs Boris and warns the PM:

“Let’s be clear what this new ‘partnership’ means. British customs officers would act as tax collectors for Brussels, continuing to charge EU tariffs on imports entering the UK from outside the bloc, then giving rebates to traders whose goods were sold exclusively in Britain… it would be a logistical nightmare and an invitation to fraud, as British officials struggled to track the final destination of every imported widget and foodstuff so the correct tariffs could be charged. The infrastructure required would take years to install, delaying Brexit indefinitely. Needless to say, this bureaucratic fudge was devised in Whitehall, by Mrs May’s Europhile Brexit adviser Olly Robbins. Only a civil servant could believe the answer to freeing up cross-border trade is even more red tape. This paper has had its differences with Mr Johnson but on this issue he is absolutely right. The customs partnership makes a mockery of taking back control and risks the worst of all options – staying tied to Brussels but unable to make our own trade deals…

Theresa May – must stand firm. Last week’s local election successes in Leave-voting areas showed the public still trust the Tories to deliver a clean Brexit. Yes, Labour wreckers, misguided Tory rebels, Europhile civil servants and Remainer Lords (many of whom receive EU pensions) will use every weapon they have to frustrate the will of the people. But even if Mrs May did concede to staying in some form of customs union, they would simply demand more and more concessions until the referendum vote was effectively overturned. Facing down this unholy anti-Brexit alliance will be a strong test of the Prime Minister’s nerve. If British democracy is to be upheld, it’s a test she must not fail.”

If Number 10 hadn’t got the message, Quentin Letts is explicit:

“The Prime Minister, while publicly reiterating her determination to leave the single market and the customs union, is prevaricating in private. She allows her Downing Street team, who for the main part were Remain supporters, to continue with their crazy appeasement of Brussels with this customs partnership proposal… Under Conservative party rules, it needs only 48 MPs to trigger a vote of confidence in Theresa May’s leadership. If she green-lights customs partnership, that will happen within hours. I fear she simply has no idea how angry Brexiteers are about this plan, or about the Whitehall establishment’s continuing attempts to stymie Brexit. The mood is one of tranquil resolve: if the Prime Minister tries this outrageous anti-democratic move, it’s off-with-her-head.”

There is also a warning for Gavin Williamson, the Brexit sub-committee ‘Brexiter’ most likely to waver and switch sides – he is dubbed “wobbly” Williamson – and Sajid Javid. Quentin notes they would be “slaughtered” and “could immediately forget any dreams of being leader” if they rat on this.

Number 10 are mad if they think this is just Boris sounding off. It is also a majority of the Brexit sub-committee, Nick Timothy, the ERG, seemingly every Brexiter, and the Daily Mail, the paper May has relied on for support for years. If they can’t see that…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

One Brexiter out of five panel members…

Does George Osborne Want to Be Mayor of London?

There is a rumour going round that Osborne is bored of being the editor of London’s evening paper and is contemplating a run for mayor of London. Presumably he would not add a seventh job to his current resume and would have to step down. Could he afford the pay-cut? Is he even on the Tory candidates’ list? George could of course run for one of the those centrist metropolitan elite parties that we read about in the broadsheets…

Profundity of the Punditry: Amber Rudd Edition

Some absolute classics from Fleet Street’s finest over the weekend. The usually sagacious John Rentoul’s Saturday column for the Indy declared Amber Rudd to be in a “surprisingly strong position”:

Dan Hodges at 5:13pm yesterday evening was almost onto something with his view that the latest Guardian story “supports Rudd”:

Top prize however goes to Paul Mason, who confidently tweeted at 9.56pm: “It’s become easier to imagine the end of the world than a Tory minister resigning for probably lying.”

News of Rudd’s departure broke just minutes later. Mason immediately fired off another 20 tweets to bury the take and cover his modesty. Peak neoliberalism? Peak punditry…

3 Ways the ONS Says Snow Slowed Growth

Faisal Islam says linking the disappointing 0.1% growth figure to the bad weather is “laughable”. Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson tweets: “ONS says weather nothing to do with it”. If you actually read the ONS release rather than the Remain spin, they confirm the snow did have a “limited” impact on slowing growth, in three separate ways, on retail trade, petrol sales and construction:

  • “some impacts on GDP from the snow in the first quarter of 2018 have been recorded for construction and retail sales”
  • “The fall in retail trade was driven by a decrease in petrol sales. This could be attributed to adverse weather conditions, which impacted on travel” 
  • “There is some evidence of an impact of the bad weather on construction output… 3.3% fall in construction was the largest downward pull on Q1”

The impact might have been limited overall, it’s just not accurate and snow joke for the Guardian to report “ONS says weather nothing to do with it”…

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

A proud moment for the brocialists on Question Time tonight: Diane Abbott (former girlfriend of Jeremy Corbyn) appears alongside Jennifer Robinson (relationship status with Seumas Milne unknown). Jennifer’s last high profile public appearance was rather different:

Guess they’ll be watching Newsnight in the Milne household…

If the Government Had Cut Spending as Much as The Guardian

Year Guardian (£m) Gov (£bn)
2009-10 415.3 694.9
2016-17 268.8 772.5
Difference -146.5 +77.6
% -35.3% +11.2%

If the government had cut spending by as much as The Guardian has since 2010, public spending in 2016-17 would have been £450 billion. In reality it was £772 billion, a difference of £322 billion. It has come to something when The Guardian has introduced more austerity measures than Tory chancellors. Saving £322 billion would allow the government to abolish income tax, VAT, Fuel Duty*…

*Calculations by Alex Wild, who is the soon to be departing research director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

He Who Must Not Be Named

Seumas Milne has refused to conduct Labour’s post-PMQs Lobby huddles for the last month after getting into a strop about being named – in breach of Lobby convention – by the Press Association and Guido, among others. Today he ended his sulk and gave the briefing, after instructing journalists they must refer to him only as “a Labour spokesman” and not by name.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Paul Dacre on the Daily Mail’s future support for Brexit…

“…what moves me most are the countless messages from readers worried about whether the Mail will continue its support for EU withdrawal. My answer to them — and others — is unequivocal. Support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers. Any move to reverse this would be editorial and commercial suicide.”

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