Saturday 7-Up

Roger Scruton Calls for New Statesman to Release Tapes of Interview That Got Him Fired

A week after George Eaton celebrated with champagne the sacking of Sir Roger Scruton, the philosopher has called on the New Statesman to release the tapes of the interview that got him fired:

If there is evidence to incriminate me then obviously the New Statesman must make the tapes of the conversation public: how else will any of us know what we are allowed and not allowed to say, when working for this government?

Scruton and Eaton have both been engaged in claim and counter-claim over what was and wasn’t really said in the interview and whether it was deliberately taken out of context. There’s an easy way for the New Statesman to settle the matter once and for all, release the tapes…

The Times Announces Death of Democracy

One grieving Brexiteer is so upset that they’ve posted a Death Notice in today’s Times for UK Democracy, mourning the death of Democracy “in her sleep” at 11pm on the 29th March 2019 by “foul play”:

UK Democracy on 29th March 2019, aged 312. It was with sad regret that Democracy died quietly in her sleep at 11pm, on the 29th March 2019. The cause of death was by foul play and the culprits have yet to be brought to justice. Democracy campaigned for the rule of law, human rights and free elections. She listened to everyone and favoured the majority in all her decisions. She will be sorely missed. God have mercy on her soul.

The lamenting Leaver will have coughed up £87 for the privilege, The Times were sporting enough to take their money and publish it…

PA’s Woodcock Replacing Indy’s Watts

Guido hears Andy Woodcock from the Press Association has been appointed political editor of the Independent to replace Joe Watts. More when we have it…

UPDATE: Following Guido’s story, Woodcock has confirmed the move. Guido hopes he gets speedier once he has moved to the digital-only Indy…

Why No Press Statement from Assange Supporting Corbyn?

Guido is surprised that Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t made a press statement regarding the arrest of Assange. The Labour leader’s communications chief should be able to get some insight into the situation from Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, who is tweeting from inside the police station. Pictured above is Seumas Milne previously consulting with the blonde lawyer...

Julian Assange Arrested, Removed from Embassy

British police entered the Ecuadorian Embassy today and arrested Assange after Ecuador has revoked their grant of asylum for the WikiLeaks founder. Assange had been living in the embassy since August 2012 to avoid extradition.

Home Sec Sajid Javid says Assange is now “rightly facing justice in the UK” meaning extradition seems unlikely.

The Metropolitian Police have said that Assange was arrested under a warrant “issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.”

“He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.

The MPS had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”

UPDATE: Video has emerged of the arrest.

Corbyn Supporting Media Collapsing

According to online industry traffic comparison site SimilarWeb the Corbyn supporting new media outlets have seen a collapse in traffic. The Canary was for a while neck and neck with Guido in terms of audience size, it has now fallen well behind, with traffic halving from six months ago. Skwawkbox, the occasionally bonkers Labour leader’s office supported outlet, is well past its peak. Despite a permanent seat on TV news, Novara Media gets in a year the kind of traffic Guido gets in a week. The question is what is behind this fall?

Facebook’s algorithm change hurt them badly, Corbyn’s ambiguous stance on Brexit is out of tune with younger lefties and there is only so long outrage-at-the-mainstream-media stories can sustain attraction. Nevertheless Guido suspects the real reason they are in decline is that Corbyn has peaked in terms of appeal and he has fallen out of fashion. Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’s just so last year…

Child Protection is the Job of Parents Not ‘iPlod’

The proponents of the Online Harms White Paper are trying to frame it as a child protection and anti-terrorism measure. Guido is willing to accept that is the government’s intention and that it is under pressure from the newspaper industry to hit the global platforms. Almost every day News UK and Associated Newspapers titles run a shock horror story about Facebook or Twitter or one of the other social media platforms. Often it is focused on child protection – children committing suicide, children being groomed, children falling for scams, children seeing an advert for a high sugar product. Do not underestimate how much pressure this puts ministers under when there is a “something must be done” clamour.

According to the government the something that must be done is the creation of yet another quango, an online regulator. Dubbed by Toby Young “iPlod“.

Guido has no doubt as to the harms done by child sexual abuse or terrorist propaganda online, it is however already the case that these things are illegal. Introducing a new law will not change the enforcement problems, which go unaddressed in the White Paper. The best form of child protection is preventing your children having access to this material. Why does your 7 year-old child need a smart phone? Why is your daughter on Snapchat, an app originally designed to enable the sending of a quick nude picture that will selfie-destruct after a maximum of 10 seconds. New legal controls are no substitute for parental control.

The online harms that the White Paper has trouble defining include cyber-bullying and trolling, both of which it says are unacceptable. People being rude to one another online does not require a legislative response. The police have better things to do than arrest people for being rude on Twitter.

There is also the collateral damage to press freedom from a new regulator, Toby Young argues in tomorrow’s Spectator cover story that the White Paper if it became law “iPlod” would mean that any companies “that allow users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online” will be “in scope” so that includes newspapers and magazines. This is arguably state regulation of the press by the back door and has no place in a free society. Sajid should be opposing it as vigorously as he opposed Labour’s attempts to set up a state press regulator, not championing it.

Government Wants to Give State Power to Ban Websites

 

Last week Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he was appointing Amal Clooney as the UK’s envoy on media freedom. Today Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has put out a government White Paper on ‘Online Harms’ which includes proposals for a regulator which will have the power to ban the websites of non-compliant companies from being accessed in the UK at all. Someone tell Amal quick!

You would think that the likes of Facebook and Twitter would be up in arms – they are not because as Dom Hallas, Executive Director of The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), says

“Everyone, including British startups, shares the goal of a safer internet – but these plans will entrench the tech giants, not punish them. The vast scope of the proposals means they cover not just social media but virtually the entire internet – from file sharing to newspaper comment sections. Those most impacted will not be the tech giants the Government claims they are targeting, but everyone else. It will benefit the largest platforms with the resources and legal might to comply – and restrict the ability of Britissh startups to compete fairly. There is a reason that Mark Zuckerberg has called for more regulation. It is in Facebook’s business interest.”

86% of UK investors surveyed by Coadec say that proposals claiming to tackle tech giants could lead to poor outcomes that inadvertently damage tech startups and hamper competition. As with the GDPR and we are likely to see with the Copyright Directive, the tech giants are in fact best placed to absorb wide-ranging regulation. There is a real risk of the global platforms getting bigger and British startups suffering.

There is also a risk that a future Corbyn govenment will use the legislation against political opponents. When you see the likes of Owen Jones being applauded for describing the Spectator, Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Express and of course Guido, as “spreading hate”, you can easily imagine the legislation being used by a Corbyn government to close down dissident media. This is a dangerous path being foolishly and short-sightedly cheered on by newspapers who think it will scupper the global platforms who are eating into their advertising revenue.

See: Coadec report with the survey data referred to can be found in full here.

State Regulation of Social Media is Back Door to Press Regulation

On today’s Politics Live, Toby Young took apart the proposals expected in a White Paper next week for Government control of social media. He’s bang on…

Bursting Politico’s Twitter Bubble

Fascinating article this morning from Politico Europe about The Westminster Twitter Bubble. It contains lots of stuff on which MPs have the most MPs following them as well as which journalists and which media outlets are most influential in terms of being followed by MPs. Above is their chart showing the research results for media outlets. They appear to accidentally have left Guido off the list…

In an effort to be helpful Guido has added at the bottom how it would look if he was included. It reveals that little old Guido is followed by quite a few MPs. More than all of those other media outlets…

309 MPs in total follow Guido. Politico is followed by 45 MPs. Anyone who suspects this omission might be because Guido and Politico compete for advertising revenue based on how influential our audience is, has a suspicious mind. You are either in front of Guido, or you are behind. Substantially in Politico’s case…

Charles Moore Takes Question Time to Task on Balance

Guido was reminded of this research while watching Question Time last night – the research found that 86% of the time the panel was dominated by Remainers. Charles Moore pointed out that he was the only Leave voter on the panel, showing twice as many Remain voters appear on the programme than Leave voters. This won’t come as a surprise to many regular viewers…

The IEA’s analysis referenced by Moore also shows a two to one bias in favour Remain supporting panelists. Guido understands that it must be hard to balance the panel given that the media class and Parliament as a whole is so out of touch with the country on the question of Brexit, but surely it isn’t an impossible task…

Guardian Creates Inflamed Gash “Brexit Artwork”

The Guardian has commissioned an artwork in response to Brexit. Artist Anish Kapoor has been beavering away to depict a huge gash down the middle of the nation. Describing it as a “gory rip”, the Guardian’s critic clearly moans and whinges about the UK pulling out of the EU, but does say of the interesting artwork that “like a black hole of melancholy, something about this bottomless pit is alluring.” Kapoor’s work is not a labia of love…

The artist has given the piece the title “A Brexit, A Broxit, We All Fall Down.” Guido can think of quite a few other names for it that might be more apt…

Sky Reporter Gets the Drop Live on Air

Well that’s one way to get out of the shot quickly…

BBC-Guido Syndication Deal

As part of the BBC’s efforts to broaden its supplier base the BBC commissions stand-alone new media propositions. They are aimed at ensuring the BBC is able to meet its public service commitments while at the same time allowing independent suppliers to retain and exploit rights where appropriate. They are intended to apply to stand-alone new media commissions.

Guido parent company GGN and BBC News & Current Affairs have agreed a syndication framework which will see the Nevis based media corporation supply BBC content under the following terms:

Framework 1: GGN owns any new stand-alone content proposal they bring to the BBC; the BBC has an exclusive licence only.

Framework 2: GGN retains all rights in a stand-alone new media commission based on an existing BBC created format, associated with an in-house programme or based on a BBC developed idea.

Framework 3: GGN licences their existing third-party content or services to the BBC on a non-exclusive basis.

Framework 4: GGN licences their content to the BBC on a non-exclusive basis, but the BBC owns (or may take a non-exclusive licence in) the bespoke development which it specifies and pays for.

This morning on the Victoria Derbyshire show saw the first fruit of the collaboration as Heidi Allen MP was challenged using Guido produced video content. Guido editor in chief Paul Staines said:

“We’re happy to syndicate our content to other media organisations and for the BBC it will be a welcome diversification from their normal suppliers. The GGN deal represents value for money for licence fee payers.”

Flora Loip, the BBC’s Director of Commissioning said:

We are thrilled to licence Guido’s content to the BBC. The Guido Fawkes brand is a strong news brand and the BBC has been wanting for some time to synergise our content aligning our core competencies in this dynamic and exciting new partnership.

The syndication deal is not the first time a major media organisation has syndicated Guido-produced content. News UK had a three year syndication deal with Guido. The BBC deal is open-ended…

BBC Admits Scandal-Hit Lord Deben Spread Fake Green News

Guido readers will remember Lord Deben from the ongoing inquiry into his multiple conflicts of interests over £600,000 payments funnelled to his family business. The scandal-hit Climate Change Committee Chair has been dealt another blow with the BBC publicly admitting that he misled viewers of the Today Programme with his daft claim that there was a ban on onshore wind power. Which there isn’t. Obviously.

But the BBC Executive Complaints Unit made an embarrassing mistake themselves over Deben’s claim on the same programme that onshore wind was the cheapest form of generating electricity. They say that according to a BEIS formula, onshore wind is the cheapest form of electricity today. The actual government tables clearly show that gas turbines are cheaper. A pretty shoddy mistake to make after two rounds of BBC investigations…

May’s Response to Resignation Question Sparks Resignation Speculation

Lobby hacks sense something in May’s tone today at PMQs:

We’ll find out tonight when she speaks to the 1922 Committee…

BBC Trolls Brexiteers

Ted isn’t alone. 60% of Brits say the BBC is biased against Brexit

Impartial Fact Checkers Trash People’s Vote’s Claim that One Million People Marched

The People’s Vote campaign had already come under fire for grossly exaggerating the number of people on their last march after official figures revealed that it was only attended by around 250,000 people, barely a third of the 700,000 they claimed. Now it looks like they’ve shamelessly puffed up the numbers on their second march by exactly the same margin…

Impartial fact checkers Full Fact carefully examined their claim that one million people attended their march on Saturday, finding that “experts in crowd estimation put the number at between 312,000 and 400,000.” Again, barely a third of the dodgy numbers the People’s Vote were putting out…

Full Fact say that:

“even if this density of 4.5 people per square metre [as the People’s Vote claimed] had been observed across the whole march site of roughly 160,000 square metres, that would only account for 700,000 people. Helicopter footage shows that there were areas where the crowd was much less dense than 4.5 people per square metre.”

Not that it stopped the BBC’s risible “Reality Check Correspondent” Chris Morris from endorsing their claim of a million. Remainers never stop complaining about numbers used by Brexiteers, all the while they’re fiddling their own figures on an industrial scale…

Naughtie Sorry for ERG Slur


Following Guido’s reporting of ERG outrage at BBC Today’s Jim Naughtie slurring the ERG as far-right types equivalent to the French Front National he apologised last night:

“I was wrong to say in a live discussion this morning that members of the ERG would be happy in a far-right party.

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