"Useless" Eustice's Campaign Against the Media Grows

George Eustice, seemingly one of the few people who has ever defected from UKIP to the Tories and the PM’s former Press Secretary, has upped his war against the media.  The man who wants the state to regulate/gag hacks now says that journalists should trust politicians more and he’s coming for the broadcasters:

eustice-devil“The truth is that no democracy can work without political parties, making their case, having robust arguments with one another. The current broadcasting rules meant that broadcasters had too much power. That has led to, I think, an over-emphasis on process, on political strategy, rather than actually giving politicians the credit for doing what they do do most of the time, which is to say what it is that they actually believe.”

If politicians didn’t spend so much time committing horrendous process foul-ups, let alone failing to devise any coherent political strategy whatsoever, perhaps the press would not be so scathing. Political parties have their own websites from which to broadcast in unedited form. As Eustice’s own colleague Douglas Carswell put it last night: “The law should be changed to allow political parties to communicate directly with voters? Really?! Try blogging or twitter instead…” If the Tories want more airtime on their own terms then they should deregulate political advertising on TV… 

VIDEO: Guido and Co Giving Evidence at Privacy Committee

Apologies for the first few minutes of the feed, gets going about ten minutes in:

How ironic that at a hearing about privacy and free speech, only the chairman decides what can and cannot be said about a certain Tom Watson…

A Goodwin All Round

Lord Oakeshott, through a proxy, said in the House of Lords earlier:

“Would [the speaker] accept that every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland? So how can it be right for a superinjunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague? If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it.”

In March Guido told you about it, but had to adhere slightly to the courts. Sorry if you couldn’t quite work it out:

“So there was this ****** bloke who worked closely with another ****** colleague, they apparently began an adulterous affair not long after the ****ing crisis of 2008. He went to Court to stop it getting out that he had been banging her. Because he is the most notorious ****** of his generation he also banned references to his profession lest he be identified.”

Well that went well for Fred didn’t it? Worth every penny…

Silencing Court Jesters

The role of a court jester was subtler than you might think, he made fun of the king and his courtiers in such a way as to often tell truths which could not be said directly. A strong king did not fear the role of the jester, knowing it was a safety valve for dissent and an indirect source of intelligence that would be otherwise difficult to convey to his face. A wise king who was lucky enough to have a clever court jester could learn much from how the court reacted to his japes and court observers could learn from how the king reacted more than might otherwise have been known.

Only a king too weak or too arrogant would find a jester insufferable. Jesters strengthened kingdoms.

It seems to Guido that today the rich and the powerful are too arrogant and perhaps too afraid of the media, much as weak kings feared the jester, they fear an unfettered free press.

In an age of moral relativism the court of public opinion is so often the only one we have in which to judge public figures. The politician who disports himself naked in parliament – like Nigel Griffiths did – may feel no shame, his wife may be blameless, his party may stay silent, but should he really be able to hide his foolishness from the voters? Should he be able to go to the Courts to protect his privacy after literally cavorting with his lover in the public offices of parliament? He won an injunction to stop a free press reporting the full truth about him to his voters. That seems to Guido to be dangerous to our freedom and to the exercise of informed choice in a democracy.

Celebrities who use their wholesome image to endorse products similarly protect their commercial value using the Court to cover up their sordid reality.

Celebrities, soap stars and footballers go to Courts of Law to avoid being judged by the court of public opinion. If they succeed they escape censure and society is worse off in two ways; public figures get away with behaviour which society rightly disdains and they still manage to project a false self-image without the truth being exposed to the society they deceive. Secondly there will exist in society those who know the truth about public figures – mainly people in the media, politics and the law – and those who are kept ignorant like Roman plebeians.  That can’t be right.

Fear of widespread humiliation and popular opprobrium are two social restraints on the tendency of flawed humans to succumb to their baser instincts. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the characteristics which drive men to power are the same that make them scoundrels. If society wants those who rise to fame and fortune to behave less scandalously, society should keep the justified fear of exposure by a free press as a restraint. Muzzle the press by protecting the privacy of public figures and public life will be even more dominated by unreported scoundrels.

POLL : Permanently Marred?

As the anger grows over Andrew Marr’s audacity at paying to hide his own public interest story, while being paid to probe the lives of the rest of the political class, Guido thought he would gauge opinion:

Don’t forget we pay him £600,000 a year for the pleasure. No wonder he could afford the luxury of an injunction and to support a child that wasn’t even his.

Flashback – Jan' 08 : The Story You Won't Get From Them

Remember this one from January 2008. The shock and horror was quite a sight to see:

With Andrew Marr currently topping the Twitter trends in the UK, that well known Yes2AV campaigner with a superinunction must have shaky hands today while they are stuffing envelopes.

Secretive Marr in Action

As Labourlist point out, here’s Andrew Marr in action, while using the courts to keep discussion of his own life off of the television and out of the papers:

The politics of that story aside, Marr was not the right person to be seeking the truth. Was the BBC officially aware of the conflict of interest?

Quote of the Day

Gawker’s Nick Denton warns

“We all believed we could reach small audiences and advertisers would pay for that. But it did not pan out. The internet is mass media.”

Telegraph Totty Tossed Out

There has been a notable absence in the Telegraph newsroom recently. Many a hack has pondered what happened to the editor’s secretary cum beauty columnist Jane Cullen. Not only has she disappeared but apparently her desk has gone too. Jane’s vanishing act coincided with the hunt for the source of the Cable-gate tape leak, including his infamous “war on Murdoch” rant, to Robert Peston.

While Rob Winnett was suspected after vocally challenging the paper not revealing the whole story, what a coincidence that Jane was also secretary to the previous editor, and Peston’s mate, thirsty Will Lewis. Guido has noted Lewis and Peston’s mutually beneficial friendship before…

UPDATE : Other Telegraph sources insist it was a regular reorganisation redundancy.

Deal or No Deal?

Scotland’s disgrace of a Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said yesterday that a Wikileaks cable alleging that a UK government minister had advised the Libyans about how to get Al Megrahi released “vindicated” his decision to release Al Megrahi. Guido isn’t so sure given the terrorist released to die within three months is still standing.

This month’s Vanity Fair will make for awkward reading for not only MacAskill, but Blair, Straw and Salmond too. David Rose’s deep investigation concludes that Salmond had a remarkable change of heart about releasing the only person convicted of the mass murder on his patch after he cut a deal with Straw to save a few million. The Scottish executive was facing numerous legal cases over making prisoners use slop buckets. According to an official listening in to phone calls

“Salmond indicated that the Scottish government would drop its objections if the Parliament in Westminster would engineer an amendment to the Scotland Act,”

A change that would kill the legal action from former prisoners dead in the water. Salmond’s spokesman Kevin Pringle says the story is “complete and utter garbage without a shred or scintilla of truth.” That’s the same Kevin Pringle who doesn’t have the greatest track record in being open and frank with the facts.

Jemima Khan's Hypocrisy

Seeing a passing bandwagon, attention craving Jemima Khan decided to delve deep into her family’s wealth to help bail out Julian Assange. Explaining her decision she wrote:

“I believe that this is about censorship and intimidation… On the one hand, the US is proud of its First Amendment and its long-standing commitment to the freedom of speech…On the other hand, it is examining ways to take legal action against Assange, who is in effect editor of the world’s first stateless (non-profit) media organisation… WikiLeaks offers a new type of investigative journalism… I feel passionately that democracy needs a strong and free media.”

A noble sentiment perhaps, but Khan hasn’t always put her money where her mouth now is, in fact quite the opposite. She seems to have suffered slight amnesia forgetting the time when she wasn’t such an advocate for free speech. The Goldsmith consiglieres, with the aid of Carter Ruck, flipped a switch when their super-injunction gagging order was leaked to, wait for it… Wikileaks:

WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE / EDITORIAL
December 24, 2008

December the 15th saw a secret UK court hearing, with secret participants, produce a secret order to secretly gag the population, the terms of which are secret and the revelation of which is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment. How many of these orders exist is unknowable—we glimpse at the severity of the problem only when the orders are violated. So let’s start violating them.

Wikileaks previously released the gag order for the Northern Rock bank collapse, now we release the secret gag order made by High Court Justice Tugendhat on Dec 15, 2008 aimed at covering up an email leak from the British establishment. The secret order first targeted UK newspapers, but our copy was destined for the UK Parliamentary blogger ‘Guido Fawkes’, editor of ‘order-order.com‘. The summary states:

  1. The identities of the Applicants/Claimants must remain confidential.
  2. The fact of the existence of the Orders must remain confidential.
  3. The terms of the Orders must remain confidential.

The order concerns emails from Zac Goldsmith, a noted 2005 Conservative party recruit, and social climber sibling Jemima Khan. Both are heirs to the late billionaire financier Sir James Goldsmith. Needless to say there are no teachers, small business owners or technicians being granted secret media gag orders in the UK.

The order states that anyone who knows of the order must obey it, so plaintiff lawyers Carter Ruck have served the order on media outlets across the British Isles.

Britain is an increasingly dangerous Western disgrace, but you won’t hear about it in the British press.

Oh the irony, needless to say Guido told them to get stuffed

Elusive Assange E-FIT

The Mail says he is in south-east England, but Gawker says Wikileaks’ Julian Assange is drinking with a shaved head in Manhattan. So Interpol must be looking for someone like this:

Julian, come to Ireland, we’ve centuries of experience in hiding outlaws and the people are friendly with a soft-spot for trouble-makers. You can sleep in Guido’s barn…

Where's Billy?™ : Rifkind Revisited

Hillary Clinton said in her presser yesterday that “a counterpart” told her “well, don’t worry about it, you should hear what we say about you…” An interesting line, clearly from a native English speaker in its idiomatic use of “well” and “don’t worry about it”, which is bordering on slang. No one with English as a second language, however fluent, would ever come up with a line like that. Add a barbed sense of humour and the fingers are pointing at William Hague.

Talking of Hague, Guido isn’t the only one to have noticed that in the past few days former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has been put on Sky News, BBC News, BBC Radio 2, 4, 5 and Channel Four speaking about Wikileaks and other foreign policy issues. It’s almost as if the current Foreign Secretary has been sidelined and a new spokesman found. Guido can’t think why Hague might not want to hit the airwaves to discuss why the Americans were featuring his personal life in their intelligence dossiers. Rifkind seems well on top of the brief still and would be high up the list of likely candidates for the job, were a vacancy to arise…

UPDATE: Paul Waugh questions why Hague isn’t representing the UK on the international stage in Kazakhstan tomorrow.

It Was Ivan

Further to Guido’s speculation as to who is the “hound-dog” minister that the American diplomats referred to, an authoritative source gets in touch. Apparently it wasn’t Prezza who the American’s found handy, but none other than Ivan Sex Text Pest Lewis.

It was McBride that briefed the story to the News of the World, was he also gossiping with American diplomats? Guido wanted to ask Ivan how he felt about being described in such explicit ways, but it seems he isn’t so keen on phones anymore. No reply from his office yet…

UPDATE : Guido put it to someone in Ivan’s office that this was about to break. They said they were “aware”…

Hound Dog Minister

According to the Guardian one cable reveals how the US embassy in London passed on intelligence about a British Labour minister, picked up from civil servant contacts, saying he “reportedly remains a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned” he was “forced to apologize … to a female … who accused him of sexual harassment … and has had marital troubles in the last few years … Contacts who know him well report he has manic depressive tendencies – ‘he’s very up one minute, very down the next’, and at least one … colleague has described xxx as a ‘bully’.”

Guido’s money is on Prescott, this rumour went around some years ago and concerned not Tracey Temple but another civil servant. The Guardian’s quest for transparency has limits – they are holding back the name – your media betters keeping you in the dark…

UPDATE : Some suggestion that it is Ivan Lewis. To be fair, it could be any one of many randy Labour ministers…

+ + + Confirmed : D-Notice Issued Over Wikileaks + + +

Two issued of types:

DA-Notice 01: Military Operations, Plans & Capabilities

DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services

+ + + RUMOUR: D-Notice Issued on Wikileaks Stories + + +

The Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) which consists of top MOD civil servants and representatives from the media have according to Wikileaks issued a “D-Notice” – an attempt at a news black-out, on the imminent release by Wikileaks of two million diplomatic wire conversations between US Embassies and the White House/CIA. Rumours have been swirling around all day of US envoys meeting counterparts in Israel, London and Australia etc preparing them for extremely embarrassing news. Guido wonders what the US had to say about Blair, Brown and Cameron before bi-lateral meetings. Apparently Obama has been smoothing feathers on the phones.

Guido has just put a call in to Andrew Vallance, the DPBAC, secretary and is awaiting confirmation. If it is true something tells Guido that this isn’t going to work.

Remember what happened to Trafigura and their super-injunction…

Election Night Blogging from ITV News

Keep your tweets coming in if you are at counts, let Guido know what you are seeing in the real world rather than only online.

Log on to :

www.itv.com/news/election2010/

For instant rolling results from around the country.

Watch to see if Will Straw kicks off as his night falls apart…

Who Really Broke the Hoon-Hewitt Scoop?

As so often happens, who broke the story first is fiercely contested.  Guido doesn’t have a dog in this fight, but for the record, since the Staggers is trying to cite Guido as evidence to back up its claim that it broke the news, here is the timeline:

  • Unnoticed by Guido when it happened was Andy Sparrow’s PMQs live-blog, which had this at 11:57:

    11.57 am: Hot news: We’ve just heard that Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt are going to make some kind of statement about Brown’s leadership after PMQs. That’s all I know at the moment.

  • The first Guido knew was when someone shouted out across the newsroom after Andy Sparrow’s Tweet came up on the Guy News Tweetdeck screen, that was time-stamped at 12:01.
  • The Guardian’s website also had a teaser headline at 12:15.
  • The New Statesman at 12:17 publishes what it calls an Exclusive that “A letter is being circulated among Labour MPs this afternoon calling for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown’s leadership. According to one MP who would like Brown to leave office, the letter is being co-ordinated by a number of rebels, including the former cabinet ministers Charles Clarke, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon.”

So there you have it. The Guardian was first, though in the augmented reality of the Staggers It was the NS wot got itIn reality, you snooze, you lose, it ain’t news.

Sparrow told Guido that “it would be nice to take the credit myself, but actually Patrick Wintour obtained the information.” Incidentally, Guido understands that ITN’s Channel 4 News has changed policy on breaking news.  Whereas it restricted scoops to the 7 p.m. broadcast they now put it up as soon as they can on the website and tweet the link.  A cultural change for a mainstream media source.  Steve Hilton getting nicked was tweeted last night by Cathy Newman in advance of telly viewers being told.

It almost goes without saying that Guido tries to be first.  If not first, fast.  When inevitably occasionally wrong, not for long.  We no longer have news cycles, we have news streams…

Guido Killed the Lobby Star

guido killed the lobby starThe PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, yesterday announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings is to be reviewed  “in light of the changes in the reporting of the work of government in an increasingly fast-moving and on-line media world”. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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