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…

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.

Owen’s Descent Continues

The descent of Owen Jones this year has been watched through the fingers of journalists and Labour politicians and aides alike. It seems that almost every day Owen is falling out with people who should be his allies, getting involved in nasty Twitter spats with Labour moderates, making uncharacteristically foolish mistakes, starting embarrassing fights and acting like a pro-Corbyn Andrew Adonis. As he seeks to overcompensate for his betrayal of Corbyn before the election, Owen has alienated his Guardian colleagues, probably the majority of Labour MPs, and today he has put a bomb under what was left of his reputation among journalists with the type of ill-thought out moan that has sadly become all too common:

Cue some harsh but fair takedowns:

This last point seems to be the trigger for Owen’s behaviour. Corbynistas who Guido speaks to freely admit that Jezza’s inner circle will never let him back in after what he did to them last year. He does not seem to be taking that well, to put it mildly. The sad demise of someone who was once the rising star of the left…

Owen Jones Tries to Get Andrew Neil Sacked From BBC

Owen Jones has written a long whinge about Andrew Neil calling for him to be “freed” from the BBC. The last person to demand Brillo’s sacking was Andrew Adonis, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of Owen at the moment. His article has also been endorsed by Kremlin useful idiot Chris Williamson, who was never really one for press freedom. 

Brillo is objectively Britain’s best political interviewer – and he dishes it out equally to Brexiters, Remainers, Tories and Labour spokesmen. The only people with a reason to want him out are those seeking to swerve accountability, something which caught up with Owen in the video above. Naturally we have never heard any complaints from Owen about the likes of James O’Brien presenting the Beeb’s political programmes. A taste of Corbyn’s Britain, where his commissars choose which journalists get to interview Labour politicians on the BBC. Chilling…

UPDATE: It seems like only yesterday that Momentum were lionising Brillo…

590 Million Facebook Profiles Potentially Harvested By Guardian App

The Observer’s main revelation over the last couple of weeks has been their claim that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook accounts. They found that CA’s Aleksander Kogan collected data from 270,000 accounts and was able to access data from all their friends – on average 185 users per account – making up a total of 50 million. This does seem to add up, the most recent figures suggest the median number of Facebook friends per account is just under 200. 

The Guardian app’s privacy policy reveals they also collect data from your Facebook account, and the accounts of all your friends. This data includes “your name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings, as well as the user details of your Facebook friends”. You have to give permission to have your data, and that of your friends, collected if you want to use the app. This has been happening for years…

The Guardian say their app has 3.2 million active users. If those users have on average 185 Facebook friends each, that means the Guardian has potentially accessed the personal Facebook data of something like 592 million accounts. That is more than ten times the number Cambridge Analytica reportedly got hold of. This is a conservative estimate as it only includes “active” users of the Guardian app – it will have been downloaded by many more down the years. Will Damian Collins be hauling the head of data and CEO of the Guardian in front of his select committee?

Guardian App Harvests Your and Your Friends’ Facebook Data

The Guardian app harvests your personal data from your Facebook page and also the data of all of your friends – the exact same central allegation the Observer has been making against Cambridge Analytica. The privacy policy of the Guardian Facebook app makes clear if you don’t grant permission to have your and your friends’ social media data harvested you cannot use the app:

When you first access the App, for example by clicking on a link to a Guardian article from your Facebook newsfeed, you will be presented with a Facebook permissions page, which will advise you about the Facebook information you will be sharing with the App and other Facebook users. You can then decide whether or not to share your Facebook information by using the App. If you decide not to grant permission you will not be able to use the App. 

By granting permission you will be agreeing to share your Facebook user details (including your name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings) as well as the user details of your Facebook friends, and information about your use of the App, for example, the articles you are reading.”

The Guardian’s general privacy policy also reveals they sell your “behavioural data” to third parties:

“We may also share anonymised behavioural data with advertising partners, including commercial organisations that fund content labelled ‘Supported by’, ‘Paid content/Paid for by’ or ‘Advertiser content/from our advertisers’. This may mean that when you are on other websites, you will be shown advertising based on your behaviour on theguardian.com. We may also show you advertising on our site based on your behaviour on other sites.

They also reveal the Guardian uses data from third-party surveys – this is exactly how Aleksandr Kogan got his data for Cambridge Analytica:

“To assist us in our marketing, in addition to the data that you provide to us if you register, we may also obtain data from trusted third parties to help us understand what you might be interested in. This ‘profiling’ information is produced from a variety of sources, including publicly available data (such as the electoral roll) or from sources such as surveys and polls where you have given your permission for your data to be shared.”

Did the Guardian sell your behavioural data to Cambridge Analytica? Are they the missing piece of the jigsaw that blows this whole conspiracy wide open? Over to you, Carole…

Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line

Curious about-turn at the Guardian over the last 24 hours. Thursday’s paper ran this strong leader criticising Corbyn and backing Theresa May’s conclusion on Russian responsibility:

“Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power… Britain has been targeted with a chemical weapon and it is almost certain that there is only one plausible culprit with the means and the motive. The prime minister might not have as many tools for retaliation, unilateral or international, as she would like. But she has judged correctly that the time for equivocation, given the sinister nature of Mr Putin’s regime, is over.”

Yet this morning’s paper pours scorn on the previous day’s leader, running a story headlined: “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok”. It echoes Seumas Milne’s line comparing the situation to Iraqi WMD, and quotes “arguments” on “social media” that the novichok could have come from “some non-state group, maybe criminals”. It even links to the infamous conspiracy theorist Craig Murray’s blog claiming “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise Novichoks”. The decision to promote a source like Murray, a man who has spent time in a residential mental health facility, has caused bewilderment in the Guardian newsroom…

Guardian hacks are wondering why their paper’s line has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. They doubt a respected journalist like Ewan MacAskill would write such an odd piece without instructions from above. Surely nothing to do with Seumas giving his old friend Kath Viner Corbyn’s big op-ed this morning…

Guardian Women Protest at Owen Jones: “Even the Spectator is More Feminist Than Us”

The trans versus feminist culture war has a new battleground: the Guardian newsroom. Owen Jones has been leading the fight for self-defining trans people – those who identify as women without any medical change to their gender – to be allowed onto Labour’s all-women shortlists. This viewpoint is extremely unpopular with many non-millennial feminists, who have serious concerns about whether it really advances gender equality. There is increasing angst among feminist journalists at the Guardian who believe that Owen and other men on the trans side are mansplaining all-women shortlists to them. When Owen gloated on Tuesday that feminists had “overplayed their hand”, a few hours later Guardian writer and feminist Hadley Freeman sent what King’s Place colleagues are calling two epic subtweets:

Several female Guardianistas believe Owen’s influence and platform pushing the trans issue is causing large numbers of feminists to regard the Guardian as anti-women. They have been sharing Mumsnet chats which show Owen’s campaigning is immensely unpopular among female Guardian readers (Mumsnet, founded by Justine Roberts, the wife of Ian Katz, is at the centre of the Guardianista world). They are noting that this week’s Spectator carries a piece from Judith Green, one of the co-founders of Woman’s Place UK, making the feminist case on all-women’s shortlists. Several Guardian feminists have been arguing internally this week that: “Even the Spectator is more feminist than us”. Owen’s trick of calling feminists who disagree with him bigots is hardly repairing relations with Guardian women who feel feminists are finding it easier to get a platform in the Spectator than the Guardian…

Thornberry’s Guardian Saudi Article: Before and After

The Guardian quickly ditched the pro-Saudi Crown Prince advert on Emily Thornberry’s piece declaring his London visit this week “shameless”. Not quite quickly enough…

Guardian ‘Sat on Charity Sex Abuse Scandal Stories’

The Guardian sat on stories from charity sex abuse victims, according to claims made by an industry insider. An ‘overseas aid expert’ writing under a pseudonym told the OpenDemocracy website:

“Why didn’t the complainants go to somewhere like the Guardian? They did.

“These victims are not typical Mail and Telegraph readers and they understood that a story about a lack of accountability in an aid organization will likely be followed in those newspapers by calls for less foreign aid. None of the victims support that goal. What they want is aid plus accountability.  

“Almost all of the complainants went to the Guardian first. Different Guardian journalists were contacted, but all went quiet. One told me: “I just wanted to say I haven’t forgotten about this. Unfortunately the decision to work on the story or not is above my station, so I’m just waiting for a decision either way…” Later, when I asked if they had heard back the same journalist said: “I haven’t unfortunately. It was passed onto powers that be. At the moment it’s looking like it’s not going to run… I presume after some weighing of pros and cons.”

The writer then claims the whistleblowers turned to the right-leaning press: “When the Guardian sat on the story a subsection of the whistleblowers went to the Mail and the Telegraph, who ran it with many fewer sources.” The importance of a plural media…

UPDATE: Priti Patel tells the Sun:

“The Guardian and Save the Children should be apologising to the victims of these horrendous acts who have been let down by their appalling conduct and the subsequent cover-up. They have shown a callous lack of responsibility and a complete betrayal of the victims.”

Waterson New Guardian Media Editor

Buzzfeed’s political editor Jim Waterson has joined the Guardian as their new media editor. Looks like the competition just went up a notch. Will the last person to leave Buzzfeed please turn off the fridge full of free beer?

Corbyn Interview Removed From Guardian Website “Pending Investigation”

Following Guido’s story this morning, Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with a Corbynista YouTube star who sent N-word, “Jew” and Hitler tweets has been removed from the Guardian website “pending investigation“. Down the memory hole…

Epic Guardian Unpaid Internship Hypocrisy

Today’s Guardian splash backs the government’s crackdown on unpaid internships, exclusively revealing that “HM Revenue & Customs is expected to target sectors such as media” and criticising Vogue and its publisher Conde Nast for offering placements without pay. It is a pretty bold front page given that just last week the paper was embarrassed by a young journalist on Twitter who revealed he had just been on an unpaid internship at… the Guardian. Of course this is the same Guardian which last year offered an internship scheme to ethnic minority candidates, telling them “the scheme is unpaid”. And the same Guardian which offers “editorial work” internships – real work – again telling applicants “these placements at the Guardian and Observer are unpaid”. If the government’s unpaid internship crackdown is targeting the media, they should start with the paper to which they briefed the story… 

Guardian Writer Working For Dent Coad

Barmy MP Emma Dent Coad has hired Guardian writer Liam Young to work in her parliamentary office, not that they mention that anywhere on his columns. Leftie scribe Young is also a columnist for the newspaper – so he has plenty of work on his plate. Would be more than a bit weird for the Mail, Sun or Telegraph to hire a paid-up Tory researcher as a columnist and not disclose their job to readers.

Also worth pointing out that Dent Coad’s daughter is still on the latest register of member’s staff (meaning she has a parliamentary pass). Despite the MP telling Guido the pass had been given up in November…

Guardian Unpaid Internship Request Backfires

What could go wrong with the Guardian asking for readers’ experiences with unpaid internships?

Oh.

That would be the same Guardian which runs articles about how “unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism”…

Rusbridger’s Daughter Complains Toff Too Privileged to Have Newspaper Column

An epic whinge from Vice’s Bella Mackie after reading that I’m a Celeb’s Toff has landed a column with Sunday Times Style. Bella reckons Toff is too privileged to deserve her new platform:

That would be Bella Mackie, who made it in journalism after getting a job at the Guardian, where her father Alan Rusbridger was the editor. In terms of privilege and media careers not sure Bella has a leg to stand on. Toff has probably had to work harder to get a column than Bella did to get a job at the Guardian…

‘Michael White Smacked My Bottom’

The #MeToo movement claims another… former doyen of the Lobby and top Guardianista Sir Michael White has been accused of smacking a young female journalist on the bottom. Angella Johnson, a feature writer at the Mail on Sunday, tweets:

Mike does not deny the charge, claims he too is a victim and says Angella should have taken it as a compliment:

Remember Mike thinks it is actually female journalists who are the predators. “Much younger”? He’s only been married a few decades…

Guardian and BBC Fail to Mention Kerslake is Labour Adviser

The Guardian published a resignation letter from crossbencher Lord Bob Kerslake who has stepped down as Chair of King’s College Hospital Trust in protest at “dire NHS funding problems”. The paper described him as follows:

“Bob Kerslake was chairman of King’s College hospital, London. He is a member of the House of Lords, president of the Local Government Association and former head of the civil service and permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.”

Yeah, sort of. What the Guardian – and subsequently BBC Breakfast and other outlets – have omitted to mention is that Kerslake has been undertaking work for John McDonnell’s Shadow Treasury Team for more than two years. At conference McDonnell boasted about commissioning Kerslake to write a series of “implementation manuals” for the Labour manifesto, meaning Kerslake is effectively drafting the details of Labour’s proposed legislative programme. McDonnell said:

“We’re taking each policy and we’re developing an implementation manual… We’re looking at what legislation is needed, so we will have draft legislation ready to go, we’re bringing civil servants like Lord Bob Kerslake to train our teams on how you implement these policies and we’re taking advice from past ministers as well.”

Labour has also held Shadow Cabinet training days with Kerslake. McDonnell said in June:

“We’re trying to do a training exercise where we’re bringing in people like Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, to work with them on things like what it would be like to be a minister, what their first day will be like, what their first 100 days will be like. So they feel confident about that as well.”

It doesn’t stop there. Kerslake led an independent review into the Treasury for McDonnell, announced in September 2015. McDonnell said at the time:

“Labour asked Sir Bob Kerslake to head up a review into the Treasury because we needed to have a serious and thorough examination of one of the most important pillars of government, and the cornerstone of economic policy making in our country…  I would also like thank Sir Bob Kerslake for his time, energy and expertise in producing this report for Labour.”

McDonnell’s spokesman insisted Kerslake is “independent”:

You can decide for yourself…

UPDATE: Sky News reports that Kerslake was asked to consider his position by NHS Improvement Chairwoman Baroness Harding on Friday.

Order of the OTT: Guardian Says “We’ll All Starve” Due to Brexit

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.

McDonnell and Guardian’s Offshore Investments

John McDonnell is going on the attack over the Paradise Papers, insisting: “Where the Tories refuse to act, Labour will end the era of government turning a blind eye to the scandal of tax avoidance by clamping down on tax havens and ending the loopholes”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Dominic Cummings tells Damian Collins:

“You talk of ‘contempt of Parliament’. You seem unaware that most of the country feels contempt for Parliament and this contempt is growing.”

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