Sunak has been tooling up in the North East today. He has an interesting method when it comes to using a hammer. To be fair, he’s never claimed to be the son of a toolmaker…
UPDATE: Rishi appears to have been told to use the side of the hammer by the metalworker.
New from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee:
“The CMS Committee has today written to ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall to ask her to attend Parliament to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling. The session will take place on Wednesday 14th June at 10am.”
A whole committee session dedicated to Schofield. Time to Phil in all the details…
Read the letters below:
Rishi’s just wrapped up a cosy This Morning interview on ITV, with the presenters lightly grilling him on inflation, tax cuts, and the far more substantive question of his McDonald’s order yesterday. Despite failing to probe Rishi on Guido’s allegation that his contactless payment photo was faked for Instagram, he was at least asked for his go-to order:
“I was there at about, gosh, 7.45 in the morning so it was not a burger and nuggets! I get bacon roll with ketchup and the pancakes.
“I didn’t yesterday but if I’m with my daughters then we get the wrap. My eldest daughter, we get the wrap so if I’m with her that wrap with the hashbrown and everything in it is what we do.”
There’s just one problem with this anecdote, leaving Rishi with egg on his face: McDonald’s haven’t served the breakfast wrap since March 2020, when they massively slimmed down their menu during Covid. They then formally discontinued the wrap in January this year. Rishi must really try and ketchup with the chain’s menu developments…
Rishi’s always presented himself as a Cameroon and now he’s fallen into the same trap Dave, when the PM recalled last buying a pasty from Leeds train station despite the chain having closed down some years prior. What a pair of silly sausages…
UPDATE: Team Rishi get in touch with a defence:
“Given he’s barely seen his kids in the last 2 and half years since he became chancellor it’s not beyond the wit of man that he hasn’t had a Mcdonald’s with them in that time”
With Paul Brand racking up so many Partygate scoops, naturally social media would start questioning his sources. It wasn’t long before it was spotted his husband is a deputy director at the Cabinet Office, though anyone in the media would know this to be far too blatant for either half of the marriage to risk it. Another rumour reached Guido via two sources – one of them ministerial – this morning, however, that Brand’s husband himself had received a Fixed Penalty Notice. A rumour too important to overlook.
Half an hour ago, Guido spoke to Paul Brand, he “categorically denied” the rumour, no ifs, no buts, and said his partner hadn’t been to any so-called parties and was mostly working from home. He said such were the number of trolls making the claim online he was approaching the point where he might have to address the rumours publicly. It seems Guido’s call caused Brand to re-assess and tweet a statement preemptively:
I'm so grateful to those who've ignored and deleted all the weird stuff. It's been an education in how disinformation spreads. Inevitably it became pretty homophobic and grim so in order to protect the people I love I felt I had to tweet this. Now, back to my work...— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) May 24, 2022
Guido’s very happy to have helped Paul clear up this whole debacle…
Last night’s Partygate photos, taken at Lee Cain’s leaving drinks on 13th November 2020, will prove difficult terrain for the PM, even after having escaped a second fine from the Met’s investigation last week. In November 2020 the country was in a full national lockdown, with gatherings only permitted if “reasonable” for work…
As with the birthday cake debacle, details of the gathering were leaked to the press contemporaneously, to very little fanfare. On 15th November 2020, two days after the event, the Telegraph revealed Boris gave “a leaving speech” for Cain, who was then cheered out by colleagues:
“The Telegraph has learnt that Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Mr Cain, who stayed in Number 10 for hours after Mr Cummings had departed. One member of staff said: “It was a very warm speech, the Prime Minister talked about how good a friend Lee had been and how they would continue to be friends. It was a nice gesture…
Former journalist Mr Cain was then “banged out” by colleagues, a tradition borrowed from Fleet Street, in which people thump on desks to show their affection for a departing co-worker”
The Sunday Times ran with a similar line on the 14th:
“Johnson visited Cain in his office and signed a pair of boxing gloves emblazoned with “Get Brexit done” before making a speech wishing him well. “He’s the only one of my staff who always answers phone calls, no matter what time of day or night,” Johnson said, adding: “I sometimes wait for days for Dom to return them.””
At the time, the focus was naturally on the circumstances of Cain and Cummings’ departure – not the farewell speech afterwards, though not a single member of the media decided to go through Covid laws line-by-line to see if it was permissible. Of course, there may well be more incriminating evidence to come, and it’ll likely be a sticky wicket for Boris to defend in front of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee. Still, Guido struggles to see the difference between wine and crisps in Downing Street, and beer and curry in Durham…
The ongoing fun at TalkTV’s expense has pushed Guido to reflect at length on something that he has thought for a while. There’s too much broadcast political content chasing too small an audience and it will end in tears – for shareholders.
Guido had his second watch of Piers Morgan’s show last night, and by the standards of most current affairs shows, it is better-than-average infotainment. He’s doing issues in an accessible way, a bit more tabloid than say Peston, with much more show business than Marr used to put on his Sunday morning show. Will it work in the sense of making a profit? That remains to be seen. The economics of television favour mass market products; politics-focused television products lose money because politics is, in general, a minority interest and there are just not enough people in the UK to make that minority pay. ITV has always regarded politics as a loss leader, so TalkTV and GB News are attempting to do what no British commercial broadcaster has ever done. They are trying to do politics for profit.
The British television audience is one fifth the size of the US television audience, which is why Fox News, MSNBC and CNN can make money. Although CNN+, the channel’s new streaming venture, failed and shut down after just one month. In the UK magazines, think tanks and online political enterprises have all launched video shows and podcasts of varying quality to service political geeks. Content that mostly preaches to the choir, be it their readers or the ideologically allied. These are niche ventures that build brand loyalty and increase subscriptions and donations. The Spectator’s family of podcasts drive magazine subscriptions, and are financed by sponsors wanting to be associated with the glossy magazine and reach their affluent readers. On the left, Novara’s professional high production values and left-wing critiques give comrades Sarkar and Bastani a measurably bigger reach than TalkTV, funded largely by the donations of their left-wing fans. One think-tank boss told Guido that if their policy wonk focused videos reach just 500 people, that is ten times as many as would ever turn up to a policy seminar – if one donor likes what they see and makes a £50,000 donation, that pays for a lot of cheaply produced online videos spreading their message. The financial logic of these ventures is that they spread the brand message and are self-funding.
These online-only narrowcasters don’t pay presenters millions and don’t have the infrastructure of legacy broadcasters, with purpose built studios, satellite fees, network fees and big production staff head-counts. Yes, the production values are lower, yet viewers don’t seem to mind and they have surprisingly big audiences. They will continue to thrive.
The new channels – GB News and TalkTV – have gone for the infrastructure of legacy broadcasters, in the full knowledge that Sky News loses £20 million-a-year and that the BBC News Channel has a tiny audience by BBC standards. Whilst GB News is doing things on a tighter budget, break-even is still some way away. What takes these channels into profitability will be multiplying their audiences ten times. Good luck with that…