Guido doesn’t want to grouse too heavily about fake news in The Guardian, he’d be here all day, though Sunday’s example really does fly in the face of accuracy. In the Observer, Helena Horton celebrated that it was “game over” for animal cruelty lovers as the Ritz takes grouse off their menu “in victory for environment campaigners”. Horton claimed:
“those hoping to eat the tiny game bird in the gilded Ritz dining room in London will be out of luck this year, as the world-famous hotel has quietly removed it from the menu after an outcry from environmental campaigners.”
Just one problem: the restaurant is adamant this is absolutely not true. Multiple approaches by Guido and co-conspirators have received this emphatic denial from the restaurant’s PR team:
“Yorkshire Grouse is on the menu in the Ritz Restaurant and has been since 12 August.”
In other words, the story’s central claim is for the birds. So why did the Observer say otherwise?
Firstly it appears Helena Horton’s source was Luke Steele, who first tweeted the claim, however has mysteriously since deleted his post. He’s introduced to readers as “executive director of wildlife campaign group Wild Moors”, with the paper overlooking his previous convictions for attacks on laboratories and harassment and intimidation of lab workers. Perhaps not an entirely reliable starting point…
Then there’s Helena herself, who long-reading co-conspirators may remember. Back in 2019 while at the Telegraph she wrote a sensationalist piece claiming British trophy hunters were going to Iceland to hunt puffins, 100 at a time, and bringing their carcasses back to the UK. Guido did a fact check of this at the time and, once again, there was no foundation in truth. Repetitions of Helena’s claim were deleted by the Independent, Mirror and Metro, however her fake news stayed up.
The Countryside Alliance is reporting a much better year for grouse numbers this year – no doubt a relief for many living and working in otherwise very isolated Moorland communities. They have made a formal complaint to the Observer over the story. Based on her past precedent at the Telegraph, Guido doubts Helena will back down…
Over the weekend, Will Hutton used his Observer column to rubbish Truss’s economic plans and peddle the typical Remainer refrain that Brexit has killed UK exports:
“As British exports stagnate, there is not a nod to the role of trade as a propellant of growth. The UK, as the second largest exporter of services in the world […] is locked out of the country’s largest markets in Europe. It is a growth plan built on sand.”
This is a myth that frequently appears in Guardian and Observer column inches, despite all the inconvenient evidence to the contrary. As Guido reported in January, a report by the City of London Corporation found that London is still the top overall destination for financial services worldwide – including as the leading foreign exchange trading centre – thanks to an “unmatched international financial reach” across 95 metrics. The Global Financial Centres Index 2021 also put London second behind only New York as the top financial hub in the world.
And for all the EU’s incessant sabre-rattling, the London Stock Exchange’s London Clearing House unit is still clearing 90% of euro interest rate derivatives, with the EU in February even extending permission for Britain’s clearing houses to continue serving European customers until at least 2025. The City is still a financial powerhouse, despite what Remainers pretend to believe…
As Tim Worstall blogged for the Adam Smith Institute yesterday:
“It’s not about trade barriers nor being inside them. In fact, London has often benefitted from being well outside regulatory systems – the Eurobond market is proof of that.”
As for British exports “stagnating“, last month British exports to the EU hit their highest level ever according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Hardly “locked out” of the markets then…
It looks like an Observer scoop may have landed the paper and the LibDems in hot water over a breach in electoral law. It’s entirely common to see ‘leaks’ of “internal polling” during elections for obvious reasons, however an excerpt from the Sunday paper went one step further – referring to “internal polling based on postal votes”:
“According to internal polling based on postal votes, party insiders say the Lib Dem vote has risen from ◼️% to ◼️% in the past fortnight, while the Tory vote has fallen from ◼️% to ◼️%.”
The rules about publishing information to do with postal voting are very handily outlined on the blog of LibDem president and electoral law boffin Mark Pack:
“66A Prohibition on publication of exit polls.
- No person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed—
- any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or
- any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
- This section applies to—
- any parliamentary election; and
- any local government election in England or Wales.
- If a person acts in contravention of subsection (1) above, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
- In this section—
- “forecast” includes estimate;
- “publish” means make available to the public at large, or any section of the public, in whatever form and by whatever means;
and any reference to the result of an election is a reference to the result of the election either as a whole or so far as any particular candidate or candidates at the election is or are concerned”
Given it’s reasonable to suggest any statement showing figures based on postal voting returns is in contravention of the above section, both the LibDems’ leak and the Observer look like they’ve breached the rules. To ensure compliance with electoral law, co-conspirators will note Guido has not published the data in the excerpt above…
UPDATE: The LibDems now claim that the data was, in fact, from a “canvas of postal voters” and that “Not a single postal ballot has yet been opened”. A clarification they didn’t ask the Observer to make…
Today’s Guardian splashed on revelations the Queen asked ministers to change a proposed law to prevent her private wealth being revealed. The story itself is making a mountain out of a constitutional molehill, with yesterday’s story claiming Geoffrey Howe “appeared to have disclosed the role” of the Queen “in a previously unnoticed speech” in the Commons. “Previously unnoticed” is doing The Guardian an historic disservice, given the day after Howe made the speech they splashed the row on their own front page…
The Times reported specifically on Howe’s speech and the Financial Times wrote “A former senior Conservative Minister said he only came to deal with the Bill after it had been “discussed by the DTI and the Palace.” Give it another 45 years and The Guardian will once again re-cover this “unreported” story for a third time…
Despite hysterical claims from some left-wing newspapers that EU exports had dropped by 68% in January, Dover Ports have announced that trade has already bounced back to 90% of volumes typical for this time of year. And that is despite the requirement for hauliers to have a negative Covid test.
In reality, the 68% drop in January was a combination of Covid restrictions, cautious stockpiling before the 31st in case of No Deal, and learning new systems. The further from January 1st things have moved, the more trade flows have been returning to normal. A statement from Dover Port today announced that:
“A month on since the end of the Brexit transition period, the Port of Dover is pleased to already be welcoming over 90% of the freight traffic volumes typical of this time of year following the significant stockpiling experienced before Christmas.”
“The message to hauliers is that as long as you come to Kent border ready and with a negative COVID test, then it won’t be long before you are on your way to France on the shortest ferry crossing.”
Yesterday’s Observer front page cobbled together a group of scientists to claim ‘Cummings has broken trust in Covid policy’. Unsurprisingly many of the names are better known to the media for their political activism than their scientific work. Guido drilled down into the list and found that out of the 26 names mentioned, 21 of them are either anti-Tory or anti-Brexit. Others are not expert in the field they are commenting upon. A classic case of ‘expert’ activists…
See the full list here: