Profundity of the Punditry: Boris Takes Centre Stage

Yesterday’s papers and broadcasters reported that Boris was to be sidelined during the election – Sky News said definitively that he “won’t take centre stage”, the Times said the same though added a source quote informing readers their story was “b*llocks”. Today’s Times says “Johnson to be Tory TV poster boy”, he gave a major speech last night, has an article in The Sun this morning, has just been on Good Morning Britain, LBC and the Today programme and is about to tour the TV studios. Boris is obviously one of the Tories’ main electoral assets, he reaches the places other Tories cannot and will be key to converting Labour Leave voters. You have to read anti-Boris stories through the jealous eyes of his former colleagues in journalism…

Cheer Up Joyless Columnists, You Have Given Us Much Laughs

Can’t help feeling today that Rafael isn’t going to the same parties as Guido. Must be pretty tough for Rafael at the moment. He’s a centrist, liberal metropolitan political commentator. Broadsheets have an excess inventory of those type of columnists nowadays don’t they? “They write authoritatively, shame it is all bollocks” was a country-dwelling, right-of-centre columnist’s description of his rivals to Guido at a jolly Christmas drinks party. Unfortunately the lumpen liberal wordsmiths don’t go to dinner parties with Corbyn, May or Trump. Worse still they don’t even know people who go to dinner parties with Corbyn, May or Trump…

At some point they must fear that editors are going to realise that this type of columnist is a little surplus to reader requirements and not in the main game any more. Why else might Rafael, and other columnists of his ilk, be joyless?

  • He’s Blairite or whatever they call themselves nowadays. Their host party has been taken over by Corbynista loo-las.
  • He didn’t expect Brexit. Now all the wrong people are enjoying themselves and partying.
  • He was looking forward to President Hillary. She’s their kinda gal. They got Trump.
  • He’s a Guardian journalist. The paper had a billion dollar endowment to last them in perpetuity. They are now losing so much money it won’t last them a decade. Look at what happened to the Indy.

Today is the darkest day of the year, tomorrow it gets lighter. So cheer up Rafael and a hearty Merry Christmas to all the columnists who have had a very difficult and traumatic year: Zoe, Janan, Hugo, Matthew, Matthew, Phil, Philip, John, Gaby, Polly, Jonathan and Marina. You have given the rest of us unintended laughs all year long… 

Boris 2020

owen-boris-2020

The Commentariat that told you the Tories couldn’t win a majority and Corbyn was a no-hoper now tell us that George Osborne is a shoo-in to succeed Cameron in 2019 before becoming PM in 2020. Unfortunately Boris hasn’t got the memo…

Last night at a drinks reception (excellent cheese and cracker canapes sourced by the host’s favourite artisan cheesemonger) for his 2020 think-tank, Owen Paterson announced that he would be drawing up a set of robust Tory policies for whoever wants to stand as leader to adopt. The room was a who’s who of right-wingers, from Norman Tebbit to Charles Moore, though no likely leadership candidates showed their face at the actual event. Timely then to mention that the night before Guido spied Owen Paterson and Boris Johnson deep in a conspiratorial conversation in parliament…

Dan Hodges’ Labour Leadership Journey in Full

Dan Hodges has had more flip flops in the Labour leadership race than an Ibiza beach rave:

June 9: “Will Labour choose a Tony Blair or a Neil Kinnock? Liz Kendall is Toni Blair. Young. Tough. Single-minded. Kendall has already set out the most challenging critique of why her party lost in May. She represents the best chance of unleashing the slingshot that downs the Tory Goliath… Yvette Cooper is Toni Kinnock… Keep a close eye for whether it’s Neil Kinnock or Tony Blair who tops the ballot.”

July 2: “The Labour Party should elect Yvette Cooper as its next leader. And – more importantly – it should be the Blairite, modernising faction within the Labour Party that delivers her victory and is seen to deliver her victory.”

July 27: The only way Labour can win the next election is to elect Corbyn now… I’ve signed up again precisely so I can be part of that wave of support for Jeremy Corbyn myself. It’s 23 months since I left Labour because it opposed the bombing of Syria. Now I’ve rejoined so I can vote for a man who helps lead the Stop The War coalition. Which I suppose indicates I’ve been on a bit of a journey.”

August 13: 

With four weeks to go he still has time to change his mind at least another couple of times…

While Guido is at it, how many days is it since Hodges promised to streak naked down Whitehall? 97 days have passed since the election and we still haven’t seen Dan in his birthday suit…

Lobby Boris Bubble Deflates Embarrassingly Quickly in Newark

Astoundingly incompetent analysis from much of the political media this evening speculating on Boris standing in Newark. Only one problem – the local Tories have already selected their candidate back in November. CCHQ have been on a by-election footing for weeks as Guido reported in The Sun two weeks ago.

Michael Crick on Channel 4 News and the BBC’s Nick Robinson as well as Norman Smith have both been speculating that Boris might stand in Newark.  A little bit of investigative Googling would have revealed Robert Jenrick’s web page on conservatives.com.robert-jenrick

And his Twitter feed:

robert-jenrick

Or the press release

Cllr Stuart Wallace, Chairman of Newark Conservative Association, said:

“The Association wish to express our thanks for the work Patrick has done for Newark and for many of his constituents individually, over the last 13 years, both as a Conservative and as an Independent MP.

“Following Patrick’s earlier decision not to stand again, we selected a superb candidate, Robert Jenrick, who has already been very active locally.

“The Association are united in support for Robert and will be campaigning to ensure that he will be elected as Newark’s next MP.”

Doh!

Pundit’s “Budget for the Old” Wins Youth Vote Weird Ed Has Lost Younger Voters Since Budget

If you read the pundits, for example  and , the budget was aimed at older voters to counteract UKIP’s attraction to older more traditional small ‘c’ conservative voters. This is the pundit’s explanation for the poll lead collapse by Labour – now down to just 1%. Pundits claim Osborne has cunningly found granny’s political g-spot.

Has he really? Here is the move post budget in Tory support:

tory-budget-poll

Younger voters up 5%, middle years up 3%, grey-haired support unchanged for the Tories. Whereas for Ed Miliband:

lab-budget-poll

Labour has actually gained older voters perhaps nostalgic for the Kinnock type socialism now offered by Miliband. Weird Ed has lost 6% support from young voters, slightly less from middle age voters and gained 2% more support from aging lefties. Don’t think this is a random poll error – the YouGov results above are based on combining 8 polls to give some good sample sizes. Pundits will no doubt mull this over and recalibrate their musings. Guido has a working hypothesis, backed up by some data: Ed just isn’t cool. He’s an uncool weirdo that younger voters don’t want to be associated with, he has loser written all over him. 51 per cent of 18-24 year olds describe Ed Miliband as weird, the percentage of the Shadow Cabinet that agrees is even higher…

Today's Newspaper Health Advice in Full

Guido’s off to lunch…

Data Shows Cost-of-Living Crisis About to End

The consensus of broadsheet pundits is that Ed has, with his cost-of-living crisis line that prices are rising faster than wages, nimbly and cleverly switched from a losing argument on the economy to a winning “retail offer”. Guido thinks this successfully plays into the British national psyche; grumbling about both the weather and the cost of things rising. However as the economy rises unemployment falls and earnings will caeteris paribus begin to outstrip inflation as sure as the sun rises. The ONS data shows this is about to happen…

cpi-v-median-earnings

Guido is beginning to worry that Miliband, like his former mentor Gordon Brown, hasn’t really got a strategy. The whole “too far, too fast” thing was bound to end in tears unless there was a permanent recession. As it happened the predictions by Ed Balls of a triple-dip turned out to be über-pessimistic, statisticians say there wasn’t even a double-dip. The only recession the UK suffered originated under Gordon Brown.

The energy cost argument still generates headlines, however international comparisons show that UK energy costs are middle of the league table for Europe – though US fracking and shale gas means their energy costs are way below ours. Fracking however is opposed by Ed Miliband.

What then? Having lost the argument on debt and the economy, followed – food banks notwithstanding – by the cost-of-living crisis evaporating, Labour will have to change tack again. Labour can’t fight on economic competence, because so contaminated is Ed Balls that he even loses to George Osborne. Labour are blamed for the economic mess and are suspected by the voters of still being untrustworthy on dealing with the deficit and debts. They would be unwise to fight on leadership; “weak and weird” Ed versus “posh and out of touch” Dave is not a great prospect for Labour.

Guido’s guess is they will try to have it both ways, partially accept the coalition’s spending envelope and pretend they can tax their way to prosperity. A policy Miliband’s socialist frère Hollande has now abandoned. All the chatter (spun by his adviser Stewart Wood) about Ed’s plans for “big changes in our economy” – a strategy based on East Coast academic theories from Harvard professors on new “Varieties of Capitalism” – will have Lynton Crosby crying with laughter into his (Australian) Chardonnay. Doesn’t mean Miliband isn’t going to try it…

UPDATE: The FT has surveyed economists and they mostly think households will start to feel better off – this is after consumer confidence surged 20% in 2013. Well spotted economists…

ft-survey-economists

Another Underw-Helm-ing Week at the Observer

Another stunning scoop from Westminster’s finest political editor. Fresh from his “someone was mean to me on the internet” splash a few months back this journalist of unrivalled political acumen has revealed in the Observer that leaders of rival political parties are not welcome in the secure zones of their rival’s conferences. So Farage will not be allowed to speak at Tory conference, nor presumably will Ed Miliband. This narrative smashing revelation is surely worthy of some sort of prize? Lets all give Toby Helm a big round of applause…

Guido will have another struggling Sunday pundit getting desperate later…

Andrew Wrongsley

Super-connected and popular sage Andrew Rawnsley told his dwindling Observer readers on Sunday that “the ministers who are resisting the chancellor most fiercely are nearly all concentrated on the bluest end of the Conservative party”. He highlighted Eric Pickles and Chris Grayling as some of the fiercest fighters refusing to give in to the Treasury. This morning the Chancellor announced that both Pickles and Grayling had “agreed to significant savings”. Cringe…

Where Grayling was concerned “quite radical reforms” will lead to further savings in in prisons and  court service, sources familiar with Eric Pickles’ thinking say he always believes that more savings can be found, especially in Whitehall. They point to his pushing of the transparency agenda to highlight government overspending. A Treasury insider was scathing: “Mr Rawnsley should check his so called facts. As today’s news shows the Spending Round process is making good progress and what he wrote on Sunday was well wide of the mark.” Another must read column…

Guardian Accuses Jew of Not Being “Good Christian Person”

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams writes this morning:

“By its own terms, [marriage] must be lifelong. It is, in other words, beyond them. It is beyond Boris Johnson, it is beyond divorcee Nadine Dorries, just as going back to basics was beyond John Major, and being that kind of “good Christian person” was beyond Edwina Currie.”

Williams singles Currie out for not being a ‘good Christian person’ in her rant about Tories and gay marriage. Quite apart from the fact that Currie is a long-standing supporter of gay rights, who was behind attempts to equalise the age of consent, she is also Jewish. Awkward…

Smart Money is on Matthew Goodwin to Get it Wrong

On Sky just now was a talking head “expert” who claimed “I was like every other analyst and everyone in the Westminster village”. Lorna Dunkley saw straight through him:

Whereas Guido will be enjoying a glass or two this evening after comfortably winning his bet – as tipped to blog readers – on UKIP to win more than 50 seats. Political academic and amateur clairvoyant Matthew Goodwin’s crystal ball was clearly faulty, despite the fact that he markets himself as an expert on UKIP. Inside UKIP circles he is widely detested, possibly because he writes punditry for the Guardian where he seeks to bracket UKIP with the BNP. Armed with his wealth of scholarly insight, Goodwin piped up and rubbished Guido’s tip yesterday:

Three days later and UKIP are set to win more than 100 seats. Goodwin is off doing the rounds of studios this afternoon talking about “UKIP, predictions and what happens next in British politics”. With pundits like him…

Polly Inflates Cuts by 5100% Guardian Forced to Retract Toynbee Yarn

Polly Toynbee was on particularly dramatic form yesterday as she attacked council tax benefit reforms in the Guardian. However those revisiting her scaremongering online today might notice one glaring correction:

“This article was amended on 24 July 2012. The original said households in Haringey would lose £38 per week. That has been corrected to £38 per year”

There is a very big difference between people losing £1,976 a year, as Polly tried to spin, and losing £38 per year, as is actually happening. The percentage increase between the two numbers is 5100%*. Aside from reckless scaremongering and horrendous Guardian subbing, Toynbee’s article dismisses that these reforms will save the taxpayer £480m a year.  So it is official – Polly is 5100% wrong.

* ( ( £1,976 – £38 ) / £38 ) * 100 = 5100%

Peston BBC Blithering Budget Special

The Reithian qualities of Robert Peston have been much remarked upon here. Yesterday evening he gave us the benefit of his contacts and insight into the budget. As you can see above over a two hour period last night on the Twitter he invited us to call him a “blithering idiot”. Peston, you are a  blithering idiot.

We, along with many people in the City and business, just wish he’d shut up. Today is a good day to try CNBC’s coverage or Jeff Randall on Sky…

Budget Bluff

There has been an extraordinary amount of pre-briefing of this budget, allegedly because of the necessity of the coalition’s components lobbying for their policies out in the open. The pundit class has been confidently staking out their “informed” takes on the budget. Guido can’t help noticing that different papers are saying different things will happen on the 50p top rate. For example The Guardian’s  Patrick Wintour splashed on the front page that the rate will be cut to 40p and The Telegraph is reporting it will be cut to 45p. Do the pundits really know or are they just, y’know, bluffing?

If Osborne really wanted to wrong-foot the two Ed’s response, he could just leave it at 50p for now…

Michael Woolf is a Busted Flush

Since last summer, self-proclaimed Murdoch expert and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Woolf has been telling anyone that would listen that this was the end for his nemesis. For some reason he’s gone very quiet. Guido was gently teasing him over the weekend about his prediction that James Murdoch would have been forced out by the end of July 2011, but it was Friday’s performance on Sky News that has shattered his already tarnished reputation:

The media pundit’s money quote was:

“No I do not think we will see a Sun on Sunday, not now, not ever.”

Oops. Time to let it go Michael…

 

By the way, has anyone else notice he’s slowly morphing into his muse?

We're Off, But Before We Go

Guido is, Aer Lingus allowing, off to the home country this weekend and Neo-Guido is off to Russia, so there is not likely to be anything posted this weekend. Nevertheless Guido is sure co-conspirators will enjoy passing the time reading Toby Young’s patient and fair-minded shredding of Mehdi Hasan’s Debt Delusion, available for £1.79 from Amazon. It is worth enriching Mehdi in a small way to enjoy how his forcefully made assertions have unravelled as the Eurozone debt crisis has worsened. Mehdi’s central claims have been shown by the worsening debt crisis to be false within months of being made.

In the piece Toby notably draws attention to argumentative Mehdi’s often used trick of appealing to the authority of others to back up his opinions, committing the classic fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. Guido suspects that is because Mehdi is not confident that his argument stands alone on its own shaky foundations. Toby doesn’t mention thin-skinned Mehdi’s other trait, which reflects badly on him, of just dismissing an argument because someone he finds disagreeable makes it. He will describe the opponent’s argument as “hysterical” or “desperate” when in reality it is just contrary to his own. Mehdi does the converse of argumentum ad verecundiam when he seeks confirmation by disapprobation, dismissing an opposing argument because the proponent is someone he holds in disdain. Mehdi should resist his tendency to do this and take on Toby’s critique head-on.

Benedict Brogan writes paradoxically…

“Britain’s bond yields are the sheet anchor keeping us afloat in the storm.”

Despair on the Left

Gaddafi provided support over the years to not just the IRA but a rag-bag of left-wing fringe groups. There were many on the left who were not keen on taking on the tyrant in Tripoli. The New Statesman’s Mehdi Hasan was lamenting the dictator’s demise and the “imperialist war” waged by the West last night. That kind of thinking is common on the left.

Chris Bryant Replaces Richard Ingrams at the Indy

Guido has a sense that the Indy has, post-Hari, improved under the new editor Chris Blackhurst, the news values seem to have sharpened up a bit. It is somewhat questionable however that it is really as free from proprietorial interference as it claims on the masthead.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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