Heaven Sent: Spec’s Will to PX

Guido hears the Spectator’s managing editor Will Heaven is leaving for wonk world – he’s off to be the new Director of Policy at Policy Exchange this summer. Brainbox Will was the first person to use the phrase dementia tax in an article during the election, so safe to say he has a keener eye for policy than many. Learned his trade under Gove and Truss at the MoJ, it’s a coup for PX to steal him from the Spec, where he will still be writing from time to time. Congratulations…

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…

Facebook’s Retreat from News and Algo Change Panics Buzzfeed

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it is getting out of the news business and going back to connecting people with personal stuff:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers…” 

Good for people who want to share pictures of their cats, bad for media organisations that have a business model based on cat GIFs. Twitter’s stock price rose 5% on the news that they will now be the main social news platform…

For Buzzfeed and other Facebook traffic driven organisations this is bad news, Buzzfeed gets some 23% of their traffic at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg. Unsurprisingly Buzzfeed bought adverts on Facebook on Friday pushing soon to be lost users to download their app. At one time Buzzfeed were spending millions on Facebook adverts, they may well have to do so again if their content is dropped from the Facebook feed. In the political sphere those sites that specialise in clickbaity headlines designed to go viral on Facebook may see a drop in traffic…

Approximately 7% of Guido’s traffic is referred from Facebook. Twitter on the other hand drives 23% of our traffic, just behind Google on 24%. The Spectator and Breitbart also rely on Facebook for some ~7% to 8% of their traffic. Skwawkbox and The Canary rely on Facebook respectively for a massive ~40% and ~48% of traffic…

N.B. Traffic data sourced from Similarweb.

Speccie Awards Winners

Speech of the Year – Kemi Badenoch
Backbencher of the Year – Stella Creasy
Comeback of the Year – Sir Vince Cable
Peer of the Year – Lord Adonis
Minister to watch – Boris Johnson
Rising Star – Angela Rayner
Insurgent of the Year – Jacob Rees-Mogg
Negotiator of the Year – Nigel Dodds
Politician of the Year – Jeremy Corbyn
Parliamentarian of the Year – Ruth Davidson

Don’t They Know Who She Is? Thornberry Turned Away From Speccie Party

To Old Queen Street last night for the Speccie party, the political society event of the summer. A full turnout of Tory players from the PM, Boris and Davis to their many, many ambitious, younger colleagues. One party-loving Labour politician however didn’t make it in:

Guido’s source on the door confirms this was everything you’re picturing and more – an outraged Lady Nugee hitting peak “Don’t you know who I am?”. Everyone knows the Speccie’s clipboard girls (they have iPads these days) employ a ruthless door policy to keep out minor politicians and Westminster C-listers. Guido’s own newest recruit succeeded in charming his way in, he can give you some advice Emily…

Paul Mason Sent to the Gulag?

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There has been much speculation that Paul Mason was sent to the gulag by Jeremy Corbyn after that infamous Sun recording of his candid conversation in a Liverpool bar. In the new Spectator Life, WikiGuido reveals the complex relationship between Mason and the Corbynistas goes far deeper than that. Read the piece on Mason’s reincarnation here

“Best Speech of Osborne’s Career”

More than one Tory MP at the Spectator awards last night described this as the best speech of George Osborne’s life. “There won’t be much time for chit chat, a bit like when Theresa and I last spoke…”

Theresa May: Craig Oliver’s Gong Made Me Retch

A hard-hat and hi-vis clad Theresa May accepted the Politician of the Year award at last night’s Spectator awards, before delivering as cutting a put down of Craig Oliver as Guido has ever heard. Made all the better by Craig being there to hear it.

“I’m particularly pleased to see Craig Oliver is here tonight. Sorry, Sir Craig…

I understand that in his book on the referendum campaign, Craig says that when he heard the result of the referendum he walked out of the office, he walked into Whitehall and started retching violently. I have to say I think we all know that feeling. Most of us experienced it too when we saw his name on the resignation honours list.”

In ten years of going to the Speccie awards Guido has never heard more jibes with such pointed sharp edges…

Spexit! Spectator Endorses Leave

spec

No one — economist, politician or mystic — knows what tumult we can expect in the next 15 years. But we do know that whatever happens, Britain will be better able to respond and adapt as a sovereign country living under its own laws. The history of the last two centuries can be summed up in two words: democracy matters. Let’s vote to defend it on 23 June.

Read the full editorial here.

Fraser Nelson Contextualises IDS Exit

Speccie Parliamentarian of the Year Award Winners

Speech of the year – Johnny Mercer

Lifetime achievement – Harriet Harman

Backbencher of the year – Natascha Engel

Insurgent of the year – Ruth Davidson

Minister to watch – Amber Rudd

Newcomer of the year – Tommy Sheppard

Peer of the year – Molly Meacher and Patricia Hollis

Guy Fawkes award for guerrilla politics – Michael Gove

Campaigner of the year – Jeremy Corbyn

Parliamentarian of the year – David Cameron

British Journalism Awards Bunfight! Speccie v Newsnight / Buzzfeed

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It wouldn’t be the British Journalism Awards without a good old barney about the nominations. Newsnight and Buzzfeed are jointly nominated for Investigation of the Year for the Kids Co scandal – a story on which they did a lot of good follow-up work but was broken by Miles Goslett in the Speccie. Five months earlier…

Buzzfeed’s ‘Head of News’ Stuart Millar is probably regretting engaging:

Media organisations can pay £75 for a vanity-satisfying nomination, something Newsnight and Buzzfeed apparently wasted no time in doing but Miles Goslett, who is a freelancer, didn’t. As Goslett explains:

“Until February 2015, when The Spectator published my article on Kids Company, not a single bad word about it or its chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh had appeared in the mainstream media.”

You can read the original Goslett scoop here

Payne to the Pink ‘Un

The Speccie’s all-round internet wizard Seb Payne is joining the FT as digital comment editor, heading up a complete revamp of their online comment. Best known for touring the country in his Mini during the election, Payne is an Islington new media darling with an encyclopedic knowledge of UKIP, and can probably now afford to pay his mechanic.

Worth watching how his sound political views fit in at the Pink ‘Un, Payne (left), starts in January. Congratulations…

New.Spectator.co.uk

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Just in time for Tory conference the Spectator has had an online refresh. As with the New Statesman‘s recent refresh it has gone more tablet friendly and swipe-able. The design is responsive to different screen sizes. The Speccie has a lot of advert-free Kindle subscribers so the servers have to work hard to cope with the various formats. It appears to be paywall free currently – so give new.spectator.co.uk a try…

Dave Meets UKIP

Guido is very hungover after last night’s Speccie bash. It was very hot and there was a lot of Pimms involved, also an inexplicable number of pretty models there…

Sadly no Miliband this year, instead it was Harman’s turn to pretend she wanted to be there. Osborne took a couple of hours off from preparing for the Budget while Michael Fallon was bullish about the jihadis. Liz Truss was flirty and Nicky Morgan wandered around looking for someone to talk to. Boris was banging on about some airport…

unnamed (3)

Most amusing was the PM’s drive by, where he immediately got locked into conversation with UKIP spin supremo Gawain Towler. Apparently Dave’s defence was that the smaller European nations are going to support his renegotiation plans. There are about four million reasons why that conversation looked painful. 

Despite the heat the PM’s old pal Steve Hilton got a proper hug, though the hippy chat was soon troubling Dave:

unnamed (4) Blogging may be light…

Covering the Election in a Mini? Original

Channel 5 News have announced they will be covering the election in a Mini:

Which sounds rather familiar…

Sebastian Payne from The Spectator has been doing just that for months:

Payne’s is a real British Mini too, rather than C5’s German made and British sprayed copycat…

Oborne on Ill Mannered MPs

Grandstanding on Fleet Street’s moral high ground has not always paid off for Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph hack who resigned claiming his paper corruptly buried the HSBC bank scandal. In his days with The Spectator, Oborne once named and shamed ‘ill mannered’ MPs who had not penned him a thank you note for taking them out to one of his liquid lunches in Pall Mall. The following week the Speccie was inundated with letters from MPs who had taken ‘ill mannered’ Oborne out to lunch and were still waiting for a thank you note…

Rifkind Defends Tech Giants

This week’s Speccie cover on the state’s war on tech is well worth a read. Its author wisely warns against heading down the slippery slope of surveillance:

“There’s no means of monitoring terrorists that doesn’t leave every-body else thinking you’re monitoring them, too… Think of Britain’s experience over the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which was introduced to allow the surveillance of serious criminals, and expanded, chaotically, to enable councils to spy on people suspected of fiddling school places. Make it much, much easier for Special Branch to read Geoffrey Al-Wannabi-Jihadi’s email, in other words, and how long until the local council can read yours, and use the fact you booked a rafting holiday as an excuse to cancel your disabled badge?”

In the end, he concludes attempts by the government to crack down on the likes of Google and Facebook are futile and disingenuous:

“If these vast new media empires were railroads, or sewage systems, or fibre-optic networks, then the clamour from governments would be to counter their own impotence by nationalising them… If Google and the like cracked on encryption and rolled over for every state demand, would that make us safer? Perhaps, but only for a week or two. For as long as there are other services more secure, or even just more obscure, those who do not wish to be seen will use them. The security services must know this, and increasingly I struggle to comprehend why they pretend not to.”

Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the Intelligence and Security committee, could do worse than heeding the advice of his son, Hugo…

Posh People Politely Tell Scotland to Stay

Speccie readers really do need somewhere to go stag hunting…

Former Telegraph Editor Launches Coded Attack on Seiken

Former Telegraph editor Charles Moore has launched a blistering coded attack on the paper’s editor-in-chief and ‘chief content officer’ Jason “Psycho” Seiken. Writing in this week’s Speccie, Moore uses the metaphor of Horse and Hound magazine, criticising the countryside periodical for replacing its editor with a “content director”, and accuses other publications that have made up similar new digital job titles of “suffering an identity crisis”:

“Horse and Hound, my other magazine outlet, is to lose its excellent editor, Lucy Higginson.

[…] Read the rest

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