Unlike Elon’s Twitter, Facebook has no such love of free speech. Today the Spectator attempted its usual practice of running their latest front cover as an advert. This week’s cover takes a light-hearted pop at Joe Biden; captioned “Six more years” it has an elderly President holding up five fingers. Pretty mild by The Speccie’s standards…
Facebook has, however, decided to block the advert. Even on an appeal, on the basis they’re a political magazine, the social media site rejected the advert.
As editor Fraser Nelson points out, it appears that splashes aimed at Trump, Boris and Truss – to name just a few – are fine. Biden appears to be a protected character. Unfortunately for the Spectator, the recent Steerpike article entitled ‘The tragic embarrassment of Sir Nick Clegg’ won’t help their cause…
Every winner at last night’s Spectator Parliamentarian awards gave a decent speech, though Guido tips his hat to Theresa May for bringing the house down with this one. No wonder she was up there to accept the award for “Speech of the Year”.
“Piers told the story of having spoken to me for 20 minutes at a Spectator party, gone home, and said he couldn’t remember a single thing I had told him. I don’t know if it’s any consolation, Piers, but I couldn’t remember a single thing you asked me… indeed I don’t remember speaking to you at all.
Of course that hasn’t stopped him from constantly asking me to do an interview. But I guess that’s just because it’s hard to get guests on TalkTV.”
Ambulance for Piers…
Sometimes it’s hard to wake up properly before your 9 a.m, coffee. It’s even harder when you’re the Spectator’s editor, appearing on the Today Programme, the morning after your magazine hosted its famously boozy conference party. To be fair to Fraser, Lee Anderson did the same thing several hours later. PMs come and go, like Guido’s editor, the Spectator’s editor is on his sixth PM…
IPSO has dismissed a complaint by Gordon Brown against the Spectator, over an article reporting that his office had received £124,494.99 for a four-hour speech for Sberbank in 2012. The Russian bank was sanctioned in February this year following the invasion of Ukraine. The primary basis of the former PM’s complaint was that the luxury all-inclusive speaking engagement — at a cost of £8 a second — was paid to ‘The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown‘, rather than, as he believed the headline implied, him directly. This is not the first time Gordon has bullied newspaper editors.
Brown argued that “an apology was merited, where the inaccuracies were: serious; had caused significant personal distress; and had caused serious harm to his reputation.” His evidence included two tweets from members of the public.
In short, IPSO ruled that “reading each version of the article as a whole, the true position was made clear: that the money paid by the bank for the complainant’s speech had not been received in a personal capacity, and was held by the office of the complainant and his wife.”
IPSO summed up their conclusion:
“The Committee did not find that any version of the article included significant inaccuracies or misleading information in need of correction.”
Gordon’s staffers should be on the lookout for flying paperweights this afternoon…
Rishi Sunak has finally managed to grab the agenda during the leadership race, and finally not for a u-turn or a strategic cock up. Interviewed in The Spectator Sunak argues SAGE made bad predictions based on botched modelling and No. 10 never allowed a debate to be had on the cost-benefit of lockdown measures – particularly on closing schools. A culture of fear was decided on by the top of government and their scientific advisors, which was then set in stone. “Dissenting voices were filtered out and a see-no-evil policy was applied.”
While lockdown was known to be “by necessity, a gamble”, Rishi, echoing Steve Baker, says cost-benefit analyses were never made:
“I wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-off,’ says Sunak. ‘The script was not to ever acknowledge them. The script was: oh, there’s no trade-off, because doing this for our health is good for the economy.”
The main problem, he appears to diagnose, was in elevating SAGE to “a committee that had the power to decide whether the country would lock down or not.” The problem was even more concentrated than the entire SAGE committee, however. Rishi observes that, whoever wrote their meetings’ minutes – deciding what discussions and facts to include – was essentially setting the nation’s entire public health policy.
“For a year, UK government policy – and the fate of millions –was being decided by half-explained graphs cooked up by outside academics.”
Rishi concludes “This is the problem… If you empower all these independent people, you’re screwed… We shouldn’t have empowered the scientists in the way we did.” He concludes had we not done so, and had we acknowledged trade-offs from the beginning “we could be in a very different place… it could have been shorter. Different. Quicker.”
He doesn’t name names when accusing fellow cabinet colleagues of not speaking out, which is probably why those in the know aren’t calling him out for rose-tinted hindsight. Guido asked a source close to discussions happening around the first lockdown, who said the above is indeed what Sunak was saying internally at the time. The source also agreed with the problem of giving unelected officials so much power in deciding what ministers saw and what options they were given:
“There were often times the officials would do a “pre-meeting”, decide what they wanted to push through, then ram it through in the main meeting with the PM/ministers”
This process wasn’t helped when, on occasion, ministers would go into the key Covid meeting and be handed a set of 100 papers by officials, with no chance of being able to ingest them before a decision was taken. Guido can barely wait for tonight’s Julia Hartley-Brewer-hosted husting in East Anglia…
Read the full account on the Spectator here.
Last night at the Spectator Magazine’s summer party the crowd of mainly A-list political and media figures came to drink cocktails, gossip about recent events and see and be seen. Leadership candidates Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi and Tom Tugendhat worked the crowd. Later in the evening as things were winding down the Spectator’s Katy Balls mischeviously introduced Josh Grimstone, the newly unemployed former Special Adviser to Michael Gove, to soon-to-be unemployed Guto Harri, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications. Josh definitely had something to communicate to Guto about Gove’s late night sacking the night before…
Josh firmly protested that his boss had been loyal to the PM, that he personally loved Boris and that both Gove and himself had been nothing but loyal. He accused Guto of sacking Gove out of spite and attempting, unfairly, to make it look like Gove had been sacked for disloyalty. Guto was sceptical about Josh’s protestations of innocence and insistence that his boss had been loyal. The toing and froing went on in front of a silently listening audience that included Guido, Tim Shipman and Steve Swinford. Neither of the protagonists backed down from their position. Grimstone said Guto’s behaviour was a “f***ing disgrace”.
Guto eventually retorted that it was Gove’s fault that in 2016, when he betrayed Boris, the country was as a result put into 3 years of dismal turmoil under Theresa May. Guto’s stance seemed to be that even if it was true that he had been loyal of late, Gove had it coming to him for the 2016 trauma that he inflicted on the party and country. Unresolved and unreconciled Grimstone broke off leaving hushed onlookers uncertain that the summary justice of last night was entirely justified by recent events. Guto seemed relaxed and satisfied that it was amends for the sin of the past.