Fact Check: Britons Have Not Spent £4 Billion Stockpiling for Brexit

On Monday, Remainers were all abuzz about a Guardian report that Britons had spent £4 billion stockpiling goods in case of a no-deal Brexit, not least Our Future, Our Choice who cried “Stockpiling. Is. Not. Normal. Does this genuinely need to be said?“. The numbers looked dodgy but now Fullfact have comprehensively rubbished this claim. Is anyone surprised? 

The survey found that 20% of consumers had stockpiled goods, and the average amount spent was £380, which was then multiplied up to the £4 billion figure. There were three main problems with this calculation however; firstly the survey extrapolated the survey findings by the total population, not number of households; secondly the survey only asked people in employment, ignoring the unemployed and retired; and finally there was no evidence in consumer activity to prove this supposed £4 billion uptake. The Guardian’s editorial code says that they “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”; the article remains on their website…

Guardian Creates Inflamed Gash “Brexit Artwork”

The Guardian has commissioned an artwork in response to Brexit. Artist Anish Kapoor has been beavering away to depict a huge gash down the middle of the nation. Describing it as a “gory rip”, the Guardian’s critic clearly moans and whinges about the UK pulling out of the EU, but does say of the interesting artwork that “like a black hole of melancholy, something about this bottomless pit is alluring.” Kapoor’s work is not a labia of love…

The artist has given the piece the title “A Brexit, A Broxit, We All Fall Down.” Guido can think of quite a few other names for it that might be more apt…

Guardian Columnist Admits She Has Never Bought A Copy of The Guardian

Guardian columnist and Corbyn favourite, Dawn Foster, confessed that she has no interest in reading her own paper. She told the ‘Media Democracy Festival 2019’ over the weekend that “I’d never watched Prime Minister’s Questions until I started working for a newspaper that I never read until they gave me a job… I’ve literally never bought a copy”. Neither has Guido lately…

Foster made the comments on a panel alongside Kate Osamor MP who famously abused a journalist by throwing water over him and threatening to hit him with a bat. Maybe Guardian readers will think twice before making a donation at the bottom of Dawn’s next column…

Labour Was Responsible for Half of Windrush Removals

A letter sent from Home Secretary Sajid Javid to the Home Affairs Select Committee Chair, Yvette Cooper, outlining the mistakes of the Home Office over Windrush has mysteriously leaked to the Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, who has selectively quoted from it in an article published last night.

The coverage glossed over one of the most striking parts of Sajid’s letter – the revelation that half of the 164 Windrush removals and detentions began under Labour between 2002 and 2010 – when David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, John Reid, Jacqui Smith, and Alan Johnson were Home Secretaries. Amelia Gentlemen, who often writes Guardian stories which are flattering to Yvette Cooper, neglects to report this part of the story. Will Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott be personally apologising on behalf of the Labour Party for their historic policy towards the Windrush generation?

Guardian Axes Paul Mason’s Column

Paul Mason’s weekly Guardian column has been axed. Mason announced the move on the day the paper launched its tabloid redesign, saying there would no longer be room for his pieces. Asked by a Twitter fan if his columns would still be on the Guardian website, he replied, “no”. No room on the internet either…

The leather-jacketed Corbynista scribe revealed he will now write for struck-off Novara Media, where he will have to answer to a Tory (does he know that yet?) For observers of the British left, Mason’s weekly sermon has been must-read. Here are some highlights…

On James Bond: For the Bond genre to survive, Spectre would have to be portrayed, overtly, as the global oligarchy, ripping off the world. Bond would be tasked by MI6 to kill and maim members of the hedge-fund industry, the fracking bosses and the global CEOs extorting financial rent from the rest of us… Bond comes to a swift conclusion: he must target Donald Trump.”

On Michael Foot: “Michael Foot was a dire leader not because he was too old or too leftwing (or wore a duffel coat), but because he was a compromise candidate, constantly torn between the interests of the unions – who were largely on the right – and the membership, which had moved left. His 1983 manifesto was actually well crafted, but they were the right ideas at the wrong time.”

On the 1990s: “You could still riot without a balaclava, walk into a jobcentre with your head held high, and when a whole family could – if it had to – live on the earnings of a dinner lady.”

On craft beer: “BrewDog’s open-source revolution is at the vanguard of postcapitalism.”

On the perfect city:“A massive ecosystem of gay, lesbian, transgender, BDSM and plain old sleazy heterosexual hangouts: clubs, bars, dancehalls, cabarets and all the dim-lit alleyways and grassy knolls inbetween. For it is a truth unacknowledged by those who make the official league tables that Joe Corporate, with his squash racquet and sober suit, and Joanna Corporate, with her nanny and pushchair, really want to live many other secret and parallel lives, and the ideal city is one big, analogue version of Craigslist.”

He’ll be missed…

Mail’s Epic Guardian Burn

Top banter from the Daily Mail this morning teasing The Guardian over its decision to go tabloid. The Guardian has said it will ditch its ‘Berliner’ format in the new year. The Mail’s editorial shows just what can be done with a smaller page:

“The Mail congratulates the Guardian on finally seeing the light and becoming a tabloid. True, it’s taken a long time and – through awesome business ineptitude – losses of hundreds of millions of pounds. We sincerely hope that by joining the tabloid club, the paper might now begin to make financial sense, rather than depend on massive subsidy. Just one bit of helpful advice. Commercially-viable tabloids – even mid-market ones like the Mail – rely on putting stories on their pages that actually interest people.”

What will actually sting the Guardian newsroom is the realisation that the paper wasted £50 million on Berliner format presses in 2005 – they were expected to roll for much longer. The Guardian also spent £30 million that year upgrading printworks in London and Manchester. Another £80 million down the Guardian gutter…

Owen, Piers, Guido Three-Way

Owen Jones was pontificating on Paperchase and the decline of the right-wing press. Piers Morgan got involved and so did Media Guido:

Guardianistas should be more worried about getting eclipsed by the likes of The Canary

It’s Official! Guardian is a Charity Case

Yesterday the Guardian announced that it has set up theguardian.org, a non-profit charitable organisation to funnel money from “private foundations, corporations, government entities and private donors that share our goal to support independent journalism and promote freedom of the press.”

The biggest donors to date have been:

  • Skoll Foundation funding for a solutions-oriented series on climate change in America;
  • Support from Humanity United to allow the Guardian to continue its in-depth look at modern day slavery; and
  • A grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support compelling journalism on the subject of early childhood development.

Joining existing donors:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding for the Global Development site;
  • Ford Foundation support for reporting on women’s rights and inequality;
  • Rockefeller Foundation support for the Guardian’s Cities site, which focuses on building resilient cities.

They say they have strict “conflict of interest guidelines”; no doubt they do. Journalists, however, would only be human if they thought it might not be career enhancing to slag off the sources of millions in funding for their salaries. It is fair to say that the policies of some of these foundations have not been without controversy over the years. This is not a left-right issue. The tension inherent between newspaper commercial advertising and editorial departments is nothing compared to journalists being given funding and guidance on what subjects to write about by sponsors…

Northern Bubble

Our friends at the Guardian have attempted to get out of the London-centric politico-media bubble by appointing a Northern Editor, Helen Pidd. Their financial pressures had them even contemplating moving away from their Islington/Hampstead spiritual home and back up North. Guido can’t help thinking that Guardian journalists will have their own self-selecting social bubble wherever they go. Now Helen will no doubt protest that she didn’t write the headline used in the meme above, but…

George Monbiot Fowls Up on Chlorine Chicken

Guardianista eco-warrior George Monbiot will be in a fowl mood today after he was caught out employing underhand statistical wizardry in an attempt to bash Brexit. Monbiot used his Guardian column to heavily hint that chlorinated chicken could be a factor behind poultry-borne infection rates which he claimed “four and five times higher in North America than in Europe“. He wrote:

“[The Adam Smith Institute] says that figures from the World Health Organisation reveal that salmonella and campylobacter infections there are “not out of line” with rates in the European Union. I checked the source: the WHO study the Adam Smith Institute cited. While the incidence of campylobacter is similar, it shows that the burdens of infection per head of population from the two species of salmonella it analyses – Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi – are, respectively, four times and five times higher in North America than in Europe. I cannot state that this is caused by chlorinated chicken, as the WHO doesn’t provide such detail. But I can state that the Adam Smith Institute’s claim is false.”

The problem with Monbiot’s wizardry it is nonsense. As the ASI comprehensively demonstrates:

“When you compare developed Western Europe, where we use the farm-to-fork approach, to developed North America, where they mostly chlorine wash at the end, the rates of the two types of salmonella seem higher in the US. But what Monbiot doesn’t report are the actual numbers. Salmonella Paratyphi A and Salmonella Typhi infections are so rare in both subregions that the difference Monbiot highlights is trivial in the context of total infections, which the WHO weights according to the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost to them. The figures are 0.1 and 0.4 DALYs per 100,000 in North America versus 0.02 and 0.09 in Western Europe, respectively. But even those average estimates are misleading: the 95% confidence intervals on those numbers all touch zero, and include the rates of the opposite countries. That is: the stats are statistically insignificant from each other. When you drill down to two such specific sub-figures, relying on imperfect sources, you can’t draw a clear result. It’s like rolling two dice three times and arguing the one with the higher number is loaded: you haven’t got enough data to make that conclusion.”

Monbiot tried to hold out on Twitter, rudely dismissing those who politely pointed out he was wrong:

These rather unfortunate tweets have been deleted and he has now belatedly admitted his mistake:

You can’t just wing it on chlorine chicken, George…

Reporting from the Guardian

Guido was at the Index on Censorship Awards ceremony last night, deep in the bowels of the Guardian’s new fancy offices. The purpose built modern building will make a great museum when the paper eventually goes bust.

The event was packed to the gills with media luvvies and Islington’s finest. David Hare gave a splendidly acerbic speech. Chairman Johnathan Dimbleby raged against the “censorship” of the BBC’s Middle East reporter Jeremy Bowen, who was mildly criticised for his blatant anti-Israeli bias by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee. Guido thought it a gentle rebuke to Bowen given how biased his broadcasts from the supposedly impartial state broadcaster seem. Hardly makes him a dissident, does it? He has been given no punishment, no demotion, nothing. Wonder if he had been criticised for anti-Palestinian bias would the room have been so concerned?

Stereotypically the auction fundraiser saw a week in a Tuscan villa get the top bid from the assembled Hampstead liberals and Guardianistas. No, it really did. Guido was very pleased to win the auction for a copy of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto signed by Václav Havel himself. The dissident playwright was imprisoned multiple times during the Soviet era by an authoritarian socialist Czech regime, his plays were banned and he was reduced to working as a sweeper in a brewery. After the Velvet Revolution he ended up being President of the freed Czech Republic. It went for a tenth of the price of that week in Tuscany. Guardianistas really do have different values…

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