Peter Oborne Attacks Amol Rajan on His Show

Yesterday Peter Oborne continued his onslaught on the Lobby’s tendency to relay anonymous “Downing Street sources” and how it shapes their commentary. His campaign is working as hacks are noticeably straining to avoid using the “Downing Street source” phrase in their reports. Oborne went on Radio 2 with Amol Rajan yesterday. It got quite tasty, in the excerpt above he starts laying into Amol for his “client journalism” during his tenure as editor of the Independent. Enjoy…

You can listen to the whole interview here (starts 1 hour 10 minutes in). At one point he calls one leading member of Her Majesty’s Lobby “sewage”…

Downing Street Sources Temporarily Silenced

Yesterday, Peter Oborne published a characteristic scream of pain at the over-use of “Downing Street sources” by Lobby hacks. Oborne argued that the quoting of unnamed sources facilitates lying and makes hacks the hands free delivery mechanism for fake news. It is noticeable that, of late, tweeting Lobby hacks repeat anonymous threats from Downing Street sources which habitually do not eventually materialise. He pointed the finger at almost everyone from Laura Kuenssberg to Robert Peston. For hours after his piece was published, the customary tweeted insider nuggets of information were no longer dipped in the Downing Street source…

Nobody seemingly dared report anything “according to a Downing Street source”. ITV’s Paul Brand was the first to break the self-imposed embargo at teatime. His attribution was greeted by a barrage of abuse on Twitter. Twittering Lobby hacks went silent again on what Downing Street was saying…

At 10:00 pm Peston cracked, tweeting

“So here is No.10 confirming that if EU gives the requested three-month Brexit delay, Boris Johnson will ask for an immediate general election. Loads of you have poured buckets of manure on me for telling you what Downing St is thinking and saying. So you are totally at liberty to ignore this statement or disbelieve it. But it would be wholly wrong of me to withhold this from you, on the patronising assumption you cannot analyse and contextualise it.”

His tweet thread included a Whatsapp text from his undisclosed Downing Street source. He was combative (given he has made his career from repeating things he has been told by sources that is hardly surprising).

Perhaps emboldened by Pesto, at 10:05 pm Laura Kuenssberg risked tweeting “No 10 confirms tonight after the vote they’ll try to push for election if EU offers delay.*” She was greeted with tweets saying she was a Downing Street mouthpiece…

Oborne is right to say that hacks whose main journalistic asset appears to be phone numbers for spokesman really need to be less reliant on, and more careful about, re-broadcasting a line that the source would be too embarrassed to say in public. The reality is that it isn’t in the interests of hacks to open up the Lobby system or insist more often that quotes are on the record. Transparency will devalue their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number more valuable. A start to improving and opening up the system would be to put Lobby briefings in the open and televised…

*Boris had in any case already said this publicly earlier in the day in the Commons.

How Lobby Journalism Works Part 94

The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn explained candidly to the listeners at the very end of The Today Programme this morning the means by which ministers leak information to lobby journalists.

“You don’t ring up a minister and ask ‘Will you leak this to me?’ You say to him, ‘look, if I was to write … and I think that this happened, would I look particularly silly?’ And then the minister says to you ‘I don’t think you look particularly silly Tom at the best of times.'”

That’s how the Lobby thinks they stop themselves looking silly…

See also: How lobby journalists get their stories

May’s Response to Resignation Question Sparks Resignation Speculation

Lobby hacks sense something in May’s tone today at PMQs:

We’ll find out tonight when she speaks to the 1922 Committee…

Remain Hacks Confused as May Confirms No Deal Is Still Better Than a Bad Deal

If you believed Fleet Street’s finest over the last few weeks, Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” rhetoric is dead. Several of the Remain media’s wisest minds were writing this as recently as yesterday…

Sky News, 21 June: “One former minister told Sky News that ‘no deal is now dead’… Number 10 has toned down its language on the issue since the election.”

James Kirkup, 23 August: “Theresa May’s ‘no deal’ bravado is a thing of the past… May has come a long way from the days of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.”

The Scotsman, 28 August: “Mrs May and her Cabinet have softened their stance… distancing themselves from her rhetoric that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.”

George Parker, FT, 29 August: “The British prime minister’s ‘hard Brexit’ rhetoric and threat to leave the EU without a deal died in June.”

David Allen Green, FT, 29 August: “Remember the “no deal is better than a bad deal” swaggering? What a reversal.”

In Japan today the travelling Lobby asked May if she still thought no deal is better than a bad deal. She replied:

“Yes.”

Doh!

Obviously the government would prefer a good deal with the EU, however it has to be prepared to walk away in the event of a punishing offer from Brussels. To not be prepared to walk away from a bad deal is to be prepared to accept any deal offered. This was always the case, it remains the case, it is just common sense for the negotiations, despite what Remain publications have wrongly been telling their readers this past month. Some Brexit reporting from supposedly respectable remainstream journalists is just fantasy…

Torbynista Greening Loses Fight For New Money

Top Torbynista Justine Greening has come to the Commons to announce that she lost her fight with the Treasury for new money for her department. The Education Secretary dressed up her “extra £1.3 billion for schools” as a new spending commitment, leading the Lobby up the garden path:

The answer? There is no new money, no magic money tree, she has not “won the battle with Hammond“. The cash is coming out of the existing Education budget, which means cuts elsewhere in the department. Remember Greening wanted new cash. Treasury win.

Greening spins it up as more cash, the Lobby falls for it, Greening admits there is no new money, the herd follows. Wonder who could possibly have a motive to brief against Hammond…

Nuttall: Barricades Himself In, Won’t Say If He’s Standing

Paul Nuttall has done a Ken Livingstone – barricading himself inside a room in the Marriott County Hall to hide from the Lobby’s questions about whether he will stand in the election. There is no escape:

Here is Nuttall setting in for the long haul. This picture from inside the room:

Who will break first: the UKIP leader or Her Majesty’s press corps? And why won’t Nuttall say if he’s standing on June 8?

UPDATE: Nuttall escapes into a taxi:

He still won’t say if he’s standing…

Pics via the Lobby.

Daily Mail Political Editor Runners and Riders

James Slack’s appointment as the PM’s official spokesman has set off the Lobby merry-go-round. Political editor jobs are going at both the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Our Telegraph likely names are here. As for the Mail, as ever MediaGuido gives you your runners and riders…

  • Jason Groves, Daily Mail: The unflappable deputy pol ed has to be an early favourite. Tipped for the Telegraph job as well, though they will have to throw money at him to steal him from Dacre. Some in the Lobby enviously believe Groves has the choice of the two jobs.
  • Jack Doyle, Daily Mail: The paper’s Senior Political Correspondent is hotly tipped. Also writing leaders, which shows how well-regarded he is. Well liked by Dacre, is he being groomed for the job?
  • Dan Martin, Daily Mail: Currently Chief Political Correspondent, Martin is a seasoned pro who knows Westminster inside and out. The paper would struggle without him.
  • Katherine Faulkner, Daily Mail: Regularly gets political scoops. Not of the Lobby, which is a bonus if they want to drive the agenda from Kensington. Surely time a woman was Daily Mail political editor…
  • Ian Drury, Daily Mail: Took over the home affairs brief when Slack moved to Westminster. Been at the Mail over a decade. Will know the Number 10 team well from May’s time at the Home Office. That helped Slack get the job last time round. 

In the unlikely event that Dacre was to consider an immigrant from another newspaper:

  • Steve Swinford, Telegraph: Guido cannot recall Dacre ever hiring outside of Derry Street. If he does Swinford is an option. With Groves he is one of the favourites for the Telegraph pol ed job. If Groves goes to the Tel, Swinford could jump to the Mail. Paper swap?
  • Matt Chorley, Times Red Box: Formerly the political editor of MailOnline, he was tapped up for doing a joint online/paper job last time round. Would be a return to the mothership. Could finally move on from those early starts at his Little Read Box, could he speak for England?
  • Michael Gove, The Times: Rising star of the Lobby. Good young scoop-getter. Has caught the eye of rivals. But does he have a good enough relationship with Downing Street?

Who will speak for England?

“Anarchy” as Parliament Shuts Lobby Hacks’ Cafeteria

The controversy surrounding the ongoing building work in parliament has reached fever pitch after authorities closed the cafeteria used by hungry Lobby hacks. Construction work at the whips office has led to a decision to relocate some staff to Moncrieff’s cafeteria, the room where the Lobby hosts its famous ministerial lunches. The move means whips office staff, the keepers of MPs’ deepest and darkest secrets, will now work in the press gallery a stone’s throw from the nation’s political journalists. “Anarchy” says one seasoned Lobby luncher. What could go wrong?

Sunday Times Deputy Political Editor Runners and Riders

The Sunday Times deputy political editor job is one of the toughest in political journalism, requiring scoops that hold and set the agenda every weekend. The paper will be looking at candidates who fall into more than one of the following three categories; journalists who are good on Labour – Tim Shipman has top Tory contacts and wrote the book on Brexit so he may want someone who can look after the Corbyn beat, as James Lyons did previously. Journalists who have Sunday experience – Guido can tell you that writing for the Sundays is hard and requires a different skill set, so those who have already done so in their careers are at an advantage. Journalists who break awkward stories  – surely the most important category, the Sunday Times gig requires a candidate with a track-record at breaking news the powers that be wanted out of the public domain. Half the Lobby will fancy themselves, as ever MediaGuido gives you your runners and riders…

John Stevens, Daily Mail: Since coming back from Brussels he has made an impact with Westminster scoops, the Twitterati particularly enjoyed his recent hit on aid. EU knowledge obviously valuable in the next few years. 

Jim Pickard, Financial Times: Well-connected across Labour, from the leader’s office to the unions and moderates. Comfy on the Remainiac patch at the FT, where he’s been for yonks. Time to join a Brexit-backing paper?

Kevin Schofield, PoliticsHome: Hates being described as a “Blairite hack”, however he has excellent Labour sources and enjoys kicking Corbynistas. Ex-Sun, would he relish making more high-profile splashes?

Harry Cole, The Sun: Earned his print credentials at Britain’s raciest red top, the Daily Star Sunday. Not just a tabloid muckraker, as proved by four years at the Spectator. Number 10 would be thrilled.

Ben Riley-Smith, The Telegraph: A rise up the Telegraph hierarchy akin to being on the Western Front, joining as a private and quickly becoming a general. Writes the Sunday paper now everyone else has left.

Ben Glaze, Daily MirrorObviously well in with Labour and the path has been trodden before. Might he follow in the tiny footsteps of a previous Mirror deputy pol ed? 

Rowena Mason, The GuardianNowhere to go at the Guardian now there’s the successful pol ed sisterhood jobshare. Not your usual Guardianista, though would she take the Murdoch shilling?

Steve Hawkes, The Sun: Strong trade union contacts, has broadsheet experience. Could expect plenty of business-themed Brexit scoops. An inter-News UK sideways move is possible…

Tom MacTague, Politico: Is beginning to make Politico a worthwhile read, his in-depth analysis would not be out of place in the Sunday Times. Has Sunday experience at the IoS when it existed. Though after that would he ditch digital for the dead tree press?

Caroline Wheeler, Sunday Express: Strong scoop -getter and considerable experience in the Sunday Lobby. Move would bring more influence…

Lucy Fisher, Times: Good on Corbynista Kremlinology and has had some revealing Momentum scoopettes. Has worked at the Sunday Times before…

Kate McCann, Telegraph: Another fast riser up the Lobby ranks. A web of contacts helped her break the arachnid-based story of the year.

Matt Chorley, Times Red Box: Another former IoS man. Would do everyone a favour limiting those fun emails to once a week. Change would have a serious impact on sleeping patterns.

Matt Holehouse, MLex: Brexit wonk who has Brussels experience and a better grasp of the minutiae than most. Would he want to give up the reasonable and well paid hours at newswire platform MLex? 

Camilla Tominey, Sunday Express: Quietly broken some big scoops that no one saw because they were at the Sunday ExpressOutside chance, deserves a bigger platform…

Good luck to the many Lobby hacks throwing their hat in…

Seumas Changed Jezza’s Autocue

60k-12k

In the briefing to the Lobby huddle – which is still ongoing – Seumas corrected a figure in the briefed out printed copy of Jezza’s speech from 60,000 new council homes to 12,000. With a smile Seumas told the Lobby hacks that Corbyn had delivered the correct figure because “it was changed on the autocue”…

Press Gallery Chairman Craig Woodhouse New DCMS SpAd

A raft of new SpAd appointments is expected imminently and Guido understands the headline move will be Craig Woodhouse joining Karen Bradley at DCMS. It’s a smart hire for the new Culture Secretary to poach an industry insider – Woodhouse is a newspaper veteran, the respected chairman of the Press Gallery and chief political correspondent at The Sun. He is well-liked by MPs of all parties which will help in a notoriously adversarial brief. The long-suffering Sheffield Wednesday fan might even be able to pick up a freebie or two along the way. The Lobby loses yet another leading name to SpAd-dom…

See Guido’s SpAd List in full here.

Cameron’s Big Speech Bombs

For the second time, Downing Street have summoned the press for a supposedly “significant” statement that has bombed:

Is that it? The “significant statement” is that Dave backs Remain?

Rain on Dave’s Parade

The PM brought back up to his summer bash for Peroni-guzzling Lobby hacks last night, but it was the weather that rained on his parade – literally. As damp Tory leadership contenders worked the thinning lawn of the Downing Street rose garden, a relaxed Dave stood side by side with Theresa May doling out titbits to a ‘doughnut’ of senior correspondents, while Saj put in a good innings.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Dave’s Balls Up in Bavaria

Tory unity has lasted exactly one month, as has Dave The Winner’s honeymoon with the press. Needless to say his EU-turn today and then an arrogant schooling G7 news conference has gone down like a cup of cold sick with the travelling press pack.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

What is Wrong With the Lobby?

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

WATCH: Cameron’s ‘Bill Somebody’ PMQs Gag

Cameron delivered his best gag for ages at PMQs today:

“The day after his Shadow Chancellor was asked on the television could he think of one single business leader, do you know what he said, he said ‘Bill somebody’. Mr Speaker, ‘Bill somebody’ is not a person, ‘Bill somebody’ is Labour’s policy!”

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

House Turns on Speaker: Live Reaction

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Tired, Exhausted, Nothing to Say, Time for Them to Go…

lobby-guide

The Parliamentary Lobby yesterday had the usual afternoon briefing scheduled with the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS). This is where the gentlemen of the Lobby are spoonfed some copy to take down or, as they see it, perform a vital service to democracy by holding the executive to account.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Robinson's Lobby Colleagues Fed Up With Him Lifting Stories

Nick Robinson was the focus of ridicule among his Lobby colleagues last night after he yet again lifted a newspaper journalist’s story and claimed it as his own. “BREAKING”, he tweeted, the three major parties would reject a currency union with an independent Scotland, “the BBC has learned”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 020 7193 4041
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Appearing on BBC Radio West Midlands this morning, the Prime Minister was asked: “What are you getting Carrie for Christmas?”

Boris: “I’m going to get Brexit done”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.