Monday, 29 October 2007
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Putting Jack Straw in charge of the consultation process on a bill of rights is like turning over a campaign against prostitution to the head of an escort agency. Such a man can only see a bill of rights as political tool and a way of further entrenching the powers of government and the executive.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
The Sunday Times includes the claim in a story by its arts editor, "War Stirs Left's backstabbers", while the Independent also tells the story as a feud between the pro-war Observer and the (slightly) anti-war Guardian.
I've known about these claims for a while and, while I don't really know if they are true, my experience of Ahmed is that he was one of the journalists most open to being fed a story during the Campbell era. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he returned the favour.
A senior No 10 political official at the time rebutted Mr Yates' comments last night saying: "This claim is preposterous. Throughout Number 10 civil servants, special advisers and Labour party staff cooperated at every stage of this inquiry. There are no grounds for Yates to make this statement."That clears that up then. Wintour offers us an anonymous denial with no proof.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
"Mr Blair's people cannot accept that they have lost power," said one. "These stories are a crude attempt to settle scores with no regard to the effect it has on the Government."The Telegraph latches on the story without bothering to credit the Mail. It has a non-story within the non-story:
[Seldon] says that Mr Brown may have been involved in ensuring that Jack Dromey, a senior trade unionist and treasurer of the Labour party, complained publicly about the cash-for-honours affair – which caused Mr Blair huge political damage.
Dr Seldon writes: “A story reached Blair a few days later of a plan to remove him from office by effectively bankrupting the party and encouraging donors to say they would only be prepared to give money to get it back into the black if Brown was leader.”
“Blair himself never accused Brown of complicity but did tell him how outrageous he thought the timing of Dromey’s comments was. 'Well nothing to with me,” was reportedly Brown’s reply. 'Then again,’ sighs one No 10 aide, 'it’s never anything to do with him, is it?”
Meanwhile undead Blairite John Rentoul gives us more unsubstantiated drivel:
Within minutes of Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation on Monday, the question had moved on to the choice of Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne as his replacement, and how either would affect the balance of advantage between Labour and the Conservatives. It was the wrong question. The significance of Sir Menzies's sudden departure is that it tells us this: David Cameron already has the edge.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
It was said in court today that the Met police manipulated the composite picture they used to show how similar Jean Charles de Menezes looked to the attempted July 21 suicide bomber Hussain Osman.
The Met's spin on the case has always been that it was a case of mistaken identity. The BBC continues to help them out with this:
Brazilian Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot seven times in the head on a train at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005, after being wrongly identified as Osman.But the court has already heard that de Menezes was never identified as Osman:
"By comparing the photo of Jean Charles with a photo of Hussain Osman, you may understand why some of the officers at least thought Jean Charles might be Osman," said Ms Montgomery. "None of them said he was definitely Osman."
Friday, 12 October 2007
Meanwhile, Martin Bright has a real go at Jack Straw, over this and other issues.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Interestingly, both the Times and the Guardian (online) reported it as a news story (today and yesterday respectively), although Pasquill was charged on 27 September and this was cited in an Observer piece on Sunday by Henry Porter.
The New Statesman's editor John Kampfner made a strong statement on the NS website, calling the episode "an abuse of state power".
Monday, 8 October 2007
Complaints about Labour's use of automated phone calls are being looked into by the information commissioner.
The method - dubbed "robocalling" in the US - greets people with a recorded message asking them to press a number to indicate their preferred party.
The Lib Dems say the calls are illegal and want the commissioner to be more "assertive" in investigating them.
Anyone who wants the commissioner to be more assertive about anything is going to be disappointed.
For me, the most interesting bit of the story is that:
Some cabinet members privately regard Mr Brown's visit to Baghdad last week as a presentational disaster, which gave the impression the prime minister was playing politics with British troops.I think it is quite legitimate to write about what ministers are saying "privately" if that is different from what the official line.
By contrast, it's not clear whose views are contained in this next bit,
Ed Balls, another member of the Brown inner circle, also shifted against a poll in the wake of evidence that the Tory promise to cut inheritance tax had, for the moment, made the Conservatives look like the party of aspiration and change.Why is this qualified, "for the moment"? It does seem fairly clear that Labour wants to admit that the inheritance tax proposal went down well, believing that they can neutralise it, either by attacking its credibility or by doing something similar. But whose view is being set out here? It starts as an apparently factual statement that Balls changed his mind but then appears to mutate into something that sets out his spin on the short-term nature of the Tories' gains.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Most people now agree that Gordon Brown's trip to Iraq and the (false) claim that a further 1000 troops are to come come backfired badly. Brown appears to be so used to rehashing the same announcement that he walked into this one. It was hysterically funny watching and listening to MoD minister Bob Ainsworth trying not to admit that some of the troops are already home.
In the Times , Camilla Cavendish (yes, I think she is a real person) puts a very Tory spin on Brown's speech but I think in some ways she's right. It's very cheap to say:
36 hours later almost every journalist I spoke to had privately come to see it as barren and dishonest.But then she does make a good point that:
cramming the media together in these conference centres always ups the chances of similar headlinesI would suggest that the collective view of the press pack shouldn't really matter, but of course it does.
Monday, 1 October 2007
"By comparing the photo of Jean Charles with a photo of Hussain Osman, you may understand why some of the officers at least thought Jean Charles might be Osman," said Ms Montgomery. "None of them said he was definitely Osman."The Guardian still doesn't get it:
An Old Bailey jury was told that the 27-year-old, who had been mistaken for a suicide bomber, was gunned down by two police officers in a "shocking and catastrophic error" that could have been avoided.
An Old Bailey jury was told how the 27-year-old, who had been mistaken for a suicide bomber, was gunned down by two police officers as a result of a "shocking and catastrophic error" that could have been avoided.But in fact:
"Some of the officers watching him thought he might be a suspected suicide bomber who lived in the same block, others did not," said Ms Montgomery.So "might be" is as close as anyone is said to have come to identifying de Menezes as a suspected suicide bomber (from the day before). Both the BBC and the Guardian are on very dodgy legal ground here.
The phrase carries the implication that the police thought at the time that de Menezes was about to carry out a suicide attack, in spite of the fact that he clearly wasn't and they clearly couldn't have done. It is unlikely that a jury would convict police who killed someone who was about to let off a bomb. It is more likely that a jury would convict police who killed someone who tried to let off a bomb yesterday but we will have to wait for the evidence in the trial to see whether the police make any kind of identification, mistaken or otherwise.