Four months after buying the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch has been accused by a special independent committee of breaking "the letter and the spirit" of an agreement to protect editorial integrity.
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
The Liberal Democrats said yesterday that the alleged support was against the spirit of European Union sanctions, which specifically target prominent members of the Zimbabwe government.
The controversy has echoes of the 1980s when Barclays was boycotted by anti-apartheid activists and students for its links with South Africa.
I remember it well. It's probably hard being in banking and having to work out what is or isn't ethical in the pursuit of profit.
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
I'm not sure Hoey joining the Tories would count as a defection. Toeing the Labour party line might.
We're commentators - not MPs, not spin-doctors, not players - and there's a basic duty to tell it as we see it.If only...
Meanwhile, Lisa Appignanesi, deputy president of English PEN, has a go at Tesco for trying to stifle criticism in Thailand.
The British authors said that the supermarket’s action “sends a deeply chilling message to others who seek, quite legitimately, to discuss Tesco’s impact on their local economy”.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, a human rights expert, said that he was outraged by Tesco’s actions. “It is deplorable for Tesco to raise the sword of Thai libel law to suppress honest criticism of their policies and practices in Thailand, especially since they would be unable to succeed in similar proceedings in this country,” he said.
Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, said that Tesco’s actions had more in common with a tyrant than a supermarket.It doesn't look like Tesco will be suing any of these people so what they have said must be fair comment.
Monday, 28 April 2008
The opinion polls that are noticed are from YouGov, which put the Conservatives 14 or 16 or 18 points in front; while the less fantastic figures from all the other pollsters are considered inconsequential. MPs who once loathed Lord Levy will treat him as an oracle on the subject of the Prime Minister after his revelations at the weekend.It's going to be very interesting if/when YouGov's national and London Mayor polls turn out to have greatly exaggerated the Tory lead.
It has to be said that Tony Blair calling anyone a liar takes some nerve...
In typical BBC style, the state broadcasting service presents the story from the government's point of view:
The prime minister has dismissed suggestions by Labour's former chief fundraiser, Lord Levy, that Tony Blair believes he cannot beat David Cameron.
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Osborne goes through the motions, but what stymies him is that he is a believer in the very policies and attitudes that have delivered the crisis. It seems a matter of personal incredulity that free markets, in which he has invested so much political capital, deliver irrational credit booms and busts. In his mind, regulation is always the problem not the solution. Public intervention and ownership are always wrong. Thus he consistently opposed the only viable future for Northern Rock (temporary public ownership), and now helps make the mortgage crisis worse by insisting that Britain's fifth largest lender should pull out of the market because it is publicly owned. Mad.Hutton concludes that people still believe in the values that Labour - and Gordon Brown - represent:
These are Labour, not Tory, times. The next election remains his to lose.
Friday, 25 April 2008
Minister warns of pump shortages as refinery strike loomsshows just how easily the press can turn anything into a panic. Energy minister Malcolm Wicks basically said that if people in Scotland panic-buy, some petrol stations, which keep very low stocks, might temporarily run out but would very soon get another delivery.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Was it by any chance the spin doctors?
I should, for the sake of pedantry, point out that the dossier usually known as the "dodgy dossier" was the February 2003 one that was partially copied off the internet, not the September 2002 one that this story relates too.
... it is classic new Labour spin: an attempt to redefine an intractable structural problem in personal terms.
It brings to mind Blair's campaign for the Labour Leadership in 1994 when he could not let it be known that Peter Mandelson was on board. It's probably a truism that letting it be known that you're getting help from arch spinners like Blair and Campbell, described by Jowell as "the best in the business", doesn't help your credibility.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Steve Bell's cartoon in today's Guardian has a vulture in the background that is perhaps supposed to be Tony Blair. It might be Cameron but the way Blairites have been behaving lately...
Anyway, it looks like the vulture will have to wait. The row over the 10p tax band looks to be sorted this afternoon, albeit with a climbdown.
Another maverick defects. So what?It looks like Michael has seen it all before and nothing surprises him. A lot of his pieces these days are along these lines. Maybe it's time to put down the laptop?
that it was "a question for parliament whether this is directed against a real problem or not".Or maybe a political stunt?
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
The Guardian's David Leigh reports that:
One of the three writers from Thailand whom the giant retailer Tesco is trying to suppress with serial libel writs arrived in London yesterday at the invitation of the free speech body Index on Censorship.Leigh mentions the various groups here who are not overly impressed with Tesco, from Tescopoly to Article 19
"We condemn Tesco's tactic of issuing defamation writs against those who dare to criticise its aggressive expansion plans in Thailand."to the National Union of Journalists
"Tesco's bid to silence its critics should be vigorously opposed by all those who believe in freedom of expression. The chilling effect of such actions would be to deny the public the right to know about the practices of major corporations."and the International Federation of Journalists:
"Tesco is displaying an extraordinary amount of intolerance over what is legitimate journalistic scrutiny. It is very high-handed of them to take this approach."
Leigh's piece includes the Tesco viewpoint too but they have corporate PRs to get their message across.
Most of the posters are quite critical, which is interesting for a liberal paper like the Guardian. I've not been helped by a standfirst that initially substituted the actress Patricia Hodge for the politician Margaret.
As an exercise in blind faith, it's quite impressive. It follows the usual theological path of making up more and more preposterous arguments to explain why the world is after all flat, why the sun goes round the earth etc. Apparently, it is too much regulation that has caused the banks to devise increasingly dodgy financial products that are now considered toxic. Please...
Monday, 21 April 2008
But Wilby says that he will be unhappy if the Evening Standard's campaign against Livingstone hands victory in the London Mayor election to Boris Johnson.
CAN the BBC tell the truth about Zimbabwe when its senior managers are appointed by the United Kingdom government and will they be fired if they step out of line...I think the politics of this site are a bit dubious, but it's a good question, particularly as Greg Dyed was sacked Director General because the BBC governors felt that the government didn't like him.
Further down the Telegraph piece, we are told that:
Throughout a visit to Hastings and Maidstone last week [Cameron] was approached by people complaining about the abolition of the 10p tax band, the influx of foreign workers and the Prime Minister's apparent lack of empathy for the concerns of the ordinary Briton.I'm sorry, but is the journalist (Robert Winnett) reporting what he saw or naively conveying Cameron's account? It looks very much like the latter. And very good spin it is too.
The Pentagon and the US media have been exposed for using pre-programmed “military analysts” to win hearts and minds of Americans over the war in Iraq, torture and detentions in Guantanamo Bay.It credits the New York Times with the story. Both use a great quote:
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
Saturday, 19 April 2008
Families are having to cut back on groceries, eating out and holidays as the credit crisis starts to have a profound effect on household spending.Except that it isn't anything to do with the credit crunch:
With the cost of living going up by £1,800 a year for the average home, the first evidence has emerged of how families are changing their spending habits to cope with the economic squeeze.
Disposable income has been affected by a range of increased costs. Gas, electricity, water, food and drink bills, council taxes and mortgage payments have all increased by more than the rate of inflation.In fact, the best evidence the story can offer of "austerity" is that:
Aldi, the budget supermarket, has reported a 25 per cent increase in sales, with rising numbers of middle-class customers.And:
although shoppers were buying flat-screen televisions, laptops and fridges in money-off promotions, they were shunning full-priced products.
Friday, 18 April 2008
Are we so used to dodgy dossiers that the new evidence about the Iranian capture last year of British sailors and marines doesn't really matter?He's referring to yesterday's Times story, that the captured sailors were not in Iraqi waters, as the government swore at the time, but disputed international waters.
I couldn't have put it better myself.
London local paper the Hackney Gazette has decided not to allow the British National Party to advertise in its pages.The refusal follows the decision of the Hampstead and Highgate Express to carry a BNP add, which I mentioned here.
Afghanistan's Supreme Court has confirmed more than 100 death sentences, raising fears over the fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist on death row.So that's what British forces are doing in Afghanistan - fighting for the right of the Afghan government to execute people.
Tesco in Thailand is suing a second columnist from a Bangkok business newspaper for £1.6m in libel damages.Apparently:
The offending article in Nongnart Harnvilai's tongue-in-cheek "Buzz" column was part of a collection of short stories on page 28 of the paper, and ran to just a few sentences.So Tesco is a bully abroad as well as a bully in the UK. They can sue me for saying that if they want but I think it's fair comment.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
It looks to me as if Desai was talking about the impression people have of Brown, rather than offering his own opinion, although his comment that
"Gordon Brown was put on earth to remind people how good Tony Blair was"isn't particularly helpful.
In the same paper Andrew Gilligan says that Met officers at local level are stopping people reporting crime, in order to keep numbers down.
I think I made a mistake last week when I suggested that Ken Livingstone was entitled to his privacy, no matter how many children he has fathered, and that we don’t need to know about public figures’ private lives. My mistake was saying it about Ken, who today dragged some of his children into a dispute about his late appearance on a radio debate. His excuse, like the right to privacy, cuts both ways.
According to the BBC, Ken’s aides had originally attributed his late (30 minutes) arrival for the Asian Network debate to “hold ups on the tube”. But when mayoral rival Boris Johnson pointed out that there was a good service on Ken’s line, he admitted that he had left the house late:
"Yeah I left the house late. The kids were just... they don't understand why daddy spendsmore time with Boris than with them."
Very clever, very funny. It might even be true. It’s probably better than blaming the London Underground, for which you are responsible. But once you start citing minor family issues for your failure to do what people expect of you, don’t you step over the same line that adulterous ministers cross when they drag their wives (invariably) and children out for photocalls?
Quoting the fictional "PC brigade" plumbs the depths of journalism. Walden has plumbed the depths of shallowness.
And here in Britain, well, we have Hapless Harriet, Jacqui "Too Much Home Front" Smith, and Tessa the Trainspotter. Isn't it time that our women politicians got a grip and made for the makeover?
"But they're not there to look good," whine the PC brigade. "They are there to do their job." And in Britain, unlike the rest of Europe, the two are mutually exclusive.
many of the gravest of the allegations against Matthews appeared in print after she had been charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice. Isn't there supposed to be a law against that?
Millions of people have read those allegations and it is a racing certainty that among them are several members of the jury that will try Matthews.Cathcart says that it is unlikely that the government is unlikely to take action even though there is indeed a law against it - the (1981) Contempt of Court Act. He attributed this to:
a reluctance to take on the mass-circulation press - the same reluctance we saw a fortnight ago when the government abandoned plans to introduce meaningful penalties for stealing confidential data.
"Since last April we believe we've given away more free Bags for Life than any other retailer. We now need to help customers remember to re-use them."
Document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that:
— The arrests took place in waters that are not internationally agreed as Iraqi;
— The coalition unilaterally designated a dividing line between Iraqi and Iranian waters in the Gulf without telling Iran where it was;
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all,"Let's hope George Bush, who came to power following a blatantly stolen election in 2000, wasn't listening.
Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, was killed along with two bystanders after he got out of a vehicle marked "TV" and "Press" in central Gaza, the agency reports.
The mother of crippled paratrooper Ben Parkinson hit out after an Iraqi teenager was paid £2million for being left paralysed by a stray British bullet.It's a classic contrived tabloid story. Obviously the Mail asked who it could find to be resentful of a large compensation payment to a foreigner. But in the circumstances, Diane Dernie wasn't particularly resentful:
"It's not that we don't think that anyone deserves compensation if they are shot, but it's hard to see why the Ministry of Defence can give all this money to nonmilitary personnel yet doesn't see fit to look after its own.
"As time goes on, we at the sharp end can see how little the £285,000 will stretch."
A wide-ranging police study has concluded that the surge in immigrants from eastern Europe to Britain has not fuelled a rise in crimeHas been picked up by the BBC and the Telegraph (with attribution) but strangely appears to have gone unnoticed by the Daily Mail.
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
Meanwhile, the Guardian says that:
Downing Street today promised further action to help borrowers as new figures showed that house prices are falling at their fastest rate since records began 30 years ago.In fact, as the BBC says:
Which is not the same thing. It's tempting to say that journalists twist statistics but I think the truth is that most don't understand them.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (Rics) said that 78.5% more surveyors reported a fall than a rise in house prices in March.This was the gloomiest reading since Rics began the survey in 1978.
The defence team believes the CPS has scored an own goal by refusing to allow him to give evidence. One source said: "It is almost unheard of for the victim of the alleged blackmail not to be in court."Or is that just spin?
Meanwhile, people in Britain will not know which royal is alleged to have taken cocaine and "engaging in a homosexual sex act", unless they read this.
Aaronovitch calls Falk a conspiracy crank and alleges that he won't achieve anything because he has upset Israel.
The implication of this logic is simple. The UN Human Rights Council doesn't give a toss about the human rights of the Palestinians in the sense of wanting them upheld. Its majority is far more interested in using Israel as a stick to beat the US with, or - in the case of Islamic states - as a bogeyman to dampen down domestic discontent.Interesting conspiracy theory, David. And you don't even know you're doing it.
Monday, 14 April 2008
THE mystery of why the New Statesman still hasn’t got a new editor several weeks after John Kampfner agreed to depart is not so mysterious after all. Its owner, Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, has been too busy negotiating a deal to let 50 per cent of the magazine go to fellow millionaire, businessman Mike Danson, for an undisclosed sum.But that was two weeks ago, at which point the magazine was reported to be interviewing hopefuls.
PR Week has hit back at accusations that it is being “used” by Downing Street communications staff to leak stories about a power struggle within Number 10.The accusations have come from the Times and the Guardian. Are they upset that Number 10 isn't using them, as usual?
Straw had his chance to oppose the Iraq war but went along with it. He has since hinted that he was against. But his sole purpose in being in the government seems to be to stay in the government.
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has criticised the judges who overturned the government's decision to stop the BAE/Saudi corruption inquiry. Strange really as the decision was supposedly taken by the head of the Serious Fraud Office. Anyway, Goldsmith has accused the judges of "not living in the real world". Or are the government's claims that the UK would have lost out on vital Saudi intelligence just a fantasy, as Robert Baer suggests in today's Independent on Sunday.
I hadn't realised before, but Saudi Prince Bandar has deployed the Father Ted defence, that the money was just resting in this account:
Bandar claims that the BAE payments weren't a bribe. The money only passed through his accounts and went to various government projects.
A British expatriate who was named as a formal suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is launching one of the largest libel claims in the history of the British media.It won't go down well with the papers involved, but I hope Robert Murat cleans them out. When Colin Stagg, once wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common - had a a fitted-up prosecution thrown out, one of the tabloids had the headline: "Now I'll make a killing". The suggestion was that someone who was guilty would make a lot of money from the failure to prove it. We now know that Stagg was entirely innocent.
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
"Because someone is in a white coat and using big medical instruments doesn't necessarily mean they're right."But it looks as if someone has been twisting her arm. Today she supposedly said:
"I have a great respect for the medical profession."
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
A secret draft agreement is being drawn up to allow United States forces to remain in Iraq indefinitely, it has been reported.
Monday, 7 April 2008
How can journalism truly reflect society when entry to the profession relies on wealth, geography, and parents prepared to pay the wages that employers will not?I think the answer is, it can't and it doesn't.
Sunday, 6 April 2008
ON the day Gordon Brown turned orange it emerged that he has hired a former BBC producer to put an end to the visual gaffes that have dogged his time as prime minister.Perhaps Rupert Murdoch's once-Blairite cheerleaders are suffering a bit of PM envy.
Most bracing of all, though, were the conclusions of the true conservatives of our time. Peter Hitchens wrote in the Mail on Sunday that the fiasco was the inevitable consequence of the introduction of comprehensive education in around 1968, while Simon Heffer in the Telegraph put it all down to a British workforce which is "poorly educated, poorly managed, is almost impossible to sack when it fouls up, has its failures rewarded and has a lavish welfare state to fall back on".