Sunday 31 July 2011

US Political, Economic and Military disaster over Deb Ceiling

I know I am a nerd when I find myself constantly scouring the media for news from America about the progress of the debt ceiling bill. I must say I can rarely remember when the US President has had to go on TV 3 times in a week pleading for Congress and the Senate to get together.

What makes the situation all the worse is that now the Republicans and Democrats main point of difference is how much money to make available to the Country in order to make another vote necessary - the Republicans want the whole mess brought back again before the next election.

On the serious matters of deficit reduction they have found ways to cuts a big chunk off the budget.

What I had not realised was the way that the US has not paid a penny for either Iraq or Afghanistan - the $1.2 trillion cost of the wars has been paid for out of tax revenue, but purely by debt. In the future, if the debt crisis continues America is going to be forced in quick order to reduce massively its foreign engagements.

The Whitehouse have a great graphic too of the progress of the debt mountain under past administrations:

Friday 29 July 2011

'Phone Hacking: Think Laterally

At each stage in the 'phone hacking avalanche of the past month, people have asked: what's next ? If that's happening, what else ? The 'authorities' are now musing that perhaps computer hacking should be brought into the frame.

And the rest !
Given that newspaper men (and women) are in frequent and personal contact with all manner of other furtive fellows, and that they doubtless compare notes on methods etc, here's a couple of other suggestions for expanding
the scope of enquiries.

- what do we imagine certain unscrupulous former journalists that were in the employ of Blair and Brown in government, used to get up to when the full resources of MI5 were at their disposal ?

- ditto the respective Whips offices

As for the police ... let's simply note that everyone's worst fears about the impossibility of ID card data being kept secure have been realised in full.

There is so much more to come tumbling out of the closet on this issue - it may even distract us from the forthcoming meltdown of the financial system !


Centrica: Laidlaw's Using the Wrong Model

So: yesterday we were chatting about how ill-advised Centrica was to have thrown in its lot with EDF and their nuclear machinations.

Unsurprisingly, Centrica has been moved to respond to the City chatter. 'No done deal' sounds about right. 'People have been focusing a little more on the optionality' since Fukushima, says CEO Sam Laidlaw. I'll bet they have.

Sam is an interesting (and very nice) guy who came from the oil & gas sector. His first big job, at a very young age, was as CEO of the Amerada Hess operation in the North Sea: and he scored a notable success, taking it from an also-ran, non-operating partner in a slew of joint ventures into somewhere near the top of the second division.

This was largely on the back of a single large discovery, the Scott field, development of which catapulted Hess up the rankings, and with it the fortunes of Laidlaw. I rather guess this has left a deep impression on him: if you want to get ahead, pull a bold stroke.

And the EDF deal was it. Taking a 20% stake in BE when the froggies bought it, and a similar arrangement for the development of four new nukes (yes, Sam, you signed up for 4 !), Centrica seemed to have done something big & with a plausible rationale at the time. They were structurally short power, and the BE equity brought them a useful offsetting long - though it by no means balanced their book, as we noted then.

But as the months and years passed ... it hasn't seemed such a bright idea: no wonder Laidlaw is examining the get-out clauses. The electricity business bears some family resemblances to downstream gas - but it really isn't much like the oil & gas upstream at all. Keep reading that small print, Sam ... the frogs are only in it for themselves.


Thursday 28 July 2011

Nuclear Power: Quote of the Day*

Well, M.Rivaz promised us a large-scale PR push this autumn, and here's the first installment.

"The likelihood of the UK nuclear project is greater and stronger and we're fully committed. It is robust economically and our determination is intact."
- Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy

Slightly undermined by the Telegraph's choice of headline - EDF's reputation faces risk of meltdown - but there we go.

Obviously his PR people have helped him craft this ringing call to action, hence the 'likelihood' bit. But 'robust', mon vieux ? Don't we normally say 'needs just a leetle bit more public support, pour la certitude' - ?


*Monday actually but I only just saw it

Wednesday 27 July 2011

US debt ceiling posturing

Tis is a bad idea is it not, allowing politicians a grandstanding opportunity every few years to wail about their own pork-barrel policies.

Also annoying is the run up in the US to a deal, with all the toing and froing leading up to a last minute deal. Is this really a better way then the dreadful EU positioning or are they as bad as each other?

Monday 25 July 2011

Cable calls for more Quantitative Easing

As the UK economy has only slowly recovered from the recession, it is no surprise that there. Are now more calls for money printing. We said here that QE was going to get to over £300 billion once the programme was started and remain of that view.

The really bad part to this news though is that with more QE the UK is going to get stuck in a permanent recession just like Japan. For if the UK is to stick to it's word this is going Tobermory £300 billion of stimulus to take out of the economy one day which will limit any growth potential.

Also of course we have interest rates at 0.5% and one day these are going to have to rise. Yet the longer we have these record low rates the more debtors get used to it and the less saving gets done by znyone or any business.

These two positions added together will mean the the UK is unlikely to ever recover in a substantial way economically in the forseeable future; instead the best we can hope for is the Japan experience of scelrotic growth with regular recessions.

It is a pretty bad situation with no easy solution, however, digging the whole deeper with more QE is definitely not the answer (note, selfishly as I am invested in the markets more QE will be good for the FTSE so I may be happy at the time when it happens, but that is short-term interest only).

Saturday 23 July 2011

Now THAT'S An Explosion ...

Many years ago when I was taking the Queen's Shilling, I used to gaze long and hard at aerial photography from 'various sources' for 'various purposes'. These days, thanks to Google Earth et al, we all get to see the stuff.

Now: in amongst the other momentous events of recent times, it may or may not have come to your attention that a tragic explosion occurred at Zygi in Cyprus a few days ago - details here.

And what an explosion it was: take a butcher's at this. Get the cursor-line over to the right-hand side of the photo, then drag it slowly to the left.

To orient yourself with what has happened, scroll down and take the wrecked bottom-left fuel tank as clock-centre, then pan out to 8 o'clock looking for a faint circle, in level ground, of about the same radius as the tank.

That didn't used to be level ground ...

After you've marveled at the destruction (sorry, but it's human nature - and I've seen worse), marvel at something else: see how the row of chimney-stacks (one big and four small, directly below the fuel tanks, given away by the shadows they throw) have survived where all else has been demolished. That's because blast-waves equalise around things of circular cross-section. It always surprises people.


Friday 22 July 2011

Bailout ! Squeeze Compo Entry

Rising to Steven L's bait ...

Germany, Greece & Interpreting the Bailout

Some great threads here this week, reminds me of 2008 ...

There are a couple of important additional points to make. Firstly, with adroit financial engineering - and access to some AAA muscle - it is always possible to defer a problem. Enron did it many times (AAA provided by banks); British Energy in 2002 (HMG); and now the PIIGS (Germany). The term in vogue is 'kicking the can down the road', but a better one is that used by Enron: it's a snowball, getting bigger and bigger, going downhill at an ever-increasing rate but, for the time being, gathering up all the snow in its path. And its principle tool is 'blend & extend' - in this case, averaging down the PIIGS' interest rates and extending repayment to infinity and beyond. Simples, when you know how. Sometimes it works, sometimes ...

For the second point we start with the bailout document itself + a little interpretation. Of course, it's a blend-&-extend snowball alright:

"We have decided to lengthen the maturity of future EFSF loans to Greece to the maximum extent possible from the current 7.5 years to a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years with a grace period of 10 years … We also decided to extend substantially the maturities of the existing Greek facility … The EFSF lending rates and maturities we agreed upon for Greece will be applied also for Portugal and Ireland"

It's also a chest-beating exercise to warn off the wicked speculators with the usual battle-cry: our pockets are deeper than yours

"to do whatever is needed to ensure the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and its Member States … we will provide adequate resources to recapitalise Greek banks if needed … Member States and the Commission will immediately mobilize all resources necessary … We are determined to continue to provide support to countries under programmes"

There is also a warning-shot across the bows of the rating agencies. Of course, Soros et al have heard this all before. They - and some altogether nastier people, more in a later post - are rolling out their strategies for all this even as we write. But fair enough, Germany is a pretty ugly gorilla in its own right.

Then there are the pieties:

"All other euro countries solemnly reaffirm their inflexible determination to honour fully their own individual sovereign signature and all their commitments to sustainable fiscal conditions and structural reforms ... All euro area Member States will adhere strictly to the agreed fiscal targets"

Yeah, yeah. This, of course, is the classic formula of blend + extend + pretend: readily more available to governments than to businesses, who must observe less forgiving disciplines. But then we come to a really important bit, & my second point.

"We call for a comprehensive strategy for growth and investment in Greece … We will mobilise EU funds and institutions such as the EIB towards this goal and relaunch the Greek economy. Member States and the Commission will immediately mobilize all resources necessary in order to provide exceptional technical assistance to help Greece"

This, dear readers, is the thing we don't really grasp on this side of the Channel: Euro-solidarity. And this is where the German takeover comes in, albeit with a slightly (only slightly) different perspective to the 'they couldn't do it by force so they're doing it by stealth' line. Because we (they) have been here before, most notably the re-unification project. The Deutsche Einheit is a lesson in what Germany will do, when mobilised under the banner of solidarity
(if you don't believe it, read this): and Greece is a commensurate task.

Solidarity comes with sticks as well as carrots. So the document also contains a warning-shot across Ireland's bows on the subject of Corporation Tax rates (paying attention, Salmond ?). Which leads us neatly to the sinister stuff.

"To improve the effectiveness of the EFSF and of the ESM and address contagion, we agree to increase their flexibility linked to appropriate conditionality, allowing them to act on the basis of a precautionary programme, finance recapitalisation of financial institutions through loans to governments including in non programme countries (and) intervene in the secondary markets: ... to improve working methods and enhance crisis management in the euro area ... our determination to reinforce convergence, competitiveness and governance"

Increase flexibility ... precautionary programme ... intervene ... convergence ... governance ... the sound of Emergency Powers being devised. They ain't gonna brook much opposition within the wider EU.

It's going to get ugly for Cameron.


Thursday 21 July 2011

Euro debt crisis.

Quickie for the euro debt-crisis-mountain-rescue-bailout-default plan.
FTSE loves it. Closed up 46.07 points to 5,899.89

Telegraph has a nice live blog. The ever assessing Alphaville have the detail and are churning through the doublespeak. But it looks like the Euro is saved for today! Greece saved and much cheaper repayments, and we can all go/stay on holiday and there is no need to talk about a collapsing Euro ever again.

Shall we agree now to meet here in November to discuss the next euro crisis?

William Hill not playing the game either.
Bailout odds...

Italy, 2/1 Spain, 4/1 Greece, 4/1 Portugal, 4/1 Montenegro, 6/1 Cyprus, 7/1 Belgium, 10/1 Slovenia, 12/1 Slovakia, 12/1 Estonia, 20/1 Malta, 40/1 Holland, 50/1 Luxembourg, 66/1 Austria, 100/1 France, 150/1 Finland, 500/1 Germany

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Gold at $1600 an ounce

With all the bad political economic news this weekmit is notnthatbsurprising to see gold flying ahead in the markets. It is certainly not good for the world economy to have a big crisis in both the Euro and Dollar at the same time.

Germany looks to me to be making the same mistake itndid during the Weimar days. Then the industrialists were to have inflation and Government subsidy as they earned their money abroad and kept it there. Today with the Greek crisis theybare happy to reap the industrial rewards of a weak currency but not keen on paying any price for this. This is not to say the Greeks, Irish etc are not to blame. Just that in 1921, there were uncanny similarities with Germany blaming everyone else for their own poor policy decisions.

Having said this, I think today's policymakers in the US and Europe will traps the nettle and find a way manage the sovereign debt crisis because they simply have to given the market reactions in both bond and equity prices. So maybe gold won't last above $1600 past the end of the summer, a risky bet though.

Monday 18 July 2011

The voice of the people

Scene . BBC Salford.

BBC girl with headphones strides briskly along a BBC corridor, with Ed Miliband hurrying along in tow . She’s saying “We’re walking”into a walkie talkie. BBC news editor meets Mr Miliband and asks “Hello Mr Miliband.You have some important news for us at the BBC today? Where shall we start?”

"Where? Lets see.. I think I’ll do Radio 5's Nicky Campbell and Richard Bacon, then BBC 24. Then Radio 3 {quick few minutes there} Then BBC 2, documentary soundbites for a phone hacking scandal. Panorama special.

Then BBC 1 news and breakfast news for tomorrow…..Then BBC London news, and I’ll do a few of the regionals. Definitely for BBC Wales and BBC Scotland. Then Newsnight and Today and better do World at One too and that other R4 news show that goes out pointlessly before the main news at 6 o'clock..I'll do Vine for Radio 2 . Better do Newsround too. For the kids. Does Cbeebies do news yet? No..? You might want to look into that…Anyway…I'll do Radio 1's Newsbeat for some youth appeal.”

I will probably just be able to be live on the main Drivetime & of course the 10 o’clock news. I'll do Derbyshire tomorrow I think. Give me a call.
A few words for BBC 6 news and BBC 7, or whatever its called now. Four extra?

If I can I'd like to squeeze in a pre-record for the Andrew Marr show and is This Week on? Shame Question Time isn't I'd definitely go on that this week... Now what else, while I'm here.
A few camera poses for Red Button and BBC three 60 second news. A longer piece for BBC 4 news.

Must do the World Service. Do you still have the extra Arabic and Persian news channels on the World Service? You do, great I'll do them too. Obviously a piece for the massive BBC interactive website. Maybe four or five pieces? You can run them as you need them. Put a few on Ceefax if that old thing is still going in a few areas.

Then BBC Newsline for Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Look East/Look North/ Look West and all those other regional stations. BBC Oxford must get a special as they are a key demo for Labour. And Midlands East and West.
Better do BBC spotlight South-East, even though there’s no voters there, its all message isn’t it?”

“And what is your message Mr Miliband?”

“Simple. One broadcaster should not be allowed to dominate and control a large market share of the media of this country.”

8 Banks Fail Stress Test: You Havin' a Laugh?

So, eight European banks have failed the latest round of stress tests, says the Grauniad. No, it's nine says the Telegraph !

Stress tests ? Give it a month or so and you can report the situation in fewer words: nine banks fail. Or ten. Who knows

If they ain't raised enough capital by now, they're done for. You may as well give front-line soldiers a medical just before giving the order to go over the top.

By a strange coincidence, the entire C@W team is out of the country just now... steady in the ranks, here we go


Saturday 16 July 2011

When will Murdoch be put in the stocks and tomatoes?

Ok, two days holiday and I turn on sky news too see the media story is still dominating the uk airwaves. Really, this is odd. It is not as if journalists rated far above estate agents and bankers in people's esteem?

The News of the World is dead. Most of what is being reported happened years ago. It would make much more sense to think up a medieval punishment for The MUrdoch's and be done with it. Even if it is the summer there are far worse things happening that are being ignored in favour of media navel gazing.

Friday 15 July 2011

Oil, Oil and More Oil

It is well within the Boy Osborne's capabilities to screw up: but it's not clear his oil & gas tax hike was one such error. A lot of huffing and puffing at the time, of course, but the oil & gas lobby is notorious for crying wolf.

We called Centrica on their BS a while back, and now, what's this ? BP going to put £££ billion into a big new North Sea development.

Yes folks, oil-business as usual. It will only be something really, really marginal that is actually killed by Osborne's grab. Both new-field development and old-field abandonment are mostly quite binary affairs: either there's plenty of oil / gas in a field, or there ain't
. In principle, of course, something might be on a knife-edge - but not very often in practice. Equally, there is scope for companies to delay an investment a bit, to make a point: but mostly, they are focused quite dispassionately on the bottom line.

So: carry on George - and mark down all that whingeing and wolf-crying to experience for the next time (and mention it to Cable & Huhne).

More hard-headed realism is required in respect of another bout of game-playing in oil: the coordinated IEA release of 60 million barrels of strategic reserve last. Fat lot of good that did, assuming as we may that they were hoping to put a dent in the price. But it doesn't seem to stop 'em contemplating another splurge. Perhaps Obama feels the need to massage the US gasoline price to within a few cents for a specific date in the political calendar. But it won't work: only another bout of global recession will bring the price down on a sustained basis.

So little judgement, so much at stake.


Greek and Italy Downgrades

Amongst the carnage of the media-political mudfest that has been the News Internatioanl story, unnoticed by many the Euro crisis has entered a new phase.

With Ireland and Italy heading either deeply into junk bond status or hovering precipitously over it, the Euro is finally doomed.

Now, this has been said before and I fully expect a healthy amount of QE to be unleashed to settle the markets before the year is out (this is the only way to save the ECB too, so watch out those feeling bearish and think through the logic of those in charge!).

However, it's over. The PIIGS cannot survive in the Euro and need to devalue into either euro-lite or their old currencies.

After the whole News International stories die away, I don't have much doubt predicting what is going to dominate the news for the rest for 2011.

Thursday 14 July 2011

History corner. The trouble with the press

"If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast. "
General William Sherman.

Very early in his war career the
Cincinnati Commercial newspaper described Sherman as "insane." On the strength of those newspaper reports the secretary of war, Simon Cameron, went to see Sherman and recommended his removal. Sherman was suffering from a nervous breakdown.

Appointed to high command at the start of the civil war in 1861 the pressures of that command and the worry caused him acute stress. Newspapers reported he was drunk and deranged. He had a very bad press.
But, after a short recuperation, he returned to his troops and subsequently rose to the second highest command in the army and was instrumental in winning the war.
But he never forgave the newsmen, even when they turned from reviling him to hailing him as a new Caesar.

The civil war was the first real media covered war. Pressmen had been in the Crimea in 1851. And Russell's reports for the Times broke the scandals of mismanagement, malaise, neglect and the terrible conditions in the hospitals that caused Florence nightingale to book passage. But the civil war was fought within fairly easy telegraph reach of the printing presses. News was generally received next day, or the day after an event. And the public were reading broadsheets at the same time as the politicians were reading the official cables. The civil war was the first war fought under the full glare of the media. There was even a full blown presidential election campaign and election run whilst the country was divided and the war raged.

Sherman is known for his hatred of the newspapers and he wrote a well observed piece that if put into slightly more modern language could pass today.

“Newspaper correspondents with an army, as a rule, are mischievous. They are the world's gossips, pick up and retail the camp scandal, and gradually drift to the headquarters of some general, who finds it easier to make reputation at home than with his own corps or division. They are also tempted to prophesy events and state facts which, to an enemy, reveal a purpose in time to guard against it. Moreover, they are always bound to see facts colored by the partisan or political character of their own patrons, and thus bring army officers into the political controversies of the day, which are always mischievous and wrong.

Yet, so greedy are the people at large for war news, that it is doubtful whether any army commander can exclude all reporters, without bringing down on himself a clamor that may imperil his own safety. Time and moderation must bring a just solution to this modern difficulty.”

Incidentally, the secretary of war, Simon Cameron, who insisted Sherman was relieved , was himself relieved of his office a year later, after newspapers continuously reported his corruption.
The President was told that Cameron was so corrupt, "He would steal a red hot stove."

The eternal dilemma of having a free press. They make stuff up, exaggerate, pander,are politicised, and generally behave terribly. But occasionally they expose genuine corruption and wrongdoing.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Huhne Will Bankrupt Us All

Faced with Crapper Huhne's monstrous energy White Paper, I feel like a sniper gazing at an oncoming infantry division. So many targets, so little time. He is gleefully destroying all vestiges of an open market in electricity: can gas be far behind ?

Let's just settle for an aside. As part of Huhne's mighty spin-offensive (if the Digger hadn't dug, we'd have Huhne on the TV morning, noon and night), he's had nice-but-dim Tory MP Laura Sandys put down a planted question, gushing about offshore windfarms. In his reply, Crapper offers this gem

"We are also getting the costs [of offfshore wind-power] down to £100 per megawatt hour"

That would be, err, double the current wholesale price of UK electricity.

We're doomed, I tell you.


Light Posting

The Cityunslicker family  is off on its hols today, as such there will be limited posting in between throwing the kids in the pool. Just as things are getting interesting too, however, if there is any wi-fi then I can play with my new ipad toy and will no doubt end up posting.

Worse still, dear readers, is that news has reached me that Silvio has lent his Caribbean yacht to the Quango's from next week too.

Poor Mr Drew, engaged deeply in ATOMKRAFT in darkest Germany will be our sole torch bearer for the rest of the month.

We apologise in advance for the interruptions to service but will come back fully re-engaged in August.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

OK, maybe we can have an Italy crisis in July.


AAL -74.50 ABF -15.00 ADM -35.00 AGK -33.00

AMEC -29.00 ANTO -39.00 ARM -28.50 AU. -52.00

AV. -14.30 AZN -47.50 BA. -7.00 BARC -9.70

BATS -28.00 BG. -41.50 BLND -8.00 BLT -64.17

BP. -7.10 BRBY -41.00 BSY -13.50 BT.A -3.70

CCL -72.00 CNA -5.90 CNE -12.00 CPG -10.50

CPI -11.50 CSCG -6.30 DGE -19.00 EMG -11.40

ENRC -24.50 ESSR -7.00 EXPN -17.50 FRES -19.00

GFS -4.60 GKN -9.50 GLEN -9.35 GSK -6.50

HL. -16.50 HMSO -3.20 HSBA -11.00 IAG -10.20

IAP -13.70 IHG -37.00 III -8.70 IMI -27.00

IMT -32.00 INVP -12.90 IPR -5.50 ISAT -10.50

ITRK -39.00 ITV -2.25 JMAT -33.00 KAZ -40.00

KGF -5.50 LAND -9.00 LGEN -3.20 LLOY -1.92

LMI -45.00 MKS -5.70 MRW -4.60 NG. -9.00

NXT -38.00 OML -4.00 PFC -47.00 PRU -22.50

PSON -20.00 RB. -43.00 RBS -1.14 RDSA -57.00

RDSB -54.50 REL -9.50 REX -9.20 RIO -130.00

RR. -15.00 RRS -60.00 RSA -1.60 RSL -7.80

SAB -36.00 SBRY -5.00 SDR -23.00 SDRC -18.00

SGE -5.80 SHP -14.00 SL. -4.90 SMIN -20.00

SN. -12.50 SRP -8.00 SSE -25.20 STAN -36.50

SVT -30.00 TATE -17.50 TLW -45.15 TSCO -5.40

ULVR -40.00 UU. -8.50 VED -52.00 VOD -2.05

WEIR -46.00 WG. -21.00 WOS -58.00 WPP -15.00

WTB -60.00 XTA -48.00

Winners 102 Losers

That is a really nasty wake-up call, the Italian Bourse is down 4.5% this morning. That is even worse.

The Euro 'Elite' really need to get going or else there is big trouble Don;t they remember just two weeks ago uncle Wen visited to say he would help out - did anyone write down his phone number?

Also I am changing my opinion on can-kicking, that Greek rally did not last very long did it? This is in itself a bad sign that there is no long term confidence. Without that, there can be no market led recovery. Either more QE is needed to flush the system with inflation or the banks need to be killed as debt is written off - a nice terrible or disastrous set of options. I wonder what Oil Rehn is thinking today...

Monday 11 July 2011

Euro Italian Crisis in July/August?

A quick note, this is all over the papers, the markets are reacting badly, everything seems to be in jeopardy across the Eurozone...but really?

A crisis just before everyone knocks off for a month in Europe - I don't buy it. Come back in September.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Is Labour right to burn their boats?

There's only one story in town. Goodbye News of the World. Not my thing, but plenty of other people fancied a read of it over the toast and Coco pops.

Who's had who. Which idiot minister was still being taken in by a man in a bed sheet and dark glasses claiming to want buy London Underground.

Mr Miliband himself is leading the attack on Murdoch in language that Ronnie Regan might have used about the Russians. The evil empire is in the sights of the left, and they want to give it a beating that it won't forget. Its long been believed by the socialists that all media are against them, even the Tory-led BBC and the liberal Guardian. So now, with the the king of the hill, the NOTW about to phoenix into its own flames, the Labour party is taking full opportunity to bash it.

And with very good cause. Phone hacking celebs is one thing. But the huge overstep of the boundaries of society and the hypocrisy in listening to the messages of troops and slain victims is inexcusable. The other media, long overshadowed by Murdoch's empire are also wading in with all their might and outrage. Partly to damage a rival and partly to deflect attention from of their own activities that are not 'whiter than white,' as a former Prime Minister once said.

Murdoch is in deep trouble. This is a major crisis. His long desired merger is coming apart, right at the moment it seemed assured. There are more revelations to come, says Mrs Brooks. Well they can't be good. Are they just going to do further damage here? We hacked Maddy's mum's phone!
The defence chiefs? The Queen?
But that's all minor compared to the real story which is cash payments to the police. The original investigation..was there a cover-up? Who deleted the emails? Who's hanging onto some of them. Where did the funds come from to the plod?

Even worse for NewsCorp, has this been going on in America and Australia, and are Fox news involved in any scandals? How much more will tumble out?

So its the happy time for the left. Still smarting from the Sun's decision to dump them at the last election, they are out for blood. But this seems to be leading down the wrong path. Politicians can never resist an opportunity to blame the other party for any misfortune. At the moment, Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Tom Baldwin are touring the newsrooms, with the usual prepared sound bites, that seem to imply that David Cameron has personally been listening in to Cheryl Cole's phone messages.
Labour are out to blame the Tories, using Cameron's unwise decision to appoint a former NOTW editor as his media guru. It certainly makes Dave squirm. It calls into question his desperation to make the Tory party Murdoch's favourites again. They like to point out Cameron's friendship with Rebekah Brooks.

But Cameron hasn't done anything criminal. Just poor judgement and an unwillingness to look beyond the immediate and powerful punch Coulson would give him. {Which, to be fair, it did. An immediate success that rattled Labour. But there was always the possibility it could all go wrong.}
The Guardian story out today that Cameron was told Coulson was a wrong 'un, is almost irrelevant. Would Labour have listened to the Daily Telegraph telling them Damien McBride 'can go a bit far?' Of course not!

And new Labour have.
This has the potential to become the biggest pot/black/kettle story since Guardian Media attacked tax planning. One party has been in thrall to the newspapers since its inception. One party was so determined to befriend the media that eventually a new word appeared in the dictionary. "Spin".
New Labour's entire early campaign was based on 'what would Rupert like us to say, so he can print it in his papers?' They spent a lot less time on the manifesto than they did on courting the press. And Murdoch in particular.
For thirteen years there was no mention of curbing the power of the red top press. Even when that press was savaging their own, like Blunkett and Mandelson. The hopeless PCC allowed to continue doing nothing, long after the excesses of the newsprint organisations had come to light.

Its no use Harman now saying Labour was like a battered wife, frightened to leave her husband, and so the party stayed with Murdoch, but they hated him, and were badly abused.
On Newsnight she virtually claimed that she had been forced to face up all the labels on the cans in the kitchen cupboard or face a beating. She only escaped Rupert's beautiful beach front property by faking her own drowning.
Danny Alexander, superbly ambushed by Hugh Grant on Question Time, for having only just returned from a News International party. Along with many of his shadow cabinet colleagues.

It seems quite a short term strategy to fight the Tories on this, There just isn't any need. The press will do the pummelling for them. If anyone saw Dave's press conference they will have seen the hacks and journos lining up to give him a whack. All without the need for Ed Miliband to pop up with his "He just doesn't get it!" faux outraged comment.
The Tories are currently under fire. They are the government so they will be. Dave is just behind the curve as he tries to do the minimum necessary, whilst pretending to do the maximum. But he is a skilled operator. This is actually what he is best at. Looking sincere. Sounding reasonable. Remaining calm. He'll catch up to the events at some point soon and then Labour's attacks will falter.

But Labour need to remember they were in government DURING the scandal. It happened under Mr Blair/Brown's watch. And they did nothing about it. Once the initial phase of this scandal is over the media will move to looking at what went on before. There are many, many bones in Skeleton city.

The Murdoch barbecue is well alight. If Labour try to pour even more lighter fluid on it they may well find themselves in A&E with bandaged hands and a very red face. Already lord Ashcroft is trying to open up a second front where Labour whips and spinners are implicated. New/New-Labour are behaving as if the Murdoch days are over. As if The Sun might be about to run its last issue and Sky news go off air.

Mr Miliband should reflect on CU's End of the World post, where it was revealed that the NOTW was already being prepared for closure. The advertisers who fled NOTW this week aren't suddenly planning to run adverts with the Sunday Times and Observer culture magazine.
Morrisons don't sell a Tender Pork Loin Rubbed w/ a Sweet Chili Guava Barbeque Glaze Served w/ Mashed Sweet Potato & Topped w/ a Mango Coulis & Candied Pecans... microwaveable pizza.
The people who read the News of the Screws aren't going to decide to give up on sex stories and scandal and read the Independent's literature and art section on Mayan tapestries.

Murdoch has been around since Noah. He's seen off a lot of better and more powerful figures than Miliband. So Rupert may be wounded. May be facing some tough times and difficult questions. He's left it very late to begin doing something about the scandal. He may feel the pinch as the shares slide. He will have to face the abuse of the world's public for a while. He's not a young man any more and may decide to cut his losses. But Labour are behaving as if they have slain the Giant. But the Giant isn't dead.

And one day he's going to come back.
And he'll be mighty pissed.

Friday 8 July 2011

Friday Humour - Journalist Special

A newsboy was standing on the corner with a stack of papers, yelling, "Read all about it. Fifty people swindled! Fifty people swindled!"

Curious, a man walked over, bought a paper, and checked the front page. Finding nothing, the man said, "There's nothing in here about fifty people being swindled."
The newsboy ignored him and went on, calling out, "Read all about it. Fifty-one people swindled!"


A  journalist walks into the hospital and tells the desk nurse, "I want to see the eye-ear doctor."

"There is no such doctor" she tells him. "Perhaps you would like to see someone else?"

"No, I need to see an eye-ear doctor," he says.

"But there is no such doctor," she replies. "We have doctors for the eyes and doctors for the ear, nose and throat, but no eye-ear doctor."

No help. He repeats, "I want to see the eye-ear doctor."

They go around like this for a few minutes and then the nurse says: "Comrade, there is no eye-ear doctor, but if there were one, why would you want to see him?"

"Because," he replies, "I keep hearing one thing and seeing another."


You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.


Which is worse:

Bankers stealing your money
Journalists stealing the truth
Politicans steal youring dreams

Thursday 7 July 2011

Question Time Competition Final!

News of the world final special edition.

Closer than expected finish. Under pressure measured did enough to see off the challenges of Botogol, Appointmetotheboard and Mark Wadsworth.
A fully deserved win.

Many thanks to all of this seasons entrants who put themselves through theThursday evening chore of thinking like a BBC editor or a politician.
Well done to all. That's it until September.
Not for Dave though. The silly season is going to pursue him. Labour too. Breather only for Liberal democrats.

Final Standings

Measured -24.5

Botogol - 23

Mark Wadsworth -21.5

Appointmetotheboard -21

Dick the Prick -19.5

Bill Quango MP -19.5

Miss S-J -18.5

Nick Drew -18

Malcolm Tucker -18

GSD - 17

Timbo614 - 14.5

Miss CD -14

City Unslicker -14

Hatfield Girl -13.5

Philipa -11.5

Budgie -10

Andrew - 9.5

Hopper -5

Lilith - 5

Jan -3.5

Amy -2.5
Blue Eyes -2.5

Hovis -2

Time to rest and think about what's really important.

Nasri and Nani? That's quite a flank combination. With two of Valencia, Park, Carrick and Fletcher in the middle? Could this be another united season?