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Balders is back? Whoo hoo.

Bad day for Tory boys.

"Headlines and stories worthy of The Mirror have crept on to its pages."

Irrespective of this particular focus on the nature of 'Times' coverage, the paper's general dumbing down is why I gave up taking it after 30+ years. It was already deteriorating but tabloid format was the final straw, as it confirmed its tabloid nature.

Oh I think it's because hack journalists just follow the crowd. Probably after a "discussion" in the pub. I also suspect many are having second thoughts about their initial enthusiasm for the half story they were originally fed. Hence, in desperation journalists, notably the BBC, are now back tracking to just saying this reflects on Osborne's judgement by associating with these people. I am sure they don't mean Mandelson, but obviously mean his Russian friend. Now the Russian has just bought an iconic British name in manufacturing, Leyland, and as someone who lives north of Watford let me tell you that if I heard Osborne had refused to meet the new owner of Leyland because there is a few stories about him I would have been as mad as hell.

That, apparantly, some good old "senior Tories" have allowed themselves to be associated with the new BBC line demonstrates the party establishment still doesn't want to think about what happens outside their cosy metropolitan world and get their hands a bit dirty.

Oh yes, let me point out that Osbourne's constituency is not all that far from Leyland up the M6. I suggest that in the post financial services world about to unfold Osbourne got it right and it was just the capacity of the establishment to panic at any difficulty which has fed this story.

Why is it "quite right" to criticise The Times for blowing up a non-story about a Conservative politician into a big scandal, while it appears to be fair game for The Times or pretty much any other newspaper to do the same for Labour politicians?

Some hypocrisy here. I don't think Osborne has done anything hideously wrong - though he has shown poor judgement - and it's certainly not a resigning matter in my opinion. But the fact remains if it was a Labour cabinet minister, let alone a senior minister such as the Chancellor, who was caught out in the same misjudgement, the Tories would be (a) claiming it to be the biggest scandal since Watergate, and (b) encouraging the media to go after the individual until he or she were forced to quit - to be hereafter known as "the one who resigned over that scandal, we don't know all the ins-and-outs but they'd done something dodgy and had to resign".

Hypocrisy leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Labour is on its last legs. Their contempt for this country, good government and the people make them dangerous. Like the Nazis, they will bring down what remains of the country at their end in their futile pursuit of power. They are the living democratic deficit, their exploitation of pretence is unsustainable.

You can't put the genie back into the bottle on this one. Although I was absent (away in Poland) during the 2003 season and didn't arrive back in the country until it was almost over, this is giving me a bit of deja-vu over what happened to IDS over Betsygate. A similar non-story, started because the polls began to slip, ended in the resignation/leadership coup which finally got the Tories moving again. It's not material for a leader article, it's a scandal, and whatever the outcome it is not good for the party or its leadership.

Personally I feel the longer Osborne holds on and Dave supports him, the worse it gets for Dave as well. They were already talking before this week about replacements for him; I am surprised that with the whole of Fleet Street unanimous on this one he hasn't yet gone for the good of the party. Meanwhile Dave is in Glenrothes writing us off and appearing to support Scottish independence.

At my reckoning we are running about two weeks behind where we were at this point in 2003, which in my opinion would be no bad thing as the leadership collectively has run out of ideas in general.

Sorry, I meant George Osborne when I said "with the whole of Fleet Street unanimous...".

Though I have never been entirely comfortable with Dave either, what I appear to say would be slightly - though not incredibly - premature.

Even better than this excellent story is the extraordinary apologia for its conduct over Osborne produced on its "The Editors" blog by the BBC by Steve Mawhinney.

The apologia itself is cringe-inducing but just wait till you get to the comments many of which contrasted the BBC's treatment of a man who has done nothing wrong with Gordon Brown's twice crooked nasty.


Between 12.30 and 4.40pm they'd clocked up 66 comments and as far as I could quickly judge 65 of them were furious with the BBC. Some were quite vitriolic and one was 'overwritten' as beyond the pale.

Just in case they decided to close the link I've downloaded them.

I have been highly critical of Osborne for some time now on his inability to do the job and thought he should go. He seems to have corrupterd by money and into thinking he was above criticism. But this media conduct was shameful (and I deplored the time and space given to it on the blog) and so I regret he'll now have to stay.

I gave up taking the Telegraph some time back and was thinking (vaguely) about subscribing to the Times. Not now

There is no question that the coverage given to this issue displays the media's constant search for a ''grand narrative'' at its worst. Not even Nat Rothschild (indeed, not even the Labour party) is suggesting Osborne did anything at all illegal; a Tory scandal simply fits into the desired picture of 'Brown the comeback kid'. It wouldn't surprise me if the decision to devote ludicrous space to this non-affair was taken after it became apparent that Conservative support was not collapsing in the face of the recent financial crisis/ government rescue plan.

I have to say, I'm not sure these allegations will stick... Clearly, Osborne shouldn't have left himself so vulnerable, but somehow there is not an air of catastrophe about the business. The papers seem to be rapidly changing their tune to a 'What's all the fuss about?' line, perhaps realising that three days of headline coverage dedicated to a story of a fundamentally marginal nature, during an economic crisis, is excessive.

It is hard to believe that this story is still running. For Gods sake - nothing happened. This is tantamount to being prosecuted for rape for simply winking at someone. The real story is Mandelson(real name Damien) and his pact with the Devil.

I have posted the following on Comment Central

Over on Conservative Home I see that Tim has been up to mischief.

The site suggests that my earlier post on the Osborne affair means that I disavow the paper's story.

I most certainly do not.

Nat Rothschild's letter was a lock down splash. A terrific exclusive, that we did very well. And our reporting has been fair and proportionate.

That is why I said in my post - deliberately in order to avoid the construction Tim put on it - that it was an irresistible story.

Once we had exposed it, and the facts have become properly known, I think it is clear that the behaviour was not scandalous. But there were certainly questions.

We just printed the fantastic, colourful, facts and made sure the Rothschild allegation was placed firmly in the public domain.

We couldn't possibly have done differently. I am afriad that the suggestion that splashing on it was somehow bad behaviour is preposterously naive.

The Sun Says: "The integrity of the BBC is coming under question......

So what's new?

Osborne has not been found to be lying - so it is another non dog bites man story.
The BBC in particular has spent a lot of time and effort chasing its own biased tail/tale - and thereby hangs one. Paxman returned to default last night and was apoplectic over someone owning a yacht in these straightened times, let alone visiting one. (I wonder if he has sacked any of his house workers now dependent his non straightened BBC salary?). Have you seen the amount of bonuses that the BBC hierarchy have received in the past and probably in the future. Enough to make a banker spew up in the present crisis (now labelled by the BBC as a "downturn" - and about time, the BBC has given us enough gloom and despondency). The BBC should carry on where it belongs : in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and in America - giving us as much bad news as it can dig up.

I think someone should have a close look at the Time's connections with No 10 and the Labour Dirty Tricks team. I've noticed that nearly all the anti-Tory spin stories and smears seem to break on the front page of the Times first. Far to many for coincidence, or even good journalism!

Clearly, the old levers are not what they were - even with that moral slagheap, Baldwin, back at the Times. The secret, gnawing fear now tormenting Labour's apparatchicks must be that if the Osborne affair has fizzled out and the bail out is visibly failing, then they have simply prepared for themselves an apocalypse in place of the inevitable armageddon. The substantial headlines are turning against them. The Standard this evening carries news of a £125 billion black hole in government finances. Then there will be the repossesions carried out by Brown backed banks. Then there will be the tax rises. Then there will be "cuts". The pound is already faltering under the weight of borrowed money. Tim Congdon, in the latest Spectator, points out that contrary to Labour lies, no other country is following Brown's "blueprint". It constitutes a dash back to the ideological default position - far left - from which he stated his fateful odyssey. Devaluation, cuts, unemployment and inflation are coming and the public will see - not with anger merely but with implacable venom - that Labour is to blame. Frankly, given the fundamental state of the marginals and the Blair/Brown reputation for dodgy dealing and the endless tax hikes, I wonder if Labour won't this time be re-replaced by the Liberals as the main opposition to Tory government. Hold you nerve, my fellow rightists; the Grand Reaction is just around the corner.

With HIS judgement as to what is 'fantastic, and colourful and facts' and is therefore meat for the hyena's to make a meal of, I am very glad that MR. Finkelstein is not my friend!

"George Osborne happened to be holding the parcel when the music stopped. He is a person of integrity (I came to this view sharing an office with him for four years) and huge ability - it is not an exaggeration to say that he has been the big driver of Tory success in the last three years - and if this affair had taken him out it would have been a disaster for the Tory party.
The lesson is clear - exploiting these non scandals is tempting. It is also a self destructive thing to do".

(Obviously a temptation that this "non-scandal” to quote Finklestein the Times couldn't resist reporting - we wonder why not?)

The above was has been said to have been written by Daniel Finkelstein
In my opinion he has contradicted himself out of his own mouth/pen, but now we read,
"Nat Rothschild's letter was a lock down splash. A terrific exclusive, that we did very well. And our reporting has been fair and proportionate".
Really? So where does Handy Mandy get a mention for his "poor judgement in having spent time on the boat.

No wonder many of us regard the once reliable Times as a dumbed down tabloid.
Looks like our Fink isnt doing any and is in need of another holiday - avoid any holiday involving yachts.

Lets try to forget this whole sorry saga by continually raking over it - we are giving the story legs...

Storm in a teacup, silly George, poor reporting..

Lets get on to talking about the economy, jobs and keeping people in their homes...

George can start to make up for his silly slip and Dave can show he is passionate about the job and passionate about nailing Brown...

Pull together and move on

Now that the Times has flogged the Osborne Saga (or should it be Odyssey) to death, I wonder will they check into Mandy's rag-and-bone foray into Aluminium?
As for the Brown Bias Cronies, the first act of a Conservative government should be to turn them all out into the real world to fend for themselves and let the licence-payers have some respite.

Why is this story still running? Because the mainstream media (with a few well-known exceptions) doesn't always follow the chosen tune of the Conservative party - or the Labour party - and that's as it should be.

I notice that this thread is full of people fulminating at The Times and the BBC for pointing out that Osborne has been a bit of a twit, while a comment (at 19.59) comparing Labour to the Nazis goes unchallenged. Disgraceful.

Posted by: Nigel Rathbone | October 23, 2008 at 23:00

I notice that this thread is full of people fulminating at The Times and the BBC for pointing out that Osborne has been a bit of a twit, while a comment (at 19.59) comparing Labour to the Nazis goes unchallenged. Disgraceful.

Thank you, sir, I salute you.

I just want the next Chancellor of the Exchequer to be competent next chancellor. Is that too much to ask? You could pretty much put a gerbil up for election and you'd win. Surely there must be someone more competent than diddy-giddykins?

I really don't know why you are all so surprised. The Times has been nothing more than a tabloid in taffeta for some time.

In the BSE scare in 1997 - which did for Major in a big way - its headlines and coverage were by far the most lurid. If you look beyond the sober, Times Roman type, it has been that way for the best part of 20 years.

So the Fink turns out to be a er..fink.
Daniel, I've been something of a fan, but at the moment you seem to be thinking of your job and endorsing the pro-Labour stance of the Times.
Shame on you. You seem to have sold out with Philip Webster and Tom Baldwin.
Say it isn't so Dan.

Times = tabloid in taffeta.

Been like that for years. People too easily fooled by the Times Roman type.

After Danny's intervention, why do I keep coming back to what Dr K said about the Iran-Iraq war?

"I notice that this thread is full of people fulminating at The Times and the BBC for pointing out that Osborne has been a bit of a twit, while a comment (at 19.59) comparing Labour to the Nazis goes unchallenged. Disgraceful."

Do you ever smile? Your comments always seem to be full of wrath. It's great to debate and discuss with people but it's pretty tricky when someone seems to be permanently bad-tempered (and I'm sure there are others).

In a word, Bilderberg.

This is a warning to Osborne, and Cameron, that they have the power, via Murdoch (Times & BSkyB) helped by the BBC, to build them up, or destroy them.

Osborne is being publicly rebuked for not keeping private meetings private.

They want Osbourne gone. The meeting on the boat doesn't matter. The press are slimier than anything Osbourne has ever done.

This is a new British classic; 'Carry On Corfu'.

Sid James as Oleg, Jim Dale as Osborne and of course Kenneth Williams as Mandelson.

Also, we all know there is no 'I' in team, but it is worth noting that there is no 'U' in Osborne.

Da Fink is wholly unconvincing.

His reply may explain the initial splash but THREE DAYS OF COVERAGE?


.............and Alice Miles, Peter Riddell, Philip Webster.

Blairite weathervanes, one and all.

Has Alice Thomson given up organic muesli because of the recession yet ?

Who was it that said "I don`t repeat gossip...so listen very closely to what I`m about to say" ?
It has been alleged to me by someone entirely unconnected with the Conservative Party (now in Switzerland and whom I trust) that the story is much bigger that all this. I said it was astonishing that the affair could have come about over a mere £50K donation proposal but it seems this was only the cover story.
The real bait to lure Osborne to the meeting was an offer of defection. Mandelson let it be known that he wanted a career in politics after his term in Brussels had finished. He had no hope of having one while Brown remained in charge so he would consider `coming across` to the Conservatives for a seat in the House of Lords and office in a Conservative government after that. The matter of the donation was touched on but it was clearly not pursued for obvious reasons.
However Mandelson was taken by surprise by Brown`s offer of a peerage and ministerial post (had the latter got wind of Mandy`s plan?) and immediately started to cover his tracks by setting up Osborne. This was done so that anything Osborne said would be taken by the wider world as merely trying to dig himself out of a hole into which he had been pushed by Mandelson.
It`s all Machiavellian enough to have the ring of truth. Perhaps I`m too credulous but my source has nothing to gain by passing this on

Daniel Finkelstein was very stupid to write such a public (if coded) attack on his newspaper.
His Editor must be furious.

Don't forget the Aliens who promised George a cure for cancer, which is why he called over Michael Spencer, who's from Atlantis and happens to speak fluent Venusian, and together they both went back in time and defeated Hitler's secret robot army in Antartica before going back to the future to save Christmas 2018 from the Hypnotoad, and . . . Osborne lied.

Yes, I do like the idea of Kenneth Williams playing Mandelson - GB£!!

ACT @ 10.39

"...someone who can`t change his mind, and won`t change the subject" (definition of a fanatic)

Interesting that Daniel Finklestein mentions Conservativehome but without a link. He's obviously not keen for people to actually read the criticism of him. Poor internet etiquette.


I'm annoyed with CH. I'm especially annoyed to find the subject line of today's 'Conservative Daily' Email refers to the Fink's blogpost.

We agree that the GO story was a non-story. Why then are CH perpetuating it? CH appears to be determined to undermine one who is 'part of the [Conservative] family'.
We're rightly annoyed by the Times coverage, but Danny is the last person who should be the subject of our wrath.

I sympathise with you Conand but...

1. Danny was most certainly not the subject of our wrath. I was applauding his willingness to take issue with his paper's treatment of the story. His response to my post explains why The Times splashed the letter on day one but not why they kept a "non scandal" on the next two frontpages.
2. There's a balance between wanting to wish a story away and holding The Times and BBC to account for their behaviour,

Oh dear Tim - Luke 18:11 notwithstanding, I might perhaps point out to those bored by these sorts of spats - the deleted post was my response to the charmer who called me a fanatic.

I really think the Tory Party should encourage an investigation. George Osbourne has nothing to fear, and with luck Mr Mandelson will then find himself under full scrutiny. There are clearly questions to be asked about his role, and the involvement with the Aluminium Tsar, whilst he was simultaneously involved in setting tariffs for Aluminium in his role in the EU.
The whole Mandelson thing stinks.

Is Rupert Murdoch involved in UK politics again? Nothing like a good bit of adverse publicity in his papers when things are looking seriously awry with the new labour experiment.Seems OK for labour to consort with foreigners but when a conservative does it, it becomes a cause celebre for the Murdoch press.

Rumour, innuendo and conjecture are no basis for an enquiry. This 'non-story' is being promoted by Brown and Government favoured journalistic hacks interested in distracting the electorate from the real story of RECESSION facing the country.

There is no legal basis for a 'yachtgate' enquiry. Perhaps, if they were honest and frank, they would investigate Brown's mismanagement of the economy, or ask questions and enquire about a former EU Commissioner who lowered aluminium tarriffs etc???

Also in the interests of freedom of speech, the Tory Party should consider making a pledge to abolish the BBC TV licence. This would remove the biased, political influence from pro-Labour journalists.For too long now, the BBC has become a protector of the Labour Party. This would be very popular with viewers and become a vote winner.

George Osborne should go, but not right now. He is under qualified for such an important role as chancellor, those qualification that he does have, would suit him far better for a role in the permanent civil service. The “people” a much ignored but essential component of the United Kingdom may be willing to swallow one top toff , at the cabinet table, maybe even more than one, but the reality is that the “people” believe that there are far to many members of Eton and Oxford in clubs in the current Shadow governement. The Fact is the people who Osborne mix with cannot be trusted, and that will increasingly drag at his feet. Better that he goes soon, and is replaced by a more intelligent person from a more humble background. Oh for a dozen Ken Clarks or was that Clark Kents.

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