The tenure of the last Liberal Government to enjoy a big Commons majority - which means it must have been a long, long time ago - was marred by a Tory House of Lords which routinely voted down legislation. The impasse came to a head over David Lloyd George’s 1909 budget, and thus the Parliament Act. LG, meanwhile, countered a Tory back bencher who called the Lords the “watchdog of the constitution” - in typical style.
He's a libertarian. Likes freedom. Asterisk
It was, he declared, merely “Mr Balfour’s Poodle”. It fetched and carried for the Tory leader. Today, Mr Balfour’s Poodle has been replaced by that of Mr Johnson, final confirmation coming yesterday afternoon in the wake of a botched attempt by chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings and his minions to practice censorship of the media.
What had happened? Dan Sabbagh of the Guardian gave a taster: “Political journalists from across the board walk out of briefing in protest at government's divide and rule lobby tactics”. Pippa Crerar, now at the Mirror, went further. “I felt deeply uncomfortable being left to stand on one side of the room while colleagues' names were read out one-by-one and they joined the group who were deemed ‘acceptable’ by No 10. Sinister and sad”.
Paul Waugh, now at the HuffPost, told “I can safely say that in 22 years of being a political journalist, I've never experienced a day like today. No.10 sources now insisting that political editors like myself ‘are not banned, they are just not invited’”. Newspeak? Check! Damian McBride, recalling his time with Gordon Brown and afterwards, warned “These are the guys actually responsible for media relations deciding to try and cut out specific, important outlets. Well done the lobby for walking out”. And then came the poodle.
The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog pretended it hadn’t really happened, at least, not the way it was being reported. “Lobby Break Briefing Rules” declared the headline, with the supporting post telling “Senior Lobby hacks have staged a walkout of a Number 10 briefing this afternoon, in protest at smaller titles not being invited to the extra briefing”. Smaller meaning the Mirror, for instance.
But do go on. “Guido understands that Number 10 invited a small group of senior political editors of larger media organisations including the BBC, ITV, Daily Mail, Guardian, The Sun, Sky News, and The Times for an additional detailed briefing in Downing Street. This is not the first time this has happened, nor the first time that Downing Street has favoured selected hacks from the so-called ‘inner Lobby’”. There is no “inner lobby”.
There was more. “Today many more Lobby hacks turned up uninvited to this extra briefing, causing a stand off in the entrance hall of Number 10, with journalists demanding to attend the extra briefing and Number 10 rebuffing them. Eventually, the invited journalists walked out along with the uninvited ones, and the briefing did not go ahead”. Yeah, right.
In addition, two notable Fawkes alumni tried to spin Cummings’ blatant attempt at media censorship, with the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole bleating “this takes the biscuit. Corbyn has run away, at times literally, from proper scrutiny”. Jezza done it! And former Fawkes teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham was at it too. “No 10’s version of events … ‘Uninvited Journalists barged in and demanded to be part of it’”. Bullshit. Anyone who tried to “barge in” to 10 Downing Street would have been shot dead.
On he went. “No10 source says it introduced the concept of ‘inner lobby’ six months ago, inviting senior journalists to technical briefings, but not other reporters”. Bullshit again. But Wickham had already let slip the real reason for the exclusion: “The Lobby has staged a walkout in protest at No10 attempting to remove journalists from left-of-centre publications from a Downing Street briefing”. The Guardian got in, but no others.
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
Even diehard Bozo backers were unimpressed, not least TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda: “It is totally unacceptable for Number 10 to try to pick and choose which journalists can attend Lobby briefings. All credit to the integrity and professionalism of those journalists who refused to accept the briefing when others were excluded. This stuff matters in a democracy”. And some in the Lobby had had enough of the Fawkes spin.
Adam Boulton of Sky News rounded on replacement Fawkes teaboy Tom Harwood, author of the latest Guido Guff: “I have been in the Westminster Lobby for over thirty years (since before you were born) and am a former Lobby Chairman. I have never heard of an ‘inner lobby’. This takes blatant attempts to divide and rule to a new level. So please don't lie”.
The Fawkes blog was once an outsider. But it was clear by the time of its tenth birthday celebrations that it had crawled its way into the heart of the media establishment. Now it has gone beyond that point, and is no more than a shill for our alleged Prime Minister and his enforcers. The lying in politics, as Staines used to say, is on an industrial scale. Now he and his gofers are part of that industry, lying their socks off for clicks.
And they claim to support the freedom of the press. Another fine mess, once again.
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