The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

03 March
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New Motto Of The Daily Telegraph – “Keep It In The Family”

With the sacking last month of editor Tony Gallagher the transformation of the once staid Daily Telegraph is now complete. Almost all the experienced (and expensive) hacks have gone, most of the “reporting” is being done by inexpensive and inexperienced novices, there is a lot of filler masquerading as  “comment” by a mixture of spotty youths and weird eccentrics and, of course, plenty of “lifestyle”

Which brings me to Jenna Zoe.

Earlier this year the DT began pushing this

Light Bites & Tasty Treats

Don’t miss 30 natural recipes from Jenna Zoe, including nutritious breakfasts, delicious party snacks, cookies and bakes. Free inside The Telegraph Saturday, January 18 and Sunday, January 

A few days before we had been told that Jenna Zoe was “The Complete Woman” in one of those vomit inducing puff pieces the broadsheets love so well. The idea is to give we ordinary folk a voyeuristic glimpse into the life of the beautiful people who are the movers and shakers of style.

- What you put on your body is important, so I pick organic products. I go to Content Beauty & Wellbeing in Marylebone, London, where the owner, Imelda Burke, is like an encyclopedia on the topic.

- I use Live Native skin products, which are raw and vegan. I love Oskia day moisturiser, and use coconut oil as a body cream and make-up remover. For nails,Zoya is great.

The reality is that it’s an advertising vehicle pretending to be an interview. Presumably it is hoped that we shall all be so entranced by Jenna that we will rush out and buy the stuff that makes her life so glamorous.

Normally I ignore such unsubtle garbage  – but I my curiosity was aroused by this pimping of someone who was obviously hip and cool but totally obscure…..was she a culinary Susan Boyle suddenly exploding from  nowhere by virtue of her own talent?

Alas, the truth is more mundane. Her real name, according to Lord Gnome, is Jenna Zoe Barclay and she is the daughter of DT supremo Aidan Barclay.

As they might say at Tesco “every little helps”……

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21 February
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Surely Tim Wigmore At The Telegraph Doesn’t Believe That Stuff About UKIP Fed To Him By Tory HQ?

The Telegraph’s fresh faced and youthful Tim Wigmore sees the Farage/Clegg debate as a chance for UKIP to stage a comeback?

“It’s a chance to put himself back to the front of the political debate at a time when the Conservative Party’s strategy of relentlessly talking down its own prospects and talking up Ukip’s is creating a situation where Ukip can increase its vote share by five times at a by-election and leave many regarding the result as a failure.”

Oh come off it, Tim old bean – you and your DT colleagues are the only ones who are still peddling that CCHQ canard. File it alongside sluts, facebook, mandela tweets etc etc….the DT and DM have been fed all this rubbish by the postgrad Tory interns and nothing has dented UKIP’s steady 3rd in most polls.

Trouble is, I suspect, that the “many” in your sentence refers to the MPs, hacks and lobbyists who get together at Westminster watering holes rather than to the folk outside in the street and on the buses and trains…

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20 February
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The Big Cheeses At The Telegraph Seem To Be Whistling In The Dark About UKIP – So Why Won’t They Read Their Own Paper?

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I must admit that when I heard that the Daily Telegraph was going to post a regular blog called UkipWatch by two political scientists, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, my heart did sink. Academics are often characterised (not always unfairly) as left wing and the Telegraph has a history of being sniffy about UKIP.

I have been pleasantly surprised. Every piece so far published has been exceptionally fair. Ford and Goodman don’t do a whitewash but they have treated the party and its members and supporters with respect and not as a fringe group of nutcases and loons.

If only more of their DT colleagues were as fair-minded. Two, Tim Stanley and Damian Thompson, never reluctant to throw cutting barbs at their selected targets, have both scribbled quite heavily laboured so-called “jokes” about UKIP and appeared very indignant and hurt when people responded in kind – proving, I suppose, that they can dish it out but can’t take it hurled back at them.

A callow youth called Will Heaven (look at his picture) claimed that UKIP was imploding, a theme picked up by Benedict Brogan who, with several others, saw the Wythenshawe by election result (“UKIP fails to beat Labour”)as a justification for Will Heaven’s view that Cameron’s masterly handling of the floods had gone down well with the public and undermined Nigel Farage – unfortunately polling appears to indicate that the Cameron Flood Mastery image remains just that, an insubstantial image only in the eyes of Westminster’s political hacks desperate for 900 words to fill a column.

Ford and Goodman also shot the Heaven/Brogan Wythenshawe fox with some actual facts (as distinct from wishful thinking)

If anything, what is striking about the result is that Ukip saw a five-fold increase in their level of support despite these harsher local conditions. Think about it for a second. Despite a three week campaign. Despite a well-oiled and ruthlessly efficient Labour machine. Despite Farage’s allegations of local intimidation and “nasty tactics” by Labour and the BNP. Despite never having had any local active presence in the seat. Despite a striking turnout figure of 28%, reflecting by-election apathy and the storms, which may well have further suppressed the Ukip vote further. Despite all of this, Ukip still rocked in to this Labour area, took almost 18 per cent of the vote, moved from fifth to second place and added more than 14 points to their share of the vote in 2010. It is not a spectacular success in the same tradition of other campaigns that we have witnessed over the past two years, but make no mistake – this is still a solid advance. In fact, this was Ukip’s fourth best by-election result in their entire history.

But never fear. Another Telegraph big cheese, Iain Martin (“one of Britain’s wisest and most learned political commentators”) backs the Will Heaven line

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

Indeed the biggest of all the Telegraph cheeses, Peter Oborne, sees this as all part of a Tory Cunning Plan

playing an expert game of expectations management, playing down its own chances and setting unfeasible targets for Ukip. This clever wheeze worked well at Wythenshawe, meaning that Ukip’s strong showing looked like a minor disaster for Farage, while everybody overlooked the dreadful Tory performance. They are now trying to repeat this in the forthcoming European elections. With their political strategists at last firing on all cylinders, the signs are that the Tories might even get away with it.

Losing votes and coming third is a strategy?

Ford and Goodman, however, dashed a bucketful of cold water over the frenzied musings of Martin and Oborne

But then things are never quite as simple as they often appear in Westminster.

It may well be true that Farage and Co could improve their expectation management, as George Eaton has argued. The easy thing would have been to avoid making any prediction about the European elections and then look surprised at a first place finish, but Farage never follows the easy path. Yet there are good reasons why we should not read into current polls or the result of one by-election where – to be frank – Ukip did well to poll over 17 per cent and push the Conservatives into third.

 

They make several key points.

 

  • In the 2004 & 2009 Euro elections UKIP benefited from late surges in the polls.

 

  • Today UKIP is starting from a higher polling base than before – over several months a steady 12%

 

  • The party now has stronger local roots – hundreds of elected councillors and a flourishing branch level membership

 

  • UKIP now has a regular and substantial presence in the news cycle

 

What’s the Telegraph up to? Is it acting as a conduit for Tory HQ? Who knows? But it’s beginning to strike me that the paper and its mates at Central Office are whistling in the dark in the face of UKIP’s growth.

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14 February
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Govt Wants To Know Why Auditors Cleared Dodgy UK Bank – So They Send In The Clowns…

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Great news…

Britain’s accounting watchdog has launched a formal investigation into KPMG’s work as the auditor of the Co-op Bank ahead of the emergence of a £1.5bn capital shortfall at the lending arm of the country’s largest mutual society.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it would look at the way the Co-op Bank’s accounts were prepared, audited and approved in the years leading up to the discovery of a the capital black hole that threatened to put the lender out of business.

 And it’s not just the FRC…

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are undertaking their own investigations that could lead to formal action being taken against current and former senior managers and directors of the Co-op Bank.

Were there dodgy deals between beancounters and clients? We don’t know but at least with the FRC and FCA on the case if there was a lack of due diligence we should find out because an FRC/FCA investigation will be relentless….

What’s that? The boss at the FRC is Sir Win Bischoff, a former big cheese at Citigroup?

The City veteran is a contentious choice because he presided over astronomical ‘golden goodbyes’ to failed bankers during his two years on the Citi board. 

This included an eyewatering £40million payment for failure to former Citi chief Chuck Prince when he was forced out in 2007, despite steering the bank headlong into the toxic debt mire. 

Bischoff succeeded Prince on a temporary basis, then moved into the chairman’s job just months before Citi was bailed out by US taxpayers. 

 Surely this is not a case of the higher the title the weaker the talent pool?

Most people were underwhelmed when Sir Win Bischoff, former Citi chairman, was appointed as chairman of the Lloyds Banking Group to replace Sir Victor Blank. Bischoff never seemed to get to grips with Citi’s problems and gave the impression of hobbling along behind the bus rather than sitting upright at the steering wheel

After Citigroup Bischoff became chairman at Lloyds and was involved with the controversial sale of 600 Co-op Bank branches known as Project Verde.

Hmmmm

Still John Grifiths  Jones  at the FCA should be a safe pair of hands….shouldn’t he?

Questions have been raised about Mr Griffith-Jones because until last year he was chairman of KPMG, which is the Co-op Bank’s auditor. Last week, the Co-op Group launched an investigation into the bank’s £1.5bn capital shortfall including a review of “the role of the independent auditors”.

Tony Shearer, former chief executive of Singer & Friedlander, said Mr Griffith-Jones was “conflicted” as chairman of the banking regulator due to KPMG’s involvement with banks. The firm was also auditor of HBOS, Bradford & Bingley, and Kaupthing, all of which failed. Similar questions were raised in April about KPMG’s HBOS audit, by Mr Shearer and others.

 Are these really the men who should be investigating the KPMG/Co-op Bank affair?

 

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13 February
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Cameron Insists “Money Is No Object” Re Floods…..Yeah, Right…..

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 The man who always leaves the restaurant just before the waiter brings the bill……

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12 February
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Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband Told To “Flood Off” By Angry Villagers….

Wealthy Labour Party leader Ed Miliband visited a village hit by floods in order to show how much he cared for ordinary people and to do something about the rising waters…

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But the villagers were not impressed

there was anger among some locals, including the deputy mayoress of Windsor and Maidenhead, Margaret Lenton, who accused the opposition leader of seeking a photo opportunity and blocking volunteers from doing their work of rescuing people from rising waters.

As Miliband gave an interview to Sky News from the school hall, Lenton called out: “You people get out,” and Miliband and his entourage were ushered away.

“I am really angry,” Lenton told the Guardian. “What is he doing here? Where have they been all this time? He was standing in the middle of a working organisation where we are trying to get people rescued. He turns up for a photo opportunity when we are now down to hard cases of rescuing old and vulnerable people.”

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11 February
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Farage And The Floods – Somehow He Steals The Show Again…..

While the government’s floods “strategy” appears increasingly confused UKIP’s Nigel Farage scores points

  • Actually dresses like a countryman and wears waders rather than wellies from Harrods
  • Chats to a Sikh chap who has brought down some mates from his temple in Slough to help the locals rather than give PR puff to selected hacks
  • Suggests  we pay for massive works to lessen flood risk by not sending taxpayers money to corrupt third world regimes via bloated “charities” led by fatcat troughers

Strange how a man totally outside the Westminster bubble of the chattering class is able to hit the spot while Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, surrounded by legions of spin doctors and “brilliant” young interns fresh from Oxbridge  often appear to be 2/3 steps behind…

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04 February
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Local Politician Makes Stupid, Infantile, Offensive Tweet….National Media Ignore It – He’s A Tory, Not UKIP…

Funny how the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail didn’t make much of this story and commentators at those papers don’t keep reminding us of it…

Conservative councillor Danny Mayzes was temporarily relieved of his responsibilities at the council last year after posting a controversial comment on Twitter on October 8. He was also suspended from the Conservative Association in Clacton.

While watching the film Machete, in which vigilante gangs battle illegal immigrants on the Mexican border, Mr Mayzes wrote: “Am watching Machete – now that’s how you DEAL with immigration issues lol”.

Oh, wait a minute, I see what happened….he’s not UKIP but a Tory so it’s OK for him to “apologise” and “move on”

Update: The Daily Mail has belatedly put up a piece on Mr Mayzes but notice there is no “storm of protest” or demands for David Cameron to “get a grip” on his party – and no refererences to a shamefaced Tory HQ trying to deal with yet another Tory scandal…I wonder why?

 

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02 February
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Let’s Remove The Quangocrats From The The Trough…

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Baroness Morgan, Labour peer and former advisor to Tony Blair is unhappy that her three year contract as Chair of Ofsted is not going to be renewed. She sees it all as a Tory plot….

“I am the latest of a fairly long list of people now who are non Conservative supporters who are not being reappointed. I think there is absolutely a pattern. It’s extremely worrying,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Much is being made of the fact that she used to be a teacher and that is quite true – for four years between 1981 and 1985. She then became a Labour Party official and remained so until 2005 when she hit the quango trail.

Morgan is just one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of the “great and the good” who populate the secretive and shadowy universe of quangos, commissions and lobbying charities, a universe that has expanded twentyfold over the last quarter century’

The ideas of Trotsky and Lenin may have failed in Britain, but Gramsci’s notion of a long march through the institutions of power has succeeded. This goes wider than the well-known Left-wing bias in universities and the judiciary. The Institute for Economic Affairs has calculated that there are 27,000 charities dependent on the state for at least three quarters of their income. By and large, any organisation dependent on tax money will argue for more of it. On a practical level, from shale gas to school dinners, reform is being thwarted by quangos.

These people are very influential and often wield considerable power. Witness Lord Smith, formerly Chris Smith, a rather nondescript Blair/Brown regime hack who, it is claimed, has ten of these positions above and beyond  his six figure two days a week post as Chair of the Environment Agency.

The Somerset floods fiasco has brought the hapless Smith into the media spotlight but most of the others beaver away, often at taxpayers expense, grandstanding and schmoozing while the professionals do the actual work.

Here’s a novel idea. Why not take these troughing has beens off the public teat, give taxpayers hard earned cash only to those value for money charities who actually do something apart from PR and appoint seasoned professionals to any working quango that survives

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28 January
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BT Broadband Still Acting Like A Complacent Nationalised Style Monopoly Sloth Whenever It Can…..

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This is a response from BT to a customer re broadband pricing

 

Our pricing varies depending on where you are. In areas where there’s competition from other broadband providers, our prices are lower than in areas where BT Wholesale is the only broadband supplier.

Exchange areas 1 & 2 means that we’re the only service provider in the area.

 

Yes, that old pre privatisation BT spirit is alive and kicking outside the urban areas. No wonder that rural broadband pledge is yet another Cameron broken promise….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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