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Duelling gentlemen

Nick Robinson | 10:49 UK time, Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Not so long ago gentlemen friends who fell out would have taken their pistols to France to resolve their differences in a duel. These days it would seem that you use your PR agency to send a letter to the Times and put out statements on your behalf. The aim is not to kill your rival but to kill off his career.

George Osborne and reporters including Nick RobinsonSo, where are we in the duel between Nat Rothschild and George Osborne? Osborne's been badly hurt but not fatally wounded.

There are now two conflicting accounts of exactly what happened in Corfu but key details are shared - the possibility of a donation by LDV - a firm controlled by Oleg Deripaska - was considered by the Tories and later rejected.

The dispute is over whether the story goes much further than that. Rothschild and now his American business associate - the financier James Goodwin - claim that Osborne pursued the idea of a donation in a discussion before, during and after a visit to the oligarch's yacht. Osborne denies that strenuously, admitting only to being present when a donation was suggested by Rothschild.

A few facts make this story curious:

A donation from LDV wouldn't have been illegal.

It would have been a pretty daft way of trying to covertly channel money to the Tory party since a Google search would reveal that LDV is controlled by the Russian oligarch.

£50,000 is a trivial sum to the Tory party and an absurdly small sum to secure from a billionaire.

So, either Osborne and Tory fundraiser, Andrew Feldman hoped for a much bigger donation or they weren't much bothered by the funds on offer but couldn't resist the prospect of a trip to meet an intriguing man on a magnificent yacht.

The question today is whether Rothschild considers the duel to be over or to have only just begun. Is he willing to go further - not just about this story but about other things he claims to know about the shadow chancellor? Friends who've known you for 20 years have plenty of stories to tell. Is Nat Rothschild ready to tell them or does he consider it time to put the pistols away?


Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    I repeat my comments of yesterday. This is not really about the money (unless you live in the Westminster village). This is about the total lack of judgement shown by Osborne and the fact that if a friend of 20 years cannot trust him to keep confidences why should I trust him to be Chancellor?

    He sold a friendship down the river for a few cheap quotes from Mandleson regarding GB. And we all knew them anyway.

    Good opportunity to bring back David Davis?

  • Comment number 2.

    The whole purpose of a duel is for a gentleman to protect his honour. In this case there are no gentlemen, so there will not be a duel. Just skeletons rattling in a cupboard and various characters getting their knickers into a metaphorical twist.

  • Comment number 3.

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

    Tory refuses trivial donation!

    Is seriously can't believe that the BBC are still trying to make this into news whilst Mandelson escapes any scrutiny.

  • Comment number 4.

    Should we be concerned by the number of old-boy connections between these men of power and influence? It seems everybody is somebody's old chum from the Bullingdon Club. Patronage still seems more important than talent when it comes to advancement. Osborne was unwise to bite the hand that helped him up.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Do politicians live on the same planet as the rest of us? (Rhet.) My cat was sick this morning, I'd rather vote for the sick than any of these buffoons.

  • Comment number 7.

    Surely the point of fund raising is to put out feelers whereever you can. If you get a bite you run it through the rule book. If it's legit and not politically dangerous then you accept it, otherwise you decline it. That appears to be what happened here. The rest is just innuendo and mischief making.

  • Comment number 8.

    Nat has had plenty of time to reflect between each of his actions - and still the PR continued.

    I wonder whether this is the end? I also wonder who else fears about being in the frame on any alleged misdeeds.

    As allegations fly then witnesses are needed. Sooner or later, we'll know all the names in Nat's contacts book. What do you think?

  • Comment number 9.

    As Osborne has already been variously described in the media as a cad, blackguard, bounder, footpad and so on, then a duel seems highly appropriate.

    An old-fashioned duel that is.

    The Tories are rather keen on blood sports are'nt they?

  • Comment number 10.

    yet again a minor storey has exploded into big news, a story being used for political gain over opposition.
    well as for a duel may be it shoyuld not just be these two but there respective parties spin merchants too.
    if osborne is guilty so what its not like he was going to buy a house with the money.
    each party is guilty of missdeeds and to be honest the public expects it from them these days, we all know how corrupt westminster is and how they run riot over the rules in there self interested ways.
    sadly its we the people who have allowed these parties to continue along this road and become more important than the job they were set up to do thus its up to us the people to resolve the issue, at elections dont vote for party but vote for independent runners, chop down these parties ,remove there power base and kickstart a government by the people,for the people.
    we should not fear government, government should fear the people, becouse with out the people behind them they are no more than a dictatorship.

  • Comment number 11.

    George Osbourne should come out and say, he is sorry and will support 100% State Funding of Political Parties. (Then his Tory pals will dump him for being sensible)

    The only reason no donation was accepted (they asked for one!, do you worry about that) is because the Russian realized, George couldn't deliver anything, he was all froth and know substance. Something the UK has discovered also these last few months (credit crunch)

  • Comment number 12.

    If there was any doubt that Messrs Mandelson & Campbell are back at the very heart of the NuLAb election spin machine, we need look no further than the way the BBC is lapping this one up. Sky News, not exactly known as an impartial observer when it comes to cheer leading for Liebour, refer to this as a 'Soap Opera', but it beats Mervyn King declaring "recession is here", into second place in the BBC morning bulletins.

    Go back to your constituencies and prepare for a May 09 election, the BBC (or Pravda as it is known in government circles) has been put on a war footing.

  • Comment number 13.

    This story is being stirred up by the media to be something much bigger than it really is. For goodness sake - we are entering a recession due to 10 years of incompetent labour rule and all the BBC and other media channels can blurt on about is the private discussions between Osborne, the Oligarch and Rothschild when they were on holiday this summer. We have already learnt that no donation was wished for or received by the Conservative party so I think the media should leave it at that. I have to say all this back stabbing, dodgy dealings and secret media briefing smacks of Mandelson - and thus surely Brown's judgement should be called into question for calling him back to the Cabinet. The fact is the real story of the moment is Brown's economic mismanagement and the fact we are heading into a recession and I think the media should be concentrating on this.

  • Comment number 14.

    I notice that the focus of this story has subtly changed since it broke. It was first about the sleazy tories taking money from rich and powerful foreigners. When it became clear that there was not a shred of evidence that that had happened, the focus seemed to shift to whether it says anything about Osbourne's judgement in spending time on a plush yacht.

    This reminds me a bit of the war in Iraq. We were first told it was about WMDs. When it became completely clear that the WMDs were just a myth, we were told it was a good thing anyway because Saddam was a Bad Man and it was good to get rid of him.

    In the same way that Blair and Bush, for whatever reason, decided it would be fun to bomb Iraq back to the stone age and then groped around for justifications, it seems that the BBC have decided that this is somehow a real news story and are now groping around for reasons to keep running it.

    I'm no friend of the tories and would quite happily believe that they would not only sell their own grandmothers but also fiddle the VAT on the transaction if it suited their purposes, but as far as I can see there is no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing here, apart from some unsubstantiated rumours that have Mandelson's fingerprints all over them.

    I think the BBC have slipped below their usual high standards in giving this story as much prominence as they have. Either show us some evidence or go back to reporting real news.

  • Comment number 15.

    It really really really is time to drop this story, Nick, and return to reporting about the important issues in British politics.

    I think we have learned a thing or two about Nat Rothschild, Peter Mandelson, George Osbourne, and how they spend their holidays. No doubt voters will draw some conclusions at the next election.

  • Comment number 16.

    Osborne has obviously broken some code of conduct within his circle which has ticked off Rothschild but in reality nothing has happened, it is a non story.

    The press just love a bit of Tory bashing after months of Brown bashing.

    If the press could be inclined I am sure there are just as many awkward questions to be asked about Peter Mandleson's presence.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, why don't you mention the roles of Mandelson and Blair in all this? Why persist with a non-story about a non-donation? Why is the BBC so biased? Answers on a postcard please!

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick - you say that it is common ground that the possibility of a donation was "considered by the Tories and later rejected".

    Is there in fact any evidence for a decision to reject? I think I have seen a report (in that well known Labour rag the Telegraph?) that there is no record of the 'decision'.

  • Comment number 19.

    Am I the only one finding this whole episode curiously timed, when both Mandelson and Campbell seem to be helping El Gordo, and the government has other troubles, up pops a mucky little story about the tories trying to get a donation.

    The whole story, as it unwinds, is unedifying, to say the least, and where's Mandelson? He seemed to be present at some of the meetings, if not fully briefed afterwards.

    Does El Gordo approve of all this? After all, this is the man who denied any knowledge of the labour party funding scandal, and they're still short of money. Is any dirt you can shovel at an opponent good?

    Where is El Gordo? What part of the world is he actually saving today? I'm personally still much poorer than I was, and can't afford to retire because the value of my investments in a pension fund are down, yet again.

    Is he in hiding, hoping nobody notices that we are in recession, and we can't expect to recover before the next election is due, and if he keeps quite the scots might not vote labour out in Glenrothes?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Nick,

    In your previous post you accept that as EU trade minister Peter Mandleson should not have accepted the hospitality of Oleg Deripraska. There was a clear conflict of interest and you accept that if Mandleson had been a minister of the crown at the time, then he would have had to resign (again!). Just a few questions on this point...

    1) Why do you believe that is it acceptable for our EU Trade Commissioner to display lower ethical standards of behaviour than a minister of the crown? Shouldn’t we as citizens expect the same standard and more to the point, shouldn’t you as a journalist hold them to the same standard? After all, both our representatives of the people.

    2) Since you accept that Mandleson’s behaviour as an EU Trade Minister fell well-below the standards required of a minister; shouldn’t you have made this point on TV as well as on your blog? Why the difference of emphasis here, compared to your TV and press interviews?

    3) On the Today program you admitted that the BBC resisted running with the original ‘Mandelson’ story – why?

    4) Why hasn’t your colleague Robert Preston acknowledged his conflict of interest in this story – e.g. wasn’t Osborne leading calls for an investigation into Preston’s Bank Bailout leak stories? Strangely for an Economic Editor he has been all over the TV news reporting about this ‘political’ story. Surely the viewer has a right to know about Preston’s potential conflict of interest. Or should we only hold politicians to the highest ethical standards and not your fellow BBC journalists?

    5) James Goodwin has not confirmed Nat Rothschild’s entire original allegation. Remember Mr Rothschild’s letter claims Osborne solicited a donation. Whereas Goodwin claims that Osborne was only interested in a donation. As I’m sure you are aware, legally this is not the same thing. Moreover, according to Guido Fawkes this is not the first time that Rothschild has changed his story. He claims that there are three separate incarnations of the Times letter. Why haven’t you commented on this claim? I for one would like to know if Mr. Rothschild or the Times newspaper deny the claim – as it could have some bearing on who we the license payer and voter believe in this he said, she said, story.

    As you can probably tell – I along with quite a few other licence fee payers (if the comments on your blog are to be believed) think that the BBC’s coverage of these two inter-related stories i.e. Mandelson & Osborne, leaves a lot to be desired. You either cover both or none and if you cover both, then you apply equal air-time to both. The fact that you haven’t is quite frankly disgraceful.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm bored with Osborne. Can you get back to reporting opinion polls which I note you've become suddenly more interested in. There's an Ipsos Mori Poll out today showing the Tory lead collapsing to a mere 15% with them on 45% and Labour on 30%. Can you not cover that under the headline Brown bounce continues as Tories meltdown... or something like that.

  • Comment number 22.

    "the possibility of a donation by LDV - a firm controlled by Oleg Deripraska - was considered by the Tories and later rejected."

    Good grief!

    Yesterday I considered giving my colleague a good hard slap because he is unbelievebly annoying - This idea was later rejected.

    So what am I then, guilty or not guilty of GBH.

    This is not news! And is the sort of reporting that should be consigned to the Daily Sport (which er... apparently exists).

  • Comment number 23.


    Bit edgy this morning aren't we, Alistair?

    Is it becasue the story hasn't really taken off?

    Why on earth would Geroge Osborne take the Times to court for something that hasn't happened?

    What a waste of money; that's what newlabour do best not the tories. They shower something with cash and then strap on the afterburners.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 24.

    U-Turn if you want to...

    A phrase that seems apt right now.

    Is this an attempt at objective reporting, or just craven back scuttling after yesterdays embarrassing display?

    Enquiring minds need to know.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well if the BBC has anything to do with it then it has only just begun. I love that we have to pay for this strictly impartial broadcasting.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am fed up with the BBC and their political and current affair editors who seem to live in a "Westminster bubble" and believe the chatter that goes on in the bubble is actually of any interest of us ordinary people who couldn't care less who stays on whose big boat when they are on holiday.This whole story is nothing more than tittle tattle and should not be in the news schedule at all ,never mind lead it.
    If the BBC editors don't buck up their ideas and stop playing their games and start reporting neutrally then their reputation as an even handed reporting organisation will be flushed down the toilet for ever.The place incidently is where the BBC reporting is rapidly approaching.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is what Nick said on yesterday's Today programme:

    "The Tory party have been encouraging Tory newspapers and others, including the BBC – and we have resisted it so far – to make a lot of Peter Mandelson’s stay on a Russian billionaire’s yacht."

    So the BBC make a big fuss about allegations of corruption involving a Russian oligarch when they involve the Conservative party, but will not make any kind of fuss about similar allegations involving the same Russian oligarch when they involve the Labour government!

    And Nick actually boasted about this!

  • Comment number 29.

    I haven't been on the blog for a few days. I come back today and what do I see? Hundreds of comments on a non-story.

    Come on Nick and the rest of you, we're better than this surely!

    If this qualifies as Tory sleaze then in order not to be labelled sleazy the Tories are going to have to give every penny they own to charity and endulge in self-flagellation before each session of PMQs.

  • Comment number 30.

    This is a storm in a teacup and looks like a typical Mandelson effort to manipulate the media, especially the BBC. Interesting that the PR person representing Rothschild is, apparently, a great friend of Mandelson. Mandelson, through his past acts and his lifting of tariffs following his meeting with the Russian, is thoroughly discredited and should be investigated regarding the tariff question. Perhaps we can then have some balance.

  • Comment number 31.

    What's all the fuss about.

    We all know that politicians are dodgy characters. And Mandy has a track record.

    Likewise billionaires didn't get where they are by being nice people - Warren Buffett may be an exception. They are on the whole hard and take no prisoners to get what they want.

    Hedge fund managers, NR included, have an aura of invincibility about them. They consider themselves infallible.

    And political commentators revel in it thinking themselves part of the team when all that normally happens is that they are used by the ultra-egos.

    So what we have here is a group of ultra-egos behaving as children.

    What's new?

  • Comment number 32.

    If you don't have anything sensible to add to the discussion I suggest you keep your unsubstantiated thoughts to yourself! To suggest that The Russian billionaire decided not to donate money to The Conservative Party because George Osborn had nothing to give him in return is not only libellous but bordering on the downright stupid! Such a deal would have wrecked The Shadow Chancellor's career if it ever came out. No money was passed and no deal was made, end of story. If his judgement is brought into question and his character assassinated beyond repair then he will undoubtedly step down and a more dangerous No. 2 will be put into place.

  • Comment number 33.

    amazing in this meritocratic society that we should seek to destroy the nascent career of the son of a humble painter and decorator, a man who has thus far knotted his own bow tie and successfully run several baths and who will use his vast financial experience gained from the many and various offices of his esteemed brokers, messrs wm. hill, ladbrokes et al to lead this once great country out of the economic disaster its currently mired in. lucky for him he has pals of a similar wealth of experience to help him through this, his darkest hour, it must be of huge reassurance that dave cameron's years of invaluable pr for one of the globe's leading media corporations can counter this filthy communist spin that the BBc continues to peddle.

  • Comment number 34.

    Let's try again - was my post referred to the moderators because it mentioned PM and TB or because it referred to BBC bias?

  • Comment number 35.

    Try again with initials instead of names - let's see if this is referred:

    Nick, why don't you mention the roles of PM and TB in all this? Why persist with a non-story about a non-donation? Why is the BBC so biased? Answers on a postcard please!

  • Comment number 36.

    Largest government debt since records began and this is *before* we enter the recession.

    Who cares who George spoke to on holiday?

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    "A few facts make this story curious:

    A donation from LDV wouldn't have been illegal."

    I'm getting a bit confused now. Are we now supposed to be outraged because a donation was discussed which *wouldn't* have been illegal?

    'Small legal donation offer scandal', perhaps?

  • Comment number 39.

    Nice to see that Mandelson's mastery of the media is still on top form. He spends a fortnight living in aboard a Russian Millionaire's Pleasure Yacht and yet somehow the story ends up being about a Tory donation that never happened...

  • Comment number 40.

    The question today is whether Rothschild considers the duel to be over or to have only just begun

    Very intruiging, why is a Rothschild washing dirty linen in public? This isn't their style. Nor is an interest in politics. They don't really care about politics, it's common and unworthy of their attention.They have control of the currency, politicians come and go and invariably end up dancing to their tune.

    So why is he doing this? Is there something to hide? Rothschild is advisor to Deripaska, Mandelson stays(not visits) on his yacht. GO leaks some tittle tattle about GB, but as a by product it becomes clear an EU Trade Commissioner is in a compromising situation. This becomes hugely significant when PM is brought back into cabinet as Business Secretary. Did GB know this already? Knowing he is doomed does he decide to thoroughly humiliate and destroy his arch nemesis by making him resign a 3rd time

    Come on Nick, do some digging and find out the real story for us

  • Comment number 41.

    Speaking to friends this morning over a working breakfast, the general view is that this is an internal conservative party plot, and the real target is Cameron. The feeling is that there is discontent over Cameron and Osborne's failure to capitalise on the banking crisis, and to further damage George Brown. Osborne is perceived as lacking real seriousness, and its time for Cameron to get a grip on his shadow cabinet, and its policies. Cameron has to back Osborne for now, but really Osborne's card has been well and truly marked. If this seems too conspiratorial, someone pointed out to me that if it was merely a question of defending Mandelson, people on the yacht could have confirmed that he had behaved perfectly properly. (Although whether any of them should have been there in the first place is another matter.) Anyway, the bloggers that are blaming the BBC for this story clearly haven't looked at who is keeping it going.

  • Comment number 42.

    I see from PMQ's that El Gordo thinks it is very easy for the UK to borrow its way through the current economic troubles.

    Is this because he thinks the banks he now owns will lend him the money?

    Just where does this poor deluded fool think he's going to borrow from? Nobody else has got any money!!!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Will people please stop asking for this story to be dropped. The longer this runs the more chance we will have of finding out what Mandelson/Rothschild have to hide. Somewhere in this country a reporter might wake up, think this doesn't look right and do some investigating. If we go back to opinion polls because we're bored with this then the Mandelson/Deripaska story will also be forgotten and the Prince will have got away with it again

  • Comment number 45.

    Oh Nick,
    Here you go again. If you have not noticed no one cares and the whole story is a pile of rubbish. You do seem to have a habit of trying to drag bllod out of a stone when it best suits the Labour Party. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 46.

    23# RobinJD wrote:


    Bit edgy this morning aren't we, Alistair?

    Is it becasue the story hasn't really taken off?

    Why on earth would Geroge Osborne take the Times to court for something that hasn't happened?

    What a waste of money; that's what newlabour do best not the tories. They shower something with cash and then strap on the afterburners.

    Call an election.


    Oh, dear. So far from being Alastair Campbell that I am not even a Labour Party member and in fact voted Liberal in the last election.

    If George Osborne is not lying, he would take the Times to court for printing, as he claims, lies about him.

    I suspect Labour will call the election when the Tory lead has completely disappeared under a cloud of irrelevance and sleaze.

    Anyone who really understood British political and economic history would know that the really big spending party is the Tories, when in power they do it just before elections. Can't do that this time.

  • Comment number 47.

    Can anyone seriously imaging senior Tories (even Eton-educated ones) doing dodgy deals while Mandelson was lurking about?

    The key question about this media-storm is: Cui bono?.

    I.e. - who benefits from all this 'sound and fury signifying nothing'?

    What bad news is being 'buried'?

  • Comment number 48.

    My moderated posts ask the question below - I have replaced the names of prominent Labour politicians with "X" and "Y" to see if it then passes moderation. Very strange:

    "Nick, why don't you mention the roles of X and Y in all this? Why persist with a non-story about a non-donation?"

  • Comment number 49.

    So whom are we to believe about a recession?

    Our own experiences in real life, the word of the governor of the bank of England, who gets lots of high level, top quality breifings on the subject, or a low level government minister, who tells us tha some unnamed forecasts aren't as pessimistic as the Governors?

    And what does El Gordo think he's doing, making cheap jibes in PMQs? He got us into this state, and expects everybody else to be non-critical and helpful, so he can take all the credit.

    Time's running out, and he knows it.

  • Comment number 50.

    All this non-story shows is that Alistair Campbell is back. No donation, no wrong doing - but throw enough mud and it sticks for some of the people, some of the time. At worst next time there is a true Labour scandal they can say "The Tories are just as bad", at best something will come out they don't know about. Called knocking your opponent off balance. Shame on you BBC for being taken in by it - or are you complicit in trying to build the bigger story?

  • Comment number 51.

    How about reporting the number of companies that brought stands at the Labour party conference then invited minister to speak on issues of interest to the companies. Private Eye was full of information a couple of issues ago, seemed like a conflict of interest to me. So how much did they pay and were any of them foreign owned?

    What we really need is the political equivalent of and put a ban on any giving over £1000 a year. That would require Parties to actually get involved with those who they want to vote for them.

  • Comment number 52.


    Are you going to report another poll showing a 15% lead for the Conservatives?

    You certainly went into a lot of detail when it was reported at 'only' 9%.

    No wonder Labour are fighting dirty - they stare electoral oblivion in the face.

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

    Oh, it's a dead cat bounce.

  • Comment number 53.

    I have to confess that I have found the storylines being pursued by the media for both Peter Mandleson and George Osborne as Westminster tittle tattle of little interest to the ordinary man on the street. However, one thing to emerge from it that I think is worrying for the Tory party leadership is the photograph/ side story of George Osborne's membership of the Bullingdon Club-that one photo speaks a thousand words-as a middle class working professional, I fouund the look in his face of upper class toff/ arrogance very disturbing and I say that as a strong Tory voter! It is an image that I won't forget and will have a long lasting effect on my opinion of Mr Osborne.

  • Comment number 54.

    Further to my 51 post you could start here:
    Seems like a money earner to me.

  • Comment number 55.

    Go back to your constituencies and prepare for a May 09 election, the BBC (or Pravda as it is known in government circles) has been put on a war footing.


    ZZZZ. Right wing trolls complaining about BBC bias, same old same old.

    Rightwing dictionary definition of bias

    "To not support my views, to report objectively, to present the facts."

  • Comment number 56.

    How very convenient. Hype up a non-story and wait for the jackals to fall all over it. This will be the only thing Labour ministers talk about on Question Time tomorrow in a finger pointing exercise that is orchestrated (oh yes !) to deflect people from talking about the shocking state that this country is in after 11 years of Labour control.

    Do they really believe that we are stupid enough to fall for this? How long has it been since the newly ennobled minister returned and Campbell took the reins once more?

    This stinks !!

  • Comment number 57.

    Can we all PLEASE petition France to re-legalise duelling? I'll even buy Rothschilds ammunition for him and give him a few shooting lessons if need be. If he can then have a strop with Alistair Darling I'll be a happy man.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    If the worst that the BBC can come up with against Osborne is that he refused a donation which wouldn't have been illegal even if it had been accepted, then to me that speaks volumes about what the BBC's agenda is and how little real ammunition the BBC can level at the tories.

    Labour is mired in sleaze about cash for honours, and their business minister got fired twice (or was it 3 times? I've lost count) for sleaze, yet the BBC is going on about a donation which never even happened by someone who's not even in government.

    This is such a non-story that I think most people are just looking at the BBC with total wonder as to why they think that something which never even happened is so important.

  • Comment number 60.


    Outside the Westminster village does anybody care that two old school friends have fallen out!!

    What the general public want to know is how the government is going to get us out of the Financial mess they have got us into- and if they can not then we the public should vote them out.

    Why is Gordon not being challenged on his changes to the Bank of England/FSA, pensions and the fact that nobody in the cabinet will seem to admit we are in recession!

    There is real news out there why not report it!! Perhaps you need to get out of London a bit more and find out what the rest of country are thinking.

  • Comment number 61.

    Nick, a far bigger story than Osborne being wounded by association with this Russian, is the story that the BBC political editor is wounded by allegations of bias. Of course you won't report on this, but your credibility and that of the BBC is very much on the line at the moment. For the first time in my life, I am starting to resent paying a license fee.

  • Comment number 62.

    For goodness sake BBC/Nick

    Mervyn King has announced that we are going to be in recession - but the depth is uncertain. Yet you continue to plug this non-story of donations that were never made/taken.

    Tell the ennobled minister to get back in his box so that you can get on reporting the real issues - that the UK is sadly sinking into the mire with little prospect of any good news in the short term

  • Comment number 63.

    1. I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Nothing illegal has been done.
    2. As there is a big fuss, it must be about something else.

    Is this Deripaska playing off UK politicians for personal gain? Or is it UK politicians beating each other up to get Deripaska's money?

    Or is the messenger who highlighted Mandy's cosy relations with Deripaska currently being shot?

    And if so, why?

    Shouldn't Mandelson be out on his arse ALREADY if the allegationsof him displaying corrupt behaviour for the umpteenth time stack up?

    The person whose judgement is lacking is GORDON BROWN.

    I'd be really interested to see Mandelson's response to being asked to put up his entire net worth as collateral against the charge that Deripaska bought £50m in concessions from him at the EU.

    I'd like it to be video'd. And I'd like him wired up to detect the effect on his emotional wiring.........

    There are two charges on the table currently. And the one against Mandelson is infinitely more serious than the one against Osborne.

    A little perspective and judgement, if you please......

  • Comment number 64.

    This is developing into a blindfold version of pin the tail on the donkey.

    First he solicited, then he didn't, then he was just there, now it's a judgement call. Do make your minds up.

    Tomorrow this will disappear as the UK descend into recession.

    Just how bad will it be? The grim warnings from the governor of the bank of England seem to imply that tomorrow's number will be a disaster. The enginnering sector, housing sector and banking sector are all in recession already.

    No doubt crash Gordon will appear on the TV to urge calm just like his crapulous 'this is containable' statements when house prices fell for the first time a year ago. Now we're heading for 35 percent plus fall.

    Still, at least there will be no more boom and bust; let's be reasssured about that. Crash Gordon has reassured us at PMQs that this is a global thing and not to worry about it. Phew. What a relief. I'll take out some more debt then and buy a new 4x4.

    Can Gordon Brown ever expect us to take him seriously again? He can't mention recession, he can't mention boom and bust, he sends in hit men to score an own goal on Osborne as Lord Mandy is equally up to the neck in it... and he has the nerve to question the judgement of others.

    Gordon Brown has the worst judgment of any politician I've ever seen; the 10p tax, the election that never was; the 42 day detention; bad judgment call after bad judgment call and they still keep on coming with hislatest reshuffle.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 65.

    Just watched PMQs - Gordon was on his usual form; completely avoiding answering every question put to him and regurgitating the usual tractor production figures.

    He even had a pop at the lib-dems about their plan to cut public spending by 20bn (in answer to a question about help with fuel bills). Funny that he doesn't want to talk about the largest government debt on record - perhap his obsession with spending (sorry, "investing") money taxpayer's money is related?

    He spent us into this situation and now he thinks he can spend us out of it.

  • Comment number 66.

    My cost of living is spiralling.

    My job security is plummeting.

    My utility bills are going through the roof.

    My car costs a fortune to fill.

    My pension was in deficit and is now under threat of collapse.

    My taxes are going to increase.

    My age of retirement is going to increase.

    I don't care about a £50K donation or this "gentlemen's duel".

    I want this self serving government replaced with one that knows what it is doing.

  • Comment number 67.

    Brown is an idiot for demanding an inquiry into Osborne (for what?). Any inquiry would be duty bound to examine the role of the former EU trade commissioner (now Business Secretary) in all this.

  • Comment number 68.

    There is only one reason that this is even deemed to be news rather than gossip.

    Tories are likely to win the next election

    and certain Political commentators are very nervous about their future employment prospects because of a certain bias.

    It looks like its going to be a very dirty and long election campaign fought between the Tory party and the BBC oops NuLabore

  • Comment number 69.

    It's the economy, stupid.

    That's what the smoke screen of what Osbourne did or didn't do with regard to seeking a donation.

    While the smoke's in the air, and all the political commentators keep puffing, as young Nick here is doing, then the attention off the R word, and the deteriorating economy.

    El Gordo desperately wants cross party support, but doesn't hesitate to stick a boot in with a cheap jibe whenever he can.

    Nick, even you must see that this rreally is a non-story since all the usual suspects of Labour supporters aren't chiming in.

  • Comment number 70.

    I am a bit confused here, so this big story about Tory sleaze and illegal donations is actually Tories investigating the prospect of a donation from a legal source and then deciding against it?

    It seems a bit of a non-story in the current financial climate!

  • Comment number 71.

    The BBC only became interested in this story after the letter in the Times. Why is that?

    Robert Peston also got involved. Why is that?

    There is a big difference between an EU Commissioner STAYING on Oleg Deripraska' private yacht and a Shadow Chancellor VISITING.

    If the BBC followed the money from the start and not the tittle-tattle it may have actually had something to report.

  • Comment number 72.

    #20 ngodinhdiem


  • Comment number 73.

    To my mind, the over-arching theme here is the sheer arrogance displayed by the political class as represented in this farrago by Mandelson and Osborne.

    Operating at their rarified political level, them seem to consider themselves far, far above the workaday concerns of the proles.

    So, they holiday with whosoever they wish and if 'something' comes up such an opportunity to oil some wheels, then they consider it fair game.

    In this case, Osborne seems to have broken an unwritten protocol ('private' parties must remain precisely that) and therefore will pay a heavy price amongst his peer group.

    We, the people, just gaze through the window at these politicians and the oligarchs and cannot see any difference at all.

  • Comment number 74.


    i understand that newlabour supporters have no intention of even pretending to understand economic history because it would mean accepting:

    The botched union reforms of Barbara Castle's in place of strife which lead to ten years of striking culminating in the winterof discontent.

    Harold Wilson's devaluation and 'pound on your pocket' gaffe

    Shirley Williams disgraceful admission that the comprehensive system had been a failure all along.

    Denis Healey's IMF moment.

    Michael Foot at The Cenotaph in a donkey jacket.

    Neil Kinnock "we're allright" you're not.

    Tony Blair's Iraq lies.

    Weapons of Mass Delusion.

    Non reform of public services.

    Showering of cash with no improvements in public sector productivity.

    Trashing the private pension system

    The end of boom and bust......errr

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 75.


    Campbell must be getting desparate. There's an entertainment story on the site linking the PM's wife with Keanu Reeves and a canadian film about a third grade rock band from the eighties.

    It's a tenuous link, since her brother has directed the film, but is it any not bad news is good news, specially if it deflects questions about the economy?

    Does the son of the manse really, really, really want to be associated with silly little stories?

  • Comment number 76.

    Excellent; more moderation to stop people from putting the other side of the story across.

    So it's ok for the BBC to imply sleaze against the tories where there isn't any, but it's not ok for the public to respond in kind about labour sleaze which has already been proven?

  • Comment number 77.

    As the dear old Mitford's father would say, "A brawl between a sewer and a swine"!

  • Comment number 78.

    Tebbits comment that if you are in the company of dogs you get fleas is appropriate. What was Mandelson doing on the yacht, seems very inappropriate for an EU trade commissioner. Why did Osborne think it was a good idea to go anywhere near the yacht. And if you were looking for dough why 50K, seems a low figure. How much was it Blair got from F1. If Rothschild has any sense he'll pack up and go away, he has already changed his letter, he looks flakey, keep it up and he will look more stupid whether he is right or not.

  • Comment number 79.

    If Mandy is about I would not tell anyone what I would be getting my wife for christmas incase he turned into spin.

    No one would ever ask for any kind of donation while boomerang Mandleson was near.

    This is just Brown and Labour looking at a way of getting at Cameron because the public have had enough of this Government treating us this way.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    32. sicilian29 wrote:
    If you don't have anything sensible to add to the discussion I suggest you keep your unsubstantiated thoughts to yourself!

    I say, old boy, that's a bit harsh. Firstly this forum is open to all to express their views, and why shouldn't this blogger have the same right? If you don't agree with an opinion point out where you differ, there's no need to mock, it's unkind. With all these politicians out to rook us, we poor citizens shoudl stick together.

    Secondly, it's rather hard to write anything sensible about a load of ghastly opportunists!

  • Comment number 82.


    You seem to be getting some perspective on this at last.

    A good story regarding Osbourne - he avoided being sucked into a den of corruption. And now just an ex-friend suggesting that they may 'tell tails out of school'.

    What is rather more significant is that these dubious people from whom he has protected himself include a current Governemnt minister - Mandleson.

    It is Mandleson's crowd that are being spoken of in terms of 'getting in the gutter with', 'laying down with dogs' etc...

    Mandleson has been part of this circuit for a considerable time and remains so. Isn't this a story that actually does deserve to be covered?

  • Comment number 83.

    Shame on you Nick. I was under the misapprehension that the BBC was a public service broadcaster. I hope that the Tories remember your balanced and unbiased coverage when they win the election. You and Peston are extremely short-sighted.

  • Comment number 84.

    El Gordo wants us to send for Yates of the yard does he?

    I think we should be told exactly what part Mandelson played in all this, since he was indisputably in the area whilst all this was going on?

    If it is possible that there was money around, why wasn't he trying to get some for himself?

    Why only 50k? It seems such a trivial amount given the wealth this bloke is supposed to have?

    And anyway, how do we know this isn't a double sting, and Putin isn't behind it, trying to lure El Gordo in to a certain point, and then slam the treap on him, to get Putin his revenge for the Litvinenko kefuffle?

    Let's have the drains up, and have an elcetion while we're at it? What's that? The tories are still in the lead?

  • Comment number 85.

    33. , williewandsworth wrote:
    amazing in this meritocratic society that we should seek to destroy the nascent career of the son of a humble painter and decorator, a man who has thus far knotted his own bow tie and successfully run several baths

    What, did he run a chain of Turkish Baths too!

  • Comment number 86.

    Jonathan_cook #66

    Dead right, 50k is nothing to what we have to put up with and this out of date Government. No right minded tory would have only asked for 50k.
    How dare Brown ask for an inquiry after the last 11 years of Labour. What with wars and David Kelly, cash for honours, F1 advertising etc. Nothing ever comes out in the day of light and he wants to have an inquiry over something boomerang Mandleson has said.

    Come on Gordon get a grip.

  • Comment number 87.

    Oh bother, the moderation queue is so long I can't remember whether I've mentioned the economy.

    Are our wonderful bank investments paying off yet?

    Is the stock market going back up?

    Will I still have a job next month?

    If I buy a house, will it lose it's value, making me poorer?

    Is the future looking good under El Gordo and Darling's masterful mismanagement of the economy?

    Oh, and what's the new dictionary definition of boom and bust please?

  • Comment number 88.


    OED definition of bias is probably a little more reliable:

    "inclination or prejudice in favour of a particular person, thing, or viewpoint"

    To that extent, you are as likely to be as guilty of bias as I am (towards the SNP as it happens). However, the BBC has a statutory duty to be above these things and, not for the first time, has shown itself to be clearly biased towards the party of government.

    It, and its apologists, of which you are clearly one, should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 89.

    Can anyone tell me if the Tory party received a donation from Chelsea FC would that be OK?

    Or if any party received a donation from any football team would that be OK?

  • Comment number 90.

    Nick...Today on "The Daily Politics" you actually used the expression 'toff' in relation to George Osbourne.Also,although you probably don't realise it,you regularly speak about "Gordon Brown" whilst referring to the Opposition Leader as "Cameron".

    Isn't it time you simply came out and admitted your complete support for Labour and its Spin machine.

    Whilst on the Daily Politics subject,do you have any explanation for Yvette Coopers' reprehensible performance in refusing to answer Andrew Neils' questions about the culpability of this Government in relation to its promotion of unsustainable personal debt?

    I guess it's a stupid questuion....

  • Comment number 91.

    All goes to show that politicians do not have the interests of the public in mind but now serve big business.

    Less private involvement in government and public services would be welcome. They're only interested in making money, not providing a quality service.

  • Comment number 92.

    Just caught a glimpse on T.V. of Frank Field lambasting George Osborne for his perceived indiscretion and being backed up by The P.M. Let them conduct their silly little investigation and include a little look into the actions of the supposedly innocent Mandy and then see if it deflects the public's atttention away from the real issue of the day, the dreadful state of the economy.

  • Comment number 93.

    Nick, Nick,

    I saw a conservative MP putting up an umbrella the other day when it was raining... the nerve of the man - using an umbrella whilst other people were getting wet!!

    I expect, as a BBC licence payer, that a full expose is done on these shameful people! Perhaps you can team up with Peston and get to the bottom of this scandalous story - the public have a right to know!!

    (Make sure that you focus on the conservative MPs though - we all know that Labour MPs NEVER use umbrellas & NEVER do anything wrong!)

    ....a daft suggestion for a man of your journalistic "tallents"? Yes, perhaps... but it's about the level of pathetic journalism that sadly the BBC is becoming known for these days.

    Tell me, how much of our TV tax goes to paying your salary?

  • Comment number 94.

    Hello again Nick.

    Quite apart from the fact that one of your colleagues has planted a fairly vacuous analysis of this major news story, and is placing a lot of emphasis on the fact that the opposition chancellor of the exchequer is a very important position (must remember that when El Gordo is looking for another job, soon I hope), I feel we must keep a persepctive, and get back to the real story.

    The pound is now down to $1.62 and this, of course, is going to cause the cost of fuel high, since even if the dollar price drops it costs more in pounds.

    Now, how does this work IF a) this crisis is truly global, then relativity gets suspended or b) we are much better placed than other countries to weather the financial crisis, as we are repetitively told.

    The evidence tells us they're wrong. I won't call them mendacious.

    I'd like to hear government minister's telling us how it is, and not how they'd like us to believe it to be.

  • Comment number 95.

    I've just come back from holiday on my mate's yacht and sucessfully getting away from all the grim news of late and now I can't believe this story as it is patently such utter nonsense! If I didn't know better I would think Mandy was back in government!

  • Comment number 96.

    Can I suggest that anyone who's sick of the blatant bias shown by the BBC with their insistence to run with this pathetic story, make their feelings known by following the BBC complaints procedure as can be found here:

  • Comment number 97.

    I am informed that Osbornes behaviour if proven is a criminal offence. As a law abiding citizen I expect the police to investigate. If a tape of the discussions is available, it will clear up the matter

  • Comment number 98.

    Here Nick,

    I've got a question for El Gordo and his bunch of economic pygmies.

    If this is not a time for novices, and this is an unprecedented world crisi/recession/credit crunch, and what we really need are people who've had experience of this, then why doesn't he call in Norman lamont to help?

    He's the man with experience here. If he doesn't want to be bi-partisan, and who could blame him, because he'll probably be upstaged then he could always ask for help from Lord Healey the last Labour chancellor who had to get help from the IMF.......

  • Comment number 99.

    Surprise, surprise.

    JD et al have no answers.


    If Gideon and Feldman were replaced by Blair and Levy in this story, you'd be bemoaning a corrupt government and saying that the fact NR is not going after the story harder than he is demonstrates his left-wing bias.

    Don't pretend you wouldn't.

    You have no credibility with your one-sided criticisms.


    The Mail, Telegraph, Sky News, indeed every other part of the media is reporting on this.

    Do they all have this left-wing bias you keep telling us about and are controlled by Campbell et al like puppets on a string?

  • Comment number 100.

    Nick Robinson recently asserted that he did not report 'Lord' Mandelson's presence with the Russian Oligarch. As soon as a seniorTory is implicated, the (im)partial BBC becomes interested!

    It is interesting that a senior Tory not taking donations is regarded as more newsworthy than that 'regular kinda guy' taking donations in his 'whiter than white' government.

    And where is our gloriously inept ex chancellor in all of this? Taking the mote out of another's eye whilst ignoring the beam in his own?


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