The Millennium Dome Bombing Saga

 

MD News
Autumn a Friday 22/09/2000
PM Apologizes For Dome
(well, sort of)
Prime Minister Angus McBlair
P.M.: "Dome a qualified success."
Photo: Oliver Strange Agency
"It could not be called a success just yet, but it has provided jobs and regeneration at Greenwich," the Prime Minister said last night in a speech to the Party faithful.
   Although not on the grand scale of past apologies for the misdeeds of British Governments of long ago, Mr. McBlair did manage a very tiny sorry for not producing a Dome which lived up to the British public's expectations.
   Observers scored the apology content of his 'acknowledgement of apology' at 0.8 out of 10, based on past performances.
   The question now being asked is whether we should have a Grovelling Zone installed in the Dome to remind people of all of the other things for which this Government has offered its "apologies", such as the British Empire, which brought a vision of civilization to half the world.
   Of course, political balance would also require a Non-Grovelling Zone to represent all those who sent letters and emails to Downing Street asking the PM to include them out of a particular "apology".
   The Prime Minister is reported to see his 'acknowledgement of responsibility', no matter how grudging and how small, as a first step to rebuilding public confidence in his administration. He is seeking to counter views from opinion surveys on the lines of: "What we want is a Prime Minister who can see where we should be going and not a free-loading, grovelling, cronified control-freak, who's spent his time up to now replaying debts to the people who got him elected."
   Another criticism known to have wounded the PM is that: "All the Prime Minister is doing now is handing out more bribes and promises, which the British taxpayers will have to redeem on his behalf after the next election." With that height of mountain to climb, poor old Mr. McBlair is facing a very uphill struggle!

filed by Jarvic Klute [j.klute@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Saturday 23/09/2000
DOME FINANCE BLACK HOLE
McDour: Hands washed
Photo: Tim deLong
There is a 430 million "black hole" in the Millennium Dome's finances, it was revealed last night - and this is a minimum estimate, given the chaotic nature of the records of the Dome's finances.
   Chancellor George McDour is reported to have washed his hands of the whole project and made known his intention of voting against any further cash for the Dome. People are now asking: "If the new owners are prepared to swallow a pill of that size, what have they been promised in return?"
   A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's office said that no deal has been made. But she would, wouldn't she? Everyone knows that nothing is 'free' in politics.

filed by Jarvic Klute [j.klute@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Sunday 24/09/2000
DOME CONFLICT

It has been revealed that the opponents of the Millennium Dome and "don't knows" now form a majority in the Cabinet - which is exactly how things stood in 1997, when the Prime Minister was bounced into making a decision on whether or not to build the Dome. Now, Prime Minister Angus McBlain and his Chief Crony, Heritage Minister Pierson McAndelsen, want to see the Dome kept open for the full year and George McDour, the Chancellor, and his gang see it as an unacceptable drain on public funds - which will probably be a decisive factor in the Dome's fate.
   Older members of both the Cabinet and the Party - often called "Our Dead Wood" by the Party's spin-doctors and including Transport Minister Henry Tudor - are now uniformly against the Dome. They want to spend the money that is going to prop up the Dome on schools and hospitals, roads and railways, and bribes to the voters with a general election coming up next year.
   The Prime Minister seems to have stopped the "don't knows" from voting against him by selling them promises of what regeneration of Greenwich via the Dome will do for the Party's image. His main problem now is that the regeneration - if it comes off - isn't going to come soon enough to save his hide.
   Campbell McAllister, the Downing Street spin doctor, is now busy trying to assassinate the political reputations of the heretics in Mr. McBlair's party, who are daring to point out that the 2 billion wasted on the Dome would have regenerated a whole lot of other places in addition to Greenwich.
   Those close to Mr. McBlair are admitting that the Prime Minister is resigned to a bumpy ride at the party conference next month.

filed by Jarvic Klute [j.klute@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Monday 25/09/2000
DOME POLL SHOCKER
Prime Minister Angus McBlair
P.M.: "No secret deals."
Photo: Oliver Strange Agency
In opinion polls held over the weekend, just 13% of those questioned believed Prime Minister Angus McBlair's assurances that his Government has made no secret deals with the Italian Sospettoso Organization, the Millennium Dome's purchasers.
   Given this Government's shameful track record for manipulating the truth and blatant cronyism, it seems that the British public is no longer prepared to give the Prime Minister and his team the benefit of the doubt.
   Worse, Mr. McBlair's authority seems to be buckling and some members of his party are actually talking quite openly of dumping him! What this government needs right away is some stunningly good news, a political triumph or an Opposition scandal which will take the spotlight away from the Government's sleazy operating methods.

filed by Dana Howmaj [d.howmaj@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Tuesday 26/09/2000
CURSE OF THE DOME?
Dome Sec. Baroness Wrathe
Photo: Tim deLong
Heads are about to roll as public indignation about the Millennium Dome fiasco grows, although just relatively small fish are in danger of decapitation at the moment. Conservative leader Winston Hardcastle has described Prime Minister McBlair's much leaked plans for reshuffling Dome related responsibilities during its limited time of public ownership as 'merely cosmetic' and 'rank failure to address the underlying problems'.
   Most people are expecting the departure of Dame Alice Wrathe, 'Dome Secretary' and head of the Dome's management quango, in the near future. Parallels are being drawn between between Dame Alice and Dame Amerlia Grigg, who recently resigned from the chair of the National Lottery Board. Dame Alice's level of competence is being described as even lower than that of Dame Amerlia, who is reported to have jumped before she was pushed.
   Another similarity is that Dame Amerlia took a pay cut of just 20% – she still draws an income from five other quangos – while Dame Alice is a paid board member of three other quangos beside A New Millennium Dawn. Losing that job would not damage her too much financially and, like Dame Amerlia, she has plenty of friends willing to find her equally well-paid jobs in the public sector.
   Prime Minister McBlair is now seen to be hunting desperately for 'can carriers' to take the blame for the Millennium Dome fiasco (all he's taking is responsibility, which is a lesser evil). Cabinet watchers are confident that David Jones, the present Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and chairman of the New Millennium Commission, will be stuck on the back benches for all eternity if he survives the next general election. The same fate is looking more and more likely for Pierson McAndelsen, presently Heritage Minister by virtue of the Prime Minister's patronage.
   As for Lord Hawksbane, sometime prime ministerial flat-mate and the Cabinet Office Minister in charge of co-ordinating the Millennium Dome project, no one in government circles ever mentions him these days. He has succeeded in becoming a New Labour non-person.
   And it's not just Labour Party politicians who have to be worried. Should the Conservatives win the next election, a number of their senior figures will find themselves barred from Cabinet posts, sleazed by their enthusiasm for the Millennium Dome project. In fact, the power of the Dome Curse is such that it's difficult to see anyone coming out of the shadow of the flagship millennium project with any credit – apart from the Millennium Dome Bomber, of course!

filed by Maris O'Vishke [m.ov@md.news.uk]
 

Dome disaster warnings ignored

Before the 1997 general election, the Millennium Commission received separate reports on the Millennium Dome project from two groups of consultants. The reports were in the possession of the new Labour government when the Cabinet voted to go ahead with the Dome.
   At that point, no Lottery money had been spent on the project and incoming Prime Minister Angus McBlair and his allies were still in the process of swinging their Cabinet colleagues into line. A summary of the reports has just been leaked to MD News, presumably by one of the Prime Minister's many enemies. The Cabinet Office would not comment on the leak yesterday, and there was a deafening silence in response to questions about whether the full cabinet had seen the reports. The main points of the summary are:

  • Visitor Numbers : A target of 12 million visitors in the Millennium Year is 'unlikely to be achieved' given a plan to admit visitors to 2 separate sessions at the Dome on just 143 days.
  • Transport Capacity : The delays to the Jubilee Line extension, the lack of car parking space and the state of surface public transport would make the Dome 'difficult to reach and difficult to fill with the required number of visitors'.
  • Management Issues : The proposed management team of A New Millennium Dawn lacked the necessary experience of operating an attraction on the scale of the Dome, as well as creative and technical expertise. The management team as a whole was 'lacking in strength and depth'.
  • Must-See Potential : In order to become 'the greatest show on Earth', the Dome would need 'the strongest attractions on Earth'. As both ANMD and the (then Conservative) government had produced nothing more than sketches of the Dome's content, severe doubts were raised about their ultimate quality.
  • Risk Factor : One of the consultants described the Dome as 'the riskiest project on Earth, public or private sector'. He added, 'Making a success of the project will require more good luck than any government could reasonably hope to enjoy.'

It seems likely that Mr. McBlair and his cronies dropped the reports down the back of a filing cabinet if they were able to twist enough arms to make the Dome project happen. A certain reckless optimism had to be involved in the decision to build the Dome – or perhaps the new Prime Minister was convinced that he could walk on water and make anything happen after leading his party out of an electoral wilderness.
   If so, then he has to take full responsibility for failing to make the Dome a must-see attraction, failing to give it the right management, and failing to make it easy for people to reach it.

filed by Conrad Zorn [km.zorn@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Wednesday 27/09/2000
DOME SPONSORS SLEAZED
Sir Basil de Renge, CEO, Gusvion Holdings
Sir Basil de Renge
CEO, Gusvion Holdings
Photo: Oliver Strange Agency
When bad news arrives, it does so in floods. When the truth gets moving, it just starts rolling and rolling and crushing and crushing. Either of these sayings could apply to the political swamp, which the Millennium Dome saga has become for the Prime Minister.
   The latest embarrassment is the revelation that the knighthood for Basil de Renge, chief executive officer of Gusvion Holdings, was engineered by Angus McBlair himself as a bribe. Gusvion Holdings is, of course, one of the Dome's major sponsors and the operator of the G.H. Leisure Zone, arguably the most popular Zone in the Dome.
   Our leisure correspondent writes: Originally branded too vulgar and too populist by the chattering classes, Gusvion's Leisure Division has suceeded in creating a highly favourable image for the company and its other leisure sites around the UK are enjoying record levels of visitors. In fact, given the benefits resulting from participation in the Dome Project, it could be argued that Sir Basil and his company owe the British people a massive bung!

filed by Maris O'Vishke [m.ov@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Thursday 28/09/2000
TURN-ABOUT LEAKS
Chancellor George McDour
Photo: Tim deLong
Leak and counter-leak. Embarrass the Prime Minister one day, embarrass the Chancellor the next. The latest bit of bile to emerge from Downing Street is that Chancellor George McDour added his own conditions to the deal that gave Sir Basil de Renge his tap on the shoulder with the royal sword in return for sponsoring the Millennium Dome. One sweetener for the Chancellor was a balancing knighthood for one of his pals. Another seems to have been donations of 4,750 made on behalf of 109 employees of Gusvion Holdings to Party funds. The size of each donation, of course, is below the threshold at which the donor must be named.
   Needless to say, the Chancellor and his personal spin-doctor are in full damage-limitation mode and Mr. McDour's memories of that period are appropriately hazy. No doubt someone is beavering away behind the scenes to find 109 supporters of the Government in the ranks of Gusvion Holdings' employees and no doubt each and every one of them will be persuaded to say that the donation was their idea. But the truth is out of the shadows and blinking its eyes in the full light of day.

filed by Jarvic Klute [j.klute@md.news.uk]
 

 

MDB News
Autumn a Friday 29/09/2000
MDB ARRESTED!
Home Sec. Chapman O'Straw
Photo: Tim deLong
The Millennium Dome Bomber is now in custody, a spokesman for New Scotland Yard announced last night.
   An operation involving police officers from three counties, some of them armed, resulted in the arrests of three men and two women and the recovery of quantities of arms and bomb-making materials.
   "Some would call this a triumph," Home Secretary Chapman O'Straw said last night, "but this is the way it was always going to end. This Government has provided the police with resources and modern equipment on a scale unmatched by any previous administration."
   Police inquiries are continuing in the Pemberley area and further arrests are expected. It has long been suspected that the bombing of the Millennium Dome was performed by a team of up to five people, and that at least a dozen others have been involved in post-bombing tactics such as the invasion of the television network in March of this year, posting propaganda on the Internet and hacking into official government websites, including the Prime Minister's personal website.
   Solicitor Marsha Charlesworth, the official spokeswoman for the MD Sabs, the community of Millennium Dome Saboteurs, denied that any of the group's members is in custody in connection with the arrest of the MDB and his 'Inner Circle' of helpers. "We believe in making our views known through entirely legal means," she said.
   A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office called the arrests, "a triumph for democracy over the forces of anarchy."

filed by Ferret [f.02@mdb.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Saturday 30/09/2000
Mr & Mrs PM TO VISIT DOME
Mrs. PM
Mrs. PM in delight mode
Photo: O. Strange Agy.
Prime Minister Angus McBlair and his family will visit the Millennium Dome today. Campbell McAllister, the Downing Street spin doctor, has revealed that Mr. McBlair made a personal vow not to visit the Dome until after the Millennium Dome Bomber had been arrested. It was a long wait, but the PM now feels that he can visit the Dome in a spirit of celebration.
   The trip will be a family outing for the entire McBlair clan including children and the usual tribe of 'minders'. When asked who would be paying for the tickets, Mr. McAllister turned purple and had to be physically restrained; from which your reporter assumes that the poor old taxpayer will be footing the bill.

filed by Orest Beet [or.beet@md.news.uk]
 

 

MDB News
Autumn a Saturday 30/09/2000 - LATE NEWS
It Was All A Mistake!

A spokesman for New Scotland Yard admitted this afternoon that none of the five people arrested on Thursday night/Friday morning is the Millennium Dome Bomber. The original five, and two others arrested on Friday evening, are now all being question in relation to offences committed by Irish Republican terrorists.
   The news was announced as the Prime Minister was in the middle of an extended 'photo opportunity' during his triumphal tour of the Millennium Dome. It came, appropriately, while Mr. McBlair was enjoying the hospitality of the Leisure Zone operated by Gusvion Holdings.
   The Prime Minister and his party left the Dome a short time later and had no comment to make to waiting journalists.

report by Insider [In-114@mdb.news.uk]
 

 

MDB News
Autumn a Sunday 01/10/2000
MBD – "STILL FREE"

The Millennium Dome Bomber has announced that the flood of reports of his incarceration have been somewhat premature. He has posted messages on the Internet and sent communications to the news media on paper sprayed with his signature 'smart water' fluorescent chemicals to assure the British public that he is still at liberty.
   A spokesman for New Scotland Yard confirmed reports that four further arrests of Irish Republican terrorists have been made - one on the British mainland and three in the Irish Republic. Forensic tests are believed to have linked materials recovered during the police raids with previous attacks on bridges and railway lines in London.
   The spokesman had no comment to make on rumours that the Irish terrorists have visited the Millennium Dome and they had it marked down as a possible future target.

report by Insider [In-114@mdb.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Monday 02/10/2000
DOME QUANGO CONTROVERSY
Ms Carnell-Wyatt
Photo: Tim deLong
A New Millennium Dawn, the quango set up to run the Millennium Dome, became embroiled in further controversy yesterday. It was revealed that Robyn Carnell-Wyatt, an executive with ANMD, gave contracts worth up to 20 million for setting up attractions in the Dome to a company run by her then boyfriend. She also received a major part of the blame for the failure of the Doshan Syndicate's bid for the Dome.
   The Japanese consortium was unwilling to take on the legacy expenditure from a number of Ms Carnell-Wyatt's deals and concerned about "a lack of attention to detail" in her accounting procedures.
   Ms Carnell-Wyatt resigned from her executive position with ANMD in the middle of September and was unavailable for comment. ANMD had no comment to make on the allegations. The Department of Heritage also refused to comment and insisted that the affair was an internal AMND matter.
   This latest scandal follows reports last month that Scotland Yard's Department SO 6, the Fraud Squad, is investigating allegations relating to irregularities in the procurement of Dome contracts. Ms Carnell-Wyatt's dealings with her boyfriend are not thought to be included in the on-going Scotland Yard investigation; well, not yet.

filed by Jarvic Klute [j.klute@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
Autumn a Tuesday 03/10/2000
ELECTION SPECIAL
Prime Minister Angus McBlair
P.M.: "Back me or sack me."
Photo: Oliver Strange Agency
The Prime Minister has had enough of the British people and their sniping [although whether Mr. McBlair has had enough of the sniping from his own party was not revealed]. "Back me or sack me," is his message on announcing a general election. Furious party activists, deprived of the opportunity to savage the leadership at next week's Party Conference, are accusing the Prime Minister of cutting and running.
   Political commentators are agreed that the recent kicking which the PM received over the Millennium Dome issue was the final straw, which is understandable. Few politicians want to be savaged in public by their own party. The move means that the dissenters now have just a very brief period to vent their bile, then they will all have to pull together to get the party re-elected. To do otherwise would expose them to the risk being chucked out of the party as a saboteurs.
   Recent opinion polls have put the Government anywhere from level pegging to 12 points ahead of the Opposition. More worrying for the Prime Minister, most of the same polls have put his personal popularity rating in single figures. The PM can take some consolation from the fact that his arch rivals, Chancellor George McDour and Transport Minister Henry Tudor, are also having a tough time in the polls.
   The Chancellor is currently catching the blame both for allowing taxpayers' money to be spent on the Dome and for wasting up to one billion pounds on propping up the euro, while the Transport Minister is under fire for cost-overruns on the Jubilee Line extension and the general state of the nation's roads and railways.
   The verdict on calling an election now? Quite an astute political manoeuvre. It will be very interesting to see if it pays off.

filed by Dana Howmaj [d.howmaj@md.news.uk]
 

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