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Monday, 26 January 2015

Greek Elections - Don’t Panic

The outcome of yesterday’s snap General Election in Greece, with centre-left party Syriza taking 149 out of 300 seats and agreeing a coalition deal with independent representatives today, has already achieved shock horror status in much of the right-leaning press, with the Mail and Telegraph trying their best to frighten readers with stories of Euro meltdown, Greece leaving the EU, and worse - none of which is actually in prospect.
While Liam Halligan at the Tel warns “Even if Greece stays in the single currency, after choosing a party determined to defy the European Central Bank, negotiations over bond repayments between Athens and Frankfurt will be extremely hard-fought”, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, now Greek Prime Minister, has said unequivocally thatwe do not support any Euroscepticism”. So no leaving the EU, or the Euro, it seems.

EurActiv appears to confirm this: “Syriza has decisively ruled out the 'Grexit' option, according to EU Parliament Vice President and Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, who spoke in an exclusive interview with EurActiv Greece in Strasbourg”. He said “There is absolutely no case for a Grexit. Those who invoke such a possibility play a propaganda game against the Greek and European economy”. Hello Telegraph hacks.

The Mail continues the pretence of instability for the Eurozone: “Will SPAIN be next to scrap austerity measures after Greek revolt? Voters warned they are playing 'Russian Roulette' as support for anti-cuts parties surges across EU in wake of Far Left's victory”, giving readers the dreaded news'Uh oh, new Greek leader really IS a socialist': Alexis Tsipras still lives in this working-class block of flats”.

But Syriza, as Papadimoulis has pointed out, wants Greece to remain “a respectable member of the the European Union and the euro zone”, noting that his party “has been working for a long time ‘for making people inside and outside Greece that we are not those populist and anti-euro monsters we are depicted like by our competitors and by media’”, and that others “do not need to be afraid of a possible government led by Tsipras”.

It’s almost as if some of the right-leaning UK establishment are trying to create a caricature of what Tsipras and his party might do once established in office. Indeed, the Mail has hired Dan, Dan The Oratory Man to give his usual creative analysis: “It is a coalition of Trotskyists, Maoists, eco-protesters and Occupy types. Mr Tsipras has only recently removed the Che Guevara poster from his office”. Yeah, he’s a dangerous leftie!

Hannan is even prepared to slip in the odd whopper: “If forced to choose, he would pick the drachma over more austerity” (no citation), following that with “In truth, this is what EU leaders fear. Not that Greece will leave the euro and collapse, but that Greece will leave the euro and prosper. A competitive Greek economy, exporting its way back to growth, might inspire Spaniards and Italians … to follow”.

Hannan is talking out of the back of his neck. So is much of the press. Syriza is a mainstream centre-left party and the world is not about to end. Boring but true.

Trinity Mirror In Hacking Mire

While the now-defunct Screws was being exposed as an enterprise that had profited from a significant level of criminality, which may not have stopped with phone hacking, fingers of suspicion were being pointed at the Mirror titles, and especially the Sunday Mirror, which would have needed to keep up with the Murdoch empire’s Sunday offering. And keeping up with Rupe’s downmarket troops may have meant hacking.
Here on Zelo Street, the more fanciful assertions about the Mirror titles, and especially those personally directed at Piers Morgan, have been treated with scepticism: there was an awful lot of hot air, and little in the way of evidence. But since October 2012, the evidence has been mounting, and by last November it was clear that the house was in danger of falling in rather soon.

At the start of that month, Graham Johnson came clean and admitted he had hacked phones while at the Sunday Mirror. It was already known that Dan Evans, who had given evidence at the Hacking Trial, had been a prolific practitioner of the art. Then the suspicious by-lines began to appear, often involving Susie Boniface, aka Fleet Street Fox (you can see examples of those HERE and HERE).

Now, Press Gazette has revealed thatTrinity Mirror has admitted that 71 stories across its national titles, with 45 bylines attached to them, were enabled by phone-hacking, the High Court has heard”. That suggests an awful lot of hacks have been benefiting from the proceeds of voicemail interception. David Sherborne confirmed that “all three of MGN's national titles - the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People” were involved.

It should also be remembered that Ms Boniface has said hacking would be justifiedto catch a dodgy politician, expose corruption at the heart of FIFA, locate someone the cops can't find … I'd do it for a minor shagging story … those dark arts should continue to be practised … Journalists are expected by The Reader as much as their employers to do things no-one else would”. Like breaking the law, perhaps?

At the Guardian, Roy Greenslade asserted thatTrinity Mirror should come clean about phone hacking”, noting that “Unlike News International (now News UK), its staff’s hacking activities have largely passed below the media radar”, and that “the consistent line peddled down the years by Trinity executives about its staff working within the law and within the editors’ code was disingenuous”. Why is the group not coming clean?

Ah well. Look at that number of by-lines: that’s a lot of hacks who may then find themselves being visited by the Police, who may wish to ask what knowledge they had as to where those stories that included phone messages came from. With the suggestion that the scale of hacking may be worse than that at the Screws, and seeing what happened to hacks and executives there, some hacks will be getting very nervous indeed.

Get caught now, or get caught later. Decisions, decisions, Mirror people.

Techno Guido Is Technically Illiterate

A recent development for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog has been the appearance of Techno Guido. Whatever the attributes of the person behind it, it is clear from an intervention late last week that the level of accuracy exhibited by the rest of the Fawkes folks has not been improved upon, but then, given the readership, and the one-eyed man being king in the land of the blind, that’s no surprise.
Fart in Tube lift Inquiry fails to reach platform level

So what’s the story? “Another year, another tube strike on the cards. The RMT union are balloting members on Monday and could be launching industrial action as early as 17 February. This time the militants are upset that one their comrades was fired for turning up to work boozed up. All out… on the lash!tells the post, which, to no surprise at all, is not what the dispute in question is about.

As the Standard told last November - and it’s the same dispute - “Tube drivers on the Northern Line are set to go on strike next month in protest over a driver being sacked for allegedly drinking on duty”. Moreover, “Defending the sacked tube driver in a statement, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said his fellow member had a ‘specific medical condition’ and accusations that they had been drinking on duty were ‘totally untrue’”.

So The Great Guido is peddling the usual level of accuracy, then. And it soon gets worse: “It seems as good a time as any to remind downtrodden London commuters that we don’t actually need drivers. By Guido’s arithmetic there are at least 63 fully automated subway train systems in world, including Dockland’s [sic] Light Railway which has been happily driver free since its construction”. That would be since its opening, you mean.

The test for automation is whether the system concerned can function without human intervention. The DLR, as any fule kno, cannot, and had the Fawkes rabble bothered to do their homework, they would have seen that the RMT had called a 48 hour strike there over terms and conditions (the announcement was published the day before the Fawkes blog posted on the possible tube strike).

So why isn’t the rest of tube network automated? Well, much of it kind of is; the Jubilee, Victoria and Central lines are all semi-automatic” tells Techno Guido, trying to explain Automatic Train Operation, or ATO, asserting “‘drivers’ literally have to press two buttons at the same time once and the train drives itself”. Not quite: the Train Operator (note correct title) has to look after the doors, liaise with controllers, and intervene when required.

Then comes the pièce de résistance of howlers: “The RMT’s stranglehold over the Underground is so great that even though Boris’ soon to be delivered 250 new trains are capable of running on auto, they will have drivers until the 2020s”. Soon to be delivered? If that’s referring to the “New Tube For London”, there’s no money to even order them. The Bakerloo Line fleet may be turned 60 before replacement comes.

This piss-poor slice of applied ignorance ends with the observation “robots don’t strike”. What is not told is that the existing Tube network would requires so much work as to make full automation both eye-wateringly expensive and many, many years away. There will be someone in the front cab not just into the 2020s, but after 2030.

No research, no result, Fawkes folks. Another fine mess, once again.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

UKIP Defection - Bald Men In Comb Fight

The desperation out there on the right, as Young Dave and his jolly good chaps battle Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers for votes, has been momentarily enlivened not by a defection from the Tories to UKIP, but the other way around, as MEP Amjad Bashir has decided that only Cameron can deliver a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Jolly good defection sheow!

So he has announced his resignation from the Kippers, only to find, by the merest coincidence, you understand, that Mr Thirsty was on the point of kicking him out, honestly. Farage went on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning to tell, with as straight a face as he could manage, that Bashir was associating with some highly dodgy people, and that others in the party had been urging him to get rid since last Autumn.

Under tight secrecy, Mr Bashir, who came to Britain from Pakistan aged eight, sealed his move at a meeting on Friday with David Cameron in the Prime Minister’s genteel Cotswolds constituency of Witneynoted the Telegraph, going onMr Cameron describes Mr Bashir’s personal journey, from [arriving] in Bradford in 1960 … as 'an inspiring story and one I'm very proud to have sitting as a Conservative'”.
Squeaky resignation finger up the bum time

Jolly good show! The Tel then rubbed it in by citing a UKIP candidate saying of Farage “He does make up policy as he goes, he’s always made up policy as he goes”, and Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn grumbling “People get the idea we are a racist party. Unfortunately we have a very small minority of people who seem to come up and say extreme things …We keep throwing them out but it's very, very disillusioning”.

So Farage decided to hit back, saying Bashir “didn’t tell us the truth about the employment of illegal immigrants in his business” and that he had been at a recent hustings meeting “where gerrymandering appears to have taken place” before concluding “My only surprise – and my genuine surprise – is that the Conservative party have accepted him. Caveat emptor”. There’s someone who’s sold a few used cars in his time.

But then the thought occurs as to what on earth they are all scrapping over. Bashir will not be contesting a by-election, as Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell and Mark Reckless did, and MEPs leaving UKIP between elections is hardly a first-time occurrence (pace Kilroy). We’ve come a long way from the 1970s: the Tories already have a significant number of BME MPs, MEPs, Peers and Councillors - UKIP have many BME members, too.

Why are Cameron an Farage going so OTT? Bashir won’t affect the arithmetic for Commons votes. His speeches at the European Parliament are most unlikely to be reported in the UK press, or on TV news. He’s unlikely to win the Tories any more seats in his home city of Bradford, where they have none, and will gain none in May. It all looks like both parties are protesting too loudly, and in reality just advertising their desperation.

Still, it keeps them usefully occupied, and out of trouble, so that’s all right, then.

Don’t Menshn Margaret Thatcher

One hates to break a fly upon a wheel too often, but in her unceasing efforts to pursue that one-woman campaign to tell the UK about the reality of Saudi Arabia - something most of us are already well aware of, thanks - (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch has opened mouth and well and truly inserted boot. The only improvement of her Sun column today over recent Twitter rants is the more coherent use of the English language.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

So the intensives extend merely to describing the late King Abdullah as a “woman-hating bastard”: perhaps Rupe’s downmarket troops actually read this one before allowing it to be published. So what did Ms M have to tell us? “When Maggie Thatcher ran the Tories and Tony Benn inspired Labour, you knew exactly what they both believed in. Maybe you didn’t like them but there was respect”. So far, except for being wrong on Benn, so routine.

There can be only one conclusion from this remark: Ms Mensch is prepared to support the legacy of Mrs T. Indeed, after the former PM died, she assertedAn absolute majority think Thatcher was good for Britain”, although this was a poll in which 50% had a positive view. She also proclaimed “Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her”.

Thatcher is, for Ms Mensch, the highest example for any aspiring politician to follow. Conversely, anyone who shows the slightest respect to the House of Saud is shaming the country, letting everyone down. Because Saudi Arabia is one of those brutal dictatorships which, for the former MP, are A Very Bad Thing, especially given their appalling human rights record and attitude towards women.
But Mrs T did business with the Saudis, too

I mean, Mrs T would never have courted such people, would she? Well, actually she would: as Glenn Greenwald noted at the time of her death, “She was a steadfast friend to brutal tyrants such as Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein and Indonesian dictator General Suharto (‘One of our very best and most valuable friends’)”. She denounced Nelson Mandela and the ANC as “terrorists”.

Yes, she was pals with Saddam Hussein, the bloke that Dubya and Tone went into Iraq to remove from power, because he was A Very Bad Person Indeed. And she was more than willing to do business with Saudi Arabia. In the mid-1980s, the al-Yamamah arms-for-oil deal was brokered, yes, right in the middle of Mrs T’s residency in Downing Street. And there were subsequent allegations of a “slush fund” to bribe the Saudis.

The investigations into the al-Yamamah deal have rumbled on for years. Had the PM at the time been anyone else, Louise Mensch would have been ranting and raving against them. As it was Mrs T., she isn’t going to go there. The sad fact of the matter is that today’s politicians doing business with dictators and other tyrants have the inspiration of Margaret Thatcher to guide them. She counted them all among her friends.

So I’m sure Ms Mensch will be along shortly to condemn her, too. Or maybe not.

NHS - UKIP Cat Out Of Bag

Nigel “Thirsty” Farage negotiated his appearance on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning with his customary aplomb, but overnight the realisation must be dawning among his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers that some of those taken on board to supposedly help the Kipper campaign may be becoming a liability, and that this has come from the appointment of some deeply conservative people.
Squeaky conservative infiltration finger up the bum time

While Mr Thirsty was pretending that the defection of MEPs was a mere bagatelle, readers of the Sunday Times and Sunday Mirror were learning that his Party Secretary, Matthew Richardson, had not so long ago called the NHSThe Reichstag Bunker of Socialism”. Richardson had made his remarks at a Young America’s Foundation event. This body has been copied in the UK by the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF).

Richardson, who also called the NHSthe biggest waste of money in the UK”, is not the only one linked to the YBF to hold, shall we say, interesting views. YBF President Dan, Dan The Oratory Man called the NHS “a 60-year-old mistake”, and the group’s CEO Donal Blaney has said “Would it not now be better to say that the NHS – in its current incarnation – is finished?” And there is worse to come for the Farage fringe.

As the deeply subversive Guardian told before the last election, “At least 11 prospective Tory candidates, an estimated seven of whom have a reasonable chance of winning their seats, have been delegates or speakers at training conferences run by the Young Britons' Foundation, which claims to have trained 2,500 Conservative party activists”. Among them was Mark Clarke, who is now at CCHQ where he’s behind the Road Trip 2015 campaign.
Another with links to the YBF is Farage’s new spinner Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam, who has previously styled himself a “Goldwater Conservative”. Richardson and Blaney are the first legal port of call for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Staines has previously indicated his preference for “The Blue Team”, which means not Mr Thirsty’s gang, but Young Dave and his jolly good chaps.

At this point, the thought may enter with some readers that the Tories and the Kippers hate one another with a vengeance. What Farage and his pals are now seeing is that their party has been infiltrated by a group that, if it has to choose loyalty to one party, it might come down on the side of the Tories, if only because of all that business coming its way training activists. And the Kippers are seeing only the downside of the YBF’s pals.

It’s a big ask to get the more outlandish views on the NHS into the Tories’ manifesto, especially with Cameron wanting to demonstrate his support for it. Far easier to infect UKIP with the idea of moving to a US-style system. Those who believed that Matthew Richardson would keep “bad stuff” away from UKIP may start to rue the day that they let him through the door. The “bad stuff” is coming in with him.

Farage is too indecisive to sack Richardson or Kassam. So he’s well and truly screwed.

Top Six - January 25

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have domestic stuff to do later. So there.
6 IPSO Not Independent - Says IPSO Alan Moses confessed, and then pretended that his supposedly new and independent press regulator would be Leveson compliant by the summer. Pull the other one.
5 Dylan Sharpe - Creep And Hypocrite The Sun’s head of PR sent women unsolicited nude photos, because it was just a bit of banter. Then he pretended he’d apologised. But he hadn’t. What a maggot.
4 Flannelled Fool Slimming Coach Revealed The odious Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, has a good reason for his recent slimming regime - a steady girlfriend (most of the hits for this post came after Cole kicked off at me, making legel threats. So thanks for that, Hen).
3 Fake Sheikh Boxed In Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, now has former world boxing champ Herbie Hide on his case. With one Mark Lewis looking at a civil damages claim, in addition to efforts to have his conviction overturned.
2 Guido Fawked - IPSO Fantasy Busted The Great Guido was all too ready to use allegedly new press regulator IPSO when it came to having a snark at Peter Jukes. But the Fawkes rabble had already rubbished IPSO - because it might have come after them. Another fine mess.
1 Fleet Street Fox - Well Foxed Susie Boniface’s solo by-line on a piece about former footballer Ally McCoist and “Txt Sex” may yet require explanation. The impression that this one could have been obtained by less than totally legal means is all too clear.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Murdoch Doggies Protest Too Much

[Update at end of post]

Yesterday’s edition of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun devoted a two-page spread to pushing the crude and false equivalence between the continuing trials of a number of the paper’s own journalists - something which is of interest to very few people except those involved, their families and the Murdoch empire - and Police investigations into those who have recently returned to the UK from the Middle East.
That's what I think of youse judicial process, ya bladdy Pommie drongoes!

SUN MEN IN THE DOCK … JIHADIS ON THE LOOSE” is the not at all subtle comparison, as readers are told “Outcry as journalists face retrial” (Outcry from whom? You jest) and then get the same proposition rammed down their throats with “Just 1 in 5 I. S. Brits are charged”. A pile of notebooks is seen balancing on the scales of justice against an assortment of automatic weapons and explosives (but, for some reason, no knives).

Faithful - and reliably vicious - Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh has been wheeled out to proclaim “A risk to our free speech & press”, which, roughly translated, means for him the freedom to have any old pack of lies published and backed up by a phalanx of expensively-remunerated lawyers, and screw any poor soul who gets in the way, especially those without the money to take the Sun to the cleaners.
The campaign extended to the Times, sadly no longer a paper of record, where an editorial titled Trial and Error tells readers “The prosecution of journalists is turning into an expensive witch-hunt”. The Sun’s own editorial again presses home the hacks-v-ISIS meme, and for good measure wants readers to “Look over there at Charlie Hebdo” (the Sun, when it came to publishing the cartoons, was of less than perfect courage).

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the Sun’s false equivalence is so blatant that calling it out is not difficult. The “why don’t you go and catch some proper criminals” meme has been wheeled out at traffic wardens, Police motorway and main road patrols, and those investigating fraud and other white-collar crime so often that it no longer enjoys any credibility.
What the journalists are on trial for is charges involving potentially criminal behaviour. If it’s a crime in law, it’s there to be prosecuted. The CPS, which the Sun is also kicking, is there to prosecute crime. Those returning from the Middle East and not being charge, on the other hand, may not be criminally inclined. One of their number is featured in the Sun’s report: London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson!

And on top of all that, what the Sun and Times are not telling their readers is that those journalists are only on trial because the Murdoch empire has shopped them to the Police. So what the Sun is saying is “How dare you put our hacks on trial on the basis of information we passed you in the first place, because we thought you’d then go away and leave us alone, except you haven’t, so it’s not fair”.

This attempt to bully the authorities won’t work. The Murdochs are now a busted flush.

[UPDATE 25 January 1620 hours: just to underscore the Sun's campaign against the Police and CPS, today has brought another attack on both.
The request for more funding - £50 million is hardly a massive sum by today's terms - is rubbished as "obscene", there is talk of a "luxury travel binge", despite the cost of first class rail fares falling significantly over the years, and then Kier Starmer is somehow included, despite not being at the CPS any more. Perhaps that's because he's contesting a seat for the Labour Party in May.
The Met gets it in the neck for having a small number of officers suspended and on leave, with the Sun managing to forget that these include the Police whistleblowers that the paper has been encouraging to come forward, and the force to protect - like putting them on "gardening leave". Once again, Rupe's downmarket troops are playing both sides of the field.
Then there is the obligatory editorial, talking of "high-profile witch-hunts" and "splashing the cash on luxury travel" before readers are asked "Do these people have no shame?"

Well, in the case of the Murdoch press, whose hacks are on trial because their employer shopped them to the authorities, clearly not. Ah, the rank stench of hypocrisy once more]

Grant Shapps Poster Fail - Again

As John Crace observed last September during the Tory Party conference, “The Conservative conference warm-up act tried to be Winston Churchill. He did not even have the gravitas of Bobby Davro”. That warm-up act was Party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps, who accused Mark Reckless, after the latter’s switch to UKIP, of lying. That Shapps had previously pretended to be two other people was not allowed to enter.
No, I wouldn't buy a used car from this man

Shapps’ less than total honesty - a trait which applies to Michael Green and Sebastian Fox, or whoever else he is pretending to be - has not exactly helped the Tories. Nor has his ability to run poster campaigns that become, as Russell Harty might have said, “famous, nay, notorious” not for getting the intended message across, but for the ridicule generated towards the party whose cause they are intended to advance.
Spot the photoshopping

Few will ever forget the “Bingo” infographic, Tweeted out just after the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, had delivered his speech at that conference, which asserted “Cutting the bingo tax and beer duty ... to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”. Patronising, much?  The inference that working people were “other” people, and that the Tories weren’t hardworking, was clear.
He has previous for this ...

And now “Spiv” Shapps has done it again: out has come a poster showing, at left, an image of Mil The Younger outside 10 Downing Street that appears to have been photoshopped to make him look, well, more weird. At right is an image of Miliband with Alec Salmond, supposedly in the same location, although Salmond’s head has been clearly substituted for that of “Auguste” Balls.
... and previous for getting called out

The photoshopping was so obvious that when Shapps went on LBC yesterday afternoon for a chat with Iain Dale, who, remember, has a regular column on Conservative Home, he came unstuck more or less straight away. “You are the chairman of the Conservative Party … did you not sign this poster off? Did you not think this is not quite like … Ed Miliband?” asked Dale. “I wasn’t with the designer” blustered Shapps.

Shapps also failed to counter Dale’s point that if Salmond were to be returned to Westminster, his voice would be no less valid that of Danny Alexander, who is Osborne’s deputy at the Treasury. “Well, I just don’t think that he should”, flannelled “Spiv”. Once again, the message of the poster was lost as the punditerati - some of it right-leaning, which is never a good sign for the Tories - ridiculed the photoshopping.

As the deeply subversive Guardian observed, both Staggers and Spectator passed adverse comment, and soon a version of the poster featuring Young Dave and Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was in circulation, though the thought enters that, at the end of the evening, it might be Cameron propping up Farage - literally. By that point, Shapps’ latest poster exercise had, like the “Bingo” infographic, fallen flat on its face.

The problem for the Tories is all too stark: it’s too late now to sack Shapps. Oh dear!

Don’t Menshn Saudi Arabia

On Thursday’s edition of the Daily Politics, the relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia was questioned by my good friend Sunny Hundal, who asserted that, given the latter country’s lamentable record on human rights, and its medieval attitude towards women, the Kingdom of Saud should be regarded as a pariah state (you can see his short film HERE). Our acceptance of such regimes, due to arms sales and oil, was all too clear.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Over in that reassuringly upmarket part of Manhattan, Louise Mensch was not interested in the thoughts of someone else, but when news came yesterday that Saudi King Abdullah had passed at the age of 90, and that flags around Westminster would be flown at half mast in respect, she saw an opportunity to advance the cause of Herself Personally Now, and launched into a stream of the most unfortunate language.
As a good Murdoch pundit, her first target was the hated Beeb: “hey how about your disgusting BBC World Service stops called [sic] woman-enslaver Abdullah a reformer” she ranted. Then it was the turn of her party leader and the Prez: “F*** you Saudi Arabia and shame on the supine male leaders of the West [David Cameron] [Barack Obama]”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
Who would be next as the rant-o-meter was cranked up? The head of the IMF, no less: “Oh yes Christine Lagarde you muppet Abdullah was VERY F***ING DISCREET in how he ‘advocated’ for women”. How about another Murdoch plug? You betcha, says Sarah: “Goes on news to protest voluntary Page 3. Says sod all about women whipped for driving = Fauxminist”. Who was that? Who knows? And who cares? Ms Mensch doesn’t.
And then came the Westminster flag realisation: “OH MY GOD, WHO ORDERED WESTMINSTER FLAGS AT HALF MAST FOR SAUDI”. By now, the Caps Lock was well and truly on as she bawled “JESUS CHRIST, IS ONE UK MP GOING TO SAY ONE WORD ABOUT THIS OUTRAGE”. Clearly a fan of Dan Hodges’ missing question marks.
With no answer to that one, or to most of her other outbursts, Ms Mensch turned her ire on to Westminster Abbey: “Your flag flying insults every woman in the United Kingdom. HOW DARE YOU”. But there was no reply here too, and so, with the red mist descending, she went after the UK in Saudi Arabia Twitter account. “F*** YOU” she screamed.
Ultimately, it was all too much for poor Ms Mensch: “I am literally crying right now. One UK leader, just one, has stood for women and free speech today. And that leader is [Ruth Davidson]”. As opposed to those crying with laughter at Louise losing it, to the extent that, on learning the Queen may have made the decision to fly flags on Royal palaces at half mast, howled “F*** HER” in response.

So when Louise Mensch gets her US citizenship, perhaps she won’t mind having her UK passport revoked, as she has no respect for the Royal family. After all, we have standards to maintain. Even though she was allowed to become an MP.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Dylan Sharpe - Creep And Hypocrite

How those on the right squirm when their campaigns progress not necessarily to their advantage: in April 2012 one Conservative commentator saidAll the evidence suggests that the public likes to see politicians get in a scrap, so why do journalists and politicos seem to hate it so much? Adversarial politics is fun, feisty and pushes Westminster onto the front of the newspapers, shunting TV talent shows into the entertainment columns. And I think we should welcome that”. His name was Dylan Sharpe.
Dylan Sharpe - claims to be a grown-up

Fast forward to this week, and Sharpe, as I observed last year, has become another right-wing hire for the empire of Creepy Uncle Rupe, installed as “Head of PR” for the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, and reporting directly to managing editor Stig Abell. And as part of his role, he has landed himself with his own adversarial politics.
Look everyone, it's a bit of BANTER! He's a LEGURND!! Where's your sense of humour, rotten lefty feminists?!?

Moreover, he brought the adversarial politics very directly on himself: as the Sun played the field with its Were-They-Weren’t-They teasing of readers over the future of Page 3 topless pictures, the decision was taken to put one in yesterday’s paper. Sharpe could not contain his glee, and Tweeted a preview to several people, including Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman. Yes, he sent her an unsolicited nude photo.
Someone is trying to tell him something gently

No doubt those right-leaning Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants thought this was jolly clever, and only a bit of banter. I mean, where’s everyone’s sense of humour? But when Kay “surly” Burley from Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) found adversely upon the idea, Sharpe must have known he was in trouble. It got worse: poverty campaigner and food writer Jack Monroe called it “Creepy, abusive harassment”.
Someone else is being rather more direct

So, in a rare departure for Rupe’s downmarket troops, Dylan Sharpe said sorry. Except he didn’t really say sorry. His statement, as related by BuzzFeed News, let everyone know who he is, how big a story Page 3 going, or not going, was, how “the People’s Paper had done it again”, how he’d had a “cheeky dig” (see - it’s just a bit of banter) at some media commentators, and eventually, how he’d actually made a mistake.
And someone else is being more direct still

Then he whined about how Twitter had turned against him, blubbed at the HuffPost UK for daring to run comment pieces, claimed to have received “death threats”, and how someone from the Independent who should have been writing about something else, honestly, had dared to have an opinion. Then, as the very end, he said “I want to apologise”. But he didn’t really apologise. Because he’s an oily creep.
Sniff! Blub!! It's not fair!!!

He even gave his very own confirmation of Olbermann’s Dictum (“the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”): after Grace Dent correctly asserted that “This isn’t an apology. It’s gloating and drawing attention to his ‘banter’”, Sharpe bawled “please Grace, it’s an apology - don’t start the hate again”. Yeah, when he does it, it’s “banter”, but when anyone criticises him, it’s “hate”. How’s that “adversarial politics” going now, eh?

Dylan Sharpe, you’re a crawling maggot. Back under your generously remunerated rock.

Fleet Street Fox - Well Foxed

When the initial speculation as to whether papers other than the now-defunct Screws may have obtained stories from phone hacking started, this blog wanted to see the evidence. After all, that was how the Murdoch empire’s most blatant excursion into Mafioso territory was brought to an end. Now the evidence has been gathered, and the Mirror group titles - the Daily and Sunday Mirror, and the Sunday People - are paying out.
Susie Boniface

As the deeply subversive Guardian has reported, “Cilla Black is among the latest group of celebrities to settle phone hacking claims for ‘substantial’ damages with the publisher of the Mirror titles … A judge in London was told on Thursday that EastEnders’ star Jessie Wallace, singer and TV personality Peter Andre and actor and singer Darren Day have also settled actions against Mirror Group Newspapers”.

Batting for these clients was David Sherborne, the man who caused the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre significant discomfort at the Leveson Inquiry, who talked of the “widespread and habitual practice of voicemail interception and the unlawful obtaining of personal information” between 2000 and 2006. One wonders if anyone working at the Mirror titles at that time has stopped and thought about that news.

One former Mirror hack was not concerning herself with such trivia yesterday: Susie Boniface, aka Fleet Street Fox, was instead supporting her soulmates at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. “Dear the CPS: if it takes 4 years to get to court, and a jury can’t decide if it matters or not, it’s not a great use of money to keep at it” she protested, at the prospect of a re-trial for Sun journalists.
No thanks, I don't want to look over there

Ms Boniface might wish to look at her back catalogue instead of spinning for her pals in the tabloid press: the impression that some of her by-lines might have got their material from phone messages was examined on Zelo Street in November, and now another story has come to light, from August 2005, under her by-line alone, concerning TV pundit and former footballer Ally McCoist. “Dad-To-Be Ally’s Txt Sex With Mistress” was the headline.

Do tell: “A Question of Sport star McCoist, 42, swapped steamy text messages with airport worker Jo-Anne Shaw as recently as two weeks ago”. And you’ll love the get-out clause. “She showed the exchange of text messages to a friend who revealed: ‘Jo-Anne had a few drinks one night and showed them to me’”. Of course she did. And the “friend”, by the most fortunate of coincidences, had perfect recall and revealed the lot, word for word.

And there may be another story worthy of examination: “ITV football pundit McCoist and Jo-Anne began an affair last summer … The Sunday Mirror first revealed their fling in November last year”. So that’s November 2004, and the search for that one continues. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this story. And if Ally McCoist decides to go after the Mirror titles for hacking his phone, they may well need it.

This is a journalist, remember, who went on BBC Question Time and excused hacking.

Boris Should Resign Mayoralty Now

As the campaigning for May’s General Election slowly ramps up, we now know that Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have decided that Young Dave may not be leading the Tory Party afterwards - in other words, they think he will lose and will then decide to pile off before the mythical Men In Grey Suits arrive with the bottle of reassuringly upmarket whisky and a loaded revolver.
This was made clear yesterday by the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who has been invited on a jolly by London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to the well-known East End tube terminus otherwise known as Kurdistan. In return for tagging along on Bozza’s pilgrimage to the Land Of His Fathers, Newton Dunn has penned an appallingly sycophantic article in his praise.
Boris battles IS” was the headline. Sadly, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Bozza may have posed for the cameras while holding an automatic weapon - no, a gun, not that kind of Bozza automatic weapon (ooer!) - but the only battle being fought was that coming after the election between Himself Personally Now and other senior Tories.
But some of Newton Dunn’s weapons grade arsewipe has a sliver of reality in it - although maybe not in the way he intended. While “Boris Johnson is in Kurdistan to assess the fight against ISIL personally” is as meaningless as Bozza’s trip, “The London Mayor has mounted a high-risk trip” is, by sheer coincidence, spot on. Sadly, the high risk is not to Bozza’s personal safety, but to the credibility of his Mayoralty.
While Newton Dunn waffles aimlessly that “Boris calls on PM to send more UK troops to help the Peshmerga fight Islamic State”, something that is not going to happen this side of hell freezing over, an increasing number of those living in and around London will be asking themselves the all too obvious question: what is the man elected to run the capital doing pissing about in the Middle East instead?

Increasing congestion, partly because Bozza has repeatedly caved in to the car lobby, appalling air quality along many of London’s roads, a deteriorating bus service, the long-running inability of TfL to address Black Cab drivers’ concerns over Uber, worsening reliability on some Tube lines (especially the District and Piccadilly), along with his propensity to waste public money on vanity projects, all need his attention.

And he cannot give Londoners’ concerns his attention if he insists on running off to enjoy jollies in the Middle East, as well as spending increasing amounts of time elsewhere in the UK helping the Tories’ election campaign. If Bozza is not going to do his job as Mayor - for which he is still drawing a salary - he should resign and let someone else do it. And he should do it now, rather than waiting until the end of his term next year.

For the good of London, Bozza should step down. He is now a liability to the capital.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Fake Sheikh - Lowest Of The Low

Today, those who had previously been all too ready to defend Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, over his modis operandi, which included a series of drug stings, inventing non-existant kidnap plots, and other creative conspiracies such as a “red mercury” plot (there is no such thing as red mercury) may not be so keen on defending him after yesterday’s ITV News feature on Herbie Hide.
Mazher Mahmood, not on the lookout for his conscience

What those unfamiliar with the case may not have known is that Hide may have been at the top of his game as a boxer, but he depended on his management to guide him, do the contract paperwork, and deal with anyone making demands on his time - mainly because Hide was illiterate and had attained little during his education. That management had done its job well - something that the Fake Sheikh also knew.

Hide’s management team would have seen Maz coming from some way off. Maz and his team knew that this would almost certainly scupper their intended sting. So the Fake Sheikh’s entrapment of Hide revolved around getting him on his own. There, he could be worked on to the satisfaction of the Murdoch press, and the baloney about promoting boxing in Dubai made to sound convincing.

And it all worked as intended: Maz and his pals dangled the financial bait under Hide’s nose, said there was only one thing he needed to do, to get some cocaine for one of them, they worked on Hide and nagged him until he did the deal, then made sure everything had been captured on film and shopped him to the Police. The Fake Sheikh trashed another career and he couldn’t have cared less about it.

It requires a particularly repellent individual to indulge in that kind of behaviour, one who is not only free of principle, but also willing to prey on the most vulnerable sportsmen and other slebs in order to work on them and soften them up before wrecking their lives - all for a marginal gain in newspaper circulation. Mazher Mahmood is the lowest of the low, and so are all those who have willingly helped, encouraged, and defended him.

Fortunately, Herbie Hide now has Lewis Nedas Law in his corner, with the Murdoch empire’s least favourite lawyer Mark Lewis looking at a civil claim for damages alongside the effort to have the initial conviction overturned. He is not alone: four other Fake Sheikh victims are pursuing similar actions, one of them John Alford, whose career was effectively terminated by one of Maz’ drug stings.

One reason the Murdoch lawyers might have been so keen to silence ITV News is that, this time, Mahmood can be heard as well as seen. But, given the disgraceful behaviour of their man, the question has to be asked as to why they are defending the indefensible. What secrets will be offered up if the Fake Sheikh’s past caseload has the light of an appeal hearing shone upon it? Someone doesn’t want that to happen.

And that someone appears to be rather close to Rupert Murdoch. Watch this space.

Guido Fawked - Plain Packaging Porkies

To the surprise of those out there on the right who thought they had seen off the issue until after May’s General Election, the Government announced late yesterday - and too late for the press to get much more than a mention into today’s papers - that legislation would be brought forward imminently for standardised packaging for cigarettes. That, to put it more directly, means plain packaging. And it means a setback for Big Tobacco.
Fart in lift Inquiry smokes out suspect

Much play was made during the later TV news bulletins that England would be only the second country, after Australia, to introduce such a measure. But plain packaging has been on the way for some time now: the only problem has been the constant barrage of misinformation from the tobacco industry. The votes are there, especially in the Commons, and with little other legislation to come before the election, it should pass easily.
So who would be up for a pointless sacrifice in the face of an increasing amount of evidence that, despite the best efforts of the industry and Rupert Murdoch’s press, plain packaging has been effective in curbing smoking in Australia? As if you need to ask: the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog are always ready to defend the indefensible. And so it came to pass.
Staines had already posted a significant slice of misinformation when he claimed that Labour’s support of plain packaging meant Andy Burnham was making an £11 billion unfunded spending commitment while “Auguste” Balls was away in the States. This was, of course, totally untrue, but that does not bother The Great Guido, whose response to the current proposals has come from his gofer, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole.
Only thing wrong with this whole plain packaging malarkey is it doesn’t work” scoffed Master Cole yesterday evening, following up with “If there was any public desire for plain packs the PM and Hunt would have trailed this. Instead it was snuck out with zero fanfare. Telling”. Telling what? The first place that legislation should be announced should be in Parliament. Or has he forgotten the press kicking Tone and Pa Broon for doing otherwise?
But never mind, onwards and, er, onwards: “Here’s what happens after plain packs are introducedtells Cole, managing to miss that the 2010 to 2013 comparison made it the data set he cites being meaningless - plain packaging was introduced in Australia at the end of 2012. Then he blames a rotten leftie. “Luciana Berger’s mask slips when asked directly if smoking will one day be banned: ‘we’ll have to see’. Wrong answer”.

Quite apart from the pretentiousness - as if Master Cole is there to sit in judgment on what answers are or are not acceptable - the evidence from Australia, as I’ve posted previously (see HERE and HERE) shows that plain packaging is working. The spinning against it is no more than sucking up to Big Tobacco, which in the case of the Fawkes rabble is done indirectly, via their grovelling commitment to Creepy Uncle Rupe.

And, as in Australia, that spin isn’t going to work. Another fine mess, once again.