Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Toby Young – Famous Last UKIP Words

While there is still precious little recent content from the loathsome Toby Young anywhere in the vicinity of the Telegraph of late – I did suggest that he may have been sacked, or jumped before being pushed, recently – he has left a lasting legacy of cluelessness that explains why even the Murdoch Sun, home of Louise Mensch, Katie Hopkins and Tony Parsons, binned him as well.
Still stuck in the Weinbunker, Tobes?

Tobes, who is on the rabidly Europhobic wing of the Tory Party, considered Young Dave’s pledge of an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, declaring that this was A Very Good Thing, and not just because it was his duty as a loyal sycophant to do so. And there was another potential benefit: “Will Cameron's in-out referendum pledge shoot the Ukip fox?” he asked.

There was more: “As a eurosceptic, I like David Cameron's Europe speech – I like it a lot. ... So what if the prospects of Cameron extracting any meaningful concessions from Brussels during a post-election ‘renegotiation’ are vanishing-to-zero, as various clever clogs keep pointing out? That just means the British public are more likely to vote ‘no’ in 2017”. I love it when Tobes calls me a “clever clogs”.

But he was sure that “eurosceptics will have a good reason to vote Conservative at the next election ... I'd be amazed if this doesn't see large number of Ukip supporters return to the Conservative fold. Not in next year's European elections, when I expect Ukip to top the polls, but in 2015”. How about in Parliamentary by-elections caused by Tory MPs defecting to UKIP, then?

I suspect Tobes didn’t see that one coming, but he is sure that “It also makes it more likely that Ukip won't field candidates in Conservative marginals against those Tories who promise to vote ‘no’ in the referendum”. Dougas “Kamikaze” Carswell and Mark Reckless would have voted ‘no’. But had they not jumped, the Kippers would have fielded candidates against them.

And that would prove true anywhere else, no matter how marginal or otherwise the constituency: UKIP is better funded now, and its supporters are not for doing deals with the Tories. But on ploughs Tobes with his mirth-inducing conclusion: “All in all, then, a good day for the Tories. This won't be enough to put them over the top in 2015 – it'll take an economic recovery to ensure that – but it will undoubtedly help”.

A good day for the Tories? All Cameron did was to embolden the Kippers, letting them see that they were the tail wagging the Tory dog, extracting a referendum promise from a desperate leader. The only place that led was more UKIP votes in the European Parliament elections, and now two MPs elected on the party’s ticket. Tobes once again proves clueless; he just can’t think these things through.

Far from shooting UKIP’s fox, Tobes shot himself in the foot.

White Van Manifesto – The Reality

The Murdoch Sun is hidden away behind a paywall, but several people have screen shotted enough of today’s paper (see how that works, Rupe?) for us to be able to assess the “Danifesto” proposed by Dan Ware, the 37 year old self-employed car dealer and cage fighter. And the conclusion is, whisper it quietly, that any politician advocating Ware’s measures would be torn apart by the press.
Dan starts with benefits: “Work for four years after you leave school before you can claim benefits”. While this sounds laudable, the thought enters that this requires jobs to be available, or, if you’re prepared to go self-employed, there to be work for you to do. And what happens to those who want to better themselves by attending University or by doing other full-time training?

But then we come to the main event, Immigration: “Copy the Aussies. If people show up uninvited, send them back”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. Showing up uninvited was exactly what Ware did at Emily Thornberry’s house yesterday. And “sending them back” could come straight from a 1960s National Front manifesto – or a more modern BNP one.
Still, onwards and, er, onwards, eh? Next up is Transport. “Public transport costs are too high. More investment in roads too”. Fine. Then someone has to pay for it – and that means paying more in tax. Same goes for Justice, where Dan tells “Tougher sentences for murderers. And jail those who burn the poppy”. So he wants to send more people to jail, and for longer. Do go on.

Education does not escape his gaze: “Better discipline. Kids are too mouthy now, not like when we had the cane”. So he’s not fussed about teaching standards, he just wants children to do as they’re sodding well told, on pain of having the crap beaten out of them. And all that discipline will mean more money being spent on schools – assuming there is to be some teaching as well.

So then we come to Taxes: “A killer for self-employed people like me. Start-ups need more breaks”. Hello Dan from another self-employed person – where do you think the cheaper public transport, roads investment, more prison places, and more money for all that school discipline, will come from? A magic money tree?

One more thought enters: that the unsuspecting Dan Ware has been had for a mug by Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Sun. If the Murdoch poodles are happy to back someone who saidI will continue to fly the flags – I don’t care who it pisses off. I know there is a lot of ethnic minorities that don’t like it”, and “send them back”, then they should stop hiding behind him and say so openly.

Dan Ware has been used as a performing freak show by the Sun. When he finds out, as the saying goes, he’ll be mad as hell. But it will be too late by then.

Press Are The Real Snobs

[Update at end of post]

On rolls the story of Emily Thornberry’s Tweet, with the right-leaning press passing severely adverse comment on anything to do with the Labour Party, which in the retelling has acquired a “contempt” for all those ordinary hard working people who most of those writing the attack pieces would not allow through their front door. And their consensus is that Ms Thornberry is a “snob”.
What's so f***ing elitist about sending my sons to Eton, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

But when a little research is done, it comes clear that many of those passing judgment on Mil The Younger and his party have no room to call out anyone for being “out of touch”, or indeed part of some “metropolitan elite”. One need look no further than the Daily Mail, which today has been drenching the Labour leader in scorn, the attack ordered personally by its legendarily foul mouthed editor.

Paul Dacre, it should be remembered, is such a man of the people that he is chauffeured from his Home Counties pile to his Belgravia pied-a-terre and back – no slumming it with the hoi polloi on the train for him – and that, in addition to these parts of his property portfolio, has a Scottish estate for which he trousers hundreds of thousands of pounds in EU farm subsidies.

Dacre likes his pundits to sound off about the country’s education system, which his sons do not have to sully themselves with: he sends them to Eton. Today, his star columnist Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer pontificates on the potential outcomes of next year’s General Election. Heffer read English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge following a traditional grammar school education.

Also on the pundit roster at the Mail are Dominic Sandbrook, who attended Malvern College, alma mater of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, before going up to Balliol College, Oxford, Stephen “miserable git” Glover (Shrewsbury School and Mansfield College, Oxford), and Harry Mount 
(Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford) who was, dontcha know, in the Bullingdon Club.

The lead article denouncing Labour, “Labour in chaos over sacking of snob MP: War breaks out in party as desperate Miliband claims he respects White Van Man”, was co-written by Oxford-educated political editor James Chapman. This unappealing convocation of righteousness tells readers that someone else is “snooty”, part of a “metropolitan elite”, and a beneficiary of “privilege

And it’s no different over at the Murdoch Sun, whose managing editor Stig Abell went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, whose non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn attended Marlborough College, while Sunday editor Victoria Newton went up to Newnham College, Cambridge. The paper’s most notorious former editor, Kelvin McFilth, attended an independent school in south London.

So that’s at least two very draughty glasshouse newsrooms, then.

[UPDATE 1555 hours: anyone thinking the Mail is anything other than condescending towards ordinary people would do well to check out the following anecdote, courtesy of the Guardian.

"There is one particular story that former staff of the Daily Mail like to tell about the politics, in the broadest sense, of their old paper. A while ago, the newsdesk there noticed a report from a local press agency. A young baby had died from being fed adult food. The Mail immediately got excited: it could interview the grieving parents, make the tragedy the basis for a campaign, and warn the nation of a previously unsuspected danger.

The couple were contacted, and offered £250 for an interview. They agreed, and talked eloquently and at length. A double-page spread - the Mail's traditional mark of a significant article - was put aside in the paper. For the photograph, the parents, who were not well off, were encouraged to look smart: the husband in a suit, his wife in a dress, both of them holding hands.
The morning the feature appeared, it was judged a success at the Mail. The article was by turns sensitive, alarming and full of useful advice. Paul Dacre, the editor then and now, approved - and from him all official sentiments flowed. But then, at lunchtime, Dacre's tall, slightly stooping figure was spotted beneath one of the television monitors hanging from the low ceiling of the open-plan office. Everybody nearby, as it was usually in their interests to, stopped work and looked and listened.
Dacre was watching the one o'clock news with his narrow eyes: on it were the bereaved couple, with messier hair than before, wearing tracksuits and trainers, smoking: not the Mail's sort of people at all. The editor, who is 52, spotlessly shirtsleeved, brisk in his diction, with hair like a cerebral Tory minister, was heard to growl. Then he spoke: 'These people couldn't bring up a f***ing hamster!'"
That, folks, is what the Daily Mail editor thinks of the kinds of people his paper is now championing. Now who's being a snob?]

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Sun Promotes Stalking

After the resignation of Emily Thornberry from the shadow cabinet yesterday evening, Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun could not let the matter drop: they had to not only get a story from the owner of the house draped in the flags of St George, but also to get him and his white van to venture to Islington to confront Ms Thornberry.
That's what I think of youse bladdy privacy, yer bladdy Labour supporting Pommie drongoes!

Was White Van Dan (for it was he) being invited by her? Well, no he wasn’t. He was also going to visit the nearby address of Mil The Younger, who had also not invited him. The Sun’s hacks did not see anything wrong in his fetching up on the doorstep of a woman politician who was already being sneered at by every right-leaning media outlet. This was, to their website man Tim Gatt, newsworthy.
It was also deemed newsworthy by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and The Great Guido wasted no time in telling his followers in slightly threatening terms “Perhaps [Emily Thornberry] should stay in one of her many other homes tonight” (Staines and his wife own at least four properties, including a flat in Parliament View, where two-bed ones go for £1.45 million).
Any suggestion that this was creepy or threatening was dismissed: typical was Mark Wallace of Conservative Home deflecting criticism from Rosie Robertson with “in no way threatening – as usual, you’re being ridiculous”. Also making light of the affair was Mid Bedfordshire’s Tory MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries.
I’m going to ask my (hopefully) future son in law to take a picture of his white plumber’s van outside his terraced council house” she Tweeted. But then a thought entered: Ms Dorries, with the support of the Fawkes rabble, has been pursuing a persistent critic of hers who turned up at a hustings – that would be a public meeting – in her constituency in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. He was invited by concerned residents. She smeared him as a stalker.
The Dorries campaign was still active in September of this year, when she got her story into the Mail On Sunday, although the individual could not be named for legal reasons – those reasons being that he had done nothing unlawful (minor point, eh?). But, what the heck, if turning up at the invitation of a number of concerned constituents constitutes stalking, arriving uninvited on the doorstep must be worse.

So, O Great Guido, ConHome stalwart, and assorted Murdoch poodles, pray tell us why the behaviour you have all been condoning today does not merit the same pejorative response that your pal Nadine gave to someone who was actually there by invitation. Ah, but you won’t be addressing that one.

What the Sun has been encouraging not only appears threatening, but encourages copycat behaviour and worse. That means it is bang out of order.

UKIP – Who’s Next For Defecting?

The Rochester and Strood by-election result was not declared until after 0400 hours this morning, which rather put the mockers on it for most of the press, but the result was more or less as expected, with Mark Reckless winning for UKIP the seat he had previously held for the Tories, with his old party second and Labour third, and the Lib Dems scoring less than one per cent of the vote.
Those papers that shill for the Tories will see their favoured team throwing everything at the contest, losing, and then point at Labour and say “look over there at the real losers”. It was only going to be about UKIP and Young Dave’s jolly good chaps. And the Tories might look at the low turnout and Reckless’ majority, then ask Kelly Tolhurst to stick around so she can take the seat next May.

But what the Blue Team must now hope is that no more of its MPs – and, whisper it quietly, MEPs – will join Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers. That hope may be tested very soon: already, a number of Tory MPs have been polling their electorates on the UK’s membership of the EU, just as Reckless and Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell did.

The three named by the press are Peter Bone (and perhaps Mrs Bone too) who represents Wellingborough, Philip Hollobone from the next door constituency of Kettering, and Martin Vickers, who sits for Cleethorpes. “Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone and Martin Vickers carrying out local ballots ... They are canvassing constituents on whether Britain should leave the EU” tells the Mail.

The sub-headings continue “Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless carried out polls before defecting ... All three deny they are planning to leave the Conservatives for Ukip”. Mandy Rice-Davies situation, methinks. Maybe one of them will jump, but maybe not: none of those constituencies has the kind of majority that instils confidence. But there are others on the watch list.

John Baron, representing Basildon and Billericay, is one: Basildon was the seat that, when the Tories held on to it in 1992, was said to embody the spirit of “Basildon Man”, who was even prepared to endorse the appalling David Amess in order to keep out the rotten lefties. And also named in Nick Watt’s piece for the Guardian is serial rebel Tory Philip Davies, from Shipley.

Then there is the great imponderable: what of Dan, Dan The Oratory Man? Hannan, it seems, did not trouble himself turning out to support Ms Tolhurst’s campaign in Rochester and Strood, despite being an MEP for the area. If he jumps ship, there will be no by-election: European Parliament rules mean he stays in place until 2019, whether the Tory leadership wants him to or not.

Cameron is not out of the woods yet, not that his press pals want you to know that.

Guido Fawked – Sneering At The Working Class

[Update at end of post]

As campaigning in the Rochester and Strood by-election drew to a close, the customary routine of canvassing was broken by the outrage machine that is the right-leaning tabloid press as it descended on Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who had observed a house decked in England flags, with a white van out front, in a manner which all passing instant judgment agreed was “snobby”.
The Great Guido sits in judgment once more

Furious Miliband fires Labour frontbencher after row over 'outrageously snobby' tweet of terraced house flying three St George's flagsdeclared the Mail, adding for good measure that “Dan Ware, the father of four who lives in the house she photographed, condemned the out-of-touch Labour politician, declaring: 'She’s a snob'”. Yes, Dan The White Van Man.

The Super Soaraway Currant Bun was yet more forthright: “How to lose a by-election ... Snob Labour MP’s Twitter dig at White Van Man’s England flags ... Only Here For The Sneers”. Yes, Labour lost the by-election there – well, in the retelling, as of course it was down to the Tories and UKIP, not that this fits the narrative of Rupe’s downmarket troops, of course.
Sneering at the working class is bad ...

Was this enough cat-calling? Not for one group of Labour detractors: the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were in full cry. “Labour’s prosecco progressives openly despise the suburban aspirational middle classes and are privately condescending towards the working classes and their traditional valuesdeclared the Fawkes blog yesterday evening.

That was after “Islington MP’s Rochester Culture Shock” and “This Is Emily Thornberry’s £2 Million Islington Mansion” (yes, I know, Staines and his wife have at least four properties of their own, including two in London). But The Great Guido is not averse to a little sneering at the working class himself, as witness this extract from his own personal Twitter feed.
... so what about this, then?

Staines’ own Paul Delaire Staines feed (@pauldelsta) clearly found one Tweet from the Bet Victor account so clever that he Retweeted it. This shows a young woman falling over at the Grand National meeting, with the caption “We have just had our first faller at Aintree today”. That would be a horse racing meeting where ordinary working class people go to enjoy a day out.

Staines is being doubly hypocritical: sneering at the working class, plus making fun of someone who may have been imbibing (that is, after all, an alcoholic drink that she has apparently dropped). The Great Guido and the falling over water are no strangers to one another. Or perhaps it’s different when it’s a Labour politician, and Staines and his pals doing the sniping.

Let he who is without sin, and all that. Another fine mess, once again.

[UPDATE 1240 hours: my thanks to one Twitter user who remembered yet another example of the Fawkes rabble sneering at the working classes, this one from July 2012, and courtesy of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole.
Master Cole observed "Tim Fenton shops at Aldi. Enough said". Clearly the Westminster bubble's very own Loadsamoney faction considers the kinds of supermarkets frequented by all those hard working people that the press claims to support is beneath them.

After all, a two bedroom apartment in Parliament View - the block where Master Cole lives - will set you back a mere £1,450,000. Let the plebs in Crewe eat cake, eh?]

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Allister Heath Sells The Pub Pass

This week, in another exhibition of Michael “Oiky” Gove’s incompetence, the Government lost a whipped vote on an amendment which would loosen the iron grip of the PubCos on their unfortunate tenants, and perhaps, who knows, ultimately see an end to the “beer tiethat forces tenants to choose from a limited range of over-priced beers, rather than sell what they want.
Allister Heath tries to figure out licensed premises

But over at the Telegraph, rather than celebrate the event, Allister Heath, long a stooge of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), which wants to pretend pub closures are only about whether a pint of beer has a penny less duty on it and will not at any price talk about the PubCos and their failed business model, has swallowed the corporate Kool-Aid in one.

After predicting an acceleration in pub closures, Heath asserts “It is true, of course, that tenants pay an inflated price for the beer they buy from their landlords - the PubCos - and that they have a limited choice in what they can serve to their customers, which is often deeply frustrating; but in return they pay a much lower rent and enjoy various central services”, to which I call bullshit.

Choice, for free marketeers like Heath, is clearly only A Good Thing when his corporate pals can do it, and stuff the poor customer, who either has to drink Big Brand brews, or often ordinary cask ale that has been trunked hundreds of miles. What do drinkers in Crewe get? Greene King (all the way from Bury St Edmunds), Wells and Youngs (Bedford) and Shepherd Neame – from distant Faversham.

Even Marston’s products have to be trunked from Burton-on-Trent and Wolverhampton. But, because of that beer tie, our only microbrewery, Offbeat, can’t get its products into most of the town’s pubs. Those that are truly free of tie are thriving. Those that are not are reducing in number at a frightening rate: Admiral and Punch have both closed pubs in Crewe recently.

Heath manages not to see that the microbrewery sector, like free of tie pubs, is in rude health. For some reason, his tired libertarian drivel blaming the smoking ban for the plight of so many pubs has not affected them. Meanwhile, the PubCos cash in their property chips and sell viable pubs to supermarket chains, property developers, and for conversion to residential use rather than let them be used as pubs.

But as Allister Heath is so sure of the PubCo model, I’ll give him an invitation: come to Offbeat Brewery’s next open evening, on Friday December 5, and tell the assembled punters how much more wonderful their pub experience would be without free of tie pubs and the microbreweries that serve them. Just don’t blame me, though, Allister, if you get laughed out of the place.

More economies at the Tel? In Allister Heath, they have a hack worth sacking.

Uber – Dirty Tricks Keep On Coming

Those happy to defend driver and rider matching service Uber have been a lot quieter of late. Why that might be is not hard to see: the slew of complaints about indifferent service, the forced cut in earnings for many of its drivers, the way it does business and pays its taxes, and the behaviour and attitude of its management, all have been found wanting recently.
And this has underscored what I’ve been saying for some time: Uber is not some plucky little start-up, but an aggressive and well-funded corporate. So it was no surprise to readTaxi service Uber's tax affairs have been referred to HMRC by London's taxi and minicab regulator Transport for London (TfL) ... The app's Dutch operating firm, Uber BV, does not pay tax in the UK”.

Nor was it a surprise to read of a Los Angeles customerInstead of taking her home, the driver took her on a nightmare ride to an abandoned lot—and Uber doesn't seem to care”, or of a New York Uber driver, who said to a cancer patient who had to cancel her ride after a bout of radiotherapy “You are not human ... I think you deserve what happened to you”.

And it was entirely predictable to readThe subprime lending market that plunged America into the Great Recession is back and as unscrupulous as ever. Instead of mortgages, this time a bubble has formed around auto loans, and reliably ruthless Uber is in the thick of it. Two ‘partners’ in Uber's vehicle financing program are under federal investigation, but Uber hasn't slowed its aggressive marketing campaign to get drivers with bad credit to sign up for loans”.

But what has really taken the biscuit recently has been the revelation that Uber’s senior VP of business, Eric Michael, has floated the idea of “hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media”. He even had a specific target in mind – Sarah Lacy of Silicon Valley website PandoDaily.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was consumed with regret, but Michael is still in post, which causes the thought to occur that the regret is that his man got caught opening mouth and inserting boot. He was quick enough to pretend that the gathering where Michael made his pitch was off the record. Yes, they invited Arianna Huffington, Michael Wolff and a BuzzFeed editor, and expected them all to keep schtum.

On top of all that, Kalanick “made the case that he has been miscast as an ideologue and as insensitive to driver and rider complaints, while in fact he has largely had his head down building a transformative company that has beat his own and others’ wildest expectations”. Yeah, right. And who exactly articulated the sentiment “the competition is an asshole called Taxi”? That would be you, Trav.

Does anyone out there on the libertarian right still want to defend this shower?

Dan, Dan The Please Yourself Man

The shambles that is the Tory Party is today attempting to retain the Parliamentary seat of Rochester and Strood in the face of an assault by the shambles that is UKIP. But how can the Blue Team have got in to such a state? That is the subject which the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne is considering as he looks to what comes after what is expected to be another loss to the Kippers.
Soon to be available with purple tie

And what he sees should worry Young Dave and his jolly good chaps: Mark Reckless, known before he ratted to join Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers mainly for his own moment of extreme thirst, should perhaps not have been let into the party in the first place. The whips’ office is in a mess, not least through the ineptitude of Michael “Oiky” Gove.

Indeed, not only was there the monumental foul-up over the European Arrest Warrant, but this week the Government lost on a whipped vote, the first such occasion in this Parliament. And then there is the case of those who are Tories in name only, more specifically Dan, Dan The Oratory Man. Hannan is an MEP for South-East England – he benefited from being top of his party’s list.

That means even if the Tories had only secured one European Parliament (EP) seat in this year’s elections, he would have been home and dry. Yet when Cameron called on MPs, and especially ministers, to make the journey to Rochester and Strood, Hannan appears to have gone missing. It’s part of his home turf. If anyone should have been out there supporting Kelly Tolhurst, it should have been him.

Hannan pleaded pressure of work when Oborne asked whether he would be supporting Ms Tolhurst. Yet, as he then notes, the supposedly overworked MEP has managed to fit in a variety of media appearances and speeches: “Hannan acts as if the Tory party exists to serve him, and not the other way around ... he is acting as if he wants to win next year’s election for Ed Miliband” concludes the Tel man.

Hannan has said of RecklessI wish him all the best, but I won’t be following him to UKIP”, but then again, he is also capable of blatant dishonesty. He also said of Reckless and Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell that “both men wrestled with a decision they found incredibly difficult, risking their careers for reasons of conscience”, and called the formera devoted and patriotic MP”.

The problem Cameron has is that he has missed his opportunity to deal with Hannan. When James Forsyth told “Senior Tories now regard [Dan Hannan] defection as a question of when not if. Word is he’s gone dark since Reckless quit”, he had already been returned to the EP. If he defects, he’s still an MEP until 2019. And defect is what he may well do very soon.

Daniel Hannan has been appallingly disloyal to his party. We are not surprised.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Reckless Says Send Them All Back

With polling day in the Rochester and Strood constituency almost upon us, it might have been thought that Tory defector Mark Reckless, now aligned with Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP, could keep foot out of mouth for another 24 hours, just to make sure he gets over the win line. But that thought would have been misplaced.
Because, last night, Mr Thirsty’s latest Parliamentary recruit took part in an ITV hustings where he planted foot firmly in North and South on the subject where the Kippers should be safest – immigration. Reckless “had indicated EU migrants who had lived in the UK for a long time would be looked at sympathetically but others might only be allowed to stay for a transitional period”.

This did not get him off to a winning start: “His remarks were challenged by the Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan, who is the daughter of immigrants. ‘Where would you stop Mark? My family are migrants, are we going to say they need to go back as well?’ she said”. Even the Mail had to admit that Reckless’ “remarks were met with jeers”. And then his party leader disowned him.

Farage “insisted UKIP respected the rule of law and British justice. And he downplayed the comments as a ‘minor cause for confusion’”. Reckless then had another go: “Anyone's who's here legally, under the current EU arrangements, we would want to ensure that they remained legally by issuing a work permit to anyone who was in that category already in the country. For new people coming in we'd apply a points-based system”. Yeah, right.

Anyone from another EU member state already has a work permit – it’s called a passport. In other words, the country from which they have migrated has picked up the tab for the paperwork. In UKIP’s brave new world, we would have to pay for the bureaucracy – so we wouldn’t save money by leaving the EU.

But is it too late for anyone else to gain at the Kippers’ expense? Doubtful – all those postal votes have been submitted long ago, and many who want to cast a protest vote will do so, whatever last minute shambles Reckless creates for himself. But the impression has been given that he was talking repatriation, and both Tories and Labour will kick the Farage fringe hard for that.

Just as with the supposed move to ditch the party’s economics spokesman Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn, because he’s thinking of ways to make the sums add up, as they certainly don’t at present, it’s clear that UKIP is a one-man crusade. Whoever has Mr Thirsty’s ear – or perhaps that should be bar tab – is effectively calling the shots. Otherwise the whole thing is made up as it shambles along.

Will UKIP get to the General Election in one piece? It’s not looking good.

Coulson Holiday Camp Early Release Shock

The now-defunct Screws once referred to low-security Hollesley Bay jail in Suffolk as a “holiday camp”. Now that one of its less than illustrious former editors has done a stretch there, it would be interesting to know if the modern-day Sun on Sunday is still of that opinion. It would be yet more interesting to know what Rupe’s downmarket troops think of his early release.
While much press coverage was devoted to Andy Coulson’s incarceration in Belmarsh Prison, telling that he should not be banged up with all those proper criminals, and then have to share a cell with Neville “stylish masturbator” Thurlbeck, they all went quiet when he was transferred to a place which had been the target of so much tabloid scorn in previous years.

And what none of the Fourth Estate is complaining about right now is that the man who Young Dave allowed into Downing Street, but who had been pivotal to the industrial-scale phone hacking at the Screws, is going to be released well before the half-way point in his eighteen-month sentence, even when there is his looming trial on perjury charges in Scotland to consider.

The Telegraph went with the simple and prosaic: “Andy Coulson to be freed from jail on electronic tag ... Former Downing Street communications chief and editor of the News of the World will be released after serving 20 weeks of an 18 month sentence”. No shock horror at the leniency, then? Nine months would have been halfway through the sentence, remember.

How has the ever watchful and judgmental Daily Mail reported the news? “Andy Coulson out of prison on Friday: Disgraced former News of the World editor will wear electronic tag after serving less than five months of 18-month sentence” they tell, which at least confirms how little of the sentence he will serve. And they mention the “holiday camp” jibe, as does the HuffPost UK.

What the Mail also does, though, is to explain why Coulson is getting out after less than five months: “His sentence has been calculated under a complicated set of rules known as the Home Detention Curfew Scheme. This allows non-violent inmates sentenced to 18 months or more to spend the last 135 days or less at home, wearing a tag”. Shame that it takes a former editor being jailed to tell readers that.

But the Mail does not accompany its coverage with a judgmental editorial telling readers how soft the prison system has become, and nor will any of its pundits be condemning Coulson’s early release any time soon – certainly not the likes of Richard Littlejohn. What a change from politicians like Jeffrey Archer getting banged up in the same prison.

Anyone would think there was a different set of rules for journalists. Once more.

Tony Parsons – You’re A Clown

There was a time when I read the music press avidly. It was, admittedly, a long time ago. One weekly that passed before my inspection was dubbed the “New Musical Excuse” by a work colleague. The NME aimed to be that bit edgier; to this end, it employed two young, up-and-coming writers. One was Julie Burchill, and the other Tony Parsons. One is still a bit edgy, and the other isn’t.
"How high would you like me to jump, nice Mr Murdoch?"

Parsons has drifted so far from his 1970s beginnings that he endorsed Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP this year. He claimed that “politicians are just completely removed from any kind of life experiences in a way they weren't when I was growing up”. Yesterday the pundit who flounced out on the Mirror to take the Murdoch shilling sold the pass.
He told that “Myleene Klass is a single working mother who knows more about the real world and supporting a family than Eds Miliband, Balls etc ever will”. This apparent, er, removal from any kind of life experience brought a swift response from Harry Harris, who clearly had difficulty believing Tone actually said that. “She’s not doing nights down f***ing Iceland Tony, Christ”.
He wasn’t the only one expressing disbelief, as witness @gfrancie: “She’s worth 11 million. There is a HUGE difference between her and most single parents ... She isn’t scrambling to find childcare, to have reliable transport, getting a job with a living wage. She has support”. Certainly, being able to shell out eight bags of sand a month to rent a house suggests Ms Klass won’t be taking the bus any time soon.
A Tweeter called Jenny underscored this situation: “£2 million houses are not the ‘real world’, any more than private jets represent ‘real’ air travel ... there’s something very ‘let them eat cake’ about this and it’s disappointing”. That something is called “being so desperate to kick Mil The Younger that hacks and pundits will back a selfish and gobby sleb to curry favour with Creepy Uncle Rupe”.
Among the others joining in to pass adverse comment on Parsons was someone telling “Technically yes, she is a single mother, but seems to manage some nice holidays on a motor yacht! And a single mother with a LOT of money in the bank. Oh, my heart bleeds”. Or maybe not.
But the most damning comment came from someone who reminded Parsons just where he really sits in the pantheon of literary greats: “Stay in your lane mate. That lane being naff Nick Hornby rip offs for UKIP voters”.

When Tony Parsons left the Mirror, he bid it an apparently sad farewell, only to fetch up at the Sun, denounce the paper that had given him a well-paid berth for 18 years as “dying”, and praise Murdoch for paywalling his titles. His clumsy defence of Ms Klass to kick Miliband shows he’ll do anything to please his new boss.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rich Sleb Wants To Stay Rich

Ever watched ITV’s The Agenda? Neither have I: Tom Bradby’s show goes out on Monday evenings after the News Not Always At Ten, in the slot opposite BBC2’s Newsnight. But the right-leaning press was watching, or at least they’ve lifted the copy from someone who was, because last night Mil The Younger was on, and so was overmonied loudmouth Myleene Klass.
Another day, another hatchet job

Who she? Ms Klass is famous for once being a member of a manufactured pop group, having then had a solo career, presenting a variety of TV programmes, going on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and otherwise for being Herself Personally Now. She is one of those “personalities” who fetch up as part of the rotating chat show guest list. In 2011, her estimated worth was £11 million.

And she was not enamoured of the prospect of a “Mansion Tax”, so, although it has been reported that she “debated” this Labour Party proposal with Miliband, in effect she ranted at him and kept on ranting at the thought that he might get a word in edgeways in his party’s defence. The Tory supporting press loved it: she had “wiped the floor” with Miliband. This was true, as four Twitter users said so.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, Ms Klass’ outburst, and her suggestion that £2 million would only buy you “a garage” in London, may not be playing out necessarily to her advantage. Why so? Well, the mansion tax idea is popular, especially among those who do not have eight-figure fortunes and think that those who do would not be unduly harmed if asked to pay a few hundred quid more.

That did not deter the press, with the Mail crowingWell you wanted a Klass war, Ed! As if things weren't bad enough, now the beleaguered Labour leader is humiliated on TV by former pop star Myleene as she takes him to task over the mansion taxand the Telegraph thatSinger Myleene Klass went 'full Paxman' on the Labour leader during a TV debate in a stunning annihilation of his mansion tax policies”.

Yes, shooting your gob off means you “humiliate” and “annihilate” someone else. But don’t take my word for it: such is the less than enamoured response of members of the public who don’t give a flying foxtrot what the Mail and Tel want them to think that a Just Giving page has been set up to help the supposedly beleaguered Ms Klass pay that unduly onerous Mansion Tax.

And LabourList has helpfully suggested five properties in the Greater London area which Ms Klass could buy for no more than £2 million: as she used to live near Cuffley, the six bedroom detached, with selection of those garages, at Hadley Wood should be right up her street. Even the most desirable new homes in central London locations – like Chelsea Harbour – don’t cost more than £2 million.

Still, it keeps the Tory supporting press hopeful. Until next Thursday, that is.

Rebekah Brooks – Teflon Editor

Right now, there is a trial going on featuring several former faithful Murdoch retainers. As usual, most papers’ reporting of this event ranges from cursory to non-existent. Fortunately, the deeply subversive Guardian has been on the case, and the impression has been given over the last few days that the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks has been mightily fortunate.
Ms Brooks’ legal team made sure that the impression given to the jury at the Hacking Trial was of someone who did not know what was going on at the lower levels of the now-defunct Screws. She never saw all those requests for cash payments, honest, which must have been authorised by one of her subordinates. They, it need not be stressed too highly, were the ones who got guilty.

Moreover, she made sure that she came over as pleasant and courteous to all present: you can see all of this in Peter Jukes’ excellent book which derives from his unique live Tweeting of the trial, Beyond Contempt, which is now on sale (hint). The impression was given by the defence team of someone so busy that the day-to-day minutiae could not be fitted in to her schedule.

But, at the trial of the “Sun Six at Kingston Crown Court, a rather different picture of the editor then known as Rebekah Wade has emerged. As Lisa O’Carroll has noted, “Rebekah Brooks was one of most charming women you could ever meet but she also had a furious temper and regularly swore at staff when editor at the Sun, a jury has heard”. She would “scream at staff she was unhappy with”.

Former News Editor Chris Pharo, on trial for alleged conspiracy to pay public officials for stories, told that on one occasion “She screwed [the news list] into a giant ball and threw it in my face. She screamed: ‘If you can’t find a f***ing news list you can f*** the f*** off. She then slammed the door so hard she broke the handle and we couldn’t get out and we had to be released by her PA from the other side”.

Worse, it has also been reported thatRebekah Brooks signed off on virtually all cash payment requests when she was editor at the Sun, it has been claimed at a trial of journalists on the tabloid accused of approving payments to public officials for stories”. That would be the cash payments that she managed not to see when she was at the Screws. But the Hacking Trial is now over.

And Ms Brooks was cleared of all charges against her. Meanwhile, Pharo and his fellow defendants appear to have been collectively shopped by News UK’s now infamous Management and Standards Committee and left to their fate. Rebekah Brooks gives the impression that some higher being is making sure she does not suffer the same fate as her underlings.

Who that higher being may be, I will leave for readers to make up their own minds.

Vote UKIP And Your Cock Will Drop Off

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade pitched the idea yesterday that this week’s by-election in Rochester and Strood is not getting all that much press attention. Well, up to a point, Mr G. There’s enough light being shed on the constituency to tell anyone not already up to speed that the Tories are prepared to sink very low indeed in order to ward off Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers.
How low? Oh I dunno, how about “the Scary Muslims (tm) will come and get you if you don’t pay immediate homage to Young Dave”? You think I jest? That is, effectively, what Cameron was inferring last week, as he talked of a “Ukip boost and all the uncertainty and instability that leads to”. That was desperate. But the latest Conservative wheeze is more desperate still.

Rochester by-election: 'House prices will go down if you vote Ukip' ... Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst says homeowners fear a win for Ukip because it will tarnish the areatold the Telegraph yesterday. Wait, what? Sadly this is right, although, to be fair to Ms Tolhurst, it was not her who uttered the sentiment “The danger is if you vote Ukip, the value of your house will go down”.

That dubious accolade goes to Charles Walker, who represents the Hertfordshire commuter belt constituency of Broxbourne. How much substance is there in this frankly Barking suggestion? The Tel, after asserting “Three bedroom bungalows in the town, half an hour from the capital, can sell for more than £400,000”, concedes “Property experts have said there is no data to verify the theory”.

So that’s that, is it? Not so fast, Meester Media Bond, the Mail has not yet spoken. And if we’re talking house prices, the Mail will have its say: “Tories warn 'vote Ukip and your house price will go down' in last-ditch bid to avoid by-election humiliation in Rochesterthunders their headline, correctly identifying the source. “MP Charles Walker warns voting Ukip could taint town hitting house prices”.

Doubly desperate – so why is the Tories’ campaign scraping the barrel in its final days? Simples. One look at the Express is all you need: “EXCLUSIVE: Six Tory MPs to defect to Ukip if it wins Rochester and Strood by-electiondeclares the Daily UKIP. This may be a tad exaggerated – there’s very little of substance in the story, which is no surprise with the Express – but the possibility certainly exists.

Their assertion “Insiders claim Basildon and Billericay MP John Baron is the most likely to cross the floor” may be pie in the sky. But it’s enough to scare the shit out of CCHQ. If the Kippers win on Thursday, not even the right-wing press will be able to pretend that the party in trouble isn’t the one they all support. That’s why the Tories are prepared to say whatever it takes to make voters support their candidate.

The problem is, those voters no longer believe them. And they’re probably right.

Monday, 17 November 2014

UKIP – Lunchtime Must Go

[Update at end of post]

Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP should be on a roll right now: they’ve succeeded in getting Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell re-elected to Parliament on their ticket, and it’s looking like they will get Mark Reckless re-elected later this week. So what do they need like a hole in the head at this moment of history? A bit of splitting and bloodletting.
They told you to jump in there, did they?

But that, it seems, is what they are getting, as some on the Farage fringe have decided that economics spokesman Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn, formerly of the Daily Express and so no stranger to political la-la land, should go. The dissenters are being encouraged just a teensy bit by Tory Party supporters, like Mark Wallace at ConHome, who are having difficulty hiding their enjoyment of this development.

It’s a month since we launched our Pinning Down Farage series with the question ‘What is UKIP’s economic policy?’” observed Wal, knowing full well that it is not just Tory supporters who would very much like an answer to that one. There was more, though: “It also put into print concerns that have been circulating inside the ‘People’s Army’ for some time about the direction and coherence of the policy set by Patrick O’Flynn MEP, the UKIP Economy spokesman”.

There is “direction and coherence” of UKIP economic policy? I missed that one – the impression was given that “Lunchtime” would articulate an idea, usually to fend off those who pointed out that the Kippers’ sums didn’t add up, only for Mr Thirsty to finish his pint of Landlord and say it wasn’t going to happen.

But what gives the attack on O’Flynn added piquancy is that the batshit collective otherwise known as Breitbart London, usually supportive of anything emanating from UKIP, has weighed in, and said in forthright terms that “Lunchtime” should go. The author of the most trenchant attack is James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who clearly has his sneer set to maximum volume.

Why is Patrick O'Flynn, the economics spokesman for Britain's most libertarian mainstream party UKIP, flirting with the kind of wealth taxes and turnover taxes you'd more usually associate with the Greens or the Socialist Workers' Party?” he asks, adding “O'Flynn read economics at Cambridge - but so too did John Maynard Keynes and look where that landed us”. For Del Boy, things like bringing down unemployment and not using the currency as a virility symbol are anathema.

Del says “Lunchtime” has to go, and he has the ideal replacement: “The solution is staring the party in the face. No one understands the economic problems facing Britain better than Douglas Carswell. By happy coincidence, he happens to be UKIP's first elected MP”. Yeah, right. Stop giggling at the back.

UKIP’s take on economics is barking. This split will just help more people know that.

[UPDATE 18 November 1020 hours: Peter Oborne at the Telegraph has spelt out exactly what binning "Lunchtime" O'Flynn would to to UKIP. "Firing Patrick O'Flynn would signal the start of UKIP's slide back into fringe insignificance" he observed.

And he makes this very telling point: "Mr O’Flynn’s emergence as a senior figure within the party has coincided with an exponential growth of party support amongst working-class voters, especially in the Midlands and the North". Does Mr Thirsty want to bring more of those usually Labour supporting voters over to his cause, or what?

What would benefit UKIP most, all those extra votes in the Midlands and North, or retaining sufficient ideological purity to satisfy Delingpole? The answer will not make happy reading for Del Boy]

Tabloid Met Office Hypocrisy

Look out, folks – we’re going to have another wet Winter! Well, in the retelling, perhaps – but, as ever, the tabloids have been picking and choosing their forecasts to suit the headlines they have already written. What nobody has forecast is what the Express has told its readers: “Flood Chaos For 3 Months ... Weather experts predict another Winter washout”. Yeah, right.
Nathan Rao – who has left the Express but is still contributing as a freelance – is not pulling his headline punches: “MORE flood woe for Britain? Forecasters' shock warning of WETTEST winter for 30 YEARS ... BRITAIN is about to battered by another bout of autumn storms as the country faces one of the wettest winters in 30 years” he tells. And no it doesn’t.

The small print brings the caveats: “The Met Office’s three-month contingency outlook warns of the risk of above-average rainfall through to the end of January - using probability data from 1981”. So we’re talking possibilities rather than certainties, and in recent Express traditions, Rao has been cobbling his copy together by cutting and pasting from the Met Office website.

Having said that, he isn’t the only one: over at the Mail, there is similarly apocalyptic news: “Britain could be facing one of the wettest winters ever warns Met Office amid claims conditions are right for series of powerful Atlantic storms”. Do go on. “The latest three-month outlook from the Met Office, which covers November to January, suggests that the next three months will be wetter than average”.

What were those words again? “Could be”, “claims”, and “suggests that”. Nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh? But forecasters are only predicting with any certainty for this week and next. And, while looking at the Mail knife-and-forking paragraphs from the Met Office site, a thought enters: the Dacre doggies are playing both sides of the meteorological field here.

For instance, they commissioned James “saviour of Western Civilisation” Delingpole to rubbish the organisation last year: “Was there ever a government quango quite so useless as the Met Office?” carped Del Boy, with air quotes set to stun. Serial fraud Christopher Booker told that the Met Officehas become a national laughing stock year after year for getting its long-term predictions ... so spectacularly wrong”.

Yet now, there they are, lapping up that same Met Office’s content, because it can be used to feed the reader-frightening headlines, and the fear of unknown Winter conditions. The Express has even ditched the quacks at Positive Weather Solutions on this occasion. But the reality is that, with the UK positioned between the sea and the European landmass, forecasting for any length of time is difficult to do.

It’s far easier for the press to stand by and whine. No change there, then.

Don’t Menshn Feminist T-Shirts

The Mail titles are clearly not finished kicking the Fawcett Society, which was involved in producing and promoting thoseThis is what a feminist looks like” T-shirts, as witness yesterday’s headlineSelf-righteous. Narrow-minded. A mouthpiece for the unions... Why I quit feminist society behind THOSE T-shirts: Blistering attack on The Fawcett Society by its former vice chair Joanne Cash”.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Who she? Ms Cash is a failed former Tory Party parliamentary candidate: at the last General Election, she set out to pick up the seat of Westminster North, but dropped it. And she was, briefly, a vice-chair of the Fawcett Society. It was such a brief tenure that her Wikipedia entry does not mention it. But she decided that the Society was full of rotten lefties, and that’s good enough for the MoS.
This did not go unnoticed somewhere in reassuringly expensive and upmarket Manhattan, where (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch went into raptures over the hatchet job, crowing “BRILLIANT piece re Labour front group [Fawcett Society] – fauxminists supreme – by [Joanne Cash] on why she quit them”. That Ms Cash is prone to disagree with others and walk out is not told.
She tried to do just that in the run-up to the last General Election, and it needed Young Dave’s personal intervention to steady the local Tory ship. Ms Mensch, though, was away with the fairies: “Been telling you for ages the [Fawcett] Society have nothing to do with women or feminism”. Think they do, actually, Louise. Anyone not sure about that can check their website HERE.
Meanwhile, Ms Mensch loses it totally and starts saying things that are not true: “[Fawcett Society] board member and vice-chair [Joanne Cash] had to resign as it was just lefty front group”. She didn’t have to resign, and “lefty front group” is the personal opinion of Tory Party supporters, the kind of folks who think the BBC is a hotbed of socialism. And hello Louise, that’s not Ms Cash’s Twitter handle.
Ms Mensch ends her typically batshit rant with “Like other Conservative feminists, [Joanne Cash] discovered that, sadly, [Fawcett Society] switched from feminist to fauxminist long ago”. Sadly for that point of view, the article that she has so enthusiastically cited is full of questionable assertions and just a few whoppers, talking about “exploiting female workers in Mauritius”.

The T-shirts made in Mauritius were not produced in a sweatshop, every assessment of the CMT factory supports the view that it meets a good ethical standard, and all Joanne Cash’s piece does is to show that it is she who is the one who cannot get off her party political hobby horse. Others have different viewpoints to her? Get over it, that’s the real world out there.

A failed politician backing one of her own? No surprise there, then.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

TPA – Ashamed Of Its Past

One of Zelo Street’s favourite targets over the years – their first mention on this blog was back in August 2009 – has been the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the Astroturf Lobby Group that is not an alliance of taxpayers, and does not possess any discernible grassroots. The usual suspects in the Fourth Estate have not been featuring the TPA much recently, and there’s a good reason for that.
Rather less guff from Tufton Street

The sad reality is that, right now, the TPA is supposedly employing rather a lot of staff and hangers-on, but the product of their endeavours is somewhat hard to find. And what is worse, the past Oeuvre appears to have vanished – some of the TPA’s most notorious whoppers and hatchet jobs are no longer online. Were all those FoI fishing expeditions for nothing?

One example of the missing TPA campaigns of the past is that against aid and loans to Argentina: when today’s Zelo Street post on that subject was being researched, it was found that the TPA’s links were still there on Google search, but were dead. It can’t be a personal thing: this was started by founder Matthew “Gromit” Elliott, whose face is still there at the top of the rogues’ gallery.

It gets worse: all the way from the (spurious) accusation that the then Labour Government was paying firms to lobby it, to the fraudulent assertion that speed cameras had actually caused more deaths and injuries, to the claim that motorists are paying billions inexcessive motoring taxes”, to the dishonest claim that Royal Mail staff without job titles are costing taxpayers money, the links are dead.

Even the TPA’s supposedly landmark research has gone missing. References to Matthew Sinclair’s much-promoted (well, it was by the TPA) book Let Them Eat Carbon are dead. And, although the report of the “2020 Tax Commissionis still live at its own URL, the TPA’s own link to the final report is also dead. All that back catalogue – and it’s all gone missing.

It’s not as if the TPA is short of staff – according to its website, there are twenty of them. Even if you assume that the regional coordinators, research fellows, founder and chairman are only occasional participants, that still leaves ten of them. Are they incapable of auditing changes to their website? Or has there been a Soviet-style move to erase past research – and staff?

It looks more cock-up than conspiracy: the account by now-director John O’Connell of the TPA’s not-very-successful awayday to Ashton-under-Lyne (see the Zelo Street take HERE and HERE) on ConHome is still live, but the TPA website links in his piece are, like so much else from the past, dead. So little going on, and the back catalogue unavailable – what a complete shambles.

Are people still putting money into this venture? More fool them if true.

Jihadi John Injured – Maybe Not

Someone in the Northcliffe House bunker has a short memory: while the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre – and that includes the Mail On Sunday (MoS), as the Vagina Monologue is editor-in-chief – loves to kick the blessed Tone, they manage to forget that he and Dubya Bush went off to war in Iraq on the basis of some highly dodgy intelligence.
That would be intelligence coming from a single source: in Iraq it was the Iraqi National Congress and convicted fraudster Ahmed Chalabi; right now the MoS is making the same mistake just so it can tempt a few more pundits to buy. “GOT HIM ... Jihadi John ‘Wounded In Air Strike’proclaims the headline, addingEXCLUSIVE: Foreign Office confirms to MoS ‘We are aware of reports of injury’”.

The impression is immediate: like the Iraq intelligence that was exactly what Tone and Dubya wanted to hear – that there were indeed lots of those mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) – this news is exactly what papers like the MoS want to serve up to their readers. And those quotes around “Wounded In Air Strike” should put readers on their guard. They mean the MoS can’t stand up the claim.

Moreover, look at the quote from the FO: “We are aware of reports of injury”. That also does not stand up the MoS story – all it says is that the FO has heard the same story, and, whisper it quietly, it is entirely possible that they heard it from the MoS, which then framed the story to suggest the source of the FO’s information was someone else. They are just guessing.

But, having ensured the FO is “aware of reports of injury”, it can now tell the readers “Jihadi John, the Briton who beheaded two British and two American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists, has been injured in a US-led air strike, according to reports received by the Foreign Office”. Single-source report becomes the peg on which an alleged “exclusive” can now be hung.

There’s more: “The masked ‘executioner’ with a London accent is believed to have narrowly escaped death when he attended a summit of the group’s leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday”. Woah! More of those quotation marks! Yes, they don’t even know if it was him carrying out the beheadings. And on top of that, they don’t know his name.

You think I jest? Here’s the relevant part of the MoS story: “According to our source, a nurse who treated the wounded in a hospital in Deir-ez-Zour, confirmed that one of the names on the injured list was Jalman, saying it was ‘the one who slaughtered the journalists’”. ISIS, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week, have murdered rather a lot of people recently. That may include other journalists.

This story appears little more than a crock of crap. So no change there, then.