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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Let’s Ask Tony Gallagher

Sometimes, the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker are given an insight into what real people - the ones they claim to represent through their excuse for journalism - actually think of them. A window on that real world out there beyond the comfortably-appointed and securely guarded offices where they dream up the mean-spirited unpleasantness that fills the pages of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.
Still claims to be a newspaper editor

And what they see may not be to their liking, as a Twiter hashtag #AskTonyGallagher has revealed today. Whether official or not, the Sun’s editor should be shown the results, not that he’ll want to know. The little people are not his concern, beyond his ability to con them rotten and still keep Creepy Uncle Rupe and his pal Rebekah sweet.
Apropos Tone’s ambivalent attitude to free speech, one question was “Are you enjoying your ‘safe space’ created by blocking all your critics?” Ben Dunnell wanted to get an idea of how he manages those flexible Sun principles: “What's worse: someone laughing at the deaths of refugees, or someone telling that person to fuck off?
Ian Power cut to the chase - how high Gallagher jumps when Creepy Uncle Rupe tells him to. “Does Murdoch use strings or stuff his arm up your arse like you're Sooty?” Bye bye, everybody, bye bye. James Harewood tried gently to tell him how popular he really wasn’t: “If you were marooned on a desert island, with only 5 records, how do you think the rest of us would celebrate?” Probably for longer than Tone would.
There were topical questions, especially on subjects like unaccompanied refugee children, or on similar lines: “Dear @tonygallagher, Do you do dental checks on page 3 girls to ensure they are definitely adults?” Another popular theme was the lack of factual information in the average Sun newspaper: “If the circumstances were correct would you ever consider using some facts in one of your stories?” QTWTAIN, I suspect.
Gallagher’s status as Sun editor - like John Major, in power but probably not in control - prompted one concerned Tweeter to ask “As I have never been a `useful idiot` could you please tell me what it is like to be one?” Another, alluding to the Sun’s longstanding ability to demonise brown and black people, asked “Hi Tony. Is there a chart in your office gauging whether or not a foreigner is dark enough to be hated?
The return of disgraced former editor Kelvin McFilth, and his occupying an office on the 13th floor, weighed on one questioner’s mind: “What would Kelvin MacKenzie have to do for you to sack him?” It’d be worse than napalming Cheltenham, I suspect. And one I particularly enjoyed: “What form does Murdoch take when you meet him?” I’d always wondered if Rupe was really some kind of destructive alien being.

Other examples of how much Tony Gallagher is appreciated by the ordinary public are available. He’ll be sticking his fingers in his ears for a long time after that one.

Heat Street Is Truly Bust

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will know that one gift that keeps on giving is the detachment from reality of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has inexplicably persuaded Rupert Murdoch to bankroll her piss-poor website Heat Street, a dustbin of sub-Breitbart right-wing ranting where the targets are predictable to the point of terminal boredom, and use of facts is occasional, as well as purely incidental.
As I told recently, Ms Mensch had been exposed by a recent Wikileaks email release as shilling for Hillary Clinton at the same time as she was claiming to be a champion of the “Alt-Right”, backing the GamerGate crowd and jumping on any and every bandwagon going after Social Justice Warriors, or SJWs, a favourite right-wing target. That would have been enough to harm the Heat Street brand, but now it has got worse - a lot worse.

The Ralph Retort - not exactly a hotbed of leftism - which had previously passed adverse comment on Ms Mensch’s attempts to get respected Vice News contributor Michael Tracey sacked, telling “Louise Mensch has certainly been exposed as a vile individual, pushing censorship and trying to silence ‘wrongthinkers’ as aggressively as any SJW I’ve seen. If you still had any faith in Heat Street (which Louise founded and is the editor of) being anything more than Controlled Opposition, last night’s meltdown ought to disabuse you of that notion”, has now caught her messing around her own contributors.

In “Heat Street’s Louise Mensch Befuddled by Lewd Anime”, Christi Junior describes a new Japanese anime thus: “Keijo is basically a Shounen sports series, but revolving around a sport that involves girls fighting each other using their butts and boobs (the emphasis being mainly on the butts), the competitors using their assets to knock their opponents out [of] bounds, or even to knock them out. Oh, Japan…”. There is more.

One site did however cover Kotaku’s article critically, that being Heat Street. This was in the form of a short piece written by William Hicks, definitely tongue in cheek, yet calling attention to the interesting fact that Keijo passes the Bechdel Test (basically the SJW gold standard for female representation in fiction) with flying colors”.

But see what happened next: “if you follow the archived link I posted and check out the active link provided, you won’t be met with William Hicks’ piece, but instead a completely different article written by Loony Louise herself, claiming that Keijo isn’t just misogynistic, but actually qualifies as child porn!” Wait, what? “And no, this isn’t even a case of the original article having been moved – Louise’s smear piece, going far beyond what even Kotaku dared, is now the only article about Keijo available on Heat Street”.

That means? Yes, “she took an already-published article by one writer and straight up replaced it with an article of her own, that has a completely different message. And none of this was even disclosed by Mensch! In fact, Mensch’s new article has the exact same date as the original article, which is patently false”. Oh dear!

Ms Mensch’s former fans are not taking this well: “The normally SJW-sympathetic Mods over at the GamerGate Reddit sub KotakuInAction, which Heat Street has been pandering to hard these past months, ended up Blacklisting the whole site over Louise’s antics”. The GamerGate crowd, as well as those who backed her over Tim Hunt, are departing.

The article concludes “As someone who has considered Heat Street to be Controlled Opposition ever since their ‘Pepe is Anti-Semitic’ article … I’m happy to see so many other people now seeing the site for what it is. Considering how Heat Street’s whole business model has basically been to cash in on the Anti-SJW backlash, being exposed like this could actually really hurt it. I would not be the least surprised if the original Keijo article soon gets brought back – and if Rupert Murdoch hasn’t gone senile yet, I expect to see Louise Mensch get fired soon”. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Why so? Consider the rankings for Heat Street, which have begun to decline. Although Ms Mensch claimed a ranking of 265 ten days ago, ten places ahead of The Daily Dot, the latter is now twelve places ahead of Heat Street. Worse is the site’s performance in the UK, where its rank of 465 is behind local Government sites for the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Ealing - and almost 60 places behind the Basingstoke Gazette!

And that is with 18 full-time staff. Heat Street started off in a blaze of publicity, but when journalists like Miles Goslett, whose contribution to the Jimmy Savile saga is well-known, is reduced to spinning the news that Shami Chakrabarti did her report for the Labour Party on anti-Semitism for free as something bad (this, apparently, makes her “rich”, and that’s a bad thing. Hello Louise Mensch, sitting there in NYC on your pile of money), you know that something is badly wrong. And that something is Ms Mensch.

Rupert Murdoch will not continue throwing money at Heat Street indefinitely. He did not get where he is today by bankrolling what is becoming a joke, a comedy genre, a source of sustained and justifiable ridicule. He can fire her, kick her upstairs (a nicer way of firing her), or just pull the plug on the whole shebang and cut his losses.

Either way, Heat Street has lost all credibility, and as such it is well and truly bust. It’s looking like there might not even be a first birthday party. Sad, really.

IMPRESS Is Recognised

And so it came to pass that the Press Recognition Panel met yesterday to consider the application for recognition, under the terms of the cross-party approved Royal Charter on press regulation, by a wholly independent regulator, IMPRESS. Thus the end of a long journey for Jonathan Heawood and his team that began with not much more than optimism back in 2014.
IMPRESS - the acronym meaning Independent Monitor for the PRESS - was initially a crowdfunded project, and, full disclosure here, Zelo Street was an initial contributor. There were notable journalist names on board from the start, with some, like Harold Evans, giving unequivocal support. Most of the press establishment ignored IMPRESS; by doing this, surely it would just go away, and quietly.

That didn't happen, and as it became clear that IMPRESS was a serious proposition, with serious backing, the abuse and smears began. Most of these have homed in on donations from the Alexander Mosley charitable trust, which have been swiftly translated into papers telling their readers that the new regulator was a weapon for Max Mosley to wreak vengeance on poor unfortunate journalists.

But, despite attempts from that part of the press that has backed sham regulator IPSO, which claims not to be toothless while being, er, toothless, there was no stopping IMPRESS gaining recognition yesterday. As the Guardian - which has declined to join IPSO - has reported, "The PRP's six-person board agreed unanimously that IMPRESS met each of the 23 criteria set out under the Royal Charter". A giant hurdle had been cleared.

However, and here we encounter a significantly-sized however, the next task for those wanting to see a system of press regulation that gives the 99% plus of the population who cannot afford to take the press to court - IPSO does little more than wipe the newspapers' collective backsides, so cannot be taken seriously as a means for progressing complaints - is a greater one still, and that is to persuade the Government to commence Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson, who has been an unswerving supporter of independent press regulation, and who gave the Hacked Off Leveson lecture in 2014, has challenged Culture Secretary Karen Bradley to say what course she will take on Section 40, telling "The Culture Secretary must now urgently clarify her position on Section 40 and tell us whether she will enact the legislation that would allow independent press regulation to succeed". Got it in one.

Ms Bradley, who as I've previously told gives every impression of being a weak minister being manipulated by her SpAd Craig Woodhouse - a former Sun journalist - now has to make the decision. Either she carries out the will of Parliament, and fulfils the promises made to all those victims of press misbehaviour, or caves in to the newspaper establishment and allows the Press Barons to carry on marking their own homework and giving the finger to the little people.

And I have bad news for Ms Bradley: there is no easy option here. No pressure, then.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Brexit - May Admits She’s Clueless

As the date set by Theresa May for triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty draws ever closer, and not even her most ardent admirers in the press can stop the electorate becoming ever more concerned about what we have let ourselves in for in voting to leave the EU, it is becoming clear that our great visionary Prime Minister, whom we should not call unelected, does not have a clue what she is doing.
One issue is sufficient to illustrate this point: the manner of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, whether this will involve a “Hard Brexit”, with exit from the Single Market and trading arrangements still to be worked out, or some other deal whereby Britain maintains its Single Market membership and also obtains at least an interim deal allowing businesses in the UK to trade with the EU as they did before.

As with so many moments of realisation, this one appeared perhaps unexpectedly, but once it was out there, it hit home with some force. The moment of truth for Theresa May came when representatives of devolved Governments around the UK arrived in Downing Street yesterday. And it fell to Scotland’s plain-talking First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to spell out that the woman in the house behind her didn’t have a clue.

What progress, Ms Sturgeon was asked, had been made? The answer should worry businesses across the UK: “We discussed the UK's negotiating position in general, but it is safe to say we got no more information or detail on that than we had before we went into the meeting, and I got the strong sense the UK government itself doesn't know what it is trying to achieve”. Theresa May doesn’t know what she’s doing, in other words.
It was not an isolated occurrence: later, in the Commons, Andy Burnham got Ms May to let the cat out of the bag for real. As the Guardian has reported, “He asks about research carried out to assess the impact of ‘the harder form of Brexit that she seeks’ will have on the regions”. After all, that was the clear inference from her Tory Party Conference opening remarks. What she talked about then and there meant “Hard Brexit”.

But to Burnham’s surprise - and clear delight - her reply was “He talks of a hard Brexit this government is going to take the country into. There is no suggestion of that whatsoever … The gentleman seems to think all of these decisions are binary, whether you can control immigration or you can get a free trade deal … That is not the case. We are going to be ambitious in what we hope to get for the UK, a good trade deal as well as control on immigration”. She really doesn’t know what she’s doing - in her own words.

That is a U-turn since the Tory conference. And it flies in the face of the united front being maintained by all EU leaders - Schulz, Juncker, Tusk and anyone else - that there can be no “EU à la carte”, no Single Market membership without free movement of people. Ms May might have the ambition. But her ministers will not deliver it, given their personal ignorance and shortcomings. We are looking increasingly stuffed.

But the Kippers, Tory libertarians, and press barons got what they wanted, so that’s all right, then.

Murdoch Man Manipulates Minister AGAIN

Today’s Times has a front page news item which may surprise press regulation campaigners, whether they favour the kinds of reforms outlined in the report following the Leveson Inquiry, or not. “Government backs down over threat to press freedom” tells the headline, followed by “The Government has backed down over plans to make newspapers pay libel costs even if they win their case”. It has?
Well, maybe not: “Westminster sources revealed last night that the ‘punitive demands’ of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which would force a newspaper to pay libel damages irrespective of whether or not it won, ‘will not go ahead’”. There was more. “Ministers had hoped [no name pitched, and none will be] to cajole newspapers into registering with the new body [Impress] by threatening to implement Section 40 for those who refused. Instead Karen Bradley, the Culture Secretary, opened the way yesterday for a more lenient approach”. She did? When did that happen?

Giving evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee, Ms Bradley, who has held meetings with local and national newspaper editors, indicated that she did not want to go ahead with something that might put regional papers out of business”. That is the sum total of this exclusive insight. Which is also in the Sun.
Karen Bradley - a weak minister

Government signals major U-turn in its war on Press freedom … Pressure for the Press to sign up to a regulatory body approved by Royal Charter causes outrage” readers are told, with the assurance “Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is to fight plans for crippling financial punishments on newspapers”. And there were the obligatory talking heads.

Insufferably pompous and verbose Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg scoffed “A free Press is a beacon of our ancient liberty and it would be dreadful if it were watered down in honour of some sleazy celebrities”. No watering down is on offer, sadly. But there was also Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors, who “said the Royal Charter system was ‘halfway to state control of the Press’ and called Section 40 a draconian measure”.
Craig Woodhouse - allowed a little too close to Government

Quite apart from there being no state control of anything being proposed or discussed, it’s clear that the Murdoch press has been fed a line from someone with access to Karen Bradley. Who, one has to ask, might that be? But there is no need to ask: Craig Woodhouse, formerly of the Sun, is now a special advisor to Ms Bradley, and as Zelo Street has pointed out previously, he is manipulating the minister for Murdoch’s benefit.

What makes Woodhouse’s behaviour doubly out of order is that he is not supposed to have any role in determining policy - Ms Bradley has yet to appoint someone to that position. Yet, to borrow from Aneurin Bevan, he is clearly playing both monkey and organ grinder in trying to “do a Fox News” and call this particular result before the outcome is known. That is how scared the Murdochs are of Section 40 - and Impress.

Properly independent press regulation? It’s such a frightening prospect that Times and Sun readers have to be fed an alternative reality instead. So no change there, then.

Toby Young Ken Loach Smear BUSTED

Veteran filmmaker Ken Loach’s latest work, I, Daniel Blake, is said to be the kind of film that will make you angry - angry about the way in which those forgotten by society, those unable to work, those who need assistance from the state to get by are treated, the manner in which benefits are assessed, and often taken away, and the grinding poverty that stalks those on the bottom rung of the ladder.
Today, though, there is another item related to Loach’s film that should make anyone who cares about decent journalism, who gives a damn about others, or who lives in the realisation that they could be the next one to fall down the benefits hole, yet more angry. And that is a crude, un-researched and mean-spirited hatchet job on the film by the loathsome Toby Young, who should hang his head in shame, but won’t.

Tobes has secured a juicy paycheque from the Daily Mail for obediently demonising Loach and his film, and the headline, “Why only Lefties could go misty eyed at a movie that romanticises Benefits Britain”, tells you all you need to know about what is to come. Young kicks off with “The audience watches as a disabled man is being given a Work Capability Assessment in a Newcastle Jobcentre … He is the eponymous character in I, Daniel Blake, the latest film by Left-wing director Ken Loach. Needless to say, his experience is portrayed as brutal and degrading”. Because brutal and degrading is what it is, Tobes.

But do go on. “To make matters worse, the ‘healthcare professional’ who cross-examines Daniel is an employee of - you guessed it - an American private company … Typical Tories, eh? Not only do they force the disabled to go through a humiliating test to see if they’re fit for work, they outsource the administration of it to an evil capitalist corporation!

The level of inspiration rarely rises above this metropolitan sneer, as witness “Inevitably, the Left-wing Press has taken the film to its heart. The Guardian”. Please nice Mr Dacre, let me slag off the Guardian in your nice paper! It’s for a good cause! There is also a swipe at “Veteran socialist Loach”, which as any fule kno disqualifies him from having an opinion.

But what will make many angry about Tobes’ smear job is that he is not only totally out of touch with how many at the foot of the tree are treated by society, he also can’t bother himself with the most elementary fact check. All readers get is “I’m no expert on the welfare system, but several aspects of I, Daniel Blake don’t ring true … The two protagonists are a far cry from the scroungers on Channel 4’s Benefits Street, who I accept aren’t representative of all welfare recipients”.

Benefits Street. That’s the sum total of Toby Young’s research, which now qualifies him to pontificate on Ken Loach’s film. The same Toby Young who brags that his driveway is lit by carriage lights, tells the world he’s got a £3,000 fridge freezer, and who manipulated the last Government into bunging him £25 million so he didn’t have to pay school fees.

Toby Young wants to sneer about those whose lives are royally screwed, and not even bother himself dirtying his hands with inconvenient research - unlike Loach. As writer and campaigner Jack Monroe, who knows a thing or two about the less than joyful experience of existing as a benefit claimant, has told, “Loach and the film’s screenwriter, Paul Laverty, travelled the country, meeting people, listening to stories, taking notes, visiting food banks. The extras in the heart-wrecking scene in the food bank were genuine clients, paid for their time in Morrisons food vouchers”. Not that Tobes wants to hear that, of course.

Instead, he just carries on with that metropolitan sneer: “Daniel is a model citizen. At no point do we see him drinking, smoking, gambling, or even watching television. No, he is a welfare claimant as imagined by a member of the upper-middle class metropolitan elite”. HE CAN’T AFFORD ANY OF THAT. Tobes is that stupid - and up his own arse.

If we’re talking upper-middle class metropolitan elite, Toby Young is typical of it. He knows nothing about the worst-off, and so airily opines “Daniel’s experience of trying to claim Employment and Support Allowance is also a little implausible”. How the fuck do you know, Tobes? You didn’t bother doing any research, remember?

Instead, all he can muster is “Would a middle-aged man who’s just had a massive heart attack really be declared ‘fit for work’ by the Department for Work and Pensions? Or is it the fault of the evil American corporation that conducts the tests for a multi-million-pound contract?” WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF YOUR ARSE AND FIND OUT?

The only time Tobes goes near factual analysis is when he asserts “In fact, when the test was introduced in 2013 by the then Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, roughly a million people decided to come off the Employment and Support Allowance rather than go through the assessment”. BUT THAT CLAIM WAS NOT TRUE.

As the Guardian - terrible, eh Tobes, a paper that does factual analysis and research, rather than just slagging off the less fortunate - told at the time, “Duncan Smith is employing a linguistic sleight of hand. He says he is only counting those on working-age benefits who are ‘judged capable of preparing or looking for work’. But almost everyone's capable of preparing for work”. That the best Tobes can muster.

Would the single mother in the film be unable to afford school shoes for her daughter? “Hardly. A single mother with two children typically gets more than £200 a week in state hand-outs and her rent would normally be covered by housing benefit. School shoes from Tesco cost around £10”. Tobes knows more than Ken Loach, so there.

in any case, even if the film is accurate, Tobes has an answer for that too: “welfare cuts introduced by the Coalition government were wildly popular with the majority of the British public … A Populus poll in 2015, on the eve of the last General Election, found that only 25 per cent of the public share Loach’s view that abuse of the benefit system has been overstated”. So it didn’t really happen and Tobes is right.

I, Daniel Blake has been extensively researched. It is an accurate portrayal of what it is like to experience the benefits system nowadays. But for the Daily Mail, it is too uncomfortable an experience to let pass without having someone rubbish it. So they get a useful idiot like Toby Young to sneer at the less well off - for a fat paycheque.

I used to think that Tobes was a mere buffoon, worthy of Graham Linehan’s description “Westminster’s village idiot”. That was to trivialise someone who is clearly out of touch with reality, insulated from ordinary people, cocooned in his elite metropolitan bubble, and an utterly uncaring, unfeeling, complete and absolute shit with it.

Toby Young is not fit to clean Ken Loach’s shoes. He is the lowest of the low.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Press Barons Bully Theresa May

Tomorrow could be a very big day in the long and less than illustrious history of press regulation in the UK: the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) is meeting to consider an application from new and properly independent regulator Impress for recognition under the terms of the Royal Charter on press regulation, which was drafted and passed by Parliament in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry and its recommendations.
After previously adjourning proceedings to ensure anyone and everyone who wanted to respond could do so, and be shown to have had the time and means to do so - the press establishment has been objecting at every turn, threatening legal action on any grounds it can find - Impress’ application will be heard, pored over, and the PRP will make its decision. It is expected that Impress will gain recognition.

The PRP has also recommended that Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale stalled over, be commenced. This combination of events has sent the press establishment into headless chicken mode, with their leading lights, the Mail and Sun, pouring out misinformation in a last-ditch attempt to stop the exercise. The dishonesty being deployed has reached new depths.

The Mail devoted an editorial to knocking the whole exercise last Friday: “Next week an obscure quango will take a decision which could - at a stroke - undo 300 proud years of Press freedom in Britain … a self-appointed organisation called Impress … [Impress has] money - £3.8million of it, from multimillionaire motor-racing tycoon Max Mosley … the zealots of Hacked Off … it will set in place a system of State licensing”.

No it won’t. The Mail was so desperate that it had to lie in order to get its propaganda across. Impress is properly independent, and the PRP takes no orders from this or any other Government. It too is independent. No proprietor, editor or politician gets to put the arm on Impress, and nor does Max Mosley, despite what the Mail suggests. The money from the Alexander Mosley charitable trust (note correct source) has been committed.

Nor is this Mail nugget all that it seems: “Once Impress is recognised by the PRP, any newspaper which does not sign up faces being punished by exemplary damages in libel actions. Far more insidiously, it can be forced to pay the other side's legal costs - which can run into millions - even if it WINS its case”. Let’s consider the fact of this matter.

Only if a publisher refuses to have a complaint go to a recognised press regulator’s low-cost arbitration system would that publisher have to pay both sides’ costs - in other words, the publisher would have to decline to take the reasonable course of action. And there would be a credibility threshold for claims - the idea, floated by the Sun, of being taken to court for publishing demonstrably true copy would not arise.

So when the Mail claims “This would hand a blank cheque to anyone to sue any newspaper, however risible their case, knowing it won't cost them a penny”, it is once more lying. It is also untrue to claim “The great irony is that this onslaught comes when the Press has never been more tightly regulated”. IPSO is not more tight regulation than what has gone before. It is the old PCC fluid in a differently labelled bottle.

It gets worse: “The industry responded vigorously to Leveson, setting up a powerful watchdog, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, whose board has a majority of independent members, and which regularly requires newspapers to make front page corrections, most notably on behalf of the Queen. It has not applied for Royal Charter recognition because its members believe, quite rightly, that it is the back door to control by politicians”. This is arrant bullshit. But let’s take it one whopper at a time.

There has not yet been a front page correction, even for the Sun’s infamous “QUEEN BACKS BREXIT” porkie. One was indicated on the front page in suitably coded and discreet language - in very small type. The reason IPSO has not applied for recognition is that it would stop the press being able to mark their own homework.

The Mail carries a coded threat to the Government to backtrack on the whole process. The Sun today does not bother with the coding, simply frothing “We call on Theresa May not go down in history as the Prime Minister who killed free press”. And lying by claiming “UK newspapers may be forced to sign up to being regulated by politicians”. There is no participation by politicians in any recognised regulator.

Nor is Impress “State backed” as the Sun claims. As for “Impress - a creation of free speech-hating celebrities and the Left-leaning activists of Hacked Off, funded by the odious Max Mosley - has no more than a few dozen obscure blogs to its name”, it was an independent creation. No celebrity, nor Hacked Off, have been involved in its creation.

But on drone the Murdoch droids: “Signing up to Impress would mean granting the State an indirect hand in what the once-free Press could publish, when it is the primary job of the Press to hold those in power to account”. No hand, direct or indirect, would be given.

Then comes the most serious and direct threat: “Today, The Sun appeals directly to Prime Minister Theresa May: Do not let this historic calamity happen on your watch … It is State-sponsored blackmail … In IPSO Britain already has a Press regulator free from State control and with the power to compel newspapers to account for our errors”.

Yeah, right. IPSO, like the PCC before it, is a sham and toothless with it.

What the Murdoch press is telling our Government is that they should be allowed to carry on marking their own homework, OR ELSE. All recommendations, like those of the PRP, should be discarded and instead only the ones under whose watch all the bad behaviour happened should be adopted. Well, sorry, Murdoch doggies, but I don’t buy that one.

The Royal Charter was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It provides for those traduced by bad, malicious, bullying, unprincipled and insensitive newspaper editors, their proprietors, and their compliant hacks to at least get redress. It does not prohibit or in any way abridge free speech. Indeed, free speech is protected by the Charter.

All the press establishment is trying to do is to carry on pleasing itself, and have a sham regulator like IPSO wipe its backsides afterwards. The Government should stand firm and, if Impress is recognised, commence Section 40 immediately afterwards.

That is the least all those victims of press misbehaviour deserve. What we have right now is not fit fir purpose, and should not be allowed to continue uncontested.

Guido Fawked - Walkers Crisps Hoax Busted

The customarily low standard of reportage emanating from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog might have been thought to be bad enough, but over the weekend has fallen yet further, as The Great Guido has been well and truly hoaxed by a cod article claiming to be from the Coventry Telegraph, but actually nothing of the sort. And it was that paper which called out the hoax.
As the Coventry Tel has told, “BBC Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has found himself at the centre of a media storm after The Sun criticised posts from the presenter’s Twitter account which hit out at the ‘racist and heartless’ treatment of Syrian refugees … Now, a prankster has cobbled together a false story purporting to be from the Telegraph which indicates Mr Lineker has a financial incentive for Syrian refugees to be allowed into the country through his connections with Walkers crisps”.

How so? “The Gary Lineker child migrants row has been fuelled by a fake mock up of a Telegraph article which has gone viral online … Users of social media website Twitter have been furiously sharing the spoof article which has been posted by online satirical magazine Vive Charlie”. And what does the article say?

The untrue article suggests there had been a raid on a Walkers crisp factory this month in which 50 illegal immigrants were arrested … But it is actually a modified version of an article from 2005 which makes no reference to Mr Lineker”. Vive Charlie then Tweeted out the link: “A screenshot of the fake article was shared from the Vive Charlie account @ViveCharlieMag with the message: ‘BREAKING. Virtue signally crisp salesman @GaryLineker’s stance on migrants is actually for personal financial gain…’”.
That Tweet was timed at 0847 hours on 21st October. At just after 1700 hours - more than eight hours later - the Fawkes blog postedWalkers Crisps Factory Was Raided For Illegal Immigrants”, together with a screen shot of the faked article and a photo of their real target, Gary Lineker. After all, a Murdoch target is a Fawkes target, too.

And the text under the photo montage hardly gave the Fawkes mob any wriggle room: “When the advertising implied Lineker would do anything to get more crisps, they were just joking, right?” It must have been a heavy lunchtime session last Friday.

Not only that, the Fakwes blog’s other late afternoon offering from that day, “Look Inside Slug-On-Thames”, about a suggested temporary Parliament facility floating on the Thames, to be used while the Houses Of Parliament receive a much-needed refurbishment, was equally crap - because by the time the post was published, the scheme had already been ruled out. Who was it said “You booze, you lose”?

That would have been The Great Guido himself. Peddling old news and then recycling a hoax story that looked too good to be true - because it was? Another fine mess, once again.

IPSO Board Member Caught Lying

When faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh was made a board member of toothless sham press regulator IPSO, a move that made even less sense than Caligula appointing his favourite horse Incitatus a Senator, this blog was not the only place passing adverse comment on the move. That is because Kavanagh is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, an habitual liar. And we need not look far for examples of his craft.
Why did Kavanagh cross the road? He didn't, he just made the whole thing up and IPSO rejected the complaints

Indeed, Kav has been lying through his teeth in his latest Magnum Opus for the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, spinning the racist unpleasantness directed at former footballer Gary Lineker over the demonising of refugee children as nothing more than someone taking advantage of our generosity: “Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist - we just don’t like being conned”, he offers. And then come the porkies.

Home Office figures show two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue from Calais are lying about their age”. Wrong. Those shown to be over 18 are not getting in, so are not “elbowing their way” anywhere.

Have another go. “The abysmal failure of the Border Force and immigration authorities to sort this out is stoking anger over the abuse of our hospitality”. Not true. The anger is being stoked by irresponsible politicians - and the likes of the Sun.

And another. “Most migrants have destroyed their passports and other age-revealing ID”. No citation, and none will be forthcoming. And they are refugees.

And yet another. “DNA swabs and dental age checks are ruled out as “intrusive”, even though other EU countries use them”. Give us an example. You can’t, because you’re just making this up to order - in other words, lying.

Keep going: “MPs are up in arms, calling for an ‘urgent inquiry’ into the long-predicted shambles”. Two of them so far. And there is no shambles.

Try again: “Despite David Cameron’s promises, immigration is still out of control”. No thanks, I don’t want to look over there. This is about a few dozen refugees. Stop calling them migrants and hiding behind faux claims of “generosity.

Human life means zero to money-hungry thugs who lock pitiful families below decks on leaky boats”. No relevance to the article subject, and none will be shown.

Britain is now home to more than four million newcomers, legal and illegal”. Over how many decades? No citation, and none will be forthcoming.

Trevor Kavanagh should never have been appointed to the board of IPSO. No-one prepared to lie to order should be let anywhere near an organisation which is supposed to call the press to account for, er, lying.

That is in addition to all the other reasons he shouldn’t be there, notably his involvement in the Hillsborough smear. IPSO is a sham. Kavanagh just confirmed it.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Danczuk To UKIP? Er, No

[Update at end of post]

After the Mail On Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges was conned recently into suggesting that Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk might jump ship before being pushed and force a by-election as an Independent, one might have thought that those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet would stop and think before making this ridiculous suggestion again.
Since last year’s General Election, Danczuk’s reputation in his constituency has well and truly gone down the pan. The only opposition that was anywhere close, UKIP, is in disarray as it fights money, leadership and credibility problems. Yet there is the MoS once again askingCould Simon Danczuk be the new Nigel Farage?” QTWTAIN.

But do go on. “The colourful MP, who has been suspended from the Labour Party for more than ten months over allegations of ‘sexting’ a teenager, has told friends he will do something ‘drastic’ if his case is not resolved soon, such as switching to the Kippers and forcing a by-election”. And what use would that be?

‘His Rochdale constituency is a Ukip heartland, and he would instantly become the leadership favourite,’ a chum warns. Don’t rule it out – Ukip likes hard-drinking mavericks with controversial private lives”. Let’s take this nice and slowly, shall we? First off, whoever writes this drivel should have made a few enquiries of people who actually live in Rochdale, rather than inhabit the Westminster bubble.

Danczuk would not “instantly become the leadership favourite”. He couldn’t lead the proverbial horse to water. He’s too busy chasing two things - the next quick shag, and of course More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. And as for UKIP liking “hard-drinking mavericks”, it’s not up to UKIP and its membership who gets elected as MP for Rochdale. It’s the local electorate. And here the Kippers have a problem.

Rochdale is not, repeat not, repeat NOT “a UKIP heartland”. The only reason the Kippers did as well as they did last year was because the Lib Dem vote collapsed. There is also the Asian community to consider, and they need a Kipper representing them like a hole in the head. Anyone who knew Danczuk’s constituency would know that he has been assiduous in cultivating them, especially those of Bangladeshi origin.

That, of course, is why he’s got himself in hot water with the current régime in that country, by suggesting that the Government is not legitimate and cosying up to the Bangladesh National Party - you know, Mail hacks, the cosying up that involved all those men-only meetings, that you usually rant about disparagingly. No, the MoS story is yet more complete crap, and it’s probably come from Danczuk himself.

The only reason Simon Danczuk would jump ship to UKIP would be if he was expelled from Labour, or knew expulsion was on the way. It would be one last desperate throw of the dice. Right now he’s about as popular as a turd in a swimming pool.

[UPDATE 24 October 1345 hours: David Winder, who is vice-chairman of UKIP's Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton branch, has contacted Rochdale Online to quash the idea of Simon Danczuk being accepted by the Kippers.

He does not hold back: "The reason that I got involved with UKIP locally was because of this man and the circus he surrounds himself with, which I feel has done nothing but cast our town in a bad light ... In my opinion he isn't fit to represent this town or its people ... Danczuk is not welcome in UKIP locally and never will be as we prefer our candidates to be in it for the electorate and not in it for themselves". And he shows an excellent appreciation of Spanker Si's priorities.

"Danczuk has proven time and time again that he speaks for himself first, his bank balance second and his urges third. The electorate are way down his list and we in UKIP want nothing to do with him".

So there you are, Mail On Sunday people - wrong again. The local Kippers don't want Danczuk, and it's doubtful any other political party would take a different stance if offered him as a member.

Why the Westminster media can't find this out shows just how out of touch they are]

UKIP Favourite Is Barking

The reign of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage as leader of the saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP has most definitely come to a close. Some on Planet Kipper are bereft. Others are merely pissed. But many are still ready to lend an ear to those who backed Nige when they pitch their views on who Farage’s successor should be. And to show than many in the party have lost touch with reality, there is a groundswell of opinion for one candidate.
Who, one has to ask, can command the respect of the Faragiste tendency, along with big money backers like Arron Banks? Who has the qualities needed to lead the party to inevitable and deserved electoral oblivion, and hopefully soon? Who, in short, is certain to finish off the party and deservedly consign it to the dustbin of history? We have an answer to all of these questions, and that answer is Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam.

Raheem Kassam, let us not drive this one round the houses for too long, is a clown. He’s an amateur. He could not be trusted any further than he could usefully be chucked. His fitness for purpose does not extend to shovelling shit from Heap A to Heap B. His only purpose in running for the UKIP leadership is to develop more ways in generating More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.
Kassam has even convinced one major UKIP donor that he is for real: as the Guardian has reported, “Insurance tycoon Arron Banks said he was backing Raheem Kassam for the leadership ‘despite Paul Nuttall running’ for the job”. Nuttall, whose impression of Pub-Landlord-Meets-Alexei-Sayle is of value only to those taking the piss, would despite his visible idiocy be more credible than Kassam, showing how UKIP is so short of credibility.

There was more: Kassam has responded “This is a major endorsement from someone who has been one of the driving forces behind Ukip in recent years. Banks ploughed his personal time and money into the referendum campaign and the party, and for those wondering whether he still stood with Ukip, this is a very clear sign: he does, under a Kassam leadership … I’d like to thank Arron for the brave and important support, and I look forward to working with him to make Ukip great again”.
But while Banks has enthused “I've been very impressed with Raheem's ideas despite Paul Nuttall running I think he's the candidate to beat. He's got my support”, Richard Hilton, a former UKIP PPC, has warned “Backed by Tommy Robinson & wants to let ex-BNP join. @RaheemKassam will take UKIP to the extreme fringe. Don't let him destroy our party”. And that is the problem of letting Kassam’s ideas loose.

Quite apart from aping Donald Trump’s US Presidential campaign slogan - that’s the ranting, misogynist, bullying, bigoted, loser who’s about to wreck the reputation of the Republican Party - Kassam is apparently happy to let every wacko far-right nutjob into the party that has expended so much effort over the years keeping them all out.

And on top of all that, UKIP just got booted out of its London office. I said the party was in a death spiral. Electing Raheem Kassam as leader would end the spiral - by stuffing the plane into the ground. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving shower.

Top Six - October 23

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 a flight to catch later. So there.
6 Harry Cole Dobs In One Of His Own After a Tory aide linked to the “Conservative Madrasa” was accused of rape on Parliamentary premises, the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” had to report on it.

5 Dan Hodges Danczuk Howler The not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges was sold a pup by someone promoting Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP. But suggesting Danczuk would win election as an independent is beyond fantasy.

4 UKIP Death Spiral Confirmed The party formerly led by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage is skint, those wanting to lead it are worse than a freak show, and its ratings are plummeting. Just rejoice at that news.

3 Sun Lineker Diversion BUSTED As Mazher Mahmood gets sent down for lying in the Tulisa trial, the Murdoch press urges its readers to look over there at Gary Lineker.

2 Sun Lineker Smear Busted Back on the Top Six is this post from January. The Murdoch goons invented a split between Gary Lineker and his brother Wayne over the former footballer’s separation from wife Michelle. No surprise there, then.

1 Sun Child Refugee Claim BUSTED The Murdoch droids put a man on their front page without bothering to find out who he was - but called him a “migrant” anyway.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Amanda Platell Refugee Paranoia

After the Murdoch goons at the Sun threw their toys out of the press pram in no style at all over unaccompanied refugee children being allowed into the UK, the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker were clearly under orders from the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to get in on the act, and to that end the paper’s Glenda Emeritus Amanda Platell has gone in with both feet on Gary Lineker - and of course the hated BBC.
The stuff of nightmares

Never mind that Ms Platell is a regular on such BBC programmes as The Andy Marr Show (tm), when Dacre orders his hacks to jump, the only question permitted in response is “how high”. So it came to pass that Mail readers were treated this morning toPosturing Lineker is ignoring real child victims” which tells “How sadly predictable that oh-so right-on football pundit Gary Lineker felt compelled to comment on the controversy surrounding the ages of ‘child’ migrants arriving in Britain from the Calais Jungle camp”.

Yes, showing compassion and abhorring racist bigotry is now reduced to being “right-on”. And, sadly, there is more. “Is it asking too much of Lineker that he should stick to football and not, with unconscionable arrogance, sneer at the great majority of Britons who, incidentally, pay his vastly-inflated salary at the BBC - an organisation that is meant to be politically neutral”. He wasn’t sneering, Amanda. But you most certainly are.

And then she sells the pass: “The fact is that, over recent years, this country has welcomed millions of migrants”. Yes, Ms Platell - INCLUDING YOU. The difference, of course, is that Amanda Platell is white, and speaks English - well, after a fashion.

Still, on with the smearing: “They didn’t expect a bunch of swarthy, broad-shouldered young men, some looking to be in their 30s, who deliberately destroyed their identification documents … It costs councils an estimated £48,000 a year to look after each of these men with five o’clock shadows”. And guess what? It’s Mail readers paying for it.

Not only that, but “Inevitably, vulnerable children already in our social services system will not be getting the care they need as homes struggle to cope with this new influx”. This is more subtle than saying “send them back”, but no less insidious, as is the idea that Gary Lineker only behaved as he did because the dastardly Beeb made him: “Which brings me back to I’m-more-virtuous-than-you Gary Lineker, who is simply kowtowing to his politically correct bosses at the BBC”. Like Ms Platell doesn’t kowtow to Dacre, oh no.

But she holds back the utterly barking, paranoid pièce de résistance to the end. And what a screamingly gaga moment it is: “it was telling that, in its coverage of this week’s arrivals from Calais, BBC News - unlike newspapers - pixelated footage of the ‘children’ so that viewers couldn’t see their facial hair … Such disgraceful censorship exposes once again the Corporation’s Left-wing agenda”. THEY’RE PIXELLATED BECAUSE THEY’RE UNDER SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. Christ on a bike, this is a journalist writing this?

Amanda Platell is not merely a misinformed, intolerant, sneering and uncaring bigot - she’s also well and truly out to lunch. So ideal Daily Mail pundit material, then.

Fake Sheikh Jailed - Leveson 2 NOW

And so Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, returned to face the music yesterday morning at the Old Bailey, where he not only remained guilty of Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice, or in plain English lying, but was sent down for 15 months for his trouble. So he’ll be swapping the luxury hotels for the kind Her Majesty runs.
Try not to slip on the soap, Maz

Sadly for Maz, he has also had his employment with the Murdoch empire terminated, a terrible fall from grace for one of Rebekah Brooks’, and, it is rumoured, Rupert Murdoch’s confidantes. And it is that closeness to the heart of power that may now be troubling the Murdoch mafiosi, although they have now cut him loose: they not only tolerated his behaviour, but by using his stories they also endorsed and encouraged it.

Mazher Mahmood’s back catalogue, which the News UK eulogy quotes so approvingly, includes many cases that are now set to result in compensation claims totalling potentially hundreds of millions of Pounds. But the Murdoch goons have merely toldMazher has led scores of successful investigations during his 25-year career with the company. His work has led to the exposure of criminality and wrongdoing. It is a source of great regret that his time with the company should end in this manner”.

Yeah, terrible that he got sacked because when he tried to pull another of his stings on singer Tulisa Contostavlos, he got caught lying. How many more times did he do that? Where was News UK’s oversight of his activities - or, more likely, the lack of it? News UK has simply toldWe have noted the threats made after Mazher’s conviction of civil claims against this company in relation to his previous work. Should such claims be brought, they will be vigorously defended”. But they aren’t threats - they’re happening. Very soon.

On top of that, several cases where convictions obtained using Maz’ unique, er, methods are being re-examined. Those include the sting that ended the career of actor John Alford, someone whose potential ruin Maz and his pals were caught on camera laughing about. Finishing a career was all a big game for them.

And what none of the mainstream media outlets want to tell right now is that Maz’ criminality, coupled with what we already know about phone hacking, blagging and the rest of The Dark Arts - especially the relationship between organisations like the Murdoch empire and the Police - makes the need for Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry paramount. The public needs to know just how these organisations have been cooperating.

Meanwhile, Mazher Mahmood can sit back and count the days to when he will be released back into the community to count his blessings - and the millions he stashed away helping to flog papers and mess up other peoples’ lives - knowing that for those in his profession there is always a way back. We know this as Nick Parker, who wrote yesterday’s already-infamous attack on Gary Lineker, is a convicted criminal.

What, one wonders, is it about News UK that causes hacks and criminals to mix so freely? I’ll just leave that one there.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Simon Danczuk Wastes More Police Time

Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk is once again in the news over his unrivalled ability to lose friends and alienate people at a rate that puts the loathsome Toby Young in the shade. Spanker Si has reacted most unfortunately to the twin decisions of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to close their investigation on the now-defunct Knowl View care home, and the CPS’ leaving the number of people charged at just one.
As the Manchester Evening News told last month, “GMP launched a full criminal inquiry in July 2014 in the wake of a book by the town’s MP, Simon Danczuk, which detailed alleged widespread abuse at Knowl View, a residential school, by Cyril Smith and others … The book claimed there had been a cover up by Rochdale council and a failure by police to investigate persistent calims of abuse at the now closed Bamford school between the 1960s and 90s”. That was Smile For The Camera, co-written with Matt Baker.

The Police sent a file to the CPS; the CPS charged just one person, and no further action will be taken. So Danczuk has kicked off about this result, claiming it had been a “shabby investigation from beginning to end” and “it is my view that mistakes have been made”. This has gone down like the proverbial cup of cold sick with GMP.

Chief Inspector Ian Hanson has assertedYet again we see a Manchester MP launching an ill-informed attack upon police officers in an attempt to raise their own media profile … It is incredibly difficult to successfully prosecute offences that took place over 40 years ago and the investigation team have worked tirelessly in trying to piece together events that occurred in the 1960s and present enough evidence”. And there was more.

From his comments I would assume Mr Danczuk is in possession of very specific information that backs up his comments. If that is the case then he should refer that information to the IPCC himself immediately”. Zelo Street regulars may at this point have experienced a feeling of déjà vu. Because we have been here before.

Smile For The Camera also made accusations against Northants Police, claiming that Cyril Smith had been stopped by the force on the M1 with a stash of child porn in his car - only to be let off as he was a “protected man”. Northants Police investigated the claim and found it to be baseless. Not only that, a Freedom of Information request made after the investigation closed revealed that the force had asked Danczuk and Baker what evidence they could provide in support of their claim - only to find they had none. At all.

So Danczuk and Baker, it seems, had invented the Northants Police episode. It also appears that there is more than a little invention in the part of the book that covers events at Knowl View. Of course, Spanker Si and his former sidekick could dispel this impression by ponying up that further evidence to GMP and the IPCC. But they won’t, because they don’t have any. They’ve sent the cops on another wild goose chase.

Much more of this and Smile For The Camera will have to be reclassified as fiction.

Sun Lineker Diversion BUSTED

Today, Mazher Mahmood, aka the “Fake Sheikh”, will be sentenced on a charge of Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice, or as most people would call it, lying. Maz and his driver had been found guilty by unanimous verdict of a jury at the Old Bailey: his legal team declined the opportunity to have him give evidence. The delicious irony of a Murdoch servant caught lying will not be lost on anyone right now.
Because this morning, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, in whose service Maz pulled the porkie that led him to get guilty, has decided to call “liar” on someone else for the purposes of furthering its racist and bigoted agenda. Former footballer and now lead presenter of Match Of The Day Gary Lineker had taken exception to the Sun’s judgmental campaign against refugees, and the racial bigotry it had whipped up. He had to be attacked.

So it came to pass that readers were toldMOTD Host Fury … Calls for BBC to fire Lineker as he peddles migrant lies … OUT ON HIS EARS”. And from where did this fury, these calls, emanate? Only from the deluded inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, sadly. And two Tory MPs who are being paid from my and your taxes. So what’s the deal?

Leftie luvvie Gary Lineker ‘should be sacked’ for peddling charity lie about ‘child migrant, 38’ … BBC under pressure to act as Match of the Day host peddles migrant lies about 'child migrant, 38’”. To no surprise at all, the Murdoch goons can’t make their minds up whether they’re calling on one lie, or several. In fact, the actual number is zero.

But do go on. After kicking off with smearing Lineker as “jug-eared” - as opposed to the filth-brained, bigoted, crawling and intolerant hacks at the Sun - we read “millionaire Lineker went on to retweet a charity’s lie that the oldest-looking asylum seeker pictured with new arrivals was a Home Office interpreter”. He also gets smeared as “left-leaning”, just to be on the safe side. But enough - let’s introduce a few facts here.

1 The age of the person whose photo appeared in the Sun has not been established, and the “38” claim is therefore invention. Or, as the Sun likes to call it, lying.

2 Even if the person in the photo was not an interpreter, it doesn’t make him a “migrant”.

3 Lineker did not peddle any lies. A Retweet is not an endorsement.

4 The Sun’s claim “Test exposes ‘kid’ as adult” refers to someone else.

5 And as the Beeb has reminded us, “Gary is a freelance broadcaster and this is a personal Twitter account”. In other words, shove off, Murdoch droids.

This has not deterred Tory bigots David T C Davies and not-at-all-smart Alec Shelbrooke from ranting about Lineker’s stance, claiming that showing compassion, and being repulsed by racist bigotry, are somehow a sign of political activism.

What we can be sure of is that when Mazher Mahmood is sentenced today, these two prime specimens of public sector sponging will be nowhere in sight.

And the best the Sun will manage is “look over there”. What a bunch of hypocrites.