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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Migration - Hannan In Trouble

After the BBC Newsnight appearance of Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, and Evan Davis’ clear exasperation that the Vote Leave crowd were now saying there might not be any reduction in immigration following Britain’s departure from the EU, the disquiet started. Many had voted Leave precisely because they were given the impression that immigration would be reduced, especially that from eastern Europe.
One only slightly used fire extinguisher, what am I bid? Yes, it's with you Sir, you in the front row

Hannan was now calmly saying this might not only not happen, but that he didn’t have a problem with it continuing. All those who did have a problem with it continuing, and who thought that in him they had found a champion for their cause, began to realise they had been taken for fools, something which Zelo Street has been telling anyone prepared to listen for some time - that Hannan talks well, but lies badly.
How would he broach the issue? Simples. By lying again: “A lot of Remainers are now raging at me because I *don't* want to cut immigration sharply. There really is no pleasing some people”. No Dan, it isn’t “Remainers”. IT’S YOUR OWN SIDE. Daniel Knowles - one of his fellow journalists - put him straight. “They're raging because your campaign - your allies if not you - promised that to win”. Bit obvious, really.
And Martin Gentles had to point out something else that was rather obvious, if not to Hannan: “he may find many on his side are not as relaxed with that proposition as he is”. Quite, especially, as Rupert Evans also had to point out, “It's the reason for a third of the Leave vote. Depressing, really”. A third of that 17 million were motivated to put their cross in the Leave box because they believed that would cut immigration.
So the backlash was all too predictable: “They are raging at you because you lied and lied and lied and lied about it”. That seems to cover all the bases. Would someone care to second that emotion? “Yeah it was the lies, mate”. It’s a wonder that Hannan doesn’t have permanent access to a fire extinguisher, what with all the burning trousers.
We even had someone giving the impression they were a Star Trek fan: “I am, and have been, highlighting your deliberate lies”. They may not have been his friend, though, not now. One Tweeter told The Great Man “As a rule it's not good form to lie before a crucial irreversible vote. PS about that £350 million a week …”.
Another put it equally directly: “'We can't cut immigration if we're in the EU' was taken as a promise to cut immigration. You tore the country apart with lies”. What the electorate was given to understand was that there would be a cut in migrant numbers. So one Tweeter’s suggestion was all too predictable: “I know, Twitter needs a special ‘Dan Hannan Liar Notice’ extension. 12 million characters should be enough”.

Daniel Hannan was OK when he was a fringe character. Nobody got affected by all his lies then. Now he’s been pitched into the mainstream, he’s discovering that not only does power bring responsibilities, but also that actions have consequences.

Nick Cohen Damns His Own Trade

Journalists, so the unwritten rule goes, do not dump on their own. The code of Omertà cannot, must not, be broken. The penalties are unwritten, but their imposition is clearly visible: for instance, when Nick Davies and others at the Guardian blew the whistle on phone hacking. The rest of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet have never forgiven them, and take every opportunity to put the boot in.
Nick Cohen

So it was initially surprising to see Nick Cohen at the Guardian’s sister paper, the Observer, speaking in such forthright terms about other journalists today. Yes, he is merely echoing what I have been saying for some time about London’s former occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his fellow man who would be King, Michael “Oiky” Gove, but for it to come from a fellow journalist is rather different.

Observing Gove and Johnson’s demeanour, Cohen concluded “they gazed at the press with coffin-lid faces and wept over the prime minister they had destroyed … No one whoops at a funeral, especially not mourners who are glad to see the back of the deceased. But I saw something beyond hypocrisy in those frozen faces: the fear of journalists who have been found out”. And there was more.

The media do not damn themselves, so I am speaking out of turn when I say that if you think rule by professional politicians is bad, wait until journalist politicians take over. Johnson and Gove are the worst journalist politicians you can imagine: pundits who have prospered by treating public life as a game. Here is how they play it”.

How? “They grab media attention by blaring out a big, dramatic thought. An institution is failing? Close it. A public figure blunders? Sack him. They move from journalism to politics, but carry on as before. When presented with a bureaucratic EU that sends us too many immigrants, they say the answer is simple, as media answers must be. Leave. Now. Then all will be well”. But they do not now know what comes next.

Seriously. “Johnson and Gove carried with them a second feature of unscrupulous journalism: the contempt for practical questions … The Leave campaign has no plan … Vote Leave did not know how to resolve difficulties with Scotland, Ireland, the refugee camp at Calais, and a thousand other problems, and did not want to know either.”

And what is his verdict on that campaign? “The Vote Leave campaign followed the tactics of the sleazy columnist to the letter. First, it came out with the big, bold solution: leave. Then it dismissed all who raised well-founded worries with ‘the country is sick of experts’. Then, like Johnson the journalist, it lied”. Got it in one.

That one of their fellow journalists is prepared to raise head above parapet and state plainly and very directly shows the distaste for Gove and Johnson’s actions, and where they have led not just the country, but their own profession. In that, Nick Cohen has done that profession a service that it may not want, but sorely needs, if only to snap out of its reverie and realise that, in the real world, and for the little people, it is not a game.

Nick Cohen is not always right. But on this he has hit the bullseye. Well done that man.

Jeremy Corbyn Really Is Finished

Labour’s leadership got two-thirds of its voters to back Remain in the EU referendum, versus little better than 40% for the Tories. It is the latter who were in disarray - but only up to the small hours of this morning. Yes, with the prospect of a snap General Election following the selection of a new Tory leader, the realisation has come that Jeremy Corbyn may not be the man to take the opportunity to wrest power back for The Red Team.
Jezza is agreeable, knowledgeable, principled and sincere - but he is perceived not to have the ability to convince, to win over those who need to be won over in order to assemble that coalition of voters that gets his party over the win line. The membership got him The Top Job: the problem from the start, as I pointed out back in December, is that the Parliamentary Party does not want him there.

As in December, the catalyst has been the behaviour of shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn: last night, he was found to be possibly fomenting opposition to his party leader. When challenged by Corbyn, he conceded that he had no confidence in Jezza, who promptly sacked him. By that act, Benn became the figurehead around whom the rest of the shadow cabinet rebels could gather - although he will not be Corbyn’s replacement.

And then came the others: shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander has resigned, Tristram Hunt has added his voice to the dissent, Labour’s only Scottish MP Ian Murray has stepped down as shadow Scottish Secretary, Stephen Kinnock has called for a leader who can bring “National Unity” (ie someone else), and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Corbyn has to go. There will be others.

Benn then went on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to tell viewers that Corbyn “is a good and decent man but not a leader”. But who might stand for the leadership, perhaps against the man who all these MPs are trying to depose? Benn told Marr he was not going to be a candidate. Andy Burnham, having put himself forward - unsuccessfully - twice, is now devoting his efforts towards becoming the new Greater Manchester Mayor.

Yvette Cooper has previously stood, but whether she would command the confidence of the membership in the way that Corbyn did is doubtful. Other names are being floated, but shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will not be one of them. Here on Zelo Street, the gaze is being trained on Glastonbury, where Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has been away from it all and keeping an unusually low profile. His actions will be key.

But whatever happens, the only way for Labour to escape a bloodbath is for Corbyn to bow to the inevitable, and go. Yes, he got the members’ mandate. So did Iain Duncan Smith for the Tories, and his MPs eventually wouldn’t work with him, either. He’s a decent bloke, he’s not flash or showy, but he is not cutting the mustard. This has been welling up for several months, and now he has to face reality.

For the sake of the party he loves, Jeremy Corbyn must sacrifice his leadership. It’s over.

Top Six - June 26

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have domestic stuff to catch up with later. So there.
6 Vote Remain - The Media Payoff All those nasty bigots and appalling pundits that could have vanished from the airwaves had we voted to Remain in the EU. Ah well.

5 Don’t Menshn Vote Leave And The BNP (Thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch went off the end of the pier in no style at all trying to pretend that the person giving £600,000 to Vote Leave had not been a member of the racist BNP.

4 Brexit - EU Voters Were Duped After Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, admitted the voters had been misled, and the Murdoch Sun let its readers know they might be seriously out of pocket as a result of the referendum result, it became rather obvious that the Leave campaign had taken its followers for mugs.

3 Boris Johnson - EU’re A Fraud He wasn’t a Man Of The People, but an ocean going liar.

2 Sun Front Page Nazi Shame So overjoyed were the Murdoch doggies at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun at the referendum result, they managed not to notice that their 0600 hours Friday special edition gave front page billing to a neo-Nazi thug.

1 Tory Brexit Racist Links Exposed The party’s connections to the far right went from the Swinton Circle via the Springbok Club … to the bloke accused of murdering Jo Cox.

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

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit - EU Voters Were Duped

The people spoke. The majority voted to leave the European Union. So what happened the morning after? Would the politicians move to heed the voters’ word, and put in train the process for leaving? Would we see all those pledges made during the campaign acted upon? Would migration numbers come down? Would the NHS get the extra money talked about? The answer, to no surprise at all, is that we would see precisely nothing.
There was no action on leaving the EU - not on our side, anyway. The other 27 member states were ready and waiting to begin the process of negotiations by which Britain would be guided through the Out door, but action from Westminster was there none. Young Dave had resigned, and whoever succeeded him would have to do the deed. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty remained in its box. And it looked like it would stay there.

It got worse: during ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was questioned by co-hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on the “£350 million” NHS promise. That, he declared was a mistake. Hang on a minute, countered Ms Reid, people were told that was going to happen when they went to vote. No, replied Nige, that was the other Leave crowd. Nothing to do with him. He just did scares about brown people from the Middle East.
Ms Reid may have been unimpressed, but her intervention was bettered in some style by Evan Davis on BBC Newsnight, who, on asking Dan, Dan The Oratory Man whether immigration would now be cut to the tens of thousands, was informed that remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) (the “Norway option”) would still mean free movement and so may not reduce migration at all. Davis could not contain his exasperation.

People had voted on the basis of cutting immigration, he told a smirking Hannan, who deflected by pretending there was a difference between free movement of people and free movement of labour, which the authorities in Andalucia may find interesting, given the free movement of rather a lot of Brits who are not labouring into their back yard. And joining the EEA would mean paying into the EU budget - just like we do now.
The Vote Leave principals, Bozza and Michael “Oiky” Gove, tried to downplay expectations and pretended that there was no hurry to invoke Article 50. But the period of negotiations, which would last at least two years, would need it to be invoked if Britain was to leave the EU, and leaving the EU was what the country had chosen. They had their mandate. Dave was going. The field was clear. Why would they not act?

On top of that, the Sun, one of the Brexit cheerleaders, has now admitted to its readers that holidays abroad may cost more, roaming charge caps may be abandoned, and savings may be affected, plus that old staple House Prices. Taking all of that together, it’s not impossible to see that many who voted for Britain to leave the EU will begin to feel that they were taken for mugs. But it’s a bit late for buyer’s remorse now.

You were lied to on an industrial scale. But what can you do about it now?

Burnham Bashing Backfires

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have decided to deploy their less than perfect knowledge of the world outside the Westminster bubble in order to go after Labour MP Andy Burnham, one of their regular targets, as he has committed the heinous crime of putting his name forward for Labour’s nomination to fight the upcoming election for a Greater Manchester Mayor.
This also had the benefit of batting for the Fawkes folks’ pals, Simon Danczuk, at present not even a nominally Labour MP, and his appalling ex-wife Karen, two full participants in the Parliamentary gravy train that The Great Guido claims to vehemently oppose. Danczuk has recently had to pay back a five-figure sum after overclaiming expenses, and has re-employed Kazza on the public payroll, despite previously sacking her.

When Burnham declared his interest in the nomination for the new Mayoral post, the Fawkes rabble were contemptuous. “Northerners Mock ‘Grim Up North’ Burnham”, they declared, telling readers that “A series of prominent Northerners in politics and the media took to Twitter to take t’piss out of the shadow home secretary”, unaware that there is a difference between Yorkshire and other northern accents.

Then in the last fortnight cameBurnham Comes Last In Two Manchester Hustings”, along with the sneering “Scouser Andy Burnham running for Manchester mayor was always an odd one. The Everton fan’s Twitter stream is full of opposition from local Mancs who would rather have Stretford boy Tony Lloyd in the job”. Someone at the Fawkes blog missed that Burnham’s Leigh constituency is in, er, Greater Manchester.

But on they droned: “So it’s not surprising that Burnham’s campaign has bombed – he came last in the Co-Op Party hustings last week, and came last again in the Gorton CLP hustings last night. Lloyd won both by a landslide”. And, just for good measure, there was a Tweet from selfie queen Kazza putting the boot in.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, there are other CLPs in Greater Manchester, and the sudden silence of The Great Guido on this story is because Burnham has been winning over several of them. Last week, Makerfield CLP gave Burnham 16 votes against just two each for Tony Lloyd and Ivan Lewis. Then came a whole series of nominations to reinforce his position.

Bolton North East, Worsley and Eccles South, and Leigh all nominated Burnham yesterday. So did Heywood and Middleton, effectively putting the Burnham tanks on Simon Danczuk’s lawn. And then came Rochdale itself, to the annoyance of Si and Kazza who could do nothing about it - as Danczuk is still suspended following the small matter of his having been caught “sexting” a 17-year-old girl.

That Andy Burnham has just picked up six CLP nominations has passed the Fawkes rabble by. I’m sure there will be a good explanation. Another fine mess, once again.

Sun Front Page Nazi Shame

Yesterday morning, in a triumphal 0600 hours special edition, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun told its readers “Britain walking to an EU exit … Leave claims win in huge poll … SEE EU LATER!” The Murdoch doggies were jubilant. Their message had prevailed, and once again It Was The Sun Wot Won It. There was even a photo of a cheering crowd of Vote Leave supporters to go with the headlines.
And the photo had to be OK, didn’t it? After all, the TV news bulletins had used video footage showing the same group. Yes, of course it was. I mean, Vote Leave were a mainstream group, right? They were the group fronted by Bozza, and he was a Man Of The People. It was the grouping championed by Michael “Oiky” Gove, Labour MP Gisela Stuart, Priti Patel, and of course Dan, Dan The Oratory Man.

It was far safer to use a photo of Vote Leave supporters than, say, those surrounding Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP. That lot attracted some seriously dodgy fringe characters. So Vote Leave it was. Then someone noticed that one of those in the Sun’s front page photo looked familiar. And those thinking that someone looked familiar were not at all happy when they found out why.
Look just right of centre, and you will see a bloke wearing a blue Nike top. He is the one who looked familiar. His name is Billy Charlton. Yes, he looked so familiar that he was easy to identify. Why would that be? Well, Billy Charlton is a known political activist, and not for the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, or even UKIP. Billy likes his political activism rather more explicit than those wishy-washy mainstream parties.

No, Billy Charlton is associated with Combat 18. Who they? Well, Combat 18 are “the official armed wing of Blood and Honour”. Their logo derives from the Totenkampf used by the 3rd Panzer Division of the Waffen SS. Their motto is “Whatever it takes, oderint dum metuant, White revolution is the only solution”. Combat 18, let us not drive this round the houses for too long, are a bunch of neo-Nazi thugs.
The “18” in the name derives from the initials of Adolf Hitler, A and H being the 1st and 8th letters of the alphabet. The group has been implicated in the deaths of immigrants, non-whites, and, just to show that they aren’t too picky, other Combat 18 members. And it was not too difficult for someone to find an image of Billy Charlton standing behind a Combat 18 banner. There he is, at the right of the photo.

So what has the Sun had to say about that? Well, so far they have said nothing, perhaps hoping that everyone will forget and move on, and in any case, it was on the telly, so if push comes to shove they can always blame the hated BBC. But the Murdoch mafiosi had the time to check out who they were putting on the front page, and it’s clear that they did not - unless they decided it was fine to give space to neo-Nazis.

Will the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker say anything? Don’t hold your breath.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Don’t Menshn Brexit, Stupid

After the vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU, and the announcement of his departure by Young Dave, came the inevitable punditry, some of it informed, but as ever, most of it somewhere between clueless and totally gaga. And there are no prizes for guessing that, coalescing somewhere adjacent to the “totally gaga” end of that scale have been the latest wibblings of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Mensch immediately knew more about Britain’s path out of the EU than everyone else put together, and wasted no time in informing her adoring public. Sadly, the only upside from her latest excursion to hatstand land has been the unintentional hilarity, after she - as usual - opened mouth and inserted expensively shod foot.
How Gaga was she? Let’s start with Britain’s EU budget contributions: “Our NET contribution to the EU this year, ONS estimate, £11.2 bn. We should get a lot back”. We won’t get a penny back. We haven’t started the process for leaving yet. Try again. “This year was to be our highest net contribution in the years to 2020. Get our cash back David”. “David”, in case no-one noticed, has left this particular hot potato to his successor.
Perhaps she would be on sounder ground with the internal affairs of her own party? Sadly not: after pausing to give Dave her thanks - “Thank you for your service @David_Cameron” - she went into Wibble overdrive with “I look forward to seeing Michael Gove, Boris Johnson or Andrea Leadsom as Prime Minister”. Andrea Leadsom? Michael Gove? I mean, Bozza would be a joke, and he’s the least bad of the bunch.
How about the rest of the EU? How was the Mensch mysticism there? As if you need to ask: “Schulz is panicking and I laugh at him Keine Extrawürste für dich Schulz!” Best stick to English. But do go on. Donald Tusk reminded everyone that the UK was still bound by EU laws and treaties. “Press statement by President Donald Tusk  http://pllqt.it/ILQSPp  - no it won't tusk”. She thinks we can just abandon treaty commitments. Classy.
It got worse: “The EU is like the knight in Monty Python after its limbs are lopped off”. That’s why the other 27 member states agreed a joint position and statement before noon today, and Britain didn’t. “Even Cameron's resignation is not a big deal as he was always planning to leave early next year to leave Time for a new pm before 2020”. Ooh, crystal ball alert! Except talk now is of a General Election by early next year.
Still, there was always the opinion polling to slag off: “People are quoting a YouGov analysis at me to show me Labour voted remain. That's you gov ten point lead for remain you gov”. YouGov’s final poll showed a Remain lead of just 2%, and had the count been based only on votes cast yesterday, Remain would have won.
Still, there was always Labour to kick: “Labour wake up. Doncaster, leave. Sheffield, leave. Bassetlaw, leave. Wales, leave. LABOUR BASE IS FOR LEAVE. Europhile at your peril”. Jeremy Corbyn delivered around 70% of his voters for Remain, and Cameron just 44% of his. And once they find they’ve been conned, they might not vote the same way again.

Being cooped up in her gilded Manhattan eyrie is not doing much for Louise Mensch’s relationship with reality. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

Boris Johnson - EU’re A Coward

So the people have spoken, and Young Dave has asked to be left alone in the study with a reassuringly expensive bottle of Scotch and a loaded revolver. Into the looming power vacuum have arrived those Men Who Would Be King, London’s former occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and his slippery sidekick Michael “Oiky” Gove. It is to them that Cameron has left the momentous decisions.
A complete Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

And decisions are something they need to get on and take: the Government in Madrid is talking of joint sovereignty over Gibraltar, which voted overwhelmingly for Remain, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has taken steps to reassure the one million EU citizens living and working in the capital that they are valued and safe, and in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has very publicly appeared before a backdrop consisting of the EU flag and the Saltire - no Union Flag to be seen - suggesting a second independence vote is highly likely.

Moreover, there has been a joint statement from the EU this morning, expressing regret over the British decision, but also impatience over the implementation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is necessary before any member state can leave the EU. That impatience is down entirely to the market uncertainty triggered by last night’s result.

This is what the statement said about what should happen now: “We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union. We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union”.

There was more: “Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this.  According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member”. Also, the measures negotiated by Cameron before the referendum will not now be enacted.

So what has Bozza done on Article 50, an action which Cameron has quite deliberately left for his successor? Simples. His first instinct was to chicken out of it. “There is no need for haste”. Sorry to rain on your victory parade, Bozza, but there is every need for haste. You wanted this result, now you have to act. Like very soon.

Sadiq Khan and Nicola Sturgeon are demanding seats at the Brexit negotiating table for London and Scotland. Businesses, many of which have planning horizons measured in years, need certainty - and if they do not get it, many will move across the Irish border or across the Channel. It’s no use doing the shrug of the shoulders and addressing “My friends” this time. And it’s not like London, where there was usually someone else to take the actual decisions while Bozza was swanning around elsewhere.

You wanted this situation, Bozza. Now quit stalling and show some leadership.

David Cameron - Death Of A Salesman

He gambled on running for the Tory leadership, he gambled on the Coalition, he gambled on the Scottish referendum, and finally he got his party its first Parliamentary majority in 18 years. And then Young Dave gambled on an EU referendum, and he lost. Moreover, it wasn’t just him who lost, nor the Tories. One look at the financial markets this morning tells you all you need to know about that: Britain has lost big time.

Losses were at their worst point greater than those in the 1987 crash. Sterling has been marked down significantly against both US Dollar and Euro (that’s the Euro that voters were told was in crisis and facing the end times). As markets across the continent have also suffered huge losses, any prospect of other EU member stats giving Britain an easy time on negotiating trade agreements has gone out the window.

Only one person is responsible for this, and that person is Cameron. The former PR man had worked his charm so well in previous years, sold his vision for the Tories and for Britain, persuaded the right people to put their crosses in the box to get him into power and keep him there. Polling well ahead of his party, he was the successful salesman, the smooth political operator. But this time he fouled up.

The Tories who led the Out campaign - Bozza, “Oiky” Gove, Iain Duncan Cough, and the rest of the motley assemblage - wanted him to stay in Downing Street. Dead right they did. Not one of them can hold a candle to his abilities. But they will be denied their ultimate hostage to fortune, as Cameron has come straight out of Number 10 this morning and said he is going to surrender the seals of office as soon as a successor can be chosen.

Who might succeed him? The sensible candidates - Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Sajid Javid - all backed the Remain campaign. The Tories, and - whisper it quietly - the country, are left with the wackos: Bozza, Gove, or worse. What chance would either of them have of uniting the Tories and holding that slim majority together? More likely is that whoever succeeds Cameron will already be on the slippery slope to a snap General Election.

Already the Scots are talking of a second referendum on independence. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin are making mischief, talking about voting on a united Ireland (Northern Ireland returned a majority for Remain). Firms across the country, financial, manufacturing, transport, are looking to relocate across the Channel. Stock market losses mean Britain has ceased to be the world’s 5th largest economy (replaced by, er, France).

And our only prospect is having the country run by two over-promoted and over-sold journalists. Bozza was a disaster as Mayor of London. Gove was an equally bad Education secretary. It is now clear that Cameron has been the only one holding the Tories together, but that is about to end, as the pilot is dropped and the ship of state sails into unknown waters with two self-appointed “experts” on the bridge.

The salesman is well and truly dead. The lunatics are about to take over the asylum.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Vote Remain - The Media Payoff

Here on Zelo Street, it’s not just about the serious business of the EU referendum - I’ve already posted on that - but the lighter side of what has been a singularly acrimonious contest. That acrimony could be reduced significantly, and in some cases, banished forever, if the electorate votes to Remain. How? Here’s how.
Nigel Farage would vanish from the TV screen. No more waking up on Sunday to see Mr Thirsty on The Andy Marr Show (tm) or Peston On Sunday. No more photo-ops with Nige on his third pint of the morning. No more watching the head Kipper swanning around in his most offensive pair of strides. Gone.

All the other UKIP talking heads going off air, too. Like Paul Nuttall doing his Pub-Landlord-Meets-Alexei-Sayle schtick. Like Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell. Like Roger Helmer. All swept away and replaced by actual reasonable and less boring pundits.

Less TV appearances for Katie Hopkins, too. You don’t want to see paranoid bigots like Hatey Katey paraded across daytime TV? Vote Remain and see her credibility vanish before your eyes. Denied the oxygen of publicity, Mail Online would soon bin her too.

No more visits from Louise Mensch. Was there ever a more smug, loud-mouthed, dishonest, intolerant and soulless face of the Out campaign? Flying in, very expensively, just to let the little people know which way they should vote, before very expensively flying back to New York to continue her gilded existence. Vote Remain to keep her on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) - and not in the UK.

Tell Paul Dacre where to shove his orders. The Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor still hasn’t learned the lesson of 1997, when he told his readers to vote Tory and they decided not to take any notice. Vote Remain to tell this intolerant bully-boy that he is officially yesterday’s man. Along with his roster of overpaid and talentless pundits.

Even less credibility for Guido Fawkes. The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his obedient rabble like to pretend that their propaganda wagon can drive the news and shape opinion. Vote Remain to leave him in peace with his lunchtime chorizo burger and bottle of Chablis. And no valid driver’s licence.

Tories’ lunatic fringe banished to the wilderness. All the opportunists, ideologues and sometimes seriously dodgy characters from the Tory right would see their own version of a currency collapse: Daniel Hannan, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel, as well as Bozza and Michael “Oiky” Gove can become history by Voting Remain.

AND FINALLY Tell Rupert Murdoch to mind his own business and piss off. The Dirty Digger and his motley mafiosi have been coarsening political discourse for more than 40 years, smearing, hacking, bullying, strong-arming and effectively bribing their way to More And Bigger Paycheques For Themselves Personally Now. Well, Creepy Uncle Rupe doesn’t have a vote today. Vote Remain to tell him and his thugs what you think of them sticking their bugle into your politics.

Vote Remain and see all these unpleasant influences diminished - for good.

Vote Today - Vote Remain

Now here’s a thing, as Robert Peston might have said: I am one of those people who voted in the last referendum on Britain’s place in Europe. Yes, back in 1975 I voted, and voted Yes to keep Britain in what was then the EEC. That vote was made because I had concluded that, overall, being in the EEC was a beneficial proposition. That view has not changed in the intervening 41 years. Here’s why.
Peace. My paternal grandfather was at the Battle of the Somme, having joined up at the age of only 16 two years earlier. By the time he turned 18, he had seen things that no man should have to see again. Ever. By bringing all those former warring nations together, we make the chance of a recurrence vanishingly small. As Churchill so memorably put it, Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War.

Prosperity. Between the start of the Great War in 1914, and the end of World War 2 in 1945, Britain’s status in the world declined precipitously. Yet many in our governing class were simply in denial about it. It took the Suez débàcle in 1956 to wake politicians to the new reality. Joining with other member states in the EU has helped the UK not only arrest its decline, but make this country better off.

Travel. Those telling us how we could still travel around Europe without being an EU member state may not remember just what an ordeal the crossing of borders was like in what they tell us were The Good Old Days. Having to obtain visas, taking receipts for anything expensive to avoid being hit by customs duties while away, border guards stripping cars to their shells, ah, the fond memories. No thanks.

Work. Nowadays, as Barack Obama once said, yes you can. No need for work permits, no residency requirements, no language discrimination, if you can do the job, you can go there and get on with it - anywhere in any other EU member state.

Language. English has become the de facto first language of the EU. Yes, while Nigel Farage whines about someone talking foreign on the train, remember that English is the most widely spoken language across all those member states, and when information - like signage - is translated into a second language, it’s English. We’ve got the EU speaking our language.

Freedom. No more will we hear Churchill’s grave tone, telling us “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent”. Nor will the Greek Colonels, the Falangists in Spain, and the Estado Novo in Portugal be coming back any time soon. Many of those countries have been welcomed into the EU, their freedom underpinned by their participation in this Union, their people freed from dictatorship, no longer fenced in and treated as so many slaves.

Those are some of the reasons why I still believe that, on balance, the EU is still a beneficial proposition for Britain. And that’s why I am voting Remain today.

I urge everyone who can vote to do so, and to also vote Remain. Thank you for reading this message.

Vote Leave Trolls Jo Cox Memorial

After Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered last week, the reaction from those advocating for Britain to leave the EU was as united as it was vehement: no-one should make political capital out of it. It should not be politicised, there had to be no points-scoring, and preferably no talk of it at all, especially after Thomas Mair, who has been charged with the killing, turned out to be, well, an extreme Outer himself.
This has carried on, with some of those wanting a Leave vote unhappy that Ms Cox’s name keeps cropping up in the press and especially the broadcast media. A recall of Parliament ratcheted up this unhappiness. But then came a memorial event in London’s Trafalgar Square yesterday, when someone at the Leave campaign did something very silly indeed - they ended up politicising the MP’s death.

As the crowds gathered in the capital to hear Jo Cox’s husband Brendan speak, on what would have been her 42nd birthday, two light aircraft appeared overhead, temporarily drowning out those addressing the gathering. One of the aircraft was towing a banner, with the words TAKE CONTROL - VOTE LEAVE clearly visible. At first, there was only mild irritation - after all, this could just have been coincidence, however grotesque.

But it was not mere coincidence: the planes came back a second time, at which point the irritation turned to disgust. And there was worse to come, as the planes passed overhead for a third time. A Vote Leave banner being constantly paraded over Jo Cox’s memorial event, and after all the whining and protesting about not politicising her death. It was the most spectacular of tasteless and unforgivable own goals.

What were Vote Leave to do? There was denial: “This wasn't our plane so we had no idea it would fly over the memorial service”. But just in case, they said sorry, well, sort of: “Had we known that these people were planning to do it we would have asked them not to. We can only apologise on their behalf for any offence caused”.

Eventually, the culprit owned up. “The banner belonged not to the official Brexit campaign but aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman, based in Southampton and on the Isle of Wight … The firm sent its ‘sincere apologies’ to all those offended tonight and appeared to blame air traffic officials for not informing them of the memorial”.

So were Vote Leave off the hook? Well, no they weren’t: the actions of Britten-Norman were well known in advance, with one promotional article telling “The turboprop Islander aircraft is touring the whole of the country this month”. Vote Leave weren’t fussed then, and made no protest. It was, after all, good publicity for them - until the circus gatecrashed yesterday’s memorial event. Oh dear, Vote Leave!

The Out campaign can only hope that not too many swing voters learn about this episode. They had, after all, mounted the highest of high horses over Jo Cox’s killing - now they ended up covered in rather more than embarrassment.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Michael Gove’s Nazi Meltdown

When he passed before the inquisition of the host on last Sunday’s edition of The Andy Marr Show (tm), Michael “Oiky” Gove clearly felt the need to put some distance between his part of the EU referendum Out campaign, Vote Leave, and the Leave EU crowd fronted by chief Kipper Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, after the latter’s Third Reich-tinged refugee bashing poster with its pejorative title of “Breaking Point”.
What was his reaction to Mr Thirsty’s effort, Marr asked. Gove was unequivocal in his response. It made him “shudder”. Yes, Vote Leave, led by Himself Personally Now, would not be going near all that bigotry and 1930s refugee hatred, as they were just so incredibly polite and well-mannered. But then the polls started moving back - just slightly - in favour of Remain, push came to shove, and “Oiky” lost it badly.

It was the Telegraph - and there is no paper more favourable to his part of the Tory Party - that this morning toldMichael Gove compares experts warning against Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein's work as he threatens to quit David Cameron's Cabinet”. Wait, what? He meant it: “Michael Gove has compared economic experts warning about Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein’s scientific findings during the 1930s”.

He really went there: “I think the key thing here is to interrogate the assumptions that are made and to ask if these arguments are good … We have to be careful about historical comparisons, but Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced and one of the reasons of course he was denounced was because he was Jewish.  They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong”.

Then, to provide some light relief, he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, when asked about his future in a Cameron Government, that “I will do exactly as the Prime Minister asks me … I want people to concentrate not on my job but on their jobs. Of course, depending on what the result is on Friday, I will reflect and I will decide what is the best course for me”. So if Remain wins, expect him to throw a mardy strop.

Not surprisingly, this faux pas detracted from the thrust of the Vote Leave campaign today, meaning there was only one thing to do: Gove had to actually apologise, something which he normally avoids, and merely demands of others. “Yes I am sorry. I was asked a direct question and I answered it in a clumsy way with an inappropriate historical analogy … I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone with that so I regret it, I misspoke and I apologise”.

After he claimed footballer John Barnes was backing his side of the argument yesterday, only to be slapped down, perhaps the campaign is getting to Gove. It isn’t going well for his pal Bozza either, with London’s former occasional Mayor being persistently heckled when he went among his adoring flock earlier, only to find them less than adoring.

But don’t forget, Michael Gove is so incredibly polite and well-mannered. Allegedly.

Sun EU Queen Story Is Crap

Once again, despite the last attempt going so badly wrong, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun is trying to bring the Queen into an EU debate from which she has stood back, as is her right, and her inclination. “What Queen Asked Dinner Guests: GIVE ME 3 GOOD REASONS TO STAY IN EUROPE … Sorry Ma’am, we can’t think of ONEfroths the front page of today’s Sun. And, as the man said, there’s more.
Royal biographer reveals monarch asked close friends and family whether we should remain or leave … Royal biographer Robert Lacey revealed she asked close friends and family their views on whether we should be in or out of the EU … He said yesterday: ‘The Queen has no vote but I think she may feel we should be Out … That’s only my guess as to her thoughts’”. So he’s just guessing.

And it gets worse: “Mr Lacey said the Queen was questioning dinner guests, thought to include Prince Andrew and Princess Anne, at a private dinner a few weeks ago”. “Thought to include”? So he doesn’t know who was there. And it gets worse still: “’Give me THREE good reasons’ she has, apparently, been asking her dinner companions recently, ‘why Britain should be part of Europe?’”. She has “apparently” been asking.

So this is a guess at what the Queen has asked others on the occasions when she has invited them to dinner. As to the idea that Lacey is letting everyone know the Queen is for leaving the EU, he has also said “She’s playing it with a straight bat. She’s a very thoughtful Eurosceptic but whether that means she would vote in or out, if she could, does not necessarily follow”. There is, therefore, nothing to support that front page.

This means that the Sun has had yet another Clause 1: Accuracy moment, something that seems to be happening rather too often since Tony Gallagher was given the editor’s chair. And what the hacks have buried deep within the story is this line: “In his blog, Mr Lacey outlined the reasons why the Queen should support Remain”. Not only was he outlining why the Queen should not back Leave, the Sun had lifted the story from another source.

All that is different is that the Murdoch doggies have added a little speculation, along with the pretence of having the inside track on Royal matters: “The Sun told in March how Her Majesty demonstrated her strong feelings on Europe during a bust-up with Nick Clegg at a Windsor Castle lunch”. Yes, the infamousQUEEN BACKS BREXIT” front page, which was so untrue that it provoked a complaint to IPSO from Buckingham Palace.

Not only that, IPSO actually upheld the complaint, so it’s a bit rich for the Murdoch mafiosi to try and make capital out of it. Nor do the Queen’s recent public pronouncements stand up the claim: as the BBC reported last year, she spoke “of the need for unity in Europe” and stated “division in Europe is dangerous”. The Sun has once again made a claim about the Queen that its story does not stand up, and another complaint could well follow.

Rupert Murdoch must be desperate to make things difficult for the Government. Perhaps that bid for the 61% of Sky he doesn’t yet own is closer than was thought.

Boris Johnson - EU’re A Fraud

At the end of last night’s BBC-hosted debate on the EU referendum, some of the crowd were moved to give the former occasional Mayor of London, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a standing ovation. Good old Bozza had roused his part of the audience: he was for them an authentic politician, a man of the people, a credible figure. Well, my friends - to use the Bozza vernacular - I have to tell you that this is plain flat wrong.
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

Bozza is not only not a man of the people - he’s just as much a product of privilege as his Tory rival Young Dave - but he has in reality never been, is not now, and never will be a credible proposition as a serious politician. The litany of failure, and charge sheet of rank dishonesty, is so long as to disqualify him from suitability for high office.

He was sacked from The Times for lying. Bozza began his journalistic career there, but was dismissed for “fabricating a quote”. It wasn’t his first detachment from reality.

His career at the Telegraph was built on lying. His missives from Brussels are in significant part at the root of the cynical view many in Britain take on the EU. Martin Fletcher, who went there for the Times not long after Bozza’s Telegraph stint ended, has told that Bozza “seized every chance to mock or denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also grotesquely exaggerated or completely untrue”.

His editor at the Telegraph considers him unfit for high office. Max Hastings wrote recentlyI would not take Boris's word about whether it is Monday or Tuesday … He is also a far more ruthless, and frankly nastier, figure than the public appreciates … I would not trust him with my wife nor - from painful experience - my wallet”.

He lied to his own proprietor to become editor of the Spectator. Bozza was offered the editor’s chair at the Speccy by Conrad Black, then owner of both that publication and the Telegraph - on the condition that he abandon any ambition for a career in politics. He agreed, got the job … and then went ahead with the career in politics anyway.

His own party leadership sacked him for lying. Bozza was shadow arts minister when his affair with Petronella Wyatt became public. He denied the affair, describing the claims as “an inverted pyramid of piffle”. After the claims were shown to be free of piffle, Michael Howard sacked him, not for having an affair, but for lying about it.

He repeatedly lied to secure the London Mayoralty. In both the 2008 and 2012 contests, he assured the residents of Crystal Palace they would get their Tramlink extension. After securing election, he promptly abandoned them. He claimed before the 2012 election that there would be no Tube ticket office closures on his watch - then, once in office, closed them all. 

He repeatedly lied after becoming Mayor of London. Bozza made claims about “driverless trains” for the Tube, which he did not even progress, let alone implement. He claimed he would “bear down” on fares. They went up. He assured road users the Congestion Charge would not increase. It increased. He claimed the cycle hire scheme would be implemented “at no cost to Londoners”. It’s been heavily subsidised since inception. He ordered removal of “bendy buses” from the streets, telling that they killed cyclists. No cyclist has been killed by one in London.

He lied about London’s pollution. Thousands of Londoners die prematurely every year because of the capital’s deteriorating air quality. Not only did Bozza do nothing about this during his eight years at City Hall, he span the grotesque lie that London’s air was “Alpine”.

He lied about his successor. Bozza was a full participant in the Islamophobic demonisation of Sadiq Khan, for which nobody in the Tory Party has seen fit to apologise. Khan, constantly smeared as either extremist, or “sharing platforms” with extremists, is in fact a ferocious opponent of extremism.

He’s lying about the EU too. Every time Bozza, or one of his pals on the Leave campaign, spins the “£350 million a week” line, they are saying something that is not true.

That is the reality of Boris Johnson. He’s not very nice, you can’t trust him, he can’t keep his trousers zipped up, his journalism is built on deceit, and he’s an ocean going liar.

You wouldn’t trust anyone like that to tell you the time of day. So why trust him on the future of Britain? Remember, there is only one beneficiary of Bozza’s campaigning, and that is, as it always has been, Himself Personally Now.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Don’t Menshn Vote Leave And The BNP

[Update at end of post]

More than once recently, I observed that those advocating for Britain to leave the EU were on a hair trigger, nervous about last-minute revelations and all too ready to get defensive about their campaign. This has been exemplified today by the reaction to a BuzzFeed UK post telling that Vote Leave’s largest single donor - who has gifted them £600,000 - was formerly a member of the racist BNP. Red faces all round!
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Gladys Bramhall, who is 88, “confirmed her membership and said she would have been signed up as a member of the far-right anti-immigrant party by her husband … ‘My husband joined, he obviously enrolled me at the same time,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t with my knowledge’”. Vote Leave have declined to comment - understandably - but this constraint has not extended to (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
She has not only had no problem commenting, but has well and truly gone off the end of the pier: “Jesus. So much for Kinder Remain. Article says 86 year old was signed up without her consent”. No it doesn’t, and she’s 88, but do go on. Had Jim Waterson deleted his Tweet, perhaps? “He has not before it got 322 Retweets smearing an 86 year old woman DISGUSTING REMAIN”. She’s still 88, and Waterson isn’t part of Remain.
So she just made it up anyway: “Buzzfeed have deleted the tweet with the lying smear of old lady signed up WITHOUT HER CONSENT”. There was no sign she did not consent, and they haven’t deleted anything. Is Ms Mensch listening? As if: “Buzzfeed have deleted this lie Stronger In she's 86 and was signed up without her consent APOLOGISE”. She’s still 88, and there’s still no sign of lack of consent. Whatever.
Not all Remain lie about pensioners but official campaign @StrongerInPress does - 86 year old DENIES joining BNP”. No she doesn’t. But Jim Waterson is still not taking any notice, and this cannot be forgiven. “She is NOT ex-BNP @jimwaterson she told you she NEVER JOINED”. No she didn’t, and yes she is.
Never mind, have a go at the Britain Stronger In Europe press team instead: “You little shits @StrongerInPress she is 86 years old and she is NOT BNP have you NO SHAME?” Nobody said she was still BNP, and she’s still 88. But she was, except Ms Mensch now claims “the facts are she was not BNP. And Buzzfeed are FUCKING LIARS”. Wrong.
By this time, Jim Waterson had taken time out to tell her that nobody had deleted anything, and it was Ms Mensch that had posted a broken link. So for this he was smeared as a liar: “Then why are you lying as she told you in your own words she was not a BNP Member but signed up without consent?” She didn’t say she wasn’t, and didn’t say she didn’t consent. Is Ms Mensch listening? Er, no: “she explicitly DENIED she was a BNP member to you she said her husband put her on the list”. She didn’t deny being a member.

Louise Mensch is showing even more detachment from reality than usual. And she’s been invited to join a live TV debate tomorrow evening. If I were on the Vote Leave team, I’d be getting worried about her damaging the campaign. As it is, I’m getting the popcorn in.

[UPDATE 1740 hours: Jim Waterson has now reported that Vote Leave's Michael Gove has indicated that the £600,000 donation may be repaid because of the BNP connection.
Gove was being interviewed by Iain Dale on his LBC show. Meanwhile, the original story is still there, no amendment or withdrawal has taken place, and nobody has apologised to Louise Mensch.

But she won't withdraw the smears and abuse, because being Louise Mensch means never having to say you're sorry]