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Friday, 27 November 2015

Migrants - Thousands Of Them!

If there is one subject that tabloid hacks and their editors love, partly because it is one of the oldest and most reliable dog-whistle issues going, is migration, and especially immigration. Because immigration means “they” are coming here. “They” are different to Mail and Sun readers. “They” talk foreign. “They” are alleged variously to breed, not maintain adequate standards of hygiene, and not speak English to one another.
The inconvenient fact that “they” are coming to the UK because it is seen as a growing economy - those same papers that whine about immigration love to trumpet the Government’s spin on its record - and that “they” are prepared to work hard, therefore contributing to that economic growth as part of a virtuous circle that improves matters for everyone, is of course not told to the readers.

It was certainly not allowed to enter at the Sun, where Craig Woodhouse’s article was headlinedIMMIGRATION AT RECORD HIGH WITH 636,000 FLOCKING TO UK … Huge increase in number of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Britain”. Yeah, all those flocking immigrants! Only further down the piece are readers told that 300,000 left the UK in the same period, but the frightener had been administered.

It got worse: “Immigration has surged to a record new high, figures revealed today, piling pressure on David Cameron to win back border control in his EU renegotiation”. Yeah, right. Free movement rules mean that pissing about with border controls would have no effect. Only at the very end does Woodhouse mention Young Dave’s daft pledge to get net migration into the tens of thousands. Because it’s the EU’s fault.
The Mail was equally horrified: “A new wave of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria is behind the increase in the number of Europeans coming into Britain … Citizens of the two states, which joined the EU in 2007, now make up almost one in ten of all UK immigrants … Romania ranks behind only India and China as the country sending the most migrants to this country, an Office for National Statistics report said yesterday”.

This was reinforced by a suitably thunderous Daily Mail Comment: “At 9.30am, the Office for National Statistics released figures showing net migration to Britain was an utterly unsustainable 336,000 last year – an all-time record which is adding 920 people to our population every day … Net migration from inside the EU (over which Brussels allows us no control) was up by 42,000 to 180,000 – including, just as the Mail predicted, to sneers from the BBC, 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians”.

Yes, it’s the BBC’s fault, as if we needed to guess. But nowhere do the Mail and Sun allow the obvious point to be made: a growing economy and the impression of opportunity are bound to attract migrants. Why else does the press think that so many made the journey across the North Atlantic to start new lives in the USA?

That argument is too complicated for the press. So frightening the punters into buying a few more copies it is, then. Sad.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Cameron ISIS Strategy Is Bust

Today, Young Dave has come to the Commons to tell MPs about his jolly good wheeze suggesting that we should go and bomb Johnny ISIS in Syria. Many on his side of the House are clearly prepared to vote for this latest effort for someone else to be put in harm’s way in order to kill and maim whoever is unfortunate enough to be there when the bombs land. He is in confident mood. But his case is utterly empty.
I say you MP cheppies over thyah! Vote for one to go orf and drop bombs on Johnny Foreigner, wont'cha? Jolly good sheow!

Cameron claims time and again that this is not a Something Must Be Done response following the Paris attacks, but that is exactly what it is. In addition to the French and USA, there are several Middle Eastern countries already queuing up to bomb ISIS. But, although this has made the group less able to move around its territory, it most certainly has not “shrunk” by the 30% Cameron has claimed.

Otherwise, how could ISIS have captured Ramadi and Palmyra? Moreover, as Ewan MacAskill has noted, “The pilots frequently return to base without firing missiles or dropping bombs, partly they say because of fear of hitting civilians but mainly because after a year there is little left to hit. So what can the UK add? Nothing much that is not already being done by the US, France and other allies”.

There would, let us be in no doubt, be no point whatever in joining the bombing. It gets worse: when asked about which troops on the ground would follow through and consolidate gains, Cameron continues to resort to citing the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is claimed to have a strength of 70,000. But the FSA’s primary focus is the régime of Basher al-Assad, and Dave has said we’re not proposing to take action against him.

Fancy getting involved in this, Dave?

The idea that we could command part or all of the FSA to drop what they’re doing and run along to those ISIS areas to help chuck them out is utterly fanciful. Since the USA ceased training rebel groups recently, the amount of leverage that Western countries wanting to damage ISIS could exert on groups like the FSA is vanishingly small. On top of that, the number of rebel groups is, shall we say, significantly more than one.

On top of all of that is our past litany of involvement: Iraq, which was a coherent whole under the Ba’athist régime we helped to topple, is little more than a failed state. Afghanistan is similarly fragile. Libya, which we helped to bomb and then ran away from, really is a failed state, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into neighbouring countries and across the Mediterranean. Syria has already generated millions of refugees.

So, Dave, what is the point? Sure, the right-leaning part of the press will rejoice at any sign of increased bellicosity, so long as someone else is paying. No convincing evidence has been presented of terrorist threats linked to ISIS in Syria except to say that there have been “plots”, and the rest is secret. All our action could do is to generate more refugees, which we would not have to take - but someone would.

Cameron’s Syria case is not just flawed, but bust. And so is anyone voting for it.

Stig Abell - Pants On Fire

While the Super Soaraway Currant Bun’s managing editor Stig Abell could not tear himself away from what appears to have been a daunting schedule of hair appointments to defend his paper’s borderline incitement of racial and religious hatred when the matter was debated on Channel 4 News, he was miraculously available to review the papers later the same evening on Sky News (“first for breaking wind”).
No they don't

And he was also able to take the singularly courageous step of penning a letter to the deeply subversive Guardian, in which he defended the Sun’s claim that one in five British Muslims was in some kind of agreement with ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week, using the well-known Murdoch press technique known as dishonesty. The crucial passage is in the second paragraph of Abell’s letter.

The question about sympathy for Muslims ‘who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria’ was clearly – by its context and ordinary meaning – a reference to those fighting for Islamic State, and was chosen by the polling company”. Stop right there. For starters, that the polling company chose the question does not legitimise the Sun’s blatant misinterpretation of the replies. And no, “fighters in Syria” and ISIS are not the same thing.

We can be more certain of this because the Sun’s upmarket sister paper the Times, which had run its own version of the “one in five Muslims sympathises with IS”, has now published an item in its “Corrections and clarifications” section saying so (the Mail, which at first also ran the story, later had second thoughts and pulled it completely). The Times clarification effectively kicks the ground from under Abell and his fellow apologists.
Here’s what it says: “We reported the findings of a Survation poll of 1,000 British Muslims … Asked ‘How do you feel about young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria?’, 14 per cent of respondents expressed ‘some sympathy’ and 5 per cent ‘a lot of sympathy’. The survey did not distinguish between those who go to fight for Islamic State and those who join other factions in Syria”. And there’s more.

And it did not ask about attitudes towards ISIS itself … Our headline, ‘One in five British Muslims has sympathy for Isis’, was therefore misleading in failing to reflect this”. Oh dear Stig Abell - your own sister paper threw you under the bus! So what has been the Sun’s reaction to yet further embarrassment? As if you need to ask: their only form of defence is yet more attack, fronted today by semi-professional slob Rod Liddle.

Why such outcry when we simply published the cold hard facts?” moans Liddle, before blaming the usual suspects: “The message is always the same from the deluded and infantile white liberals”. The dissent against the Sun in that Channel 4 News debate came from Bradford West MP Naz Shah. Perhaps slob Liddle and his managing editor would like to explain to her why she’s  an “infantile white liberal”.

The Sun caught lying again. On top of all the other lies. Time to say sorry, lads.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dan Hodges Sees Red

Most people will not have noticed, but today the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, stood up in the Commons to give MPs the dubious pleasure of listening to his Autumn Statement, the detail of which has been lost in the clamour to heap disdain on his Labour opposite number John McDonnell by the assembled punditerati, and in which they are at least party right.
He's desperate, Dan

McDonnell had made a half-decent fist of responding to Osborne, especially given his lack of front bench experience and that this was his first Autumn Statement or Budget response. But referring to Mao Zedong is best avoided, and brandishing his Little Red Book is a no-no, even though McDonnell was using it to make the point that Osborne is happy about nationalisation, so long as the Government is in countries like China.

This cut no ice with the Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who had made his mind up beforehand that Labour were rubbish, and whatever recourse to Phil Space journalism would fill his next column. “Why doesn't John McDonnell just sit down … This has to be the most embarrassing response to a government statement in the history of parliament” he carped plaintively.

And, for the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, the mood was about to darken. “Stop. Please. Just stop … Labour has ceased to exist as a party of opposition”. Then came McDonnell’s “Mao moment”, and he was off. Somewhere. “John McDonnell pulled out Chairman Mao's red book and quoted it from the despatch box. That happened. I saw it. I sat here. And I saw it”. Yes Dan, there is a live TV feed. You were not uniquely privileged.
Soon, Hodges had journeyed even beyond Mao, to Pol Pol, although that name went unmentioned: “Corbyn and McDonnell want to destroy the Labour party don't they. [Question marks still a problem, I see] They literally want to destroy it and start again”. There was more: “Osborne announces £20 billion cuts in departmental spending. Labour turns it into a political triumph for him”. Aren’t we missing something?
Tax credit cuts at least re-thought, if not totally backed out. Police cuts - trailed for some days now - abandoned. And while Hodges was having his mardy strop, he seems not to have noticed that the Junior Doctors’ dispute has been taken off Jeremy Hunt and sent to ACAS. But that doesn’t count: “Seema Malhotra sent out instead of John McDonnell. He's not just an idiot he's a coward as well”.
I’m sure Osborne never did that (don’t mention Chloe Smith or Newsnight, folks). But now he had the inside track: “Labour MP texts me. ‘I'm in tears in my office’”. Laughing at Dan’s Twitter whinge, perhaps. And then a last, desperate appeal to Look Over There: “Don't forget, the John McDonnell red book fiasco is all the fault of the Tory press and disloyal Labour MPs”. But Hodges will never get a Labour leader he can back.

Even though he is a loyal party member. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Don’t Menshn KOFWST

It seems inconceivable that the Tim Hunt affair should still be rumbling on, and yet it is, fuelled mainly by the obsession of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has ever persuaded some of her supporters that she is right, and everyone else is wrong. But for this particular Wild West Show, the moment of reality has come, courtesy of the Korean Federation of Women in Science and Technology (KOFWST).
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Mensch has levelled a number of variously creative accusations against KOFWST, who sponsored the lunch at the Seoul conference where Hunt made his unfortunate remarks. “KOFWST slandered Hunt in translating wrong … [Deborah] Blum had the apology before KOFWST posted it … Hunt had *already* given this exact apology to the Observer it wasn't special to KOFWST” were some of the gems.
These were followed by “Dr. Paik of KOFWST was (charitably) in huge denial … KOFWST members saying weren't consulted”. There have been more. Along with this has been an incessant stream of emails aimed at anyone incurring Ms Mensch’s displeasure, many of which, one recipient has told me, are “charmless, hostile and often highly defamatory”. One of those recipients is KOFWST’s Hee Young Paik.
Dr Paik is a respected scientist in her own right, and a former Government minister. The disrespectful and dismissive attitude displayed towards her - and many others - by Ms Mensch, together with her insistence on selective presentation of facts, is clearly at the root of today’s KOFWST statement [download HERE], although unlike her, there is no blatant personalisation, but then, it is clear who they are talking about.
The statement opens: “In a special meeting of its Executive Council on November 16, 2015, the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations (referred to hereafter as KOFWST) examined what was argued in a series of email messages sent to KOFWST President Hee Young Paik concerning KOFWST communication regarding Sir Tim Hunt. After reviewing relevant facts and evidence in a thorough manner, the KOFWST Executive Council has stated its position as follows”.
The evidence is then set out, before this damning conclusion: “In conclusion, as far as KOFWST’s involvement is concerned, the case involving Sir Hunt’s inappropriate remark is a matter brought to resolution; KOFWST requested an apology, Sir Hunt responded with an apology, and his letter of apology, along with its Korean translation, was made public. In light of this, KOFWST issues a warning about the ongoing serious distortion of facts by foreign commentators, suggesting that KOFWST has lied, or that KOFWST’s request to Sir Hunt was influenced by foreign journalists. Such allegations ignore undeniable facts and evidence and demonstrate a lack of regard for KOFWST’s autonomy and integrity”. It is not difficult to figure out who they mean.
KOFWST’s statement ends with “KOFWST makes clear that this statement is its official and final position”. Zelo Street understands that Ms Mensch’s claims regarding KOFWST have been dismissed as “groundless”.
And with that, Louise Mensch’s remaining credibility on the Tim Hunt affair could be heard gurgling its way down the plug hole. KOFSWT has delivered her the ultimate brush-off.

Sun Cowers Behind PR Shill

The deliberate attempt by the Murdoch Sun to demonise Britain’s Muslim population by pretending thatone in five” of them supported ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week, has still not resulted in any kind of retraction or apology, despite the widespread revulsion at the story - and the revelation that pollsters Survation have distanced themselves from the exercise. Nor have their hacks been prepared to face the rest of the media.
Guilt by poll interpretation not universally popular at the Sun

So the perpetrators - editor Tony Gallagher, non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who wrote up the story, and managing editor Stig Abell - have all kept schtum. Instead, when Channel 4 News featured a discussion on the affair yesterday evening, the paper was represented by former Sunday Times hack Eben Black, now alleged to be in PR, whose performance typified the very worst in journalism.

Perched awkwardly on his chair, with his over-nourished frame testing the limitations of an ill-fitting suit, Black oozed calm, assurance, and total bullshit. The Sun’s editorial line was effortlessly replayed: everyone would have known what “fighters in Syria” meant. We should take this as read. Naz Shah, newly elected MP for Bradford West where she disposed of George Galloway, was clearly aghast at the idea.

It got worse: it was nothing serious, Black told, and nothing more than an effort to sell a few more newspapers. We should not find this so surprising. Well, yes it is partly an exercise in flogging more copies, but doing so by indulging in borderline racial and religious incitement is not something to get relaxed about. The Sun has effectively told its readers that hundreds of thousands of terrorist sympathisers are out there.

In doing so - and, as Ms Shah pointed out, not putting alongside their poll an earlier exercise showing that a double-figure percentage of non-Muslims also had a degree of sympathy with those going to join “fighters in Syria” - the Sun has very deliberately constructed a false and poisonous narrative with the apparent intention of creating its own news, not unlike Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).

Worse still is that not only can the Sun cower behind the effortless dishonesty of Eben Black, but also that there will be no formal censure, let alone penalty, for this disgraceful behaviour. Although, as Brian Cathcart has pointed out, the front page splash was a flagrant breach of the Editor’s Code of Practice - “The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”, there will be no fine, no reprimand.

Why so? Ah well. There is no one individual named in the article. This enables sham “regulator” IPSO to dismiss most, if not all, of the well over 1,000 complaints that have so far been received. So they will get away with it. If only the same could be said for all those in Muslim communities across the country bracing themselves for hate attacks from those gullible enough to believe the Sun’s vicious exercise in bigotry.

And remember - Gallagher and Newton Dunn haven’t got the spine to explain themselves. Nobody at the Sun has. What a complete and absolute shower.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bullygate - Cole Clueless

The press has got its teeth well and truly into the saga of endemic bullying in the Tory Party - if only they had bothered about it before Elliott Johnson’s untimely death - and even the Sun has joined in, with the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, pretending to know all about it, without telling what everyone else already knew: he was big pals with Mark Clarke.
He does those too

So it is no surprise at all to see his latest piece for the paper - another alleged “exclusive” - make little mention of, er, Mark Clarke. Instead, he tried to shift the focus on to party co-chairman Andrew Feldman, because his sister did some work overseeing Clarke’s RoadTrip 2015 campaign. Sadly, CCHQ manages to dismiss the story in very few words indeed: “Deborah Feldman was not responsible for RoadTrip 2015”.

Even the Independent has managed to find a new angle: “David Cameron invited the so-called ‘Tatler Tory’ Mark Clarke to a tea party at his country retreat to celebrate the success of the now disgraced activist’s general election campaign project … The Independent has seen an invitation to the party at Chequers sent by the Prime Minister in July”. Is there nobody Master Cole can tap for a little information?
Recognise anyone?

Well, perhaps there is, as a scan though images from the 2008 Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) annual party show. We see the flannelled fool with a familiar-looking young woman in one photo, while in another she and Mark Clarke are clearly enjoying one another’s company. Who she? Her name is Alexandra Swann, who has since jumped ship to UKIP only to return recently to the Tory fold.

She later commented on The Blue Guerilla’s post on the YBF party, claiming “I really want to make it clear that I spent about 5 minutes with Mark and despite what it looks like it as a seriously misleading photo”. Quite so. But they are clearly friends, and she and Master Cole know one another - so why doesn’t he give her a call and ask if she has a contribution for his next allegedly “exclusive” column?
This is not what it seems. So there

There were plenty of other people at that bash who would be worth a call, too. Far better to give the readers some real stories than the clueless attempts to pin it on Andrew Feldman. Perhaps Master Cole needs another name pitching? How about one Alister Cooling, who was not only there, but who then went on to become an aide to London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

After all, he’s got nothing to lose: Cooling was jailed in early 2012 for six months after admitting downloading child porn. As the Mirror told, “Alister Cooling, 27, who writes for the Conservative Home website and campaigned for London Mayor Boris Johnson, owned films featuring girls as young as five being abused”. Nice kind of people you get in the Tory Party, eh? But still better than asking readers to “look over there”.

Of course, this just leaves the field clear for Simon Walters at the Mail On Sunday, who won’t be fussed where he gets his information. Your choice, flannelled fool.

Sun Muslim Poll Unravels

[Update at end of post]

For the now beleaguered inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, the decision has been made after all the condemnation of yesterday’s flagrantly dishonest Sun front page splash that attack is the best form of defence. So it is that the paper has come out with a mixture of defiance, blaming “the left”, and lying, clearly believing that this will allay all doubts about the journalistic integrity of the paper - or lack of it.
It is depressing … that many others would rather not face up to that, preferring to rubbish the Sun’s poll rather than deal with what it uncovered” blusters today’s editorial, before resuming its role as recruiting sergeant for the EDL and Britain First: “We would all love to see Muslims back peace and condemn IS with one voice. That is simply not the reality and it does our nation no good pretending it is”.

Yes, L’état, c’est le Soleil. And there’s more. “If we cling to the fiction that IS have little or no support here …”. The poll did not mention “support”. But do go on. “Most of our survey, conducted after the Paris attacks, probed Muslim attitudes to IS specifically”. Perhaps the paper’s editorial writer should re-read that survey: four of the seven questions, including the one behind yesterday’s headline, do not mention IS.

Then they dig themselves in a little deeper: “No one agreeing to the statement ‘I have a lot of sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria’ was in any doubt which fighters were meant”. You asked them all? You didn’t? Pants on fire - again. But the Sun knows who to blame. “Some on the political Left claim ours was a ‘rogue’ poll”. No, the objection is to the paper’s dishonest and bigoted interpretation of it.
But on they plough: “polls show an undeniable truth. Among British Muslims, a minority - but a substantial one - appear sympathetic to a death cult which is among the most evil in history”. They show no such thing. The question was about sympathy for those who go out to Syria, not to any particular group. And it gets worse: we now know that YouGov, the Sun’s usual pollsters, declined to take part in the exercise.

That was why the paper ended up going to Survation. And it gets worse still. As the Guardian has told, “Survation … said it had picked out likely respondents using the help of an academic expert on naming, a method that rival polling companies said did not necessarily amount to a representative sample of the British Muslim population”. They only called people with reliably “Muslim sounding” surnames.

The Guardian again: “Other pollsters told the Guardian that it could require tens of thousands of phone calls at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds to generate a statistically representative sample of the 2.7 million Muslims who live in the UK … It cannot be determined how representative the Survation sample is because of a lack of various socioeconomic and demographic details”.

So it was a poll built on sand, a lead story built on dishonesty, and now we have an excuse note built of righteous hot air. Being the Sun means never having to say you’re sorry.

[UPDATE 1430 hours: pollsters Survation have defended their analysis, but then, in a letter signed by CEO Damian Lyons Lowe, waste no time in putting the boot in on the Sun, before throwing the Murdoch doggies under the nearest bus.

"Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted. Neither the headline nor the body text of articles published were discussed with or approved by Survation prior to publication ... Survation categorically objects to the use of any of our findings by any group, as has happened elsewhere on social networks, to incite racial or religious tensions".

So that suggests divergence from the Sun's line that they are only "telling it like it is". There is more.

"Our view remains that the most meaningful way to interpret the results of this polling is in the proper context alongside a comparable sample of non-muslims, as we did in March of this year using identical methodology and the same question wording ... This comparison shows that 'sympathy with' (distinct from 'support for') those travelling to fight in Syria (among any group) exists as a limited, minority view among both muslims and non-muslims, particularly among young people of both groups".

Then comes the pay-off: "Such comparative polling was reported in March in a balanced way by Sky News".

The Sun may not be willing to commission more work from Survation after that, but then, Survation may not want them to. This whole episode is not down to any kind of disputational point, but the blindingly obvious fact: the Sun has presented its readers with a mixture of falsehood and misinformation, which has the potential to incite significant racial and religious hatred.

They wouldn't do that to Christians or Jews, so why single out Muslims? Hello Tony Gallagher, Tom Newton Dunn, Stig Abell, Dylan Sharpe and the rest - it's time we had at least an explanation, and preferably an admission you fouled up.

Followed by an apology. You know, Murdoch poodles, one of those things that ends up with you saying sorry]

Monday, 23 November 2015

Guido Fawked - Bullygate Hypocrisy

Joining in with those rushing to throw former RoadTrip 2015 head man Mark Clarke under as many buses as can be mustered, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have returned to the subject today with a piece not at all subtly titled “Tory Sex Scandal: Who Shagged Whom?” As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. But The Great Guido is forgetting something here.
Feared. But only by rickety chairs

The latest revelations in this morning’s Telegraph allege that a 22 year-old activist woke up in a Tory MP’s bed with no memory of the night before. One MP is threatening an injunction, and at least three others have been accused of inappropriately having sexual relations with young volunteers on Mark Clarke’s infamous RoadTrip campaigns” the post continues, but still something is missing here.

Staines’ former tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, was not mentioning it either as he toldExplosive new emails show a senior Conservative Party figure did receive complaints about disgraced senior aide Mark Clarke before May’s general election - despite claims to the contrary. With bullying, blackmail and harassment allegations swirling, on Thursday Tory HQ claimed they could find no evidence of accusations about Mr Clarke made before August”. It’s as if they never met the guy.
Aidan Burley(already disgraced) was there ...

But, as Zelo Street has previously revealed, Master Cole at least has been big pals with Clarke, to the extent that he took time out to go and see his new-born. And Staines is being spectacularly disingenuous when he gives the impression of looking at Clarke’s catalogue of interesting behaviour from a remote third party point of view.

Because he too was enough of a pal to ask Clarke along to the Fawkes blog’s tenth anniversary crawl-fest last year. Not only that, there was also the “in joke” that he was actually an MP (he is listed as Mark Clarke MP). That part of the Fawkes-fest guest list was revealed by Peter Oborne after he attended the bash and decided to take some of the hard copy lists of attendees with him. They later appeared in the Telegraph.
... and so was Mark Clarke!

And not only was Clarke invited to The Great Guido’s bash, also at the same table were Clarke’s pals Aidan Burley, at the time still and MP although it was known he would not be standing at the 2015 General Election after the Mail On Sunday revealed his involvement in a Nazi-themed stag party at the French ski resort of Val Thorens, and Matthew Richardson, whose antics did not go down particularly well at UKIP.

Staines and Cole were happy enough to invite Mark Clarke to their party, and in October last year, well after Clarke’s unpleasant behaviour had reached a wider audience (see Zelo Street example HERE, from July that year). Anyone who needed to know about Clarke’s behaviour - such as those considering inviting him to their bash - knew there were concerns by then. The Great Guido apparently did not consider this a problem.

But now Staines would look bad if he didn’t join those throwing Clarke under the bus, no matter what kind of pal he might have been. Another fine mess, once again.

Sun Muslim Bigotry Busted

The Super Soaraway Currant Bun, the paper that brought us bigotry against the Irish back in the day, and when that became unacceptable, brought us bigotry against more or less anyone who was not white, and anyone who Spoke Foreign, has all too predictably decided to play the Paris attacks as a way of inciting hatred, while dressing it up as a legitimate polling exercise and a matter of national concern.
No they don't - read your own poll

So it is that we arrive at today’s front pageEXCLUSIVE: SHOCK POLL … 1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”, with non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn contributing “‘Wake-Up Call’ After Paris Blitz”. In case readers do not immediately get the point, the Murdoch doggies have helpfully included a photo of “Jihadi John” brandishing a knife, to ensure they understand where that sympathy is being directed.

But, as Captain Blackadder might have said, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. There was indeed a poll carried out on behalf of the Sun by Survation, but it did not reveal any particular level of sympathy for “jihadis”, which the paper wants us to believe means ISIS, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. Fortunately, the poll detail has been made available to view (HERE).

The question that generated today’s front page headline was as follows: “Which of the following statements is closest to your view? … I have [a lot of/some/no] sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”. But there are many groups that qualify as “fighters in Syria”, not least the Free Syrian Army (FSA). So the Sun’s conclusion is not mere exaggeration, but forthright dishonesty.

This has not stopped Newton Dunn, perhaps tapping away at the keyboard using the light from his burning trousers, telling “NEARLY one in five British Muslims has some sympathy with those who have fled the UK to fight for IS in Syria”. Did he go to the likes of Labour’s London Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan with that fraudulent observation? Perhaps he’d like to go back to the Tooting MP and come clean. Perhaps he doesn’t have the backbone.

And what the Sun is also not telling its readers - far more convenient to whip up fear of hundreds of thousands of traitors in our midst, eh? - is that Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) carried out a “British Non-Muslims Poll” last year, asking the same question. Those expressing either “a lot of sympathy” or “some sympathy” totalled 14%. Are they sympathising with IS, Tom? Are they traitors in our midst? Should we deport them?

Moreover, expressing sympathy - understanding why people take the action they do - is not the same as support. That has not stopped Kelvin McFilth whining “Those worrying suspicions that I harboured about the attitudes of young Muslim men in Britain towards the medieval madmen of IS have been confirmed” and suggesting that the entire population of Turkey wants to come to the UK. But he is at least predictably bigoted.

The Sun - bringing bigotry to its readers since the day Rupert Murdoch got his paws on the paper. Except now it’s moved on from Irish, blacks, gays, or non-English speakers. Pass the sick bucket.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Simon Danczuk - No Friends In Oldham

As Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk gets himself another pay day from the Murdoch Sun for yet another often fictional attack on his own party leadership, and the Mail On Sunday confirms that it has turned on him by suggesting that his relationship with new “assistant” Nasreen Nazir may extend to more than just Commons business, one aspect of his popularity, or lack of it, has been overlooked.
While Danczuk regales Sun readers with such creative gems as “Now, in Corbyn year zero, we’re so far from the electorate that we can’t even make up our mind on whether police should have the power to take out terrorists who want to blow up innocent people”, and exaggerates the dislike of some in the Labour Party for the sainted Tone - while not mentioning Iraq once - the MoS has a rather different angle.

When you’re parliamentary assistant to rebel Labour MP Simon Danczuk, duties seem to extend beyond paperwork and diary organising … Mr Danczuk, 49, was spotted exercising in a London park on Tuesday being put through his paces by glamorous Nasreen Nazir, 37, his new £30,000-a-year aide … she and the Rochdale MP, who recently separated from his wife Karen, 32, laughed and joked as they ran side by side, then completed their workout with a series of stretches and a high-five”. Nudge, nudge.
Danczuk pretends to be campaigning ...

There was more: “Perhaps Mr Danczuk was getting in shape for an important date elsewhere … On Wednesday, back in Rochdale, local councillor Claire Hamilton tweeted a picture of herself cuddling up to him with the heading ‘Happy, #love #perfect’ … And on Friday she posted another selfie, titled ‘Night out in Rochdale with @simondanczuk’”.

But neither paper has mentioned Danczuk’s less than favourable experience when he tried to join those campaigning in the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Possibly stung by claims he failed to show his face in Heywood and Middleton not long ago, Danczuk wanted to make sure everyone knew he not merely backed the candidate, but had shown up on the campaign trail. So he posted a photo showing his presence there.
... unlike the real activists here

There is only one problem with that: where are all the other activists? What about him doing a doorstep? By contrast, check out a group of Labour supporters in the same room, including the irrepressible smile of Abby Tomlinson of Milifandom fame. Why was Danczuk not part of a gathering like that? Ah well. My information is that his arrival in Oldham was not exactly greeted with a chorus of enthusiasm.

My source tells “He went to the campaign office yesterday [Friday last] and the locals wouldn’t go out with him. Hence no pictures of him campaigning … no-one wanted to go out with him or be in a photo with him”. This is the constituency next door to his. And, with UKIP mounting a typically opportunist campaign, Labour will want every volunteer they can turn out to go and canvass for them. Every volunteer except one, it seems.

Something for Simon Danczuk to consider next time he talks about leadership bids.

Tory Bullying - The Accomplices

As the Mail On Sunday’s political editor Simon Walters turns the screw a little more on now former Tory activist Mark Clarke, there is a risk that, after he has been comprehensively thrown under the bus, the circus might leave town and the party’s bullying culture become forgotten. That is what many of those who supported Clarke, or at least equivocated in the face of his behaviour, will be hoping. It must not be allowed to happen.
Today’s MoS front page splash - which even got a mention on The Andy Marr Show (tm) paper review today, thanks to Paul Waugh - is suitably graphic: “THE SEX TAPE THAT SHAMES TORY PARTY” reads the headline. The article also stresses that Clarke was still behaving in his own inimitable fashion right up to September this year - right up to the moment that Elliott Johnson’s body was discovered.
In order to get away with it, Clarke would have required the assistance, overt or otherwise, of others. So when the MoS says “The Mail on Sunday has obtained a copy of the film as part of our investigation into the scandal engulfing Clarke, who is accused of bullying a Conservative activist who later look his own life. With the consent of the victim, we are handing the sex film to police, who are to investigate”, this risks losing that focus.
Walters hints at this when he tells “The drugs ‘sting’ occurred after a party hosted by the Conservative Way Forward group on the Commons terrace on September 3. Among the guests mingling with Tory MPs was a prominent female Party official who had complained about Clarke … Also present was Andre Walker, former chief of staff to Tory MP David Morris … Walker is one of Clarke’s key Tory henchmen”.
Yes, Walker would be one of those in the firing line, as would former party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps. But the most obvious target for further investigation is the newly ennobled Emma Pidding, who was still happily working with Clarke, and singing his praises, right up to last August. The Tories’ own inquiry is going to interview her. What are Walters and the rest of the press pack waiting for? Just look at her effusive praise.
A HUGE thank you to you, Mark. An inspirational team … a great team campaigning for a great candidate @michelledonelan Thanks to @MrMarkClarke for organising … It was a pleasure - as ever! … Busy day planning #Roadtrip2020 with @MrMarkClarke - exciting campaigns ahead”. And she included Clarke’s mistress: “On the way to catch up with #battlebus2015 #bestbus @indiabrummitt. I wonder if it will be cocktails or tea?
It is rumoured that Emma Pidding not only shielded Clarke, but also tipped him off not just about all the complaints, but also exactly who was making them and the detail of their allegations. And Clarke was being tipped off as recently as September. Clarke’s lurid behaviour may make a good Sunday splash, but it should not detract from the need to hold to account all those involved - Clarke was not acting alone.

Just in case Simon Walters needs a few pointers, you understand. Roll on next week.

Top Six - November 22

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 to be out and about later. So there.
6 Sun Demonises Junior Doctors Rupert Murdoch has ridden to Jeremy Hunt’s rescue - and for that, he will want payback.
5 Sun Sharm Scandal ‘Worse Than Dowler’ The idea that the Sun had information about Sharm el-Sheikh’s dodgy security, and sat on it without telling the authorities, has the potential to be far worse for the Murdoch empire than phone hacking.
4 Mail Cartoon Racist Bigotry Exposed The recent work of Stanley McMurtry, aka Mac, shows that the Mail has not moved forward since the 1930 - when the paper openly supported the Third Reich.
3 Dan Hodges Declares War The Telegraph’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whiging Dan Hodges declared that ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week, was really Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. So he made as little sense as usual.
2 Don’t Mensch You’ve Been Busted The Association of British Science Writers considered a series of complaints made against three of its members by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch … and threw them all out.
1 Sun Paris Refugee Scare Busted The latest attempt to pretend that members of ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week, has been infiltrating refugee group, was shown to be wrong.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Paul Weller Bests The Mail

In Flat Earth News, Nick Davies said of the Daily Mail: “the story is published; the subject of the story then complains and is confronted by the wealth and cleverness of the Mail which will fight them right up to the point of final defeat, when, if need be, it will surrender and offer some kind of deal. And then the pattern repeats, because the penalty is no match for the rewards of the behaviour which is being penalised”.
Paul Weller

There is no better example of this than the Mail’s response to complaints from former Style Council front man Paul Weller, who objected to having his children “plastered” over Mail Online. Apparently “The seven unpixelated pictures appeared in October 2012 after a paparazzo followed Weller and his children on a shopping trip in Santa Monica, California - taking photos without their consent, despite being asked to stop”.

The Mail’s publishers, Associated Newspapers, trotted out the usual line: “Associated said they were innocuous and inoffensive images taken in public places, and that the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze to a significant degree”. Slebs bring the attention on themselves and are therefore fair game.

But Mr Justice Dingemans “ruled that there was a misuse of private information and a breach of the Data Protection Act which merited an award of £5,000 to Dylan and £2,500 each to the boys … He said that the photos were published in circumstances where the children had a reasonable expectation of privacy – and the balance came down in favour of finding that the right to respect for private and family life overrode that to freedom of expression”. That was last year. So the Mail just appealed.

The paper claimed that Weller was trying to establish an “image right”, which “would have far-reaching adverse effects on the freedom of the media in this jurisdiction”. What did Weller’s side have to say to that? “David Sherborne, for the Wellers, said that the appeal raised no new points of law and the judge’s decision was simply the application of a set of facts to well-established legal principles”.

And so it came to pass that the Mail’s appeal was thrown out by Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, who observed “The fact that a child's parent or parents are celebrities or public figures may not, without more, be relied on to argue that the child should have a lower reasonable expectation of privacy … The child's reasonable expectation of privacy cannot be different from that of a child whose parents are not in the public arena, unless the parents have courted publicity for the child”. And there was more.

Associated was refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court - the chance to fight all the way before admitting defeat - and was ordered to pay Weller’s costs. Mail Online could have admitted it got it wrong, said sorry and taken the photos down, but that is not the Mail way. And Weller bested them because he could afford to risk it.

The Mail’s idea of press freedom: screw the little people, and as many of the rest as they can out-appeal in court. Remember that next time you hear their hacks playing the victim.

Sun Bullying Exclusive Busted

As the Mail puts the Tory bullying scandal on its front page for the second day running, the Sun has at last decided to get its alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, to write something about the furore surrounding the activities of Mark Clarke, which should be a straightforward task, given he and Clarke were pals.
And, as with so many of Cole’s “exclusives”, the story, “TORY BULLY’S SEX COVER-UP”, unravels very rapidly. Not only that, readers are not told just how close Cole and Clarke have been, underscoring the idea that Master Cole is just the latest to throw Clarke under the bus. “Emails are proof party chiefs hid aide complaints” claims the article, and that is the first slice of falsehood: there is only one email shown.
See how appalled they all are at Mark Clarke's presence

This was apparently sent to Clarke from Paul Abbott, then chief of staff to Grant “Spiv” Shapps, and read “I did have to do quite a lot of ‘corralling’ as well, even if you don’t remember it now! This included for example dealing with all the complaints made about RoadTrip and your behaviour - from Associations, young activists, MPs/candidates, and so forth”. So no proof that CCHQ was told - and that is important.
Recognise anyone? Not hat they're friends, of course

Because the print version of Cole’s story tells “With sex and bullying allegations swirling, Tory HQ said on Thursday they could find NO evidence of accusations made before August. But the email says there was”. The email does not, and this may be why the online version of the story does not repeat the claim. Thus another Cole “exclusive” is shown to contain a significant claim that is not true.
And it gets worse: any idea that Cole and Clarke were not close friends is easily dispelled - and Abbott whining that Clarke “is an appalling man” is simply pukemaking drivel. First, we can see once more the recent post-cricket match photo showing Cole and Abbott not being even slightly appalled at Clarke’s presence. Then a quick scan of the Cole Twitter feed reinforces the idea that they have been close friends.
Follow Friday to @TURCPress and their team @AidanBurleyMP @MrMarkClarke @gregsmithsw6 @andrejpwalker and @indiabrummitt” he enthused. Cole was part of the now-moribund Trade Union Reform Campaign along with Clarke and André Walker. On it went: “Off to see @turcpress and @MrMarkClarke for lunch … Follow Friday to Councilman @MrMarkClarke, slayer of the hippy in Farringdon Within”.
Cole even dedicated an award to Clarke: “Chuffed to win YBF Dolphin Award 2012 tonight. Dedicated to @donal_blaney, @mrmarkclarke”. He was a family friend too: “Super excited about tomorrow's column but in the mean time off to meet  @MrMarkClarke's baby”. Replying to that one, Donal Blaney, who has also thrown Clarke under the bus recently, said “wishing we could join you there; do pass on our best to them”.

So it’s a crap “exclusive” that looks as if it had to be re-written for the online version, plus what the Sun is not telling its readers is that Cole and Clarke were very close friends. What we have here is another desperate attempt for Mark Clarke’s pals to distance themselves from behaviour they had no obvious problem with in the past - except in Cole’s case, he’s making some money out of it. What a total and absolute shower.