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Monday, 31 August 2015

Boris Backs Corbyn Shock

While the creative interpretation of comments made by veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn continues - and the context of what he said becomes clear - it seems the position he outlined on that TV show back in 2011, that Osama bin Laden should have been put on trial, and that his killing made the world a less and not more safe place, has an unexpected ally in London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Indeed, Bozza set out exactly the position suggested by Corbyn, and he did so as early as December 2001, in what was then a guest column at the Telegraph, under the headlineBin Laden should die, but we must try him first”. Here is what he said.

Bin Laden should be put on trial; not in Britain, but in the place where he organised the biggest and most terrible of his massacres, New York … He should be put on trial, because a trial would be the profoundest and most eloquent statement of the difference between our values and his. He wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could. We want justice”. And there was more.

A trial would expose the cruelty and emptiness of the man, the muddle of his beliefs, the mushy-minded chippiness of his politics … Osama bin Laden is not a modern Socrates, a sage whose self-defence can be expected to shame his accusers and echo down the ages. He is both sinister and ludicrous at once, and a trial would expose that”. Ten years later, Bozza rethought his stance - but he did not totally repudiate his earlier effort.

After bin Laden was killed, Bozza, now a regular Telegraph columnist garnering £250,000 a year of “chicken feed” for his trouble, told “Let's be clear: Osama bin Laden was executed – and for good reason. Imagine the media circus if the Americans had put the al-Qaeda chief on trial in New York City”. So now he was not in favour of a trial, but did agree with Jezza that bin Laden had been executed.

Moreover, he concluded thus: “If America is to go around indulging in extra-judicial liquidation of anyone who poses a threat to American interests, then we are entitled to wonder where it will end. We may be worried that the enemies of America may be spurred to symmetrical retaliation and that we will be caught up in a cycle of killing and counter-killing”. That was exactly the line taken by Corbyn.

So where is the right-wing media disdain and ridicule? Bozza has echoed Corbyn’s assertion that bin Laden should have been put on trial, and even though he later retracted that, he echoed the view that the killing was an execution, and that there was concern this would make the world a more dangerous place. To no surprise at all, though, no assault on Bozza’s view has been made. Because he’s a Tory.

What this non-story has shown us is the sheer desperation of the right-leaning press - along with some supposed Labour supporters who should know better - to inflate any claim made about Jeremy Corbyn into some kind of lurid exposé. No surprise there.

Flannelled Fool Corbyn Smear Busted

After the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, former tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, moved to become “Westminster Correspondent” for the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, some might have wondered if his penchant for falsehood and misinformation might somehow be reined back by his taking of the Murdoch shilling. We can now see that it has not.
Behold the rictus grin of the seasoned bullshitter

Master Cole’s latest exercise in creative non-journalism has been an alleged “exclusive” which has been deemed so valuable that it has gone straight to the piss-poor SunNation website, where readers are toldJEREMY CORBYN BLASTED FOR SAYING OSAMA BIN LADEN’S DEATH WAS TRAGEDY … Labour colleagues have turned on the leftie firebrand”. This looks, on the face of it, moderately interesting.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, what has been removed from the narrative is the C-word, as in context. What Corbyn said, in a TV show discussion, was that bin Laden could, and should, have been put on trial, rather than being the subject of yet another targeted assassination. His final comment (you can see the clip HERE) was to assert that “We need laws, not wars”.

This mere bagatelle does not trouble Master Cole, who proclaims to anyone still reading that Corbyn “did not deny these views”, which should surprise no-one, as his original comments - in their full context - are something with which many will readily agree. Instead, the article, if we can call it that, turns to the kind of right-wing rent-a-quote MP whose presence removes all trace of credibility.

And that means Cole had to go to Liam Fox for a comment. Now, the former Minister is a reliable source of soundbites in situations like these, but his credibility went down the chute big time when the Guardian exposed his relationship and dealings with his pal Adam Werritty. Fox was also in charge at Defence when his department sprang a series of leaks which were (a) beneficial to him, and yet (b) were never traced.

On top of that, Cole claims “And even Labour colleagues turned on the leftie firebrand tonight”, before revealing that he only got a quote from one Labour colleague, Ian Austin, and whether Austin was given the context of Corbyn’s comments is now known. So, as I suggested at the outset, falsehood and misinformation much as would have been expected at the Fawkes blog, But at an allegedly proper newspaper.

Yes, other news outlets have lifted Cole’s drivel, but even Mail Online - no friend of the Labour left - has given readers the proper context, that Corbyn said bin Laden should have been put on trial. So not even the Mail is prepared to recycle the flannelled fool’s claims without giving readers the full picture.

Master Cole claims that he is a journalist. He is not. He continues to be an unprincipled amateur whose dishonest drivel is easily rumbled. Another fine mess, once again.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Refugees - Bild Shames The Sun

We are constantly told by the press, in response to their latest excess of creativity or routinely bad behaviour, that whatever they do is only in response to what their readers want. They do not lead or form opinion, they claim, but merely follow demand. This has been suspect at best for some time: what has happened recently with the Middle Eastern refugee crisis has demonstrated just how false the assertion really is.
The view peddled by the UK tabloid press is typified by the Murdoch Sun: typical are headlines like “As PM flies to meet EU leaders, you tell him … DRAW A RED LINE ON IMMIGRATION OR ELSE!” Refugees are made to sound less than human: “Illegals swarm into Britain on empty Channel freight wagons … TRAIN SQUATTING”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. We also hear that the UK is “full up”.
This is reinforced by pundits at the Sun and elsewhere, including Katie Hopkins, Kelvin McFilth, Richard Littlejohn, and all the rest. Those fleeing wars and upheaval are not welcome here, we are told, and it is stressed time and again that this is our view. No UK tabloid has yet succeeded in disproving this, and it is to our shame that the one puncturing this particularly over-inflated balloon is published in Germany.
There, Bild - effectively the equivalent of the Sun - has taken a diametrically opposite view. After all the Mediterranean drowning tragedies, and last week’s discovery of 71 decomposing bodies packed inside a lorry abandoned just inside Austria’s border with Hungary, the editorial line has been that refugees should be welcomed, and helped. The paper has proclaimedWIR HELFEN” (We’re Helping).
Politicians and business people have been signed up, and are keen to do so: they know that, with falling birth rates, Germany needs inward migration to keep the motor of its economy moving. Moreover, refugees that make it out of the Middle East to Europe are invariably skilled, good on languages, and more than willing to get out of bed at least five days a week, ready to work hard and better themselves.
That makes the Bild campaign an effective no-brainer - but it needs someone to lead, to set the direction, to nudge the politicians, to get the public on-side. As a result, the phrase “Refugees Welcome” has been adopted across Germany, even being displayed on banners at football matches. That would be unimaginable in this country - and it comes down, it has to be emphasised, to the vicious negativity of the press.
We are constantly being fed the mean-spirited line “Immigration has benefited the UK, BUT”. Bollocks to the Sun’s BUT. There are no ifs, no buts, we have benefited massively from successive waves of migration over the centuries. We can benefit equally from the refugee crisis in the Middle East. And Bild has showed us the way to do that.

It has taken a German paper to shame the Sun, and all the rest of them, into realising that it is they, and their bigotry, that are the problem, not the solution. Shame on them indeed.

Tony Blair’s Labour Problem

Today brings another intervention in the Labour leadership contest from the sainted Tone, this time in the Guardian’s Sunday stablemate The Observer. “There is a new phenomenon in politics or perhaps the revival of an old one. But whatever it is, it is powerful. Someone said to me the other day re Corbyn mania: ‘You just don’t get it.’ I confess they’re right. I don’t get it, but I’m trying hard” he admitted.
Blair admits “people like me come forward and say elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader and it will be an electoral disaster, his enthusiastic new supporters roll their eyes. Neil Kinnock, Gordon Brown and I have collectively around 150 years of Labour party membership. We’re very different. We disagree on certain things. But on this we’re agreed. Anyone listening? Nope. In fact, the opposite. It actually makes them more likely to support him”.

The problem for Blair, though, is not about his three election victories, nor his years of service to the Labour Party. Why so many members are immune to his blandishments comes down to a few very straightforward words, and these can be summarised directly: Iraq, trust, authoritarianism, relationships, abandonment, and dishonesty. These are the words that stop so many in Labour listening to Tony Blair.

Let’s consider briefly how it was all so different in 1997: the Tories’ reputation for economic competence had been shot through by Black Wednesday and the ejection of Sterling from the ERM. The catalogue of sleaze followed. Labour was returned to power in a landslide greater even than that achieved in 1945. Most of the ground gained was retained four years later against a feeble challenge from William ‘Ague.

But Iraq eroded much of that support and sowed the seeds of unease among Labour members - and voters. That unease only intensified as the aftermath of the invasion was botched and the situation in that country became, if anything, worse than it had been under the Ba’athist régime. That the electorate might have been misled about intelligence and the war’s legitimacy only made things worse.

Blair’s authoritarian streak has, equally, not gone down well with Labour members. He tried and failed to keep Ken Livingstone and Rhodri Morgan off the candidates’ list for offices that they then went on to serve in successfully. The attempt to lock up terror suspects for longer and longer periods caused yet more unease. And then there have been the revelations about how close he was to Rupert Murdoch.

On top of that is the sense of distance and abandonment, that Blair has left the scene to make his fortune and perform not totally successfully as a Middle East envoy - hence the perception of him more of an outsider by his own party faithful. Yes, he is well regarded among potential swing voters, but they are not part of the Labour leadership electorate.

So Blair may be totally right, but Labour members and supporters will inevitably view his intervention through the prism of the recent past. And he can do nothing about that.

Top Six - August 30

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 another load of washing to do later. So there.
6 Harvey Proctor Protests Too Much The former hard right Tory MP proclaimed his innocence in a news conference last week, before smearing Labour’s Tom Watson and thereby devaluing his case. He was not, as an MP, well-liked.
5 Corbyn Threatens Murdoch Empire The suggestion from veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn that he would favour breaking up Creepy Uncle Rupe’s UK interests will guarantee only one thing - even more press abuse.
4 Don’t Menshn Paul Mason In another display of routine stupidity, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch not only failed to understand that Channel 4 Economics Editor Paul Mason was talking about China - not the UK or US - but also claimed wrongly that he worked for the BBC.
3 Corbyn Women’s Carriages Spin Busted No, Jeremy Corbyn did not propose that there should be women-only carriages on trains. Not even after the right-leaning part of the press kept on claiming that he did.
2 Toby Young’s Puerile Bigotry Busted The loathsome Tobes used the incident on board an Amsterdam to Paris Thalys service to claim that the French needed Brits and Yanks to sort out their problems for them. Sadly, his claims were not based on reality and he was roundly condemned as a result.
1 Don’t Menshn Twitter Vigilantes The actions of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch and her fetcher and carrier Jeremy Duns, appearing to act as if they were the law and behaving in a bullying manner towards those whose views they did not approve of, need to stop. And they need to stop right now (Duns has since left Twitter).
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Rebekah Brooks Enters A Perfect Storm

The Murdoch empire has a strange way of expressing that humility that Creepy Uncle Rupe claimed he felt when appearing before a Commons select committee all those years ago. The Sun said sorry over Hillsborough, yet they re-hired Kelvin McFilth. And now, to show just how sorry they are about all that phone-hacking at the now defunct Screws, the signs are that the twinkle toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks is back.
Brooks clearly overjoyed at the news

And the suggestion is that she will return as News UK’s CEO, which is quite an achievement for someone whose grasp of her last spell in the role was so sure that she managed not to find out that phone-hacking on an industrial scale was going on at the aforesaid Screws, and that the largest-selling UK Murdoch title was, in effect, a criminal enterprise. Plus if she is coming in as CEO, she faces a very full in-tray.

For starters, the Leveson Inquiry has not gone away: Young Dave can bluster as much as he likes, but the need forLeveson Part 2”, dealing with the relationship between the press and law enforcement authorities, is all too obvious, especially with the Daniel Morgan Panel now gathering evidence (you can see Peter Jukes’ latest Byline Media article, detailing some of the Police failings with the Morgan murder, HERE).

And there’s more: not only is the case of “Fake Shiekh” Mazher Mahmood still hanging over the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, even if the CPS decline to bring a prosecution against Maz for perjury following the collapse of the Tulisa Contostavlos trial, as there are appeals against six of hissting” exposés in progress. Then there is the possibility of corporate charges being brought over phone-hacking.

You thought that one had gone away? Think again: the Metropolitan Police have sent a file to the CPS for its due consideration, as the Guardian reported yesterday. So that’s all, is it? Well, no it’s not: News UK may also be about to face a fight with Associated Newspapers over its preferred candidate to talke over the editor’s chair at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, where David Dinsmore is reported to be being kicked upstairs.

As has also been reported, the rumoured favourite for the Sun job is Tony Gallagher, whose abilities are much respected, and who is certainly nasty enough for the job. But here a problem enters: Gallagher has only recently returned to the Daily Mail, where the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre might not want to let go of the editorial reins, but let go in the near future he will, willingly or otherwise.

And here a parallel enters: when it was Dacre whom Rupe wanted to lift from Associated - it is believed he wanted the Vagina Monologue to edit the Times - the Rothermeres kicked David English upstairs so they could head off the Murdoch offer by installing Dacre as Mail editor. Gallagher is a Mail man through and through.

Only the most expert pair of hands is going to negotiate all of those obstacles successfully. So if Ms Brooks really is going back to the CEO’s desk, we’ll find out in pretty short order just how good she really is. Or maybe not.

NHS v Private - Press Hypocrisy

The right-leaning part of the press spends a disproportionate amount of time passing adverse comment on the NHS, especially when something goes wrong. Particular emphasis is given to the instance of “never events”, those events which should quite literally never happen, such as when objects are left inside a patient after an operation. If only they were as keen when the private sector messed up the same way.
Yes, today I welcome Zelo Street readers to the rank, stinking hypocrisy of those who spend their time trying to undermine the NHS. I’m thinking particularly of the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail, whose keenness is exemplified by headlines likeHealth secretary said some serious errors happen six times a week … He said: 'Twice a week we leave a foreign object... inside someone's body’”.

Readers were told “the latest figures from NHS England show there were 312 so-called 'never-events' in hospitals last year – or six every week”. Another article told ofThe 150 NHS incidents that 'should never have happened’ … The incidents - called 'never events' - are regarded by the Government as so serious they should never happen”. The Mail is hot on “never events”. Well, it’s hot on somenever events”, anyway.

You think I jest? Let me introduce you to Helen Reynolds from the Staffordshire town of Rugeley. She suffered from arthritis in her knees and back, and so underwent gastric band surgery in order to lose weight and thus ease her pain. To this end she went to hospital in Manchester. After the operation she was in pain for a whole year, before further surgery revealed a length of tubing had been left in her body after the first operation.

This has been reported by the BBC, and also by related titles the Mirror and the Birmingham Mail. Helen Reynolds is taking legal action against the hospital concerned. So where is the Mail? Come to think of it, where is the Sun? Where is the Telegraph, the Express, the Times and the rest? The law firm representing her “said to have the tubing inside her for a year constituted ‘a “never event”  … such occurrences are unacceptable and completely preventable if the appropriate procedures have been implemented’”.

Ah well. Helen Reynolds did not have the gastric band procedure carried out in an NHS hospital, but by the private Spire Manchester Hospital. As there is no NHS to kick, the Mail has decided it can’t be bothered reporting the case. Nor can the Sun. Nor can the Telegraph. And the only Express on the case is the Wolverhampton Express And Star.

Had she gone to a nearby NHS hospital, like, well, just up the road from Rugeley is Stafford Hospital, and that foul-up had happened, we would never have heard the last of it. The Mail would have carried dozens of hostile comment columns. There would have been several thunderous editorial condemnations. Every rent-a-quote NHS basher would have been wheeled out. But as it’s a private hospital messing up, they stay silent.

Your free and fearless press - a bunch of unprincipled, stinking hypocrites.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Don’t Menshn Twitter Vigilantes

Regular visitors to Zelo Street need no reminder of the unending stupidity of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has recently claimed claimed Channel 4 man Paul Mason works for the BBC (wrong), blamed the Guardian for her ineptitude (wrong), claimed the Beeb’s Songs Of Praise from Calais was a fake and the Ethiopian Christians were Muslims (wrong), and more seriously, her attempts to paint veteran Labour left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as a forthright supporter of anti-Semitism (wrong).
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

That much was capital entertainment, but then, for reasons best known to himself, Stephen “Vicky” Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle (JC), gave Ms Mensch a platform to tell that, whatever Corbyn’s stance, his supporters included a significant number of anti-Semites. Here, it seems she was aided and abetted by another self-proclaimed Twitter Policeman, Jeremy Duns, underemployed author and self-important bully.
And so it came to pass that the JC ran the results of Ms Mensch’s handiwork; here the trouble began. Pollard clearly endorsed her words: “Here's a superb piece in tomorrow's @JewishChron by @LouiseMensch on twiiter, antisemitism and Corbyn supporters”. If he had not had the article fact checked, he may end up wishing he had.
First, musician Alison Chabloz took exception to Ms Mensch’s characterisation of her words, on the straightforward grounds that she did not say what was attributed to her. Then S G Kinsman objected to being called an “anti-Semite for Corbyn”, on the straightforward grounds of (a) being from a well-known Jewish family, (b) not being an anti-Semite, and (c) not supporting Jeremy Corbyn.
This much was bad enough, but the self-appointment seems to have gone to the heads of Duns and Ms Mensch, with the former patrolling Twitter accusing those he dislikes of “giving succour to anti-Semites”. This is pure McCarthyite guilt-by-association. Let me put this directly: Duns is not the law, and should stop playing Constable Savage, inventing non-existent offences over which he can come over all righteous.
It gets worse - much worse. Ms Mensch is not content to leave it with her JC article, and is now actively pursuing Ms Chabloz in what appears to be a deliberate and malicious attempt to deprive her of her livelihood. Ms Chabloz has already had to have a cease and desist notice issued on her behalf against another purveyor of harassment. Both she and S G Kinsman are considering legal action against the JC.

Anti-Semitism is a serious matter; that much is not up for debate. What is in question here is the way in which Louise Mensch is first of all smearing those whose only redress is to take the matter to law, then setting herself up as a social media vigilante in order to cause others harm. The problem is that she is too stupid to desist, far less admit she is out of order. She should cease her campaign and seek psychiatric help for her obsession.

She is not the law either. This little Wild West Show from her and her pal needs to stop.

Toby Young’s Puerile Bigotry Busted

Not for the first time, the loathsome Toby Young has attempted to be jolly clever, only for his clumsy bigotry to backfire and leave him covered in rather more than confusion. After a gunman was successfully tackled by a group of fellow passengers on board an Amsterdam to Paris Thalys high speed train service, it was revealed that three of those doing the tackling were United States citizens. Another was British.
Not such a grown up take on the Entente Cordiale

This diversity was only to be expected, given that the train traversed the Netherlands, Belgium and France, but for Tobes, it presented an opportunity for him to demonstrate why someone else teaches History at his West London Free School. Yes, he would write a piece for the Spectator magazine, where he would paint the dastardly French as cowards and assert that they need Brits and Yanks to save them.
Once again, the French rely on Yanks and Brits to save them from murderous fascists … The cowardice of Frenchmen knows no bounds … If I was a Frenchman, I'd be ashamed by the reaction of my countrymen on the French terror train” wibbled Tobes. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. What was the reaction of his fellow Tweeters? “Full Katie Hopkins … Toby, you’ve gone all Katie Hopkins” were typical.
There was more. Tobes was reminded “Yes, because an unarmed, untrained Frenchman was first to attempt to tackle the gunman. You should be ashamed … Do you know that this despicable article is based on a lie. First attacker was French man”. Also it wasn’t a “French Train”, but an international one with its destination in France.
Still, factual details, eh Tobes? Another comment suggested “the incident actually took place in Belgium”. Moreover, Tobes has no idea what nationality the other passengers were - he just insults the French, because that kind of thing goes down jolly well with all those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants. It was left to another Tweeter to put him straight: “Your article is disgustingly xenophobic”. Got it in one.
His sneering claim of “cowardice” was also put into perspective: “Never fully understand how this myth of ‘French cowardice’ started; 1940 was command failure not cowardice by rank & file”. Plus most of the British were evacuated at Dunkirk, of course. There was a reminder of the Great War: “I can't help but contrast this with the vast number of names on French WWI memorials. France carried war for 2 years”. Quite.
The condemnation kept on coming: “come on you can celebrate three or four individuals bravery without calling everyone else a coward” was one comment. Another had peeked at the Speccy article: “even the Spectator readers left comments saying how awful your piece is”. Sadly, that will make no difference: Tobes is naturally unpleasant.

Toby Young is a childish cretin, a veneer of respectability on a dribbling bigot. Worse, misguided souls like Fraser Nelson at the Spectator give him a platform to demonstrate one thing loud and clear: Tobes is not known as Captain Bellend for nothing.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Rod Liddle - You’re A Bigot

Net migration has risen yet again: the figure for the year ending last March was around 330,000, an increase of 28% over the previous year, and more than three times the sort-of-official target of 100,000 intimated by Young Dave when he gave his “no ifs, no buts” pledge back in 2010. But what could the right-leaning press do? They could hardly blame Labour more than five years after the party left office.
Just having the one bottle, eh Rod?

No, all they could do was to whinge pointlessly, and when you want someone to whinge pointlessly in a way that will out-whinge and out-pointless everyone else, professional misery guts Rod Liddle is your man. “I’M NOT ALLOWED TO SAY IT, BUT MIGRANTS *ARE* SWAMPING THE UK” proclaims the piss-poor SunNation website, adding for good measure “Our columnist argues the country has changed beyond recognition”.

This is, as Liddle well knows, not merely bullshit, but dishonest bullshit: we are so not allowed to carp about migrants “swamping” the UK that those not allowed to mention it don’t include the Express (HERE), Telegraph (HERE), or the Mail (HERE and HERE). As Harry Palmer told Colonel Stok in Funeral In Berlin, Liddle talks well, and lies badly. And as to “changed beyond recognition”, this is also bullshit.

That cuts no ice with Lugubrious Liddle: “The country has changed beyond recognition in such a desperately short space of time. Now, one in eight people living here were born abroad”. Yes, like when we had the Empire and lots of Britons were born out in India, Africa, the West Indies, and all those other places most of the population were glad to see us leave. But Rod says “I’m not remotely comfortable with this”.

And there’s more: “The Government is still scared of being labelled ‘racist’ by gobby liberals who want our borders totally open … You can hear this point of view every time the BBC does a news report”. And he wants us to leave, er, the UN: “there’s no doubt the Government is hamstrung, both by our membership of the European Union and, indeed, the United Nations. Both organisations insist we should be taking in more people. The UN (with the support of the BBC) is censuring some European countries … for simply sending the migrants back en masse”. You’ll notice it’s the BBC’s fault, too.

And he’s still not allowed to express his view: “This is by far the most serious problem facing the UK and Europe. We are being swamped, to use a word you’re not allowed to use because the liberals think it’s nasty. But swamped is exactly the right word, isn’t it? This is a gigantic catastrophe, financially, socially and culturally. We should tell the UN to get stuffed and send back all those migrants who have arrived here illegally”.

Pack of lies, or what? The main “financial, social and cultural” impact of having all those people coming to the UK is that it benefits the economy massively: they claim far less per person in benefits, they’re prepared to do all the jobs nobody else wants, they want to get on and better themselves, and many create their own - productive - businesses. And they learn English too. What’s not to like?

Rod Liddle, you’re an antediluvian bigot. And bloody miserable with it.

Sun’s Sick Stateside Shooting Splash

Yesterday, in a shopping centre near the Virginia town of Moneta, during a live broadcast on local TV station WDBJ7, reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward were fatally shot by an apparently disgruntled former colleague, Vester Lee Flanagan. It was the latest in a series of multiple shootings across the USA, where lawmakers are seemingly powerless to curb such incidents in the face of the gun lobby.
So much, so grim, but today has brought the reporting of the tragedy, and while some papers have shown restraint - the Express and Guardian used the same still photo of Ward and Ms Parker, for instance - others have succumbed to the temptation to use the story to flog a few more copies. The Mirror, showing a horrified Ms Parker, is typical (the Mail also used that same image). And then there was the Sun.
The Murdoch tabloids have, shall we say, form for using death porn as a way of boosting sales, as New Yorkers know all too well. The New York Post, back in 2012, was roundly condemned for splashing on a photo showing a Subway train bearing down on a man who had been pushed off the platform. “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die … DOOMED” was the headline. Yes, Rupe’s downmarket troops have previous.
So it was with the Sun, with the photo not only showing the murder weapon being pointed at Ms Parker, but the muzzle flash, just to make sure readers knew what was going on. That much was bad enough, but, as Nick Sutton warned prospective purchasers, “If you think the front page is shocking - inside tomorrow's Sun are five more photos taken from the gunman's video”. And, as the man said, there’s more.
Look again at the front page: at the lower left of the page, readers are told “Watch the chilling video at thesun.co.uk”. Yeah, buy our paper and you can watch two members of our own profession getting executed! Well, we all get our jollies somehow, I suppose, but that has to have crossed the decency line. It easily beats the Reeva Steenkamp front page, with its “Look, she’s hot … and she’s dead” message.
So where is the Sun’s PR and spin counter-initiative this morning? Seemingly, it isn’t. Both managing editor Stig Abell, the agreeable and highly intelligent public face of the Murdoch rabble, and his far less agreeable PR man Dylan Sharpe, have been keeping their heads down. So that means they’re not going to say sorry, and unless a relative of the deceased complains, sham press regulator IPSO won’t do anything about it.
The Murdoch press is so sick that it doesn’t even care for the dignity of its own profession. Worse, it’s prepared to take punters’ money in exchange for a sight of those two journalists being shot dead. The staff at WDBJ7 and the families of the dead have experienced a traumatic and harrowing loss, but meanwhile, other people calling themselves journalists are just happy to sit there and watch the money roll in.

It’s journalism, Jim … but not as we know it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Corbyn Women’s Carriages Spin Busted

Another day, another opportunity for Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn to be misrepresented by the press, and for the punditerati to use the occasion to project their own prejudices and shortcomings on to him. He was asked about having women-only carriages on trains. He did not endorse the idea, but, being a democratically inclined sort of politician, said he would be prepared to consult on the idea.
He still doesn't look scary

That was enough for the spin machine to be fired up, and it was soon claimed that Jezza was in favour of gender segregated travel, which he was not. Then came the pundits, revealing more about their own shortcomings than his.
Who would be first to make a Grade A prat of themselves? Step forward John McTernan to wibble “Pretty sure that ISIS back a policy of women-only carriages on public transport”. Yes, Corbyn means SCARY MUSLIMS (tm)! He wasn’t the only one with that prejudice on display: Sarah “Vain” Vine, aka Mrs “Oiky” Gove, told “First women-only trains, next headscarves”. More SCARY MUSLIMS (tm)! And there was more. A lot more.
Manhattan village idiot Louise Mensch was going to stop this idea single-handed: “Jeremy Corbyn not only invited vicious homphobes to Parliament he now supports gender segregation. Not on my watch”. Wrong again. As usual. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson wanted the world to know that his pressing need was more clicks: “Jeremy Corbyn is quite right - it's time for women-only carriages on trains, says Rod Liddle”.
Pay money to read Rod Liddle? Yeah, right. Meanwhile, Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, lived up to his nickname: “RMT describe Corbyn's women-only trains as ‘a really welcome move’”. His former colleague, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, had other concerns: “How will men get to the buffet car unless women only carriage is at the back”.
Yes, stuff the facts, how do you continue to get pissed? Any more prejudice? Yes, the Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges had plenty: “Watching Corbyn followers trying to defend women only carriages lunacy. It's identical to the way Farage's followers defend him. Cultism”. Corbyn now equals Farage! And over at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, Jonathan Isaby claimed “Following Corbyn's logic, racially-segregated train carriages would stop racist abuse. That's why women-only carriages would also be wrong”. Typical TPA - starting from a false premise.
All that was left was for the Mirror to remind the generally right-leaning chorus of disapproval that “Women-only train carriages aren't just Jeremy Corbyn's idea - the Tories proposed them too”. Indeed, Claire Perry did so only last September. And Sebastian Payne for once had something perceptive to say: “Corbyn’s ‘women-only rail carriages’ points to his coming battle with Fleet Street”. On that, I agree with him.

What Corbyn did not say tells you all you need to know about the deficiencies of those who are paid in money to sit in judgment on others. What a complete and utter shower.

Harvey Proctor Protests Too Much

The appearance yesterday at a press conference of his own devising by former Tory MP Harvey Proctor grabbed headlines, and also perhaps garnered some sympathy for a man who has faced suspicion, questioning and indeed uncertainty over allegations that he was part of an organised Westminster paedophile ring back in the day. But there is good reason for the Police and media to remain sceptical.
Proctor’s statement contains this assertion: “Those Labour Members of Parliament who have misused parliamentary privilege and their special position on these matters should apologise. They have behaved disgracefully, especially attacking dead parliamentarians who cannot defend themselves and others and they should make amends. They are welcome to sue me for libel. In particular, Mr Tom Watson, M.P. should state, outside the protection of the House of Commons, the names of ex Ministers and ex M.P.s who he feels are part of the so called alleged Westminster rent boy ring”.

However, as campaigner Ian Pace has pointed out, “In none of these debates have any of the leading campaigning MPs – Tom Watson, Simon Danczuk, John Mann, Sarah Champion from Labour, ex-MPs John Hemming and Tessa Munt from the Liberal Democrats, Zac Goldsmith or Tim Loughton from the Conservatives, or Caroline Lucas from the Greens – said anything to my knowledge which could identify an MP or other prominent figure, nor anything which could not be safely repeated outside of the House of Commons”. And a majority of those are not representing Labour.

Pace concludes that Proctor is maliciously trying to blame Watson. That may raise a few eyebrows, but it must be remembered that Proctor was not the most sympathetic character to grace the Commons: his interests included being chairman of the right-wing Monday Club’s “Immigration and repatriation committee”. Yes, “repatriation”.
Indeed, he co-authored a number of publications on the subject of immigration, including the interestingly titled “Immigration, Repatriation and the CRE” in 1981. Even the BBC concededMr Proctor also sits on the executive of the right-wing Monday Club and has expressed controversial views on immigration”.

Proctor resigned as an MP after the Sunday People ran a story that he had taken part in “spanking” sessions with rent boys at his London flat. This had includeda schoolboy punishment ritual in which the rent boys were required to dress in shorts and be punished for imagined offences such as truancy and fighting in class”.

The argument put forward by his solicitor David Napley at Proctor’s trial back in May 1987 that “If this man had performed equal acts of gross indecency with a female prostitute under the age of 21 he would have committed no offence” may sound convincing at first, but the same might have been said about Peter Morrison, who was regarded at the time of his fall from grace in 1991 as a paedophile - and still is.

Harvey Proctor may well be innocent of all those offences alleged by others. But he has done his cause no favours by trying to dump the blame for his predicament on Tom Watson, and his Parliamentary career as one of the rabid right must not be forgotten.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sun Global Crisis Hypocrisy

The upheaval in world financial markets yesterday has not just worried the upmarket part of the Fourth Estate: after all, many readers of the tabloids have money invested in pension funds, either personal or corporate, which will be adversely affected by any long-term downturn. So it was that Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun decided things were so serious that an editorial comment was in order.
The true voice of Murdoch moderation ((c) Private Eye)

And for once, The Sun Says was calm, reasoned, even measured. Under the heading “Chinese Burn”, readers are told “THE crash in the Chinese stock market - and the impact yesterday on our own index - shows just how interconnected we all are … What happens in China has a direct effect on us. When China is booming, that’s great. But when it catches a cold, we start sneezing”. Fascinating - do go on.

China might be run by the Communist Party, but its phenomenal economic growth has been driven by a unique form of state-managed capitalism”. So unique, Sun people, that it bears a distinct similarity to the principles set out in Keynes’ The General Theory Of Employment Interest And Money, which has been around since the 1930s, and which, in the West, papers like the Sun have been slagging off since Mrs T’s day.
But, as Clive James might have said, I digress. The Sun concludes its tutorial on China by warning “with so much Western money invested in China, and so much Chinese money invested in the Wet, the rest of us are going to suffer the consequences”. You see, there’s not really much that Governments can do - so they don’t get mentioned, let alone blamed. Well, not if they are run by the Tories, it seems.

Yes, we’ve been here before: back in 2007-8, there was a financial crisis, but this one came out of the USA, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the sub-prime mortgage crash. Regulators were caught asleep at the wheel, their worst error being to let Lehman go bust. This caused a market panic: nobody trusted anyone to be able to repay debts, so lending dried up. In the UK, there was a run on Northern Rock.

But what investigations in the USA and elsewhere showed was that the UK Government’s role was at best peripheral. Moreover, the actions of Pa Broon and Alistair Darling in helping to engineer a solution stopped matters getting much worse. So what did the Sun say about that? Simples. It blamed Labour. It’s still blaming Labour, using Andy Burnham’s presence at the Treasury in 2008 as an excuse to kick him.

Another editorial rantedTo gasps and groans, [Ed Miliband] insisted the Gordon Brown government in which he served played no part in the financial disaster which left the coalition with ‘no money’ in 2010 … It was all down to the grasping bankers and the global crash, he claimed. Not Labour’s overspending … There cannot be a sane person who believes that”. Suddenly it’s not globalisation when it’s Labour.

The Sun - first for rank, stinking hypocrisy since the day Murdoch bought it.