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Monday, 30 March 2015

Guido Fawked - Tory Shill Fail

As the General Election campaign has begun, one usually only nominally right-wing propaganda source has been swung firmly behind the Tories: to no surprise at all, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have turned their alleged “brand” into a thinly disguised shill for The Blue Team, to the extent that they have put out eight Labour-bashing items already today.
Fart in lift Inquiry is less than than a gas

Sadly, the slant is obvious from the word go, but when Staines has to depend on the likes of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, and newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham, items suggesting Labour supporters are all on benefits, from a sample of one, are all too predictable. Then they use a Green Party mug to claim that Labour Party mugs are rubbish, because, well, it’s Phil Space journalism, innit?
This, sadly, is all too true

Then there is an opportunity to bash Pa Broon. Ah, it must seem like The Good Old Days for Staines: the personal abuse, the claims of unsuitability for office from someone who celebrated Brown’s period at 10 Downing Street by narrowly escaping a custodial sentence for drink-driving. “You could not make it up. Despite no longer being an MP, Gordon is back and making outlandish spending claims in Scotland”.
They're not married

Got a credible source for that “outlandish” assertion? No, thought not. Ah, but then comesLabour Campaign Chief Breaks Social Media Election Law”. Lucy Powell may have been late amending her Twitter bio. So why not be even handed and castigate Young Dave for using his address in front of Number 10 earlier to channel Harold Wilson and use it to attack his main opponent? We won’t be going there, Paul, will we?
They're still not married

But hey ho, another hour, another propaganda item: Labour’s FT advert today gets a kicking, with the priceless line “Guido hears that Kellogg’s are pretty frosty about it all too”. No citation. No surprise. No change there, then. Could there be more after lunch? There certainly could: Andy Slaughter is accused of distributing election literature today claiming to still be an MP. We don’t get a verifiable citation for that one, either.
The inevitable conclusion

And then comes the Pièce de Résistance, as Labour’s new advert, featuring Martin Freeman, gets trashed on the grounds of his “Tax Dodge Shame”. Did he dodge any tax? Well, no actually: the suggestion is that he was somehow responsible for his partner’s tax bill. The Guido Fawkes and Alex Wickham Twitter accounts even refer to Freeman’s partner as “his wife”. They aren’t married. Accurate as ever, eh lads?

Oh, and Guido has also been “hearingthat there has been some kind of meeting between Alan Johnson and ATOS, although, as ever, you have to take that on trust, which here on Zelo Street we won’t be doing, thanks. As Peter Jukes has observed, “For current purposes looks as if Guido Fawkes is - like Ukrainian separatists supported by Putin - a disownable branch of Conservative HQ”.

It would be terribly sad to lose one’s editorial control. Which the Fawkes rabble have, of course, not done. Anyone suggesting otherwise may get another of those legal threats.

Don’t Menshn Top Gear

Demonstrating once again that the subs at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun don’t bother with fact-checking her column, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch has been pontificating on the Jeremy Clarkson saga, only to fill her copy with totally untrue statements and a fantasy approach to workplace behaviour. But all is in accordance with the line laid out by Creepy Uncle Rupe.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

The Clarkson sags doesn’t reflect well on anybody involved - except Richard Hammond and James May” she declares. This is down, supposedly, to their loyalty: “They stepped away from the BBC and the show that made their fortunes in order to support their pal Jeremy, saying ‘we come as a package’”. You didn’t know Hammond and May had left Top Gear? Neither did the BBC. Come to think of it, neither did they.

What James May actually said (note that they were his words, not Richard Hammond’s) was that Top Gear would continue “in some way”, adding “I don’t want to talk about that too much. I think we’re very much the three of us as a package, it works for very complicated reasons that a lot of people don’t fully understand. So that will require a lot of careful thought”. That means he hasn’t made his mind up.
Hammond has said “We're all three of us idiots in our different ways but it's been an incredible ride together”, which is equally inconclusive. So nobody has “stepped away from the BBC”. Never mind, though, Ms Mensch has another totally made up assertion ready and waiting: “this has led to the end of one of the BBC’s best shows”. Top Gear has finished? Did anyone tell the BBC? It hasn’t, of course.

Readers are then treated to a number of creative excuses for Clarkson’s behaviour: he was somehow entitled to a hot meal, the hotel was not “reasonable”, producer Oisin Tymon’s cut lip was downgraded to merely “bruised”, Jezza was only giving “voice to tired and hungry Top Gear workers” (so tired of Jezza that they forced him to report the “fracas”), and they should have taken it outside, except only one party was abusive.
But the Pièce de Résistance is held back for the end, as Ms Mensch assures readers “Clarkson, Hammond and May say they come as a team [no they don’t - see above] - look for some enterprising channel, either in the UK or US, to snap them up”. Who might she have in mind? How about Sky, with its Murdoch shareholding?

Stuart Murphy, who runs Sky’s entertainment channels, had this to say to the suggestion Jezza might be heading over there: “we aren't going to sign up someone who punches a colleague in the face. I wouldn't want that to happen to you or anyone at Sky”. What the utterly clueless Louise Mensch calls “a minor incident with shouting” has apparently reduced the number of enterprising channels considerably.

The BBC had a sound case for not renewing Clarkson’s contract. His co-presenters haven’t gone anywhere yet. And Sky don’t want to know. Facts, eh Louise?

Heffer Says Enoch Didn’t Do It

The unwavering hero worship of Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer for the late Tory and later Unionist MP has been put to the sternest of tests this weekend, as news emerged that an allegation had been made against The Great Man of potential involvement in historic child abuse. “Detectives investigating claims of a VIP paedophile sex ring have been passed lurid allegations relating to Enoch Powell” told the Mail.
The Hefferlump was aghast: “A monstrous slur against my friend: The allegations against Enoch Powell are lies beyond contempt … When on Saturday evening a fellow journalist told me of the allegations made by the Church of England, my first instinct was to laugh: but that soon changed into utter outrage when I realised he was serious … The Church has publicly accused Enoch of being involved in ritual satanic abuse on hearsay, without the slightest evidence”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

Yes, it’s all the Church of England’s fault: “It is disgraceful and destabilising for clergy to behave in this way … He has been demonised not least because to attack his memory is a quick and effective way for them to score points by setting out their own political correctness. What better way for some mischievous Leftist priest to damage Enoch further than by linking him with the current rash of stories about child abuse?

And he warns the clergy that he and his pals are going to come looking for them after it’s all over: “The allegations are a monstrous lie. That the lie appears to have been retailed by a priest is beyond contempt … There must be an investigation and, for all the distress this outrage has caused, there must be a reckoning”.

Had Heffer actually bothered to read what has actually happened, though, he might have stopped and thought, but then, that would not have enabled him to use the bully pulpit of the Mail to generate More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. In any case, the Independent has told “the claims against Mr Powell were passed to police by the Right Reverend Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, more than a year ago … they have only now been made public”. So he’s too late now.

Moreover, Heffer’s accusations of “political correctness”, a “mischievous Leftist priest”, and “the lie … retailed [my emphasis] by a priest”, ignore the inconvenient fact that “Under safeguarding rules, institutions such as the Church of England now automatically pass allegations of abuse to the police for assessment”.

So if names are submitted to those who, like the Bishop of Durham, deal with safeguarding, they have no alternative but to submit them to Police. It should be noted that the clergyman putting Powell’s name forward had “first heard the claims when he was counselling young adults as a curate in the 1980s”. The idea that this is some kind of leftist plot to besmirch the name of Heffer’s hero is arrant nonsense.

Child abuse allegations have to be taken seriously. That is all. Get over it, Simon Heffer.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Russell Brand - Another Sun Smear

The mean-spirited behaviour of the right-leaning press towards anyone of celebrity status who chooses to give their time to fighting their own chosen deserving causes knows no bounds: the attitude of papers like the Mail towards Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, for having the audacity to appear at the Leveson Inquiry, is well-known. And the hatred of that paper, and the Sun, towards Russell Brand is also a regular feature.
So when Brand put his advocacy and his money behind a venture called the Trew Era Café, opposite the New Era Estate in Hackney where he joined the campaign to prevent 93 residents being evicted by a new corporate landlord, which intended to triple rents, the deeply subversive Guardian might have given some straight publicity, but Rupe’s downmarket troops would never be far behind.

The café is “a social enterprise staffed by recovering drug addicts from the area …According to Brand, the cafe stands as a permanent symbol of the victory of a grassroots movement over corporate interests; a place for the people of the New Era estate to gather for social and political purposes, while also contributing to the community”.

What did it sell? “A chalkboard hangs next to the counter advertising the cafe’s offerings – cafe latte and cappuccino for £1.80, tea for £1.40 and juices (all organic obviously) for £4. Several cheesecakes made by Lindsey Garrett, a lead campaigner against the New Era evictions, are on sale, as are locally made jams”. Yes, there are teething problems, but Brand and his café have the backing of local residents and businesses.
Enter the Sun to smear and spin: “Leftie comic’s eaterie is a flop … Russ’s revolutionary café is revolting” it told readers. For starters, the toilet was “Horrible”. What was wrong with it? Ah, but you don’t need to know about that. It just is. “The Sun on Sunday visited yesterday and found it has no menu, no kitchen, no savoury food and is fast running out of cake”. And to that I call bullshit.

As the Guardian pointed out, what is available is on a chalkboard, it’s not yet pretending to sell savoury food, the kitchen is still being put together and if the cakes are selling well, what’s the problem? Instead, the Sun sneers at a spelling mistake on the chalkboard, disparages the idea of food being “ethically sourced” (something else they could have read about in the Guardian), and even tries to blame the café for local parking charges.

Did the Sun hack actually drive there from the Baby Shard? Did the Sun hack actually visit the place, given most of what was in the article could have been churned out of that in the Guardian? What does not get told by the Murdoch faithful, of course, is that the Trew Era Café has the support of the locals, and is serving a further purpose in helping to rehabilitate recovering drug users - they just pretend it’s a Brand vanity project.

When the obedient Murdoch doggies put their money into that kind of enterprise, they might be worth listening to. But they won’t do any time soon, and so they’re not.

Campaign Starts - Tories Panic

Don’t debate Mil The Younger directly, they said. Make sure you keep him away from allowing the viewers to make a direct comparison, they said. Bank on Kay Burley giving you the easier ride, they said. Just put your faith in Creepy Uncle Rupe’s obedient attack doggies and the inmates of Northcliffe House, they said. Now a post-Paxo YouGov poll shows Labour opening up a four point lead. That went well, then.
That looks like a favourable poll over there! Jolly good sheow!

The weekend has gone no better for The Blue Team: Young Dave, so often urged by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to tell voters about all his jolly good achievement, did nothing of the sort yesterday, resorting to calling Labour a “bunch of hypocritical, holier-than-thou, hopeless, sneering socialists” and confirming “Some might say: ‘Don’t make this personal’, but when it comes to who’s prime minister, the personal is national”.

That means it’s going to continue to be about personal abuse - and the strange assertion that “Miliband’s Labour party isn’t about liberating working people; it’s about telling you what to do. The same old condescending, bossy, interfering, we-know-best attitude of the Hampstead socialist down the ages”. Miliband lives in Primrose Hill, which is not Hampstead, but hey ho. It’s cut’n’paste smear time.

Today has not improved matters, with Iain Duncan Cough being dispatched to appear before the host’s inquisition on The Andy Marr Show (tm), only to get entangled in questions about when Cameron might step down during the next Parliament. By the end of the interview, Duncan Cough had been reduced to rambling in order to bat out time. Then he got beaten up by Joan Bakewell on the sofa afterwards.

All this matters because, at the start of the campaign, Labour activists are the ones with a smile on their faces and a spring in their step. The Tories are hamstrung by their pals in the media, who are making the campaign one of personal abuse against Miliband, and the spivvery of Grant Shapps. When the Labour leader turns out not to be as useless as their papers told them, the swing voters have begun to move in his favour.

The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn faces the prospect of failing to deliver his proprietor’s preferred outcome for the first time in forty years. The Daily Mail’s odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) faces being exposed for seriously misleading his readers on a daily basis. And the Times’ Tim Montgomerie faces being reminded that his general cluelessness hasn’t changed since he called Phonehackgate wrong.

The question has to be put: if this is the level of panic at a single poll, what happens if the numbers continue in the same vein, or even get worse? Was bringing Lynton Crosby on board wise, given the last Tory General Election campaign he masterminded was in 2005, when they lost, despite Tone being vulnerable on Iraq? If the press can’t move the polls, and Miliband’s TV appearances remain popular, what do the Tories do?

We the people decide this election. We are not fools. This may sink in. Eventually.

Katie Hopkins Antisemitism Idiocy

[Update at end of post]

To secure a column on the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, one need not be an experienced journalist, or indeed, a journalist at all. And in one particular case, it means having a total lack of self-awareness, to the extent that “telling it like it is” veers across the decency line into hate speech, with criticism dismissed as mere “lefty outrage”. Here we enter the deeply unpleasant mind of professional loudmouth Katie Hopkins.
You OK with that pal, Dave?

Ms Hopkins has crossed the line before, of course, not least in her attitude to the Scots, even having to apologise for one particularly insensitive outburst when her sneering observations on life expectancy north of the border coincided with the Glasgow helicopter crash. Then, undeterred, she was back to the abuse when nurse Pauline Cafferkey contracted the Ebola virus on return from Sierra Leone.
But now we’re in a General Election campaign, and she desperately wants The Blue Team to win. She is a great fan of Young Dave, having been snapped with the Tory leader recently. So what does she do? She makes thisjoke” about Mil The Younger: “Pollsters say Justine is the least popular of party wives. He might stick her head in the oven and turn on the gas”. Jeremy Duns tries to point out that this is just vile.
Ms Hopkins was not deterred: “Lefty outrage - you gotta love it” she trilled. Piers Morgan tried ever so gently to suggest the error of her ways: “Miliband’s Jewish”. Yes, making gas oven “jokes” about someone who is Jewish and many of whose relatives were victims of the Holocaust is not clever. Still Katie was unmoved, replying “And you're a Catholic Piers. Isn't this a fun game?” Fun for one person, perhaps.
It was so much fun for Ms Hopkins that she was convinced nobody who really mattered would be really, properly offended, telling that “Look peeps, Jews and Gays love me. Get over it. The Scots and Palestinians aren't so keen. I give you that”. Self-awareness? She wants the world to know she is Cameron’s pal, then makes a nasty gas oven “joke” about his Jewish opponent? Nope, no self-awareness at all.
She’s also rather hopeful when it comes to her appeal to Piers Morgan, batting his criticism off with “Piers - it's OK love. I know this is just sexual tension. I bear children and arms”. A former tabloid editor has taken time out to give her a helpful hint about what is acceptable “telling it like it is”, and what is definitely not. But still the message remains unheard and the Tories get damaged by association.
Ms Hopkins even tries to pass her gaffe off as mere trolling, telling “Lefty fools, if you don't like the freedom of my speech - get off Twitter” and linking to one of her all too many media appearances. But it isn’t just trolling, it’s anti-Semitic hate speech, way beyond what anyone - well, apart from her - can even hope to justify as “telling it like it is”. Katie Hopkins has hobbled the Sun, the Tories, and her own remaining credibility.

With friends like Ms Hopkins, Cameron and his jolly good chaps have no need of enemies.

[UPDATE 30 March 1000 hours: Ms Hopkins and her pals may have rather more difficulty shrugging this one off, now that the Mail has got hold of it.

The headline of their piece, "'He might stick her head in the oven and gas her': Katie Hopkins accused of using anti-Semitic jibe at wife of Ed Miliband, whose parents fled the Holocaust", tells you all you need to know about the angle being used.

Before long her pal Dave will be getting quizzed about it, and he won't think twice before throwing her under the nearest bus. And what will Creepy Uncle Rupe make of it? Time will tell]

Top Six - March 29

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 clearing up stuff to do later. So there.
6 Air Crash Mental Health Fail The reaction of the tabloid press, and especially the Sun, to the rumour that one of the pilots of the Germanwings flight that crashed in southern France may have experienced depression shows that there are some lessons they never learn.
5 Guido Fawked - Shapps In The Mire The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog inadvertently dropped Grant “Spiv” Shapps in the crap. But only gently.
4 Gove’s Last Foul-Up He was useless at Education, and his failure to get the votes for the Tories’ last minute attempt to hobble Commons Speaker John Bercow shows that Michael “Oiky” Gove is just as useless at being Chief Whip. There won’t be a cabinet role for him if Young Dave wins the General Election.
3 Don’t Menshn Sub-Editors Just to show that some Sun columnists don’t get their copy properly subbed, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch told her readers that Elm Guest House was in Wales. That’s quite a long way from south-west London.
2 Grant Shapps Digs Himself Deeper The Tory Party chairman was still having difficulty with reality last week, as evidence emerged to show he had been peddling his get-rich-quick schemes under the alias of “Michael Green” FOUR YEARS after becoming an MP. He had claimed to have stopped that in 2005. Or perhaps it was a bit later.
1 Arrivederci Katie Professional motormouth Katie Hopkins threatened to emigrate if Labour won the General Election. Mil The Younger’s ratings immediately improved. So she then made a gas oven “joke” about the Labour leader and his wife. Ed Miliband is Jewish. She did not understand the implications. And the Sun gave her a column.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Newton Dunn Joins The Man-Babies

[Update at end of post]

The result of the “Battle For Number 10” was not conclusive enough for some out there on the right, and nor was the fact that Mil The Younger gave as good as he got when passing before The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah. Nowhere was this more keenly felt than at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, especially when Labour did not include Rupe’s downmarket troops in their campaign launch yesterday.
Double Farley's for Mr Newton Dunn!

One might have expected the assembled hacks to be relived not to have to trudge over to The Red Team’s launch, especially given they would not take a collective blind bit of notice, as what they were going to write had already been decided, and the welter of abuse that would be handed out to Miliband and his team would not have any more than a passing mention to the substance of Labour’s campaign.
But that thought was shown to be badly misplaced, as the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn threw an Olympian-Style mardy strop and ejected all his toys from his generously remunerated pram in one go. “The Sun Says today: Miliband’s blunt message to the Sun and our readers - he doesn’t like us, or you”. Wahh! Not fair!! Rotten leftie didn’t give me and my playmates invites!!!
Newton Dunn includes the day’s editorial in his Tweet, from which it has to be concluded that he had a hand in its writing. And it’s certainly down to the usual standard. “Ed Miliband reckons he’s a tough guy … ‘Newspapers can write what they like’ he tells Jeremy Paxman on TV” [note that obedient Sun readers have to take that on trust, as the paper instructed them to switch channels during his interview].

But then the strop is thrown: “What cobblers … Just 12 hours later, here’s how he reacted to The Sun’s criticism of him as a wannabe Prime Minister … By petulantly excluding Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper from the launch of Labour’s General Election campaign … How we laughed”. No, you didn’t laugh. You bawled your eyes out, stamped the floor, ranted powerlessly and then loaded up the abuse dispenser for another tirade.
The real reason for this gratuitous drivel was captured by author and playwright Peter Jukes (whose book on the hacking trial, Beyond Contempt, is on sale at all good retailers), who Tweeted “Newton Dunn, Sun political editor, told Miliband circle ‘you can have Andy but not Rebekah’ days before Milly Dowler story broke … When Miliband called for Brooks' resignation, TND said ‘you've made it personal about Rebekah, now we'll make it personal about you’”. Politics and principled journalism do not enter.
This is yet another example of the vindictive Mafia mentality and sense of entitlement that pervades the Murdoch press: you dissed their pal, and whether or not you were right doesn’t matter - they’re going to come after you for it. And for Newton Dunn to call anyone else “petulant” is, as the late John Smith might have observed, a bit rich.

Newton Dunn has spat out his dummy. Volunteers for nappy changing are proving hard to find right now. No surprise there, then.

[UPDATE 29 March 1715 hours: Tom Newton Dunn has dismissed Peter Jukes' two Tweets, shown above, as "bollocks". I am more than happy to point this out.

The stance of his paper, though, is most definitely to "make it personal" about Ed Miliband]

Piers Morgan - Ever The Tabloid Man

With some figures from the recent history of the tabloid press, what you see is what you get, and Piers Morgan, ejected from the Daily Mirror after a mildly turbulent spell as editor and more recently a regular host for CNN, is typical of the breed. There is no lack of self-confidence: he is right about everything on which he passes an opinion, including the crash of a Germanwings flight the other day.
And here he shows us the tabloid mindset: likely to get ahead of what information is available, throw in the odd assumption for which he does not have anything to back it up, and trowel on the fact that he is considerably more wealthy than yow. Morgan travels a lot, and mainly by air. So, yes, he has an interest in it continuing to be a safe way to get around. But he tries too hard on the crash in southern France.

The headline, “Depressed pilots on medication for mental illness should not be flying passenger planes. That's not insensitive - it's protecting lives” sets the scene. If true, this would be a good starting point for discussion. But we do not know what Andreas Lubitz’ medication was for. Morgan goes on “The facts that we already know about this horrific incident are extraordinary, and terrifying”.

Sadly, the facts, as I noted yesterday, are not yet all established, as the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) has not been recovered. All that the press has had to go on so far has been the recording from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which the provincial Avocat, perhaps unwisely, pronounced upon, thus sparking all the shock horror outrage from yesterday morning’s papers. But back to Piers and his fears.

A co-pilot with a lengthy history of depression, on medication for his illness, and ignoring a specific doctor’s sick note for the very day he was flying, was allowed to command a plane full of 149 people”. Medication assumption re-stated, and let’s get our language straight: Lubitz was the First Officer, or Co-Pilot if you prefer. The bloke in the left-hand seat was the Commander. The casual use of “murder”, though, is worse.

Frankly, I don’t care if the co-pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz, was mad, bad or sad. He lost any sympathy I may have had for him the moment he decided to murder 149 people by deliberately crashing his plane into a mountain”. You can’t argue mental incapacity and then chuck words like “murder” into the mix. Compare with the BBC.

The co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a Germanwings airliner into the French Alps … A German hospital confirmed he had been a patient recently but denied reports he had been treated for depression … Data from the voice recorder suggests Mr Lubitz purposely started an eight-minute descent into the mountains after locking the pilot out of the flight deck” [my emphases]. Spot the difference.

Note also that the Beeb tells “Germany's Rheinischer Post newspaper, which spoke to the hospital, quoted its own unnamed sources as saying Mr Lubitz had been suffering from a physical, rather than a mental, illness”. Add to that the continued absence of the FDR - which should reveal details of all the control inputs made by Lubitz - and, as I keep saying, we do not have the whole story. So it would be best not to jump to conclusions just yet.

But Piers Morgan is ever the tabloid man. So jump to conclusions he has.

Amanda Knox Bests Daily Mail

The copy churned out by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail on the subject of Amanda Knox, who has finally been declared innocent of  any participation in the murder of Meredith Kercher in the Italian town of Perugia in November 2007, was slanted from the very start to tell readers one thing, and one thing only: that Ms Knox not only did it, but also that she was a very bad person indeed.
What the f***'s wrong with kicking some foreigner to get more sales, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

And the evidence for the Mail’s assault on Ms Knox’s character was so weak as to verge on non-existent: nudges, winks, prejudicial headlines, and the knowledge that the paper was not going to face contempt of court charges because the trial was in Italy, which, as all loyal Daily Mail readers know, is a country full of dodgy people who talk foreign, and whose legal system, being different to that in the UK, must therefore be rubbish.

The Mail called Ms Knox the baddie from the get-go: “Foxy Knoxy: Inside the twisted world of flatmate suspected of Meredith's murderscreamed an early headline, revealing, er, that her MySpace page had been trawled for cheap copy. This was clearly not down to the level demanded by the Vagina Monologue, and so it was soon followed byFoxy Knoxy, the girl who had to compete with her own mother for men”.

As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. Then came “The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy”, Andrew Malone’s hatchet job being based on Ms Knox having been up in court in Seattle for organising a party that got out of hand, which is totally different to a group of hacks getting ratarsed in London, upending litter bins and throwing up in the back of taxis whose drivers are not quick enough to spot trouble at fifty paces.

Fast forward to Ms Knox’s appeal against being fitted up for the murder of Ms Kercher in 2011, and the Mail infamously published the claim that she had lost that appeal, together with quotes about the aftermath which were entirely made up - because she did not lose the appeal. Freelance Nick Pisa had produced two versions of the story. He didn’t think making stuff up was wrong. Neither he nor the Mail said sorry to Ms Knox.

And even this week, in the run-up to the final appeal, the Mail has been loading its coverage to suggest She Did It. “Amanda Knox faces extradition battle if Italy upholds murder convictionwarned Monday’s headline. Then the next day cameFoxy Knoxy's ex love Raffaele Sollecito blows a hole in her alibi at time of Meredith Kercher's murder - on eve of final appeal”. So she had still done it.

On Thursday, readers were toldAn Italian prosecutor told the country's top court Wednesday that Amanda Knox's conviction for the sensational murder of British student Meredith Kercher was ‘beyond reproach’”. Well, now Ms Knox has been declared innocent. The case, according to one watcher, should never have been brought against her. But will the Mail say sorry this time? Will it heck.

Paul Dacre should hang his head in shame and personally apologise to Ms Knox. He won’t because he’s not capable of it. Bullies never are.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Arrivederci Katie

[Update at end of post]

Around three million tuned in last night to watch the so-called “Battle For Number 10”, which consisted of Young Dave and Mil The Younger not having a head to head debate, but being subjected to questions from a studio audience, this being supervised by Kay “Surly” Burley, and also passing before The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah. Both sides claimed it for their man. But there were pointers as to who prevailed.
Viewers may want to look away now

Miliband was the only one garnering applause from the audience, and for some reason not immediately obvious, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage rocked up to the event and pronounced the Labour leader the winner. But in one singularly intolerant corner of Middle England, this counted for nothing: professional motormouth Katie Hopkins, who makes Attila The Hun look like a wishy-washy liberal, had decided to kick off against Ed.
And in doing so, this least credible addition to the roster of the Sun’s pisspoor punditry may have swung many undecided voters behind Labour, as she ranted “If this man is Prime Minister I will leave the UK. This man is not Great Britain. This is Russell Brand in a chuffing suit”, which made no sense at all, except for the prospect that she would leave the country forthwith, to the relief of all those who wished she had done it earlier.
Why would she take this stance? Ah well. To have a Sun column one need not have brain engaged. Rather, one need only rant in accordance with the prejudices of Creepy Uncle Rupe. This she did: “if you can't get a doctors appointment, blame Labour. If you can't get a school place, blame Labour. Immigration matters”. Yes Katie, like immigration of the NHS staff without whom you wouldn’t get that doctor’s appointment.
We could prevent all those Polish migrants coming to Crewe, so we’d have no Polski Skleps but lots of empty shops instead. But, as Clive James might have said, I digress. She was now off on one about welfare: “Bollocks to everyone moaning about cuts to welfare. if you can't pay for food, sacrifice your iPhone and get your lazy arse to work”. There’s nothing like that authentic combination of prejudice and ignorance.
And there was nothing like the old pot and kettle for Katie, either: “Jesus Christ - Janet Pavement Walker on @bbcquestiontime - like being Taser'd in the ear” she carped, probably meaning Janet Street Facking Porter, whose presence on the box is at least moderately amusing, unlike Ms Hopkins, who is no laughing matter, unless of course it is her at whom everyone is laughing.
The ultimate Hopkins one-trip migratory device ((c) Doc Hackenbush 2015)

Then, realising her earlier comment had made the idea of her leaving the country popular, she suggested “Thank you for your kind offers of lifts to the airport. I won't be needing one. Ed is Marvin the Paranoid Android”. Well, partly right. She won’t need to go to the airport, as the good and great Doc Hackenbush has devised a far more satisfying way of sending Katie on her way. By cannon. This has the benefit of being a true one way ticket.

Vote Labour, banish Katie Hopkins for good. That might just be a winning line.

[UPDATE 28 March 1615 hours: Katie Hopkins clearly believes that she needs to be much more directly abusive to the Labour leader, and so she has decided to cause the maximum offence not only to Miliband, but also his family and anyone harbouring the odd shred of decency.
"Pollsters say Justine is the least popular of the party wives. He might stick her head in the oven and turn on the gas" she sneered.

Let's just stop that right there. Ed Miliband is Jewish. His parents fled the Holocaust. And Katie Hopkins is making gas oven "jokes" about him and his wife. And this merits a column in the Murdoch Sun, where she "just tells it like it is". Er, no, Katie, that's just not even slightly clever.

So how about you grow up enough to say sorry to Ed and Justine, and in person? It won't happen, of course. Katie Hopkins really is as revolting as her worst detractors paint her]

Brooks Newmark - IPSO Fail

The disgraced Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was notorious for the way in which it excused dishonesty - Richard Littlejohn got away with it because it was “only an opinion column”, and so he was allowed to lie - and, more seriously, allowed newspapers defending complaints to have their own facts. This last was exemplified by a complaint against Telegraph blogs over the so-called “Climategate” affair.
(c) Steve Bell 2014

The PCC allowed James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole to say that the emails obtained from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit meant what he said they meant. This was most convenient for the Tel and its pundit, but would never have passed any proper judicial process. And, to no surprise at all, the PCC’s successor, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is doing likewise.

This brings us to the “stingoperation on Tory MP Brooks Newmark. Here, IPSO decided to take a pro-active stance after it was revealed that both the Sunday Sun and Mail On Sunday had turned down the efforts of Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, before the Sunday Mirror decided to run the story and credit it to two of its own hacks.

The Fawkes rabble, despite their not having signed up to IPSO, and therefore not subject to any judgment it makes, were aghast, and launched a “look over there” exercise. But now that IPSO has duly wiped the Sunday Mirror’s arse, all is changed. All of the Fawkes folks were crowing that what they did was justified.

But then those pesky and inconvenient facts enter: IPSO had allowed the Sunday Mirror its own facts, and specifically on Wickham’s role. IPSO “decided that Wickham did have information that Newmark had approached other women on social media”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, “Ipso did not interview or communicate in any way with Wickham”. IPSO took “Billy Liar’s” claim on trust.

Because Wickham was not questioned, we were no nearer getting a full and complete disclosure of all the messages passed between Newmark and the fictional “Sophie Wittams”. It gets worse: IPSO effectively investigated no more than what the Sunday Mirror allowed it to. And there was no adjudication, because, after Tory MP Mark Pritchard withdrew his complaint, no-one was complaining.

And what of those photos of members of the public that were used, without permission, as part of the “sting” exercise? No, IPSO didn’t bother with those, either. Instead, it just rubber-stamped the Sunday Mirror article’s legitimacy, while failing to probe the honesty of the Fawkes rabble, and not bothering to ask why two other papers might have had good reason for deciding that the story was worth only giving a wide berth.

Thus another example showing IPSO is the same PCC piss, but in a tastefully relabelled bottle. We know what happened to the PCC, don’t we? IPSO, without drastic reform, will follow it into discredited obscurity with the certainty of night following day.

Air Crash Mental Health Fail

As the long line of witnesses passing before the inquisition of Lord Justice Leveson showed clearly, there are some habits that the larger part of the Fourth estate find all too hard to kick. One of these is the inability to wait for real information before jumping to conclusions, and another is the antediluvian attitude to mental health issues. You thought the Sun’s Frank Bruno smear was history? Think again.
The aircraft involved in the crash, Airbus A320 D-AIPX

So when it came to analysing the crash in France of a Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, which killed all 150 on board the Airbus A320, there was never going to be any restraint: the tabloids have to know NOW. And don’t come any of this “grey area” stuff. This was not helped by the ridiculous situation in France, where the crash happened, where air crash investigators are not given total control of investigating air crashes.
As my good friend John Band has pointed out, this control is given over to the local “avocat”; it’s rather like the NTSB in the USA having to yield to the local District Attorney, a situation which would never be allowed to occur. And so enter Brice Robin, who has jumped to conclusions before even waiting for the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) to be recovered, relying only on the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).
From the CVR data he concluded that, while the Commander left the flight deck to use the toilet, the First Officer locked him out and put the A320 into a descent which ended up with it flying into the ground at the instantly deadly speed of around 600km/h. This is not an impossible scenario. But in the hands of the press, it is an incendiary one: the hunt was now on to find any flaw in the First Officer’s psychological profile.
And so came the all too predictable headlines, led off by the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, which, as I suggested, has learned nothing since getting called out for calling Big Frank “bonkers”. “Crazed Rookie Pilot Murdered 149 … MADMAN IN COCKPIT” screamed the front page splash. The Mail was close behind: “Suicide pilot had a long history of depression … WHY ON EARTH WAS HE ALLOWED TO FLY?
Yeah, stuff the partial evidence and the “avocat” jumping to conclusions, the press want you to know that, despite their massed ranks knowing little more than diddly squat about aviation, and less about air crash investigation, THEY KNOW WHO DONE IT. The Mirror knew that “KILLER PILOT SUFFERED FROM DEPRESSION”. The Express told its readers “WHY JET CRASH PILOT TURNED KILLER”.

And all the while, the hacks and their editors, instead of stopping and thinking, are trampling all over any scant understanding of mental health issues that had been slowly and painstakingly built up over recent years. What we need right now is a media that takes a proportionate approach to those issues, together with investigators who have sufficient decency and common sense to wait until they get the FDR analysed.

This week we got neither, so are reminded that the French take the wrong approach to air crash investigations, and our free and fearless tabloid press is a disgrace. No change there, then.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Gove’s Last Foul-Up

Those credulous enough to believe the absurd proposition that Michael “Oiky” Gove was anything less than a disaster as Education Secretary were still prepared to spin in his favour when Young Dave bowed to the inevitable and removed him. The myth of Gove the wonderful Parliamentarian followed him to the Whips’ Office. It has steadily and inevitably been eroded until finally being laid to rest today.
Yes, "Oiky", you cocked it up

Some on the Government front bench have taken against Commons Speaker John Berrcow. This has led them to believe that the view is universal. To this end, William ‘Ague’s last act as Leader Of The House - and as an MP, as he is not standing for re-election - was to introduce a motion to introduce a secret ballot to elect the Speaker, but in the next Parliament. This would, supposedly, make ousting Bercow easier.

This would need the Chief Whip to get the votes, even though for some reason the Tories had got the Lib Dems to agree to the idea. That was down to Gove, the alleged miracle worker who was everyone’s friend and the master of all he surveyed. The reality was that “Oiky” depended on a large number of Labour MPs piling off and most Tories falling into line behind Master ‘Ague’s ruse. So it was never going to work.

As the Guardian told, “The plan was only tabled by government late on Wednesday afternoon and was kept from Charles Walker, the chairman of the procedure committee … In a highly-charged debate Walker brought Labour MPs to their feet in applause when he revealed that Gove had given him no notice of his plan to rush forward a debate on the future of the Speaker”. Walker said “I have been played as a fool”. He wasn’t finished.

How you treat people in this place is important. This week I went to the leader of the house’s leaving drinks. I went into his private office and was passed by the deputy leader of house yesterday, all of whom would have been aware of what they were proposing to do”. They kept it from him. Tory back benchers lined up to pass adverse comment on ‘Ague. Jacob Rees Mogg was particularly displeased.

David Davis said the matter should be debated “not in a mean-spirited ad hominem manner”. Philip Davies observed that it all “smacked of the kind of student union politics that has the fingerprints of the whips office all over it”. Labour MPs were adversely disposed to the whole idea. And, even with many of The Red Team absent, the vote was lost and Master ‘Ague ended up covered in more than confusion.

There can be only one person who carries the can for this: the Chief Whip. Gove failed to get the votes to carry the motion. Gove made William ‘Ague’s last day in Parliament a failure. And it is now looking increasingly likely that, whether the Tories are still in Government next term, or relegated to opposition, he will no longer be their Chief Whip. He has been a total and utter failure from start to finish.

That’s what you get from politicians whose ability comes mainly from being talked up by their pals in the press. Go back to being a hack, “Oiky”. You’re less dangerous at that.

Murdoch Clarkson Defence Fail

Even the Daily Mail has resisted the temptation to lay into the hated BBC over the news that Jeremy Clarkson will not be getting his Top Gear contract renewed. Normally, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre would not let any such opportunity pass, but the Mail is also the party of law and order, and with the Police now taking an interest, they will at least wait before kicking.
That's what I think of youse bladdy disciplinary procedures, ya bladdy Pommie broadcasting drongoes!

No such restraint has been allowed to enter at the Baby Shard, where Creepy Uncle Rupe’s faithful retainers have, as one, gone for the Corporation big time. Included in the assault has been the supposedly independent Times, but then, since James Harding was sent down the road, there has been precious little independence on view. This morning’s editorial, titled “Petrolhead Down”, is as crude as it is predictable.

At first, all is reason and agreement: “Tony Hall, the director-general of the BBC, is right. By subjecting a producer to prolonged verbal abuse and then punching him, Jeremy Clarkson crossed a line”. And then comes the dissent: “Lord Hall [this means he’s a toff] said his decision to fire Clarkson yesterday would ‘divide opinion’. He was right about that too”. Yes, the Times is going to say the Beeb was wrong. We are not surprised.
The BBC has torpedoed its most successful factual programme”. What, they cancelled the main evening news? But do go on: “and its most lucrative export” [this assumes Jezza is irreplaceable]. “And all because of Clarkson’s unprovoked attack on Oisin Tymon over the absence of a hot meal in an hotel”. You see? A racially aggravated assault is no big deal, because this is TOP GEAR and it’s ONLY A BIT OF A LAUGH.

In the course of its deliberations the BBC had the opportunity to take into account the interests of license fee payers” pontificates the leader. What happened to the idea of treating employees equally? Jezza either crossed a line, or he didn’t. Oh, and there’s the obligatory “Danny Cohen [and others] seized a chance to ride themselves of a star they never really liked nor understood”. Cohen was not involved in the decision.

But the Times lets it slip as it muses “Many became unfathomably sentimental about everything Top Gear, from its battered green sofa to Clarkson’s oddball delivery … A heavy fine together with suspension and a prominent on-air apology would have been sufficient”. Yes, that kind of behaviour can be then spun as acceptable, and don’t anyone mention that Jezza was on his last warning. And a Murdoch pundit. And Rebekah’s pal.

Why should the Murdoch press be so concerned about the license fee payers? Well, they aren’t. The reason Rupe’s troops are opening up on the Corporation is that they still have a lot of money and credibility invested in Clarkson. That investment is now at serious risk, serious enough for the Times editorial to match the opinions and financial interests of its proprietor. Rupe wants the Beeb to make his pundits worth reading.

The Beeb has no such responsibility. Murdoch can take his suggestion and shove it.

Guido Fawked - Clarkson Fail

After the BBC made its well-trailed decision, and Jeremy Clarkson was not only shown the door, but caused to exit through it, some accepted that, as Director-General Tony Hall said, a line had been crossed with the verbal and physical assault that Jezza had meted out to unfortunate producer Oisin Tymon. But some out there had invested their personal credibility in keeping Clarkson in place. So they accepted nothing.
All that credibility staked. And all for nothing

Most prominent among these were the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who had invested not just credibility, but shelled out a non-trivial amount of the old folding stuff to lay on a characteristically tacky stunt whereby their petition to “Bring Back Clarkson” (who had, inconveniently, not at that point gone anywhere) was delivered to New Broadcasting House by armoured vehicle.

And so it came to pass that Staines fetched up on the hated BBC - well, one can only take hatred so far, especially when the target offers More And Bigger Self-Publicity Opportunities For Himself Personally Now - to discuss the Clarkson sacking. There should, he decreed, be some kind of proportionality here. There had been Christmas parties ending in punch-ups without the factory being closed down.

One had to wonder at this point when Staines worked in a factory, rather than the varied career on his CV. But I’ll deal with this aspect directly: this was not a Christmas party, and nor was it any other kind of party. As Ken MacQuarrie’s findings tell, “the incident occurred on a patio area of the Simonstone Hall Hotel, where Oisin Tymon was working on location for Top Gear”. That means it was a workplace incident.

Staines then compares Clarkson to a Premiership footballer in order to suggest the docking of a few weeks’ wages would be more appropriate. Once again, let me put him straight: this was a workplace matter, a Premiership footballer’s workplace is on the field of play, and if he so much as raises an arm there, that is a sending-off offence. And sending-off is exactly what happened to Clarkson.

And to maintain his pretence that this incident didn’t amount to anything significant, Staines then asks why, if it really was serious, the Police did not get involved. Er, hello Paul! The North Yorkshire Police, on considering MacQuarrie’s findings, decided that they were indeed going to get involved. But by this stage, Staines is telling his interviewer to “look over there” at an incident some years ago involving Mark Thompson.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the BBC had to deal with this incident by the rules in place now, and well Staines knows it. Clarkson was dealt with correctly and fairly. The kind of behaviour to which he subjected Oisin Tymon is not acceptable in a modern-day workplace, whatever the Fawkes rabble may like to pretend.

It should be borne in mind that here on Zelo Street the right call was made from the start, but, not for the first time, the Fawkes blog backed the wrong horse. Another fine mess.