Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Friday, 23 June 2017

Fawkes Backs Hacked Off BY MISTAKE

Whenever it seems that the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate and its bottom-feeding hangers-on cannot make themselves look worse, when one is convinced that they cannot possibly scrape bedrock any further, they are the ones who come galloping to the rescue. So it has proved for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have inadvertently scored a major own goal today.
Under the heading “FAKE NEWS” - a sensitive area chez Fawkes, given they have been caught out peddling the very same kind of dishonestly by this blog twice in the past week (HERE and HERE) - readers are toldHospital Admits Sun Man Didn’t Impersonate Grenfell Relatives”. And just in case anyone had difficulty comprehending this, the post helpfully added “Hospital Admits Sun Reporter DID NOTHING WRONG”.

And there’s more: “An allegation made against a reporter working for the The Sun, whipped up by the Guardian and left-wing news sites [yawn], has turned out to be completely untrue. King’s College Hospital had ‘formally written’ to IPSO to complain about a journalist who was accused of impersonating a friend or relative of a Grenfell victim while seeking an interview in the aftermath of the fire”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
The Sun strongly denied this at the time, and now the complaint has been withdrawn. A News UK spokesman said: ‘They accepted that our reporter did not “impersonate relatives” or “friends”. As a result of this the hospital has withdrawn any IPSO complaint’”.

Which brings us to the inadvertent howler: the Fawkes mob then come over all righteous and demand “Will MediaGuardian, who sent this false allegation viral, ensure their correction is just as prominent?” And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.

One, Media Guardian reported the story. They did not make any false allegations. And claiming they “sent it viral” suggests deliberate action, an inference which The Great Guido is unable to stand up. And two, sham press regulator IPSO, to which the Sun has signed up, has declined to order equal prominence corrections when its members get it wrong - and thus far the Guardian has not been shown to have done anything wrong.
There is only one organisation that has consistently advocated for equal prominence corrections - in other words, if the howler is in a front page banner headline, so should the correction - and that is campaigning group Hacked Off. Their submission to IPSO’s “external review” has all the relevant information (HERE).

So The Great Guido has come round to the Hacked Off point of view, and I’m sure Evan Harris, Daisy Cooper and their team will be more than pleased to see this latest example of the One Sinner That Repenteth. What the Fawkes rabble’s press establishment masters will make of such deviant behaviour, though, does not bear thinking about.

There’s nothing like the Fawkes blog to inflate a news soufflé beyond the limits of viability and then put their foot in it. Another fine mess, once again.

Grenfell Tower - Now It’s Manslaughter

As Zelo Street told the day after the catastrophic fire which tore through the Grenfell Tower in West London, the cladding that had been recently applied to the exterior of the building was immediately suspected of being the reason the flames spread so rapidly. Raynobond, two sheets of aluminium with a polyethylene core, was believed not to be fire resistant. Worse, similar cladding had been shown to be highly flammable.
The work to clad Grenfell Tower had begun in 2015. By that time, the report from the fire in the Lacrosse Tower, in Melbourne’s docklands, was available. And that tower’s cladding, Alucobest, was similar to what would soon cover Grenfell Tower. An ABC report toldIn a CSIRO test of combustibility commissioned by Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Alucobest caught fire in less than a minute … The cladding that should have been used is called Alucobond. It has the same aluminium outside but has a mineral fibre core inside, which is fire resistant”. The information was out there.

There had been other fires which were later found to have been at least exacerbated by external cladding, one notable example being the unfortunately-named Torch Tower in Dubai. The 86-storey residential block was damaged, but there were no injuries. However, as al-Jazeera noted, “External cladding on the corner of more than two dozen storeys from roughly the 50th floor to the top were mangled and charred black”.

Worse, it seems Grenfell Tower had another serious flaw, as the Guardian explained: “A local councillor, Judith Blakeman, who sits on the tenant management organisation, raised concerns in March about the National Grid installation of gas risers or pipes in the main stairwell as part of the refurbishment. She was assured by the landlord that they would be boxed in with ‘fire-rated’ protection, but this does not appear to have been done. The London fire brigade said on Thursday morning they had not been able to put out the flames until they had isolated a ruptured gas main in the block”.

Gas pipes in a tower block. That has been a rarity ever since the Ronan Point collapse in 1968. There, a gas explosion in an 18th floor flat blew out load-bearing walls and caused the progressive collapse of a whole corner of the 22-storey building. Now we know that not only did Grenfell Tower have gas pipes, but also that there had been a ruptured gas main somewhere within the building. So there were two sources of fire spread.

That put the compartmentalisation of the building at risk: this is the idea that underpinned the advice from the emergency services to residents to stay put in their apartments. Fires would be contained within one area. Indeed, the initial fire, in a fridge freezer on the fourth floor, had been put out by firefighters. But then the flames erupted.

And now has come news that the Metropolitan Police is considering manslaughter charges. Along with that is the admission that some of those who perished in the blaze may never be identified. Now that the cops are on the case, we might just get some answers. It’s just a pity that so many had to die first.

The blackened shell of Grenfell Tower is coming to stand as a monument to cutbacks, ineptitude across Government, and the gaping inequalities in our society. The consequences of this tragedy will play out for many years yet.

Daily Mail Profited From Torture

If the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre had problems with a cartoon in the Guardian, he will find yesterday’s judgment from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) far worse: this has concluded that what happened to protesters who were savagely beaten by an out of control faction of the Italian Police at the Genoa G8 summit in 2001 amounted to torture. And the Mail was a significant beneficiary.
Yesterday’s judgment “held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights … The case concerned the ill-treatment to which 42 demonstrators were subjected by police officers inside a school, in the context of an anti-globalisation demonstration organised to coincide with the 27th summit of the eight major industrialised countries (G8)”. And there was more.

The Court found in particular that the treatment to which the applicants had been subjected should be regarded as torture, on account of the ‘severe’ physical and psychological suffering it had caused them and its particularly serious and cruel nature. The applicants had been both victims of and witnesses to the use of uncontrolled violence by the police, with officers systematically beating each of the school’s occupants, including those who were lying down or sitting with their hands up, despite the fact that the occupants had not committed any act of violence or resistance against the police”.

One of those who had been in the Diaz Pertini school the night of the Police raid was journalist Mark Covell, who was covering the G8 and protests for Indymedia. He ran out of the building to witness 300 Police storming through its gates. He was singled out for an especially savage beating: his injuries includedeight broken ribs, smashed teeth, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. He lost consciousness and slipped into a coma”.

As he lay, heavily sedated, in hospital, “The day after the assault he awoke to find a man and a woman in his room. In his drugged state, he assumed the personable woman to be from the British embassy and therefore answered her questions, including the name, address and phone number of his mother. But he said he became suspicious when the man asked to take a picture of him and, at that point, the woman explained that she was Lucie Morris, a Daily Mail reporter. It transpired that the man was Nick Holt, a Mail photographer. Covell immediately asked them to leave”.

The Mail then doorstepped and aggressively questioned his mother, extracting sufficient information to feed into the following day’s front page claim that Covell had led the rioters and “helped to mastermind” the G8 attacks. He hadn’t. The Mail made it up.
Worse, a source close to the story has told me that the Mail reporter and her photographer bribed their way into Covell’s hospital room. It was asserted that no fewer than three Police officers were paid off in the process. And now the ECHR has ruled that the summary justice the Police dispensed that night amounted to torture.

And it’s not as if the Mail has a get-out clause here: not only did Covell clear his name and secure an out of court settlement from the Italian interior ministry of €340,000, he also took the Mail to the cleaners, the result of which has remained secret to this day.

As Roy Greenslade at the Guardian explained, “The Daily Mail's senior executives, legal advisers and Morris herself defended their actions, arguing that the hospital interview was justified in order to highlight that Covell had been badly beaten. They refused to acknowledge that Covell had a worthwhile case but, such was the force of his argument and the obvious central falsehood of the Mail's story, that the paper decided it could not face a court case”. So the Dacre doggies settled without going to court.

After he was forced to issue proceedings, the Mail suddenly agreed to pay Covell damages and his legal costs and, in a major climbdown, even acceded to his request for a formal letter of apology. Its contents must remain private: the letter can be shown only to Covell, his close family and to the courts in Italy”.

Covell’s solicitor Louis Charalambous later observed “The conduct of the Daily Mail and Lucie Morris is the worst example of its kind I've ever come across”. And he has many years’ experience of dealing with the press.

Greenslade mentioned two other Britons, Nicola Doherty and Richard Moth, who were still awaiting justice following the Diaz Pertini raid: their names are cited in the ECHR judgment. The Daily Mail profited handsomely from its coverage of the G8 protests: now it is on record that what happened that night in Genoa amounted to torture.

Something to consider next time you read anything from the Daily Mail.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Boris Johnson NOT Like Diane Abbott

One of the right-wing press’ favourite moments from the General Election campaign was to crow long and loud at shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott when she couldn’t remember her figures during an interview with LBC host Nick Ferrari. How they crowed! It wasThe Car-Crash Interview Everyone's Talking About”.
The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog sneered triumphantlyDiane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary remember, has a new policy committing Labour to putting 10,000 extra police on the streets. Could she explain how it works to LBC’s Nick Ferrari? No. Spectacularly”.

At the Daily Mail, the odious Quentin Letts (Let’s not) gleefully sniggeredHow can we even start to convey Diane Abbott’s broadcasting bungles yesterday morning? The silences were so long, it was hard, as a listener, not to yowl and implore the referee to stop the fight and summon stretcher-bearers. Big Diane herself just kept staggering on, ever deeper into the mire”. Note the “Big Diane” smear.

The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun were in their element: “LABOUR were branded clueless today after Diane Abbott made FOUR humiliating mistakes in a car crash interview about the party’s Election vow to hire more cops … The Shadow Home Secretary was ridiculed after claiming Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to recruit 10,000 extra police officers would cost about £300,000 - equal to a salary £30 a year”.

Labour figures having trouble with their figures were, from that point, said to be “having a Diane Abbott moment”. Even after Ms Abbott had first been absent from the campaign, and then confirmed to have a long-term health problem - she has recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes - the sneering and snorting hardly abated. But, the press wanted anyone and everyone to remember, they weren’t being partisan, sexist or racist.
All of which might put them in what Spike Milligan once called A Very Difficult Position, after our Foreign Secretary (no, don’t laugh) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson presented himself before the inquisition of Eddie Mair on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme yesterday afternoon. How about tackling racial disparity in the criminal justice system?

Well there are measures, I believe in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues … And I think that one thing in particular that we’re looking at is … um … measures to … hang on a second … There are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody and …  er … I think you’ll find that the Prime Minister has been strong on that in her response particularly to the attack in Finsbury”. He couldn’t even repeat “Finsbury Park” correctly.

So where were all those august media movers and shakers? Where was the forthright denunciation of bumbling Bozza? The Fawkes mob managed a brief mention, but only to slag off John Prescott. Otherwise it was mostly silence in the right-wing press.

Not that there is one rule for an outspoken black woman of the centre-left, and another for a thuggish, privileged and white male toff of the centre-right. Perish the thought!

Sun German Brexit Lie EXPOSED

After Nigel “Thirsty” Farage’s less than successful encounter with a German interviewer was exposed, partly by Zelo Street, it might have been thought that our free and fearless press might stop and think before hiding behind something in a non-English language in order to con their readers. But that is exactly what the Murdoch goons at the Sun have tried in order to pretend Brexit will not mean what we know all too well it will mean.
Germany’s kingmaker who is set to prop up Merkel says Britain CAN slash migration while keeping EU trade … Liberal party leader Christian Lindner says 'all options need to be on the table' for Brexit” declares the headline, going on to tell “His words raise the prospect of Britain being able to maintain free-trade links with Europe while controlling our borders and escaping the grip of the EU court … They also stand as a stark rebuke to other European leaders, who have tried to claim that the UK cannot pick and choose which parts of the EU to sign up to”. Really? Do go on.

Mr Lindner suggested that Britain could remain in the single market as long as it accepted free movement of labour - instead of the free movement of all people … That would mean only EU citizens with jobs in the UK could settle here, and they could not claim any benefits from the state”. So, what did Herr Lindner tell Politico?

As if you need to ask. Here is what he actually said: “there can be no cutbacks in the basic freedoms of the internal market. If the British have problems with freedom of movement within Europe, they can perhaps be convinced that it is only a matter of free movement of workers. Fear of immigration into social systems is groundless”.

Christian Lindner has merely repeated what we already know: free movement of people does not mean the free right to move to another EU member state without the means to support oneself. But the myth of hordes of foreign-speaking welfare spongers coming over here and taking Sun readers’ benefits is so ingrained into those readers’ consciences that they can be conned into believing Lindner said something new. He didn’t.

What Lindner also said in conclusion was that there should be a move towards realism in the Brexit negotiations. That might also apply to the Sun spinning “if the UK could restrict entry to migrants without jobs, and stop benefits handouts to foreigners, they may conclude that single market membership is the best way to keep the advantages of trade with the EU”. They already can. You don’t have the means to support yourself, out  you go.

The Murdoch goons talk falsely of “Mr Lindner’s bombshell”, but all he has done is to restate the reality of single market membership. No change has been advocated or indicated. When they claim “BRITAIN can slash immigration even if we stay in the single market, according to an influential German politician”, they are lying through their teeth. And he said NOTHING about the “EU court”, so that was made up, too.

Memo to under-fire Sun editor Tony Gallagher: just because most of your hacks think that speaking another language consists of declaiming English very loudly and very slowly, it doesn’t mean someone out there can’t do the translation and call you out for it.

The Sun: lying to its readers since Rupert Murdoch took it over. No change there, then.

Paul Dacre’s Guardian Meltdown

Having failed in so much recently - the Knighthood bestowed on his predecessor, and so many of his contemporaries, has eluded him, he failed to get his preferred party, the Tories, over the win line in the General Election, and his only defence against falling sales and advertising revenues is to blame Google and Facebook for doing better than him - the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre is alone and bereft.
Who f***ing says I can't throw a stampy tantrum in my own paper, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Holed up the Northcliffe House bunker, this vengeful, boiling pillar of righteous rage has become increasingly erratic of late, still believing that he is strong enough to anoint Prime Ministers, appoint Governments, decide Government policy, and otherwise bend the world outside to his will. But he is not: that outside world is increasingly passing him by. Sometimes the outside world does take notice, but only to take the piss.

And it is this tendency, to needle the Vagina Monologue, an individual devoid of any sense of humour, that has caused him, in the style of Mr Creosote, to blow himself apart publicly. After the Finsbury Park attack, where the attacker drove a white van into a group of Muslims, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson depicted that white van with the side advert “READ The Sun & Daily Mail”. The inference was clear. Dacre went ballistic.
The transgression of the Guardian - giving the Mail stick, when, as any fule kno, in the world of Paul Dacre the stick can only be dispensed by Himself in the direction of others - has resulted in the most spectacular of meltdowns, as today’s Mail has devoted a whole page of raging, incandescent, uncontrolled spite in retaliation at the slight Dacre believes he has received. It is quite awesome. It is also both deluded and unhinged.

Fake news, the fascist left and the REAL purveyors of hatred” screams the headline of a full-page Daily Mail Comment, which for some reason is not readily available on the Mail’s website. The Guardian, it alleges, has defamed the poor Mail, called its upstanding and patriotic readers uneducated racists, and is symptomatic of the Left’s vicious assault on this great bastion of British values and truth-seekers.

The Mail would never stoke hatred - no giggling at the back, please - and claims that it loves its country. Whether that country is France, home of Viscount Rothermere’s father, Jersey, where the trust through which the current Viscount inherited the Mail was registered, Bermuda, where the group running the paper is registered, or Scotland, where Dacre has an estate which claims substantial EU farm subsidies, is not known.
(c) Martin Rowson 2017

But this is the most basic claptrap. We know full well about the Mail’s nudge-and-wink background xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia. Remember “Teachers 'denied schoolboy, 10, water on the hottest day of the year to avoid upsetting Muslim pupils during Ramadan’”? Pack of lies, as Zelo Street showed at the time. There have been plenty of other Ramadan stories, many of them prejudicial in nature.

Or how about “WE'RE FROM EUROPE - LET US INabout a group of Middle Eastern refugees? They didn’t say that. Or “FURY OVER PLOT TO LET 1.5M TURKS INTO BRITAIN”. There wasn’t one - it was another attempt to frighten readers using the spectre of Scary Muslims (tm). Martin Rowson’s cartoon was spot on.

And talking of cartoons, Zelo Street regulars will recall the Mail’s publication of one particularly nasty offering from Stanley McMurtry, aka Mac, who depicted groups of armed men in Islamic dress “crossing into Europe” and adorned his offering with rats, thus turning the cartoon from something that was merely Islamophobic into a clear incorporation of Nazi-era anti-Semitism. In the pages of the Daily Mail.
For those who think this an isolated incidence of anti-Semitism, the Mail’s follow-up editorial in support of its disgraceful campaign to smear the name of Ed Miliband’s late father should prove instructive. “We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons” thundered the Mail’s riposte, thus sounding alarm at the normally conservative Jewish Chronicle.

Moreover, before the Mail trades once again on the Stephen Lawrence case, it should be borne in mind that the paper was going to pursue a hostile line until Dacre found out that Neville Lawrence, the dead teenager’s father, was the bloke who did some plastering for him when he lived in Islington. Fortune rather than design.

And as to calling “fascist” on others … need one go further? The Daily Mail, with its past baggage, calling “fascist”? Pull the other one. Paul Dacre should have retired when he turned 65. Since then, his increasingly erratic hand on the editorial tiller has hindered, rather than helped, his paper.

Today’s editorial is a last, desperate howl at a world which he no longer understands - and which, increasingly, does not want to understand him.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Corbyn Royal Bow Smear BUSTED

Today’s Queen’s Speech signified that Theresa May, still without a deal with the ten MPs of the DUP and therefore unable to command a majority in the Commons, had effectively gutted the Tory Party manifesto in order to retain some hope of getting her legislative programme through Parliament some time within the next two years. Thus another moral victory accrued to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour.
Claims to be a real journalist. No, don't laugh

This could not be allowed to go unchallenged by those out there on the right, and so, right on cue, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog took out their latest dead cat and duly slung it on the table. “Corbyn Refuses To Bow To The Queengasped the headline, signifying that the dead cat being chucked was not a new one, but the 2015 Remembrance Day cat patched up and re-slung.
Also, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. After the Fawkes post, authored by Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, claimed “As everyone around him nods their head to acknowledge Her Maj, Corbyn stubbornly refuses to bow. He then winks to a colleague. Emboldened, Jezza not selling out on his republican views”, Damian McBride smelt a rat.
Pa Broon’s former spinner noted that Theresa May hadn’t bowed back in 2012, and then all hell broke loose as Teaboy Wickham’s latest steaming pile of bullpucky was rumbled. Peter Walker of the Guardian observed “David Cameron didn't bow to Queen at 2016 state opening. Seems Corbyn following protocol, despite ‘snub’ reports … Neither Cameron nor Harriet Harman bowed at 2015 state opening either”.
Sadly, those in the right-leaning part of the press had already - and most unwisely - taken Wickham on trust, with the Murdoch Sun telling readersJEREMY CORBYN today chose not to bow to the Queen as he entered the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament … Video footage showed the Labour leader staying upright while Theresa May and others bowed to Her Majesty” before realising they had fouled up.
Fat twat also has trousers well alight

But confusion reigned today over whether or not Mr Corbyn was actually supposed to bow … Some members of the public criticised the Labour leader for not showing enough respect to the Queen”. In other words, Job Done by the smear merchants. The Express joined in, too. “NATIONAL DISGRACE: Jeremy Corbyn refuses to bow to Queen and then WINKS at colleagues”. They, too, got it wrong.
And here is The Correct Answer

The HuffPo, once more, had the correct answer: “Jeremy Corbyn ‘Observed Correct Protocol’ By Not Bowing To The Queen … Labour leader’s allies said it was the PM who got it wrong”. Their Royal source explained “The correct protocol is that the Speaker and Black Rod bow on behalf of the whole of the House. Jeremy observed that protocol”.
So this is the situation chez Fawkes (again)

Once again, Alex Wickham pulls a pack of lies, and his pals in the press are gullible and desperate enough to go along with it. The Fawkes blog has now added the weasel get-out “Guido reckons it is fair to say bowing is very much optional and not mandatory, and Corbyn - as expected with his long-held republican beliefs - decided against”.

As expected, the Fawkes rabble lied before being arsed to do a few minutes’ research. When will the press establishment get real about this borderline Fake News shower?

Corbyn - The Sun Loses It

If anyone still harboured any thought that the right-wing press might not be as out of touch as some of their recent excursions have suggested, today’s screaming, abusive, defamatory, and utterly delusional editorial from the Murdoch Sun has disabused them of any such notion. The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have finally lost it - and what is worse for them, they clearly don’t care who knows it.
This departure from the real world is titled “Rage concern” (geddit?!?) and rants “DO Jeremy Corbyn’s fans truly understand what he represents - and what they would be voting to destroy? Labour’s new young middle-class supporters have grown up in an era that takes capitalism for granted. Now, far fewer than half believe this system which has lifted billions out of poverty in the last 25 years is even a force for good”.

Then comes the descent into screaming paranoia. “They assume the economic privileges they enjoy every day are the natural order - and Corbyn will merely iron out its flaws. It is utterly delusional … Corbyn and his aides want a different system: the hardcore socialism which has reduced once-rich Venezuela to starvation and helped condemn Greece to mass unemployment and poverty”. That’s beyond ridiculous, but do go on.
Today, Corbynistas descend on London for a “Day of Rage”, an iPhone in one hand, a £3 coffee in the other (and zero regard for the hard-pressed police having to cope with them) … If they ever read anything beyond their Facebook feeds they would know where socialism always leads: food shortages, destitution and early graves … They are not remotely ready for the revolution they are willing on”.

This is weapons grade bullshit: the idea that more affordable housing, funding the NHS properly, higher tax for top earners, a company tax rate that would still be the lowest in the G8, better childcare for working parents, removal of tuition fees, social care reform, free school lunches for all pupils, and less private sector involvement in the railways is going to turn the UK into Venezuela is beyond the bounds of credibility.
Masterful slice of delusional paranoia, more like

Worse, much worse, is the continuing attack on younger voters: for disobeying the instructions of the Murdoch mafiosi, they are sneered at and characterised as not really knowing how the world works - unlike the delusional clowns who churn out the Sun, with their obscenely high pay packets and restricted social circles. Which doesn’t know what it’s like for ordinary people? It ain’t the young people, Murdoch clowns.

The delusion of the Sun’s finest was summed up by non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn’s claim “A masterful bit of leader writing on Day of Rage”. The only masterful part of it is to broadcast loud and clear to anyone and everyone that the tabloid press is finally losing touch not only with reality, but with its readership - those whose patronage keep the overpaid and dubiously talented hacks in allegedly gainful employment.

Today’s Sun editorial is significant. As Winshton once put it, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

The Murdoch goons have admitted they are now losing the war. Just rejoice at that news.

Grenfell Tower - PM’s Day Of Schmoozing

The response by Theresa May and her ministers to last week’s fire which all but consumed the Grenfell Tower, an early 1970s block in West London, has not looked good from the word go. When it has come to showing support, sympathy, empathy, concern and reassurance, the Tories have been behind the curve, ceding the initiative to their critics, and especially Jeremy Corbyn. And yesterday it got much worse.
While the emergency services continued the grim task of working their way through the burnt-out building, locating the remains of those who had perished as the fire took hold, and the survivors tried to bring some semblance of normality to their lives, pick themselves up and move forward in any way they could, the Tory Party told the world just where its priorities lay - and they did not lie with the residents of Grenfell Tower.

The headline of Rachel Wearmouth’s HuffPo article yesterday evening said it all: “Theresa May Schmoozes Tory Donors While Grenfell Tower Residents Face Homelessness … ’Another example of the appalling lack of judgement and tact she has shown over recent days’”. Was it that bad? It certainly was: “Theresa May was schmoozing multi-millionaire Tory donors at the Savoy while Grenfell Tower residents faced homelessness”.
There was more. “The Prime Minister spent 50 minutes hobnobbing with Conservative backers at the lavish London hotel on Tuesday, despite aides insisting she was too “busy” for other engagements … at the Savoy event - where tables cost up to £5,000 - the Prime Minister posed for selfies and a bottle of champagne was raffled to raise funds”. The HuffPo had also secured a copy of the lunch menu.

The green asparagus salad starter, followed by slow roasted salt marsh rump of lamb, and finished off with mango pie, was washed down with a choice of reassuringly upmarket wines. There was a toast to Her Majesty’s Government. Gawd Bless ‘Em! But that was not all: while Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery was making the most of the Tories’ PR own goal, there was another schmoozing session in the evening.
One should not always give too much credence to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, but their post on the Tories’ evening schmooze is still live, which it would not have been had they called it wrong, and especially in the current circumstances. The Fawkes folks told readers “May To Schmooze MPs At No 10 Party Tonight”. That’s on top of the lunchtime event.

That post went on to tell “this evening she is throwing a drinks party for Tory MPs at Number 10, taking the unprecedented step of schmoozing her own MPs. Colleagues say this is a rare occurrence - not many of these events have taken place under May”. A rare occurrence with the most unfortunate of timing. It’s almost as if the PM and her party had gone into Millwall mode: “No-one likes us, we don’t care”.
As Oscar Wilde didn’t quite say, to host one schmoozing event in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire may be regarded as misfortune, to host two looks like carelessness.

The Tories don’t want to cast off that Nasty Party image just yet, then.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


It was going so well for former EDL head man Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon: he was doing his rounds, sticking a camera in the faces of those who said things about him he didn’t like, waving a copy of the Qur’an and telling anyone who would listen that Islam was evil, and all the time remorselessly flogging his new book. But then he overreached himself, and after the Finsbury Park attack has been taking serious stick.
Tommy Robinson

Things began to go less than ideally for Robinson after he fetched up at Canterbury Crown Court and flagrantly disobeyed filming rules, thereby placing himself in contempt of court. He got himself a suspended prison sentence for that, and should count himself lucky he was not taken off to the cells directly from the court.

And now has come the Finsbury Park attack, with the thought occurring to media outlets around the country that those who demonise Islam might be part of the problem, that while their stance is not aggressive or violent, that they might be contributing to the incitement of others. I’m sure Robinson would take exception to such an idea, but others do not.
The first sign that the Media Establishment had turned on Robinson came from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who yesterday ran a post titledTommy Robinson Called British Muslims ‘Enemy Combatants’”. This went on to tell “There are a lot of similarities between Tommy and his opposite number Anjem Choudary”, listed ten alleged similarities, and concluded “Neither of them commit violent acts, they do however feed into a narrative that inspires fellow travellers to do so”.
But The Great Guido let Tommy off lightly: much more public, and infinitely more bruising, was his encounter on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today with Piers Morgan. Robinson would have known what was coming: Morgan’s reputation precedes him. Even cabinet ministers are not off-limits from a good verbal lashing, as Michael “Oiky” Gove discovered yesterday, when he was told to stick his attitude where the sun don’t shine.
Morgan duly passed severely adverse comment on Robinson: “What you were doing was fermenting hatred and almost suggesting that somehow this attack, this revenge attack as you put it, was in somehow deserving … My problem with you is that you conflate Islamist terrorism with all Muslims. You are an Islamophobe who hates Islam. You basically think all Muslims are to blame … What you are doing now is deliberately inflammatory, it is deliberately poisonous”. And Tommy wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Perhaps his Twitter comment “Finsbury Park mosque was a UK govt protected planning centre for hundreds of Jihad attacks/plots which killed British soldiers and children” had not helped. And Rupert Myers of GQ magazine, writing this time for the Telegraph, told his followers his headline would include “Tommy Robinson is a radical extremist. His hate preaching has no place on British television screens”.
All that Robinson could say to that was “The elite are out to get me”. So what’s he going to do, doorstep them all? And a word in your shell-like, Tommy, playing the victim, especially after aggressively intimidating critics, isn’t a good look. And doing to real journalists what he tried with me could land him in very serious trouble. Just a thought, eh?

Sun Muslim Hypocrisy BUSTED

In the wake of the Finsbury Park terror attack, the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have come over all concerned. “UNITED AGAINST TERROR Londoners of all faiths come together vowing ‘love will win, terror will lose’ at defiant vigil for Finsbury Park attack victims … People gathered outside the mosque which is just yards from where the horror unfolded in the early hours of Mondaythey tell readers today.
The suspect’s Mum was clearly aghast at what her son had done: “Finsbury Park terror suspect’s mum reveals horror at seeing son, 47, on TV – as locals claim he was living in a tent after love split and ‘cursed Muslims’ in pub day before mosque attack”. But what the Sun hacks do not tell their readers is why anyone would suddenly start cursing Muslims.

And there’s a good reason the Sun doesn’t want to go there: because much of the stirring up of hatred towards Muslims has been done by Themselves. And it’s been done over a long period of time. It’s incessant, dishonest, hateful, bigoted … and deliberate. The Murdoch press’ Islamophobia comes from the top. The roll of shame is endless.
Back in September 2014, an elderly woman was murdered in her garden. The killer had a history of mental illness. The Sun dishonestly ranted “‘MUSLIM CONVERT’ BEHEADS WOMAN IN GARDEN”. They made it up. Sells papers. You get the picture.
Last December came the totally made-upXMAS TERROR PLOT BUSTED”. Before the General Election, the Sun tried to frighten voters off Labour with “JEZZA’S JIHADI COMRADES”. And who can forget the dishonest and prejudicial1 in 5 Brit Muslims sympathy for Jihadis”? Be frightened of Scary Muslims (tm), Sun readers.
And it’s not just the front page headlines that spread anti-Muslim sentiment: the Sun also willingly - and all too regularly - publishes hate speech by Islamophobic bigots, especially the deeply unpleasant Douglas Murray, he of “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”. The Sun has published him recently.
Not only did the Sun employ bigot Kelvin McFilth ...

In fact, the Murdoch goons have given Doug Murray The K THREE columns in less than a month, he being their go-to anti-Muslim rant merchant, especially after anything resembling a terror attack - well, a terror attack that can be pinned on Muslims, that is.
... they also gave space to the far more insidious Douglas Murray

So after the Manchester bombing, we gotAttacking women and children is just another day at the office for sick jihadists … Douglas Murray says it's not just Manchester where the twisted warlords of jihad have used women and children in their savage war on civilization”. Hard on the heels of that rant was “Why do Islamists kill? Because they hate women… so where does this hatred come from? It's in Islam's origins and too few people are willing to admit it”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

Then, following the London Bridge and Borough Market attack, back came Murray for his pièce de résistance: “Never mind singing John Lennon songs … if we want peace then we need one thing - less Islam … It is the same everywhere: Don’t look back in anger, just forward in blind, bovine hope. This has to change”.

You want to see the trigger for the Finsbury Park attack? Look no further. The Sun likes to claim that others have “blood on their hands”. Theirs aren’t exactly clean right now.

Brexit - Davis Chickens Out

Our free and fearless press is without parallel when it comes to talking up lost causes, typical being their incessant promotion of the England football team before every World or European Cup ends in crushing disappointment. So it should have been no surprise to see the Daily Mail at it again yesterday, talking up the Brexit negotiations in Brussels.
Their “Whitehall source” gushed “This place is absolutely humming. Everyone is up for this. This whole department has spent months working flat out to get in the position we are now to start negotiations - and it has just gone up a gear … The atmosphere and the positivity, the whole place is upbeat. This notion that we’re in disarray is just not the truth. We’re looking forward very much to getting going on Monday. We have got a strong team. This idea that somehow we’re a shambolic outfit couldn’t be further from the truth”.
There was more. “You have got David Davis at the top of the department - a massively experienced parliamentarian, former businessman, knows his way around a deal, is a strong and canny operator. You have got Brexit permanent secretary Olly Robbins, a phenomenally experienced civil servant. You have got Sir Tim Barrow, one of the country’s foremost diplomats and negotiators”. Trowel it on a little more, perhaps?
You got it. “And that is just the top three, and beneath them you have got a tier that is the cream of Whitehall that is working on this … The department is up and running and is looking forward to getting going. We’re ready to go and looking forward to it”.
So how did yesterday actually play out? As if you need to ask: after all that talking up, what we got was the diplomatic equivalent of the team coming home after the group stages.
Even the Mail was forced to concedethe Brexit Secretary, who is leading the British negotiations, was forced to make a significant concession, agreeing to side-line talks on a trade deal … Mr Davis bowed to the pressure to put talks over a trade deal on hold, but insisted that a deal was achievable within the window for talks … Despite his positive assessment, Mr Davis faced embarrassment when the EU said it would decide when trade talks could begin”. Divorce bill before trade talks - as the EU said all along.
So Michel Barnier and his team calmly rolled Davis and his fellow brave Brits over in the opening minutes of the first half, while observers relayed the embarrassing climbdown.

Matthew Holehouse, now at MLex, noted “Barnier says UK and EU have agreed to two-phase exit - divorce then future relations”. No parallel trade talks, and the agenda as the EU had decided. Faisal Islam of Sky News added “The ‘row of the summer’ as suggested by DD one month ago, did not last even the first day of negotiations”. Davis had told anyone who would listen that he’d stand firm on this. He folded.
ITV’s Robert Peson concurred: “Pretty clear @DavidDavisMP and UK have caved on sequencing of talks, with trade now not being discussed till money, Ireland, migrants sorted”. Jack Blanchard of the Mirror pointed out “Here's David Davis telling @Peston on May 14th why he wouldn't be giving in to Barnier and negotiating the withdrawal before the trade deal”. And the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg added “No 10 originally believed they had France + Germany on board for a parallel process - EU has said no way”.
The old misapprehension - that somehow individual member states could be picked off, might be amenable to intervening on our behalf. They can’t, and they aren’t. Then, just to add to the humiliation, Michel Barnier left his foot in the tackle.

The Beeb’s Norman Smith broke the bad news: “It is not about revenge or punishment but do not underestimate consequences - Michel Barnier”. That is not especially subtle code for “You think today was bad - it’s going to get much, much worse”.

Even before these talks end, the Norwegian commentator’s words will be ringing in the right-wing, Europhobic press’ ears long and loud: Rupert Murdoch! Lord Rothermere! Rebekah Brooks! Trevor Kavanagh! Richard Littlejohn! Tony Parsons! Quentin Letts! Paul Dacre! Can you hear me Paul Dacre? YOUR BOYS TOOK A HELL OF A BEATING.