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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Paul Nuttall - Brainless Bigot

With the EU referendum having given them a result of which they approve, the upcoming General Election gives the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP a problem: they can’t campaign for Britain to leave the EU, as this is already happening. So what can they do to get the attention of the voters? This has clearly taxed party leader Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”. And we now know his answer.
An' then I pulled the f***in' trigger, but it still didn't stop me bein' a total f***in' divvy

This is because Nuttall, with his early-Alexei-Sayle-meets-Pub-Landlord schtick, fetched up this morning on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to extol the virtues of casting a vote for the party of Himself Personally Now. His pitch was, not to drive it around the houses for too long, that there should be action taken against Scary Muslims (tm), because they were multiplying at a rate which caused him grave concern.

So Nuttall wanted to ban the burqa. Why was this? “We have a heightened security risk at  the moment and for CCTV to be effective you need to see people’s faces”. Very good, so would Sir like to repeal the motorcycle helmet law? Perhaps he’d like to ban his pals at the EDL from using all those face-coverings for which they are so notorious? But the UKIP leader did have another reason why he wanted to campaign against Muslims.

There’s the issue of integration. I don’t believe that you can integrate fully and enjoy the fruits of British society if you can’t see people’s faces. And, you know, look at some of the statistics. 58% of Muslim women are economically inactive”. Will banning the burqa, which the vast majority don’t wear, make them suddenly become economically active? Er, no.

And then came the first jaw-dropping howler: Nuttall said his party’s idea would make us good Europeans: “What happens in France for example is there’s a fine and what we’re doing is we’ll come in line with other European countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, there’s a ban for example in the City of Barcelona, some places in Italy and indeed Angela  Merkel’s talking about this in Germany at the moment”.

Yes, the leader of UKIP, the most anti-EU party in the UK, is arguing for the UK to follow what other EU member states are allegedly doing, as a time when we’re leaving the EU. Also, UKIP claims to be a libertarian party, as Marr pointed out.

Then came the other howler, as Nuttall argued for the end of Sharia tribunals. Why do this? “Because I don’t believe that we should have a [parallel] legal system in this country” was Nuttall’s answer. But there is no parallel legal system in this country. Civil disputes can be addressed by employing lawyers, but can also be resolved through mediation, which is where Sharia tribunals, and the Jewish Beth Din, come in.

And would Nuttall also abolish the Beth Din, then? Er, no he wouldn’t, because “The Jewish population in Britain, orthodox Jewish population is falling. It’s about a quarter of a million now. The issue surrounding Sharia is that the Muslim population is doubling decade on decade. It’s three million now, it’ll be six million soon”. Yes, someone claiming to be a serious politician says they breed like rabbits, so we have to take action against them.

Paul Nuttall is a desperate, barrel-scraping bigot, abandoning any semblance of libertarianism so he and his pals can go on an Islamophobia bender. No thanks.

Murdoch Goon Joins Tories

The exodus from Theresa May’s office has continued - not that most of the press seems too fussed about that - and there are now vacancies elsewhere in the Tory machinery, so once more, the revolving door between the right-leaning media and our Government has been pressed into action. The result is that yet another taker of the Murdoch shilling has passed through that door to become a Special Advisor (SpAd).
Behold another fine specimen of lobby group idiocy

Who is the latest lucky recipient of publicly funded largesse? Step forward the singularly moronic Dylan Sharpe, who had been spokesman for the Sun newspaper, and before that a spinner for campaigns like NO To AV and the Countryside Alliance. Sharpe is another of those right-wingers who pass effortlessly between the Astroturf lobby groups, PR agencies, campaign groups, media outlets and yes, political parties.
They are as in touch with the real world as all the other overpaid hacks, policy wonks, lobbyists and spinners with whom they mix in another of those closed worlds where the little people are not admitted, the kind of places where they really believe that those trousering annual incomes of £70,000 or more are not so well off.
But one thing appears to have concerned Sharpe, and that is his Twitter back catalogue, which he has ruthlessly purged. And that is a pity, because it was a thing of unexpected joy, a reminder of just how long on mouth artistry and short on applied intellect so many of this bottom-feeding class of hangers-on really is under all the gloss.
It was Sharpe who mishandled the Sun’s last use of the “Page 3” topless model. The Murdoch goons claimed to have had a “mammary lapse” (laugh? I thought I’d never start) and Sharpe then sent the unsolicited topless photo to the likes of Lucy Manning, Kay Burley and Harriet Harman. This was stupidity on the grandest of scales. But Sharpe then wanted everyone to know he had been the victim (of his own stupidity, no doubt).
Sharpe made a prize tit of himself again two months after his Page 3 gaffe - all there on Twitter, too. But this was as nothing to his attempt in May 2015 to compare a photo of a woman whose baby had been pulled alive from the rubble of the Nepal earthquake to then Labour leader Mil The Younger. It should have been a career-ending gaffe. But the kinds of rules applying to the little people are not enforced in the Baby Shard bunker.
So Sharpe was still in post in December 2015 when yet another gaffe saw him propose press censorship - but only of papers that had not signed up to sham press regulator IPSO. Foul-ups like those may be the reason that he has wiped so much of his Twitter output - but fear not, here on Zelo Street, all has been preserved so that anyone who wants to know can see what a prize plonker the Tories’ latest SpAd is.
And looking at the level of idiocy on view, anyone might get the impression that the bar has been set at a rather low level when it comes to this Civil Service admission stream. All I will add to that is “you might wish to say that - I can’t possibly comment”.

Farage Facing Double Trouble

While his successor Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”, was trying to whip up hatred against followers of The Prophet on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning, pitching such pearlers as claiming Beth Din tribunals were fine, but Sharia ones were not, because there were fewer Jews than Muslims in the UK, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was back in the news, and for all the wrong reasons.
Squeaky double jeopardy finger up the bum time

Farage has been inexplicably handed a regular show by broadcaster LBC, and there he has made a name for himself saying things that he may later come to regret, such as asserting that Swedish city Malmo was the “rape capital of Europe, if not the world”. But it was his attack at the end of last year on murdered MP Jo Cox’s widower Brendan where Mr Thirsty slipped up big time - and which has returned to bite him.

Farage claimed that Cox, who has dedicated himself to opposing extremism, would “know more about extremists” because he supported Hope Not Hate. This was, he concluded, because that group pursued “violent and undemocratic means”. That, as I pointed out at the time, would have been news to Hope Not Hate, as well as being a defamatory and malicious smear. It has now landed Farage with a libel action.
Look who's back in the news

Hope Not Hate asked Mr Thirsty to retract and apologise. It was ignored. So Hope Not Hate have crowdfunded a legal action, lodging a claim for between £50,000 and £100,000 in damages. The case certainly appears to be an open and shut one: unless Farage can back up his assertion, he’s in the shit. And all because he, like his soulmate Katie Hopkins, didn’t have the common sense to chill out and say sorry.

And if that were not enough trouble for him, Farage has also come back under the spotlight for his clandestine visit to the Ecuadorian embassy - presumably to see long-term resident Julian Assange of Wikileaks infamy. As The Observer has told today, the suspicion that Farage is the channel by which the Trump Gang and Assange communicate has been raised once more - after leave.EU became the subject of an expense probe.

Carole Cadwalladr muses “Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund owner, bankrolled the Trump campaign and his company, Cambridge Analytica, the Observer has revealed, donated services to Leave.EU. If this issue forms part of the Electoral Commission investigation, this isn’t just a case of possibly breaking rules by overspending a few pounds. It goes to the heart of the integrity of our democratic system. Did Leave.EU seek to obtain foreign support for a British election? And, if so, does this constitute ‘foreign subversion?’” Arron Banks claimed Cambridge Analytica had been key.

Ms Cadwalladr also noted “A fundamental principle of British democracy and our electoral laws is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations”. The whole Dark Money episode is back for discussion - and, worse for Farage, Assange has risked the Streisand Effect by snapping abusively at Ms Cadwalladr, rather than engaging brain and keeping schtum.

Nigel Farage now has two potentially sticky problems to face. But if you don’t think before shooting off your mouth, and swim with the sharks, you can expect nothing less.

Top Six - April 23

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have to be out and about later. So there.
6 General Election - Why It’s Now The economy is about to tank, and the Tories think Labour is there to be buried. No other reason enters.

5 Tory Expenses - It’s Back The prospect of as many as 30 people, including up to 20 MPs, has come closer - despite the General Election announcement.

4 Simon Danczuk Is Finished Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP will not be able to stand for that party at the General Election if he remains suspended.

3 Sun Danczuk Exclusive BUSTED The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are hoping Simon Danczuk is readmitted to the Labour Party - because they have ex-wife Karen’s tell-all story ready to run, which would be used to damage Jeremy Corbyn.

2 Nigel Farage Racism EXPOSED Mr Thirsty was swift to call the bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund team coach as Islamic terrorism, and rant on about all those ghastly brown people coming from the Middle East, but when it turned out to be the German far right, he was silent.

1 Tory Expenses - Mundell Miracle A post from May last year has come back to lead this week’s Top Six. The Tories’ only Scottish MP has questions to answer about his election expense return - especially how all those activists who made round trips of as much as 200 miles did not feature on it.

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

Saturday, 22 April 2017

So Farewell Then Eric Pickles

While much of the press has been working itself into a frenzy of Labour bashing at the news that some of the party’s MPs will not be standing for re-election, that same level of scrutiny has not always been applied to the Tories, where - to no surprise at all - several of their number, including former ministers, have also decided to call it a day in June. One of those in the latter category is Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles.
It therefore looks as if Pickles, with his faux “man of the people” persona, will retire unscathed from a career which demonstrated the extreme flexibility of his principles, a penchant for shameless opportunism, and an ability to ally himself with the right people at the right times, yet complemented by very little visible talent.

Some observers may be surprised that Eric Pickles began his political career on the progressive wing of the Tory Party. He was anti-racist, consensual and small-L liberal. All of that changed when Ray Honeyford came along.

Honeyford was appointed headmaster of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, located in an area which had a racially diverse population. While in that job, he wrote an article for the Salisbury Review, which at the time was “pro-repatriation”. Very few people read the piece, as the Salisbury Review enjoyed a very small circulation. But then someone at the right-leaning Yorkshire Post had it reprinted in that publication, and all hell broke loose.

One look at the title of Honeyford’s article tells you why: “Education and Race - an alternative view”. The contents were little short of incendiary. The local education authority decided Honeyford had to go. But Tory high command, which included then PM Margaret Thatcher, decided otherwise. In this, she was backed up forcefully by the Daily Mail, even then a force for vicious, reactionary, and borderline racist views.

In the next round of council elections, Pickles’ friend Peter Gilmour lost his seat, with many party workers refusing to campaign for him. Pickles dumped the principled approach and from then on became a fervent populist. He backed Ray Honeyford against his colleagues and the Drummond parents. Mrs T clearly approved.

Pickles later became Tory group leader on Bradford Council: here, he managed by creative interpretation of the rule book to secure a majority of one in crucial votes and push through what became known as the “Bradford Revolution”. Mrs T applauded him for keeping the Poll Tax down, although central Government may have used a little creativity of its own to make the numbers add up. The consequences for ordinary people were dire.
Charges for leisure centres, school meals, home helps, meals on wheels, car parking and even cemeteries were raised. And old peoples’ homes were sold off. Council house rents went up and many local Government workers - including teachers - lost their jobs. Relations between the Tories and other parties in Bradford were poisoned for years afterwards. Pickles’ administration did not survive another round of local elections.

And then, on the quiet, Pickles cast around for a Parliamentary seat well away from Bradford, ultimately finding himself on a shortlist of one for Brentwood and Ongar. His policy in national Government was as it had been locally: selling off services, year-on-year cuts, demonising and blaming Trades Unions and any politician of opposing view.

He did this while carrying an enormous chip on his shoulder: when Pickles sneered that Labour politicians were out of touch and lived in “palatial mansions”, it harked back to when his parents ran a shop in Keighley’s less than totally salubrious Parkwood district. There was no “mansion” for young Eric: he had to share a first floor flat. Thus his career inferiority complex and burning sense of victimhood.

Despite that, and despite his lack of discernible ability, Eric Pickles managed to convince the Tories to give him a ministerial portfolio, and then show their gratitude by gifting him a knighthood. And all the while he has done little, if anything, outside politics, even when he was a humble Councillor: his predecessor as leader of Bradford’s Tory group, Ronnie Farley, was an accountant and businessman. Not Eric. He was just a politician.

And now, with many still not having rumbled him for the empty vessel he walks, looks and sounds like, Eric Pickles is retiring to spend more time with his comfortable pile of money. But probably not anywhere near Bradford.

Don’t Menshn You’ve Been Rumbled

Seth Abramson writes for a variety of publications. He is an attorney, and a Professor at the University of New Hampshire. One can therefore deduce that he can be called A Proper And Serious Journalist. He has, like many in the USA, cast an inquiring and sceptical eye in the direction of the Trump Gang and its connections. Here, he has encountered the online presence of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
Ms Mensch has now denounced Abramson as a Putin employee, and has accused him of treason. Abramson, in turn, has delved into the Mensch oeuvre and concluded that it contains precious few facts, but an overwhelming amount of falsehood and misinformation. Those few facts, though, have, along with her aggressive and obsessive approach, brought Ms Mensch a following. This may give some in the UK a déjà vu moment.

That is because we in Britain have been here before: Louise Mensch’s ability to garner attention, only to then spray her credibility up the nearest wall, is the stuff of media legend here. This trend was established during her membership of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, when she gained praise for her questioning of the Murdochs, only to then defame former editor Piers Morgan, for which she had to later apologise.

That lesson remained unlearned: Ms Mensch took up the cause of scientist Tim Hunt, immediately denouncing anyone of opposing view as a “liar”. But a year after she went in to bat for him, when the Commons Science and Technology Committee inquired into the Hunt affair, she was not called to give evidence. “No-one has asked for her opinion on this matter at all [and] nor will they” I was told at the time. Draw your own conclusions.
During her Hunt campaign, Ms Mensch took time out to wrongly accuse someone of hacking the security cameras at her home. She ignored requests to retract her claims. That was followed by threats to take legal action against writer Peter Jukes, and also myself. It was no more than bluster. But everyone else was lying.

The Mensch tendency to foot in mouth was exemplified when she accused a group of racial and religious hatred, and practising “coordinated sexual violence”. She apparently believed it was a group of refugees who were also Muslims. The photo she latched on to actually showed a Jewish group demonstrating their opposition to the Austrian far-right (and no, there was no “sexual violence”, either). One of her last Sun columns claimed “BREXIT looks more likely than ever after the EU coup in Portugal”. There was no coup. There was no outside intervention. She was wrong yet again.
Those Stateside were warned as to Ms Mensch’s creative approach to mere facts when she began to appear on Fox Business Network, claiming of recent refugee arrivals in Europe that “there are no real refugees” and it was all about “young men who have mostly just abandoned their womenfolk, abandoned their families, young men of fighting age who have literally stormed into Europe and pretty much taken it over”. Pure fantasy.

Now, as demonstrated by Seth Abramson’s more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger conclusion that “I'm one of the 210 people Mensch has falsely accused of treason. Read on if you want to see why I disavow any association with her”, another community is realising that Louise Mensch is the ultimate in unreliable information sources. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

Ross Barkley - Sun Still Lying

After the Sun’s disgraced and deeply unpleasant former editor Kelvin McFilth had once more swerved across the racism line and compared Everton footballer Ross Barkley - who has a Nigerian grandfather - to a gorilla, the previously unthinkable happened. Kel was suspended from column-writing duty, and today the paper has gone further: the Murdoch goons have apologised. But they are not out of the woods yet.
Tony Gallagher - needs to come clean

Under the heading “Ross Barkley - An Apology”, the Sun tells “On April 14 we published a piece in the Kelvin MacKenzie column about footballer Ross Barkley which made unfavourable comparisons between Mr Barkley and a gorilla … At the time of publication, the paper was unaware of Ross Barkley’s heritage and there was never any slur intended”.

There was more: “As soon as his background was drawn to our attention, the article was removed from online … We have been contacted by lawyers on behalf of Ross Barkley, who has made a formal complaint about the piece … The Sun has apologised for the offence caused by the piece … We would like to take this opportunity to apologise personally to Ross Barkley” [my emphasis].
How might “his background” have been drawn to their attention? Perhaps the assembled Murdoch idiocy bothered to read their own paper for once: still available online is an article from May 2014 about England’s World Cup squad, titled “Lion cubs … Boss pins World Cup hopes on youth”, where we can read all about Ross Barkley.

The article does show the customary Sun ignorance of anything to do with Merseyside - some things never change - as it gushes “RISING star Ross, 20, may be a key player for Everton but his girlfriend Faye Ayers was actually crowned Miss Liverpool in 2012”, suggesting Liverpool and Everton are two distinct places. Everton, as any fule kno, is a district of Liverpool. And then comes the incriminating part.

As a junior, Ross was so keen to play for his boyhood heroes that he used to make a two-hour round-trip, taking four buses, to get to training sessions … He also had the option to play for Nigeria through a grandfather, but picked the Three Lions and made his full England debut last September against Moldova” [my emphasis].
It’s entirely possible that claiming ignorance of Barkley’s heritage is part of the Sun’s strategy for fending off the inevitable IPSO investigation: perhaps the Murdoch goons are hoping this will enable them to persuade our sham press regulator to wipe their arses. But if IPSO do that, they will be subjected to even more public ridicule than usual.

In any case, this is an open and shut case of the Sun lying to save what little remains of its reputation. The real scandal is that, as with the fateful Hillsborough smear, no-one within the paper’s editorial staff was prepared to stand up to Kelvin McFilth and spike his column.

The Sun has lied again. And anyone who wants to know, knows they have lied. This will not go away until the paper dispenses with the services of Kelvin McFilth. End of story.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Theresa May Disobeys Paul Dacre

It was a strategy doomed from the moment it was enacted: the decision by the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre to project all the aspirations of Himself and his paper on to incoming Prime Minister Theresa May. The thought immediately entered that the Vagina Monologue had an embarrassing schoolboy crush on the PM - and those kinds of things always end in tears. So it has proved for the Mail and its editor.
Maybe not so cast iron

One area of Government spending that has always irked Dacre, if only because it means taking money from Daily Mail Readers are handing it to those ghastly brown and black people, is the Foreign Aid budget. Not for the Mail the intricacies of discussing British soft power, or the idea of a medium size nation punching above its weight internationally through such measures. Those benefiting were not the Mail’s kinds of people.
No, my f***ing hacks aren't sniggering behind my back, c***

So it was no surprise to see the Mail tell readers yesterday that the hated Foreign Aid target - 0.7% of GDP - was for the chop. “Mrs May is expected to use the manifesto to ditch a number of high profile policies from the Cameron era. Yesterday she left the door open to watering down - or even scrapping - Mr Cameron’s flagship vow to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid”. This was not universally popular.
As the Guardian has reported, “Bill Gates warned Theresa May that should the Conservatives go ahead and abandon the UK’s overseas aid spending pledge it would reduce the country’s influence in the world and mean more lives lost in Africa … the Microsoft founder said that the leadership role taken by the UK could determine whether ambitious efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa were launched”. Eradicate malaria?

Gates, it seems, was serious: “Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on and the UK has always in terms of research capacity and aid been a leader. In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that”.
And, in seriously bad news for the Vagina Monologue, it appears that the faith he had placed in Theresa May to do his exact bidding has been misplaced: ITV’s Robert Peston has Tweeted from the campaign trail to tell “.@theresa_may commits to keeping 0.7% of GDP overseas aid funding minimum. First firm manifesto commitment, I think. Tory right won't like [that]”. Ms May had disobeyed Dacre’s command! And it got worse.
The Guardian’s politics co-editor Anushka Asthana then Tweeted “Election: Hammond hints manifesto will drop 2015 pledge not to raise income tax and national insurance”. Tories taxing and spending? It will take all Dacre’s iron discipline not to spontaneously combust! He had projected the whole of his agenda onto Ms May, and now she is taking very little notice of him. Heads down and no sniggering for Mail hacks this evening.

Worse, the hated Guardian and Bill Gates - another of that mythical “liberal élite” - have won the day. How will Dacre live with his crush dumping him? How many Vagina Monologues will he dish out in the next 24 hours? It always ends in tears.

Sun Danczuk Exclusive BUSTED

There may be precious little information coming out of the Labour Party right now concerning goings-on in Rochdale, where sitting MP Simon Danczuk remains suspended following his “sexting” a 17-year-old girl. That is, I’m told, because the Labour Party is having difficulty making a decision on the matter. But one person has commented: step forward Steve Hawkes, deputy political editor of the Murdoch Sun.
Someone in this photo is hoping for a bumper payday

Rumour that Simon Danczuk will be reinstated as Labour MP today then re-suspended if he wins. It is a crazy world” he Tweeted yesterday. Why might the Sun be taking an interest in the political future of Spanker Si? Ah well. A Danczuk reinstatement would be the Murdoch goons’ birthdays all coming at once. I will explain.

News has arrived on Zelo Street that the Super Soaraway Currant Bun has a spill-the-beans warts-and-all “exclusive” all ready to go. The paper’s source stands, I’m told, to secure a six-figure payday as a result. But that source is not Simon Danczuk.

So who is the name in the frame? I am reliably informed that Spanker’s ex-wife Karen has given the Murdoch goons a tell-all lowdown of Danczuk’s misbehaviour. The story, it has been put to me, will make serious allegations against the MP.
And the target of the story - which I am led to believe is intended to run over a number of days in order to do maximum damage - is the Labour Party, and Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, this is the Murdoch press’ magic Labour-killing bullet. So if Labour let Spanker back in to the party, they will be made to look seriously bad when the story breaks.

I’ll go further: it has also been put to me that Kazza’s payday would involve a wider opening of the Sun wallet if her ex were readmitted to Labour. Why so? Simples. The storyline would then be something like “Labour knew he was a vile pervert and still they let him stand as an MP … how can anyone vote for Corbyn now?

I know, I know, some of you will be pointing out that Jezza has had nothing to do with Spanker’s suspension, and this is true. But that will not get in the way of the Murdoch goons pinning as much of this mess on him as they can get away with.

What has also been put to me is that Kazza will get round it being pointed out that she stood by her ex-husband over the Alicante Airport ruckus back in 2009 and the subsequent fiasco of the “Rochdale Seven” by saying He Made Her Do It. A similar set of excuses will likely be deployed to explain why she refused to press charges recently after Spanker was taken away by the cops in Algorfa and spent two nights in the nick at Orihuela.
Corbyn - the target of the Sun story

Kazza, I’m reliably informed, is being inadvertently helped by her ex-husband, who has apparently resorted to threatening a judicial review of his suspension. This has had the effect of delaying the Labour Party’s decision yet further, with the selection for Rochdale now effectively in limbo - not an ideal place to be with the poll on 8th June.

Why would Kazza do this, and do it now? Simples once more. She, it seems, sees Spanker as being effectively finished, and so any dosh from that source she can forget. A six-figure pay day could pay off the mortgage and even provide a little spending money. The kind of one-off opportunity unlikely to come round again.
Ooh, what a coincidence!

And that, folks, is why the Sun would dearly like Labour to cave in to Danczuk’s threats and let him back into the party. As soon as that happens, the presses roll, the story is splashed, and the Corbyn campaign is holed below the waterline.

There will be suitably judgmental editorials and comment pieces - the pundits may have already filed their copy in anticipation of the ambush being effected.

You think I jest? Already, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, Sun helpers extraordinaires, have told the world that Spanker will be running as a candidate - and used a photo tying him to Corbyn. The agreed line to take.

When it comes to fighting dirty, there is no newspaper in the UK to match the Sun.

Nigel Farage - Greedy Coward

As parties lined up their prospective candidates to fight June’s General Election, the question that always comes around at such times was asked: would former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage be standing, and if so, where? Would he have another go at Thanet South, hoping that the Tories might not blow so much money so brazenly on retaining the seat this time, or would he look elsewhere?
Squeaky €6,000 a month finger up the bum time

The opportunity to get himself into Parliament at the eighth time of asking had to be seized, didn’t it? We soon found out: former Tory, then UKIP, and now independent MP Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell decided he would not be defending his ever-shrinking majority this time. Nige’s pal Arron Banks, who admitted he knew nothing about the Clacton constituency, decided he would therefore not stand.

So the way was clear for Mr Thirsty to seek out new pubs (surely “voters”? - Ed) in his quest to land the prize that had eluded him for so long. What say you, Nige? “It would be a very easy win and for me, a personal vindication to get into the House of Commons after all these years of standing in elections”. Fine. So he will stand in Clacton?

Er, no he won’t. “If I compare the platform I have in Strasbourg to being a backbench MP, there is frankly no comparison … The Brexit negotiations will take place in Brussels and the European parliament will not only have a large impact on them, but ultimately will have the right of veto on any deal at the end of the two-year process”. Oh just f*** right off. As if Farage does any more than turn up for the expenses and to make trouble.

When he says “I believe I can use my profile in European politics to put real pressure on MEPs to vote for a sensible deal with the UK”, all that will be heard in Brussels and Strasbourg is hollow laughter. Farage, as we saw when he claimed the Portuguese elections in 2015 had been some kind of EU coup, hasn’t got the faintest idea what is going on in the rest of the EU, and nor does he pretend to. So why isn’t he standing?
Nige's message to all those UKIP voting mugs

Ah well. As so often, this comes down not just to cowardice, but greed. As Politico has pointed out, if Farage serves as an MEP until 2019, he will have put in 20 years’ service (yes, I know, that’s “for some value of ‘service’”). This will entitle him to a full pension of around €6,000 a month. But if he had stood in Clacton, and won, he would have had to give up being an MEP, with his pension entitlement reduced accordingly.

As with his decision to take up the offer of a weekday show on LBC, and also become a regular pundit for Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), there is only one item on the Farage agenda, and that is the generation of More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. Wanting a good deal for his country on leaving the EU? He couldn’t give a flying foxtrot. He’s all right Jack, and blow you all.

If the Daily Mirror’s chicken wants someone to take the piss out of, the target is clear. Nigel Farage is not just a coward, but a greedy sponger to boot. No surprise there, then.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tory Expenses - It’s Back

Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, Dennis Skinner asked the question that a lot of pundits and observers are also asking: “Will the Prime Minister give a guarantee that no Tory MP who is under investigation by the police and the legal authorities over election expenses in the last general election be a candidate in this election?” The expenses scandal, which so many thought was last year’s story, was back.
And Skinner had not finished: “Because if she won’t accept that, this is the most squalid election campaign that has happened in my lifetime”. Theresa May did not accept it at all: “I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in this House and who will be out there standing again campaigning, campaigning for a Conservative government that will give a brighter and better future for this country”. That could be problematic for her team.

The Independent showed how problematic: “A spokesperson for the CPS confirmed to The Independent on Tuesday evening that any charges would have to be made before the date of the general election, which Theresa May wants to hold on 8 June subject to a vote in Parliament tomorrow. This means the CPS's announcement must by law fall while the MPs are campaigning for re-election, before 8 June”. So how bad is the problem?

The Crown Prosecution Service last night confirmed it was considering the prosecution of over 30 people for breaking the strict election spending limits”. Some of those 30 people could be MPs, others merely losing candidates. So who might be in the frame? Well, sitting next to Ms May yesterday was Scottish Secretary David Mundell, whose campaign expenses reported a Nil return for transport costs.
As Zelo Street revealed last May, this may not be the full story: Mundell’s campaign was assisted by party volunteers, many of whom made 200 mile round trips in the process. And 200 miles was nothing to Tory activist Fiona Keen, who went as part of the RoadTrip 2015 team to Dover, Great Yarmouth, South Thanet (twice), Broxtowe, Kingston-on-Thames, and Sutton and Cheam. All to very little exposure on the candidates’ expense returns.

Ms Keen was not the only Tory activist to give the game away on the 2015 campaign: Londoner Amir Sadjady joined the RoadTrip 2015 gang as they journeyed all the way to Yeovil as part of their campaign to unseat Lib Dem David Laws. There was a visit to a restaurant afterwards - looking rather like an inducement. And later he was seen brandishing personalised leaflets in Ealing Central and Acton.

Another keen activist, Souheir Mortada, showed how much was being piled into Hove, to support Graham Cox, who lost. Nothing on the expense return. In nearby Brighton Kemptown, there was another piling-on of activists to help Simon Kirby over the line. His expense return doesn’t have that on, either. The Chippenham campaign of Michelle Donelan disputed Sky man Jon Craig’s claim that the Battle Bus visited.

But Craig had the email that said it did. And as I pointed out, there was a “virtual” or “metaphorical” bus of 50 people dispatched regularly from London by rail, which could have explained all those bodies in the Chippenham area. More potential irregularities.

Some of those candidates are now MPs, and are standing again. Not a good look.

Hannan - Not Waving But Drowning

Some politicians and commentators in the UK have not yet understood the reality of where the aftermath of the EU referendum, and the subsequent triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, leaves this country. What is most striking about this motley convocation of innocent ignorance is that one of their number has been an enthusiast for Britain to leave the EU over many years: step forward occasional Tory and MEP Daniel Hannan.
For Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, there are still arguments to pick, issues to rail over, talking points to consider. But I have news for him, and for all those who take anything he says seriously. And it can be put directly: the other 27 EU member states, their peoples and their Governments aren’t interested. They no longer care, and why should they? Britain has made its decision, the EU27 accept that, and now they are moving on.
Too many commentators are still fixated on going over the arguments, and after that lecturing the rest of the EU as to why they’ll miss us when we’re gone. Hannan adds the futile whataboutery of sovereignty, which he proudly displays as some kind of ultimate prize for leaving the EU. But he is only doing this to deflect from the crude use of immigration to scare voters into joining him in the Leave camp.

Moreover, as the Government has now admitted, there was no loss of sovereignty in the first place, and so Hannan is in need of the nearest extinguisher for his burning trousers - and not for the first time. His recent Twitter excursions encapsulate his futile deployment of gesture politics, and show why he, and too many others, just don’t get it.
Further evidence that voters care more about sovereignty than about immigration. Not that it'll convince the ‘Brexit was racist’ crowd” he announces, but the only ones playing the race card were his own side. And once more he is wrong about sovereignty, but that did not dissuade him from following up with “Yet another poll showing that sovereignty, not free movement, is the key issue. As Leavers have known all along”.
Wrong, wrong, and thrice wrong. Worse, as I said, nobody outside the UK cares. So when Hannan whined “If the EU truly wanted Britain to stay, it would offer the kind of looser deal that David Cameron initially wanted. But it won’t”, he showed that he cannot understand the reality of what has happened. So let me put him and his pals straight.
The discussion of what deal might or might not be offered is over. We voted, our Government then triggered Article 50. That train left the station some time ago. Hannan is free to play his fantasy “what if” games to his heart’s content, but in the real world, the rest of the EU has, as I pointed out the other day, accepted our decision. They are now continuing their journey without us aboard. We didn’t board the train.

That isn’t to say the EU27 is uncaring about our fate, only that it is generally disinterested. British commentators can shout “You’ll miss us now we’re gone” as much as they like; this they are free to do. But the time for argument is over. The issue is no longer up for discussion. This one has run its course. It’s dead. Morte.

Daniel Hannan is out of ideas, out of excuses, and out of time. And he’s increasingly out of his political depth. Which is why he is not waving, but drowning.

Kelvin McFilth - The End

Anyone watching the moves afoot in the Baby Shard bunker to see what fate awaits the deeply unpleasant former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth was looking the wrong way yesterday: the best guide to what will happen to Kel and his piss-poor £300k-a-year column was what was happening across the North Atlantic in New York City, where we learnt once again that nothing, but nothing, will stand in the way of the Murdoch Sky bid.
There, matters had come to a head at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) over the behaviour of top rating host Bill O’Reilly. Bill-O has been the subject of an increasing number of sexual harassment claims, some of which had already been paid out, the amounts believed to total around $13 million. The Murdochs had been under increasing pressure to sack him. But Rupert Murdoch doesn’t do bucking to outside pressure.
Bill O'Reilly - the unsackable man is sacked

Or rather, he didn’t: two things have changed. One, his company, and his family, have to pass a “fit and proper” test if they want to have their bid for Sky green-lighted by Ofcom. And two, the dynamic within the Murdoch family is changed: no longer does Rupe’s word rule the day. Son James had already decided O’Reilly had to go. In the past week, son Lachlan had swung behind his brother. They are now the power in Murdoch land.
And so the unthinkable happened yesterday: Bill-O, who was on holiday in Italy, will not return to FNC. As happened to the increasingly wayward Glenn Beck in 2011, what ultimately forced the Murdochs to act was the flight of advertisers. But at the back of their minds is Sky: for the younger family members, this is their inheritance. Print media is dying, but Sky is the cash cow that will take the empire out into the future.
Rupe no longer able to give opponents the finger

What does that mean for Kelvin McFilth? Simples. The days when Rupe would have just stuck two fingers up at anyone criticising his choice of editor, or more recently pundit, are over. The luxury of keeping an unreconstructed, vindictive and petulant racist thug on the payroll is no longer tenable. Nothing will stand in the way of the Sky bid. And this time, it isn’t just Rupe who Kel has to persuade, but his sons.
She wants Kel out ...

Doesn’t Kel have anyone in his corner? There is the equally unpleasant current Sun editor Tony Gallagher, but he is, for the Murdochs, a disposable quantity. He is not family: worse, he is at heart a Daily Mail man, slated to be on the short list for the moment that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is persuaded to retire, or has to be carried out of the editor’s chair in a wooden box. His opinion matters Sweet Jack.
... and remember, this is now the name of the game

Rupert Murdoch has shown that he is prepared to defer to his sons. Crucially, the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks has come out against Kel. The former Sun editor might return, but his card is now fatally marked. All that is left is for the usual rabble of overpaid and talentless right-leaning and libertarian pundits to whine long and loud that the rotten lefties done it, and it’s all about free speech.

And that would be plain flat wrong: it’s about taking care of business. In the new media world, the oldest of slogans tells you where it’s at: follow the money.