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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

May’s Bargain Basement Brexit Baloney

So today brings Theresa May’s much anticipated and heavily trailed speech on Britain’s future relationship with the EU, an exercise that is as much about appeasing the Europhobic tendency on the right of her own party as it is about practical politics. Even before she has spoken, the EU-bashing usual suspects in the press have spoken rapturously about the event. But what it may presage does not get a look-in.
While the Murdoch Sun - which had to admit it was part of the Leave campaign - announces “May’s ‘Global Britain’ Vision … PM to set 12 demands … Clean EU break vow … Great Brexpectations”, the UKIP-backing Express bawls triumphantly “At last, the news we’ve been waiting for … WE WILL GET CLEAN BREAK FROM EU” and the Mail continues Paul Dacre’s embarrassing schoolboy crush on the PM with “THERESA’S NEW FREE BRITAIN” (yes, we’ll be giving it away), a worrying reality awaits elsewhere.
The ever-alert Adam Bienkov, now at Business Insider UK, was among the first to call out the back-up plan in the May negotiating strategy: “Theresa May is ready to turn the UK into a low-tax, low-regulation haven after Brexit, her spokesperson confirmed today”. There was more. “Asked whether the prime minister backed comments made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that the UK could be forced to abandon its ‘European economy with European style taxation’ her spokesperson said she ‘stands ready to do so’”.
Hammond had told the German newspaper Welt am SonntagMost of us who had voted Remain would like the UK to remain a recognisably European-style economy with European-style taxation systems, European-style regulation systems etc … I personally hope we will be able to remain in the mainstream of European economic and social thinking. But if we are forced to be something different, then we will have to become something different”. Bienkov has now been backed by ITV political editor Robert Peston.
Peston has been working his contacts around Westminster and has now toldwe will be out of the customs union … [Ms May] will ‘grudgingly’ allow for a short period of [transition] to a new trade deal”. And then came the sting in the tail.

May will make clear that the UK will default to slashing taxes and regulation if we don’t agree an acceptable trade deal with the EU - in other words she will say ‘be nice or it’s commercial war’”. One can only wonder what some of those Leave voters think about that.
That our Government is so devoid of negotiating nous that it is prepared to threaten some kind of economic “scorched earth” policy should worry anyone not rich enough to care about such niceties. Any kind of trade war means uncertainty, which is anathema to any significantly sized business. It also suggests that some of those involved have allowed themselves to believe the press claims that the EU needs us more than we need them.

And any Trades Union that backed Brexit must now know they have been had for mugs. Their members are set to be royally shafted. As to all those working class voters UKIP has been targeting - they will feel the full force of being made even more flexible, even more disposable, even less protected than before. It’s always the little people who lose out.

Meanwhile, the press, who dropped us in this mess, will continue to exercise “power without responsibility” and tell their readers it’s someone else’s fault. No change there.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Helmer Schengen Reverse Ferret FAILS

The combined idiocy of the remaining hacks at Richard “Dirty” Desmond’s supposedly flagship title, the Daily Express aka Daily UKIP, and UKIP MEP and freeloader supreme Roger Helmer - so keen to show that he is giving voters value for money that he uses European Parliament sessions to catch up on his sleep - has today brought forth a magnificently inept foot-in-mouth episode.
Roger Helmer being handsomely rewarded for ... doing nothing

The Express, notorious for shonky copy ever since Dirty Des sent all the paper’s sub-editors down the road in another of his whizzo economy measures, had published a story titled “‘End freedom of movement’ Pressure mounts on May to SCRAP Schengen IMMEDIATELY”. The title uses CAPITAL letters to make sure angry READERS know exactly which WAY they are supposed to THINK.

Helmer was all in favour of this idea, despite (a) the UK not being a participant in the Schengen agreement, (b) the UK therefore not being part of the Schengen area, (c) the Schengen area and Freedom of Movement being two different things, and (d) Theresa May not having any say in what happens to the Schengen Area. As a result of this demonstration of idiocy, Helmer attracted significant adverse comment.
What to do? Would The Great Man have to ‘fess up and admit he was the Grade A plonker many had suspected for some years? But you know the answer. For a Kipper like Helmer, he takes the same stance as with climate change - straightforward denial. So when told the UK was not in Schengen, he snapped “(1) I was accurately quoting the Daily Express (2) They never said that the UK was in Schengen. Try reading the words”.
Readers are referred to the Express headline as quoted by Helmer. It’s all too clear that the paper’s readers are supposed to at least infer that the UK is in Schengen, that Schengen and Free Movement are the same thing, and that we have some influence on the former. All of that is plain flat wrong. And in any case, his critics should look over there: “And by the way, we're also not in the €uro. But it still damages us, and we can still call for it to be broken up”. And how does it damage us? A little evidence? No, thought not.
After The New European also joined in the mockery, Tweeting “This UKIP MEP and this Brexit-loving paper think we're in the Schengen Area. We aren’t”, Helmer again demanded that they looked over there. “I think no such thing. But unlike you I see how Schengen damages Europe, and leads to mass migration and the Calais Jungle Camp”. The refugees came as a result of conflict elsewhere. Oh, and Look At All Those Brown People!
Meanwhile, the Express tried to cover its tracks by re-wording its article to tell “Pressure mounts on Theresa May to SCRAP freedom of movement IMMEDIATELY”. Two things here. One, whatever the Express says, Free Movement cannot be scrapped immediately, and two, the covering of tracks isn’t going to work if the article’s URL still has the word SCHENGEN as part of it. Dirty Des’ cheapskate press fouls up yet again.

But we knew that the Express were a bunch of clowns. Now Roger Helmer has let everyone know that he is one too. And we’re paying for his siestas.

Kelvin McFilth Mosley Smear BUSTED

The Government’s “consultation” over Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act may have finished last week, but for some of the more cranially challenged inmates of the Baby Shard bunker this is proving a difficult concept for them to grasp. Hence the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth, disgraced former editor of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, deciding to have a bit of afters in this piss-poor column this morning.
Under the heading “Mosley’s money is tainted” - yes, this is a long time taker of the Murdoch shilling saying this - Kel reimagines Max Mosley’s interview on yesterday’s Sunday Politics to tell readers it was a “car crash”. Mosley actually fought his corner rather well, and host Andrew Neil may, as I told yesterday, be in a spot of bother about at least one of the allegations he pitched at the time. This does not deter Kel.

So on he drones: “Max Mosley, the orgy-loving racist who is funding a full-scale attack on free speech, made a startling admission … The £3.8million he put up to create his own regulator (you could not make this up) came from a family trust re-based from Lichtenstein to the UK, meaning much of the wealth had been created by his father, the Fascist Sir Oswald Mosley”. It meant nothing of the sort, as anyone viewing the interview will know.

Mosley said that it was “family money” and pointed out that preceding generations of Mosleys - in other words, those who came before his singularly notorious father - had owned large parts of what is now central Manchester. And the idea of Kelvin McFilth calling “racist” on anyone else is stretching credibility beyond the limits of elasticity.
The clown who wrote this says someone else is a racist

After all, it was a Sun editorial in Kel’s day (Monday April 27, 1987 to be precise) which howled “WOULD YOU LET THIS MAN NEAR YOUR DAUGHTER?” and went on to smear poet Benjamin Zephaniah by asserting “On Friday, he is expected to become a Cambridge don … Just what are his qualities [sic] which have appealed to Trinity College? He is black. He is a Rastafarian”. And Kelvin McFilth calls “racist” on others.

Back at the Mosley smear, he’s doing no better when it comes to basic research: “During the TV interview he said his family had owned large chunks of Manchester and there was even a Mosley Road. Am astonished the local council hasn’t sought a name change”. There is a Mosley Road in Manchester, but (a) it’s out of town in Trafford Park, and (b) Mosley did not make the claim. He said Mosley STREET.

This is a well-known and mainly tram-only street in central Manchester. The most basic of research would have sorted that. But for Kelvin McFilth, lazy bigoted thug that he is, such things were all too much, as was bothering himself to find out Mosley’s actual views on politics nowadays. Hence “He failed to explain why he had never distanced himself from his early views on Fascism”. One, he wasn’t asked, and two, he’s a Labour member.

But Kelvin McFilth’s had his instructions from elsewhere on the 13th floor, he’s too thick to bother with facts or research, so just says whatever comes into his head. And looking at his efforts today, not much in the way of information makes that journey.

Michael Gove - Sold To The Highest Bidder

Mohamed “you can call me Al” Fayed, whose evidence hastened the downfall of more than one Tory MP in the 1990s, recalled that he had been told by lobbyist Ian Greer that “You need to rent an MP just like you rent a London taxi”. Fayed added “I couldn't believe that in Britain, where Parliament has such a big reputation, you had to pay MPs. I was shattered by it. I asked how much and he said it would be £2,000 a question”.
Fayed’s interventions led to the departure from Parliament of Tim Smith, who, as MP for Beaconsfield, had a safe Tory seat more or less for life, and later, via an electoral humiliation, the deeply unsavoury Mostyn Neil Hamilton, who as MP for Tatton was in a not dissimilar situation. Safe seats and rather more than steady money was not enough for the greedy and the corruptible. And little has changed over the years.

Another of those safe Tory seats is Surrey Heath, represented since 2005 by Michael “Oiky” Gove, another MP for whom that better than steady money is insufficient to keep him in the style to which he has decided he should be accustomed. Gove and his equally grasping wife Sarah “vain” Vine are journalists by profession, and more specifically both have been loyal takers of the Murdoch shilling.

Now Gove is back in the news, despite Theresa May having relieved him of his last cabinet role when she arrived in Downing Street. Gove was dispatched by Don Rupioni to interview Combover Crybaby Donald Trump for the Murdoch Times, where he now has a part-time berth. Gove is paid a whopping £150,000 a year for eight hours per week of his time. It’s enough to make the Hamiltons weep over their potter’s wheel.
Think about that. It’s not as much as London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was getting from the Telegraph for one column of dubious quality each week, but many will find the idea that someone who has a permanent full time job as a Member of Parliament should be paid an extra £150k by someone who has a vested interest in sticking his bugle into the workings of Government obscene.

It’s not as if there was any great skill on display when Gove met Trump: ITV News claimsThe UK stands to gain from a Donald Trump presidency because Britain has a ‘special place in his heart’”. This is because The Donald’s mother came from Scotland, a place where he is now reviled. Sky News suggested a UK-US trade deal would be done “quickly and properly”. Ah, the benefits of unsubstantiated hot air.

Trump had “honeyed words for almost everyone”. Just wait until one or more of those people says no to him. The whole charade, revealing very little we did not already know, was accompanied by a cringeworthy photo of Gove teaming his rictus smile with a forced thumbs-up sign. The thought enters that no credible media organisation would pay £150k for eight hours a week of his time. Unless there were some kind of quid pro quo.

What that quid pro quo might involve, one can only guess. But one thing is for certain - Michael Gove’s interventions in Parliament will be scrutinised like never before. After all, there are enough folks around who remember Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Andrew Neil - Pants On Fire

The BBC has been skirting around the press regulation debate to some extent, certainly not giving it the coverage many in the mainstream press have, but credit today to Andrew Neil for debating the issues of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act with campaigner Max Mosley, although The Great Man was not always inclined to take Mosley’s answers on board on the subject of the press’ unwillingness to join a recognised press regulator.
Something else to chew over

And it was hardly necessary to try and link the funds from the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust to Mosley’s late father to produce a smear by association of independent press regulator IMPRESS. As Mosley pointed out, it is not possible, given the way that IMPRESS and the Trust giving over the funds to it are structured, for him to exercise any influence upon it (in any case, he is a card carrying Labour member).

But it was when Neil briefly went after IMPRESS’ head man Jonathan Heawood that he made what looks like an error of judgment. Heawood, he asserted, had Tweeted or Re-Tweeted 50 attacks on the Daily Mail in a one month period. I’m told this was early November to early December last year. Where he got his list, and how “attack” was defined is unclear, but one intervention merely compounded my suspicion.

That was a post from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog triumphantly announcing “Guido’s IMPRESS File On The Sunday Politics”. The author of that post was Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, who has form not just for dishonesty, but also for drawing attention to himself when he would have been best advised not to have done so. So let me put Wickham and Neil straight.
You didn't get the information from HIM ... did you?

The Tweet (just the one was displayed) which Neil claimed put the judgment of one IMPRESS Code Committee member in question was an expression of opinion. Moreover, the Code Committee does not deal with the actual task of fielding complaints. If every passing of opinion Neil did via Twitter were considered a test of his character, he would not be best pleased, and in that I would agree with him. He’s entitled to his opinion.

And on the subject of the “50 attacks on the Daily Mail”, I have been through Jonathan Heawood’s Twitter feed for the period 5 November to 5 December, taken every Tweet and RT that specifically mentioned the Mail, and then considered all those where there is any adverse comment. My conclusion is that the term “attack” would have to have been very broadly defined to get a number into double figures, let alone fifty.
The most likely conclusion right now

Also, it has to be made clear that (a) expressing disquiet about the Mail’s attacks - for instance on the judiciary - is not an attack, (b) empathy for the Stop Funding Hate campaign is not an attack, (c) some of those RTs were Neil’s fellow BBC contributors like Nick Robinson and James O’Brien, both of whom are allowed to mention the Mail and pass opinions on its content, (d) jocular comment about Paul Dacre is not an attack, and (e) correcting the Mail’s misconception that EU equals ECHR is not an attack.

Of the 58 mentions in Heawood’s Twitter feed in that period, I can’t find one that can be nailed on as an attack on the paper. And if he got his information from Alex Wickham, then when the complaint comes in, all I have to say to Andrew Neil is … GOOD LUCK.

May GP Blaming Backfires

The Tories are presently more trusted on management of the NHS than Labour, a poll finding which should concern the latter party rather more than the former, considering The Blue Team’s ability to tell the most blatant whoppers about NHS problems, and practice the most egregious blame-anyone-and-everyone-else approach to criticism. There is also the sly briefing by Theresa May designed to dump on GPs.
That it was all over the Saturday right-leaning papers was not an accident. “May warns GPs to open every day or lose funding” was the Telegraph’s effort, while the Times simply thundered “May demands 7-day GPs”, and the Mail claimed credit for the whole thing with “After Mail exposes half-day surgeries, doctors told to open from 8am-8pm - or lose cash … OPEN ALL HOURS, PM ORDERS GPs”. And there was more.

The Mail had done a softening-up hit job on GPs earlier in the week, with a Daily Mail Comment - the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue - declaring “Patients betrayed by their part-time GPs” and making sure readers knew it was not Theresa May’s fault: “the service is in the grip of an organisational crisis, with resources squandered and working practices tailored to suit staff, not patients … At its root lie Labour’s botched contracts, which paid family doctors more for working shorter hours, enabling many to take early retirement … the NHS remains riddled with inefficiencies”.
That was reinforced later with another editorial tellingAt last, GPs will have to earn their keep … Days after the Mail highlighted the scandal of GP surgeries closing early, Theresa May announces action to keep them open whenever they’re needed … This is effective government at its best, tackling the overcrowding crisis in A&E departments at its root. And it’s certain that lives will be saved because of it”. Yeah, right.

Quite apart from Paul Dacre’s embarrassing schoolboy crush on Theresa May not showing any sign of abating any time soon, this attitude betrays a simplistic approach which may not be unconnected to the Mail’s editor - and many of the paper’s senior staff - going private. It was not long before exasperated GPs voiced their dissent.
As most of the press had made up their minds on the subject, there was nothing to do but to go to the BBC, a move which will have infuriated NHS bashers. “Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the BMA told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: ‘We have got a very serious problem that we don't have the capacity in general practice … The crisis in the NHS won't be solved by scapegoating or deflecting blame on to GPs’ … One in three GP practices were reporting unfilled vacancies, while eight in 10 said they were unable to provide safe care, he added”.

It got worse: the Beeb report told that “Pressure on A&E was down to seriously-ill patients, he said, not access to GPs, and the government needed an emergency plan to tackle NHS under-resourcing … Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said the ‘whole of general practice and primary care’ was ‘close to the precipice’ after being ‘under-funded and under-resourced for a decade’”.

So what has the right-wing press done today? Oh hang on, look over there at Clean And Hard Brexit! Well, isn’t that fortunate for them? I wonder what Paul Mason will make of that nifty change of subject. Same old right-wing press, same falsehood and misinformation.

Tony Parsons BuzzFeed Smear BUSTED

The skirmishes between the new media presence of BuzzFeed and the drearily old media monolith that is the Murdoch press have not abated: for every tweak of the Murdoch tail from the BuzzFeed upstarts, the iron code of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet dictates that the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker dispense suitable retribution whenever their legitimacy is questioned.
So today, another of the Sun’s dubiously talented pundits has been ordered over the top to put the upstart in its place. There are, sadly for the Murdoch goons, two minor problems with this approach. One is that however low BuzzFeed’s standards may be, they are nowhere near as bad as those at the Sun. And two, the pundit who has been selected to carry the Murdoch standard into battle today is Tony Parsons.

Under the headingBuzzfeed taints real journos” - as if Parsons will encounter many of those at the Sun - he whines “IT is tempting to believe that the battered old trade of journalism plumbed new depths with BuzzFeed’s squalid story about Donald Trump in Moscow … But don’t confuse what BuzzFeed does with journalism … Spewing unsubstantiated rumours into the public domain is not journalism any more than drawing a penis on a toilet wall is art”. Is that so, O wise Sun pundit?

Tony Parsons is the one who suggested Myleene Klass was yer average single Mum. The pundit so bigoted and stupid that he blamed traffic congestion on immigration - rather than his own selfishness. The idiot who blamed the BBC for not blowing the whistle on Jimmy Savile - while failing to mention that the paper for which he writes his weekly drivelfest had the dirt on Savile in the early 80s, and did nothing about it.

Yes, Tony Parsons knows all about abysmal standards of journalism - that’s what his column is all about. Moreover, the BuzzFeed story about the Combover Crybaby might not be to the taste of the Murdoch goons - especially now that Don Rupioni and The Donald are best buddies - but it has come from a serious and credible source.

Instead, Parsons claims “Real journalists are governed by libel laws and editorial standards … If we get it wrong then we get sued and we get sacked”. As if. What happens in reality is that they make sure they don’t smear anyone who’s rich enough to take them to the cleaners, and then get sham regulator IPSO to wipe their arses, which in Parsons’ case means telling anyone who complains that “It’s just an opinion column”.

Fake news is all over the internet and turns it into a running sewer where you can say anything about anyone simply because you despise them” sniffs Parsons, seemingly unaware that this is exactly what the Sun does to anyone to the left of Genghis Khan, any Sleb who shows compassion for the unfortunate, and any Civil Servant, Judge, doctor, trade unionist and indeed anyone else who incurs Murdoch’s displeasure.

Tony Parsons knows all about the running sewer of Fake News. Because that is where he’s been working ever since he took the Murdoch shilling. Away with you, fake pundit.

Top Six - January 15

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 domestic clear up stuff to do later. So there.
6 Guardian Leveson Hypocrisy EXPOSED An about turn on Section 40, press victims abandoned, and a reputation now in tatters. Not good at all.

5 David Blunkett Exposed As Sellout He abandoned his roots and principles in exchange for a bumper Murdoch payday.

4 Sun Desperation Boils Over The Murdoch goons got all righteous over press standards while managing to forget that they have rather a lot of skeletons in their cupboard.

3 Daily Mail Section 40 Own Goal The Dacre doggies suggested that all those tens of thousands who signed a petition on press regulation were supporting their view. They weren’t - it was a petition to demand Leveson 2 is commenced, and now.

2 Sun BuzzFeed Hypocrisy The Murdoch goons told their readers that unverified, single-sourced stories were A Very Bad Thing. There are, however, rather a lot of examples of their doing that themselves.

1 Fawkes Paul Mason Smear BUSTED The Great Guido claimed Mason had got his supposition over Sunday front pages keeping the NHS off that page wrong. He hadn’t - he was spot on. Another fine mess, once again.

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

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Wikileaks Trump Dossier Giveaway

After the dossier suggesting that Combover Crybaby Donald Trump had taken part in a variety of creative activities with prostitutes in an upmarket Moscow hotel room, and which had concluded that he was vulnerable to blackmail, had begun to see the light of day, has come the blowback (as it were). The claims of “golden showers” are being systematically rubbished - with one of those doing the rubbishing being Wikileaks.
The Prisoner, 2017 remake

That is a most interesting name to pitch when it comes to a report which is alleged to confirm the influence of Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin and his pals on Trump, who is a loose enough cannon even without an enemy power sticking its bugle in and directing him to fire on his own side. And it does nothing to dispel the rumours that Wikileaks and its head man Julian Assange, still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is also in cahoots with the current régime in the Kremlin.
Wikileaks did not help its cause by going on a Twitter offensive that put it on the same page as both the Combover Crybaby - and the Putin Government. Those publicising the dossier immediately had their motivation called into question: “Publication of Trump dossier allowed others to do what Buzzfeed should have done and expose the poor sourcing of last Friday's CIA report”. No thanks, I don’t want to look over there.
It was then suggested that BuzzFeed, or at least its editorial process, was suspect: “Buzzfeed's editor says that publishing Trump dodgy dossier is ‘how we see the job of reporters in 2017’”. Homing in on those exact words is the same tactic used by the Murdoch Sun last week. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence.
Then the Wikileaks Twitter feed loses it: “Is UK intervening in the US election? Former UK spy Steele wrote Trump ‘dossier’ … BBC launched ‘2nd dossier’ story via MoD linked journo”. Two things here. One, the US election is done, and whatever anyone thinks of the result it delivered, will not be rerun, so the “intervening” suggestion is bunk. And two, linking someone to an organisation does not mean there is actually a connection.
The next stage was denial: “Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen & alibi deny he was in Prague as was claimed in Trump dodgy dossier”. Mandy Rice Davies situation. And then came the priceless “Russian tech expert named in Trump 'dossier' says US intelligence never contacted him”. Well of course US intelligence didn’t contact him - the dossier was compiled by someone who was NOT working for US intelligence!
If Wikileaks wanted to tell the world that it is shilling for Trump, and probably also shilling for Moscow as well, it could not have played this one better. Nor could it have improved on the inference that it is closer to the Murdoch mafiosi than it has thus far let on. Perhaps Assange is getting stir crazy from his years banged up in that embassy. But if he’s playing for clemency from the Combover Crybaby, help may soon be at hand.

He’ll just be doing time in a Swedish jail instead. Victory can turn out to be a merely comparative thing.

Sun Rape Clickbait Desperation

The less than cordial atmosphere between the New Media upstarts of BuzzFeed and the distinctly Old Media establishment at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun will not have been diffused by the discovery by Alan White - BuzzFeedUK’s News Editor - that the Sun has not only reached bedrock in its desperation for clickbait, but that it has continued digging. The subject, as so often with the Murdoch goons, is sex.
Tony Gallagher - presiding over the direst of clickbait

After observing the Sun’s Twitter feed telling readers of “Man convicted of rape after what he secretly did half way through sex with partner”, White mused “I see we’re clickbaiting stories about rape now”. But that was not the half of it. First off, whoever was in charge of the Sun’s Twitter account must have been made wise to the criticism, because the Tweet was swiftly deleted. But the underlying article was left live.

This is a well-worn tactic, previously deployed by the Murdoch doggies when the Sun was hosting the bigoted and intolerant ravings of pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. When she infamously compared refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to mainland Europe to cockroaches - subtlety is not Ms Hopkins’ strongest suit - after the chorus of protest refused to die down, the Twitter reference to the post was pulled.
But the offending article was left live on the Sun’s website, as has the piece behind today’s deleted Tweet. And from this, we can gauge the desperation of the Murdoch mafiosi to garner More And Bigger Click Counts For Themselves Personally Now. For starters, the article the Tweet refers to has now been online for almost two days. Hasn’t the Sun got anything more recent to tempt its followers with? And there’s more.

The story is not even about anything that happened in the UK. You read that right: it’s about something that took place in Switzerland. The lurid headline, “Man convicted of rape after secretly removing condom midway through sex … Outraged sex partner called the cops when she realised her lover was not using protection”, is about a court ruling in the southern Swiss town of Lausanne. The report won’t win any prizes, either.
Readers are told “A FRENCHMAN who had unprotected sex with his date when she thought he had condom on [sic] has been convicted of rape”. And the story was lifted from another website: “The man involved was handed a 12-month suspended prison sentence … The unnamed 47-year-old French man and the Swiss woman met on Tinder, according to the The Local”. Single-sourced, unverified content, Sun people? Er, HELLO?

But we do know that “For reasons unknown the man took his condom off during the romp”. Why can’t the Sun just say they were having sex? It’s lamer than the lamest thesis submitted during Lame term to the Lame faculty of the University of Lame in the Lameshire city of Lamesville. The story even has to have a photo of the Pope - which is not of Francis, but of Benedict XVI, who is no longer Pope - to pad it out.

Alan White has not only revealed the depth of the Sun’s clickbait desperation - he’s also shown that the righteous Murdoch goons are just copying and pasting others’ content to score more clicks. It’s journalism Jim, but not as we know it.

Simon Danczuk Beggars Belief

Never out of the news for long, and as so often nowadays for all the wrong reasons, Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk has opened mouth and inserted boot in no style at all by going after some of the most vulnerable in society, an act which may not necessarily endear him to the party which he is so desperate to rejoin.
Spanker Si has noticed that there is a significant number of homeless people in Rochdale - just as there is in every significantly sized town or city across the UK. Several of these people can be seen in Rochdale town centre, where they solicit whatever kindness they can from members of the public. One might have thought that a Labour politician would instantly sympathise with the plight of such people. But not Danczuk.
Rochdale’s MP had been out and about among his flock on Tuesday last week, and encountering four homeless people in a small area of Rochdale town centre spurred him into sounding off on Twitter: “Begging - counted 4 beggars between Rochdale Exchange & Wheatsheaf entrances last Tuesday. Should at very least be moved on”. Did he ask whether they were homeless? Did he attempt to get them into a shelter for the night?
But you know the answer to that. Danczuk’s first port of call was not to ask his pals at the Council what they were doing about tackling homelessness, nor to liaise with voluntary organisations to see what they could do, but to shoot his gob off in Parliament: “Just raised in Parliament that the police are losing control of #Rochdale town centre. Failing to address begging, shop lifting, ASB, etc”. He’s all heart.
By now, a welter of adverse comment had built up, and one Twitter user challenged The Great Man on his attitude. Sad to say, the tin ear was all that came back: “@janedonuts2 @sixhitter I help dozens of people with their housing problems at my surgery. Begging needs a police intervention”. People who are homeless don’t just have a problem holding on to their home. They don’t have one in the first place.
Even the Manchester Evening News, which has been sympathetic to Danczuk in the past, ran a piece titledMP Simon Danczuk branded 'heartless' over tweet about 'beggars' in Rochdale”. What is telling about the article is that the Police statement given to the MEN did not voice any support for Danczuk’s actions, which may be not unconnected to the MP’s attack on Greater Manchester Police last October.
Spanker Si’s rant did not go down well with the force, who dismissed his ranting asa Manchester MP launching an ill-informed attack upon police officers in an attempt to raise their own media profile”. Meanwhile, as Rochdale Online has reported, one healthcare worker has arranged 200 “goody bags” for local homeless people. While the town’s MP has been demonising those same people for a bit of cheap publicity.

Labour’s decision on whether to permanently expel Simon Danczuk cannot come soon enough. It might just have been brought closer after his comments last week.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Sun’s Graham Taylor Non Apology

Former Watford, Aston Villa and England football manager Graham Taylor has died at the relatively young age of 72, reportedly from a heart attack. He was one of the last straight-talking, honest-thinking managers, respected throughout the game, and loved by fans at the clubs whose fortunes he improved. But the England job never worked out, and in this he was not helped by some severely adverse press criticism.
It was only a bit of fun, really ...

Some of the criticism goes with the territory: every England manager gets it in the neck when their team turns out not to be able to emulate that of Alf Ramsey in 1966. But for one newspaper, the tsunami of abuse directed at Taylor went well beyond merely giving him some stick whenever the national team failed to win. And that paper, to no surprise at all, is the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. What to do now the man has died?

For the Murdoch goons in the Baby Shard bunker, this was easy - just laugh it off. Thus today’s Sun editorial tellingGRAHAM Taylor never quite forgave The Sun for turning him into a turnip 24 years ago … In fairness to him, his England team’s failings were down to the players as much as him. But the buck stops with the manager. He knew it and so did the fans … That said, he was a genius at club level. Twice he propelled Watford into the top flight. And once at Villa … He had a magnificent football brain and made a fine radio pundit”. And for those not yet reaching for the sick bucket, there was more.
... just a bit of sporting banter ...

Above all, as those on The Sun who knew him can tell you, Graham was just a thoroughly decent bloke”. Yes, a thoroughly decent bloke. The kind on whom Sun hacks expend so much time slagging them off and belittling them. Not like the Murdoch bully-boys, eh?

The attempt to pretend the Sun gave a crap about Taylor continues as the paper manages to include a quote from Paul Gascoigne without having its hacks hang around outside his apartment offering him booze. There was also a tribute from Elton John, who bought into his local club and with Taylor in charge of the team saw Watford rise from the then Fourth Division to the top flight. And without the Sun insulting him, either.

There is also a tribute tellingWatford and Aston Villa legend the last of a breed we may never see again in English football … PRECIOUS few have achieved feats in English football as remarkable as Graham Taylor’s” before a mention of the Sun’s sheer nastiness towards him: “We called him ‘The Turnip’”. And under whose editorship did that happen?

No prizes for guessing that the abusive treatment of Graham Taylor happened under the less than benign leadership of the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth, whose column today manages to mention his former favourite sporting target … not once. Not a single mention. Not even one word. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nil. Nada. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

It was only a bit of fun, honestly. Just sporting banter. We didn’t really mean it. We’re sure he didn’t take it personally. And by the way, not only are we not saying sorry, even though he’s dead, the SOB who drove the hate campaign is keeping his head down.

The Murdoch Sun. An excuse for a paper, run by excuses for human beings. No change there, then.

Tristram Hunt - Hold The Predictions

Stoke-on-Trent Central’s Labour MP Tristram Hunt, once briefly but not seriously a candidate for the party leadership, has decided to resign his seat to spend more time with his artistic side: he will become the next director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The spin has already begun, most of which has talked up the chances of UKIP under comedy leader Paul Nuttall having a chance of winning the by-election.
It may not be down to him

There is even talk of the “Bad Bootle Meff” standing in that by-election, although the Kippers would be better advised to field someone who is not already a Member of Another Parliament. They could do worse than ask Richard Lee, who contested Crewe and Nantwich for UKIP in 2015, to stand. Or perhaps they will ask John Bickley, who has managed to fight several by-elections, and become a “local candidate” in every one.

But much of the talk of Kipper victory ignores the constituency’s make-up, and speculation over low voter turnout similarly omits recent trends. Stoke on Trent Central has not managed a turnout over 60% since 1997. Although Hunt won on a turnout of less than 50% in 2015, his predecessor Mark Fisher did the same in both 2001 and 2005 - indeed, those turnouts were lower than the 49.9% in 2015 (47.4% and 48.4% respectively).
Oh yeah ... my time's up

Although UKIP did well in the constituency last time, part of this may have been at the expense of the Lib Dems, who went from a good second place in 2010 to losing their deposit in 2015. This would not be a unique outcome: the party went from a respectable third place to losing its deposit in Crewe and Nantwich as well - and with the same candidate, Roy Wood, who was a competent and able politician.

On top of that, the BNP, who stood in Stoke on Trent Central in 2005 and 2010 and managed to retain their deposits - they polled 7.8% and 7.7% - did not stand in 2015, and their votes will have mainly gone to the Kippers. What those factors tell us is that, combined with recent resurgence of Lib Dem fortunes, the UKIP vote may not have so much potential to challenge Labour - providing the party gets its candidate selection right.
Ullo Potters, gorra new motor?!?

And then we come to the EU Referendum factor - or maybe not. Much is being made of the fact that Stoke on Trent voted heavily to Leave, by 69% to 31%. This is held to mean that the Kippers must have a good chance and the Lib Dems won’t do so well. I wouldn’t be too sure: Tim Farron’s merry men have just won council by-elections in both Three Rivers and Sunderland. Both areas voted Leave in the referendum.

The trick for Labour is in their candidate selection. Just as in Oldham West and Royton, where UKIP were believed to be going to run Labour close, selecting a respected local candidate - and savvy campaigner - in Jim Mc Mahon meant the Kippers hardly got a look-in. Labour need another Jim McMahon - someone who knows the constituency and its politics. And they need a competent by-election campaign to back them.

Stoke on Trent Central is not another Copeland. This does not have to be a potentially horrendous by-election defeat in the making. Labour has to get it right: then they will win, whoever is the party leader. Forget the Kippers. That is all.

Al-Jazeera Israel Smear BUSTED

Shai Masot, then a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, was secretly filmed saying he wanted to “take down” Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan. The footage was recorded back in October 2016 as part of an Al-Jazeera investigation; the incident featured in last weekend’s Mail On Sunday. The Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, has apologised for the incident, saying “this was not the embassy or government's view”.
The fallout has included the usual copious amounts of spin: Young Dave’s former spinner Craig Oliver went on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to denounce the story as “a ‘classic piece of mischief-making’ by the Mail on Sunday”, although no mischief was involved, and it wasn’t the MoS doing the investigating. Labour’s Emily Thornberry was unimpressed, calling Masot’s comments “extremely disturbing”.

So far, so routine, but with anything critical of Israel, there is with the certainty of night following day the subsequent appearance of someone prepared to shout “Anti-Semitism” at those making the criticisms. Thus it was that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog went in with both feet on Al-Jazeera.

This duty was delegated to newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, who first tried to rubbish the Shai Masot story, claiming “Al-Jazeera Over-Eggs Israeli Conspiracy Sting” (there had been no accusation of conspiracy, but hey ho), declaring “Al-Jazeera Jumps The Shark”. Wickham was full value for his nickname.
Alex Wickham - far more unpleasant than he looks

The spin included “Was it a ‘plot’ to ‘take down’ a Tory minister? No. Maria Strizzolo was a very junior aide. The truth is MPs and journalists have far tastier conversations with friends at London embassies all the time”. That would be why Ms Strizzolo has since resigned from the Civil Service. The matter was indeed serious - as Wickham has now shown.

Because yesterday he was back, this time not merely to dismiss the Al-Jazeera investigation, but to play the “Anti-Semitism” card. In a post titledAl-Jazeera Defends Jackie Walker”, which is reproduced in full here, Wickham states “Well there goes the credibility of Al-Jazeera’s investigation into the ‘Israeli lobby’ and British Jews. Their new episode aired today defends Jackie Walker, who was famously suspended by Labour for saying that ‘Jews’ were the ‘chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade’”.

There is more: “Even the Corbynistas do not contest that Walker’s conduct has been unacceptable - Corbyn’s Labour have kicked her out. But Al-Jazeera journalists incredibly say she was a victim of an Israeli conspiracy … Al-Jazeera also quote Electronic Intifada, a virulently anti-Semitic pro-Palestine website”. Where does one start with that lot?
But start we must. So here are a few of the problems with Wickham’s whoppers.

One, the post carries no citation whatever, which is always suspicious (the Al-Jazeera transcript can be seen HERE).

Two, Zelo Street is not going to go into the Jackie Walker controversy, save to say that the Al-Jazeera investigation does not defend her. It discusses the origins of the latest controversy surrounding her, and leaves it at that.

Three, “Corbyn’s Labour” have not “kicked her out” - she was suspended (if the Fawkes rabble need clarification on that point, they should ask their pal Simon Danczuk).

Four, only one Al-Jazeera journalist (singular) is quoted - Patrick Strickland - and he makes no accusation of conspiracy (this makes two Wickham “conspiracy” claims that have been shown to be false).

Five, Electronic Intifada has been accused of anti-Semitism, but the claim has not been convincingly stood up. EI is merely advocating for the Palestinian cause. It is also critical of the Israeli Government. Neither of these qualifies as anti-Semitism.

Six, if the matter is so trivial, then why has Shai Masot now resigned from the service of the Israeli Government (see HERE)?
Fawkes blog Christmas lunch 2014: Wickham (2nd left) embraces Simon Carr (2nd right), the author of the anti-Semitic attacks on Ed Miliband

And Seven, I have to remind The Great Guido - not for the first time - that the Fawkes blog has no room to call “Anti-Semitism” on others, after the vicious smears involving anti-Semitic tropes which they used on Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader (see HERE). The smears were authored by the Fawkes blog’s former Parliamentary sketch writer Simon Carr, whom Wickham could be seen embracing at the Fawkes Christmas lunch the December after those smears were published.

Alex Wickham was not christened “Billy Liar” for nothing. He once again demonstrates why he is, like the rest of the Fawkes mob, not fit to be called a “journalist”, and never will be.

Finally, why The Great Guido has seen fit to try and trivialise the clear misbehaviour of an Israeli official, and attempt to smear a respected broadcaster, when there was no apparent need for them to do so, I will leave for others to decide. Another fine mess, once again.