Key Posts Category
Fancy a peek inside ‘Jimmy Savile’s sex den’? This is where the ‘shamed star preyed on victims’. The Daily Star’s wrong, of course. Savile wasn’t shamed. Sir Jimmy was buried with full honours. The great and good lined up to praise the “colourful character”, the embodiment of “diligence and decency” who will be “greatly missed“. Savile was not shamed. He was dug up, possibly beaten with sticks and buried a good deal deeper down than the normal six feet, but the Papal knight died a State- approved hero.
Savile’s ‘sex den’ is the abandoned High Royds Hospital in Menston, West Yorkshire. Savile was a depraved, gibbering loon who hid in plain sight. He didn’t need a sex den. He had a caravan, a BBC studio pass and an NHS-issued gown.
Reading on we learn that the sex den featured no actual sex. The Star reports:
It was here sexual predator Savile targeted a number of women during the get-together in 1988. The party was to celebrate the centenary of the hospital, according to a 2014 report.
More of an office party than a sex den, then?
An investigation found that the monster had cupped women’s boobs and put his hand up one victim’s skirt during the event.
All nasty, pervy, leery, criminal and sad. But not what anyone would call a sex den, least of all the Star, whose Television X stablemate broadcasts hardcore pornography with such titles as Sexual Predator 1.
As for Savile, well, the Star continues: ‘But the women didn’t make a formal complaint because sexual assault was considered an “occupational hazard”, the report said.’
Maybe that should be investigated – why nurses were seen as fair game?
Over in the Mirror, the sex den is gone. We are in the former hospital ‘where Jimmy Savile groped nurses and asked for a room in case he “pulled”‘. We see photographs by Kieran Young, 20, who posts as Exploring Lancashire.
“I had been here a few times previous but never found a way in,” he says. “I’ve always love the look of Victorian buildings so this really took my eye so I kept going back to get in. After five or six attempts I finally got in with a friend. My pictures encapsulate the past while also showing the morbid reality of the present.”
They’re good. We like looking over disused building, which given their massive size and emptiness often look haunting and sinister. Was Savile the worst thing to have occurred at West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, later Menston Mental Hospital and finally High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, where up to the 1960s inmates were buried in unmarked graves? Who listened to the poor and vulnerable back then? Who listens to them now?
A staff member is quoted talking about Savile in 2014: “He was just very free with his hands, so hands going round people, round their waist but then upwards, cupping under breasts, hands up the skirt. We just laughed it off, said ‘Dirty old man’ and didn’t go near him for the rest of the day. I can’t imagine that if we had said anything to anybody, or the police, that anybody would take it seriously, I don’t think, at that time. It was just an occupational hazard of being a woman.”
It sounds like Savile wasn’t the only man free with his hands. But he’s the focus of the Mail’s report, even if the paper does spell his name wrong.
The Mail issues an invitation: ‘Look inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a truly dark past: Jimmy Saville [sic] once prowled these corridors to launch sickening attacks on nurses.’
He more walked and jogged than prowled. That was the thing with Jimmy Savile – he was there for all to see, often dressed in a shining gold tracksuit and neon hair. He was hard to miss. But no-one was listening.
If you burn a book in Denmark you can be hauled before the Beak. In the fourth blasphemy case in Denmark’s entire history – the first in 46 years – a 42-year-old idiot who filmed himself burning a copy of the Koran in his back garden and posted it on Facebook is to have his moment in court.
The burning, which took place in Jutland in December 2015, was published on a Facebook page called “Yes to freedom – no to Islam”.
Forget Islam. Freedom’s already gone when you can get arrested or burning your own book in your own garden. Prosecutor Jan Reckendorff explains why this bellend is in court. “It is the prosecution’s view that circumstances involving the burning of holy books such as the Bible and the Quran can in certain cases be a violation of the blasphemy clause, which covers public scorn or mockery of religion,” he opines.
You can’t mock religion in Denmark. What horror!
The courts have turned a fool who seeks to cause offence into a martyr.
Is the West so fragile, so lacking in direction and authority that a minor incident is deemed a threat to society? Or is the assumption that if this mentally negligibly anti-thinker is not censured there will be riots and anarchy? The Danish authorities’ sad attitude to a sad act tells us something: they fear the people. In the dust of one local oddball they see a trigger that unleashes anarchy and legitimises a typically unhinged reaction from Islamists. Intolerance from one side serves and feeds off intolerance from the other, leaving the West and its enemies locked in a deathless embrace, each mouthing the same mantra at the people they don’t trust: ‘I’m doing this to keep you safe.’
* As for the other cases hear in Denmark’s law courts: ‘The Local reports the other three cases involved four people distributing posters mocking Jewish religious beliefs in 1938, two people partaking in a fake baptism in 1946, and two radio presenters airing a song which mocked Christianity in 1971.’ The ridicule we can take. The criminalising of thought we cannot.
Madeleine McCann: a reporting review on the missing child.
As we must, let’s begin with news of the English child who went missing in Portugal by looking at the Australia’s Cairns Post, which features a message for Kate and Gerry McCann: ‘Maddie McCann’s parents need to move on, for their kids’ sake.’
Louise Roberts kicks off her heartfelt advice to the parents of a missing child who became the media’s benchmark for all missing children by telling her readers: ‘Only Madeleine McCann and her presumed abductors know what really happened the night she went missing, but none of them are available to reveal the brutal truth.’
You can wrestle with what ‘presumed abductors’ know and don’t know, being as they are unnamed and, as Roberts suggests, possibly unreal. As for that ‘brutal truth’, it’s delivered after Roberts imagines the teenage Madeleine McCann. ‘Maddie should be 13 now,’ she calculates, ‘armed with an iPhone and cocooned in family love and the carefree discoveries of teenage life in middle England.’ She then adds: ‘There isn’t a single clue as to whether she is alive today but the lucrative whodunit industry dogging her parents Gerry and Kate, who deny any part in her death, rumbles on.’
Having slammed the armchair detectives who spin the single fact – child vanishes – and confusingly told us that we don’t know if Madeleine McCann is alive but her parents are not to be blamed for her ‘death’, Roberts advises: ‘But it’s time for the McCanns to turn off the legal tap and focus on the family life they have left.’
Mawkish much. ‘The time they have left” suggests new horrors lurking around the corner. What they are Roberts doesn’t say, so she harks back to the night of May 7 2003 and tells us: ‘Maddie was asleep in the holiday flat alone with her twin siblings while their parents ate tapas in a bar 50 metres away. It was a spring evening in May 2007.’ May is in Spring. Fact! ‘She disappeared and the guilt and the blame game began for them. There is no doubt they were remiss in leaving her alone — even Gerry said it was a mistake.’
She adds: ‘Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral claims in his book that Maddie McCann’s parents faked her abduction, but they’d be better off ignoring his terrible claims.’ Terrible’ but worth repeating to the good people of Cairns. And then Roberts tucks into the parents, who we’ve been watching in the media for nearly a decade. She writes:
‘The couple are emotionally paralysed not only by her disappearance but by their consciences, never shaking off the sick feeling that they were not there when Maddie needed them. And the public has never let them forget it.’
The public, of course, are not journalists, who occupy a higher level. Roberts is here to inform. Not for her amateur sleuthing and a tawdry ‘whodunnit’. ‘The McCanns faked the abduction, according to Goncalo Amaral,’ she says in the spirit of enlightenment and moving on, ‘to cover up the death of their eldest daughter in their holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the country’s south.’
‘Maddie’s legacy has gone from a relentless search for clues to a ruinous, exploitative and mind-blowingly expensive war between her parents and anyone who challenges their steadfast belief that a stranger abducted her.’
And after the speculation, Roberts reaches her ‘brutal truth’: ‘It’s time for Gerry and Kate, trapped on a grief and reputation treadmill, to change focus. Time to get busy living, ditch the reputation management and let the chips fall where they will.’
As their spokesman Clarence Mitchell begins to file a ‘no comment’ comment, Roberts delivers the time-honoured media motif: Maddie & Me. ‘I speak with more than a passing interest in this case,’ she says. ‘I was a reporter in London when the story broke and my son was the same age as Maddie.’
There but for the grace of god.
She then speaks up for the McCann twins, who ‘have some right to fade into the background and find some kind of a normal life away from the glare of scandal and innuendo’. As the twins dream of a life away from the media spotlight – tip: they know who you are in Cairns – Roberts returns to her own ‘Maddie’. ‘I could never imagine giving up hope to find a missing child but I would not sweat over what was said about me either,’ she says, knowingly.
But before she goes to check on her child, Roberts, who told us of the ‘presumed abductors and mused on whether the child is alive or dead, opines: ‘None of it is going to bring Maddie back. Only the perpetrators know where her body is, who took her, where they took her. And why.’ The parents really can move on because Roberts’ ‘brutal truth’ turns out to be that Madeleine McCann was kidnapped and is now dead.
She signs off: ‘The only “winners” here are lawyers and so-called authors still making a buck from the blonde preschooler with the signature blemish on the blue iris of her right eye.’
And the media, right, who get to press f9 on the keyboard and churn out another ‘Our Maddie’ story?
And now for a few words from the fragrant English rose, Jodie Marsh.
Closer Magazine: ‘Jodie Marsh goes on a bizarre Twitter rant about the McCann’s after This Morning interview.’
You can read about that interview in which a to-deadline Madeleine McCann expert told mid-morning telly watchers he thinks she might have wandered off here.
Closer magazine’s Emma Dodds says ‘former glamour model Jodie Marsh’ was watching. She ‘vented her frustrations at the case, shockingly even blaming Maddie’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann for her disappearance, despite there being no evidence that they were involved… Jodie angrily tweeted that they “should concentrate on finding Maddie,” rather than being “concerned with all this legal action.”‘
Advice is coming thick and fast for the McCanns. It’s all well-meaning, of course. And before long Jodie is delivering her own ‘Maddie & Me’, tweeting: “I must admit, if it were my child I’d be on my hands & knees digging up the earth with my bare hands! Nothing else would matter…” With no children to hold tight, Jodie scouts around for something to make into her own Maddie. She finds it. “My dog went missing for 10 mins the other night & I was running up the street screaming her name like a lunatic. I was beside myself,” she reveals. “And if I was so hysterical over my dog, the hysteria would be ten fold if it were my child. I wouldn’t be suing people. I’d be SEARCHING.”
Having heard a missing child likened to a non-missing dog, we turn to the Sun, where the headline runs: ‘FIGHTING FOR THE CAUSE Kate McCann offers support to missing persons charity just hours after top cop claims new theory to Madeleine’s disappearance.’
Kate McCann is the ‘brave mum’ who ‘put aside her own anguish over snatched daughter Madeleine to help a pal raise money for charity’. As people ‘continued to heap more misery on her family, she has spared time to consider other missing children and adults.’ The charity is called Missing People. You can find out more here.
Such are the facts.
Time for another look at Ted Health’s corpse. A high-ranking policeman reportedly said that the former Prime Minister was a paedophile. A ‘source’ told the Mail on Sunday that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale, for it is he, is “120% certain” the dead man was a child rapist. You can either believe it and think, ‘Yeah, always knew he was a wrong un.’ Or you can wonder about the evidence, the messenger, the timing and if the hunt for the morally reprehensible can ever be satiated?
Pick your prejudice and read on…
In the Salisbury Journal, dead Ted’s local paper, we read Veale’s response to the Mail on Sunday’s story. This is it in full:
“On Friday 2 December 2016, I prepared and distributed an unequivocal open letter outlining the Wiltshire Police position in relation to the ongoing investigation into allegations made against Sir Edward Heath.
“This letter was written as a direct consequence further to unhelpful and inappropriate speculation about this case. However, this speculation continues and is of huge concern to me as I believe it will undermine trust and confidence in the police, have a potential prejudicial impact upon a live ongoing investigation, not to mention an impact upon the confidence of persons who have come forward with information.
“In my letter I made a number of points to provide absolute clarity about why Wiltshire Police is conducting this investigation. To reiterate, there is a clear legal requirement and supporting national policy from the College of Policing that I am required to undertake an investigation where allegations have been made, regardless of whether the alleged offender is living or deceased.
“In relation to the recent unhelpful speculation regarding the veracity of the allegations made, let me once again be clear, it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our Criminal Justice System. Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us. Further, those who choose to continue to make comment on this case whilst not in possession of the facts ultimately may serve to unfairly damage both the reputation of Sir Edward Heath and / or those who have disclosed abuse.
“At the end of my open letter I stated that I would not be making further comment about the investigation unless it was for operational policing purposes. Other than to provide clarity around a number of key points, my position remains unchanged.
“The operational security of this investigation and the anonymity of the people who have come forward remains of paramount importance to Wiltshire Police.”
That’s a very long ‘no comment’. And he doesn’t specifically say if the Mail on Sunday’s story is false or true. Pity.
Mindful of the copper’s words, the Sun dutifully bows its head and reports with circumspection:
HEATH’S SEX CULT LINK Edward Heath ‘linked to a murderous paedophile ring that killed 16 kids’
Ted Heath was in cahoots with serial killers?! The story begins:
BIZARRE claims that former Prime Minister Ted Heath was part of a satanic paedophile ring which murdered 16 children have been dismissed as “wild allegations” by a close family friend.
Sensational claims make for sensational headlines.
Who are making the outlandish claims?
A group of women allege the Tory PM abused them as children as part of a sex cult run by their own parents which burnt babies in satanic orgies.
Wiltshire Police have spent more than a year investigating the allegations as part of an inquiry that has cost taxpayers over £883,431, the Daily Mail reports. But Sir Edward’s godson Lincoln Seligman said: “I understand that these claims from the 1980s were at the time dismissed as complete fantasy by police. It is disappointing that these wild allegations have been reheated and randomly attached to Edward Heath’s name.”
There is reportedly no suggestion that Sir Edward killed any children in the women’s accounts.
Only ‘reportedly’? But gerraload of that headline!
After a few lines on tortured babies, Devil worship and murder, the paper delivers a selection of facts:
Sir Edward, who was Prime Minister from 1970-1974, was never married and died in 2005 aged 89. The lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989, and Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time.
Over in the Mail, the Sun’s source, we read more.
Group of women who say they were abused by Sir Edward Heath also claim their parents ran a satanic sex cult that was involved in SIXTEEN child murders
Like the Sun, the Mail delivers the claim in a big, bold headline before noting at the very start of the story:
The farce came as police probe incredible claims that the former prime minister was linked to a paedophile ring that killed as many as 16 children – which would make them the worst child murderers in British history.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Ted Heath, the subject of a ‘bizarre’ ‘farce’. The paper adds:
The seemingly far-fetched allegations have been made by a family who allege that the politician was part of a satanic sex cult run by their own parents.
The paper delivers more on the allegations of terrible acts that only ‘seem’ to be far-fetched:
They say that the cult regularly slaughtered children as ritual sacrifices in churches and forests around southern England and also participated in similar ceremonies in Africa.
They claim their mother and father – who is said to have known the former Conservative leader – were responsible for slaughtering children ranging from babies to teenagers – yet they evaded justice.
The paedophile ring – which they say Sir Edward was part of – stabbed, tortured and maimed youngsters in churches and burnt babies in satanic orgies before men, women and children gorged themselves on blood and body parts, police have been told.
Can we take some small relief that no sex was involved in this alleged orgy of depravity? What we’d like, of course, are some facts. But instead of them we get news that, ‘If the bizarre allegations were to be proved, the parents who allegedly led the killings would be responsible for murdering more children than Fred and Rose West.’
Did Fred and Rose West meet Ted? Sorry, ‘Ed’? If ‘wild claims’ are newsworthy, look out for tales of MPs at the Wests? Reading on, we’re told:
The women’s lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989 when they came forward. Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time. It was only last year that he was named for the first time after one of the claimants said she had ‘remembered’ a man called ‘Ed’ was a prime mover in a network of paedophile abusers.
The story is so weak, a cynic might wonder if it’s put up to create a smokescreen to derail the whole search for so-called VIP paedophiles?
Maybe the Times can be more helpful? Beneath the headline ‘We can link Ted Heath to alleged victims of abuse, police claim’, the paper tells us:
The police investigating claims that Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile believe that they have evidence linking the former prime minister to a series of alleged victims.
More than 30 alleged victims have contacted Wiltshire police with claims of abuse involving Sir Edward from the 1960s to the 1990s. A source close to the investigation said that “strikingly similar” allegations made against Sir Edward include the names used for the former politician, the type of abuse and the locations.
Detectives were reported to be initially sceptical about the allegations but “now believe them”.
Wiltshire police said it did not know if the investigation report would be published. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of child abuse, although not linked directly to Sir Edward. The investigation is also considering claims that the abuse was reported to the police years ago but was covered up.
The paper then mentions Mr Veale’s aforementioned letter, noting:
The chief constable had previously apologised for launching the investigation in 2015 with a public appeal outside Sir Edward’s former home beside Salisbury Cathedral.
And what of the alleged Satanic murders?
An expert called in by the force to assess the claims by three women who alleged that Sir Edward was involved in occult abuse said that the police inquiry was the result of on “an over-active imagination”.
Is any of this going to be tested in court?
The Times revealed last week that three prominent victims of false abuse claims are suing the Metropolitan Police over their treatment in a separate inquiry. The legal actions by the former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, the former chief of the defence staff Lord Bramall and the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini could cost Scotland Yard an estimated £3 million.
The widow of the former home secretary Leon Brittan was reported yesterday to have sent a “letter before action” to the force as a result of raids on their homes in London and North Yorkshire after her husband’s death.
Having read what the police believe and what women imagine, David Mellor, the former Tory minister, takes to his blog on LBC radio, where he hosts a phone-in show:
In an interesting scoop yesterday, the Mail on Sunday claimed that the Chef Constable of Wiltshire, Mike Veale, believes that Ted Heath was a serial paedophile, whose crimes were covered up by the establishment. The MOS report that thirty complainants have allegedly been identified, and “Mr Veale believes them 120%, and thinks they are totally convincing”.
Scoop or utter balls?
He is not directly quoted in the piece, so it could all be made up. But I doubt it.
So much for facts. It’s all about belief.
It’s worth taking a look at the original ‘Statement from Wiltshire Police following the IPCC announcement re. Sir Edward Heath investigation’.
A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said:
“Following the announcement today regarding an independent investigation by the IPCC into allegations concerning how Wiltshire Police handled an alleged claim of child sex abuse made in the 1990’s, we are carrying out enquiries to identify if there are any witnesses or victims who support the allegations of child sex abuse.
“On becoming aware of the information, Wiltshire Police informed the IPCC and later made a mandatory referral. The IPCC investigation will specifically consider how the Force responded to allegations when they were received in the 1990’s. [sic]
“Sir Edward Heath has been named in relation to offences concerning children. He lived in Salisbury for many years and we would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our enquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim.”
Sir Edward Heath has been named. By whom? Dunno. What’s the dead man been accused of? Dunno. The statement kickstarts the hunt. We don’t know what Sir Ted’s been accused of but we know any ‘victims’ will be believed. They are not ‘alleged victims of…’ They police are at pains to paint them as victims:
“We are working closely with the NSPCC to ensure that any victims are appropriately supported. They provide trained helpline counsellors to listen and provide assistance… Victims will receive support throughout any investigation and associated judicial process…
“Please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com as they have dedicated staff in place to deal with victims or if you have information that may help police please call us via 101.” Ends
But it’s not all bad for Ted Heath. In the Telegraph, an article on a hot London property spot name-checks Ted as a stalwart of good taste:
Jermyn Street’s distinctive shops, some of which are still owned by the descendants of the original families that established them, have been frequented by Diana, Princess of Wales, Ted Heath and Joanna Lumley.
And you know who Diana was mates with, don’t you.
Such are the facts.
Looking beyond fake news, we turn to the Guardian, which tells us about yet another casualty of the Brexit vote. The headline is to the point: ‘Top orchestra quits Britain over Brexit migration clampdown.’ The musicians are so worried by ‘looming restrictions on travel’ they are all moving to Belgium.
The Guardian hammers the point home: ‘One of Britain’s most successful orchestras is moving to Belgium amid fears that its musicians may be among the victims of a post-Brexit crackdown on immigration.’
One clue that this story might not be as it’s presented appears in the orchestra’s name: the European Union Baroque Orchestra. It’s been based in Oxfordshire since 1985.
The Guardian says the London-based ‘highly influential European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO), could also leave the UK. Marshall Marcus, chief executive of the EUYO, says: “For some time we have been forming our plan to be ready to relocate, if and when this becomes necessary. Or indeed simply advantageous.”
That’s the second clue as to the value of this anti-Brexit story. The orchestra is located in the place where it gets the most advantageous terms – inside the EU.
So what else do we know about the EU Baroque Orchestra? On its website we learn that it’s an ‘Official Cultural Ambassador for the EU’.
Its activities are open to young musicians from all 28 EU member states. EUBO renews its personnel 100% each year.
For 28 years, between 1985 and 2013, EUBO was funded annually through various European Commission Culture programmes, most recently and aptly with Operating Grants as a Cultural Ambassador for the EU.
It’s not about immigration. It’s about an orchestra funded by the European Union to promote the EU’s activities moving to a country that actually pays for it and is part of the EU. The site continues:
Since 2014 a change in the EU’s cultural funding policy meant that funding from the EU was only available for projects under the EU’s new Creative Europe programme.
EUBO’s application for Creative Europe funding in 2014 was unsuccessful. EUBO decided to re-apply in September 2015 and managed to maintain a reduced programme of activities during 2014, the unfunded period.
EUBO’s second and revised application entitled EUBO Mobile Baroque Academy [EMBA] was successful. The project was found to meet the aims and criteria of the Creative Europe programme. The training orchestra EUBO remains at the core of the activities. The project is organised in partnership with nine other organisations across nine EU Member States for the period 2015 to 2018…
EUBO’s Honorary Patrons are the Culture Ministers of all of the 28 EU Member States.
It might well be a pity that a cultural outfit is leaving the UK, but the European Union Baroque Orchestra is not moving to Brussels because the UK’s become anti-migrant and anti-foreigner. Maybe the orchestra is moving to be closer to the money?
Was Ted Heath a paedophile? The Mail says it’s been told that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale ‘regards the allegations as “totally convincing”‘. An unnamed ‘source‘ tells the paper:
“Mr Veale believes in them 120 per cent and thinks they are totally convincing.”
What Mr Veale believes is now fact? Not too long ago police on Operation Midland said the words of a man known only as ‘Nick’ were “credible and true”. They weren’t. Whereas once the police response was to undermine the alleged victim’s credibility they now accept claims at face value. So much for evidence-based police work. The police arrested known faces at the airport as the cameras clicked and the BBC televised police raids on empty homes. The hunt for child abusers began to look like a PR drive to support the police and media, two pillars of society that had let down victims.
While we’re on the matter of moving your organisation to the right side of history, the police once supported laws that made homosexuality a criminal offence. That’s relevant because at the time of his alleged offending, Heath was a ‘confirmed bachelor, a euphemism for what TV light entertainers, the Press and the police in the 1970s termed ‘poofs’. Heath was not out and proud. He was very much in, giving organ recitals to his enthusiastic mates.
Back then to the source who knows Mr Veale’s opinions:
“There are very close similarities in the accounts given by those who have come forward. The same names used for him, the same places and same type of incidents keep coming up. What stands out is that the people giving these accounts are not connected but the stories and the details dovetail. It contains disturbing stuff. Investigators have been shocked by what they have learned.”
With the copper’s thought aired, the media pile in. The Sun (Page 14), thunders: ‘PM TED HEATH “WAS A PAEDO”.’ The ‘Cop is 120% certain’. Who needs all those barriers to justice, like evidence, proof, courts, charges and lawyers. The copper is more certain than certain can be. The trouble is that the man he knows to have been a paedophile is stubbornly dead.
The Sun says Heath’s supporters view the police investigation as a ‘witch hunt’. Seventeen police work on the matter. We’re told that the ex-PM’s supporters ‘say he did not have a car. Cops are thought to have proof that he did.’ This is relevant because one claim is that he picked up a 12-year-old boy and took him to his Mayfair flat.
Back in the Mail, we see Heath ‘standing by the driver’s door of the Rover 2000 he bought after Margaret Thatcher ousted him as Tory leader in February that year… The Mail on Sunday has learned that Wiltshire Police has also obtained photographic evidence of him driving.’
The Mirror, which featured Nick on its front page, covers the story on Page 4. The report is short. The final line says the police reports, ‘may reignite the case against Sir Edward’. Consider the flames lit and the smoke fanned.
The Express features the story on Page 2. ‘Tory outrage as police chief claims that Edward Heath was paedophile,’ runs the headline. ‘Tory grandee’ Malcolm Rifkind calls the new “despicable gossip”. He adds: “Until you know the facts you no in a position to judge.”
You can’t judge it in a court of law, but you can make a judgement in the court of public opinion. We are free to wonder why 12 years after he played his last note, Heath is in the frame? Are accusations easy when the target is dead? Or is 12 years the time it takes for coppers, editors and politicos who were around at the time of the PM’s alleged crimes to retire, succumb to failing memory syndrome and die? Of course, as the adults accused of heinous act wither, their alleged victims mature into adulthood. One argument is that they’re speaking out now because they can. If they’re dismissed because their alleged abusers are dead, the message to deviants is that so long as your victim is much younger than you are by the time they get the confidence to point the finger, you’ll be polluting the water supply and out of harm’s way.
Which leaves only prejudices and gut feelings. Ted Heath, eh. Always thought he was a wrong ‘un.
So let’s end with this short extract from the Michael Cockerell documentary Westminster’s Secret Service broadcast by the BBC in 1995. Tim Fortescue, a Whip under Edward Heath between 1970 and 1973, told the cameras:
“Anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the Whips and tell them the truth, and say now, “I’m in a jam, can you help?” It might be debt, it might be a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help. And if we could, we did. We would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points. That sounds a pretty nasty reason but one of the reasons is, if we can get a chap out of trouble, he’ll do as we ask forever more.”
And Ted? In Churchill to Major: The British Prime Ministership Since 1945, Donald Shell writes:
The most significant changes in the role of the whips appear to have taken place during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Heath as chief whip from 1956 to 1959 brought a new professionalism to the job; he was the first holder of that position to routinely attend cabinet meetings,although neither he nor his successors have been full cabinet members. More significant was the way he systematically gathered information about every member of the party, and developed the art of using this to maximum advantage. He was after all responsible for piloting the Conservative party through the Suez crisis and its turbulent aftermath. When Edward Short became Wilson’s chief whip in 1964 he found that it ‘had been the practice to keep a “dirt book” in which unsavoury personal items about members were recorded’, and he immediately ordered this to be discontinued. It is probable that such stories arose simply out of the thoroughness with which Heath and his successors had gathered information. Heath himself explained his professionalism: ‘I acted on the principle that the more you know about the people you are speaking for, and the more they know about you and what you are being asked to do, the better.
Helping us know why an 18-year-old set light to a £20 note in the streets of Cambridge is a delighted Press. Above a picture of a £20 note – so helping Guardian readers know one should they encounter it lit or otherwise – the paper explains from the off that the berk ‘burning cash’ was a member of ‘Cambridge University Conservative Association’, an organisation the paper calls ‘prestigious’ but which I’d brand ‘ghastly’, in keeping with all student politics.
The Mail tells its readers the money burner was ‘drunk‘. No blood test needed. The paper knows a drunk when it sees one on a Snapchat video. The Mail soon names the wally as one Ronald Coyne, who now only ‘tried to set fire to a £20 note in front of a homeless man’.
Like the Guardian, the Mail politicises the pillock’s antics by telling its readers in the third paragraph that Coyne is a ‘relative of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’. Brother? Son? In the 30th paragraph, readers learn: ‘He is believed to be the nephew of the First Minster’s sister-in-law’s ex-husband.’
As you work out if that makes Master Coyne closer in blood to Sturgeon than Kevin Bacon or a bacon bap, the Telegraph tells its readers in a shouty headline: ‘Cambridge University student who boasted of being related to Nicola Sturgeon filmed burning £20 note in front of homeless person.’ So keen is the Tele to work the Sturgeon angle into its story that whilst her name features in the opening line – ‘Cambridge University student who claims he is a direct relative of Nicola Sturgeon…’ – you have to wait until paragraph two to hear of Coyne. Sturgeon is name-checked five times in the article.
There’s no mention of Sturgeon in the Tab’s report, although it does note: ‘It has been rumoured that burning a £50 note in front of a homeless person is one of the initiation ceremonies of Oxford’s notorious Bullingdon club.’ Whether that’s before of after they defile a dead pig and toss a pot through a restaurant window is left un-investigated.
Having gone off on a fact-free tangent, the Tab notes that the ‘motivations of the student, other than odiousness, are unclear’. Helpfully an unnamed source is on hand to call Coyne an ‘arsehole’.
By now you’re wondering about the video. Here it is.
Over in the Sun, we get to hear about the other man in the frame, Ryan Davies. The rough sleeper says Coyne first offered him the note.
Ryan, an unemployed crane operator who has been homeless for three months, thought his luck was in – until the Pembroke College student, who has distant links to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, set the money alight.
He said: “There were some people going past and I was asking them for spare change. I’m homeless. I asked one man for spare change. I was polite about it as I always am. I couldn’t believe my luck. But then he pulled it back and lit it and said ‘I’ll give you some change, I’ve changed it into fire.””He says let’s see what I’ve got and pulls out a £20 note and went to pass it to me.”
Is the Sun on the side of beggars? In 2016, the paper told its readers:
Revealed: Just one in 5 beggars are homeless… as one boasts she’s using cash for new kitchen
SUN INVESTIGATION: Just 1 in 5 on our streets are homeless and one office worker even admitted to begging after work … to buy a new kitchen
Can bad press turn people against a certain type of person? The Sun says it can:
A CAMBRIDGE student was attacked on his bike in suspected retribution for Nicola Sturgeon’s relative goading a homeless man. One college has even warned students against wearing gowns in public – in case they inflame further violence.
And what of the argument that says it’s wrong to give beggars money? The Sun reported in 2016:
Charities last night urged people NOT to hand out money in the street.
Jeremy Swain, chief executive of London-based homelessness charity Thames Reach, said: “The evidence is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of people begging on the streets spend their begging money on crack cocaine, heroin and super-strength booze.
Nottingham Council advised:
The Mail reported:
Thames Reach, a large-scale organisation with more than 350 staff, said that most people who beg on the street have some form of accommodation to go to.
Its spokesman Mike Nicholas said: ‘Giving to people who beg is not a benign act. It can have fatal consequences.
‘Many people asking for your money are caught up in a desperate cycle of begging from the public, buying drugs from a dealer and then taking these drugs.’ He added: ‘There are many services seeking to help people sleeping rough. Please work with them, not against them.’
Can we sympathise with Coyne? After all, it’s not as if beggars, people more likely to sleep on a newspaper than buy one, enjoy a favourable Press. No, say bleeding hearts. As the Standard reports:
Calls to have him kicked out of the university have quickly gathered momentum with more than 19,000 people signing a change.org petition by 5pm on Sunday.
Students always did have too much time on their hands.
What are we to make of Liverpool Football Club’s ban on Sun journalists attending matches in an official capacity and press conferences? The Sun is also banned from conducting exclusive interviews with Liverpool FC managers or players.
The ban is rooted, of course, in the Sun’s infamous front-page coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which the paper amplified the State’s and the police’s lies that the 96 people killed at the match were architects of their own demise. The dead were framed and defiled when the media and police colluded in the State’s assault on football fans.
A spokesman for Total Eclipse of the S*n – the group states ‘It is our belief that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster should never be forgotten. It is our belief that The Sun newspaper should never be forgiven’ – tells the Liverpool Echo: “Further to conversations with LFC directors we are happy to inform you that S*n journalists are no longer enjoy access to all club premises.”
The Sun behaved badly. But did we swallow its lies? Did we believe the police? Did the ‘working class scum stuffed into cages’ by the State, paying for a “slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums” take it as fact that police had been urinated on, the dead had been robbed and the Liverpool fans were guilty?
In 2012, a Guardian its told readers:
There is no bitterness on my part that the public took 23 years to wake up to our nightmare. Their ignorance was their faith in the media and in the police. This has suffered a huge blow and the fact surely cannot go unnoticed by Lord Justice Leveson. I also hope, as a southerner, that the people of Liverpool will no longer be subjected to the lazy, callous stereotypes peddled off the back of the Sun’s lies.
Lies become reasons for censorship and to slap the tabloids down. Tabloid readers must be protected from their own ignorance. And – irony of ironies – the Guardian is happy for the State to police the liars it fed. Hillsborough did not happen in a bubble. The Sun was appalling but it did not have a hand in the killing. It did not send for the dogs instead of the ambulances. It was not the coroner declaring people dead before they were dead.
The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a top-down policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.
Margaret Thatcher’s Government wanted fans – what one Tory called “the yob class” – to carry ID cards. (One doctor present at Hillsborough said the only difference ID cards could have made that day was to make it easier to identify the young corpses.) In June 1986, Thatcher gave ‘thanks to the police’ for ‘bringing good behaviour and good crowd behaviour to football over this last year’. Baron Peter Hill-Naugton, admiral of the fleet, said football was “a slum game played by louts in front of hooligans”. Football fans were the Untermenschen on which all new methods of control could be tested. The police and State presented football as a public order issue.
One week after the horror The Economist told readers that the ‘common view’ of football was of a sport ‘irredeemably tied to the old industrial north, yobs and slum cultures of the stricken inner cities – everything, in fact, that modern Britain aspires to put behind it.’
Knowing that Hillsborough happened in the context of so many wrongs, you still want the State and its police force to control the Press, to dictate the message?
Have the elites apologised for demonising football fans? Did you think it odd that the United Nations – no kidding – voiced its worry when Chelsea fans stopped a black man from boarding a train in Paris? On the day that story broke, the Guardian produced nine stories on it. One of the Guardian’s myriad reports on the nastiness said it was typical of football and football fans because it’s ‘all about feeling that you’re part of one group and are opposed to another group, [which is] the mentality of the racist’.
Bash the Sun by all means but ask yourself what’s changed? Why are football fans still treated as suspects?
In 2012, the Sun apologised for its ‘blackest day’. But it failed to put the results of the inquest into the disaster that cleared the dead of blame on the front page. The victims had been “unlawfully killed”. A mere 27 years of campaigning for justice by their families, the victims had been forced to prove their innocence. Hideous. They still await justice in any true sense of the word. All the dead, the injured, the hurt and their loved ones got was to see the police lies demolished in a court of law. Time ticks on and still no-one has been placed in the dock.
As we await justice, maybe Liverpool FC should ban the police and all politicians from the ground, the people who ask not what they can do for Hillsborough but what the disaster can do for them? Maybe Liverpool should ban the Sun’s publisher’s, too? That would mean banning News Corp., the company that owns 39.1% of BSkyB, which in February 2015, successfully bid £4.2bn for a package of 120 premier league games across the three seasons from 2016. News Corp wants to take control of BSkyB. If it does, will Liverpool ban it, too?
Banning the Sun is easy. It costs nothing. Banning the cameras costs big.
A Sun spokesperson has responded to the ban: “The Sun and Liverpool FC have had a solid working relationship for the 28 years since the Hillsborough tragedy. Banning journalists from a club is bad for fans and bad for football.”
Banning things is par for the course at football grounds today. Don’t sing that. Don’t stand up. Put that down. The cages are gone but the fans are watched even more closely.
When Piers Morgan was told to ‘Fuck off’ on the telly by Australian comedian Jim Jeffries, right-thinkers on twitter loved it. Morgan, who identifies himself without invitation as Donald Trump’s mate, pointed out that there is no ban on Muslims entering the USA and that Trump is not Hitler.
Morgan’s correct. To say so does not mean you like him or Trump, it’s just to acknowledge the facts. Trump is not Hitler. Piers Morgan is not Trump’s Joseph Goebbels, the Reich’s Minister of Propaganda.
This anti-reason shrill denial of basic facts normalises the Second World War and diminishes the Holocaust into a routine event. If Hitler is the now and the everyday, the actual Hitler, the man who wanted to make Germany greater again and triggered the murder of 6 million Jews is not all that extraordinary. Isn’t this what anti-Semites say in their effort to denigrate the great crime, that the Holocaust was not that big a deal? In pointing at Trump and yelling ‘Hitler’, history is subverted. The innocent dead are demeaned and their guilty murderers exonerated.
For the infantile Hitler shriekers, engaging with Trump and, in turn, listening to the 62 million who voted for him means ushering in the embodiment of human evil’s reincarnation. People who protest the illiberal, kak-handed and cruel attempt to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries as something Hitler would do think they are making a principled suppression of Trump’s prejudice. They’re wrong.
Trump, the authoritarian and illiberal enemy of free-speech, is not rounding up Muslims, transporting them to ghettos and concentration camps in a plot to kill every last one them, as Hitler did with the Jews. To use that monumental crime in order to give any campaign against Trump some weight is hideous.
Encouragingly for Trump and any other modern-day Hitlers, things can turn around pretty fast. The New Statesman, which in 2013 branded Angela Merkel ‘the most dangerous German leader since Hitler’, now in the post-Brexit world – it wanted the UK to Remain – calls her ‘the defender of liberal values in the post-truth age’, while the Independent, Raw Story, the Daily Beast and The Australian call Frau Hitler the ‘leader of the free world’.
The ‘free world’ being the undemocratic EU, purveyors of the Germany-biased euro currency, whose technocrats colonised the mismanaged Irish and Greek economies, belittled and harried the Irish for rejecting the Nice Treaty and made second-class Europeans of Romanians and Bulgarians who having joined the EU in 2007 had rights to work and claim benefits limited for their first seven years of membership. Merkel the evil or Merkel the great hope? Everyone gets to decide but her.
As for Jeffries, well, he was playing to the crowd and hitting a soft target. Disliking Morgan’s to-deadline pomposity is easy. When I worked as a reporter one way to get people to talk was to ask them not what they liked but what they disliked. People are far more comfortable listing and detailing their pet hates than their loves. They will tell you don’t like the phrase ‘Oh My God’, when someone with whom they disagree says they’ve been ‘owned’ and the sound of a stranger’s sniffing. Ask them what people they dislike and the flood gates really open. Right now it’s safe to say in public that you dislike Trump. Disliking him – and, boy, is that an easy task – is the quick and easiest way to define yourself and be ‘on the right side of history’. It’s much the same with Morgan. Say you don’t like him and you’re playing to a sympathetic crowd.
And that’s what struck me about Jeffries’s negating of reason and debate in taking a verbal pop at Morgan. It was safe. No-one on the TV show was going to hound him for calling out Morgan, much less Trump. In his rules of modern comedy, Jeffries told us: “You can’t do jokes about black people or Asian people, but you can do a rape joke onstage now and there’s not a problem.”
And you know who was really good at playing to the crowd and hitting soft targets who couldn’t hit back?
Let’s not make the world a safe space, where dissent is censored, disruption mobbed and naysayers shackled. Let’s debate, consider the details, listen and hold things up to the light.
Is it a crime to be famous? This week, two stories about blackmail have occupied the Sun’s front page.
The first is the matter of messages hacked from a server that handles David Beckham’s emails. The hackers wanted money to make the ‘leaks’ go away. The company being targeted complained and the emails were delivered to a site that specialises in ‘leaked’ material.
In a few emails, David Beckham allegedly uses industrial language to complain about his lack of a knighthood. He comes out of it badly. But he’s the victim, right? We love the chatter and the details, but surely we can agree that he’s a victim of an apparent crime?
We love to learn that Beckham obtained a high court injunction in December 2016 blocking the emails’ publication in the Sunday Times – a waste of money and effort given that overseas organs published the stuff online. One Romanian outlet detailed Beckham’s ‘angry pursuit of a knighthood’, which included, as the Guardian notes, the former footballer allegedly calling the gong-givers “a bunch of cunts” after he was overlooked for the honour.
It’s all a good read. We can an insight into Beckham’s non-choreographed activities. But he’s the victim.
The second story is on Danny Cipriani, a rugby player. He was blackmailed by a stripper he impregnated. The story goes that he agreed to give her some money for a termination but then failed to cough up. Lisa Murphy, for it is she, had the abortion. When she was forced to miss work, due to health complications, she asked him for money, which again he did not pay. Murphy and her colleague, Violet Smith, 29, then threatened to go to the papers with the story, namely to The Sun on Sunday. Cipriani called the police.
And how does the Sun cover the story?
Is the law different if you’re famous?
Zakaria Bulhan, 19, stood in the dock at the Old Bailey and admitted killing US tourist Darlene Horton and wounding five others – Lillie Selletin, David Imber, Martin Hoenisch, Bernard Hepplewhite and Yovel Lewronski – (all strangers to him) on 3 August 2016. Yesterday Bulhan pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and charges of wounding. Bulhan has been handed an unlimited hospital order.
Mr Justice Spencer told Bulhan:
“It is quite clear that when you committed these dreadful crimes you were not in your right mind. You were in the grip of mental illness. These were crimes which caused enormous public concern because, from their timing, it was feared initially that they might be the work of a terrorist fanatic. As it turned out they were not, although that is no consolation to your victims.”
So how does the media report an unusual crime that was front-page news? Is it a tale of knife crime, ‘broken Britain’ or mental health care? No. Parts of the media make Islam and otherness central to the story.
The Star (page 5) says Bulhan ‘mumbled “Allah, Allah, Allah“‘ after he was Tasered by police and bundled to the ground.
The Mail doesn’t mention the story at all.
The Sun doesn’t report on Bulhan.
The Mirror mentions the story on page 10. ‘Crazed killer is locked up,’ runs the headline in the fourth story down in a sidebar. Bulhan is ‘a teenager who killed a US tourist’. It does not mention what the man of ‘Somali origin’ with paranoid schizophrenia ‘mumbled’.
The Express covers the story on page 10. Bulhan is the “knife rampage killer’. The story begins: ‘A paranoid schizophrenic stabbed an American tourist to death…’ In the third paragraph, the paper says Bulhan is a ‘Norwegian-born Somali Muslim‘. You might say he’s a Norwegian. But his nationality had nothing to do with his crime. So why mention his religion, which also had nothing to do with the case?
Whereas the Star heard Bulhan ‘mumbling’ the Arabic word for ‘God’, the Express says, ‘They [Armed police] heard him chanting Allah! Allah!” as they Tasered him and found an Islamic leaflet in one of his pockets.’
Mumbling or chanting? And what was on the leaflet? We’re not told.
The tabloids got it wrong with Bulhan. Islamic terrorism played no part in his crime. His religion, place of birth and roots all played no part in his crime. A cynic might think the Press is disappointed by this. But surely papers will get face the problem that writing about mental health lacks the punch and pull of Islamic terrorism, stick to the facts and correct any mistakes made? Surely papers won’t manipulate the story to fit an agenda?
But they do. And it’s ugly.
On August 9, the Mail reported:
Was ‘devout Muslim’ Russell Square knifeman radicalised? Police to trawl ‘impressionable’ attacker’s PC for links to ISIS as neighbour claims mental illness is a ‘scapegoat’
Answer: no. He was not radicalised. He was not in ISIS. He was not a devout Muslim.
The Mail continued:
Counter-terror police will today forensically study computers belonging to the Russell Square knifeman as a neighbour claimed the ‘impressionable’ teenager could have been inspired by ISIS.
The Mail called him a ‘migrant‘ on its front page.
The Sun called him a ‘Somali’. He isn’t. He’s Norwegian.
The Sun wondered if Bulhan was a jihadi who had read books.
He wasn’t. He isn’t.
It’s worth looking at Justice Spencer’s sentencing statement in full, lest we missed the Muslim angle. Express readers get an insight into why Bulhan had ‘Islamic literature’ in his pocket.
4. You are 19 years of age, with no previous convictions. Your parents emigrated from Somalia to Norway in 1994, and that is where you were born. In 2003, when you were 5 years old, your mother came to the United Kingdom and you have been living in this country with her ever since, with your brother and sister.
Bulhan was five years old when he arrived in the UK. His family entered the country legally.
Although your mother and father had separated you saw him regularly too. You left school at 16 but retook your GCSE examinations at college and did well in your studies. You became concerned yourself about your mental health and consulted your general practitioner from 2015 onwards. You were referred for assessment by psychiatric services and you were seen by your local early intervention service on 20th April 2016. You were diagnosed with an anxiety and depressive disorder but it was not thought at that time that you were presenting with any psychotic symptoms.
Can we have a discussion abut mental health services?
5. Sadly your mental state deteriorated sharply over the next few months. You started hearing voices frequently and became convinced that you were possessed by devils, that people were conspiring against you, and that that your life was in danger.
At the end of July 2016 your mother and younger brother went to Holland to visit family members which meant that you were living alone at the family home in Tooting. You became convinced that your neighbours wanted to kill you. You went to stay with your father and he tried to look after you. He took you to the mosque on successive days up to the evening of 3rd August, hoping you might receive some form of counselling.
Did Bulhan pick up that aforesaid leaflet at the mosque, the one the Express delivered fully loaded?
When you were at evening prayers that day and a phone rang you got up and ran out of the mosque. Your father waited for you to come back and tried to find you, and tried to contact your mother in Holland for help, but all
to no avail.
6. Your movements thereafter that evening have been traced to a degree. It is clear from the CCTV clips that you were moving around the streets in a distracted and bizarre way. At some stage you acquired a large kitchen knife. You probably took it from a shop counter. At about 10.20pm you entered Russell Square. It was busy with pedestrians heading home after an evening in London’s West End. Among them were many visitors to London from overseas.
13. You were chased by members of the public. When you stopped in Bedford Place one witness described you as standing aggressively, holding the knife, uttering sounds in what appeared to be a form of incantation, although your voice and expression were not aggressive. An armed response unit attended very soon afterwards. You were told to stand still but instead you screamed and ran away. Eventually you were tasered and brought to the floor.
Such are the facts.
Is House of Commons Speaker John Bercow an apostate or a jumped-up pillock who overstepped his brief when he declared that Donald Trump should be banned from addressing Parliament? Maybe he’s both.
The Mail (front page) says Bercow ‘sparked fury’ when he told MPs of his opposition to “sexist and racist” Trump sullying the hallowed halls of Parliament with his presence. The paper quotes a ‘Whitehall source’ who calls Bercow “insulting” and in danger of damaging the so-called Special relationship between the UK and USA. Although the same source adds that Trump doesn’t “even know who Bercow is”.
A Mail writer says Bercow ‘let loose a volley of self-important rudeness’.
The Mail quotes another source mocking Bercow’s ability to straddle a high horse with such short legs. The paper shows Bercow welcoming such embodiments of enlightenment and protectors of the democratic flame as the emir of Kuwait and the president of China.
The Express (front page) calls it ‘Outrageous’.
The Sun (buried on page 5) says Bercow ‘was cheered by Labour and SNP MPs’.
And the Mirror (front pages) thunders: “Racist Trump banned from speaking in Parliament.’ On Page 2, the Mirror says, ‘Bercow was praised for standing up to Donald Trumps’s questionable values and blocking him from Parliament’. Whereas the Mail can find only people to belittle Bercow, the Mirror finds only voices to exalt him. ‘Tory MPs sat in stoney silence as their former colleague tore into Mr Trump,’ says the paper.
The trouble is that Bercow doesn’t have the right to peak for the nation. His grandstanding was just that. If the Commons values democracy, as surely it must, the man 62 millions American chose for their leader should be respected. Bercow is the Speaker. He is not The Guard. His role is to be versed in the Commons’ rules and officiate during bouts.
Of course, Trump a useful fool. Being anti-Trump means that you stand for something. He defines you by what you are not. But what are you? Being anti-Trump is not enough. It’s easy and it’s lazy. Its invites bigger questions: why don’t you trust the electorate? Who do you represent if not the voters? If you prefer bans over debate, why do you sit in debating chamber?
It’s easy to take issue with Trump. It’s less simple to explain what you would do instead.
In 1950, Superman, a refugee from a distant land, had this message for American youth.
…and remember boys and girls, your school – like our country – is made up of Americans of many different races, religions and national origins, so…
if you hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his religion, race or national origin – don’t wait: TELL HIM HAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN.
KEEP YOUR SCHOOL ALL AMERICAN
The Sun continues to link Antoine Griezmann with a move to Manchester United. In ‘MAD FOR IT’, the paper’s lead sports story is that Atletico Madrid’s star striker ‘wants to be the new Becks’. Griezmann has ‘dropped a hint’ he wants to play for Man United.
He did? No. The only person talking is Griezmann’s ‘image advisor’ Sebastien Bellencontre, who, according to the Sun ,’says Griezmann wants to follow hero David Beckham by wearing the iconic No7 shirt at the Theatre of Drams.’ He doesn’t want to follow his hero (?) Beckham to Real Madrid, PSG or LA Galaxy. The Frenchman wants to be Beckham II at Old Trafford.
In the fifth paragraph of the story continued four pages inside the Sun, readers get to hear what the marketing man actually said. Bellencontre told So Foot magazine: “When I read articles about a hypothetical transfer to Manchester United I think it would be the ideal commercial scenario.”
Feel the passion, United fans. But not everyone will be non-plussed. Whereas Ferguson went for continuity, the current Manchester United hierarchy wants only to buy big, buy bigger and buy biggest. Bellencontre is talking their language. “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist],” said Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward. “We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.” Not the best team. The players with the biggest public profiles. The players who can flog stuff best.
What the Sun doesn’t report is that Bellencontre also said (and this via Google translate):
“He would play club Beckham, his idol, with the same legendary number 7 in the back … Still without any consideration sport, PSG would be interesting to Franco-French level, but it has already happened to International … ”
So he quite fancies PSG, then.
Le Figaro has more from Bellencontre (again via Google translate):
“The model would be a mixture of Beckham and Zidane. Beckham because it is his idol, but also because I would like to make it a fashion icon that survives his career. Zidane for French DNA, simplicity, family values, fidelity too … We want Antoine to finish his career at Puma for example. (…) For the Beckham card, the young European blonde, tattooed, talented. (…)
On ESPN, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s ‘former image consultant’. Although on his company website and twitter bio, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s branding guru.
The upshot is that is should United opt to throw the best part of £100m at Griezmann, they won’t just get a striker, they will get a striker with Zidane’s hair and fashion nouse, and Beckham’s fidelity and French DNA. Or something like that. Anyhow, it will be totally amazing and ensure another season of great business in the United soccer superstore.
Such are the facts.
In what the Sun calls ‘leaked emails’ David Beckham allegedly wrote about his disappointment at receiving an OBE and not a knighthood in the kind of language you’d expect from a footballer. He allegedly called the Honours Committee “unappreciative c***s”. The stars are the Sun’s work and without a ‘t’ or ‘ck’ we cannot be certain as to the degree of Becks’ upset. He also allegedly wrote, “Unless it’s a knighthood f*** off.” That’s an easier puzzler.
Beckham also allegedly queried the value of an OBE, given that one was awarded to Katherine Jenkins, the photogenic singer. ‘Katherine Jenkins OBE for what?’ mused Beckham allegedly. ‘Singing at the rugby and going to see the troops plus taking coke. F***ing joke.’ Her manager says Katherine OBE does lots of charity work and is deserving of her gong. Her manager is ‘Professor Jonathan Shalit’. According to Wikipedia, Shalit was awarded an Honorary Professorship in 2012 by Henley Business School and Reading University in recognition of his contribution to the arts, music and broadcasting.’
Gongs and titles, eh?
The Mail says Beckham was all set to get his knighthood from those “c***s” in 2014. He didn’t because of ‘warnings from HM Revenue and Customs’ to ‘sort out his finances’. No, not warned to relocate to France or Luxembourg and keep away from the taxman’s reach. The Mail says it was down to Beckham’s ‘involvement in an alleged tax avoidance scheme’. The Mail also notes that the emails were not ‘leaked’ from the servers of Doyen Global, a company run by Beckham’s PR chief Simon Oliviera, but ‘hacked’.
So Beckham’s the victim,then.
The Mirror says he is. It leads with news that Becks is the victim of a ‘Blackmail plot’. The emails were made public only after Doyen Global ‘ignored demands for cash’. The Mirror pits itself as Beckham’s champion – and thus against its rival the Sun – highlighting his ‘Good work’, role as his daughter’s’ HERO’ and dedicates a column to the subject ‘Lunacy he’s not already Sir David’.
He’s no victim, says Jan Moir. The Mail writer dips her quill in vinegar and says, ‘Now we know the reality behind the facade’. Isn’t it a tad harsh to judge a man’s life on the value of a few emails? No, says Moir. “We know now the real Beckham is foul-mouth, determined egotist who uses his work for charities as part of an increasingly desperate campaign to win a knighthood.’
He’d make a good editor.
And so what if grandstanding over charity work is based on self-promotion? If people get help, do we care that he gets a knighthood, a gong so precious they gave one to avid charity worker Jimmy Savile?
Compare and contrast the following news about the Bowling Green Massacre and Hillary Clinton landing under enemy fire in Bosnia. Fake news is big news right now.
Sat at the top of the new cycle is the idea that pimply Putin supporters pumped out fake news stories which swung the election for Donald Trump. Amid reports that the great unwashed don’t trust journalists is news that fake stories were taken as fact and influenced people to vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton.
These people have trouble separating fact from fiction. It’s these slack-jawed people for whom health warnings appear at the end of soap opera.
A few years ago I was invited to talk on a BBC radio show about a story on British soap opera Coronation Street. A fictional child had gone missing. Fictional police and fictional people – actors repeating the words penned by scriptwriters working to replicate slice-of-life stuff to the fourth wall – were frantic with worry. The show ended by assuring viewers that everything they had seen was not real. Similarities to actual events were coincidental. If they had been affected by the heartbreaking story, they should call a number, where they would be given assistance but sadly not advised to stop watching the magic box, get a grip, get out more and get your head tested.
Such warnings suggests broadcasters have a pretty low opinion of their viewers.
A British poll in late 2016 found that 25% of those polled said they trusted journalists. Oddly, journalism is much more widely trusted – up to 65% – when the report is read aloud by a TV newsreader.
Politicians are trusted by just 21% of the people.
The assumption is that the people who fall for fake news – the stupid and gullible who read only one news source and don’t talk to people in the street (68% trust rating); who think Dallas was a documentary and Picasso a martial artist – are Trump voters. Clinton supporters, so goes the theory, are too knowing to be so easily duped.
Hillary Clinton is on a visit to the war-town country. She tells media in 2008:
“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Utter balls. Hilary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton landed at Tuzla Air Base. Local and dignitaries met the Clintons at the airport. They gave them flowers, a poetry reading and at least one hug from a well-placed photogenic child.
In The Des Moines Register, said Hillary:
“We landed in one of those corkscrew landings and ran out because they said there might be sniper fire. I don’t remember anyone offering me tea on the tarmac there.”
Called out on her balls, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters in 2008:
“The facts are clear from contemporaneous news accounts that she was entering a potentially dangerous situation… is it possible that in the most recent instance in which she discussed this that she misspoke, with regards to the exit from the plane…”
Not a lie. Not fake news. A misspoke.
Bowling Green Massacre.
President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway tells media:
“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
There was no Bowling Green Massacre.
Conway says she misspoke. She meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’.
In 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to federal prison after they confessed to attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq and tried to assist al-Qaeda in Iraq by sending money and weapons.
Massacre. Nothing like it. Utter balls. A lie? No. A misspoke.
Cue Sniper survivor Chelsea Clinton.
Fake news is a big issue. But it’s nothing new. Why is one news item leading the TV news? Why does Israel and not Brazil or Pakistan top the BBC’s news show? Newspapers appeal to their readers’ prejudices. Bias is all around.
Facts can be checked. Claims can be disproven. You can read more than one newspaper or online report and watch more than one TV show.
So what changed?
Whereas once journalists were expected to be objective, they now emote, signalling their opinion and taking sides. The journalist’s report becomes just another opinion. It is no more valid – no truer – than any other opinion. Trust has been eroded by a desire to show all sides of an argument; to present the ‘facts’ from all angles; to be seen as impartial and in search of not one truth but of multiple talking points; to show views over verifiable fact.
If there’s no truth, all we get is fake. Hillary, Trump and Putin didn’t invent and encourage fake news. The mainstream media did.
‘Out of Berkeley Nazi Scum,’ demands a placard held high at University of California Berkeley. Intolerance will not be tolerated! So goes the protests against to deadline polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos, who having been banned from the virtual world – Twitter suspended his account – is now branded too outrageous for the Berkeley brains’ trust to cope with.
The screeching, fires, placards and – irony of ironies – calling out people as ‘fascists’ as you smash windows and light fires by the college bookstore worked. Fascists, eh. If you want to call out a fascist, copy their methods and become one of them. The college that once championed free speech, where students campaigned for the right to hear from Communists and agitators buckled. Trump supporter and Breitbart news mainstay Milo Yiannopoulos had his appearance cancelled. The censorious, violent, angry prudes won the right to stymie and curtail free speech.
On CNN the post-truth, fact-free news mandarins got wind of the story. UC Berkeley professor and former Democratic Secretary of Labor Robert Reich suggested Trump and his fans were behind the protests.
“I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students. Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.”
“There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event. So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth…. I saw these people. They all looked very– almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”
You want facts? No need when you have feelings.
If you don’t think free speech is worth protecting, you are not for progress. You cannot counter ideas and foment new thinking without free speech, the sound of free thought.
There are so many things about President Trump to be concerned about. His illiberalism. His attitude to free speech – he’s against it. His cruel and arbitrary ban on people visiting the US from seven counties. But dismissing his supporters, people who want freer lives, more money, better job security, jobs, opportunity and recognition as thick, ‘low-information’ fascists is not in the least bit helpful.
This disdain for the concerns of 62 million voters who backed Tump over Hillary Clinton – the patrician who wanted a “barrier” between the US and Mexico, who called vast numbers of voters ‘deplorables”, untermensch to be despised by the knowing and – irony of ironies – who know fascism when they see it, and has caused so much suffering in majority-Muslim counties – is contagious. And what goes for Trump’s supporters goes too for the majority who embraced democracy and voted in favour of Brexit. Writing in the Guardian, Labour MEP Seb Dance has much to say.
Earlier this week, while UKip MEP Nigel Farage was addressing the European Union chamber, Dance held up a sign. It featured an arrow aimed at Farage and the message ‘He’s lying to you’. Phew! Good job that Seb Dance was there to tell us thickos what was untrue.
On his website, Sebastian says why he did it:
“Mainstream politics must be more willing to challenge the nationalists and the populists. They pretend to stand up for people who are suffering but their diet of hate, division and suspicion create only misery and poverty. It’s time to stop the nuanced language: They’re liars.
“Nigel Farage is regularly treated to free coverage by virtue of being leader of the EFDD [UKIP’s European Parliamentary group] and UKIP often use these clips in isolation on social media. When debates are time-limited it is impossible to challenge what he’s saying, so I protested in the only way I knew how at that point, which was to grab a piece of paper, write a very simple message on it and sit behind Nigel Farage during his usual diatribe.”
The New Statesman calls Dance ‘the best MEP ever’.
The FT says:
The motive was a smart piece of sabotage, aimed at making it more difficult for UKIP’s former leader to go viral.
And so to Dance, who tells Guardian readers:
On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. On 8 November 2016 Donald Trump won the US general election. Both events were seismic, in and of themselves, but it has been the reaction to them that is the most extraordinary part of the story so far.
No, not people in the streets shouting down debate with cries of ‘Hitler’ and fascists, nor MPs decrying democracy.
From having been the rebel outsider positions in their respective countries, both have now risen to a new kind of status that leads online Twitter eggs gleefully to announce the end of liberal democracy and welcome the impending arrival of a new world order.
Democracy won. Both results were established in a free and legal vote. I’m no Trump supporters, and was delighted when Farage failed to win a seat at the last General Election, but the millions who voted for Trump and Brexit are not all twitter eggs. The voters are not passive no-marks. They mobilised for change.
Dance then tells readers:
There were many fine and erudite contributions before Farage spoke. The values this place represents do instil a real sense of pride. But some of the comments focused on the need to have a constructive dialogue with Trump, as if he would somehow listen to reasoned and impassioned pleas from MEPs, an organisation he has repeatedly indicated he would want to be destroyed.
MEPs are not an organisation. They are representatives. Dance’s note positions him as the politician who knows politicians cannot be trusted. A placard held up for the cameras apes the protestors who want to make their voices heard but have no arena save for the street in which to do so. Dance is elected to speak on their behalf. He is not passive. He is active. He’s not one of ‘us’, He’s one of ‘them’. Disparaging politicians and their motives puts him squarely in the same camp as Trump and Farage. Both say politicians and the media cannot be trusted.
Is the media biased against President Trump? He says it is. And – get this – here’s evidence that he’s right. The Guardian leads with the picture of the Anwar al-Awlaki’s daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki, who “may have been fatally shot in intelligence operation on al-Qaida that left at least 14 people, including a US commando, dead.”
The headline declares:
Eight-year-old American girl ‘killed in Yemen raid approved by Trump’
A child’s death was “approved by Trump”.
Is that biased? Or is it a little too subtle for you?
Did the Guardian lead with pictures of children killed in attacks approved by Barack Obama?
No. Maybe Obama bombed them to sleep? Maybe he blessed them with his ordinance? Maybe being killed on Obama’s approval is more desirable than being killed on Trump’s?
Did we see any faces on the Guardian’s front page of the children deported – some of the 2.5 million people sent packing on Obama’s instructions?
Is the media biased?
Is Trump out of step with previous American leaders?
Media balls: why did Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate a goal against Wigan Athletic by pretending to play tennis (or was it squash)? His bespoke goal celebration is causing the Press to wonder why he did and what it all meant.
It would be easier, of course, if the German could be more precise. An overheard serve and loud grunt would have dismissed the squash interpretation, and the donning of an headband (removed from a sleeve or sock) or skirt (ditto) helped further still. As it was Bastian played two air shots, and any offence to Jeremy Bates or Tim Henman, two nearly men of British tennis, is regrettable.
On the plus side, when lining up his forehand, Schweinsteiger did not hit a teammate dashing in to celebrate his goal nor deliver a backhand cuff to the unmentionables. Although had he done the headlines – ‘New balls, please’ – write themselves.
Anyhow, to the Press.
The Daily Express knows why he did it:
‘The 32-year-old German then stole the show with a celebration in tribute to Australian Open champion Roger Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in five sets earlier during the day’
The Daily Mail knows:
‘Schweinsteiger stuck the ball in the net and then celebrated with a swing of an imaginary racquet in front of his wife, retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic’
The Daily Star knows:
Schweinsteiger, a keen tennis fan and husband of Ana Ivanovic, celebrated his goal with a nod to Australian Open champ Roger Federer.
The Guardian knows:
Schweinsteiger celebrates by playing a tennis forehand and backhand, which is either a tribute to his wife Ana Ivanonic or Roger Federer, or both.
In conclusion: more practice in front of the wardrobe mirror, Bastian.
Donald Trump continues to set the news agenda, his presidency a political take on ‘Stay Tuned’ TV cliffhangers. President Trump’s ill-conceived travel ban dominates the news. But the Daily Mirror has a new angle. It books itself into one of The Donald’s five-star hotels – the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC – and sets about looking at the labels on the luxuries therein.
Full disclosure: I’ve stayed in a Trump hotel, his tower in Toronto. And, aside from my iPhone getting nicked from the room, found it pretty good, from the linen to the pink ‘Trump’ baseball hats left for each guest. And, no, hair was not attached to the complimentary lids.
The Mirror’s Christopher Bucktin got the tough job of stock taking at Trump Inns. He found lots of ‘imports but few US goods’ at ‘Hotel Hypocrite’. He found Samsung TVs (made in Mexico), shower caps (made in China), cups (Germany) and a fridge (Switzerland).
Having quoted one hotel guest who lambasts Trump for picking the cheapest goods, Bucktin makes a false step. ‘We also fund him cashing in in his most hated religions – Islam,’ he writes.
Cashing in? How so?
In the bedside drawer ‘I came across a Gideon Bible’, a move akin to finding your own arse with your own hand. By the Bible is a note: ‘If you would like to continue your spiritual journey, we also offer the following: Talmud, Quran, Gita, Avesta, Tripitaka, Shri Guru, Grantha Sahib and Book of Mormon.” A call to housekeeping confirmed guests were able to have the holy book of Islam brought to their room in Arabic and English, with a prayer rug and a compass pointing to Mecca.’
So how was he cashing in? There is no word that the mat, book and compass incur a surcharge. Bucktin explains: ‘Trump the hotelier welcomes Muslims – if they are loaded with dollars.’ He treats all customers the same. He does not discriminate. Just like Hitler, then.
And what if they’re workers? We don’t know if any staff at the hotel are Muslim. Maybe Trump welcomes Muslims so he can pay them, too?
Attacking Trump, the accidental president whose bad for liberty, is not too hard a task so why make a bad job of the facts? The Mirror says rooms ‘start at an average of £500 per night’. A quick look at the hotel’s website tells us a room can be had for $400 a night all in. Not cheap. But not £500.
Over pages 6 and 7, the Mirror looks at the protest’s against Trump’s executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. It notes the on-line petition calling for Parliament to cancel Trump’s State visit lest it “embarrass” the Queen. Over 1.5m people support feudalism and the monarchy. Who knew?
‘Prevent Donald Trump’, runs the petition text, ‘from making a state visit to the United Kingdom. Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US government, but he should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.’
Can Trump achieve what Prince Andrew, Prince Charles, the Duke of Edinburgh, Fergie, a grandson dressed as Nazi, an uncle who was a Nazi, walking about with a crown on your noggin’ and riding in a gold coach failed to do? Can Her Majesty feel embarrassed? “[Trump’s] misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by the queen,” says the petition’s writer. Over one million people think Trump is too common for Her Majesty. What a snooty view. Look how superior we are to Trump and his supporters. No red carpet for him. He has hotels; she has palaces. He has Bibles; she is Defender of the Faith. He has voters; she has subjects. He has borders; she has Empire. He has Tiffany; she has diamonds as big as your face.
The paper notes that outside Whitehall, protestors demanded Theresa May condemn Trump.
And then come the inevitable celebrity endorsement. ‘Bianca Jagger, Lily Allen and Gary Lineker, who was with two of his sons’, were all there. ‘America united to condemn Donald Trump,’ says the paper. All of it? Odd not to hear one word in support of Trump’s ban. ‘Hollywood stars’ spoke out against Trump.
It’s all pretty much what Trump wants, no? The media present one side of the debate. Check. The celebrities vent forth. Check. People who don’t like the fact he was democratically elected in a legal vote use polls and numbers to try and derail him. Check.
More Trump on the Sun’s cover. ‘PM: No Trump U-turn.’ Over pages 8 and 9, the Sun spots Gary Lineker and Lily Allen in the 10,000 people outside Downing Street.
The paper quotes MPs likening Trump to Hitler. “The Holocaust didn’t start with the gas chambers,” says SNP Carol Monaghan, one of many keen to use the murders of 6 million Jews to score a political point. Boris Johnson told the Commons the comparison “demeans the horror of the 1930s”. It does. Trump is not plotting and fomenting genocide. He’s not that organised.
‘Protest march? It’s a waste of time,’ writes the Sun’s Clare Foges. Maybe. Maybe not. It; good for filling pages and spotting famous faces. Foges adds: ‘Strangely there was not the same outcry when Obama banned refugees from Iraq for six months in 2011.’ She spots hypocrisy and ‘anguished luvvies’ in a ‘pitch of hysteria’. Protest is for losers. “Save your breath,’ says the Star, which one sided with the protesting EDL.
Does this ‘hysteria’ over Trump whitewash crimes of other politicians, like Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and Obama?
One of those ‘luvvies’ occupies the Mail’s front page. It’s Gary Lineker and a son. The Mail says May is ‘right to ignore the hysteria’ and the ‘twitter-obsessed, virtue-signalling student union politicians running today’s Labour Party’. The matter of US security, says the paper, is ‘a question for US politicians’.
And a question for Daily Express readers, too. An impressive 99% of them ‘agree with Trump’s tough migrant stance’. Well, those who voted in one of the paper’s polls do, which has still to bring in that 100% result. Of course, 100% could be achieved by there being just one caller keen to spend 50p on a premium-rate phone line – that’s 5p less than the paper costs. But at 99% the poll looks busy and representative.
And the Express has another. Today it asks readers: ‘Is Donald Trump right to bring in the travel ban?’ Anyone in doubt as to how to vote can see the headline hanging above the question: ‘Trump fury is just liberal left hysteria.’
The vote is open to liberal left hysterics with 50p to burn. Like everything about Trump, it’s fair and fair can be.
When Donald Trump was voted in, the Daily Mirror was aghast that he’d called Theresa May after dialling so many other leaders. It was a”poor start to the Special Relationship”. May was “at the back of the queue of world leaders”. The President-elect had issued a snub.
So how did the Mirror report the news that May is the first world leader to meet President Trump?
Was it front-page news?
And every other paper?
Such are the facts.
Is Tim Farron beyond parody? That F. A. R… Oh, never mind. He’s the leader of the LibDems, which were pretty popular and go-ahead until their former leader Nick Clegg stuffed them. Talking about Article 50 and Brexit – which he opposes – Farron is quoted in the Guardian:
The UK’s final Brexit deal must not be decided by “a stitch-up between Whitehall and Brussels”, the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has said, promising his party will seek to hold Theresa May’s government to account over the process.
There will be no stitch-up between the wonks, the technocrats and the mandarins because Tim is watching. That’s Tim who wants another referendum on Brexit because the stoopid people didn’t agree with the technocrats, wonks and mandarins the first time round. The people who mobilised and saw an alternative political future can’t be trusted, says Tim, who is on hand to protect us from our own ignorance.
Knowing Farron is overseeing international operations brings to mind Frederick Peel Eldon Potter. In response to Tsar Alexander II’s aggression in the Caucuses in 1898, Potter told the few thousand readers of his column in Ireland’s Skibereen Eagle, “the Skibereen Eagle has its eye on Russia.”
It’d be an idea for Farron and others who don’t trust the demos to pass their time thinking of an alternative to the EU and a new angle for politics that engages with the electorate and actually represents the people. Brexit offers opportunities. Farron should embrace it. But it’s easier for him and his ilk to carry on as they have done for decades, delegating decisions to unelected groups and inviting the great unwashed to “join the debate” with no intention of acting on a word they say. Politics isn’t therapy.
“That is a recipe for dissent, for a complete breakdown in trust in our politics. For the next couple of generations, let’s say, Britain’s relationship with the outside world will be cast because of stitch-ups in the 21st-century equivalent of smoke-filled rooms.”
Someone tell him. Not you, Gina Miller, who was made “physically sick” by the Brexit vote. She successfully challenged the Government in the courts. The Supreme Court sided with her and ruled that parliament must vote to trigger Article 50. Miller did it not because she wants to feel better and best way of achieving an holistic recovery is to scupper Brexit. Like Farron, Miller did it for us. She wants to prove that “parliament alone is sovereign”. Made ill by the voters, she champions democracy.
No. Not her.
One of you 17.5 million people who voted for Brexit in a free and legal election can have a go at telling Farron what’s what. Form an orderly
line queue. He’s relying on us all getting bored and the electorate’s old passivity to return and ensure Brexit dies on the vine.
But we won’t.
So keen are migrant workers to pay UK taxes, the Daily Express says “more than 1 million citizen” of them will “rush in” before the country leaves the European Union.
Well, maybe they will. Maybe they won’t.
The headline figure is the opinion of Richard Tice, billed as “co-chairman of the Leave Means Leave campaign”. Why there should be a campaign to implement something decided by a free and legal vote is off. And how Tice came to be the voice for it is not investigated.
But it’s exists. And the Express is all ears, keen to support Tice’s views and guesstimates on its front page. Indeed, this is the third time this January Mr Tice’s views have reached Express readers.
Who is he? What is Leave Means Leave? The Express doesn’t say much about the group based at 55 Tufton Street, London. The Independent has a little, reporting on February 10 2016:
The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders – The offices of 55 Tufton Street in Westminister [sic] are home to no fewer than eight right-of-centre organisations
After the clanger in the headline, the Indy has some insight on goings on at 55 Tufton Street.
But this low-profile four-storey block, a stone’s throw from Parliament, is home to no fewer than eight right-of-centre organisations dedicated to pulling Britain out of Europe and undermining the battle to curb global warming.
We get some names, most of which the Daily Express seems to have on speed dial:
The former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson is one of the key figures at 55 Tufton Street, after he moved his climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation to the premises.
This puts the foundation in the same building as the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the bullishly effective low-tax pressure group…
We’re told that 55 Tufton Street is owned by Richard Smith. Who is he?
Richard Smith is probably best known for flying David Cameron to his home in Shobdon, Herefordshire in 2007 – shortly after the then leader of the Opposition proposed taxes on unnecessary flights… His company, HR Smith Group, owns number 55 Tufton Street… He is also a trustee of the Politics and Economics Research Trust, the charitable arm of the Taxpayers Alliance.
At the time of writing, the Indy said you could find the following organisations at 55 Tufton Street: Global Warming Policy Foundation, Global Vision, The European Foundation, Civitas, Taxpayers’ Alliance, Business for Britain, Big Brother Watch and UK2020.
You may well wonder why London-based think tanks carry so much weight in the media? If their thoughts trigger debate, we should know more about how their treatises came to be.
Richard North claims:
…55 Tufton Street is a nest of vipers. It harbours groups which form a nexus of influence which dominates the fringes of right-wing Conservatism. And it provides the spiritual home of those who believe they are entitled to run the “leave” campaign.
…the referendum is an opportunity to rethink how we do political research in this country, working towards the idea of virtual think-ranks, freed from the stultifying grip of the Tufton Street Gang, and the intellectual constraints that it brings.
So to the Express‘ story, which does little more than repeat Mr Trice’s claims. Over pages 4 and 5, we get “Fears over EU migration in run-up top Brexit”. Tice says we could “easily see one million to 1.25 million extra EU migrants move to Britain” if “freedom of movement for EU citizens continues over the next two years”.
Will these “rushing” foreigners be allowed to hold British passports or continue to work here after the country leaves the EU? Dunno. How much will they pay in tax? Dunno. Will all the jobs they do be low-paid? Dunno.
Few facts, then. But the Express has heard enough. “Mr Tice says that estimate is a conservative one based on National Insurance registrations,” it reports. One million could be millions of rushing foreigners.
Tice’s guess ‘does not take into account the extra pull factor of Britain’s looming departure from the EU, making this the “last chance saloon” for people to secure better prospects offered in the UK than elsewhere in the bloc”.
How many will see it as their last chance to leave the UK and secure better prospects in the bloc? Dunno.
Lest readers still not have got the message that foreigners are to be feared, the Express presses f7 and conjures up one of its other sources of fact: MigrationWatchm, an outfit not hymned for its love of immigration.
Have loaded the argument the Express invites readers to vote in a premium-rate phone line poll which asks, “Should Britain act NOW to control immigration.”
Vote now and vote often.
In the twilight area between fact and fiction lies the Daily Star. Today’s Star leads with the sensational news that Donald Trump is “IN CELEBRITY BIG BOTHER”.
Such is the way of Trump, it might be that the thin-skinned reality TV creation is to appear on another reality TV show. But did you spot the pun? Anorak had to read it twice. It’s “BIG BOTHER” not “BIG BROTHER”. And news is that Donald Trump in in trouble because:
a) China has eaten the last creature he wears on his head?
b) There’s a gay sex tape?
c) He’s a jihadi?
d) Madonna is upset?
Yeah, it’s ‘d’. But should there be trade war with China, things might get worse for Trump.
As we’ve noted, Madonna says she is so upset at the result of a legally democratic vote she considered “blowing up the White House“. And no, she wasn’t planning on achieving it by nipping in the back door and pricking her inflated ego. Kaboom! Rhinestone all over the place.
Also unhappy with Trump are: The Edge (from U2, the group front by Bono, aka Mr G21), Natalie Portman, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Amy Schumer.
Does anyone else think the problem celebs have with Trump is not a problem at all. He’s a symbol that what a TV star says matters. Their lives are not just about endorsements for fizzy drinks, the next record / film / miracle baby / diet / gadget and Hillary Clinton. People actually listen to what famous, vain, rich people with zero political nous, diplomatic savvy and military experience say. And what’s more, they vote for them to be President of the US of A!
“Look,” say the A-listers “one of us can get into the White House. Why didn’t my agent tell me?”
Madonna’s just gutted it isn’t her sat in the big chair with a finger on the button. Neither brave nor daring enough to go for the top job, she’s been reduced to playing on as Trump’s support act. No wonder she’s unhappy.