Key Posts Category
Nutella gives you cancer. Maybe. Maybe not. The Daily Mail is taking no chances, warning its readers that the sugary spread offers eaters potentially lethal side effects. Well, one of its ingredients might be cancerous. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says palm oil, which makes the spread smooth, is “more carcinogenic than any other oil”.
Ferrero, which makes the goo, should know that last year the Mail reported on another of its products. “Kinder chocolate found to contain possible cancer-causing oil,” thundered the headline.
Germany’s Foodwatch found the Kinder Reigel contained mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), which the European Food Safety Agency has said ‘may be carcinogenic’.
Or to put it another way: MOAH may not be carcinogenic.
Kinder also make Ferrero Rocher chocs. Those over-sweet balls contain palm oil. Did the Mail fail to spot the alleged danger when it reported on Nigel Farage’s party:
We know Farage and the Mail want a hard Brexit, but surely neither don’t want the EU offed in such a brutal manner?
Dave Duncan, from Otley, wanted to help the family of Lukasz Urban, the Polish trucker murdered by Islamist Anis Amri and his ISIS cohorts. Amri used Mr Urban’s truck to murder 12 people and ruin the lives of many more at a Berlin Christmas market. Dave Duncan, himself a trucker, set about raising nearly £200,000 for Urban’s relatives.
“It could have been any one of us there that day,” says Mr Duncan, who having presented Mr Urban’s family with the money was invited by them to attend the driver’s funeral in Banie, close to the Polish border with Germany.
“The Polish truckers’ own tributes are what being a truck driver is all about,” he adds.” “We have to watch out for one another, as in most cases nobody else does.”
“We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope,” said the author James Baldwin. Dave Duncan’s clarity of thought is manifest in his intensely human act of kindness.
Poland’s ambassador to the UK, Arkady Rzegocki is touched by Duncan’s humanity. He will thank him at an official ceremony. “His compassion moved many both in the UK and back in Poland,” he told the BBC. “It is an inspiring example of British-Polish solidarity which never fails in times of crisis.”
Great story, isn’t it. A British man shows the Poles that he and the donors to his cause also understand the meaning of solidarity. Are we divided? No. ISIS can’t win. We win.
“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now,” wrote Jack Kerouac in 1957.
Naomi Shihab Nye put it well in her poem ‘KINDNESS’:
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Nice one, Dave.
Local News Watch: Adam Hart spots two paragraphs in the Western Gazette which, as he says, show us “journalism at its very best”.
The story is about a car parking matters. Two cars have been spotted parked close together in Frome, Somerset. The local news hound places the happening in context: “They’re not the first two vehicles to have been pictured inches from one another in the town. A yellow Citroen parked inches away from a blue Volkswagen at Sainsbury’s a few months ago.”
This story might be missing the still bigger scoop: who is going around Frome taking pictures of cars almost touching and are they on a police register?
Spotter: Adam Hart
Deep on page 9 of the Daily Mirror is the story of four Chelsea fans found guilty of racist violence and given suspended prisoner sentences by a French judge. The four white men were accused of pushing a back man off a Metro train in Paris ahead of Chelsea’s Champions’ League match with PSG. “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it,” belched fans as the video rolled.
A nasty little event was then amplified beyond all proportion. The Sun led with the news:
Readers were ordered to “FIND PIGS OF PARIS”. The Sun said “an international hunt” was under way for the bellends who also chanted the refrain “Where were you in World War 2?”. It was the type of cross-border hunt usually reserved for jihadis and master criminals. It was that serious.
The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, lifted his blinkers away from Syria and the EU Referendum to tell us that the matter was “extremely worrying”. “These are very, very serious matters.” Nick Clegg said, without irony given his career: “‘I was so ashamed.”
The United Nations – no, I’m not making this up – thought it wise to comment. “It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism, to re-energize the effort to combat it in all its forms wherever it occurs,” said a spokesman. It was, he said, “cruel”. The United Nations is hot on cruelty, human rights and racism, after all just look at the members who sit on its panel: Bangladesh (“Security forces continue enforced disappearances, killings, and arbitrary arrests with impunity”), China (“Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners have faced particularly severe repression in recent years, including forced conversion, torture and imprisonment”), Qatar (“Discrimination against women remains entrenched in both law and practice) and Saudi Arabia (“Members of other faiths can worship privately, but non-Muslim houses of worship may not be built”).
Across the global feelings were hurt by oafs on a Paris tube train. Idiots had been caught behaving sadly. But the elite in Westminster and what used to be Fleet Street wanted more. They held the video up as being a sign of much greater ills. And once again football – the great meritocratic melting pot watched by slum people – was in the dock.
There are no black faces on the Government’s front benches; no black editors of national newspapers; no black faces on the Metropolitan police leadership team; but get a load of those berks on the Paris Metro. There’s your racism. Happily for the elite who use football as a extension of Moral Health UK, the Chelsea fans were wearing club colours.
The elite like their racists white, preferably working class and always obvious.
The Daily Mail (number of black faces on board: nil), knows racism when it sees it. It delivered the time-honoured “LEAGUE OF SHAME”, a list of football fans arrested for “racist and abusive chanting”. The Daily Star (which once supported the EDL) said the “Hate thugs face 3 years’ jail”. “There is a greater shame here because we foolishly, naively, believed the issue of racism among our football supporters was a thing of the past,” wrote Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay opined in the paper’s 40-odd articles on the incident: “For decades this kind of thing has happened, continues to happen, and most troubling, appears to be happening a little more now.”
One by one these wrong ‘uns were lined up to be shot at. Josh Parsons came to epitomise racism. The Sun led with a picture of Parsons. The Times showed us photo of his home in Dorking. He was an ex-public schoolboy. He was a “City high-flyer”. He had studied at “30,000-a-year” Millfield school. He worked for the Business and Commercial Club in Mayfair. And in case you still couldn’t find him, the Sun said his office was on Mayfair, Central London.
Grab your torches! Saddle up! Let’s roll!
And as you journeyed to the lynching, know this – Star told readers: “Meanwhile, season ticket holder Josh Parsons, 21, one of those filmed, is a UKIP supporter who enjoyed a pint with Nigel Farage”.
Damned in print and monstered by the highest offices in global diplomacy, the men who abused Souleymane Sylla, 34, are now buried deep in the papers. Parsons, billed as a”trainee scaffolder”, Jamie Fairbairn, a civil engineer, Richard Barklie and William Simpson are no longer the apogee of all wrongs. They were ordered to pay about £9,000 to My Sylla.” That’s a pretty steep fine for being a prat, and far less than the lengthy custodial terms some were hoping for.
You might supposed the story is front-page news elsewhere. But you’d be wrong. It does not appear in the Star. It’s on page 8 of the Mail (“Chelsea yobs told to pay £9k for racist Paris attack”). The Sun shows the story on page 8. In its version Barklie is not 50 years old, as the Mirror says he is, but 52 and an “ex-cop”. We also get more details of the punishment:
Barklie: Tried in his absence, the County Antrim man got a suspended year long jail term. He denied racist violence.
Simpson: Tried in his absence, he got a suspended year long jail term.
Parsons: He went to court and got an eight months suspended sentence.
Fairbairn: He went to court and got a six months suspended sentence.
The Guardian has more. We get to know what happened to Parsons, public enemy Number 1:
Parsons told the court the Métro was packed and the atmosphere was “hot and hostile”. He said Sylla was “bigger than me” and when the commuter tried to get on the carriage “I pushed back”. He said the pushing was not related to the colour of Sylla’s skin. “The only time I knew the skin colour was when I saw the video afterwards,” he said.
Questioned by the state prosecutor, Parsons said that after he pushed Sylla the first time, he chanted “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea,” and after he pushed him a second time, he chanted “Fuck the IRA”. He said the chant “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” was shouted in another carriage; he did not sing it and he “did not like that chant”.
Parsons said: “I’m very sorry for Mr Sylla but I wasn’t racist in any way.”
Parsons’ lawyer said his life had been affected by the “total hysteria” of the media, members of which had arrived at his home after he was identified as one of the fans in the video. Parsons, who once posed for a photograph with Nigel Farage, said journalists had come on to “my land” and rung his grandmother’s doorbell every half an hour.
He said he had lost his finance job in Mayfair, London, and had briefly moved to Cornwall where he retrained as a scaffolder. His lawyer said Parsons’ entourage described him as a “well-brought-up boy” and two former dormitory friends from his boarding school, who were not white, had testified that he was not racist.
Such are the facts.
The post-mortem on George Michael’s body failed to establish a cause of death. There will be further tests. The police are not treating it as suspicious.
But the tabloids know why George Michael died. “Tragic George ‘Killed Himself’,” states the Star’s cover story. “Singer ‘wanted to die’.”
You might think George Michael’s life anything but tragic. Feted, celebrated, admired and adored by many, the singer was a superstar. The Star writes a narrative allegedly fed by a Twitter account apparently linked to Fadi Fawaz, Michael’s boyfriend, who, as the Times notes, found the singer “lying peacefully” in bed at his 16th-century cottage in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
The paper broadcasts the tweets: “the only thing George wanted is to DIE”; “he tried numbers of time to kill himself many times…”; “and finally he managed…” All troubling. And then below a picture of Fadi walking the Star supplies the caption: “Fadi claims he is hacking victim”.
The Sun, which also leads with the story of a tweet, says Fadi Fawaz’s profile has been “quickly deleted”.
He says he didn’t send those tweets.
The Mirror wrings more from “the mystery”. In “Final hours of pop legend” the paper thunders : “GEORGE’S LOVER: I SLEPT IN MY CAR AS HE DIED ALONE.” Farwaz tells the paper: “I did not send those tweets.” The Mirror then says, “It is unclear why he spent the night apart from his 53-year-old lover”. Farwz says, “I fell asleep in my car and I never saw him that night.”
For those of you seeking more official action, it’s worth noting what else the Mirror reports: “Fadi was pictured buying coffee on Christmas Eve from a shop near George’s home… He was wearing sandals and socks.”
Were his feet hacked? Or is it now fashionable to dress like a summering vicar on a Norfolk beach?
The mystery continues.
Enemies can be useful when they agree with you. In a rant against Rupert Murdoch’s bid to “seize control” of Sky, the Mail calls on the great and good to side with it against one man having “complete control of a media empire spanning TV networks and newspapers”.
If Murdoch does make a bid, Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, could call on Ofcom to evaluate whether the public will be worse off. Would the media landscape be diverse enough?
In the Guardian, Polly Tonybee in a long moan about Murdoch notes:
Letting Fox own Sky will start the campaign to undermine the very notion of impartiality and accuracy. We should never let our impartiality rules go: they make BBC news the most trusted around the world.
Eh? Why can’t the BBC continue to be impartial [which it isn’t?] whatever happens to Sky?
Predictable stuff from the tabloid hating Guardian. But less so from the Mail, which takes quotes from a bevy of sources it’s usually keen to discredit.
Sir Michael Lyons, who became chairman of the BBC Trust in 2007, said that Murdoch’s proposal should face a ‘fit and proper person’ test.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, 46, instantly called on Mrs May to refer the bid to Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Hacked Off – who fight for a free and accountable press – have also said the bid needs to be checked by Ofcom.
Egregious hypocrisy, indeed.
Hacked Off can call on Steve Coogan (“Press freedom is a lie peddled by proprietors and editors who only care about profit”) and free speech extremists can summon day time telly’s Judge Rinder (first name on application).
Writing in the Sun, Rinder says the country’s greatest freedom is “to say what you want”. You might suppose this is obvious, that freedom of expression is not under threat in a modern country like the UK. If you think that, you’re wrong.
Just look at the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Elveden, the investigation into tabloid newspapers allegedly paying public employees for information. Mick Hume explains the perversity of how journalists doing their jobs became suspected criminals. Countries where truth dies on the vine might care to make notes:
To pursue Elveden, the UK authorities effectively made up a law specifically aimed at journalists – something the Turkish and Egyptian states might be wary of doing. Prosecutors dusted off a thirteenth-century common law which made ‘misconduct in public office’ a crime. Then they gave it a modern twist by adding on the previously unheard-of offence of ‘conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office’, which allowed them to prosecute journalists who are not public employees at all.
Rinder recalls his grandfather, a survivor of the Nazi death camps. Stood at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, Judge’s grandfather heard one speaker giving full throat to his anti-Semitism. “You see,” he says. “In this county, even this man can say whatever he wants and nobody can stop him.”
Free speech is the right to hear what you don’t want to hear. It is the right to offend and to be offended.
And so Rinder turns to Section 40 and the drive for a Press no longer free but regulated under the Government’s Royal Charter. What business is it of the State’s to police anyone says in print or pixels? None. But they want it to be.
Section 40 demands newspapers sign up to a Press watchdog supported by statute. Failure to sign up to the official censor means publications will have to pay the costs of anyone who brings a civil suit, libel or privacy actions against them – even if they win their case. Be targeted by a vexatious campaign and watch your organ die.
Is that an incentive to sign up to the Royal Charter-backed press regulator? No. It’s a threat. Join Impress, the Max Mosley-funded press regulator, or else they’ll cut your tongue out and chop your fingers off. Whatever the jury decides, you will be found guilty.
How can a journalist function in such a climate?
The Mirror takes up the cry. Jason Beattie looks at the “Attack On Press Freedom”. He says a free press is the “rampart between the defenceless and the bullies, the bad and the powerful”. If the State gets its way you paper will become “no better than a council free-sheet”. You will only read what the rich and powerful want you to read. He reminds readers that the State’s pet press watchdog, Impress, is “ultimately governed by Royal Charter, which in turn is overseen by politicians on the Privy Council”.
The Privy Council’s oath contains one line all members must utter: “You will keep secret all Matters committed unto you.” There are about 600 privy counsellors, including all former prime ministers, cabinet ministers, leaders of the opposition, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the current and former Speakers of the House of Commons, Archbishops, senior Bishops, senior courtiers, senior backbenchers and senior judges. Here is a full list of people that if the censorious win will rule on what you can and cannot say.
Of course, it won’t matter who sits in this reworked Star Chamber if Section 40 is passed – you’ll be mute and impoverished before the throttlers sit down for lunch at Buckingham Palace.
The Right To Gossip
Both Beattie and Rinder cite high examples of how a free Press have caused upset, exposing paedophiles, Lance Armstrong’s cheating and politicians fiddling on their expenses. All wonderful and worthy work. But I’d go for something else that epitomises free speech: tittle-tattle. If you like poking fun, lampooning and gossip and all that stuff that entertains, you enjoy free speech.
The censors dismiss it as the stuff of the ‘gutter press’. Well, to muck rake you need to look in the ugly places. But if the censors have their way, you’ll only ever see shiny, clean things covered in a fresh layer of paint – you won’t get close enough to pick up the stink and scratch off the veneer to see what lurks beneath.
Sign here and support free speech.
Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba is flanked by two blondes on the Mail’s cover. To his right is wife Portia. To his left is dance partner Joanne Clifton. “Strictly champ: I’ve neglected my wife,” declares the headline. Readers begin to wonder if the show was a mating ritual. Is sexual intrigue in the air?
Over pages 12 and 13 we get more. “Now I’ve got time for my wife!” thunders the headline.
“Oduba and his wife Portia – he’s identified by surname; she, who never competed but remained blonde throughout the pro-celebrity dance show, we meet on first-name terms – “have been married for less than a year”. The paper quickly picks up on the moment of Ore’s triumph, when he “looked straight into dance partner Joanne Clifton’s eyes and said, ‘I love you with all my heart’ as he held up the glitterball trophy.”
This was, says Laura Lambert. just another example of the 30-year-old BBC sports presenter’s “emotional side”. No kidding. But “once the cameras stopped rolling he was virtually inseparable from his wife.” But, boy, how he tried to shake her. No, only joking.
As for that suggestive front-page headline. when asked what he’d be up to over Christmas, Ora replied, “I’ve neglected my family. Same for Jo, we’ve been working so hard.”
In the Mirror, Ore reveals his “extraordinary journey”. We learn that Portia, a TV researcher, is based in Manchester, keeping her away from Ore as he trained for the show in London. They met at University. They were married in a “lavish” bash in Kent. Very soon they hope to start a family. Ore’s dad is a leading lawyer in Nigeria. Ore went to the very expensive Dumpton school in Dorset, a prep school for the even more pricey Canford public school. And that’s it. The extraordinary story is anything but. Public school boys meets Portia from Tunbridge Wells and gets a job at the BBC.
There will be movies.
Unless it’s all remarkable because Ore is black? Is that the key part of Ore’s “incredible life story” the Mirror trails on its cover? The Sun says it might be. A “source” says “because he’s a black presenter, the BBC has another incentive to given him more prominence within the channel.”
One minute you’re presenting daytime insurance programme Claimed and Shamed, the next you’re a symbol, an inspiration for the ‘black community’ and an ambulatory swivel-hipped message. It’s less a back story than it is a black story. And it’s pathetic.
If Ore is on a “journey” he might want to check if he’s allowed to sit at the front of the bus.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid says – irony of ironies – we should all pledge an oath to uphold “British values”. As one tweeter puts it, “Since when was an oath of allegiance a #British value?”
Javid says the oath could include phrases such as “tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them”, as well as “believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse … a belief in equality, democracy, and the democratic process” and “respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”.
The Government doesn’t much like those ‘British” freedoms. They want to limit free speech and throttle the Press. If you believe in free speech, tell them. And tell these enemies of “British values” where to stick it.
The British government has opened up a public consultation on the next stage of the Leveson Inquiry. It is asking us two questions. Should the government implement Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? And should the government go ahead with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry?
Section 40 incentivises newspapers to sign up to State-approved bodies. Failure to sign up to the official censors means those publications will have to pay the costs of anyone who brings a civil suit, libel or privacy actions against them – even if they win their case.
Is that an incentive to sign up top the Royal Charter-backed press regulator? No. It’s blackmail. Join Impress, the Max Mosley-funded press regulator backed by the censorious Hacked Off, or else they’ll cut your legs off. Write anything unpleasant against the rich and powerful, and watch your organ whipped like a prostitute and most likely killed off.
You can sign here and tell the Government that guffing on about freedoms of speech means nothing if you don’t believe in it.
To Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP,
Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport,
My answers to your consultation questions are as follows:
Question 1: Which of the following statements do you agree with?
Answer: Option (c) Government should ask Parliament to repeal all of section 40 now
Section 40 would stifle freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. It would put an undue burden on publications which wish to remain entirely independent. They would be forced to shoulder legal costs of complainants whether or not they are found to be at fault.
This would have dire consequences for publications both large and small; making independent publications reticent about reporting important stories for fear of crippling legal costs and bankruptcy.
If the press is to be free, the state has no role in regulating what is published. While signing up to a regulatory body is allegedly voluntary the sanctions contained in Section 40 would constitute state coercion of the press.
Question 2: Do you have evidence in support of your view, particularly in terms of the impacts on the press industry and claimants?
* Repealing all of section 40 now is a vital and necessary step to protect the freedom of our press and the democracy it safeguards.
* With nothing to lose, complainants are more likely to launch legal cases against publications (both large and small) based on the smallest of disagreements. These are issues that can be easily resolved by letters to the editor and/or editor corrections; timely and expensive legal procedure is not necessary.
* Increased levels of legal action that will be enabled by section 40 is far more likely to stifle debate in the United Kingdom. It will have drastic effects on the financial situations of small publications, forcing them – and the wider discourse they offer – to close.
* Newspapers are public institutions. They hold historic reputations and an ongoing source of political and social engagement. The more we have, the better.
* John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, said imposing the cost penalties outlined in section 40 would result in further losses of jobs and titles in the newspaper industry.
Question 3: To what extent will full commencement incentivise publishers to join a recognised self-regulator? Please supply evidence.
Answer: Commencement of section 40 would amount to strong arming independent publishers into signing up for outside regulation by threatening them with financial ruin from complainants even if complaints are found to be spurious.
Question 4: Do you believe that the terms of reference of Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry have already been covered by Part 1 and the criminal investigations?
Answer: Yes, the scope of Leveson Part 1 has already had a chilling effect on the British press, a further inquiry would compound this. Putting the entire British press on trial for the wrongdoing of a small number of journalists is unjust. Where the law has been broken by journalists, criminal investigation into the individuals involved should suffice.
Question 5: Provide evidence
* The Press Gazette counts 67 journalists as having been arrested from 2011-2015, more than any country in the Western world in that period. The investigations costing the taxpayer £43.7 million resulted in just 8 convictions for phone hacking (Operation Weeting) and 2 convictions for paying public officials (Operation Elveden). Operation Tuleta into computer hacking returned no convictions. As such the terms of reference of Part 2 have been covered by the criminal investigations which did not find any extensive wrongdoing, despite the vast public resources devoted to them. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/the-67-uk-journalists-arrested-andor-charged-in-the-course-of-their-jobs-since-2011/
* According to a City partner involved in Leveson Part 1, Part 2 would be “ludicrous” as re-treading the same ground as the criminal cases would undermine the verdicts.
* In the wake of Leveson Part 1 the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) wrote a report expressing concern at the state of UK media freedom. They criticised the conflation of the hacking scandal investigated by Leveson Part 1 with debate over regulation, stressing that “British law provides appropriate remedy for illegal activity in proven cases of wrongdoing.” Launching Part 2 of the Leveson Enquiry is an unnecessary infringement on the independent role of the law in convicting those – in this particular case, journalist’s – of any wrongdoing they are accused of committing.
Question 6: Which of the two options set out below best represents your views?
Answer: • Terminate the Inquiry
The Leveson Inquiry has already damaged the freedom of the press in Britain. In the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, the United Kingdom has fallen 19 places since 2010 – we are now ranked below Tonga, Belize and Lithuania.
The Government should not need a consultation if it is serious about upholding the freedom of the press. For centuries Britain has had a free press, unregulated and unstifled by legislation or Royal Charter. Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 presents a serious threat to that proud record.
The impact section 40 could have on smaller publications could be particularly dire. The financial pressure that could be placed on local newspapers would lead to them being strong armed into joining the government selected regulator, or impose a chilling effect on their journalism. That would not be healthy for democracy, and a huge back step for Britain.
Going through with Leveson Part 2 would be a waste of taxpayer’s money, and present barriers to investigative journalism. If the Government is interested in what is best for its citizens, not just itself, it will ignore calls for obstructions to public service journalism.
The Government should not commence with section 40 or consider starting Leveson Part 2 if it is on the side of freedom. The only sensible response to this consultation, would be to bin Leveson and scrap section 40.
If you believe in free speech, you don’t need to take a poxy oath. You can just sign here.
How’s Brexit going? Well, it’s not, of course. The Government has yet to trigger Article 50. But be in no doubt Theresa May is “playing a masterful hand”. Andrew Lilico tells Sun readers May has been “crystal clear” in her plans fro Brexit. He says we need no “additional clarity”. Things are “clear” – a word he mentioned sevens times in the article. The only “unclear” thing is what Theresa May will get.
The Mirror says the country will he handed a £50bn bill to leave the EU. The money is made up of the “UK’s final two years of EU budget payments plus pensions liabilities and other commitments we have previously agreed to”. This bill has been “confirmed” by EU negotiators. The Mirror adds that EU Ambassador… anyone? Anyone? Yes, it’s Sir Ivan Rogers. Well, he says leaving the EU could take ten years.
That May has been in Brussels with the other EU country leaders has not escaped the Mirror’s eye. It says May lacks authority and presence in meetings. Her “inexperience” is a “major handicap for Britain”. Her rivals see “victim” stamped on her forehead. She was awkward when filmed standing alone as “Europe’s power players hug and greet one another at the Brussels’ summit”. It was “excruciating”. May was “desolate”. The other leader then told her to go while they all went to dinner together.
The Sun agrees. “”NO MAYTES,” it puns. May was “frozen out”.
Over Pages 10 and 11, the Daily Mail sees “KNIVES OUT FOR OUR MAN IN BRUSSELS”. Sir Ivan is being attacked over his “gloomy pessimism”. Sir Ivan, notes the paper, was “top mandarin to Tony Blair”, a man whose mentioning necessitates all Mail readers spinning round three times and spitting. It adds that the aforementioned £50bn bill is a “threat”. It is a”gross upper estimate”.
As in the Mirror, the Mail shows May “friendless” at the summit. Dignitaries “turn their backs” on the Prime Minister.
But the Express has a different view. Its readers see May in conversation with Germany leader Angela Merkel and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
On the matter of that £50bn, a number the Mirror says Number 10 “did not confirm or deny”, we hear from a “Downing Street source”, who says: “Once we have left the EU, the UK government will make decision on how taxpayers’ money is spent.”
More on cheating footballers in the form of Zlatan Ibramovich, who in Manchester United’s Premier League match at Crystal Palace handled the ball in the build up to the visitors’ first goal. Having pushed the ball towards Paul Pogba in the Palace box, who duly scored with the next touch, the Swede said post-match: “I think it touched my hand a little bit, then my stomach.”
As with Robert Snodgrass, the Hull City player who dived to win a penalty against the luckless Palace, Zlatan is at pains to construct a sympathetic back story for his offence. We see his hand move towards the ball, but Zlatan presents his body as the benign victim of a molesting force, which only touched his hand a little.
“The situation went fast,” he continues. “I tried to forward the ball to Paul because I saw he was free.”
This plea for understanding can make you hanker for the days of the straightforward denial. But Zlatan’s use of the dramatic-reconstruction-admission is very much in vogue. As Chis Ayres notes, “This uses Hollywood plotting techniques to combine a low-level acceptance of guilt with a backstory and a motive — thus making the acceptance of guilt look unnecessary, and therefore needlessly gracious.”
And just like in Hollywood, Zlatan has his people to protect him. Compare and contrast these match reports.
Matta clipped it into the area where Ibrahimovic, with a hint of handball, used his torso to nudge the ball onto Pogba, who despite being slightly offside was allowed to continue his celebrations after he poked it past Hennessey from close-range.
With just seconds remaining before the break, the Reds’ patience finally paid off, as Ibrahimovic chested Mata’s free-kick into Pogba’s path, allowing the Frenchman the easiest of finishes from six yards.
Such are the facts.
The Mail brings news of a “new drive to wipe-out anti-Semitism”. That the story is illustrated by a picture of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives readers a clue that the focus of this drive to wipe out hatred of Jews are not aristocrats, dinner-party guests or jihadis, rather the MP for Islington North with friends in murky places. That anti-Semitism is being used to score points is apparent when the Mirror reports on the same story with a picture of Labour MP Luciana Berger, who was subjected to horrendous anti-Semitic abuse. The Mail makes no mention of Berger, whose abuser has been jailed, but does spot the “more than 50 Labour members…suspended for anti-Semitic comments”. The Mirror leaves that bit out.
The drive is piloted by Teresa May, who says there “will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews.” It’s odd that a definition is required, and that May should feel a need to spell it out. Anti-Semitism is racism. Simple. In defining what every Jew and sensitive soul can spot a mile away, May is politicising Jew hating and pandering to the kind of balls whereby people can say the most racist things and then plead for dispensation through ignorance.
When accused of anti-Semitism, Naz Shah, a Labour MP, and thus one would hope an intelligent and empathetic human being, explained it away by saying, “The truth is that some of the stuff I have since looked at and understood, I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t get anti-Semitism as racism.” Ms Shah, who following exposure embarked on a self-styled “journey”, added: “I had never come across it. I think what I had was an ignorance.”
After talking to a few people, perhaps about what universal human rights really means, Naz reached a shocking conclusion. She tweeted: “I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people.” Who knew?
For her accidental racism, Shah, MP for Bradford West, was suspended from the Labour Party and let back in when her journey into what does and what does not constitute racism ended – a trip that lasted a full 11 weeks.
It is intensely troubling that someone able to give free reign to anti-Semitic views should be an elected member of her community. Did Shah acquiesce to anti-Semitism on the hustings as she tried to win the seat from George Galloway’s Respect Party, despite having voted for him in 2012? That was Galloway who said, “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone.”
Julie Burchill wondered:
Of course, it’s possible to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic – Israelis do it all the time, in perfect freedom, uniquely among Middle Eastern countries.
But it is anti-Semitic to say that the Jews, uniquely, do not deserve their own country – especially when Muslims have so many.
And the enemies of Israel wish there to be yet another Muslim state – Palestine, in which gay men are already exiled and women have been arrested for laughing in public.
There are 230,000 Jews in this country and two million Muslims. If the Labour party was currently committing self-immolation for purely ideological reasons, it would be tragic enough.
But the fact that they are doing it cynically, as well – to win the biggest group of voters – compounds their catastrophe.
The Guardian reported:
Guido Fawkes reports that Shah had employed a Labour councillor, Mohammed Shabbir, who is also alleged to have made antisemitic remarks, claiming Russian Orthodox Jews were involved in “the sex trafficking trade – demand is particularly high among Charedim, the conservative Orthodox Jews, many of whom are regular clients of brothels”.
The Jewish Chronicle also runs a piece on Shabbir’s comments about the decision to fly the Palestinian flag – but not Israel’s flag – at Bradford town hall.
It reports that when some councillors questioned why the Israeli flag could not be flown, Shabbir wrote: “Many here in Bradford would be nauseated at seeing the Nazi flag or some other fascist with their Nazi salutes and chants.”
Writing in the Indy, Ben Judah noted that Naz’s journey could have started closer to home:
Across town, in the constituency of Bradford East, the Liberal Democrat MP David Ward was using Twitter to question how long the “apartheid state of Israel” could last, and tweeting that he too would probably “fire a rocket” if he lived in Gaza. Later, he declared himself “#JeSuis #Palestinian” in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on a kosher supermarket, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre…
Having been suspended for his comments and reinstated, Ward was selected to represent the LibDems at the 2015 election. He lost. In 2016, Ward was voted onto Bradford Council as a councillor for Bolton and Undercliffe. LibDem leader Tim Farron told the Commons Home Affairs Committee’s anti-Semitism inquiry:
“Once his (Mr Ward’s) time of suspension had completed then he retained all rights as a party member, including being able to put himself forward for reselection and approval and so on. And likewise, in the time since he ceased to be a member of Parliament, to have an involvement at local government level.
“If you’re saying should we look at processes to ensure that our selection is done appropriately and that the disciplinary processes inform that, then that would be something that would come under (Lord) Ken Macdonald’s review.”
“I think that when you look at an individual’s actions, you then have to make sure that justice is done.
“And if a disciplinary process has been gone through, either the person has not been convicted of an offence, for want of a better phrase, or indeed that they have but they have served their time, then it’s appropriate that that person would continue in any other free organisation as they would do otherwise. But it doesn’t mean I associate myself in any way with some of the comments he has made, some of which I would deem to be anti-Semitic.”
Back in the Indy, Judah adds:
The former Lord Mayor of Bradford Khadim Hussain commented on Facebook that Israel was “no doubt” arming Isis, and shared another Facebook post that complained that the deaths of millions of Africans are not taught in schools but “your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler”…
And when I visited Bradford, a group of passionate Galloway supporters pinned me to a wall, throttled me and punched me in the head, shouting “Get out you f***ing Jew.”
If you still find it deeply confusing to spot what is is and what is not anti-Semitism, the now educated Naz Shah is here to help. She told the Commons: “Anti-Semitism is racism, full stop.”
There you go, Theresa May. No need for clarification.
The oldest prejudice is back with vigour. Bertolt Brecht’s words ring true: “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.” Yeah, he’s been readmitted to the Party.
Who is the “most hated mum in Britain”? As kids give their mothers the side eye and Rose West, Vanessa George and Tracey Connelly contemplate their respective relegations, the Mirror tells it’s Karen Matthews, mother to Shannon Matthews, the kidnapping victim who wasn’t kidnapped but hidden by her mum in a relative’s flat in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire, where she was tied to a bed and drugged for 24 days. Karen Matthews did it for the £50,000 reward money.
Today the Mirror tells us Karen “craves forgiveness for snatching” Shannon.
In 2009 Karen was jailed for eight years for kidnaping and drugging of her nine-year-old daughter. Shannon’s step-uncle Michael Donovan, in whose flat Shannon was found, was also sent to prison for eight years.
Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, of West Yorkshire police, called Karen “pure evil”. Mr Justice McCombe said calling Karen “evil” was “was not a helpful comment” and criticised “hyperbole about this case in some quarters”. Fast forward seven years and Karen Matthews is the “most hated women in Britain”.
But she wants to be loved. She has, says the Mirror, “joined a Bible group to meet new friends, has become a teetotaller and prays every day in an effort to lift her spirits”.
Now freed, Karen Matthews is suffering: “But the mum-of-seven’s notoriety has left her unable to get a job and she claims she is trying to survive on just £25 a week in benefits. And her weight has soared due to a behind bars diet of chocolate, which also left her teeth rotten.” She wasn’t exactly a workaholic before her incarceration.
Karen meets with the Mirror, which tells readers:”Matthews was gorging on a huge plate of chips at a cafe before going to watch carol singers.Matthews was gorging on a huge plate of chips at a cafe before going to watch carol singers.”
She doesn’t talk to the paper directly, but through a “friend”, who quotes Karen verbatim: “I know I did something wrong but I’m not the baddest person people are making out. I am sorry for hurting people.” Karen poses for no photos, the Mirror making do with grainy, covert-style pictures of Karen at the shops, wearing a hat, partly obscured by shopping bags and framed by what appears to be a car window.
The impression is that the story has been achieved by investigating and not Karen picking up the phone and trying to make a few quid. Was she paid for this story? Was her “friend” paid? Does it matter is money changed hands?
As the Commons says: “There is no law prohibiting convicted criminals from publishing their autobiographies or other writings in which their crimes may be described, or from selling their stories to newspapers or biographical writers.”
In 1998, it was reported that Mary Bell, who killed two toddlers when she was eleven, was receiving payment for helping with a book about her life, Cries Unheard by Gitta Sereny.
There were many reports that Mary Bell had received £50,000 for her contribution, although this was disputed at the time. The book was also serialised in the Times.
In 2003, there was public concern that Tony Martin, who shot and killed a young burglar, had sold his story to the Mirror for £125,000; however the Press Complaints Commission ruled that there had been no breach of the relevant code of practice, instead taking the view that the payment was necessary and that the story was in the public interest.
Is the Mirror testing reaction to this story before it features a series of articles from sweet Karen, of whom we’re told, “Matthews still insists she is innocent and did not snatch little Shannon”?
Reading on we learn that Karen’s no longer living in her native Dewsbury, having moved hundreds of miles away, dyed her hair and adopted a new name – “the same as her favourite Hollywood star.” The Mail doesn’t tell us which one, but if you meet Darth Matthews, pray for her and maybe – just maybe – buy her memoirs.
Is Princess Eugenie engaged to be married to a “very posh barman” called Jacks Brooksbank? The Daily Mail wants to know so it’s asking its readers. Rumours of wedding bells, says the paper, have taken on “unstoppable force”.
One way to ascertain the fact would be to ask Eugenie’s mother, Sarah Ferguson, who can be summoned by pressing f9 on any TV producer’s keyboard. Sarah is full of knowledge, not least of all when In Finding Sarah – A Duchess’s Journey To Find Herself she told us “Free your mind and your bottom will follow”.
Which brings us to the Mail’s other Page 3 Gel, Pippa Middleton. In May, Pippa will walk down the aisle with “wealthy hedge fund trader” (WHFT) James Matthews. Indeed, wealthy hedge fund trader is the title given to people who invest large amounts of cash in things other people do and make. It has been reduced of late to “hedge fund trader” but good to see the Mail giving the job the full billing and the respect it warrants.
By marriage, Pippa will thus become a wealthy hedge fund manager’s wife. But until she has that enviable job title Pippa is, as the Mail notes, “the Duchess of Cambridge’s little sister who shot to public attention when she wore a bottom-hugging bridesmaid’s dress at the royal wedding in 2011”. You almost pity Pippa writing that down in the ‘Occupation’ part of her passport. But she’s ever keen to forge her own way and the Mail tells readers, “Pippa is said to have wanted a smaller, more intimate family wedding” than he sister’s televised do.
Westminster Abbey is out, then, so Pippa and WHFT James will marry at St Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berskshire, a venue every bit as cosy as Pippa’s dress.
As the internet watches footage of a man punching a kangaroo in the face (see below), we’ve been looking at the story of the Glasgow Celtic fan who throw a burger at a police horse before the Champions’ League match at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.
The fan was arrested and fined £90 for a public order offence.
(The horse did not eat the ‘beefburger’. Horses are not cannibals.)
Minds turn to April 2013, when Newcastle United fan Barry Rogerson, 45, threw something else at a police horse working at the match: a punch. He told the tabloids: “I reacted stupidly but I did not go out to attack a horse. I love animals. I’ve got three dogs, a fish pond out the back and I feed foxes across the road.”
Maybe it’s time police adopted the football clubs’ policy of not using real animals, but mascots? Why should animals be hurt when people are willing to put there beaks and snouts in the firing line.
“We all thought he was having a laugh, but then he called us a bunch of “c****” and after a few words exchanged he waddled off back to the Family Stand,” said one Torquay fan of club mascot Gilbert The Gull. “At the end of the game, Gilbert came over again and in front of us on the pitch, he gave the ‘come on then’ body language towards us and wouldn’t stop until hiding behind the stewards and again waddling off as we moved towards the exits.”
Others have behaved worse, like Chaddy the Owl (Oldham Athletic), who set about the Blackpool mascot. Blackpool press officer Matthew Williams told us: “I was in the press box and they were play-fighting, when Chaddy waded in and seemed to be kicking 10 bells out of Bloomfield Bear.”
And now for the kangaroo puncher. He’s Greig Tonkins, 34, an elephant keeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales. He was out hunting wild pigs when his dog was grabbed in a headlock by a roo.
Tonkins wins by a technical knock out.
Kangaroos are feisty. In June a roo broke a woman’s breast implants. “Just out of the corner of my eye I’ve seen this kangaroo up on this ledge,” Mrs Heinrich told News Ltd in Australia. “I thought, ‘he’s cute’, and then he jumped on top of me and used me to launch off and on to my girlfriend. [The implants] are silicon and saline, and the saline will just go through your body but the silicon now congeals so it stays within the area but it’s very painful, it’s up there with cracked ribs.”
Greig had best take care. And watch out for those wild pigs. They’re huge.
We’re gonna need a bigger fist.
Hard cheese, Arsenal. The Mirror leads not with the Gunners’ terrific 4-1 win over Basel, a win that means Arsenal top their Champions’ League group, but with news that Liverpool have inserted an “anti-Arsenal clause” in Roberto Firmino’s new contract.
Why Arsenal would want the Brazilian is moot. The Mirror just says that if they do, they need to pay more than any other club. Any club coughing up the absurd sum of £82m for Firmino can have him – “BUT NOT YOU ARSENAL.” The story is that Firmino’s release clause can be trigged by any club except Arsenal.
Should Arsenal be mad enough to off £82m for Firmino, Liverpool will point to player’s contract and tell them to come back with bigger offer. Maybe they can add a quid. Firmino’s contract, reasons the paper, is “revenge” for when Arsenal triggered Luis Suarez’s release clause with a bid of £40m and one pound. The Mirror adds that the Arsenal bid was made in the “mistaken belief that it would activate his release clause”.
Not quite. It did trigger the clause. But Liverpool didn’t honour it.
“I don’t know to what degree I should go into this – but [Suarez] had a buy-out clause of £40m,” said Liverpool owner John Henry. “But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football. It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving. We sold Fernando Torres for £50m. We didn’t want to sell but we were forced to. For the first time [with Suarez] we took the position that we weren’t selling.”
So Firmino’s release clause is utter balls, then.
Such are the facts.
ID cards are back on the agenda. The Sun calls it a “Green Card”, but it sounds a lot like we’ll be asked to carry our papers and show them on demand post Brexit. Home Secretary Amber Rudd says some sort of ID cars “would have to be introduced” to identify the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. The Sun says the move would “almost certainly mean Brits on the Continent will have to carry ID cards where they go.”
The Guardian quotes Rudd:
“There will be a need to have some sort of documentation. We are not going to set it out yet. We are going to do it in a phased approach to ensure that we use all the technology advantages that we are increasingly able to harness to ensure that all immigration is carefully handled.”
This throws up a number of questions, of which these are just a few. Why do we need new forms of surveillance? Why do millions of law-abiding adults need to be monitored in an effort to prevent a few committing offences? Why do we need to show the authorities an ID card and prove our innocence? Why can’t we be private citizens unwilling to share everything with the State? And how does forcing us to carry ID card enable the government connect with the public?
It’s not about us. It’s about them trying to establish a role and sense of purpose, moving on from Tony Blair’s manta of ‘Join the debate’ and David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ to take on the role of overseers. No longer connected with the people they are supposed to represent, politicians now just want to watch us to learn what we want and thereby how best to control us. You can’t opt out of their Big Conversation’ because you’re being forced to take part. You are British not because you hold British values, rather because you forcibly carry an ID card. You’ve been defined by the Government you take everywhere with you.
It’s less worrying than it is pathetic. They don’t trust us. But they demand that we trust them.
Now that Scarlett Moffatt is a bonafide celebrity on account of her victory in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, instead of just a ‘normal’ young woman watching them on the Gogglebox telly, the tabloids set about here. Over pages 4 and 5, the Star labels Scarlett a “Fake”. “Lift selfies show champ was milking it big time,” says one headline. “Queen Scarlett Faked Her Fear,” thunders another.
Scarlett Moffatt and Vicky Pattison have “kicked off a fierce rivalry” we’re told. How so? “Last year’s winner [that’s Vicky] was blasted for ‘plonking’ the crown on new queen Scarlett’s head.” And that’s not all. At the after show party Vicky and Scarlett “were not snapped together”.
Having positioned two young women as catty rivals – plus ca change – the Star then turns to the fakery. “Apparently pictures of Scarlett in a lift prove she was faking it when she told her “celebrity pals throughout the show she had a phobia of confined spaces”. You might argue that being “sealed inside a coffin like space” and “covered in creepy-crawlies” is not quite the same as pouting in a lift. But Scarlett is quoted as having said: “I feel I can do this because I might finally be able to go in lifts.”
Like Tom Cruise’s lifts, what goes up, will eventually come down, so we get news that this is “the latest in a string of claims that the show was fixed in her favour.” You mean it’s edited? You mean it’s not a fly on the gonads slice of life? You mean focusing on the single young woman gets more viewers than listening to the sixty-something bit-part EastEnders actor moaning at the needy middle-aged bloke off the mid-morning property show?
I mean would Danny Baker be subject to the Sun’s front-page headline, “I’ll spend winnings on caravan and new boobs”? Says Danny, sorry Scarlett: “Now thats I’ve lost weight, and my titties are cleaning my shoes, I would like them lifted to where they are meant to be.” All over Page 3?
And on the Mirror’s Page 1, where the boring bloke whose girlfriend shagged John Terry (allegedly), sorry, Scarlett is talking of her fantasy “Willy Wonka wedding”. She wants a wedding just like Jordan and Peter Andre’s do. Yeh, she wants OK! to pay for it.
Of course Scarlett was installed as ITV’s preferred winner. The rest of them were a mixture of man-children, TV-creations with lower profiles than a soup spoon and dullards. As the Sun says, out of 500 visits to the Bush Telegraph room, “whip-smart” Scarlett made 104 of them. She talked to us. And we enjoyed listening to her.
“Find out what Scarlett Moffat will not next,” says the Daily Star on its front page. Judging by the picture of the Googlebox star and now I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! winner in her bra and knickers, we’d says ‘put some cloths on’ or ‘catch a cold’. On page 4 and 5, Scarlett is a “Celebridey”. Aha! She’s going to get married!
Scarlett Moffatt is “heading down the aisle”, says the paper in an “exclusive”. Well, it is to anyone not following Luke Crodden, Scarlett’s boyfriend, on twittter, and didn’t see him tweet: “I think I wanna marry you @ScarlettMoffatt.” If that was a proposal, it’s one Scarlett didn’t see on account of her being in a televised jungle clearing with neither phone signal nor phone.
The Mirror, which also leads with Scarlett, says she’s in line for a £1m deal. In an “exclusive” Halina Watts, says Scarlett has “revealed her big plan for the future – to team up with Ant and Dec. Imagine handing out with those boys all day and having a laugh,”says Scarlett, exclusively in the Mirror. “I’d love it.”
That’s not all that exclusive to Daily Star readers who read the exact same dream on November 22, then billed as her “threesome” with Ant and Dec. Scarlett fans will have read that before when she said it in her book published last April.
Over in the Star, we read that Scarlett is due to earn £1m in endorsements and TV deals. As well she might. Last year’s I’m A Celebrity winner Vicky Pattison told the Mirror in March 2016: “I’ve just about hit the 7-figure mark for the first time. But I’m being wise with my money. I’ve been very well advised and I’m turning myself into a bit of a property tycoon.”
Find out what Scarlett does next by visiting her local estate agency.
Tabloid Questions – a look at headline-making questions in the national Press.
On Tuesday November 29, the Daily Mail asked: “Have swans predicted a mild winter?” The long-necked birds haven’t been presenting the wether on cable telly in Norwegian or otherwise. The Mail says swans have been forecasting the weather by arriving in the UK later than usual, a move “often interpreted as a sign of a mild winter to come”.
In 2007, the Mail asked: “Does the swans’ early arrival mean we’re in for an icy winter?” Said the paper:
The migrating Siberian swans have landed early this year, heralding harsh weather ahead.
Was it harsh? The Met Office told us:
December 2007 saw close to average daily mean temperatures over the UK, with January and February 2008 recording well above average temperatures.
In 2015, the Mail reported:
… while the magnificent bird was probably relieved to reach the warmer climes of the UK, its arrival – the earliest in 50 years – may well usher in a particularly harsh and unforgiving winter.
Was the winter especially harsh? The Met Office tells us:
Winter 2015/16 was third-warmest for the UK in a series from 1910, behind the winters of 1989 and 2007. For England and Wales, it was the warmest winter in the series.
So have swans predicted a mild winter?
Still not sure? Maybe the Mail can help us to answer the question?
In conclusion: never trust a Russian swan when you’re picking your winter coat.
Such are the facts.
Pop acorn Peter Andre smiles from the cover of OK! magazine. Above him hangs the legend: “IT’S A BABY BOY.” You might think Pete and wife Emily’s newborn child would need no clarification that he was a baby. Had Emily given birth to a teenager, say, or an OAP, it would be remarkable.
But you’d be mistaken. Emily tells us that “baby boy” is the full title because, “The nurse told us that this baby is super tall already – we could have a six-footer!”
Get knitting, grandma!
Of course, Pete is nothing if is not precise and tweets to his followers that he is “rocking”, and maybe even cradling, cuddling and snuggling.
Peter and OK! then combine to offer their thanks (prices on application) to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, for hosting the birth, Storksak for designing Pete’s “dad bag” for overnight stays, Exeter’s Mamhead House, where Pete and Emily married in 2015, and Braxton Hicks for the contractions.
We then learn that the nickname for Pete’s daughter Princess is ‘Bister’, which given the product placement in the article we took to be spelled Bicester in honour of the designer shopping outlet in Oxford.
No firm word on the latest baby’s name yet, but Pete says he favours “traditional English names”, like James, Arthur, Oscar, (TK) Max, George (at Asda), John Lewis…
IT’S “FOOTBALL’s BIGGEST EVER CRISIS,” says the Daily Mirror as it continues to lead with the sex abuse story. Is it? Is it bigger than the Hillsborough disaster that saw 96 people lose their lives and be branded criminals by the State’s lying police force? Barry Bennell, the awful man at the epicentre of the story, is a convicted paedophile. He’s now been charged with eight sexual assaults involving a boy under 14 dating between 1981 and 1985.
Bennell has been living as a free man in Milton Keynes. Is that justice? Eric Bristow thought it not. He said he’d have smashed the “poof” Bennell’s face in, as “real men” should. The men who did not confront their abuser are “wimps”. For expressing his crass opinion on twitter, Bristow has been sacked as a pundit on Sky Sports and paraded throughout the media as a pariah, an enemy of any right-minded human being.
You could compare Bristow to Eamonn Holmes, the Sky News presenter who earlier this year said an attack by West Ham fans on the Manchester United team bus was like Hillsborough. “Now this is going back to the 70s and to the 80s to everything you were seeing that was bad about Hillsborough for instance,” opined Holmes on the TV. Unlike Bristow, he wasn’t shunned, and sacked.
Does the media operate a hierarchy of outrage, with being ‘unlawfully killed’ and branded a killer – and do consider 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the youngest to die in the horror (the coroner ordered a sample of his blood to be checked for signs of alcohol), Phillip Hammond (14), Victoria Jane Hicks (15), Peter Andrew Harrison (15), Lee Nicol (14), Philip John Steele (15) and Kevin Tyrrell (15) – lower in the table than child abuse, the horror that can be a useful way to showcase your own sound morals?
Holmes apologised and kept his job. Bristow deleted his tweets, apologised and lost his.
When 96 people died at the football in 1989, the media blamed the victims, the State stomped on their relatives and presented all football fans as suspects. It took an arduous 26 year fight for the Hillsborough campaigners to be told the blameless dead had been unlawfully killed.
The story of sexual abuse in football is grim. Child sex abuse is an evil. But to say it is a worse football scandal than the horrors of Hillsborough is a cop out. Bennell is alive. Bennell’s victims are speaking out and being heard. They could have spoken out earlier. They might be heard in court yet. Bennell appears to have attempted suicide. He’s thought to be in the Lister Hospital, Stevenage.
The story of sex abuse in football has faces to attack, blame and shun.
The victims of Hillsborough could not speak. The coppers who lied to make killers of the victims all escaped court. They still await justice. Maybe the bereaved and abused should do as Bristow advises, take the law into their own hands and crack skulls. But that’s not easy when the weight of the State is against you. Where do you begin?
The hideous story of sexual abuse in football rides high on the news cycle. The grim testimony from victims of an evil has taken on a life of its own. It’s become a good way to prove the country’s morals. In directionless times it’s useful to have a cause to rally round. We don’t know what we are but we know what we’re not: paedophiles.
Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile, has been billed as football’s Jimmy Savile. He’s not. Bennell has been tried and found guilty. Sir Jimmy Savile died a national treasure, feted by the great and good. What both men do share is an eagerness to portray them as part of institutional failure. For Savile it’s the BBC, the NHS and children’s homes (but not the police, the Royal family and politicians); for Bennell it’s the FA and the nation’s favourite sport.
Everyone involved in football is now a suspect. If you are not suspicious of adults you are a fool or worse. Trust is for victims.
So the NSPCC opens a hotline, the police trawl for corruption and Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, says people “must come forward… Come and give your story, you will be listened to, you will be believed”. The media plays along, looking for someone on the wrong side of the panic to update the story. And today it finds Eric Bristow, aka ‘The Crafty Cockney’, five times World darts Champion in the 1980s, an MBE holder and last seen eating kangaroo gonads on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! with Limahl from Kajagoogoo.
As such his views are, er, entirely relevant to the horrific crime child sex abuse. And – irony of ironies for a man who walks to the oche to Rabbit by Chas and Dave (“With your incessant talkin’, You’re becoming a pest”) – Bristow’s chat has attracted ire.
The BBC says Bristow has been “condemned on social media” for suggesting football abuse victims are not “proper men” – and asking why they did not “sort out” their abusers “when they got older and fitter”. Not only on social media (see BBC). The Mail sees fit to repeat Bristow’s tweets for those readers not following the man: “Might be a looney but if some football coach was touching me when i was a kid as i (sic) got older i would have went back and sorted that poof out. Dart players tough guys footballers wimps. Bet the rugby boys are ok ha ha.”
He went on: “U got to sought him out when u get older or dont look in the mirror glad i am a dart player proper men. Trouble is nowadays u cant tell the truth what do u feel out there tweet me. Everybody that works on tv is frightened to say the truth because they are frightened to lose their job, life shouldnt be like that.”
Katie Hopkins, that jobbing to-deadline Aunt Sally, must be gutted. Used to seeing unattractive people from the 1980s telly unearthed to help police with their enquiries, it’s a novelty to see one helping the media in its narrative.
Having seen and very possibly enjoyed the shitstorm, Bristow backtracks a little on twitter:
Britsow’s language update shows he’s a man can move with the times. If he carries on like this, there’s a job as a tabloid columnist heading his way.
Update: Sky have sacked him as a darts pundit.
Media Balls: Was it right that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was red carded as his side fought back to secure a 1-1 draw with West Ham United? Can we know what’s what from reading the experts?
The BBC: “Off to the stands! He aims an almighty kick at a drinks bottle down on the touchline in anger at a booking for Paul Pogba – who looked to be jumping to avoiding getting clattered – and is directed from the touchline by Jonathan Moss.”
Pogba was avoiding a clattering and jumped. It was self-preservation. The referee got it wrong. Jose just reacted to the poor decision.
Manchester United assistant manager Rui Faria: “I think there was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba. It should be a foul for us but the referee understood it in another way.”
United were robbed.
Saj Choudry (BBC): “The Portuguese boss kicked a water bottle in reaction to referee Jon Moss showing Paul Pogba a yellow card for diving. Replays showed West Ham’s Mark Noble did not make contact with the France midfielder.”
Pogba dived. The referee was correct – he did fool for the player’s cheating. Jose Mourinho did make contact with the water bottle.
The West Ham website: “The Frenchman, falling after going past Mark Noble, was correctly booked for diving, prompting the explosive bottle-kicking moment from his boss.
The Manchester United website: “Mourinho was then sent to the stands after he reacted furiously to referee Jonathon Moss’ decision to book Pogba for an apparent dive.”
An apparent dive?
Manchester Evening News: “He [Pogba] appeared to dive over Mark Noble’s challenge and was booked by Jonathan Moss. Mourinho… kicked a water bottle in frustration and was sent to the stands.”
He appeared to dive. Jose was not poorly behaved and wrong. He was frustrated.
The paper does find lots of room for the thoughts of journalist Duncan Castles:
Picking that apart. The slight on Louis Van Gaal is odd given that the hammer-headed Dutchman was pretty animated:
And as for any other manager not being sent off for kicking a water bottle, well, the Arsenal manager was:
For Jose Mourinho, well, it wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that his old club Chelsea – the one he left spent and in mid-table – are top of the league under their new manager.
PS: Manchester United have failed to win four league games in a row at Old Trafford for the first time since February 1990. And they have drawn four consecutive league games at their place for the first time since December 1980. Yeah. it’s time for Fergie all over again. Oh for a manager who intimidates referees, fails to talk to the BBC and fosters a siege mentality. On second thoughts, as you were Jose…
Do you recall those halcyon days when truth ran through the media as blood flows through a virgin’s veins? No, me neither. In recent times, the media has become open. Great. The old media refer to the most vibrant parts of new media as ‘social media’, which is not like the, well, unsociable media, whose job was to tell not listen. Those “gatekeepers” of truth have seen the doors to the temple blown open.
The Guardian is aghast. Andrew Smith says the “pedlars of fake news are corroding democracy”. Lots of voices being heard is the enemy of democracy, whereby lots of voices get heard. Got it? No, me neither. To put the tin lid on the snottiness, Smith writes in a section called – irony of ironies – “Comment Is Free”.
In the past week, however, the collective postmortem – on the left and right of politics – has focused on a concern with far greater long-term impact: the accidental or deliberate propagation of misinformation via social media.
Not media. Social media, something to be viewed with circumspection and the kind of disdain a Guardian writer usual reserves for tabloids. So nothing like the other sorts of fact-pure media, then.
Many millions of people saw and believed fake reports that the pope had endorsed Trump; Democrats had paid and bussed anti-Trump protesters; Hillary Clinton was under criminal investigation for sexually assaulting a minor.
Millions saw. Agreed. Millions believed? How do we know that? Where did we read that? Or do we just assume that Trump voters are all too thick to seek out objectivity and go and find the real story? You know, like proper journalists do – or don’t do, given that so much news is shaped by the journalism of attachment, exposing the dead and churning stories leaked in reams of data. Sod all that searching for truth and just cop a load of subjective facts and knowing angles.
About the only accusation not levelled at Clinton was implication in the murder of JFK, and that was because Trump had already used it against his Republican primary rival Ted Cruz. If democracy is predicated on reliable information, it’s in serious trouble right now.
Democracy is predicated on nothing other than one adult getting one vote. How you chose to be informed it up to you. There are lots of voices. Pick your poison. It might even be the case – get this – that media of all strains – social, anti-social, unsociable and that media that gets off on being tied to a radiator and forced to drink its own urine – presents a version of events of most appeal to its readership and their prejudices.
Social media is no enemy to democracy. On the contrary. The more voices we can tune into, the better for free thought and free speech.
PS: If you want to read some trusty news about US politicians, you can always turn to the Guardian and learn about George W. Bush’s fake turkey. That balls has been up on the paper’s site since 2003.
PPS: A fake news story about George W. Bush – a politician the Guardian campaigned against – and a monocular news story about Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn being forced to sit on a train might lead you to think the Guardian is, like “corrosive” social media, a tad biased.