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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.
Chelsea did not break any Premier League rules in their dealings with former player Gary Johnson, the former player who claims he was sexually abused by coach Eddie Heath as a member of the youth team in the 1970s. When Johnson and his lawyers took the matter to Chelsea in 2014, the club Chelsea agreed to pay him £50,000 and told him never to mention the allegations.
Johnson accepted the deal. But was a man who says his childhood was stolen from him badly advised and badly treated?
Chelsea said the club’s board understood it was “usual practice” to include a mutual confidentiality agreement. They noted that Johnson’s solicitors had not objected to the clause. When Johnson went public, Chelsea waived the confidentiality clause.
Eddie Heath is dead. Chelsea have publicly apologised. They say Johnson “suffered unacceptably” after joining Chelsea as an 11-year-old in 1970. You might well ask what an acceptable level of suffering amounts to, and who gages it?
The matter was put before the Premier League. They have found Chelsea clear of any wrongdoing. The Blues will review their procedures and send a copy of their report to The Premier League. The Premier League board says: “After careful consideration, the board has determined that no Premier League rules were broken by the club not reporting this matter to them in 2014. ‘The League has requested that Chelsea agrees to a full safeguarding audit from an independent safeguarding expert. The league has no reason to have any concerns about Chelsea’s current provisions in this area but, given the seriousness of these historical allegations, feels that such a review is an appropriate course of action.”
Says Gary Johnson to the Mirror: “(Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich may be one of the richest men in football, but he has been very badly advised on this.” Was he the only one who was?
Donald Trump thinks the attack on a Berlin Christmas market was an assault on Christianity. “Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday,” says Trump. “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the massacre.
It’s a group not famed for its tolerance of other religions.
So why did it choose to murder people at a Christmas market?
The New York Times says there is no “war on Christmas” and, therefore, Christian belief is not in peril.
The greeting “Happy Holidays” has been in use as a Christmas greeting for more than 100 years. But it has grown in popularity in recent decades as people have tried to be inclusive and sensitive to those of other faiths and the nonreligious.
Do you say happy holidays at Eid or Diwali?
Not everyone opts for coercion at the point of a sabre.
Tim Black notes: “…to defend the freedom of those Christians today who refuse to endorse same-sex marriage, or who believe that a heterosexual couple provides the best environment to raise a child, does not entail defending the beliefs themselves; rather, it entails defending people’s right to hold and practise those beliefs where, as Tom Paine had it, ‘their practice doesn’t disturb public order as established by the law’.”
In the West Christians are criminalised and placed ‘on the wrong side of history’ for expressing their heartfelt beliefs. Coercion has replaced reason.
Trump, the Times‘ and IS each espouse their monocular view of religious intolerance.
Who asked them and why were they asked?
As the pollsters look for offence, Campus Reform asked students at the University of Virginia if they find Christmas offensive enough to want it banned.
To Chicago, where Latasha Eatman has been jailed for 49 days for something she didn’t do. CBS News reports that Eatman was arrested in 1993 on minor marijuana possession charges. Her punishment was to complete a period of community service. But Eatman was unable to comply because the facility to which she’d been detailed was closed and full whenever she turned up. And she turned up on numerous occasions. Eventually a judge excused her from probation.
Fast forward to 2016 and police looking for shops selling contraband cigarettes spot Eatman and run her name through the computer. The machine flags up an outstanding warrant for failure to complete community service. On the strength of the shoddy data and poor admin, police arrest Eatman and locked her up. After ten days in prison, the mother of a six-year-old is brought before the Beak. She tells him what happened and of the previous ruling. But this judge calls her a liar. He orders that Eatman is slammed back in prison and held without bond. For 29 days she remains in choky.
By chance, one Cara Smith, a chief officer at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, is running an audit of first-time offenders locked up in their jail. The authorities realise their error. Whoops!
One day later, Eatman is released.
And how was your day?
Anis Amri is the man wanted in connection with the massacre at a Berlin Christmas market. The Sun says he was “freed” three times by German police this year alone. The 24-year-old Tunisian was under “covert surveillance” months before the horror in Berlin. Now the police want to survey him as close quarters. Anyone who knows where Anis Amri is can earn £85,000 by telling the police. (The reward is €100,000.)
We then get a few facts. Amri arrived in Europe in 2012, landing by boat in Italy and posing as a minor. In June 2015 he arrived in Germany. In April 2016 he was refused asylum. The Germans wanted to send him back to Tunisia but the Tunisians said they had no idea if he was one of theirs. Amri had no papers.
The Times manages to establish Amri’s roots by speaking to his family in Tunisia.
Speaking to The Times yesterday from Kairouan, Tunisia, Amri’s father said that his son had been a violent, drug-taking adolescent. He was jailed for four years in Italy for setting fire to a migrant reception centre before arriving in Germany in February.
When did he arrive in Germany, was it February or April? The Press seem unsure. The Express says he’s 23. The Express and Mail says he arrived in Germany in July 2015. The Mail says he’s 24 in one report and in another that’s he’s 23.
Today is Anis Amri’s birthday. He’s now 24.
The Times adds:
Expulsion orders had been issued but the Italian and German governments could not deport him until Tunisia confirmed his identity and granted him a passport, which was finally issued yesterday.
Scheduled to be sent packing, Amri struck? Well, that’s the allegation.
The Mirror says Amri – the “world’s most wanted man” – could have been injured with the Polish driver whose lorry he allegedly stole. “It is believed that Lukasz Urban, 37, fought with the terrorist as the vehicle began to plough into the Breitscheidplatz market in west Berlin,” says the Times. “Mr Urban was found dead in the cab, having been stabbed and shot.”
Really? The men were fighting as the truck ploughed into shoppers? And how do we come to know Amri? The Guardian notes:
German authorities said they had found Amri’s identity card under the driver’s seat of the truck he allegedly drove into a crowd of people at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.
Does that strike anyone as odd? A devious known criminal left his ID paper by the seat of the vehicle that murdered so many?
“When I saw the picture of my brother in the media, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m in shock, and can’t believe it’s him who committed this crime,” Amri’s brother Abdelkader Amri tells AFP. “But if he’s guilty, he deserves every condemnation. We reject terrorism and terrorists – we have no dealings with terrorists.”
His sister Najoua Amri adds: “He never made us feel there was anything wrong. We were in touch through Facebook and he was always smiling and cheerful. I was the first to see his picture and it came as a total shock. I can’t believe my brother could do such a thing.”
The Guardian says Amri has ‘links with the radical Salafist Abu Walaa, alias Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A, a 32-year-old Iraqi Isis supporter known as the “preacher without a face”, who was arrested in the northern town of Hildesheim in November’ and ‘known Turkish Islamic fundamentalist, Hasan C, 50’ and with Boban S, ‘a hate preacher from Dortmund’.
According to an anti-terror investigator speaking on condition of anonymity to German media, Amri had sought accomplices for a terror attack in early 2016, and had shown an interest in weapons. Despite authorities being made aware that he wanted to buy a pistol, there were apparently no attempts to take him into custody.
Such are the facts.
After the “slaughter” (Daily Express) by a “truck nut” (Daily Star) at a Christmas market in Berlin, the Star surveys the “carnage” (Daily Mail) and declares on its front page: “Murdering scum told: Get stuffed just like the turkey.” That is ‘turkey’ with the small ‘k’. The Star doesn’t do subtle. But it nails it. ‘Defiant Brits have stuck two fingers up to Christmas terror,” says the paper, “and told them ‘You can get stuffed”.’
Over pages 4 and 5, the Star repeats its seasonal message: “XMAS KILLERS CAN GET STUFFED.”
Brilliant, isn’t it. Spot on.
At least one of the killers who murdered so many as they shopped for seasonal bits and bobs is on the run. We don’t know why he / she and any accomplices did it. All we know is that 12 people are dead, including trucker Lukasz Urban. Rather than speculate, the Star makes a statement. Get stuffed. Perfect.
Over in the Mail, the focus is on fear. “So much for Peace and Goodwill to All Men,” says the paper below a picture of armed police guarding the nativity scene at Canterbury Cathedral. But who are the coppers on the look out for? Islamic State has, we’re told, claimed responsibility for the mass murder in Berlin. The Mail tells of “fears” IS will call a “lone wolf from any of the 400 militants who have returned here from fighting in the Middle East”. Not a lone wolf at all, then, rather a suspect whose part of a global murder cult on a mission from god. The paper adds, “Experts warned that a lone wolf attack would be very difficult to prevent.”
Readers are told that “special forces and police have rehearsed the very difficult task of stopping a vehicle running amok”.
It’s more ‘We’re stuffed’ than ‘Get stuffed’ in the Mail.
And the fear keeps coming.
“BRIT IS CELL LINKED TO TRUCK HORROR,” thunders the Sun on its front page. This cell “may have been groomed by IS commanders who plotted the Berlin massacre”. Or to put it another way, they may not have been. We have no idea. And what’s this ‘groomed’ balls? Is it right to harness the language of child sexual abuse – the county’s obsession – to describe grown men murdering strangers? Don’t give the bastards an excuse. They’re no victims. The Sun that once yelled ‘GOTCHA” as the enemy’s ship was holed has lost its swagger.
Over pages 6 and 7, we read that the “bungling cops” arrested the wrong man. The “true killer” is armed and still at large. Unless – get this – those famously inefficient Germans let him go in the hope he’d lead them to his ‘groomers’. Or right now he’s in a cell having secrets leached out of him? Or maybe because the Germans let so many migrants in unchecked they have no idea who they’re looking for? Maybe the killer is Hans from Bavaria? We don’t know. But it’s exciting to guess.
On page 8, we hear more of Lukasz Urban, the aforesaid Polish trucker. He is now “brave Lukasz” who “fought to the end”. We don’t know how he died. All we know is that he was stabbed and shot. But the media like to portray victims as heroic, so the man whose battered body was found in the truck that killed so many is kidnapped anew, this time to become the face of courage.
More fear on the Mirror’s cover. “TRUCK KILLER COULD STRIKE AGAIN,” chills the headline. He could. Will he?
On page 12, the Mirror tells its readers “hate can’t fight hate”. Maybe not. But if a jihadi is trying to kill you and yours, lobbing flowers at him will only be enough if they’re tied to a sharp brick atop an F16. The Mirror says we can “show solidarity with the victims by refusing to be infected by the poison of terrorism and not turning on each other or sharing the bigotry of those who destroy lives for paranoid political ends.”
We know nothing of the victims, save that they were murdered at the shops. Showing solidarity with the dead speaks only of the living’s needs. And the killer did it for political ends, not for militant Islam or because, as the papers says, he is a “maniac”? The Mirror is sure of that.
The paper than says the Far Right are milking the massacre. The paper’s angle is that if you now worry about migrants and militant Islam, you are on the same side as the Nazis. You’re a facist. Oh, get stuffed. Not feeling the love does not make you a deviant. Criticising Islam does not make you an Islamophobic race rioter-in-waiting. Warning us about our response to terror is absurd. It paints us as fools and untrustworthy. We won’t be “groomed” by extremists on any sort. We can think for ourselves.
The final word comes to readers via the Express: “I’ll destroy IS terrorists says Trump.” The US President-elect says the people behind the massacre should be “eradicated from the face of the Earth”. He adds: “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians… as part of their global jihad.”
So much for the stuff of politics. Now for the culture…
When Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead, what did his killer say? The Times leads with the assassination of Andrei Karlov, 62, by off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22. The killer was was later shot dead by special forces.
The Times‘ headline declares: “This is for Aleppo, shouted killer after he shot envoy.” Like most newspapers it features the picture of Karlov lying dead on the floor at a photography exhibition in Ankara, Altintas by his side.
The Guardian also leads with the killer’s words. Its story begins: ‘The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger.’
The focus is placed very much on Russian’s involvement in Syria, a story that portrays the Russians as aggressors who think nothing of murdering civilians. US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, ran with that thread last week. “Is there literally nothing that can shame you?” Powers asked the Russian delegation as the cameras rolled. “Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child, that gets under your skin? That just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about, or justify?” A Guardian columnist wonder who we can live with ourselves “when we turn off the pictures from Aleppo and look in the mirror”.
Aleppo is no longer a city destroyed by failed talks, invasion, interference and tribal fighting. It’s a moral tale in which the West are the good guys. It’s no longer about them and their suffering; it’s about us and our sounds minds. Aleppo has given us a sense of purpose.
The narrative is clear: it’s Assad and the Russians versus civilians. Only Aleppo is also home to Islamists, al-Qaeda militants and other armed factions – although nothing as bad as Russia-backed Assad. “This is for Aleppo,” shouts the killer. This is for the defenceless children being murdered by Russian jets and Assad’s barrel bombs, says The West.
The Daily Star hears other words uttered by Mevlut Mert Altintas. Its front-page report begins, “A gunman yelling Allhu Akbar, shot dead the Russian ambassador to Turkey.” The Times mentions the killer’s other message in paragraph 2 – ‘An off-duty Turkish policeman cried “Allahu akbar”’ – and the Guardian in paragraph four – ‘He then pulled out a gun, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots.’ The Mirror’s story has the war cry foremost: ‘Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was killed by his police protection officer who screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria”.’
Might it be that the killer did it less for the kids than for violent Islamists?
Over in the Express, there is no word on the familiar cry of the jihadi – a shout familiar enough for British police to use in anti-terror training days. Hear it and run is the official advice. There the killer shouts, “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria.” There is no word on God playing any role in the crime.
Sky News agrees. In all reports it says the killer shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo”.
Over in the Mail, we hear Altintas say in Arabic, “We are the descendants of the Prophet Mohammad for jihad.” The Mail adds, “According to local media, his words are similar to the unofficial anthem of Al Nusra, the Syrian branch of al Qeada.” The Mail mentions this twice, but offers no source to support the claim.
So why did he do it? For the kids? For the jihadis. For Islam?
The Mirror says he was “filled with hate”. Well, yes. That much is obvious. The Sun says Antintas has “no known link to any group”.
Why did he do it? We don’t know. But as the censorious Turks issue a news blackout, let’s look out for the British media tweaking the story to fit their own agendas.
The assault on Press freedoms continues. If Section 40 is passed anyone who values free thought and free expression is damaged. On 1 November, the government launched a consultation on “the Leveson Inquiry and its Implementation” which will look into Section 40. It closes on 10 January.
Section 40 demands newspapers sign up to a State-approved body. Failure to sign up to the State’s Press regulator 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.
Join Impress, the Max Mosley-funded press regulator backed by the censorious Hacked Off, or the State will cut your legs off. Write anything unpleasant against the rich and powerful, and watch your organ die.
In today’s Sun, Trevor Kavanagh writes in support of a free Press. He comments on Mosley, the “tycoon”:
If he succeeds, newspapers will be gagged by a draconian law which puts paid to three centuries of press freedom. If enacted, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act gives anyone with a grievance the power to take a newspaper to court, with all costs paid by the publisher — win or lose.
Is Mosley an altruist? No, says Kavanagh. He is out to exact a “sick revenge”.
Mosley loathes the press for revealing his German- themed sado-masochistic sex romps with prostitutes. He is on a witch-hunt which puts every newspaper in the land — local and national — in peril.
Who else stand to win if Section 40 is approved?
Every corrupt character in the land, public or private, would be able to take the press to the cleaners. The only alternative would be to surrender to a state- supervised “watchdog” funded — surprise, surprise — by Mosley.
Kavanagh is on the board of IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation).
Nearly every newspaper and magazine in the country signed up to Ipso which swiftly established a reputation as a prompt, free and impartial referee. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley must wake up to the threat Mosley’s press regulator poses – if the press are made to pay court cases even in thrown out cases, suing will be a free-for-all This is not enough for Mosley. He funded Impress which, as the only applicant, was appointed as the industry’s statutory regulator — without the support of a single major news organisation.
Over in the Mirror, Jeremy Armstrong has a disturbing tale.
A police force last night faced stinging criticism for unlawfully snooping on the Daily Mirror after we revealed its Chief Constable blew taxpayers’ cash to conduct an affair with a colleague.
Bosses used powers designed to track terrorists and dangerous criminals to access my phone records as well as those of other journalists, officers and a solicitor in a bid to find who was leaking information about alleged racism within its ranks.
Worried? You should be. You can read it all here.
Kevin Maguire tells Mirror readers they are living in “Stasi Britain, where cops spy on journalists investigating credible allegations of police corruption”.
Like Kavanagh – who says “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – Maguire notes, “The disinfectant of daylight keeps the authorities honest.”
Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell makes an appeal:
“Everyone, not just journalists and publishers, must respond to the consultation and write to their MPs to persuade politicians and the Government to step back from a draconian measure that would take us back to the dark ages of press censorship, stifle freedom of expression and the public’s right to know what is done in their name and with their money.
“It is a battle which goes back to the 1600s, a century in which a king lost his head for ignoring the interests of the people.
“Those who seek to neuter the press and whistleblowers, must not be allowed to win this fight for fundamental freedoms that are important for everyone but which are too easily taken for granted.”
People fought and died for the right to cause offence. Don’t let them take it away.
One man, for instance, named Lilburne [John Lilburn; 1614 – 29 August 1657], was brought before the Star Chamber, charged with publishing seditious pamphlets. Now, in all ordinary courts of justice, no man is called upon to say any thing against himself. Unless his crime can be proved by the testimony of others, it can not be proved at all. But in the Star Chamber, whoever was brought to trial had to take an oath at first that he would answer all questions asked, even if they tended to criminate himself.
When they proposed this oath to Lilburne, he refused to take it. They decided that this was contempt of court, and sentenced him to be whipped, put in the pillory, and imprisoned. While they were whipping him, he spent the time in making a speech to the spectators against the tyranny of bishops, referring to Laud, whom he considered as the author of these proceedings. He continued to do the same while in the pillory. As he passed along, too, he distributed copies of the pamphlets which he was prosecuted for writing.
The Star Chamber, hearing that he was haranguing the mob, ordered him to be gagged. This did not subdue him. He began to stamp with his foot and gesticulate; thus continuing to express his indomitable spirit of hostility to the tyranny which he opposed. – Charles I, by Jacob Abbott (1848)
Sign the petition.
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.”
Can education improve everything? The Mail reports on plans for all new police officers to need a degree. In the old days would-be coppers were simply handed a form on which it was written, “If you can read this, you’re over-qualified.”
The latest move by the College of Policing is for budding plods to study policing at university, complete a conversion course if they graduated in another subject, or do a three-year ‘degree apprenticeship’.
It’s absurd, of course. This need for every job to require a degree simply adds more guff to the education bubble and makes loadsa cash for colleges. The actual job – the doing part – improves not a jot.
Every season the media tells readers “Christmas is cancelled”. Here’s a list of Christmases cancelled this season of cheer.
Nottingham Post, Novembers 18: “Christmas has effectively been cancelled for dozens of young children after thieves ransacked a nursery in Stapleford.” Thieves broke in and stole computers.
Stoke Sentinel, November 21: “Christmas is cancelled in Tunstall.” Why? Because there aren’t enough volunteers to help with a council-run do.
Daily Express, November 23: “‘We are a Muslim business’ Woolworths store cancels Christmas over Islamic customers.” A Woollies in Dortmund has stopped selling Christmas decorations and seasonal tat because it’s Muslim? No. “Branch manager Seda Capakcur, 25, confirmed Christmas products had been withdrawn from sale. She said: ‘The Christmas articles are hardly in demand here. Already last year, everything remained unsold.'”
Spokeswoman Diana Preisert said: “Woolworth is, of course, not a Muslim company. Christmas merchandise is available from September onwards and should be sold out by the end of December. In this branch, however, demand was too low. Therefore the goods were distributed to other branches.”
December 2, Morning News USA: “Christmas Cancelled? Santa Banned In This Part Of Oregon.” Bah! “An Oregon school district on Tuesday decided to ban Santa and other religious-themed decorations within the classroom.” Santa is religious?
December 4, USA Today: “Christmas is cancelled: Santa breaks leg.” (Psst! He’s not the real Santa.)
Daily Mail, December 4: “Cowell tells his harem that ‘Christmas is cancelled’ as he plays happily families in the Caribbean with his girlfriend and son.” Simon Cowell has cancelled Christmas for “old flames Sinitta, model Jackie St Clair and make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy”, who will not be joining him on his family hols in the sun.
Hull Daily Mail, December 8: “Christmas is cancelled for Hull thief Stewart Firth.” Crook told to spend Christmas thinking about his crimes.
Derby Telegraph, December 8: “Parents fear Christmas could be cancelled in Derby schools because of strike action.” Teaching assistants are thinking of going on strike. Elves union watching events closely.
Irish Independent, December 12: ““Everyone is seriously p***** off” – Jose Mourinho reported to have cancelled Christmas.” Instead of training on Christmas Day morning, Manchester United will be training on Christmas Day afternoon.
News.au, December 13: “Christmas is cancelled: Shortage of all your favourite festive treats.” Yep, the Hatchimal toy is selling out fast!
Daily Star, December 14: “Christmas is cancelled.” It’s been cancelled by striking Southern Railways staff and looming strikes by workers of Argos and the Post Office.
More to follow…
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.
Karen Matthews – ‘the UK’s most hated mum’ (source: Daily Mirror) is talking through a “pal” with an impeccable memory to the Daily Mirror.
In “I need plastic surgery for my own safety” readers see a picture of Karen, the woman convicted of kidnapping her daughter for cash. Like most of you, we too had forgotten what Karen Matthews looked like. and with her dyed hair, gained weigh, new name, Bible group mates and living far away from her native Dewsbury, it would have been easy to have ignored here. But the Mirror somehow managed to spot her and her anonymous friend, and now Karen says she is living in fear.
Over page 4 and 5, we are told in an emotive headline, “People scream nonce at me in the street… but I think I deserve everything I get.”
Karen is “trying to build a new life for herself…but there are clearly many who are not ready to forgive or forget”. Given that headline, one of them seems to be Karen herself.
People have thrown fireworks at Karen (bangers, since you ask). She is “hounded”. So she needs to have her face rearranged. Well, a bit of it at least: “I would love to get plastic surgery, make my nose small so nobody would recognise me.” She was “attacked” in prison. “They hit me with a snowball,” says Karen.
The Mirror says on Page 12 that Karen Matthew getting plastic surgery on the NHS is “a question for public debate”. And Karen “deserves a fair hearing”.
Lest you still not think the Mirror is spinning a story around Karen Matthews to flog you her memoirs, Lucy Thornton tells us: “My sympathy then loathing for Karen has turned to pity.”
And if there’s enough interest, it’ll turn to a book deal.
Journalists are notoriously bad at numbers. Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Collinson is talking about how things were better years ago.
The Bank of England governor told us this week there has been a “lost decade” of wage growth. But is the truth really a lot worse than that?
It turns out that the question is rhetorical. Collinson knows. He’s looked at his dad’s old tax returns:
In 1963-64 his pay as an accounts clerk in London was £1,357 a year. In today’s money that equals a little over £25,000 a year once inflation is taken into account.
Is it? Inflation is the percentage change in the value of the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) on a year-on year basis. The Office for National Statistics tells us: “The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods.”
Changes in the prices of goods bought and sold by UK manufacturers including price indices of materials and fuels purchased (input prices) and factory gate prices (output prices).
On a particular day every month, thousands of ONS inspectors collect 110,000 prices for more than 650 goods and services in 150 places and over the internet. This basket of goods and services is based on a survey of the spending patterns of 6,000 households and is continually updated.
Since there is no such thing as a typical household – not everyone smokes, drinks, eats out, buys rail tickets or pays school fees or a mortgage – the inflation rate of each household will differ from the average.
People who spend a lot of their money on services – childcare, hairdresser visits and restaurants, for example – will have faced a higher inflation rate in recent years given the much larger rise in services inflation than goods inflation.
Inflation is measured by comparing the price of the same or comparable things over time.
In some ways that £25,000 doesn’t look so great. After all, someone working in a similar role with his level of experience at the time might expect £35,000-£40,000 today. But then look at what an income of £25,000 bought in 1963 in London.
And look at what it buys you now. Yeah, it buys you the same stuff. Collinson has compared wages by looking at inflation.
His granddaughter now works in the same city, London, for the same pay, £25,000. But what does an income of £25,000 buy you in 2016?
As Tim Worstall notes: “Well, actually, it buys you a basket of goods worth exactly the same as £1,357 bought you in 1963. Because that’s how we work out what the inflation rate is.”
PS: The Guardian is appealing for cash. It wants readers to pay £5 a month to read the paper online. And in the Guardian’s world the desired £5 donation is “the price for a cup of coffee”. The headline of Collinson’s story: “Oh for the 1960s! People earned less but could afford more.”
Life was frothier than your expensive coffee back then.
How’s the Brexit vote getting along? A few weeks ago (It was June 23rd – ed), the people democratically voted for the country to leave the undemocratic European Union. Today the Daily Express leads with “HOORAY! MP SAY YES TO EU EXIT”. Like you, we’re a little puzzled. Didn’t the demos, the great unwashed, say ‘yes’ to the EU exit with that vote? The MPs had their say in the run up to the referendum. Now they’ve had it again, and the democratically elected members who represent us have voted in the Commons by 461 votes to 89 in favour of democracy.
The Express, which has cheered for Brexit and UKIP, is delighted. By the end of March the Government will finally trigger Article 50, the move needed to get Britain out of the European Union, and the MPs will not attempt to block it.
And the country is in favour. A YouGov last week reveals that 68 per cent of people want Britain to get on with Brexit.
On page 4, we read that the 372 majority vote not to block the will of the people “does not have the force of law”. The Express then points the finger at the “89 MPs who lined up to defy the will of the people”. Er, no. They all did. They voted on something they had no right to vote on. We already did the voting. The entire exercise was about them validating themselves not about the referendum.
The Mail is equally chuffed with this absurdity. It was the “DAY MPS SPOKE FOR BRITAIN,” declares the newspaper’s front page. The paper says Labour was “thrown into chaos” when 23 of its MPs refused to commit to the Brexit timetable. Labour is already in chaos. The party lost the plot when it created surveillance Britain, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, belittled the working class, approved a hierarchy of foreign people and acquiesced to racism.
“We’re the insurgents now,” says former Labour leader and PM Tony Blair. He and the 48% are the rebels? If they are look out for British politicians tuning the other way when Russians bomb them. But they’re nothing of the sort. You can’t spot the 48%. There is no popular movement. As we’ve seen, the vast majority of voters back democracy and just want Brexit done. The people rather like and value democracy; the clubby elected reps less so.
It’s “ARTICLE 50 SHADES of HOORAY,” says the Sun.
On its Page 2, the Mirror spots “lone Tory Ken Clarke” with the 23 Labour “rebels”, the LibDems and the SNP. So much for the 48%.
Meanwhile, over at the Supreme Court, Remainers are hoping rich petitioners backed by a shibboleth of old toffs – Gina Miller, her pals and the judges – render the referendum result useless. Indeed, readers, the people who bemoaned the rich and the old men and women in the street voting Leave now hope the rich and the old men and women wrapped in wigs and dead animals let them stay.
How’s that for elitism?
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.
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.
“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.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Having led with “important” news on the hunt for the missing child only yesterday, the Sun makes not a single mention of the child. The Express, however, leads with the story on its cover. “NEW TWIST IN POLICE HUNT FOR MADELEINE McCANN,” declares the paper, the words hanging by a familiar picture of the child.
On Page 7, we get to the news. Below stories about Scarlett Moffatt winning I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! and a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, we read: “Did people-traffickers snatch Maddy?” To which the only sensible answer is: Dunno. Did they?
New funding for the police search for Madeleine McCann will investigate a tip that she could have been kidnapped by people smugglers. The child “may have been photographed with her parents son the beach by a ‘spotter’ for a gang,” says the paper. Or may not have been. We don’t know. It’s a theory. A “police source” is quoted: “It raises hope that she could still be alive.” After that a “friend” of Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann is quoted: “There is definite hard evidence that this is happening and they have looked into the fact someone was targeting children and may well have been sterling children to order.”
In the Star, on Page 15, readers are told, “MADDIE: 4 MOTHS TO FIND HER.” That’s how long British police have been given to locate the child who vanished in May 2007. The paper says “detectives have changed their minds about what happened “. They no longer believe she was “snatched by burglars during botched raids on the family’s holiday apartment”. They now think child-traffickers may be behind the disappearance. A “source” unnamed, as ever – says this is the “last roll of the dice”.
It’s the “last chance” to find the child, says the Mail on its page 14. Police want to “work out if she was kidnapped to order”. The paper adds that “no trace of her has ever been found”. Readers are told that the parents “were ultimately forced to raise funds for teams of private detective to chase a barrage of often spurious tip-offs”. And that the the “child trafficking theory was first raised in 2007 by private detectives who believed there could have been gang ‘spotters’ working on the resort.”
Believed. Could. But no facts.
As for four months to find the child, the Mail says when the public funding for the police search ends on April 1 2017, more money will be provided if “investigators have evidence that the few remaining leads are worth pursuing”.
Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007. Such are the facts.
Do you want the good news or the good news? Norbert Hofer, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, will not be the county’s next president. He polled less votes than Alexander Van der Bellen.
The Mail call it “humiliation” for Hofer, whose party, it reminds readers, was “formed by a former SS commander”. He was Anton Reinthaller, a former SS brigade leader and Nazi Minister of Agriculture, who formed the party in 1956. Lest you think having one old Nazi has leader an accident, Reinthaller was succeeded in 1958 by Friedrich Peter – another former SS member.
Anyhow, the Freedom Party didn’t loose by all that much; as the Mail says, “almost half the electorate, backed him”.
Is the Mail a tad disappointed?
Hofer wasn’t set to kick out immigrants. He was all set to give the European Union a kicking. Pity the spirit of the SS lost, right?
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
The Sun (front page): ” MADDIE GANG PROBE Cops given cash to probe ‘important’ new lead that Maddie was snatched by people trafficking gang.”
Important enough for the paper’s front page – but not ‘important’ enough to avoid those inverted commas.
The rest of the Press follow the Sun’s lead.
The Mirror: ‘Madeleine McCann cops chasing ‘important new lead’ as investigation reaches “last roll of the dice”.’
The Indy: “Scotland Yard set to investigate ‘important’ new lead in disappearance of Madeleine McCann.”
Daily Mail: “Scotland Yard given extra funding to probe ‘important’ new lead over theory that Madeleine McCann was kidnapped by trafficking gang.”
It’s important. Maybe.
Over pages 4 and 5, readers are told more.
The development is being taken so seriously that senior Whitehall officials have been briefed by the Met on its progress.
Well, the hunt for the missing child has cost a lot of public money. Maybe the bean counters are worried about a lack of value for their investment?
And what of the breakthrough?
Detectives are following a tip that a gang of European traffickers snatched the tot after taking pictures of her. It could end up proving that she is still alive, nearly ten years after she vanished.
Everyone sane would like this story to have a happy ending. But how can anything prove the child is alive other than her being found?
As with so much to do with this story, an unnamed source is quoted:
A source said: “This is an important new line of inquiry which could provide an explanation on whether Madeleine was abducted and transported away. It raises hope that she could still be alive.”
Surely we only know if the new tip is important if it comes up with evidence that explains what happened to Madeleine McCann.
Retired Yard detective Colin Sutton said the extra money for the last line of inquiry means “there must be something worthwhile”.
Who needs evidence when you’re a retired detective?
The Sun adds: “Reports following Madeleine’s disappearance suggested she could have been taken to Belgium or Morocco in North Africa.”
But this is interesting:
The Met’s clubs and vice unit received a tip that the ring had placed an order for a “young girl” just three days before Madeleine went missing. Leicestershire Police, who at that point led the Operation Task effort to help find Madeleine, were also informed.
Is there any evidence to support the story?
In 2011, police in Portugal smashed a trafficking ring snatching young women and underage girls in the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of the country.
The Portugal Resident has more:
An operation to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests of 12 men identified as being part of a criminal network in the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of Portugal.The ring is believed to be responsible for the sexual exploitation of many young women in the Algarve, some of them underage, who were being coerced into acting as prostitutes in the region
During the operation, 30 Romanian women were identified as possible victims of human trafficking.
The SEF, Portugal’s immigration and border service, added:
“The movement of the prostitutes between different networks hindered the police and judicial authorities in being able to conduct a criminal investigation but authorities in Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany cooperated with us with the assistance of Europol in this case.”
Algarve Social Democrat (PSD) MP Mendes Bota was unimpressed with the suspects’ treatment:
Speaking to Lusa News Agency on Monday this week, Mendes Bota claimed that, “a few days after they were arrested”, the majority of the individuals detained by SEF Immigration Officers during the February bust “were released by a judge who decided that they should await their trial, who knows when [the trial will commence], unrestrained.”
We can’t find any news on any trail.
Such are the facts.
Stage school kids and pushy parents, listen up. Stop sharpening your elbows and start smiling beatifically.Lady Gaga has arrived in London. And she has a message, as told in the Guardian:
Singer says money and celebrity have been put on a pedestal, and the happiest people are in the poorest parts of the world
And stinking rich, super-celebrated, fame-hungry Lady Gaga, whose every outfit and manifestation seems to be the product of a focus group, should know.
Lady Gaga has denounced the evils of money and fame as she promoted her new album on the roof of one of Britain’s biggest shopping centres.
Lady Gaga looked down on the masses and told them to be as happy as pigs in the brown stuff. She might even envy you. Only recently Lady Gaga was so upset she touched a rubbish truck outside Trump Tower. The Guardian holds its nose and writes:
The singer, who has an estimated net worth of more than $250m (£200m), performed for an audience of competition winners at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, on Thursday night.
The revolution will be endorsed.
In its front-page farewell to Andrew Sachs, known chiefly for his work as Manuel, the well-intentioned and hapless Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers, the Mail juxtaposes the actor’s portrait by the news “MIGRANT NUMBERS HIT NEW RECORDS”.
The Mail fails to say how many migrants hail from Barcelona.
PS: Andrew Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930.