Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
Time for another look at Ted Health’s corpse. A high-ranking policeman reportedly said that the former Prime Minister was a paedophile. A ‘source’ told the Mail on Sunday that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale, for it is he, is “120% certain” the dead man was a child rapist. You can either believe it and think, ‘Yeah, always knew he was a wrong un.’ Or you can wonder about the evidence, the messenger, the timing and if the hunt for the morally reprehensible can ever be satiated?
Pick your prejudice and read on…
In the Salisbury Journal, dead Ted’s local paper, we read Veale’s response to the Mail on Sunday’s story. This is it in full:
“On Friday 2 December 2016, I prepared and distributed an unequivocal open letter outlining the Wiltshire Police position in relation to the ongoing investigation into allegations made against Sir Edward Heath.
“This letter was written as a direct consequence further to unhelpful and inappropriate speculation about this case. However, this speculation continues and is of huge concern to me as I believe it will undermine trust and confidence in the police, have a potential prejudicial impact upon a live ongoing investigation, not to mention an impact upon the confidence of persons who have come forward with information.
“In my letter I made a number of points to provide absolute clarity about why Wiltshire Police is conducting this investigation. To reiterate, there is a clear legal requirement and supporting national policy from the College of Policing that I am required to undertake an investigation where allegations have been made, regardless of whether the alleged offender is living or deceased.
“In relation to the recent unhelpful speculation regarding the veracity of the allegations made, let me once again be clear, it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our Criminal Justice System. Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us. Further, those who choose to continue to make comment on this case whilst not in possession of the facts ultimately may serve to unfairly damage both the reputation of Sir Edward Heath and / or those who have disclosed abuse.
“At the end of my open letter I stated that I would not be making further comment about the investigation unless it was for operational policing purposes. Other than to provide clarity around a number of key points, my position remains unchanged.
“The operational security of this investigation and the anonymity of the people who have come forward remains of paramount importance to Wiltshire Police.”
That’s a very long ‘no comment’. And he doesn’t specifically say if the Mail on Sunday’s story is false or true. Pity.
Mindful of the copper’s words, the Sun dutifully bows its head and reports with circumspection:
HEATH’S SEX CULT LINK Edward Heath ‘linked to a murderous paedophile ring that killed 16 kids’
Ted Heath was in cahoots with serial killers?! The story begins:
BIZARRE claims that former Prime Minister Ted Heath was part of a satanic paedophile ring which murdered 16 children have been dismissed as “wild allegations” by a close family friend.
Sensational claims make for sensational headlines.
Who are making the outlandish claims?
A group of women allege the Tory PM abused them as children as part of a sex cult run by their own parents which burnt babies in satanic orgies.
Wiltshire Police have spent more than a year investigating the allegations as part of an inquiry that has cost taxpayers over £883,431, the Daily Mail reports. But Sir Edward’s godson Lincoln Seligman said: “I understand that these claims from the 1980s were at the time dismissed as complete fantasy by police. It is disappointing that these wild allegations have been reheated and randomly attached to Edward Heath’s name.”
There is reportedly no suggestion that Sir Edward killed any children in the women’s accounts.
Only ‘reportedly’? But gerraload of that headline!
After a few lines on tortured babies, Devil worship and murder, the paper delivers a selection of facts:
Sir Edward, who was Prime Minister from 1970-1974, was never married and died in 2005 aged 89. The lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989, and Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time.
Over in the Mail, the Sun’s source, we read more.
Group of women who say they were abused by Sir Edward Heath also claim their parents ran a satanic sex cult that was involved in SIXTEEN child murders
Like the Sun, the Mail delivers the claim in a big, bold headline before noting at the very start of the story:
The farce came as police probe incredible claims that the former prime minister was linked to a paedophile ring that killed as many as 16 children – which would make them the worst child murderers in British history.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Ted Heath, the subject of a ‘bizarre’ ‘farce’. The paper adds:
The seemingly far-fetched allegations have been made by a family who allege that the politician was part of a satanic sex cult run by their own parents.
The paper delivers more on the allegations of terrible acts that only ‘seem’ to be far-fetched:
They say that the cult regularly slaughtered children as ritual sacrifices in churches and forests around southern England and also participated in similar ceremonies in Africa.
They claim their mother and father – who is said to have known the former Conservative leader – were responsible for slaughtering children ranging from babies to teenagers – yet they evaded justice.
The paedophile ring – which they say Sir Edward was part of – stabbed, tortured and maimed youngsters in churches and burnt babies in satanic orgies before men, women and children gorged themselves on blood and body parts, police have been told.
Can we take some small relief that no sex was involved in this alleged orgy of depravity? What we’d like, of course, are some facts. But instead of them we get news that, ‘If the bizarre allegations were to be proved, the parents who allegedly led the killings would be responsible for murdering more children than Fred and Rose West.’
Did Fred and Rose West meet Ted? Sorry, ‘Ed’? If ‘wild claims’ are newsworthy, look out for tales of MPs at the Wests? Reading on, we’re told:
The women’s lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989 when they came forward. Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time. It was only last year that he was named for the first time after one of the claimants said she had ‘remembered’ a man called ‘Ed’ was a prime mover in a network of paedophile abusers.
The story is so weak, a cynic might wonder if it’s put up to create a smokescreen to derail the whole search for so-called VIP paedophiles?
Maybe the Times can be more helpful? Beneath the headline ‘We can link Ted Heath to alleged victims of abuse, police claim’, the paper tells us:
The police investigating claims that Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile believe that they have evidence linking the former prime minister to a series of alleged victims.
More than 30 alleged victims have contacted Wiltshire police with claims of abuse involving Sir Edward from the 1960s to the 1990s. A source close to the investigation said that “strikingly similar” allegations made against Sir Edward include the names used for the former politician, the type of abuse and the locations.
Detectives were reported to be initially sceptical about the allegations but “now believe them”.
Wiltshire police said it did not know if the investigation report would be published. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of child abuse, although not linked directly to Sir Edward. The investigation is also considering claims that the abuse was reported to the police years ago but was covered up.
The paper then mentions Mr Veale’s aforementioned letter, noting:
The chief constable had previously apologised for launching the investigation in 2015 with a public appeal outside Sir Edward’s former home beside Salisbury Cathedral.
And what of the alleged Satanic murders?
An expert called in by the force to assess the claims by three women who alleged that Sir Edward was involved in occult abuse said that the police inquiry was the result of on “an over-active imagination”.
Is any of this going to be tested in court?
The Times revealed last week that three prominent victims of false abuse claims are suing the Metropolitan Police over their treatment in a separate inquiry. The legal actions by the former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, the former chief of the defence staff Lord Bramall and the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini could cost Scotland Yard an estimated £3 million.
The widow of the former home secretary Leon Brittan was reported yesterday to have sent a “letter before action” to the force as a result of raids on their homes in London and North Yorkshire after her husband’s death.
Having read what the police believe and what women imagine, David Mellor, the former Tory minister, takes to his blog on LBC radio, where he hosts a phone-in show:
In an interesting scoop yesterday, the Mail on Sunday claimed that the Chef Constable of Wiltshire, Mike Veale, believes that Ted Heath was a serial paedophile, whose crimes were covered up by the establishment. The MOS report that thirty complainants have allegedly been identified, and “Mr Veale believes them 120%, and thinks they are totally convincing”.
Scoop or utter balls?
He is not directly quoted in the piece, so it could all be made up. But I doubt it.
So much for facts. It’s all about belief.
It’s worth taking a look at the original ‘Statement from Wiltshire Police following the IPCC announcement re. Sir Edward Heath investigation’.
A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said:
“Following the announcement today regarding an independent investigation by the IPCC into allegations concerning how Wiltshire Police handled an alleged claim of child sex abuse made in the 1990’s, we are carrying out enquiries to identify if there are any witnesses or victims who support the allegations of child sex abuse.
“On becoming aware of the information, Wiltshire Police informed the IPCC and later made a mandatory referral. The IPCC investigation will specifically consider how the Force responded to allegations when they were received in the 1990’s. [sic]
“Sir Edward Heath has been named in relation to offences concerning children. He lived in Salisbury for many years and we would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our enquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim.”
Sir Edward Heath has been named. By whom? Dunno. What’s the dead man been accused of? Dunno. The statement kickstarts the hunt. We don’t know what Sir Ted’s been accused of but we know any ‘victims’ will be believed. They are not ‘alleged victims of…’ They police are at pains to paint them as victims:
“We are working closely with the NSPCC to ensure that any victims are appropriately supported. They provide trained helpline counsellors to listen and provide assistance… Victims will receive support throughout any investigation and associated judicial process…
“Please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org as they have dedicated staff in place to deal with victims or if you have information that may help police please call us via 101.” Ends
But it’s not all bad for Ted Heath. In the Telegraph, an article on a hot London property spot name-checks Ted as a stalwart of good taste:
Jermyn Street’s distinctive shops, some of which are still owned by the descendants of the original families that established them, have been frequented by Diana, Princess of Wales, Ted Heath and Joanna Lumley.
And you know who Diana was mates with, don’t you.
Such are the facts.
To the anti-Trump protest at Whitehall, London. Some people would like the UK to rescind the invitation for Donald Trump to tread the red carpet with Her Majesty. They say Donald Trump being met by the Queen would be embarrassing. No, not for the elected leader of the world’s greatest republic, but for the hereditary leader of the feudal landed gentry.
Anyhow, the best bit of the protest, which has zero chance of achieving its aims, is the Arsenal fan who showed off his anti-Arsene Wenger banner.
Talksis of Wenger lasting four more years, much like Trump. Which one garners the most protests is up to you.
Was Ted Heath a paedophile? The Mail says it’s been told that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale ‘regards the allegations as “totally convincing”‘. An unnamed ‘source‘ tells the paper:
“Mr Veale believes in them 120 per cent and thinks they are totally convincing.”
What Mr Veale believes is now fact? Not too long ago police on Operation Midland said the words of a man known only as ‘Nick’ were “credible and true”. They weren’t. Whereas once the police response was to undermine the alleged victim’s credibility they now accept claims at face value. So much for evidence-based police work. The police arrested known faces at the airport as the cameras clicked and the BBC televised police raids on empty homes. The hunt for child abusers began to look like a PR drive to support the police and media, two pillars of society that had let down victims.
While we’re on the matter of moving your organisation to the right side of history, the police once supported laws that made homosexuality a criminal offence. That’s relevant because at the time of his alleged offending, Heath was a ‘confirmed bachelor, a euphemism for what TV light entertainers, the Press and the police in the 1970s termed ‘poofs’. Heath was not out and proud. He was very much in, giving organ recitals to his enthusiastic mates.
Back then to the source who knows Mr Veale’s opinions:
“There are very close similarities in the accounts given by those who have come forward. The same names used for him, the same places and same type of incidents keep coming up. What stands out is that the people giving these accounts are not connected but the stories and the details dovetail. It contains disturbing stuff. Investigators have been shocked by what they have learned.”
With the copper’s thought aired, the media pile in. The Sun (Page 14), thunders: ‘PM TED HEATH “WAS A PAEDO”.’ The ‘Cop is 120% certain’. Who needs all those barriers to justice, like evidence, proof, courts, charges and lawyers. The copper is more certain than certain can be. The trouble is that the man he knows to have been a paedophile is stubbornly dead.
The Sun says Heath’s supporters view the police investigation as a ‘witch hunt’. Seventeen police work on the matter. We’re told that the ex-PM’s supporters ‘say he did not have a car. Cops are thought to have proof that he did.’ This is relevant because one claim is that he picked up a 12-year-old boy and took him to his Mayfair flat.
Back in the Mail, we see Heath ‘standing by the driver’s door of the Rover 2000 he bought after Margaret Thatcher ousted him as Tory leader in February that year… The Mail on Sunday has learned that Wiltshire Police has also obtained photographic evidence of him driving.’
The Mirror, which featured Nick on its front page, covers the story on Page 4. The report is short. The final line says the police reports, ‘may reignite the case against Sir Edward’. Consider the flames lit and the smoke fanned.
The Express features the story on Page 2. ‘Tory outrage as police chief claims that Edward Heath was paedophile,’ runs the headline. ‘Tory grandee’ Malcolm Rifkind calls the new “despicable gossip”. He adds: “Until you know the facts you no in a position to judge.”
You can’t judge it in a court of law, but you can make a judgement in the court of public opinion. We are free to wonder why 12 years after he played his last note, Heath is in the frame? Are accusations easy when the target is dead? Or is 12 years the time it takes for coppers, editors and politicos who were around at the time of the PM’s alleged crimes to retire, succumb to failing memory syndrome and die? Of course, as the adults accused of heinous act wither, their alleged victims mature into adulthood. One argument is that they’re speaking out now because they can. If they’re dismissed because their alleged abusers are dead, the message to deviants is that so long as your victim is much younger than you are by the time they get the confidence to point the finger, you’ll be polluting the water supply and out of harm’s way.
Which leaves only prejudices and gut feelings. Ted Heath, eh. Always thought he was a wrong ‘un.
So let’s end with this short extract from the Michael Cockerell documentary Westminster’s Secret Service broadcast by the BBC in 1995. Tim Fortescue, a Whip under Edward Heath between 1970 and 1973, told the cameras:
“Anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the Whips and tell them the truth, and say now, “I’m in a jam, can you help?” It might be debt, it might be a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help. And if we could, we did. We would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points. That sounds a pretty nasty reason but one of the reasons is, if we can get a chap out of trouble, he’ll do as we ask forever more.”
And Ted? In Churchill to Major: The British Prime Ministership Since 1945, Donald Shell writes:
The most significant changes in the role of the whips appear to have taken place during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Heath as chief whip from 1956 to 1959 brought a new professionalism to the job; he was the first holder of that position to routinely attend cabinet meetings,although neither he nor his successors have been full cabinet members. More significant was the way he systematically gathered information about every member of the party, and developed the art of using this to maximum advantage. He was after all responsible for piloting the Conservative party through the Suez crisis and its turbulent aftermath. When Edward Short became Wilson’s chief whip in 1964 he found that it ‘had been the practice to keep a “dirt book” in which unsavoury personal items about members were recorded’, and he immediately ordered this to be discontinued. It is probable that such stories arose simply out of the thoroughness with which Heath and his successors had gathered information. Heath himself explained his professionalism: ‘I acted on the principle that the more you know about the people you are speaking for, and the more they know about you and what you are being asked to do, the better.
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall did not lose “close personal friends” at Hillsborough. In 2011, a post under Mr Nuttall’s name on his official website featured a quote attributed to him. The post regarding efforts to block the publication of files concerning the Hillsborough Inquiry went:
“Without them being made public we will never get to the bottom of that appalling tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans including close personal friends of mine lost their lives.”
When challenged, Nuttall told Radio City News: “I haven’t lost a close, personal friend. I’ve lost someone who I know… Well, that’s not from me… This was an article that I did not write and did not see prior to it being posted by a member of my staff. Of course I take responsibility for those things that are put out under my name, but I was genuinely taken aback when this claim was brought to my attention and am both appalled and very sorry that an impression was given that was not accurate.”
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall admits that claims on his website that he lost a “close personal friend” at Hillsborough are false pic.twitter.com/bnNKm29IsU
— Radio City Talk (@RadioCityTalk) February 14, 2017
That radio interview followed his denial that he had, as the Guardian puts it, “lied about being a survivor of the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989”.
Nuttall, who is contesting the Stoke Central by election for Ukip on 23 February, features in a Guardian story that challenges his claim to have been at match. The paper notes:
Nuttall was 12 at the time of the disaster, and was a pupil at Savio high school in Bootle, Liverpool. One of his former teachers, a Roman Catholic priest, has told the Guardian that the school believed it had been aware of the identities of every boy who had been at Hillsborough in order to help them through a difficult period, and that Nuttall was not among them.
A fellow pupil at the school who says he has been a friend of Nuttall for decades said the Ukip leader had never mentioned being there. “I have been very good friends with Paul for over 25 years,” he said, adding that during that time they had “never spoken” about Hillsborough.
What does that prove? Nothing. The Guardian says so:
While the teacher and friend expressed surprise that Nuttall has said he was at Hillsborough, their comments do not prove that he was not present.
He said he was there. A UKIP statement tells us: “Paul was indeed at Hillsborough. He attended the match with his father and other family members. For political opponents to suggest otherwise and for left-wing media organisations to promote such claims constitutes a new low for the Labour party and its associates.”
Says Nuttall: “I just want to make it perfectly clear. I was there on that day. I’ve got witnesses, people who will stand up in court and back me 100 per cent. It’s cruel and it’s nasty. It’s making out as if my family are lying as well, which is just not fair or right.”
It’s all unedifying stuff.
The Daily Mail notes:
Today is not the first time Mr Nuttall has had to distance himself from claims on his own website. In November, he made embarrassing denial of a claim he played professional football for his local team.
The site has two references to Mr Nuttall’s past as a ‘professional footballer’ for Tranmere Rovers, just across the Mersey from his childhood home in Bootle.
But when MailOnline contacted the National League club to ask whether he had ever played for the first team, a spokesman said, ‘Definitely not’.
The New Statesman adds:
Last year he denied having been responsible for a post on his LinkedIn profile that inaccurately claimed he had received a PhD in History from Liverpool Hope University in 2004, blaming an “over-enthusiastic researcher” for the page’s contents.
Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose 18-year-old son, James, was killed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989, said: “There’s a lot of people who survived that day who did lose personal friends. It’s devastating for them because they’re still suffering and for the guy now to backtrack is appalling.”
The Guardian is supporting the Labour candidate at the Stoke by-election, and it surely relishes the chance to hasten the disintegration of UKIP, a pre-Brexit force and a post-Brexit non-entity. So what says the UKIP-supporting Daily Express? Can it spin the story? The paper reports:
…a source close to Mr Nuttall has said the “first time” the Ukip leader encountered the statement on his website was during the Radio City interview.
They added the website is edited by a member of the party’s staff and not Mr Nuttall, and while he didn’t lose a “close friend”, he certainly knew people who had died in the disaster.
Mr Nuttall is said to be “furious” with the error, which as a result of “two words” has thrown up another “bad headline” for Ukip in the run-up to the February 23 by-election.
Politicians have a long history of using football to reach and control the plebs. But this episode might well be the nadir.
When Piers Morgan was told to ‘Fuck off’ on the telly by Australian comedian Jim Jeffries, right-thinkers on twitter loved it. Morgan, who identifies himself without invitation as Donald Trump’s mate, pointed out that there is no ban on Muslims entering the USA and that Trump is not Hitler.
Morgan’s correct. To say so does not mean you like him or Trump, it’s just to acknowledge the facts. Trump is not Hitler. Piers Morgan is not Trump’s Joseph Goebbels, the Reich’s Minister of Propaganda.
This anti-reason shrill denial of basic facts normalises the Second World War and diminishes the Holocaust into a routine event. If Hitler is the now and the everyday, the actual Hitler, the man who wanted to make Germany greater again and triggered the murder of 6 million Jews is not all that extraordinary. Isn’t this what anti-Semites say in their effort to denigrate the great crime, that the Holocaust was not that big a deal? In pointing at Trump and yelling ‘Hitler’, history is subverted. The innocent dead are demeaned and their guilty murderers exonerated.
For the infantile Hitler shriekers, engaging with Trump and, in turn, listening to the 62 million who voted for him means ushering in the embodiment of human evil’s reincarnation. People who protest the illiberal, kak-handed and cruel attempt to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries as something Hitler would do think they are making a principled suppression of Trump’s prejudice. They’re wrong.
Trump, the authoritarian and illiberal enemy of free-speech, is not rounding up Muslims, transporting them to ghettos and concentration camps in a plot to kill every last one them, as Hitler did with the Jews. To use that monumental crime in order to give any campaign against Trump some weight is hideous.
Encouragingly for Trump and any other modern-day Hitlers, things can turn around pretty fast. The New Statesman, which in 2013 branded Angela Merkel ‘the most dangerous German leader since Hitler’, now in the post-Brexit world – it wanted the UK to Remain – calls her ‘the defender of liberal values in the post-truth age’, while the Independent, Raw Story, the Daily Beast and The Australian call Frau Hitler the ‘leader of the free world’.
The ‘free world’ being the undemocratic EU, purveyors of the Germany-biased euro currency, whose technocrats colonised the mismanaged Irish and Greek economies, belittled and harried the Irish for rejecting the Nice Treaty and made second-class Europeans of Romanians and Bulgarians who having joined the EU in 2007 had rights to work and claim benefits limited for their first seven years of membership. Merkel the evil or Merkel the great hope? Everyone gets to decide but her.
As for Jeffries, well, he was playing to the crowd and hitting a soft target. Disliking Morgan’s to-deadline pomposity is easy. When I worked as a reporter one way to get people to talk was to ask them not what they liked but what they disliked. People are far more comfortable listing and detailing their pet hates than their loves. They will tell you don’t like the phrase ‘Oh My God’, when someone with whom they disagree says they’ve been ‘owned’ and the sound of a stranger’s sniffing. Ask them what people they dislike and the flood gates really open. Right now it’s safe to say in public that you dislike Trump. Disliking him – and, boy, is that an easy task – is the quick and easiest way to define yourself and be ‘on the right side of history’. It’s much the same with Morgan. Say you don’t like him and you’re playing to a sympathetic crowd.
And that’s what struck me about Jeffries’s negating of reason and debate in taking a verbal pop at Morgan. It was safe. No-one on the TV show was going to hound him for calling out Morgan, much less Trump. In his rules of modern comedy, Jeffries told us: “You can’t do jokes about black people or Asian people, but you can do a rape joke onstage now and there’s not a problem.”
And you know who was really good at playing to the crowd and hitting soft targets who couldn’t hit back?
Let’s not make the world a safe space, where dissent is censored, disruption mobbed and naysayers shackled. Let’s debate, consider the details, listen and hold things up to the light.
Is House of Commons Speaker John Bercow an apostate or a jumped-up pillock who overstepped his brief when he declared that Donald Trump should be banned from addressing Parliament? Maybe he’s both.
The Mail (front page) says Bercow ‘sparked fury’ when he told MPs of his opposition to “sexist and racist” Trump sullying the hallowed halls of Parliament with his presence. The paper quotes a ‘Whitehall source’ who calls Bercow “insulting” and in danger of damaging the so-called Special relationship between the UK and USA. Although the same source adds that Trump doesn’t “even know who Bercow is”.
A Mail writer says Bercow ‘let loose a volley of self-important rudeness’.
The Mail quotes another source mocking Bercow’s ability to straddle a high horse with such short legs. The paper shows Bercow welcoming such embodiments of enlightenment and protectors of the democratic flame as the emir of Kuwait and the president of China.
The Express (front page) calls it ‘Outrageous’.
The Sun (buried on page 5) says Bercow ‘was cheered by Labour and SNP MPs’.
And the Mirror (front pages) thunders: “Racist Trump banned from speaking in Parliament.’ On Page 2, the Mirror says, ‘Bercow was praised for standing up to Donald Trumps’s questionable values and blocking him from Parliament’. Whereas the Mail can find only people to belittle Bercow, the Mirror finds only voices to exalt him. ‘Tory MPs sat in stoney silence as their former colleague tore into Mr Trump,’ says the paper.
The trouble is that Bercow doesn’t have the right to peak for the nation. His grandstanding was just that. If the Commons values democracy, as surely it must, the man 62 millions American chose for their leader should be respected. Bercow is the Speaker. He is not The Guard. His role is to be versed in the Commons’ rules and officiate during bouts.
Of course, Trump a useful fool. Being anti-Trump means that you stand for something. He defines you by what you are not. But what are you? Being anti-Trump is not enough. It’s easy and it’s lazy. Its invites bigger questions: why don’t you trust the electorate? Who do you represent if not the voters? If you prefer bans over debate, why do you sit in debating chamber?
It’s easy to take issue with Trump. It’s less simple to explain what you would do instead.
All Brexit voters are thick. So says Polly Tonybee in an article for the Guardian, ostensibly about the Stoke Central by election. Stoke Central is a safe Labour seat. Well it has been. But Labour is morally bankrupt and not fit for purpose. It has acquiesced to anti-Semitism. Labour positions itself as the immigrant’s friend but recent Labour governments have been very good at blowing up Muslims in their own countries and creating refugees. Labour no longer represents working-class concerns. It is no longer proletarian and clear voiced. It champions rose-tinted anti-progress eco-austerity over a rosy-fingered dawn.
By way of example, Jeremy Corbyn – the man democratically elected to lead the party (because it’s so directionless and inward looking that anyone with an assembly of supporters can lead it; just look at Tony Blair and his clique) – has been talking about limits on pay and pay ratios. He told us: “‘This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.” How is that not limiting? Labour is not about people getting more; it’s about people getting less. It’s not about aspiration; it’s about reducing everyone to a low level. Under Labour, socialism means less for all. How’s that inspiring?
After the 2015 drubbing for Labour at the General Election, one-time leadership candidate Chuka Umunna identified what he saw as the burning issue: “We spoke to our core voters but not to aspirational middle-class ones.” Labour never spoke for aspirational working-class voters. It failed utterly. To Labour, the working class cannot be aspirational. They can only be patronised.
Tonybee focuses on Labour’s rival:
For Ukip the stakes could not be higher. Lose here and the party is well and truly dead: its new leader, and its candidate here, Paul Nuttall buried on his first outing. Byelections are the great hope of insurgent parties, when voters can indulge in risk-free protest. No seat could be riper than this Brexit hotspot, where almost 70% voted leave: Stoke perfectly matches this week’s BBC research showing the closest correlation between high Brexit areas and low education qualifications.
Though ethnic minorities make up only 15% of Stoke’s population, on the doorstep I found immigration the hot button issue.
First up: is 15% a notable low percentage of ethnic minority people? The Office for National statistics tells us:
Whilst the majority of the population gave their ethnic group as “White” in the 2011 Census, results from the past 20 years show a decrease, falling from 94.1% in 1991 down to 86% in 2011. London was found to be the most ethnically diverse area, while Wales was the least diverse.
So Stoke is a little above average in its ethnic make-up. But the link being assumed is that fewer ethnic voters means Stoke’s voters are more prone to racism. Says Tonybee:
I found immigration the hot button issue. “Too many here, filling up our schools and hospitals.” What about EU doctors and nurses working in the NHS? “They can stay, but let us choose.” “Yes, immigrants work hard – but they send all their money back home and I’m against that.” “They’re not our culture, are they?” One or two said “Trump’s got the right idea”, matching YouGov’s finding that 29% in Britain support Trump’s migrant ban.
We are invited not to engage with these voters but look down on them. They want a better life. Picking out anti-immigrant views reveals more about metropolitan prejudices than it answers the question as to how how the white working class can achieve more and better. So will represent them?
As for thickos voting Brexit, well, insults will always win over the working-class demos, so keep going.
She then adds:
…the result will matter most for the people of Stoke: for their identity, their reputation, how they want to be seen in the world.
Right now, Polly sees them as thick and anti-immigrant.
Who do they want to be? If Stoke became the Ukip seat that set off a far-right tremor, that would blight its image and prospects, branding it a lost zone of the despairing and angry.
So vote Labour and get…?
Stoke should and could have a better future. Transport links are excellent, north and south, and it’s a good logistics base with large call centres. Rows of pleasing redbrick homes are cheap and potentially alluring for escapees from the unaffordable south.
Call centres, good escape routes and a place for southerners to downsize to. Live the dream in the Guardian’s vision of Stoke – a haven for the thick.
Compare and contrast the following news about the Bowling Green Massacre and Hillary Clinton landing under enemy fire in Bosnia. Fake news is big news right now.
Sat at the top of the new cycle is the idea that pimply Putin supporters pumped out fake news stories which swung the election for Donald Trump. Amid reports that the great unwashed don’t trust journalists is news that fake stories were taken as fact and influenced people to vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton.
These people have trouble separating fact from fiction. It’s these slack-jawed people for whom health warnings appear at the end of soap opera.
A few years ago I was invited to talk on a BBC radio show about a story on British soap opera Coronation Street. A fictional child had gone missing. Fictional police and fictional people – actors repeating the words penned by scriptwriters working to replicate slice-of-life stuff to the fourth wall – were frantic with worry. The show ended by assuring viewers that everything they had seen was not real. Similarities to actual events were coincidental. If they had been affected by the heartbreaking story, they should call a number, where they would be given assistance but sadly not advised to stop watching the magic box, get a grip, get out more and get your head tested.
Such warnings suggests broadcasters have a pretty low opinion of their viewers.
A British poll in late 2016 found that 25% of those polled said they trusted journalists. Oddly, journalism is much more widely trusted – up to 65% – when the report is read aloud by a TV newsreader.
Politicians are trusted by just 21% of the people.
The assumption is that the people who fall for fake news – the stupid and gullible who read only one news source and don’t talk to people in the street (68% trust rating); who think Dallas was a documentary and Picasso a martial artist – are Trump voters. Clinton supporters, so goes the theory, are too knowing to be so easily duped.
Hillary Clinton is on a visit to the war-town country. She tells media in 2008:
“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Utter balls. Hilary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton landed at Tuzla Air Base. Local and dignitaries met the Clintons at the airport. They gave them flowers, a poetry reading and at least one hug from a well-placed photogenic child.
In The Des Moines Register, said Hillary:
“We landed in one of those corkscrew landings and ran out because they said there might be sniper fire. I don’t remember anyone offering me tea on the tarmac there.”
Called out on her balls, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters in 2008:
“The facts are clear from contemporaneous news accounts that she was entering a potentially dangerous situation… is it possible that in the most recent instance in which she discussed this that she misspoke, with regards to the exit from the plane…”
Not a lie. Not fake news. A misspoke.
Bowling Green Massacre.
President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway tells media:
“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
There was no Bowling Green Massacre.
Conway says she misspoke. She meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’.
In 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to federal prison after they confessed to attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq and tried to assist al-Qaeda in Iraq by sending money and weapons.
Massacre. Nothing like it. Utter balls. A lie? No. A misspoke.
Cue Sniper survivor Chelsea Clinton.
Fake news is a big issue. But it’s nothing new. Why is one news item leading the TV news? Why does Israel and not Brazil or Pakistan top the BBC’s news show? Newspapers appeal to their readers’ prejudices. Bias is all around.
Facts can be checked. Claims can be disproven. You can read more than one newspaper or online report and watch more than one TV show.
So what changed?
Whereas once journalists were expected to be objective, they now emote, signalling their opinion and taking sides. The journalist’s report becomes just another opinion. It is no more valid – no truer – than any other opinion. Trust has been eroded by a desire to show all sides of an argument; to present the ‘facts’ from all angles; to be seen as impartial and in search of not one truth but of multiple talking points; to show views over verifiable fact.
If there’s no truth, all we get is fake. Hillary, Trump and Putin didn’t invent and encourage fake news. The mainstream media did.
‘Out of Berkeley Nazi Scum,’ demands a placard held high at University of California Berkeley. Intolerance will not be tolerated! So goes the protests against to deadline polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos, who having been banned from the virtual world – Twitter suspended his account – is now branded too outrageous for the Berkeley brains’ trust to cope with.
The screeching, fires, placards and – irony of ironies – calling out people as ‘fascists’ as you smash windows and light fires by the college bookstore worked. Fascists, eh. If you want to call out a fascist, copy their methods and become one of them. The college that once championed free speech, where students campaigned for the right to hear from Communists and agitators buckled. Trump supporter and Breitbart news mainstay Milo Yiannopoulos had his appearance cancelled. The censorious, violent, angry prudes won the right to stymie and curtail free speech.
On CNN the post-truth, fact-free news mandarins got wind of the story. UC Berkeley professor and former Democratic Secretary of Labor Robert Reich suggested Trump and his fans were behind the protests.
“I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students. Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.”
“There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event. So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth…. I saw these people. They all looked very– almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”
You want facts? No need when you have feelings.
If you don’t think free speech is worth protecting, you are not for progress. You cannot counter ideas and foment new thinking without free speech, the sound of free thought.
There are so many things about President Trump to be concerned about. His illiberalism. His attitude to free speech – he’s against it. His cruel and arbitrary ban on people visiting the US from seven counties. But dismissing his supporters, people who want freer lives, more money, better job security, jobs, opportunity and recognition as thick, ‘low-information’ fascists is not in the least bit helpful.
This disdain for the concerns of 62 million voters who backed Tump over Hillary Clinton – the patrician who wanted a “barrier” between the US and Mexico, who called vast numbers of voters ‘deplorables”, untermensch to be despised by the knowing and – irony of ironies – who know fascism when they see it, and has caused so much suffering in majority-Muslim counties – is contagious. And what goes for Trump’s supporters goes too for the majority who embraced democracy and voted in favour of Brexit. Writing in the Guardian, Labour MEP Seb Dance has much to say.
Earlier this week, while UKip MEP Nigel Farage was addressing the European Union chamber, Dance held up a sign. It featured an arrow aimed at Farage and the message ‘He’s lying to you’. Phew! Good job that Seb Dance was there to tell us thickos what was untrue.
On his website, Sebastian says why he did it:
“Mainstream politics must be more willing to challenge the nationalists and the populists. They pretend to stand up for people who are suffering but their diet of hate, division and suspicion create only misery and poverty. It’s time to stop the nuanced language: They’re liars.
“Nigel Farage is regularly treated to free coverage by virtue of being leader of the EFDD [UKIP’s European Parliamentary group] and UKIP often use these clips in isolation on social media. When debates are time-limited it is impossible to challenge what he’s saying, so I protested in the only way I knew how at that point, which was to grab a piece of paper, write a very simple message on it and sit behind Nigel Farage during his usual diatribe.”
The New Statesman calls Dance ‘the best MEP ever’.
The FT says:
The motive was a smart piece of sabotage, aimed at making it more difficult for UKIP’s former leader to go viral.
And so to Dance, who tells Guardian readers:
On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. On 8 November 2016 Donald Trump won the US general election. Both events were seismic, in and of themselves, but it has been the reaction to them that is the most extraordinary part of the story so far.
No, not people in the streets shouting down debate with cries of ‘Hitler’ and fascists, nor MPs decrying democracy.
From having been the rebel outsider positions in their respective countries, both have now risen to a new kind of status that leads online Twitter eggs gleefully to announce the end of liberal democracy and welcome the impending arrival of a new world order.
Democracy won. Both results were established in a free and legal vote. I’m no Trump supporters, and was delighted when Farage failed to win a seat at the last General Election, but the millions who voted for Trump and Brexit are not all twitter eggs. The voters are not passive no-marks. They mobilised for change.
Dance then tells readers:
There were many fine and erudite contributions before Farage spoke. The values this place represents do instil a real sense of pride. But some of the comments focused on the need to have a constructive dialogue with Trump, as if he would somehow listen to reasoned and impassioned pleas from MEPs, an organisation he has repeatedly indicated he would want to be destroyed.
MEPs are not an organisation. They are representatives. Dance’s note positions him as the politician who knows politicians cannot be trusted. A placard held up for the cameras apes the protestors who want to make their voices heard but have no arena save for the street in which to do so. Dance is elected to speak on their behalf. He is not passive. He is active. He’s not one of ‘us’, He’s one of ‘them’. Disparaging politicians and their motives puts him squarely in the same camp as Trump and Farage. Both say politicians and the media cannot be trusted.
Is the media biased against President Trump? He says it is. And – get this – here’s evidence that he’s right. The Guardian leads with the picture of the Anwar al-Awlaki’s daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki, who “may have been fatally shot in intelligence operation on al-Qaida that left at least 14 people, including a US commando, dead.”
The headline declares:
Eight-year-old American girl ‘killed in Yemen raid approved by Trump’
A child’s death was “approved by Trump”.
Is that biased? Or is it a little too subtle for you?
Did the Guardian lead with pictures of children killed in attacks approved by Barack Obama?
No. Maybe Obama bombed them to sleep? Maybe he blessed them with his ordinance? Maybe being killed on Obama’s approval is more desirable than being killed on Trump’s?
Did we see any faces on the Guardian’s front page of the children deported – some of the 2.5 million people sent packing on Obama’s instructions?
Is the media biased?
Is Trump out of step with previous American leaders?
Donald Trump continues to set the news agenda, his presidency a political take on ‘Stay Tuned’ TV cliffhangers. President Trump’s ill-conceived travel ban dominates the news. But the Daily Mirror has a new angle. It books itself into one of The Donald’s five-star hotels – the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC – and sets about looking at the labels on the luxuries therein.
Full disclosure: I’ve stayed in a Trump hotel, his tower in Toronto. And, aside from my iPhone getting nicked from the room, found it pretty good, from the linen to the pink ‘Trump’ baseball hats left for each guest. And, no, hair was not attached to the complimentary lids.
The Mirror’s Christopher Bucktin got the tough job of stock taking at Trump Inns. He found lots of ‘imports but few US goods’ at ‘Hotel Hypocrite’. He found Samsung TVs (made in Mexico), shower caps (made in China), cups (Germany) and a fridge (Switzerland).
Having quoted one hotel guest who lambasts Trump for picking the cheapest goods, Bucktin makes a false step. ‘We also fund him cashing in in his most hated religions – Islam,’ he writes.
Cashing in? How so?
In the bedside drawer ‘I came across a Gideon Bible’, a move akin to finding your own arse with your own hand. By the Bible is a note: ‘If you would like to continue your spiritual journey, we also offer the following: Talmud, Quran, Gita, Avesta, Tripitaka, Shri Guru, Grantha Sahib and Book of Mormon.” A call to housekeeping confirmed guests were able to have the holy book of Islam brought to their room in Arabic and English, with a prayer rug and a compass pointing to Mecca.’
So how was he cashing in? There is no word that the mat, book and compass incur a surcharge. Bucktin explains: ‘Trump the hotelier welcomes Muslims – if they are loaded with dollars.’ He treats all customers the same. He does not discriminate. Just like Hitler, then.
And what if they’re workers? We don’t know if any staff at the hotel are Muslim. Maybe Trump welcomes Muslims so he can pay them, too?
Attacking Trump, the accidental president whose bad for liberty, is not too hard a task so why make a bad job of the facts? The Mirror says rooms ‘start at an average of £500 per night’. A quick look at the hotel’s website tells us a room can be had for $400 a night all in. Not cheap. But not £500.
Over pages 6 and 7, the Mirror looks at the protest’s against Trump’s executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. It notes the on-line petition calling for Parliament to cancel Trump’s State visit lest it “embarrass” the Queen. Over 1.5m people support feudalism and the monarchy. Who knew?
‘Prevent Donald Trump’, runs the petition text, ‘from making a state visit to the United Kingdom. Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US government, but he should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.’
Can Trump achieve what Prince Andrew, Prince Charles, the Duke of Edinburgh, Fergie, a grandson dressed as Nazi, an uncle who was a Nazi, walking about with a crown on your noggin’ and riding in a gold coach failed to do? Can Her Majesty feel embarrassed? “[Trump’s] misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by the queen,” says the petition’s writer. Over one million people think Trump is too common for Her Majesty. What a snooty view. Look how superior we are to Trump and his supporters. No red carpet for him. He has hotels; she has palaces. He has Bibles; she is Defender of the Faith. He has voters; she has subjects. He has borders; she has Empire. He has Tiffany; she has diamonds as big as your face.
The paper notes that outside Whitehall, protestors demanded Theresa May condemn Trump.
And then come the inevitable celebrity endorsement. ‘Bianca Jagger, Lily Allen and Gary Lineker, who was with two of his sons’, were all there. ‘America united to condemn Donald Trump,’ says the paper. All of it? Odd not to hear one word in support of Trump’s ban. ‘Hollywood stars’ spoke out against Trump.
It’s all pretty much what Trump wants, no? The media present one side of the debate. Check. The celebrities vent forth. Check. People who don’t like the fact he was democratically elected in a legal vote use polls and numbers to try and derail him. Check.
More Trump on the Sun’s cover. ‘PM: No Trump U-turn.’ Over pages 8 and 9, the Sun spots Gary Lineker and Lily Allen in the 10,000 people outside Downing Street.
The paper quotes MPs likening Trump to Hitler. “The Holocaust didn’t start with the gas chambers,” says SNP Carol Monaghan, one of many keen to use the murders of 6 million Jews to score a political point. Boris Johnson told the Commons the comparison “demeans the horror of the 1930s”. It does. Trump is not plotting and fomenting genocide. He’s not that organised.
‘Protest march? It’s a waste of time,’ writes the Sun’s Clare Foges. Maybe. Maybe not. It; good for filling pages and spotting famous faces. Foges adds: ‘Strangely there was not the same outcry when Obama banned refugees from Iraq for six months in 2011.’ She spots hypocrisy and ‘anguished luvvies’ in a ‘pitch of hysteria’. Protest is for losers. “Save your breath,’ says the Star, which one sided with the protesting EDL.
Does this ‘hysteria’ over Trump whitewash crimes of other politicians, like Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and Obama?
One of those ‘luvvies’ occupies the Mail’s front page. It’s Gary Lineker and a son. The Mail says May is ‘right to ignore the hysteria’ and the ‘twitter-obsessed, virtue-signalling student union politicians running today’s Labour Party’. The matter of US security, says the paper, is ‘a question for US politicians’.
And a question for Daily Express readers, too. An impressive 99% of them ‘agree with Trump’s tough migrant stance’. Well, those who voted in one of the paper’s polls do, which has still to bring in that 100% result. Of course, 100% could be achieved by there being just one caller keen to spend 50p on a premium-rate phone line – that’s 5p less than the paper costs. But at 99% the poll looks busy and representative.
And the Express has another. Today it asks readers: ‘Is Donald Trump right to bring in the travel ban?’ Anyone in doubt as to how to vote can see the headline hanging above the question: ‘Trump fury is just liberal left hysteria.’
The vote is open to liberal left hysterics with 50p to burn. Like everything about Trump, it’s fair and fair can be.
The Government is advertising for trade negotiators. This might be the job to suit the country’s brightest and best football agents, the kind of people who understand that the day a client signs a contract is not the end of their role in matters. There is always the next deal and the next to arrange and sound out. The best agents work to protect their clients’ futures. They focus on the long-term. And they do their prep work.
One Guardian writer doesn’t get it. The top “post-Brexit international trade negotiator, tasked with sealing deals from North America to New Zealand”, will earn £160,000 a year or more, he tells us. And then he says this:
Critics also think the salary is a waste of money for the first two years of the five-year contract because the UK will be unable to reach agreements until the terms of divorce from the EU are finalised in 2019.
You can’t sign the deal until the trade window opens, but you can negotiate any deal before hand.
When looking for signs of idiocy it’s always useful to consult Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who opines:
“Appointing a trade envoy on £160,000, who will be paid more than the prime minister, who cannot actually do their job for two years, shows how frankly stupid this government is being over Brexit.”
Tim, no. They can do their jobs. They can negotiate and daft agreements. They can showcase their talents. And when the trade window opens, they will have done their homework and be ready.
When Donald Trump was voted in, the Daily Mirror was aghast that he’d called Theresa May after dialling so many other leaders. It was a”poor start to the Special Relationship”. May was “at the back of the queue of world leaders”. The President-elect had issued a snub.
So how did the Mirror report the news that May is the first world leader to meet President Trump?
Was it front-page news?
And every other paper?
Such are the facts.
Is Tim Farron beyond parody? That F. A. R… Oh, never mind. He’s the leader of the LibDems, which were pretty popular and go-ahead until their former leader Nick Clegg stuffed them. Talking about Article 50 and Brexit – which he opposes – Farron is quoted in the Guardian:
The UK’s final Brexit deal must not be decided by “a stitch-up between Whitehall and Brussels”, the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has said, promising his party will seek to hold Theresa May’s government to account over the process.
There will be no stitch-up between the wonks, the technocrats and the mandarins because Tim is watching. That’s Tim who wants another referendum on Brexit because the stoopid people didn’t agree with the technocrats, wonks and mandarins the first time round. The people who mobilised and saw an alternative political future can’t be trusted, says Tim, who is on hand to protect us from our own ignorance.
Knowing Farron is overseeing international operations brings to mind Frederick Peel Eldon Potter. In response to Tsar Alexander II’s aggression in the Caucuses in 1898, Potter told the few thousand readers of his column in Ireland’s Skibereen Eagle, “the Skibereen Eagle has its eye on Russia.”
It’d be an idea for Farron and others who don’t trust the demos to pass their time thinking of an alternative to the EU and a new angle for politics that engages with the electorate and actually represents the people. Brexit offers opportunities. Farron should embrace it. But it’s easier for him and his ilk to carry on as they have done for decades, delegating decisions to unelected groups and inviting the great unwashed to “join the debate” with no intention of acting on a word they say. Politics isn’t therapy.
“That is a recipe for dissent, for a complete breakdown in trust in our politics. For the next couple of generations, let’s say, Britain’s relationship with the outside world will be cast because of stitch-ups in the 21st-century equivalent of smoke-filled rooms.”
Someone tell him. Not you, Gina Miller, who was made “physically sick” by the Brexit vote. She successfully challenged the Government in the courts. The Supreme Court sided with her and ruled that parliament must vote to trigger Article 50. Miller did it not because she wants to feel better and best way of achieving an holistic recovery is to scupper Brexit. Like Farron, Miller did it for us. She wants to prove that “parliament alone is sovereign”. Made ill by the voters, she champions democracy.
No. Not her.
One of you 17.5 million people who voted for Brexit in a free and legal election can have a go at telling Farron what’s what. Form an orderly
line queue. He’s relying on us all getting bored and the electorate’s old passivity to return and ensure Brexit dies on the vine.
But we won’t.
The Donald Trump Death Cult is in full cry. Whenever a new man is unveiled as the new President of the USA, the talk swiftly turns to his murder. (See Barack Obama Death Cult.)
The Secret Service said Tuesday it is taking “appropriate action” after one of its agents suggested on Facebook that she would not defend President Donald Trump should someone try to shoot him.
So much for Trump making more jobs.
PS: Hey, CNN, how’s Obama getting on.
How did you vote in the EU referendum? The majority who did voted to leave the European Union. Why they did and what should happen now is explained in this terrific video from Spiked.
Brexit and the Battle for democracy:
In the twilight area between fact and fiction lies the Daily Star. Today’s Star leads with the sensational news that Donald Trump is “IN CELEBRITY BIG BOTHER”.
Such is the way of Trump, it might be that the thin-skinned reality TV creation is to appear on another reality TV show. But did you spot the pun? Anorak had to read it twice. It’s “BIG BOTHER” not “BIG BROTHER”. And news is that Donald Trump in in trouble because:
a) China has eaten the last creature he wears on his head?
b) There’s a gay sex tape?
c) He’s a jihadi?
d) Madonna is upset?
Yeah, it’s ‘d’. But should there be trade war with China, things might get worse for Trump.
As we’ve noted, Madonna says she is so upset at the result of a legally democratic vote she considered “blowing up the White House“. And no, she wasn’t planning on achieving it by nipping in the back door and pricking her inflated ego. Kaboom! Rhinestone all over the place.
Also unhappy with Trump are: The Edge (from U2, the group front by Bono, aka Mr G21), Natalie Portman, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Amy Schumer.
Does anyone else think the problem celebs have with Trump is not a problem at all. He’s a symbol that what a TV star says matters. Their lives are not just about endorsements for fizzy drinks, the next record / film / miracle baby / diet / gadget and Hillary Clinton. People actually listen to what famous, vain, rich people with zero political nous, diplomatic savvy and military experience say. And what’s more, they vote for them to be President of the US of A!
“Look,” say the A-listers “one of us can get into the White House. Why didn’t my agent tell me?”
Madonna’s just gutted it isn’t her sat in the big chair with a finger on the button. Neither brave nor daring enough to go for the top job, she’s been reduced to playing on as Trump’s support act. No wonder she’s unhappy.
What do we have? On one side, are the people with no jobs, who endure deprivation and exist in a place called ‘The Rust Belt’. The technocrat, elitist candidate opposing Donald Trump called them “the deplorables”. On the other side are the people who have time and energy to bemoan their lot on twitter, march outside the White House and listen to Madonna, a multi-millionaire celebrity tell them she is so upset and victimised by President Trump winning the democratic vote she thought of blowing the place up.
It’s not democracy they want. They want their own prejudices to be given State approval.
Donald Trump is hard to like, harder still to admire. His illiberalism and attitudes to abortion are hideous. But the protests against him are monocular. If womanhood is united against abuse why didn’t women march on the White House when under the Obama administration drones killed hundreds or thousands of people, including many women?
“Between January 2012 and February 2013,” The Intercept reported, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”
And what of the women killed by drones in Yemen, including a pregnant woman and three children?
According to the victims, on 12th December 2013, Abdallah Mabkhut al-Ameri, his new wife and about 60 of their friends and family, were travelling in a wedding procession outside the city of Rada’a when four Hellfire missiles hit the convoy, resulting in the deaths of more than 10 people, including the groom’s son from a previous marriage, and injury of 24 more.
Was there a march to contest the US ties with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, its intensely religious education system and its puritanical Wahhabi Islam? This is how the Guardian describes life for women in the US’s ally:
The male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia is not just law: it is a set of bylaws and state-sanctioned discriminatory policies and practices that restrict a woman’s ability to have a wide range of choices unless permitted by her male guardian – typically a father, husband, brother or even a son.
In practice, it means women are unrecognised by the state as full legal adults.
Did you march when Obama deported two-and-a-half million people?
“The inclusive nature of the event, the organisers say, calls for participants to come together to safeguard the freedoms of all people that have been threatened by recent political events,” the Evening Standard reported on the march.
So where were you then? Where will you be tomorrow? Or is not about freedom, liberty and equality but your dislike of accidental President Trump and the result those rebellious working-class bullies in the fly-over States voted for?
FAKE NEWS WATCH. Donald Trump removed the bust of Martin Luther King that sits in the White House’s Oval Office. Well, that’s what the journalists are reporting.
AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) is, as her Twitter profile states, “Author: The Presidency in Black and White, White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks, Baltimore, Maryland Native.”
She knows her stuff. So when she tweets that Martin Luther King’s bust has been removed from President Trump’s White House, the story must be true. Trump really is that petty and racist. What more proof to you need? She tweets:
The Martin Luther King jr. Bust has been moved out of the Oval Office according The People Magazine DC Bureau Chief who was in there this pm”
Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) heard much the same. He’s the White House / Washington correspondent for @FRANCE24 and @RFI.
From White House pool reporter @toddgillman: the MLK bust is no longer in the Oval Office. A bust of Winston Churchill is back though.
Todd Gillman is “Washington Bureau Chief @DallasNews.” He’s a top man. He’s a trusted source.
Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) is “Senior Politics Editor, Huffington Post.” He was dismayed.
“will we have as much of a collective freak out over the MLK bust being removed from the Oval as we did about the Churchill bust? prob not”
A pox on those double standards. The bust of a white man is removed on Obama’s orders and people are upset; but when the black man’s bust is put in storage because it upsets Trump, not a peep. Nothing. Not a thing. Well, aside from the hundreds of tweets from influential journalists.
Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) is the “White House @TIME”. He reported that the MLK bust had gone. But as the shitstorm gathered more and more power, he told his followers:
Correction: The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door.
Phew! Trust in the mainstream media is restored.
Donald Trump is going to be assassinated – maybe. The media loves to think of how and when the US president will be murdered. Today, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the Sun kicks things off. On Page 7 readers are told of ‘THE SURVIVOR”. This is the person who will take over as American leader should Trump and his VeePee be murdered.
The Sun has no idea who it is. But it’s exciting to think of two people being murdered an mystery ‘Option C’ taken over.
The Mail says no “specific threat has been revealed” but “a lone wolf could mount an attack”.
The website Quora muses: “What are the chances Donald Trump is assassinated in office if he were to become president?” Before you read the answer note that Trump was democratically elected and Quora is a US site:
The odds are substantially greater if you include the likely assaults on the soft target members of the extended Trump family. Donald Trump is not the only high profile public “Trump” target; he has three wives (two former), four adult children, multiple public buildings and businesses…For better or worse, it is now likely to be open season on all things Trump, regardless of the name changes.
In the UK, the Daily Mail wondered: “‘So who’s going to assassinate Trump?’ Twitter erupts with calls for the Donald to be killed after he wins the election.”
One man who won’t murder Trump has been caught.
A man was arrested Tuesday in Miami Beach after posting a video online in which he vowed to kill President-elect Donald Trump at the inauguration. According to reports, the man’s mother died on 9/11 aboard one of the hijacked airliners and she was later eulogized by Hillary Clinton.
Dominic Puopolo Jr., calling himself LORD JESUS CHRIST on Twitter, tweeted the above video directly to the Secret Service, daring them to stop him. “Yes I’ll be at the review stand at the inauguration, and I’m going to kill President Trump. … What are you going to do about it, Secret Service,” he says in the video.
The Mail says Puopolo was “a close family friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton”.
Suspect Dominic Puopolo Jr., 51, sat near Hillary Clinton when she delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Puopolo’s mother, Sonia, who died in one of the jets that flew into the World Trade Center on 9-11.
He’s out. Who’s up?
Donald Trump’s presidency is causing one Guardian writer to come over all anti-democratic.
I turned off the radio after Obama said, in his final speech: “In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next.” I yearned for a leader who would say something like: “Hey, there was foreign intervention in this election, along with voter disenfranchisement, so maybe it wasn’t free and fair.”
You might recall when Barack Obama popped over to the UK to tell Britishers how voting for Brexit would relegate the country to the “back of the queue”? As Henry Kissinger put it: “Obama seems to think of himself not as part of a political process, but as sui generis, a unique phenomenon with a unique capacity.”
The Guardian writer adds:
We didn’t need to know the minutiae of the Russian intervention; we already knew that it raised questions so grave that the whole transfer of power should have been halted while it was investigated.
So is democracy not free and fair when it delivers the result you don’t want?
Only one tabloid leads with Donald Trump’ inauguration. The Mirror introduces the 45th President of the United States. “Now the world holds its breath,” it adds. Over pages 4 and 5 readers are told “IT COULD ALL GO VERY BADLY WRONG.” The paper produces a listicle: “20 reasons why Trump’s reign could be a disaster for USA & World.”
Across the page, we see a picture of the Obamas sharing a hug as they gaze out from the White House. The message is clear: the good times are over. The good people are gone.
But let’s look at that list.
2. The rich will get richer.
What of Obama’s record, under whom African-Americans’ economic fortunes declined?
4. Deport illegal immigrants.
Under Obama, the US facilitated around 2.5million deportations. A record.
This is not to undermine Obama’s achievements and record. As the New York Times reports, Obama pulled “the nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression”. This is to highlight monocular reporting of a man whose wife billed him as “a leader who’s going to touch our souls”.
Lest any reader not have got the Mirror’s point, its editorial thunders, “Reasons to be fearful.” Brian Reade delivers Trump’ speech as he imagines it. People are “subjects of the Trump organisation”. But didn’t we all buy into Obama’s world, the man whose identity was key to his success? When Trayvon Martin was killed by a white Hispanic vigilante in 2012, Trump opined: “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
So how do you follow that? What is Obama’s legacy? Is it Donald Trump? “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America: there’s the United States of America,” said Obama in 2004. Now what do you see in a country where ‘white man’ has become an insult more than an observation?
Once all eyes were on Obama the man not the party activist, a politico branded ‘The One’, by Oprah Winfrey; now they are on Trump and his identity.
Plus ca change.
Thank f*** for that, then. After much pontificating, Theresa May told everyone she’s sided with the British unwashed and decided to go for Brexit.
There has been much talk of hard Brexit and soft Brexit. Hard Brexit meant Brexit. You said your goodbyes and left. Soft Brexit meant no kind of Brexit it all. You said goodbye and left behind your coat with your phone and keys in the pocket in the hope you’d get a call and another lunch date.
The Pet Shop Boys put it well in their hit West End Girls:
Too many shadows, whispering voices
faces on posters, too many choices
If? When? Why? What?
How much have you got?
Have you got it? Do you get it?
If so, how often?
Which do you choose
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)
So a mere seven months after the British public delivered a clear result in a large popular vote, the Prime Minister vowed to represent the people’s will.
“Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May,” reports the BBC. The UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.
Hurrah! She gets it. She doesn’t want it. But she gets it. And she shot from the hip.
Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour to Europe. Yet I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path.
That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.
Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.
All strong and decisive stuff. It echoes the strong and decisive vote. But not everyone is pleased.
LibDem leader Tim Farron says May’s moves represent a “theft of democracy”. He says “business is united” that it wants to be in the single market. All of it, including the business people who voted to leave the EU? Farron says May’s “stitch up” has “ignored the will of the people”. In other words, you 17.4m who voted to leave didn’t really understand what you were voting for. Only the MPs can know what is right for you. What a low view he has of Leave voters, and what an elevated view of his own role.
Farron’s view is odd but no uncommon. Jeremy Corbyn’s view is irrelevant. What is Labour’s plan for Brexit? We don’t know. But when he’s got one, he’ll share it with us. On the morning before May’s speech – one which had been trailed for days – the Guardian wrote:
Corbyn told the MPs the party would have a clear message in response to the prime minister’s speech, saying Labour would fight any attempt to make the UK “a bargain basement economy off the coast of Europe”.
The only worthwhile opposition of May comes from within her own party.
Dan Roberts has news for Guardian readers who hope Brexit will be scuffed and denied.
The first clue to the prime minister’s ongoing need for more cordial relations with Europe in private is her announcement of a second vote in parliament at the end of the process.
The MPs will have a say on the process. But that’s surely a sop to the Remainers who want the courts to block Brexit and stymie the people’s will.
Roberts turns to the money markets:
The pound rose on news of this commitment, after several days in which sterling was perhaps falsely depressed by talk of May promising “clean Brexit”.
Really? The pound rose on news that MPs might scupper Brexit?
Asking MPs to sign off on the terms of the exit deal is a sign not only that the government still hopes there will be a deal to vote on, but that it may yet be rejected by parliament, leading instead to the messiest of departures.
The FT has more:
The promised [parliamentary] vote “appeared to offer some degree of assurance that the deal would have a broad appeal”, says Jane Foley, foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank. “That said, it also provides another element of confusion should the deal not be passed by parliament.”
Will it be messy? No, says the Economist:
So Britain’s economy is in for a rough ride and, though the government will try to smooth it out, the priority is getting the country out of the EU in the most complete and rapid way possible. If the price of this priority is economic pain, then pay Britain must. All of which gives firms some of the certainty they have craved since June 23rd: those fundamentally reliant on continental supply chains or the EU “passport” for financial services, say, now have the green light to plan their total or partial relocation. It also means the Brexit talks will be simpler and perhaps even less fractious than they might have been had Britain tried to “have its cake and eat it”. The country will eat its cake and live with an empty plate afterwards. Brexit really does mean Brexit.
We and the markets like the definite.
Donald Trump’s affinity with the Scottish people of his mother’s ancestry knows no bounds. Some Scots have been succinct to the point of monosyllabic in giving full throat to their opinions of the US President. Scottish newspaper The Herald is pretty verbose, likening reality TV creation Trump’s inauguration to an episode of The Twilight Zone.
As ever, the best thing on British telly is a US import.