Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable. Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K. It garnered half a million signatures.
Just a moment.
I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on them grounds that they have offended you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.
Boris Johnson’s wife Marina Wheeler is the victim of a “sex smear”, says the Sun. The attack on Marina is “designed to derail his battle for Britain to leave the EU”.
You might well roll your eyes. So what if Marina Wheeler has been playing away. What business is it of ours? Her husband is no paragon of virtue.
The Mail had more on Petronella Wyatt and her affair with Bozza the boffa:
Her four-year affair with Boris Johnson, which ended with her having a termination, led to Johnson being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet after famously rejecting reports of the affair as an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’.
Is the Sun’s issue with the fact that a woman is now accused of straying outside her marriage? Is it different for girls? The paper adds:
False claims have been swirling around Westminster and online that Marina Wheeler was the high-profile QC caught in a drunken clinch with a fellow lawyer at Waterloo station last summer. And it’s members of the Remain camp that have helped fuel the lie, a Tory minister says. Sources claim the slur was spread around a champagne reception for Lord Ashcroft in early March. But a pal of Boris, 51, said she was “categorically” not involved and branded the slurs “pure poison”.
The Sun knows the real identity of the QC at the centre of the affair, but cannot reveal it for legal reasons.
Maybe that Sun story should run: “BORIS Johnson’s wife is the subject of a vicious sex smear campaign designed to derail the battle for Britain to STAY IN the EU.”
Marry Anne Noland’s obituary was published in Virginia’s The Richmond Times. She’d rather die than vote for Clinton or Trump:
NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend. Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68.
For his first act as the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump strode on stage, extended his arms and conducted the crowd through a chorus of “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
“We need to put our miners back to work!” he shouted Thursday to the crowd of more than 12,000 in the sunken, cavernous concrete Civic Center here. Hundreds of miners invited by the campaign to sit behind his podium rose in an extended standing ovation.
They love him. He’s local. Hell, he’s local everywhere:
Mr. Trump spent extended riffs going after Hillary Clinton, repeatedly referencing her comments about wanting to put the coal industry out of business (her campaign says she misspoke). He called the Clinton Foundation “disgusting,” referred to the investigation into her emails as secretary of state and Bill Clinton’s role in creating the North American Free Trade Agreement, and made a thinly veiled joke about Mr. Clinton’s infidelities.
“The Clinton administration, of which Hillary was definitely a part,” Mr. Trump said, continuing, “she was a part of almost everything. Almost, I say, not everything. Almost.”
He paused for a beat, as the crowd grew into a mix of laughter and cheers.
“Terrible,” Mr. Trump said, a wry joking tone in his voice. “I didn’t think the people of West Virginia thought about that. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Terrible, terrible people.”
Mr. Trump even donned a hard hat after receiving the endorsement of the West Virginia Coal Association, miming using a pick and shovel, before taking it off and risking his carefully crafted hair.
“You know you’re not allowed to hair spray anymore because it affects the ozone,” he said.
He added, in an allusion perhaps to his campaign’s overall slogan: “Hair spray’s not like it used to be. It used to be real good.”
The so-called rust belt states — in the north-east and midwest — are ripe for the picking. Trump does best in areas where the death rate among white people under 49 is highest — the downtrodden working class. Many of these people traditionally vote Democrat, but they have been voting for Bernie Sanders — Hillary Clinton’s Left-wing rival for the Democrat nomination — rather than Hillary herself. She lost the Michigan contest to Sanders, just as she lost Indiana to him this week.
Yes, Sanders is a socialist and Trump a billionaire plutocrat. But on trade — protection of American jobs — Sanders and Trump are on the same page.
Add a dash of Trump’s xenophobia and he’s in business.
Those who voted for Sanders because he speaks up for the little guy might well feel that Trump is closer to their hearts than Hillary.
What’s John Whittingdale been up to? The Star says the Tory MP, currently working as the culture and media secretary (GSOH, WLTM 4 MTV) “had a two-year fling with a Daily Star Page 3 girl”. Will he be involving himself with other mainstays of tabloid news, buying a lawnmower from the classified section, perhaps, or appearing in the TV pages as a Britain’s Got Talent wannabe?
Whatever’s next for Whittingdale, we are more interested in his past, chiefly his five-month romance with Olivier King, a dominatrix he met on Match.com, when he was single man and before he became a government minister, though he was chair of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport select committee. When Whittingdale discovered the single woman’s job he called off the affair. You might have read about his squeamishness in the tabloids, but when the story was hawked around Fleet Street, no-one bought it.
Anti-free Press, pro-privacy outfit Hacked Off and the BBC thought that a shame. Andrew Gilligan writes that Hacked Off worked with the BBC to produce their story of Whittingdale and the sex worker for Newsnight – that’s the show that opted to keep Jimmy Savile’s crimes private, spiking a story on the paedophile. These champions of privacy who bemoan press invasion into private lives wanted us to know about John’s sex life.
One theory is that tabloid newspapers passed on the story to keep Whittingdale in his job? He’s not all that in favour of Leveson and plans to clamp-down on the free press. If the Press expose John as – shock of shocks – a single man who likes women, he might be replaced by someone keen on an increasingly State-regulated Press. Or maybe he was being blackmailed? Or maybe that’s all nuts because if a free press is free the politicians have no say over what goes in it. So much for the conspiracies – which rather undermine the other story about tabloids being peopled by unscrupulous bastards who name and shame before fabricating facts to support their salacious gossip. It turns out they are edited and considered publications. Who knew?
And now about that Page 3 girl. Stephanie Hutton, for it is she, “said the Culture Secretary cheated on her with a dungeon-dwelling dominatrix known as Mistress Kate.” On pages 6 and 7 – after we’ve seen Page 3 girl Brook tell us about a love of topless ice-skating – we get to Stephanie, one half of the Boobie Twins. Stephanie say she met John on a dating site in 2013. “He told me he was a Russian arms dealer,” says Stephanie. “I don’t know if he was just being careful or trying to make himself more attractive, but it wasn’t necessary. I liked him.” She says at the Commons, he “always turned the lights out so we wouldn’t be recorded on CCTV”.
The Mirror says this caution approach to dating means Whittingdale is “addicted to danger”. The paper says Whittingdale has “been spotted with East European women at public events in the UK”. Scurrying about for anything to spank Whittingdale with that doesn’t make the phone-hacking Mirror look opportunistic and crass, we learn via a Labour MP of concerns about “powerful, middle-aged men being targeted by young women from the old Soviet Union and left open to blackmail”.
You see, it’s not about sex and privacy – it’s about State secrets and, er, sex and secrecy. Much better and in the public interest.
Danny Cohen, the former director of BBC television, says no Jew can vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, an outfit embroiled in accusations of anti-Semitism. He tells the Times:
“If you are Jewish how can you vote for them? How could you? For me it would be like being a Muslim and voting for Donald Trump, how could you do it? You have to feel absolutely confident that it is totally unacceptable and it won’t be tolerated and I personally haven’t felt comfortable that it is happening yet in the Labour party.”
Do we really believe Corbyn’s Labour if full of anti-Semites? Surely not. Anti-Semitism is rife, but to lay the root of it at Corbyn’s door is wrong. The issue is that the Labour Party appears to acquiesce to anti-Semitism and anti-Semites.
“For too many on the Left, Jewish suffering does not touch them the way Muslim suffering or gay suffering or black suffering touches them,” writes Stephen Daisley on STV News. “Scrutiny of Corbyn’s associations elicits cries of ‘smear’ or just a collective shrug of the shoulders. It was always going to. We lack a language to talk about anti-Semitism because too many on the Left don’t consider it a serious problem and couldn’t recognise it as readily as racism, misogyny or homophobia anyway.”
Cranmer adds: “Jeremy Corbyn is not only a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign: he supports the BDS agenda. What manner of peace-making diplomat supports sanctions against one party after hearing the grievances only of the other? Why invite Islamists to tea on the House of Commons terrace, but not extremist Zionists?”
Corbyn is a politician. His business is winning votes and gaining power. If anti-Semitism is ok on the Left, well, why rock the boat? After all, there aren’t that many Jewish voters. In 2010, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian:
I can no longer do what I and others did in 2008, putting to one side the statements, insults and gestures that had offended me, my fellow Jews and – one hopes – every Londoner who abhors prejudice. Back then I tried to shrug off Livingstone’s quip to property developers the Reuben brothers that they could “go back to Iran and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs”, even though telling immigrants to go back to where they came from is the language of a pub racist from the 1950s. (The Reubens are in fact an Iraqi-Jewish family and the brothers were born in India.)
Likewise, I accepted that when the mayor repeatedly likened a reporter to a concentration camp guard – even after he knew the reporter was both Jewish and offended – he was merely being irritable, his tongue loosened by a glass or two. I condemned his hugging embrace of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the scholar who supports female genital mutilation, the murder of homosexual people, and suicide bombing so long as the victims are Israeli civilians…
This week he made the news again, as a group of Jewish activists, all lifelong Labour supporters, wrote to Ed Miliband describing a closed-door meeting they had had with Livingstone that had left them “despondent”. The letter was leaked, with most attention focusing on its account of Livingstone’s suggestion that “as the Jewish community is rich, [it] simply wouldn’t vote for him”.
Jews are privileged – the wealthy one, the poor ones, the disabled ones, the ones who might ever vote Labour or become a Labour MP. Under the terms of identity politics, where you’re defined by what you are and, more vitally, what you are not, being a Jew is a bad thing to be. Jews should check their privilege. There are anti-Semites in Labour, of course – there are bigots on all sides – but the Left’s little problem isn’t really with Jews, their customs and beliefs; it’s with what they symbolise.
When you’re devoid of ideas, have no direction of travel for your weak projects, you need to find something to bind, define and epitomise what you stand for. We don’t know what Labour is any more but the loyalists can show us what it is not: Israel.
Things soon get ugly. Just as anti-Semites say Jews are behind all the world’s ills, puppet-masters in a shadowy cabal, anti-Zionists say all problems in the Middle East are down to Israel. Defeat the Jews / Israel and all things in your life will be made better.
Hamas can be Jeremy Cornyn’s “friends” (his word) because as Zionist haters they are on the side of the good and the decent. But Corbyn’s “friends” don’t believe in sexual equality, women’s rights, gay rights, democracy, freedom of expression, a free press and human rights. To overlook all that anti-freedom – to blame all those Islamist and anti-progressive policies on Israel – is to side with the anti-Semites. Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism become indistinguishable.
Jamie Palmer has written a terrific essay on the history of Jews, Israel and the West. He notes:
…the Left is unconcerned with Jewish interests and unwilling to take the matter of rising anti-Semitism seriously, preferring instead to dismiss it as a consequence of Israeli policies or a censorious attempt to close down discussion of the same. The horror with which many Jews greeted the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party was outstripped only by the realization that his supporters felt that his fondness for the company of anti-Semites was unworthy of their concern…
So why can’t the European Left change in such a way that European Jewish socialists and social democratic Zionists are made to feel welcome again? A number of recommendations suggest themselves:
1. Stop seeing the partition of Mandatory Palestine as some kind of act of paternalistic expiation for European sins rather than the realization of a persecuted people’s legitimate quest for self-determination.
2. Banish the term “anti-Zionism” from the realm of permissible discourse and reframe criticism of Israel—no matter how vehement—in political and not existential terms.
3. Respect the fact that for the vast majority of Jews, Israel represents an expression and final guarantor of Jewish security and identity.
4. Stigmatize anti-Semitism in the same way as any other kind of racism, including when it issues from the mouths and pens of other minority groups.
5. Stop treating Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular like children whose pathologies are to be patiently indulged.
6. Reject moral and cultural relativism, and hold all people to the same moral standards you would expect of yourself in the same circumstances.
7. Understand that differences of opinion with most democrats, of whatever political persuasion, ought to fall within the boundaries of respectable disagreement.
8. Appreciate the value of liberal democracy and learn to take seriously the threats of those who declare their intention to destroy it.
But the reality is that the Left is in no mood to do much, if any, of the above. On the contrary, it is moving in exactly the opposite direction. In Britain, the Labour Party has elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader—an unrepentant hard-Left anti-Zionist who has shared platforms with genocidal terrorists, blood libelers, and Holocaust deniers in order to supposedly demonstrate his solidarity with the oppressed denizens of Palestine, even as he signed petitions calling upon a centrist Israeli MK to be arrested on arrival in the UK.
Brendan O’Neill and Tom Slater have been discussing Labour’s little problem. You can hear it below:
Tory MP John Whittingdale’s sex life is not a matter for gossips, ‘Outraged of Hacked Off’ of tabloids. As Francis Wheen puts it:
Just heard a Today programme “debate” on the Whittingdale affair which made the Republican primary debates sound like Socratic dialogues.
In the Hacked Off corner was Evan “Dr Death” Harris, lambasting the tabloids for not printing a story about an MP and a dominatrix – even though his pressure group actually wants to stop such stories ever being published. In the tabloid corner, Neil “Wolfman” Wallis pretended that a story about an MP and a dominatrix isn’t the sort of thing that would interest red-top editors, who prefer front-page scoops about Cartesian circularity and the eternal truths.
Toe-curling imbecility and insincerity from start to finish.
John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, says he has been “in a relationship” with a sex worker. The Telegraph takes up the story of the Tory MP and the “dominatrix”. The Mail calls her a “prostitute”.
The Cabinet minister released a statement stating that he did not know about the woman’s occupation when they were together and that he ended the relationship as soon as he was made aware of her job.
The Tory didn’t pay for his time with the “worker”. Plus ca change, eh?
“Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through Match.com. She was a similar age and lived close to me. At no time did she give me any indication of of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.”
You might not like David Cameron, but anyone sane should know that the fuss over his tax affairs is nonsense. The business pages of the Press – and the BBC’s own Money Box show – is full of tips on how to pay less tax and tax plan. In this video, the BBC speaks to tax expert James Quarmby. It slowly dawns on the financially illiterate BBC journalist that her big story is hollow:
“Adieu, Adolf!” salutes theTegernseers Stimmenewspaper. After a mere 83 years, the Tegernsee burghers have stripped Hitler of his “freedom of the city”.
Should the dead controversialist seek to roam the town in the dead of night, riding a goat to Poland and gargling sparrows, or whatever else the title of honorary citizen gives him the right to do, he can’t.
Of course, Hitler might carry on anyhow, murdering anyone who tells him to stop. He was not all that good at obeying orders, which is ironic, of course.
More tax illiteracy in the Guardian, which has seen David Cameron’s tax return:
It’s not all hardship, though. The prime minister’s own party supports him where necessary, the returns reveal. Expenses met by the Conservative party have varied between £5,105 and £13,149, which have been declared as taxable benefits. They cover travel, clothes and other associated expenses for Cameron and his wife.
When the PM next berates Jeremy Corbyn over a shabby suit, the Labour leader will be able to reply that, unlike Cameron, he isn’t receiving a taxpayer subsidy for it.
No. He paid tax on his work clothes. Sheesh!
In other news, his m other didn’t fancy leaving her kids with big inheritance tax bill. Nothing illegal.
“How dare Bill Clinton shout over Black Lives Matter protesters,” writes Steven W Thrasher in the Guardian. Very quickly we realise why:
I’ll admit it: I’m prejudiced.
Whenever I see a conflict between a gutsy protester who is trying to show how black lives matter by interrupting a powerful white politician who has a microphone, I’m always going to be rooting for the protester.
We’d say Bill Clinton shouted to reach the people who had come to hear him talk.
…And on Thursday, I cheered on protesters who interrupted Bill Clinton and exposed how ugly, racist and narcissistic he really is.
Better to hold a debate than to shout a man down.
PS – you can see the video of the shouting and counter-shouting on the Guardian website – right after a message from an advertiser. Somethings you can’t interrupt.
Big news in the Guardian on David Cameron’s tax affairs:
David Cameron’s father sought legal advice on best tax havens
Did Ian Cameron, for it is he, seek advice from the same experts who advise the, er, Guardian? And isn’t seeking legal advice entirely sensible? We might not like schemes designed to cut tax bills, see them as “morally wrong” (source: Da. Cameron), but when did trying to stay on the right side of the law become a “revelation”?
In other news: corruption, Russian names, Chinese bigwigs, Middle Eastern despots and nutzoid amounts of cash squirrelled away in moves facilitated by London-based companies.
Ten faces on the Mirror’s cover. Simon Cowell (telly), Mark Thatcher (lost), El Chapo (pharmaceuticals), the Duchess of Windsor (choppers), Nick Faldo (Sir), Paul Burrell (ma’am), Willian (Chelsea), Jackie Chan (film), Andy Cole (Manchester United) and David Cameron (monster raving looney). All are part of the paper’s story on the Panama Papers, the massive haul of leaked documents that told us – shock of shocks – rich people don’t like paying tax.
You could add, of course, that poor people don’t much like paying them, either. But the poor don’t have link to off-shore tax havens. So they’re not news. And, indeed, you might wonder why these people are news because as early as paragraph two we’re told, “there is no suggestion of any illegality.”
Is this, then, a moral story? If it is, are we to suppose that these people are not allowed a private life? And if David Cameron is now “Dodgy Dave” because his late father Ian “pumped cash into tax haven” is Ed Miliband still Ed The Red, the son of a dead Marxist who”hated Britain”.”It’s hateful when you have your father targeted in that way, traduced in that way. There is no question about that,” said David Miliband, quoted in the Mirror. The paper called the Mail’s “smearing” of the dead man a “disgrace”. Is that still the case?
No. Because this is about money. We want to bash the rich, blame them for hurting the country. But there’s that pesky thing of nothing being illegal about any of it. It’s all legal. So can it be immoral to invest your money overseas? Labour MP Jess Phillips, quoted in the Express, says “the sins of Daddy Cameron were not illegal but they were utterly disgusting”.
Sins. Who made her a priest? Why bring god into it? She sounds so small-minded and provincial. Isn’t her job to come up with ideas for making an economy the rich would want to invest in? And can we move on about the Panama Papers being about tax avoidance. Too dull. We want to read about corruption. That’s the juicy stuff.
The headline is depressing: “Jewish Labour MP facing ‘intimidation and hostility’ from party members.”
Nick Cohen reasons: “Not long now before voting Labour becomes the moral equivalent of voting Ukip.”
Anti-semitism is not forbidden upon within the Labour ranks. It’s tolerated. Soon it will be pretty much assumed. Kevin Schofield writes:
A prominent Jewish Labour MP is being targeted by party activists “hell-bent” on attacking her, it has been claimed. Louise Ellman has faced an “orchestrated” campaign by members in her Liverpool Riverside constituency, according to the city’s assistant mayor, Nick Small.
The allegations come just days after Ms Ellman, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said Jeremy Corbyn must do more to tackle anti-Semitism in the party... some hard-left activists said the global rise in anti-Semitism was “down to the existence of Israel”.
If in doubt, blame the Jews.
Mr Small tells the Jewish Chronicle:
“I found these comments offensive and believe that they have no place within the broad church of the Labour party [pun intended?]. There are a tiny but vocal group within our CLP who seem hell-bent on attacking our MP in an orchestrated, horrible, personalised way. They are trying to create an atmosphere of intimidation and hostility that is making many members, particularly Jewish members, feel deeply uncomfortable.”
Says Ms Ellman:
“Most members of the Labour party are not anti-Semitic but some are and some are being allowed to get away with posting anti-Semitic comments in tweets and on their websites. The leader has spoken out clearly, he says he is against anti-Semitism. But it’s not just about words – there has got to be some action and we haven’t seen enough of that.”
Over to Twitter, where Jeremy Corbyn’s brother, Piers, offers a loaded retort: “#Zionists cant cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine.”
Zionists. Corbyn spits it out like a toxin; a shorthand for all the world’s ills. Naming someone a Zionist is the worst of all insults. It wasn’t always this way. Tony Benn once wrote for the Labour Zionist magazine, Jewish Vanguard. But then the Left changed the terminology. To be a Zionist, a person who believes in Zionism, the Jews return to an ancient Jewish homeland, is to be a threat to everything good and decent. To be an anti-Zionist is not necessarily to be anti-Semitic. Of course not. You don’t have to be a Jew to be hated by the Left, but it makes things a whole lot easier if you are.
The Zionist plan for Israel – a place promised to Jews in a Covenant with God (discuss) – is now apart from all other peoples’ rights to their own place on the planet. Last month the University of New South Wales guidelines, which are not mandatory, says Australia was “invaded, occupied and colonised”. It was not “discovered”. The Zionists would argue their lands were “invaded, occupied and colonised”. Palestinians would argue the same. It’s complicated. Israel is no romantic idyll flowing with milk and honey. But why should it attract so much more ire when many other places are settled and colonised? Why does Israel always top the BBC’s news cycle? Why does Israel get the Left so outraged when other countries at war and divided by sectarianism do not?
Answer: because you can pour all the world’s ills into it. Cure Israel and make the world a better place. Israel is not all about Jews, just as anti-Semitism isn’t. Israel, like the Jews, fits a bill and fills a vacuum. When you’re devoid of ideas, have no direction of travel for your weak projects, you need to find something to bind, define and epitomise what you stand for. We don’t know what Labour is any more but they can show us what it is not: Israel.
And then things soon get ugly. Just as anti-Semites say Jews are behind all the world’s ills, puppet-masters in a shadowy cabal, anti-Zionists say all problems in the Middle East are down to Israel. Defeat the Jews / Israel and all things in your life will be made better.
Sweden’s foreign minister, Margaret Wallstrom, said Islamists blow people up because of – yep – Israel: “To counteract the radicalization, we must go back to the situation, such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is not future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”
Hamas can be Jeremy Cornyn’s “friends” (his word) because as Zionist haters they are on the side of the good and the decent. But Corbyn’s “friends” don’t believe in sexual equality, women’s rights, gay rights, democracy, freedom of expression, a free press and human rights. To overlook all that anti-freedom – to blame all those Islamist and anti-progressive policies on Israel – is to side with the anti-Semites. Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism become indistinguishable
Having heard what Piers thinks of Zionistssssss, Jeremy Corbyn tells the Sun: “My brother isn’t wrong… My brother has his point of view, I have mine and we actually fundamentally agree. We are a family that were brought up fighting racism from the day we were born.”
Smell that? It’s in the wind. It’s acidic, infectious and seductive to a Left wing shorn of ideas and progress. And it’s back…
You’ve heard news of the Panama Papers. The Guardian is hot for them:
In the files we have found evidence of Russian banks providing slush funds for President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle; assets belonging to 12 country leaders, including the leaders of Iceland, Pakistan and Ukraine; companies connected to more than 140 senior politicians, their friends and relatives, and to some 22 people subject to sanctions for supporting regimes in North Korea, Syria, Russia and Zimbabwe; the proceeds of crimes, including Britain’s infamous Brink’s-Mat gold robbery; and enough art hidden in private collections to fill a public gallery.
Can it be that the corrupt are corrupt? As the Guardian studiously ignores its own off-shore tax arrangements, the Mirror leads with David’s Cameron’s link to the Panama Papers. It asks: “So, do you STILL have family money stashed in a secret offshore tax haven, Prime Minister?” To which you might asks, “Does the Mirror have any investigative journalists or is it all clickbait?”
Before more on Cameron, a few words on the source. The 11.5 million documents were leaked by someone at Panama-based law company Mossack Fonseca, and shared with more than 370 journalists affiliated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The ICIJ is the watchdog journalism branch of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative group.
Founded in 1977, Mossack Fonseca is headquartered in Panama but has a presence in dozens of countries including known tax havens such as Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles. It specializes in helping companies and individuals set up offshore, tax exempt entities, according to its website, and is reportedly the world’s fourth largest provider of such services. According to the Guardian, one of the two U.K. publications that partnered with the ICIJ in the investigation, one of the firm’s partners said in a leaked memorandum that “ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”
Mossack Fonseca has strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying in an initial statement to ICIJ that it conducts “a thorough due-diligence process” before helping to incorporate companies. The company also provided a more detailed response, which can be read in full here.
The leak is the biggest in history, greater than the cache of documents released by Wikileaks, and contains information from 1977 to December 2015, including the details of 214,000 entities, such as trusts, foundations and shell companies that can be used to hide the true ownership of assets.
Back to Cameron. The Times also leads with the Cameron link. And it’s a good read:
Blairmore Holdings, set up by Ian Cameron [Dave’s dad] in 1982, held board meetings abroad and allegedly placed up to 50 Caribbean officers including a lay bishop in executive positions to legally avoid being taxed as a British company.
The Bahamas-based investment fund, which managed tens of millions of pounds on behalf of wealthy families, used anonymous “bearer shares” to shield its clients from public view, according to a data leak that has implicated world leaders, celebrities and businessmen in offshore tax avoidance.
Bearer shares can be used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion as they enable investors to hide ownership and transfer assets without a paper trail. The prime minister banned them last year and has called for an international crackdown on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion. Last night Mr Cameron said that his family’s tax affairs were a private matter. Downing Street would not be drawn on whether the Cameron family still had a stake in the fund.
The Mirror says they are not a private matter. Of course, what is and what is not private is far from being the Mirror’s special area of expertise, what with it being embroiled in phone hacking payouts for invading people’s privacy.
The row came after an unprecedented leak of 11.3 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. Jurisdictions such as Panama offer companies and individuals the chance to legally mitigate tax bills and maintain anonymity, but failure to declare assets to the taxman in their own country can be illegal.
The Mail leads with much the same, although early on it points out that Bearer shares are now banned in the UK. Over on Page 9, the Mail looks Putin’s “£1.4bn if shady deals”. To which cynics might say, ‘and the rest of them aren’t?’
It’s all murky stuff. But given the levels of secrecy and massive wealth, the cast of billionaires, celebrities and global leaders, what do we expect to be the result of it all?
Former BBC staffer and Newsnight journalist Paul Mason and Tory MP Ken Clarke are talking about the steel industry on BBC Newsnight. The one thing you can’t escape noticing is how often Mason gurns and interrupts. The other thing is that not so long ago Mason was presented to viewers as a unpartisan expert, Newsnight’sEconomics Editor giving it to us straight:
Big news. The Indy says “Jeremy Corbyn overtakes David Cameron in leadership satisfaction ratings”.
The Ipsos MORI poll showed Mr Corbyn up ten points and David Cameron down ten points after last week’s Budget
Corbyn is popular?
Mr Corbyn is now on net -11 while Mr Cameron is on net -25 with the pollster.
Phew! No, he’s not. Unpack your bag, Jews of Britain. Things will be ok for a while yet.
There has been speculation that Mr Corbyn’s satisfaction rating with the pollster – his highest with any firm – may also be exaggerated by Conservatives saying they are satisfied with what they perceive as his poor performance.
Who was polled?
Other pollsters ask different question formulations – including whether a leader is “doing a good job” – which would likely shed light on whether the shift represents a real move in support.
The boost for Mr Corbyn however comes amid a number of pollsters showing Labour drawing nearly level, level, or slightly above the Tories in voting intention.
A -11 rating for an Opposition leader after a divisive budget is a ‘boost’?
The Indy does not mention that George Osborne’s satisfaction ratings equal his worst ever following the budget. And the paper completely fails to mention that Nigel Farage is the real winner:
So toxic is Donald Trump that even seeing his name reduces students to jellies. To Georgia, USA:
Emory University students say they are “in pain” and “afraid” after someone left pro-Donald Trump chalk messages on their Atlanta campus, according to the student newspaper. “I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe” here,” The Emory Wheel quoted one unnamed student as saying. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well. … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
The chalkings appeared overnight, saying “Trump 2016,” according to the newspaper. About 40 students held a protest demanding action from the administration, chanting “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!”
That Emory comedy club. What a hoot. It is a parody, right? Wrong:
“I legitimately feared for my life,” Paula Camila Alarcon, a freshman at Emory who identifies as Latino, told The Daily Beast. “I thought we were having a KKK rally on campus. It was deliberate intimidation. Some of us were expecting shootings. We feared walking alone,” freshman Jonathan Peraza added.
College president Jim Wagner met with the students, who expressed anxiety that the writings were threats to their safety rather than political speech, considering Georgia’s Republican primary was held earlier this month.
“The students shared with me their concern that these messages were meant to intimidate rather than merely to advocate for a particular candidate, having appeared outside of the context of a Georgia election or campus campaign activity,” Wagner wrote in a university-wide email Tuesday. “During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.”
Jim Wagner might be beyond parody. How the hell did he get a job in education?
Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, has died. He was just 46. In his obituary, CBC includes this:
Ford staunchly denied that he smoked crack and questioned the existence of the footage, which prompted Gawker to begin a crowd-funding campaign to buy the video. The story not only made Ford an international celebrity and the object of mockery on late-night talk shows, but it also triggered a criminal investigation, which eventually led police to acquire a copy of the video. After months of denying he was in the video, Ford confessed in November 2013 to having smoked crack, adding that it had likely occurred during one of his “drunken stupors.”
He wasn’t wrong. It’s just that he couldn’t remember taking drugs because he was drunk.
As the Tories row over Brexit and disability payments, the Labour party obliterates casus belli, picks up the one working gun in the British Army and aims at its feet.
Britain would be safer if its defence policy was to have “cups of tea” with Isil terrorists rather than bomb them, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s key allies on Labour’s ruling body has said. Christine Shawcroft, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee and is a senior figure in Momentum, said that soldiers should “get the teabags out” to solve the Syrian crisis rather than resorting to air strikes.
She warned that media stories about Mr Corbyn’s non-interventionism were having a negative impact and imagined a voter saying: “That Jeremy Corbyn you know, faced with terrorists he’d sit down and have a cup of tea with them or something.”
Does Hamas break for teatime?
Ms Shawcroft went on: “Now I mean, you know, maybe we should try it! Bombing them and attacking them has got us nowhere, why don’t we get the teabags out?
“You know I did read a while ago about when the EDL were going round picketing outside mosques… One particular mosque in the Midlands somewhere just opened the doors and said would you like to come in for a cup of tea? And they went in for a cup of tea and now they’re friends with the EDL. Straight away the EDL are now like oh, well actually these people are not the monsters you know that we’re being told all this time, they’re actually human beings that you can sit down and have a cup of tea with.”
Proper English tea grown in Yorkshire, we’ll bet. None of that foreign muck.
“So you know I think we should bear in mind that having cups of tea might actually be the best kind of system of defence and national security that you could have, but there we are.”
Chimpanzees and scalding hot water might hold them off for a while. But will they stand a chance against Isil’s Rich Tea biscuit tanks? Those things can absorb a tea bombardment.