Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
It’s tempting to read of the death of Lord Janner, the political Lord mired in allegations of child abuse, and demand an independent inquiry into whether he is dead or not. In the last months of his life, the state of Janner’s health became a subject of popular debate.
Well, he was ill. And now we can really bury him.
The news media is not full of the man’s life achievements. It wants to dwell on what do not know – was he guilty of 22 counts of historical sex offences against boys, as was alleged?
The Telegraph reports on the man’s demise with a most unusual headline:
Lord Greville Janner dies, aged 87: news ‘devastating’ for alleged victims of peer accused of child sex abuse
Surely it was more devastating for Lord Janner and his kin than for his accusers who had waited decades for justice, as we are told. The paper then adds:
Lord Janner died following a long illness, his family say
See. Even the old sod’s death isn’t a fact. One website comes up with the nutzoid headline:
Lord Janner’s death conveniently puts an end to public hearing of evidence of very serious sexual abuse
How convenient to die. The swine!
In a case of justice delayer – and justice denied – every news source quotes the words of a lawyer for hire:
Liz Dux, who represents six alleged victims, said: “This is devastating news for my clients. They have waited so long to see this case come before the courts, to be denied justice at the final hurdle is deeply frustrating.”
Dux has become a ubiquitous voice in the trawl for paedos. Hers is not the voice of justice – it’s the voice of her side or an argument published without question. That it is given so much prominence illustrates how claim has mutated into fact established not by negotiating barriers to guilt and justice but through ceremony .
We also hear from the equally ubiquitous Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who opines:
“Obviously it is very sad for Lord Janner’s family that he has passed away, though it is also extremely sad for his alleged victims.”
Very sad v extremely sad. There is more than hint of vanity amongst the paedo hunting clan.
And on it goes, the public display of righteousness. The Mirror calls Janner a “shamed peer”. If an unproven allegation causes you to live and die in shame, what of the Mirror, which hacked phones? Is it the shamed Mirror? The Mail calls him the “disgraced former Labour peer”.
What we do know is that Lord Janner will not be appearing in court. The Sun says:
A Crown Prosecution Service source last night said a trial of the facts due in April, with no finding of guilt or conviction, will now be abandoned.
Good. That was always utter balls, a sinister, self-serving show trial.
Apex Entertainment’s feature movie Chappaquiddick is being talked about by its producer, Mark Ciardi. The Hollywood Reporter trails the trail thus:
On the eve of the moon landing, Senator Kennedy becomes entangled in a tragic car accident that results in the death of former Robert Kennedy campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne.
Entangled? Read all about poor Ted here.
In “Dark Night of the polls for Jeremy”, the Mirror’s Dan Bloom says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is leading the party to disaster at the Oldham West and Royston by-election.
The paper repeats warnings that the party’s 14,000 majority at the last count could be slashed to just 1,000. Labour candidate Jim McMahon is in dire peril.
Such are the dangers of of being a left-wing newspaper at the time of a weak Labour leader reporting on a vote already decided and counted by breakfast time. As readers of Daily Mirror’s dead-tree organ study the predictions about Jezza the liability, the paper’s website reveals the result. Says Dan Bloom:
Jeremy Corbyn has defied his critics in spectacular fashion as Labour won a thumping victory in his first ballot box test.
Activists were jubilant as trucker’s son Jim McMahon romped home with an unexpected 10,722 majority in the Oldham West and Royton by-election.
Critics like, er, Dan Bloom.
Anyone still wondering why newspapers are dying?
The hideous far-right politico Marine le Pen looks at the massacre in Paris and sees her chance to become a credible leader:
France must “annihilate” Islamist radicals and regain control of its borders, the far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said on Saturday after deadly attacks in the French capital. “Urgent action is needed,” Le Pen told reporters the day after 127 people were killed in assaults on cafes, a concert hall and a soccer stadium. “Islamist fundamentalism must be annihilated, France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here,” she said.
Intolerance will not be tolerated! Le Pen has joined the chant “Je suis Charlie”, in honour of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine. She hasn’t a clue what it means. Free speech is just that. She is a face of control.
Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for a coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers at locations across Paris, which President Francois Hollande said amounted to an act of war against France. Polls have been suggesting that Le Pen, known for her strong speeches against immigration, is likely to win regional elections in northern France in December. Surveys also see her making it to the second round of the presidential election in 2017, although not winning the run-off.
Terrifying stuff. Hollande’s next move will be crucial.
Image: French Front National party president Marine Le Pen takes part in a Unity rally ‘Marche Republicaine’ on January 11, 2015 in Beaucaire, France. The French far-right National Front (FN) held their own rally after being excluded from the Paris unity rally. An estimated one million people have converged in central Paris for the Unity March joining in solidarity with the 17 victims of this week’s terrorist attacks in the country. French President Francois Hollande led the march and was joined by world leaders in a sign of unity. The terrorist atrocities started on Wednesday with the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, and ended on Friday with sieges at a printing company in Dammartin en Goele and a Kosher supermarket in Paris with four hostages and three suspects being killed. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
Kenan Malik looks at the massacre in Paris in “AFTER PARIS“. The killers slaughtered people at the Jewish-owned Bataclan theatre. They hit the Stade de France, where ‘Les Bleus’ were playing.
What the terrorists despised, what they tried to eliminate, were ordinary people, drinking, eating, laughing, mixing. That is what they hated – not so much the French state as the values of diversity and pluralism.
This is not terrorism with a political aim, but terror as an end in itself.
Who leads the response?
An ideal policy would marry the beneficial aspects of the two approaches – celebrating diversity while treating everyone as citizens, rather than as simply belonging to particular communities. In practice, though, Britain and France have both institutionalized the more damaging features – Britain placing minorities into ethnic and cultural boxes, France attempting to create a common identity by treating those of North African origin as the Other. The consequence has been that in both Britain and France societies have become more fractured and tribal. And in both nations a space has been opened up for Islamism to grow.
And her some the next President of the USA. It’s Trump:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says victims of the terrorist attacks in France on Friday would have had a better chance of defending themselves if they were allowed to carry guns.
“When you look at Paris, you know, the toughest gun laws in the world, nobody had guns except for the bad guys, nobody,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Beaumont, Texas, on Saturday. “Nobody had guns, and they were just shooting them one by one.”
The billionaire business mogul said the outcome would have been “different” if citizens were armed.
“And I’ll tell you what, you can say what you want, but if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would have been a much, much different situation,” he said.
At least 129 civilians were killed in France in a series of coordinated terror attacks Friday. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken responsibility for the attacks.
Trump also called President Obama’s plan to take in displaced Syrian refugees “insane.”
What an awful idea. One thing we love about living in Britain is that citizens and not routinely armed.
The multi-tasking woman is reading Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine.
Jacket copy (via Xeni Jardin):
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
This Guy Fawkes night, the people of Lewes will look beyond burning a stuffed effigy of the Pope and instead torch David Cameron and a pig.
The 15ft puppet of the Prime Minister wearing Union Jack underpants shares top billing with an effigy of Sepp Blatter sitting in a boat of cash showing the middle finger to onlookers.
Neither men nor pig are Catholic.
VIP Paedophiles: a look at reporting on the allegations that famous, connected and rich faces tun a child abuse ‘ring’.
The Sun (Page 4): “MI6 BOSS ‘RAN VIP PAEDO RING'”
Those inverted commas alert us to the fact what we are set to hear more accusations but little if any fact.
Steve Hakes hears the claim that “Ex-MI6 Deputy Director George Kennedy was ‘the person behind what was gong on'”. The claim, we learn was made by Labour MP John Mann but “he did not name Mr Kennedy.”
But we won’t hear from Kennedy because he died in 1990.
The Sun Nation adds:
Mr Mann did not name the former spy chief as an abuser – but said it was clear he was a “key figure”. He said: “He is the person behind what was going on. We need to know more about him.”
But why is his name in the spotlight?
The dynamite claims stem from the contents of second child abuse dossier of evidence handed to late Tory peer Lord Brittan in early 1984 by then Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens.
This is an original, I have spoken and met and got a copy from the person who personally handed it to Geoffrey Dickens who then personally gave it to Leon Brittan. And what it says is, first line – GK Young heads up a Powellite faction known as Tory Action. GK Young, George Kennedy Young, was deputy director of MI6 in the past, long dead. The allegations are that he manipulated a group of people and that within that there were paedophile rings. And it goes into detail – who it’s alleged were involved and where.
“I won’t give all the locations because some would be I think sensitive and would potentially identify people – but London is one, Greater Manchester is another, North Yorkshire is a third one.”
Mann has been vocal:
The Mail picks up the story:
Mr Mann said GK Young may be key in finding out what happened to the dossier.
He said: ‘I think it’s worth saying another thing about George Kennedy Young, because George Kennedy Young was involved in many dubious activities. He formed something called Unison, which was some kind of private army he tried to get going. I’ve seen a range of background documents that would be of interest to anyone campaigning on the Shrewsbury pickets and on infiltration of the miner’s strike with names that would correlate with that. There is a lot of allegations about him attempting to undermine both the Heath government and the Wilson government. He was clearly a manipulator. He’s rather key to what was going on. I don’t know why he’s so prominent, I don’t know why the Society for Individual Freedom he set up is named either in this, but he is a significant figure. And it may give some reason as to why things then disappeared.”
That takers us to the Telegraph’s obituary of Professor Peter Campbell
Professor Peter Campbell, who has died aged 78, was founding head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Reading University; he was also doubly courageous in being both openly homosexual and a loyal Tory. As chairman and later vice-president of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality, Campbell fought an uphill and often lonely battle to persuade his fellow Tories that “homosexuality, like left-handedness, is a fact of life about some people who do not differ in other respects from the majority” and not, as some claimed, a matter of “seduction, corruption, perversion or whim”…
At the time, it must have seemed a hopeless cause. While the identities of homosexual Conservative MPs were well known in the Westminster “village”, and while homosexuals were well represented in the party bureaucracy, to admit the truth openly was to risk both reputation and career…. Dr Adrian Rogers, chairman of the Conservative Family Campaign, said in 1991 that homosexuality was “a sterile, disease-ridden and God-forsaken relationship”.
…he was always actively involved in the contemporary British political scene, serving during the 1950s as secretary of the Political Studies Association, chairman of the Institute of Electoral Research, council member of the Hansard Society and editor of Political Studies. He was also, for 30 years, co-president of the Reading University Conservative Association and was a vice-president of the Electoral Reform Society.
His politics were libertarian, and he was an active member and sometime chairman of the Society for Individual Freedom. In 1985, for example, he criticised the government for talking grandly about liberty while supporting a plethora of new paternalistic laws, including 291 new offences for which people could be fined or jailed. “Conservatives have recently celebrated Sir Robert Peel’s Tamworth Manifesto of 1834,” he recalled. “They might remember that Peel drastically pruned the criminal law when he was Home Secretary in the 1820s. He set a splendid example to today’s ministers in all departments.”
There was a close connection between his libertarian principles and his campaign for homosexual rights.
Society for Individual Freedom website lays out its beliefs:
What we believe
That the individual, rather than the State, is the font of liberty, morality and authority.
That private citizens should have the freedom to act as they wish provided their actions do not harm others.
That the law should exist principally to guarantee individual liberty and not to act as a paternalistic guardian.
In the primacy of freely negotiated contract.
That an efficient free-market economy benefits all, and that the State’s economic function should mainly be limited to the prevention of violence and fraud and similar obstacles to honest competition and co-operation.
That taxes in the United Kingdom are too high and erode individual responsibility and enterprise.
That State assistance should be concentrated upon cases of unavoidable hardship.
That official secrecy, except in limited cases such as genuine national defence, is unacceptable in a free society.
In Parliament as the supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom.
That to preserve the liberties of private individuals we need more independent-minded Members of Parliament, a stronger Second Chamber, and more effective parliamentary control over the executive.
That there is too much influence on government from pressure groups that call for legislation of an unnecessary and restrictive nature.
That justice shall be administered by courts that are not subject to political pressure, and that government decisions have no validity unless founded on clear legal authority.
Last amended and formally approved on the 27th October 2004.
Such are the facts.
John Bercow, House of Commons speakers and husband to Sally the Seleb, has been “blasted for racking up a £10,000 bill; on a junket to Japan”. So says the Sun. We hear the view of “one senior Tory MP, who tells us:
“John Bercow is a disgusting freeloader, I bet the Japanese did not even want him to come.”
By way of balance the Sun also hears from Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who says Bercow “didn’t provide the taxpayers with better value for money”.
In previous news, totally unconnected to the Sun’s view of Bercow:
MPs and peers have “rediscovered their collective balls” over the phone-hacking affair, the Speaker has told the Guardian.
Sally Bercow has blasted The Sun after the newspaper published pictures of her kissing a man under the headline “Must Tongue Sally”.
Such are the facts.
Conservative Party MP James Cleverly says he’s watched internet porn and smoked cannabis.
But Cleverly, MP for Braintree, Essex, did not tell BBC Radio Five whether or not he had turned to porn and drugs since joining the Commons.
Maybe its just part of the initiation ceremony?
Tory MP David Amess will chair the bill committee for the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill.
Good choice. Right man for the job. After all we all asked ‘What’s he on?’ when Amess popped up on TV’s Brass Eye in 1997 to warn us that Cake was “a big yellow death bullet”. Cake was “a new legal drug from Czechoslovakia”. He told us:
“Look at that, a £100,000 in the pocket of the filth that sells it. A big yellow death bullet in the head of some poor user – or custard gannet as the dealers call them.”
Cake was a spoof.
Westminster VIP Peadophiles: a round-up of news. The spotlight is on Tom Watson MP, who during Prime Minister’s Questions in October 2012, called on police to investigate the “clear intelligence” that “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and Number 10”.
The Guardian: “Tom Watson faces rising pressure over Leon Brittan claims”
Not from Leon, though. He’s dead.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, is facing mounting political pressure over his pursuit of allegations of child sexual abuse against the former Conservative home secretary Leon Brittan. Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the justice committee, has demanded the publication of a letter Watson wrote to the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, in which the Labour MP called for the accusations to be reinvestigated.
What would that prove or disprove?
Neill has also called for Saunders’ subsequent correspondence with the police to be made public to gauge how much influence Watson’s interventions had in Scotland Yard’s decision to reopen the historical rape allegation. Watson claims Lord Brittan would have been interviewed by police even without his intervention.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed by Eamonn Holmes on Sky News Sunrise. It was painfully enjoyable viewing. It gets worse and worse and worse… From 7 mins 40, Holmes causes wincing…
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he’s not an anti-Semite, but some people he’s associated with are. Happily for Corbyn, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger has accepted the invitation to join his cabinet of all the boxes ticked. Corbyn had floated the sinister idea of a “shadow minster for Jews”, a Judenrat to help the State deal with any little Jewish problems. That hideous plan was dropped. Instead Corbyn looked round and offered a ministerial post to Berger.
And she accepted the role of shadow mental health spokeswoman.
In other news, Corbyn’s all-inclusive Labour Party could well welcome former LibDem MP Baroness Jenny Tonge. Tongue told the Sunday Times:
“I know that lots of Lib Dems are contemplating supporting Jeremy Corbyn, including me. I like and admire Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell (the shadow chancellor). I think they are some of the most honest people you could come across. On defence and foreign policy, Palestine and the bomb I agree with them and they are very green. I am not sure on Europe. I think the rich should be paying for the recession.”
“I have met Hamas leaders both in Damascus and in Gaza. So has Jeremy Corbyn. We were all favorably impressed by those people. We all feel it was very very important to listen to their point of view. They said a lot of wise things.”
Order Order notes:
Ambushed with the news on the Today programme, [Labour Deputy leader] Tom Watson said the woman deemed too beyond the pale to remain in the LibDems is “welcome” to join Labour.
Here are a few “wise words” from the Hamas Covenant:
Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised…
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).
The BBC says of Hezbollah:
The party’s rhetoric calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. It views the Jewish state as occupied Muslim land and it argues that Israel has no right to exist. The party was long supported by Iran, which provided it with arms and money…
Hezbollah’s aim is not to “end the occupation of Palestine,” or even to “liberate all of Palestine.” Its goal is to kill the world’s Jews. Listen to the words of its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (NY Times, May 23, 2004, p. 15, section 2, column 1.)
As for Tongue, she lost credibility with the LibDems for a few comments of her own:
Tonge resigned as party whip of the Liberal Democrats in early 2012 after saying that Israel would not survive for long in its present form.
Tonge’s remarks, made at a meeting at Middlesex University, included the observation that the American people would soon “get sick” of the billions their government sends annually “to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East — that is Israel.” Party leader Nick Clegg called on Tonge to apologize, but Tonge refused and resigned instead.
Tonge has a well-known history of making inflammatory comments about Israel. In 2004, as a member of Parliament, she was fired as the children’s spokeswomen of the Liberal Democrats after she said she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were forced to endure the same conditions as Palestinians.
In 2006, she said, “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips.” That comment also was condemned by the party leadership.
She was sacked as a health spokeswoman in 2010 after she claimed Israeli troops sent to Haiti after the earthquake there were trafficking organs.
Baroness Tonge, the Liberal peer, said this week that Israel should set up an inquiry to disprove allegations that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims for use in transplants.
Her call has been sharply criticised by fellow LibDems, but party leader Nick Clegg has refused to act against her.
The organ theft claims were published last week in the Palestine Telegraph, an online journal based in Gaza of which Baroness Tonge is a patron.
In a statement to the JC, she said the Israel Defence Forces were “to be commended for their fantastic response to the Haitian earthquake”. But she added: “To prevent allegations such as these — which have already been posted on YouTube — going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”
If she joins the Labour Party, what will Berger do?
Sweden’s feminist foreign minister Margot Wallström should be all over the news. If you value free speech and equal rights you’ll be interested in what she said (or didn’t say) and the reaction to it.
In March, Ms Wallström was scheduled to address the Arab League in Cairo. A friend to the Arabs, Wallström was a leading voice behind Sweden’s decision to become the first Western government to recognise Palestine as a state.
No Arab state complained about Sweden ‘interfering’ in a foreign country’s affairs. Not then. Not until Wallström turned her eye to Saudi Arabia did things become problematic. Her speech, described as “rather anodyne” in the Economist, was never heard. The Arab League banned it. Saudi Arabia intervened. Wallström was disinvited
“The explanation we have received is that Sweden raised the situation with regard to democracy and human rights and that’s why they don’t want me to speak,” said Wallström.
On February 11th, Wallström had told the Swedish parliament that Saudi Arabia was not all that enlightened. She reminded everyone that Saudi women were banned from driving alone, their human rights are violated, the country is a dictatorship and that the “medieval” punishment meted out to Saudi blogger Raef Badawi – he received 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for the cover-all offence of “insulting Islam” – was a “cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression”.
All true. As Nick Cohen notes, “Margot Wallström is that modern rarity: a left-wing politician who goes where her principles take her.”
But not everyone shares her resolve and clarity of vision. Sweden has an agreement with Saudi Arabia to supply the theocratic dictatorship with weapons. In any diplomatic row it’s always useful to follow the money. The Guardian explains:
Saudi Arabia is Sweden’s fourth biggest export market for arms and defence materials outside the EU, and in 2014 total exports to the kingdom were worth SKr11bn (£900m), according to Dagens Industri, a financial daily. Swedish arms exports to Saudi Arabia peaked at SKr2.9bn in 2011 after the sale of Saab’s Erieye radar system.
The detailed memorandum instructs each party to trade arms, surveillance technology and military expertise, and “establish mutual projects to assemble or manufacture military products in the other party’s country”. Since Saudi Arabia does not produce weapons in Sweden, the agreement was understood by Saudi Arabia as encouraging Swedish arms manufacturers to operate in the kingdom.
She was to return to the theme of Saudi Arabia’s oppression of free speech and women at the Arab League event. But the sensitive Saudis took great offence at her ‘interfering’ in a foreign country’s policies. Their outrage proved to be contagious. The New Yorker reports what then happened:
On March 9th, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Sweden, saying that Wallström had “unacceptably interfered” in the country’s internal affairs. The United Arab Emirates followed suit a week later. Due to Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic wrangling, Wallström was also condemned by the Gulf Cooperation Council (which consists of Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the U.A.E.), The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which includes fifty-seven countries, and the Arab League itself. Finally, Saudi Arabia leveled a more serious charge against Wallström: that by commenting on the punishment of public flogging, the Swedish foreign minister had criticized Sharia law and Islam.
The day after Wallström was supposed to have appeared in Cairo, on March 10th, the government announced its decision not to renew a bilateral arms agreement with Saudi Arabia. No official explanation followed, but the subtext was clear both in Sweden and to Riyadh (which had likely received some advance notice): Saudi Arabia was no longer viewed as an acceptable buyer of Swedish weapons.
Saudi Arabia stopped issuing Swedish business travellers with visas. The Saudis refused to accept four pygmy marmosets monkeys from a Swedish zoo. “They didn’t want the monkeys anymore because of the political situation,” said Skansen zoo manager Jonas Wahlstrom.
Jenny Nordberg makes a point:
Sweden hardly constitutes a threat to anyone, but Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic show of force against the small Scandinavian country may indicate that it would prefer for Wallström’s ideas not to spread beyond Stockholm. As for other countries, they likely will not want to follow Sweden’s example of angering the world’s largest oil exporter and one of the most important players in the Middle East. But there is an obvious double standard in how Western leaders stress the importance of both human rights and women’s rights but mostly fall silent on these issues as soon as immediate economic interests and political alliances are at stake.
Others are less silent:
More than 30 of Sweden’s business elite, including Jacob Wallenberg of Investor, Annika Falkengren of SEB bank, and Stefan Persson of the clothing multinational H&M, signed an open letter calling for the memorandum to be continued. “Sweden’s reputation as a partner in trade and cooperation is at stake,” they wrote.
This is the letter (translated by Google):
Respect the agreement. Trade exchange is an important opportunity to promote human rights and democracy. Moreover, Saudi Arabia, Sweden’s most important trading partner in the Middle East. Breaking trade agreement would jeopardize Sweden’s reputation as a trade and cooperation partner, writes 31 Swedish business representatives.
Sweden’s free trade line has for many decades served Sweden, the Swedish trade and employment well. With a focus on world-class products and solutions, Sweden, even though we are a small economy through international trade built wealth and openness to the world. Sweden and Swedish companies have a high degree of credibility and long-term trade and cooperation. What we say and do mean something in our partner countries.
Sweden has a large number of trade agreements with countries around the world. These agreements are often a prerequisite for our Swedish companies’ opportunities for relationships and business. Now there is intense political debate on one of these agreements, between Saudi Arabia and Sweden.
Sweden is an export-dependent country, one of the most export-dependent countries in the world. Nearly 45 percent of the value of everything produced in Sweden last year was exported. That Sweden succeeds in maintaining and developing this position is crucial for our ability to maintain our welfare. Several countries are major export markets. Saudi Arabia is Sweden’s 18th largest exporting nation and fourth biggest outside Europe. It is our single most important trade partner in the growing Middle East.
In the 1970s and ’80s helped Swedish companies to build Saudi Arabia and beyond, many Swedish companies contributed to the development of the country, including industrial and service companies. Swedish construction industries, telecommunications equipment, machines for the energy and power distribution, automotive, medical equipment, IT services and other services have all helped to modernize the Saudi Arabian infrastructure and social structure. Saudi significant investments are also made in Sweden, particularly in the property sector and the financial sector.
Saudi Arabia is a major player in the Middle East, but also in the world economy. Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20 and ten years is also a full member of the UN trade organization WTO.
Export and establishments in other parts of the world have long been part of the Swedish business success strategy. By competing in the world, our industry has been forced to become more efficient and competitive. Thereby, they have gained market share that promoted employment in Sweden and other countries. Swedish prosperity has grown rapidly as a result of export success in growing international markets. It’s solid support Swedish industry have had free trade and exports in Swedish society has been instrumental in several of our businesses today remains the world leader.
As a company we have a responsibility to ensure that our operations comply with laws and regulations are followed, and that human rights are respected. Saudi society is large and well-known shortcomings regarding human rights, but it is a society in constant flux. State Department’s own report on the situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia illustrates this well, including some progress made.
The core issue is whether we believe that we achieve development, greater openness and prosperity of the people through increased trade and partnerships – or if we believe in insulation and trading halt. For us, the answer is as obvious today as it has been historically. Through international trade, meetings between people, partnerships and collaborations we can increase understanding of each other and to correct deficiencies in the communities. Trade is a fundamental human activity and one of the foundations of our civilization.
Through dialogue and exchange, we can convey understanding and disseminating basic values regarding legal, civil rights and sustainable enterprise. Through business contacts, we have unique interfaces to other communities. Without trade miss Sweden the opportunity to make their voice heard in a globalized world, and to achieve real change. Our company has been operating in Saudi Arabia for many decades.
Now, the question of Sweden’s agreements with Saudi Arabia unilaterally terminated as a reaction to the lack of human rights for the Saudi population. We believe that it would be the wrong way to go. Given that we know the trade impact on social development and we know that dialogue and the strengthening of relations is a positive force, it would be a step in the wrong direction to terminate the contract. For Swedish industry’s part, it can also have major consequences. Sweden is an attractive partner is nothing we can take for granted. It is based on that we are a credible long-term party. Our actions in a country, a region or an industry echoes in other countries, regions and industries. In that sense we Agreement between Saudi Arabia and Sweden not only about defense. It will have repercussions for Swedish companies operating in the country and most probably also for Swedish companies in other countries.
Sweden’s reputation as a trade and cooperation partner is at stake. We therefore expect that the government handles the issue of Sweden’s continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia in terms of Sweden and the Swedish business’s long-term international credibility. Instead of suspending cooperation, the focus should instead be on dialogue and talks on an extension or possible changes, taking into account both sides’ common interests. Sweden will develop as exporting nation, respect for signed contracts safeguarded. The basic Swedish position has been and should remain that trade is an important tool to promote human rights and democracy. A careless handling of contractual agreements may risk jeopardizing this tradition.
Dag Andersson, CEO Diaverum
Carl Bennet, Chairman Carl Bennet
AB, Gunnar Brock, Chairman of Stora Enso
Christian Clausen, CEO of Nordea
Danielson, CEO, SKF
Börje Ekholm, CEO of Investor
Annika Falkengren, CEO SEB
Faxander, CEO Sandvik
Leif Johansson, President of Ericsson
Johnstone , incoming chairman. Husqvarna
Carola Lemne, CEO of Swedish Enterprise Ronnie Leten, CEO of the Atlas Copco Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Scania Keith McLoughlin, CEO of Electrolux Anders Narvinger Anders Nyrén, CEO of Industrivärden Stefan Persson, chairman of H & M Olof Persson, President of Volvo Lars Renström, CEO of the Alfa Laval Cristina Stenbeck, Chairman Kinnevik Hans Stråberg, President of Atlas Copco Karl Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso Carl-Henric Svanberg, President of Volvo Johan Söderström, CEO of ABB Sweden, Michael Treschow Björn Wahlroos, chairman of Nordea Jacob Wallenberg, chairman of Investor Lars Wedenborn, CEO of FAM Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, Lars Westerberg, Chairman of Husqvarna Leif Östling, President SKF
Nick Cohen is aghast:
As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth….
The Wallström non-affair tells us three things. It is easier to instruct small countries such as Sweden and Israel on what they can and cannot do than America, China or a Saudi Arabia that can call on global Muslim support when criticised. Second, a Europe that is getting older and poorer is starting to find that moral stands in foreign policy are luxuries it can no longer afford. Saudi Arabia has been confident throughout that Sweden needs its money more than it needs Swedish imports.
Finally, and most revealingly in my opinion, the non-affair shows us that the rights of women always come last. To be sure, there are Twitter storms about sexist men and media feeding frenzies whenever a public figure uses ‘inappropriate language’. But when a politician tries to campaign for the rights of women suffering under a brutally misogynistic clerical culture she isn’t cheered on but met with an embarrassed and hugely revealing silence.
Here is the speech by Foreign Minister Ms Wallström that was stopped by Saudi Arabia:
There is nothing in the speech that you have not already heard or to mention any specific country. Had the number is not preceded by discussion of the agreement I do not think it had caused any problems, says Thord Janson, Saudi connoisseur of Gothenburg.
It was when contents became known as Saudi Arabia no longer wanted to Margot Wallström, would participate in the meeting of the Arab League, where she was invited as guest of honor.
Read more: Wallström’s speech to the Arab League is set.
According to Wallström halted century due to losses of democracy and women’s rights.
Thord Janson believe instead that Saudi Arabia’s behavior towards Ms Wallström associated with the media image of the country that has been going on for some time in Sweden on military weapons agreement. Saudi Arabia is described as women’s oppressive and undemocratic, which has made one feel irritated and offended.
– You are aware of the tone in Sweden and that it has already said that it does not prolong the contract or that Saudi Arabia considers it to be short and therefore is clearly annoyed, says Thord Janson.
Neither the lines that take up the position of women may have angered Saudi Arabia to stop speech, he believes. However, the differences in approach between countries vast. From Saudi horizon is one not to understand the Swedish criticism of their society that sharia law and outdated punishment.
– Saudi Arabia sign and say they respect human rights but removed define certain things, for example, that you do not treat the genders equally. They say that they are with everything, but not for women who are minors.
Why choose to act now if the protest is really concerned with weapons agreement?
– It is difficult to know. Saudi Arabia will not communicate why you are doing as they do. You also do not know if they were informed before Sweden would come to the meeting. They may have found out about it afterwards and not wished that Sweden would bask in their glory, says Thord Janson.
This is Foreign Minister Wallström’s planned speech at the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting of the government website:
“Cairo, Egypt, March 9, 2015
Secretary General, excellencies, dear friends,
It is a great honor for me to be standing here today. To be here in Egypt, in Cairo, in this building – the House of Arabs, is special. Egypt HAS always played an indispensable political, economic and cultural role in the region. And it is here That the Arab World, Africa and Europe meet.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Secretary General for inviting me to address this meeting. Your invitation is proof of the excellent relationship between the League of Arab States and Sweden – a longstanding relationship built on respect and commitment to serve the interests of the States and peoples That we Represent, also in times of huge challenges.
In 1933, a time of crisis and depression for Europe as well as for the Arab world, a young Tunisian poet wrote about “The Will to Live”:
“Those without passion to climb up the mountains,
must live forever Among Holes in the ground ”
I have always been inspired by the passion and energy that i see in the many bright and highly motivated young people That I meet during my trips, especially in this region.
It is our responsibility, as leaders of our respectively the communities, to sacrifice young members of our population the Means to fulfil Their dreams and the Possibility to live Their lives in freedom, peace and security.
The League of Arab States is a key partner for Sweden, as are your members. I highly appreciate the Accreditation to the League of Our Ambassador in March 2012.
The Swedish Government will put Increased emphasis on the Southern leg of the European Neighbourhood Policy That is beingdeveloped. North Africa and the Middle East are our neighbors and we will work together with the EU partners, and with you to make this shared region prosperous and peaceful.
Our destinies and paths are intertwined, through geographical proximity, history, economy and family ties. One fifth of all Swedes have a background outside the borders of Sweden. We have for example a large Iraqi diaspora – close to 2 per cent of our population – that is a vibrant part of our society.
Sweden is overpriced Extending a hand in Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance throughout the region. Palestine, of course, is a case in point. So are Those Affected by Conflict in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.
We have in relative terms received more asylum seekers from Syria than any other Western country – Approximately 65,000 in the last three years. Yet, of course, this is nothing Compared to many of your countries. I especially admire the Responsible approach of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey towards Syrians fleeing the war. Efforts of others are equally important.
As you are all well aware of, as the first EU member state, Sweden Recently Decided to Recognise the State of Palestine. The Swedish government took this decision with joy and pride.
Our decision to Recognise Palestine fully comp lies with international law. It is a natural step to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The hardwork of the Palestinian Government, state-building and Reforms have made Palestine ready to perform the Duties of a state.
The recognition AIMS at making the parties of the conflict less unequal. IT AIMS at Supporting moderate actors In Both Palestine and Israel. And it AIMS to Provide a positive injection to the Middle East Peace Process.
Some say our recognition was premature. I say it May havebeen too late.
Young women and men in bothering Palestine and Israel are about to lose hope. They need to see thatthere is an alternative to violence, to a depressing status quo and to a Continuously negative development on the ground.
I am heartened by the fact That our step is inspiring a renewed debate in Europe and beyond on what the international community can do to Provide them with preciously needed hope.
We are very Concerned to see how the economy of Palestine is being squeezed from Several ends. Jointly with other EU member states we will do our utmost to try to alleviate the burden and to convince Israel to change its actions, in Particular to fulfil Their legal obligations to transfer Palestinian money to the Palestinians.
And we will work hard, with other members of the EU and the international community, and with you, to do what we can to bring the peace process back on track and to arrive soon at a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by-side in peace and security.
Together we face growing extremism and radicalization. ISIL or Da’esh perform the count in the extreme. We need to work together to fight this scourge, to identify and deal with its root causes and to do this while paying full respect to human rights and international law.
I wish to express Sweden’s solidarity with all innocent victims, in so many of the Member States of the League of Arab States, thats every month, every week, every day – suffer from the brutal violence That Da’esh and other terrorist organization create.
Terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters Illustrate That the problems we are facing have no boundaries. International cooperation is Crucial while we still need to address These issues in parallel on local and national levels. Tirelessly.
Democracy, Security and economic development are interrelated. Without progress in One of These fields, sustainable results in the other can not be expected.
Inclusive socio-economic development of ice Particularly important. Educational and economic empowerment is the best antidote to radicalization and terrorist recruitment.
Employment is Crucial, especially for our youth. Youth unemployment is a key challenge, in Europe and in this region.
Human rights are a priority in Swedish foreign policy. Freedom of association, assembly, religion and expression are not only fundamental rights and important tools in the creation of vibrant societies. They are indispensable in the fight against extremism and radicalization. So is a vibrant civil society.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, Recognise challenges, and focus attention on women’s rights, women’s representation and Their adequate resources. Our experience Is that a women’s rights do not only benefit women, but society as a whole.
More than 20 years ago, in 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development met here in Cairo to DISCUSS various issues, including education of women and protection of women from all forms of violence, including female genital mutilation and sexual harassment. Many of These issues are still very much in play today and I urge you to Contribute to upholding the agreements made here in Cairo 20 years ago.
Many of you here today have the privilege of representing large young population. They are a valuable asset. It is for Their sake, and Their children’s sake, That All Our Efforts Must Be Concentrated.
Many of them were not born 15 years ago When my predecessor and friend Anna Lindh came to inaugurate the Swedish Institute of Alexandria together with you, the Secretary-General, in your previous capacity of Foreign Minister of Egypt. Let me invite you to commemorate Anna Lindh and celebrate 15 years of the Institute this autumn. It will be a great opportunity to Strengthen our ties and make use of this unique platform for dialogue and instruments to dispel the dangerous ignorance.
Let us together break the negative spiral of war, conflict and terrorism into a movement towards democracy, respect for human rights and socio-economic development. We have to continue to create hope.
Thank you. Shukran.
Foreign Minister Wallström “
“It’s time to become a little braver in foreign policy,” says Wallström. “Does anyone seriously mean that Sweden should apologize for what we say about democracy and human rights? We’re not backing down from that.”
Is Jeremy Corbyn a 9/11 Truther? The Telegraph says:
Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that 9/11 was “manipulated” to make it look like Osama Bin Laden was responsible to allow the West to go to war in Afghanistan.
Couldn’t Tony Blair have just downloaded a dossier? Why kill so many?
In comments that will raise questions about his suitability to lead the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn appeared to blame George Bush and Tony Blair for using the September 11 attacks in New York to allow them to go to war.
In a series of further articles, Mr Corbyn also appears to endorse controversial conspiracy theories about a “New World Order”…
What did he say?
In the 2003 article for The Morning Star newspaper, Mr Corbyn wrote: “Historians will study with interest the news manipulation of the past 18 months.
“After September 11, the claims that bin Laden and al-Qaida had committed the atrocity were quickly and loudly made. This was turned into an attack on the Taliban and then, subtly, into regime change in Afghanistan.”
So he’s not a Truther, then. Although the Mail tweaks the words to say:
Corbyn’s conspiracy theory: 9/11 attacks were ‘manipulated’ to make it look like Osama Bin Laden was responsible, says Labour leader
The Tele adds:
However, in previous years he wrote a series of articles which appear to have endorsed the conspiracy theory about the “New World Order”…
We can find no link to the original article. Can you?
For $70 that’s less than you pay your Mexican gardener, right? – you can buy a saucy Donald Trump outfit. What straight, red-blooded American male doesn’t look at Trump and think, ‘Boy, I’d sure like to make sweet love to him but I don’t wannabe a gay’? Well , now you guys can get a woman to play the Don and make real your sexual fantasy.
CNBC has more.
According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation on Monday, political costumes tied for 10th place in its annual top costume list for adults (though this likely wasn’t what they had in mind).“As we’ve seen for several years, Hollywood and pop culture both have a tremendous impact on how adults and their children decide to dress the part each Halloween, and it’s evident some of the biggest newsmakers of the year will be out in full force this fall,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
David Cameron was once at a party where people were taking drugs. Probably. In “PM at coke party — Cameron embarrassed as stars did lines”, the Sun’s James Beal says Dave and Sam Cam were at at a party at a mate’s house. Someone who can remember being there tells the Sun:
“There were a lot of big names and A-list celebrities there. It was a pretty wild night and Dave and Sam were having a few drinks. As the night wore on, it became obvious quite a few people had been taking drugs.
“There were guests snorting cocaine in various rooms and in the toilets. Dave and Sam never touched the stuff. But you could see they were uncomfortable. I don’t think they felt they could intervene. The extraordinary thing is the guests didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong by taking drugs around the PM.”
Why would they? Indeed, it’s a pretty sound indictment of Dave that people feel relaxed in his company. No news of anyone slapping their dick in a dead pig’s face, as alleged in Lord Ashcroft’s book Call Me Dave, who also says Dave can “scratch a pig’s back so effectively that the creature sighs”. From Dave? From the pig? From the pollsters at Tory HQ, delighted that Dave is so actively wooing the youth vote.
Another “friend” arrives:
“I’d be astonished if Dave had not taken cocaine at some point. He’s been around it for a long time. He told me once about it being handed round at a Cotswolds dinner party. People were leaving the table and returning with bright eyes and dusty fingers.”
“He was uncomfortable about it being so open but did not object. It was before he was an MP in 2001, but probably around the time he was a candidate. Cocaine was in plentiful supply in the late 1990s. If you were in your late 20s or early 30s and you were not taking it, you were in a minority. Once he decided to go into politics, my sense is he sought to move away from that crowd.”
George Osborne is away.
British Prime Minister David Cameron placed his penis inside the head of a dead pig. Well, so says a ‘serving MP’, who adds, anonymously, that Cameron tapped the dead pig’s maw to enter an Oxford University dining society as a student. The club was the Piers Gaveston, so named after the apparently edgy lover of Edward II.
It’s not all that debauched, though, is it? Had the pig been alive at the time and had Cameron been trying to off it by choking the thing to death, you might have a story. As is it, we’ve got the kind of aside any abattoir worker would laugh off as ‘kid’s stuff’.
The anecdote features in Call Me Dave: The Unauthorised Biography Of David Cameron by Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott.
Which makes us wonder if either writer ever read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72′, the writer’s reportage on the 1972 presidential campaign. Thompson writes:
In both the Ohio and Nebraska primaries, back to back, McGovern was confronted for the first time with the politics of the rabbit-punch and the groin shot, and in both states he found himself dangerously vulnerable to this kind of thing. Dirty politics confused him. He was not ready for it….
This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics. Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.
“Christ, we can’t get a way calling him a pig fucker,” the campaign manager protested. “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.”
“I know,” Johnson replied. “But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.”’
Also in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, published in 1973, Thompson turns to the subject of journalism:
So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.
In Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie, the fourth volume of his Gonzo Papers originally published in 1994, Thompson adds:
There are a lot of ways to practice the art of journalism, and one of them is to use your art like a hammer to destroy the right people — who are almost always your enemies, for one reason or another, and who usually deserve to be crippled, because they are wrong. This is a dangerous notion, and very few professional journalists will endorse it — calling it “vengeful” and “primitive” and “perverse” regardless of how often they might do the same thing themselves. “That kind of stuff is opinion,” they say, “and the reader is cheated if it’s not labelled as opinion.” Well, maybe so. Maybe Tom Paine cheated his readers and Mark Twain was a devious fraud with no morals at all who used journalism for his own foul ends. And maybe H. L. Mencken should have been locked up for trying to pass off his opinions on gullible readers and normal “objective journalism.” Mencken understood that politics — as used in journalism — was the art of controlling his environment, and he made no apologies for it. In my case, using what politely might be called “advocacy journalism,” I’ve used reporting as a weapon to affect political situations that bear down on my environment.
So about that pig… do you believe it to be true?
Thanks to Labour MP Jess Phillips we now know that women – portrayed by many as irony-proof, reactionary, weak and victims-in-waiting – can handle themselves. Phillips’ contribution to womanhood was to tell fellow Labour MP Diane Abbott to “fuck off” during a heated debate at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
Phillip, MP for Birmingham Yardley MP, is upset that the four top jobs in party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team have gone to men. She wanted a woman to get one or more of them, perhaps a woman like her – a woman who in the heat of diplomacy told Ms Abbott what to do. As she says:
“I roundly told her to fuck off.”
After which, according to Ms Phillips, Abbott “fucked off”.
Future Foreign Secretary Phillips tells the HuffPost:
“People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute. I said: ‘Who the fuck do you think you are?’”
The tableau only gets more lovely when we realise that Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott, appointed Shadow International Development Secretary by the new Labour leader, were lovers in the 1970s.
It might also offer an explanation as to who daubed the graffiti on a wall in Stoke Newington Church Street, where Abbott is MP. For years the legend declared:
“Diane Abbott is a Slag”
Ms Phillips is not done. She adds:
“It was nothing to do with the fact they were lovers.”
She then writes in The Huffington Post:
“Whilst our start was cordially disharmonious, perhaps me and Jeremy Corbyn can take this journey together. Me a new MP, him a new leader.”
She had us right up to’ journey’. Jeremy would put you inside your own special carriage, with all the other, strident, foul-mouthed women.
Dana Milbank has a great story on the Republican presidential candidate not invited to appear on CNN’s debate. Fifteen got the invitation. One did not. His name is Jim Gilmore.
“I’m very disappointed,” the former Virginia governor told me when I reached him on Wednesday. He paused, as if reflecting on his word choice. “Uh, actually, I’m angry,” he revised. In fact, “I’m really upset about this…
“It’s wrong and against the public interest. I just am rebelling against the unfairness of it all and the wrongness of it all. CNN is not being faithful to the stewardship they’ve taken on.”
So how did Gilmore spend his evening?
And so the former governor, Republican National Committee chairman and chairman of a national homeland-security commission did the only thing he could do: While the other candidates reached tens of millions of Americans on the airwaves, Gilmore went to his campaign office in Alexandria, Va., and tweeted out his own answers to his 1,500 followers using the hashtag #GOPDebate:
Was it a hit? Did it trend? No. After a few tweets were pretty much ignore, he tweeted that it was “all process and nothing to tweet about.”
Milbank got in touch.
Could he say how much money he has raised?
“Nope, can’t do that,” he answered. (He has not yet had to file a report to the Federal Election Commission.)
Would he run ads?
“We’ll augment our strategy with ads if we raise enough money to run ads,” he replied.
How about campaign staff?
“Okay, let me count,” he replied. “Dan. Dick. . . . Alex. Um, let’s see here. Um, Jeff. . . . I think seven at this point,” although “some are part time.”
You’ve read about Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old pinched for taking a homemade clock into school – staff and Texas police thought it was a bomb and arrested him.
Well, the Dallas News report features a few works on Ahmed’s dad.
He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
Does eveyrone get a turn, like jury service?
For a moment Bono was worried. No less a colossus of diplomacy than Sir Elton John had received a personal call from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
At which we all scream: ‘Knew it! Knew he was gay! No-one that upset by homosexuals can be straight! The topless shots! The love of close-contact wrestling! Putin was the last to know.’
But then the vision of new alliances gets murky. The story goes that Elton thinks he met with Putin but the Putin he met with was an imposter, a Sham Putin – a man only pretending to be the macho leader. Well, so says his spokesman. On Instagram, Elton thanks the Russian:
“Thank you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.”
But Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says no meeting ever took place. “Putin did not have a conversation with Elton John and, more importantly, we did not receive any kind of offer about a meeting,” Mr Peskov told reporters. “If there will be such a wish, I don’t doubt that the president will be ready to meet, including with Elton John.”
No word yet from Mr Putin, aka jobbing Putin ‘look-alike’ ‘@RocketMan’….
What’s Jeremy Corbyn been up to, then? It’s more what he’s not been up to. He’s not been singing the National Anthem in public. On this occasion Corbyn did not sing the anthem at an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Still. It’s not as bad this, surely. In 1993, John Redwood, in addition to being MP for the Planet Zog South constituency, was also Secretary of State for Wales. Not that you would have guessed it from his rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau…
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke was in the Chamber to take part in the Trade Union Bill debate. He’s a little deaf.
If only the BBC had the resources to check.