Anorak

Politicians | Anorak - Part 7

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Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air

The Mail’s Legs-It cover triggers a race to the bottom

When Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon had a chat in Glasgow, the Daily Mail noticed that both women had legs. It wasn’t just a meeting between two leaders of British political parties; it was a beauty contest. It was also an eye-catching front-page headline and photo. If newspapers set out to be relevant and capture their readers’ attentions, the Mail did a fine job of it.

But many leading voices – most of whom don’t much like the Mail and don’t buy it – were quick to accuse the paper of “sexism”.

 

legs sturgeon may daily record scotland

 

Reaction to the Mail’s cover has been loud. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn looked beyond mere policy and leadership to decry the picture’s “sexism”. “This sexism must be consigned to history,” Corbyn tweeted. Labour MP Harriet Harman found the Mail’s headline “Moronic!” She checked her calendar and added with not a muon of wit, “And we are in 2017!”

Conservative MP and former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan accused the paper of “appalling sexism”.

 

womack daily mail

 

Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the The Green Party of England and Wales, ruled that the cover was “treating women with contempt”. She went further than most and complained to IPSO,  the Independent Press Standards Organisation. To her mind the over was “breaking the Editors’ Code”.

The Editors’ Code of Practice covers:

Accuracy
Privacy
Harassment
Intrusion into grief or shock
Reporting Suicide
Children in sex cases
Hospitals
Reporting of Crime
Clandestine devices and subterfuge
Victims of sexual assault
Discrimination
Financial journalism
Confidential sources
Witness payments in criminal trials
Payments to criminals
The Public Interest

Which of those topics deals with a picture of two clothed women and a silly comment on their legs? You can try and guess but you’d be hard pressed to nail it. Helpfully, Womack says the Mail broke clause 12 of the code which says editors must “avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability”.

Of course, drawing attention to the leaders’ legs story gives Womack a chance to draw attention to herself. Like all other ‘Outraged of Westminster’ moaners, Womack uses the Mail to showcase her own clean lines. The paper must love it. At a time of falling circulations, the Mail is one newspaper still able to rile and matter. People really do care what it says.

The Mail online even features a report on its own front page:

 

mail legs

 

And what of Theresa May, the poor woman being objectified by the nasty Mail? She called the cover “a bit of fun”. Which it is.

In next week’s Mail: “Put ’em away Jeremy!”

Posted: 29th, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Government uses Westminster terror attack to limit hard-fought freedom

The reaction to Khalid Massod’s murderous attack in London was clear: we will not let the heinous actions of one man threaten our hard won freedoms. Theresa May assured us that “Any attempt to defeat those values [liberty, democracy, freedom of speech, the spirit of freedom, the rule of law and human rights] through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”

 

whatsapp terror the sun

 

And then came news that two minutes before he attacked, Masood received an encrypted message via WhatsApp. Would knowing the contents of that message have helped the police stop Masood’s “depraved” and “sick” crime? The police weren’t watching him, so maybe not.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, like May, her eavesdropping predecessor in the Home Office who introduced the invasive Investigatory Powers Act, is no fan of privacy. Rudd says encryption represents a threat to national security. She wants apps like WattsAp to aid government investigations by letting them in to look around.

And so from not giving into terrorists by refusing to play the terrorists at their own game, the State soon begins to chip away at our liberties.

The Liberal Democrat’s home affairs spokesman, former deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police and onetime London mayoral hopeful Brian Paddick says allowing the authorities to view encrypted messages would be “neither a proportionate nor an effective response” to the Westminster attack. “These terrorists want to destroy our freedoms and undermine our democratic society,” he says. “By implementing draconian laws that limit our civil liberties, we would be playing into their hands.”

The Sun uses its editorial to argue that Rudd is right. “Home Secretary Amber Rudd is right to read them [WhatsApp, Apple and Google] the riot act and tell them the terrorists should have no place to hide,” the paper thunders. “Because that’s just what WhatsApp – owned by Facebook – lets them do. By encrypting messages, it stops the police being able to track terror plots.They can’t even investigate in the ­aftermath of a terrorist atrocity.”

But “if you build a back door, it’s there for everybody to access,” says Tony Anscombe in the same paper. “And if you store that data you collect, even in encrypted form, how secure is it? All these data breaches we hear about show our privacy is regularly being breached by hackers, so the action suggested by the Home Secretary would only open us all up to further invasions of privacy.“

In 2012 the murderous Syrian government banned WhatsApp in order “to disrupt the rebel opposition’s cellular privacy”. In a dangerous place, privacy is paramount for many. It’s matter of life and death. “WhatsApp is very popular among Syrians, and particularly Syrian opposition activists,” says Tuma, a Syrian journalist. “Even Free Syrian Army soldiers are using the app.” The Syrian government wants to police communications because it fears the people. The UK government wants to police communications to protect the people. But protecting citizens from criminals soon slips into monitoring us all. A rogue State begins to look like the Free West.

May should wonder how she can champion free expression and free speech through observation and mistrust? With no private lives, no space to look at non-conformist things and express ideas, however mentally negligible and far-fetched, privacy become public spectacle. Afraid of standing out and attracting police attention, we ape each other’s movements, keeping in step with what the authorities deem acceptable and unthreatening.

You can still believe things but you dare not say them aloud. People become isolated, hidden behind a bland facade. Is that what not giving into the terrorists looks like?

Posted: 27th, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, Reviews, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ted Heath: no rest for those suspected of wickedness

9th January 1979: Edward Heath, British Conservative politician and prime minister (1970 – 1974) playing the piano to the amusement of Kermit the Frog and Paddington Bear. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

 

It’s been a quiet few months for Ted Heath. Dead, of course, the former Prime Minister remains mired in allegations of sexual depravity. In today’s Mirror,  the enjoyable Fleet Street Fox looks at men of Kent, of which Heath was one. Other sons of Kent’s darling, budding soil are: Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, and Adrian Elms, also known as Khalid Masood, the nutcase who murdered three people in a ‘loon wolf’ attack on Westminster.

In a list of rogues and reprobates born in Kent, the Fox includes Heath. The man known for his sailing, political U-turns and organ playing is billed as “suspected paedophile Ted Heath”. How’s that for a legacy? Of course, once you’re dead you can be a suspected paedophile for as long as people want to call you one. There will be no court case because the accused is dead and can’t defend himself. Justice hasn’t been denied. It’s been buried with no realistic hope of resuscitation.

In future the sane and sensible thing will be for all of us to be cryogenically frozen and, should allegations be made against us at a future date, defrosted in the white heat of a criminal trial.

Over in the Sun, news is that Heath is not to be dug up and beaten with sticks. “The £1million child abuse probe by police against former PM Ted Heath is set to be ditched,” says the paper. “Last night it was claimed the cops will close it after finding no evidence.”

Yeah, but he’s still a suspected child molester. Until you can prove he wasn’t one, the mud will stick to his bones. The paper’s next line tells us: “Detectives are investigating the former Tory leader accused of being part of a group which stabbed, tortured and maimed 16 children in churches before gorging on their blood.”

Disprove that!

 

Posted: 27th, March 2017 | In: Politicians, Reviews, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit brings an end to the Common Fisheries Policy’s bloodsports

Animal lovers should be delighted the UK is leaving the European Union. The UK’s farmers and fishermen tend to abide by the rules. What kind of reaction would there be if British farmers adopted the French habit of force-feeding geese to make foie gras? In 2013 it emerged that Spanish farmers were getting cash under the Common Agricultural Policy to rear bulls for bullfighting.

The latest news from Theresa May’s Brexit folder is that she’ll take Britain out of the Common Fisheries Policy. That’s the agreement that allows European fishing vessels to access waters six to twelve nautical miles from British shores.

The EU says the Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure that fishing is “environmentally, economically and socially sustainable”. But the quotas, agreed under Ted Heath’s Tory government, allowed Britain’s fishermen 13 per cent by value of the new “common resource”. This led to the depletion of Britain’s fishing feet and the hideous fact that fishermen were forced on pain of law to return to the sea millions of dead fish for which they had no quota.

In 2015 fishermen targeting certain demersal species such as haddock, sole and plaice were told to “land all their catch”. From 01 January 2019, vessels of all gear types will have to land all catches of quota species and count the landings against quota. And: “Non-quota species such as gurnards, lobsters or pipefish can continue to be discarded. Prohibited species will have to be discarded.”

The landed fish – which the fisherman has caught and brought to land at no small effort and cost – can then be used as…landfill.

As for the alternative – and it’s hard to think of a worse one than throwing away tonnes of fish – the BBC notes, a 2016 House of Commons Library paper suggests the UK could allow foreign vessels to fish in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – “Outside the EU, an EEZ extends 200 nautical miles (370km) off a country’s coastline, giving the state the authority to exploit and control the fish resources within this zone.”

Over to you, Theresa…

Spotter: Telegraph

 

Posted: 26th, March 2017 | In: Money, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Irony Overload: Labour MP Yvette Cooper wants to save us from online anti-Semites and other virtual haters

Yvette Cooper wants to set you free from fake news, horrible words and unpleasant images online. The UK Home Affairs Select Committee, which Cooper chairs, challenged directors of big social media companies – Facebook’s Simon Milner, Google’s Peter Barron and Twitter’s Nick Pickles – to explain why their businesses engage in “commercial prostitution” by allowing ad placements alongside nasty videos made by, amongst others, neo-Nazis and white supremacist David Duke, whose video Jews admit organising white genocide Labour MP Cooper called antisemitic and shocking. “I think most people would be appalled by that video and think that it goes against all standards of common decency in the United Kingdom,” said Cooper.

The charge is that in equipping nasty videos with ads, the likes of YouTube (owned by Google) is funding hate because the publisher takes a slice of the ad revenue. But if hate’s not a crime, the problem is one of taste not law?

Overlooking the sensational news that a Labour MP is now an expert in spotting anti-semitism, and just marvel at an MP of any hue deciding and defining the limits of good taste.

Google’s Matt Brittin told the committee, “I want to start by saying sorry” for allowing tax-payer funded Government adverts to feature alongside extremist material on YouTube. Cooper seized on it. “They are right to apologise for failing to stop extremists making profits from hatred, and for making profits themselves from advertising on these videos,” she said. “They need to say whether they will be paying back any of that advertising revenue. And to answer our questions on what more they are doing to root out extremism or illegal activity on YouTube. Because they are still failing to do enough to remove illegal or hate filled content from YouTube.”

And there it was again, that casual merging of what is illegal and what is legal and nasty. Not all unpleasant things are criminal, nor should they be made so.

Bannon helped Cooper out. “There is no clear definition of hate speech in British law,” he explained at length. “We have our own guidelines around hate speech. The guideline that we follow, which is very close to the law, is that a general expression against a country, for example, wouldn’t qualify as hate speech, but if you are promoting or advocating violence against a particular group based on their race or ethnicity, that would constitute hate speech. … I am not going to defend the content of the video; I found it abhorrent and offensive. However, the important question, which relates to wider issues of freedom of expression, is whether that content is illegal and whether it breaks our guidelines. Our policy and legal experts arrived at the conclusion that it didn’t. I think everyone in this room would agree that it was deeply distasteful.”

Cooper replied: “How on earth is the phrase, ‘Jews admit organising white genocide’, as well as being clearly false, not a statement that is a malicious or hateful comment about a group of people solely based on race, religion or the other protected characteristics that your own guidelines and community standards say are unacceptable?’

Guidelines are not laws, Yvette. Google is free to set its own rules. As is the Commons. So when Labour MP Tam Dalyell, aka Sir Thomas Dalyell of the Binns, 11th Baronet (9 August 1932 – 26 January 2017), warned in dead-tree magazine Vanity Fair of a “cabal of Jewish advisers” unduly influencing Tony Blair, he wasn’t censored and banned. When Tam told the Zayed Centre, an organisation “established in fulfilment of the vision of his highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan” – that “there were 400,000 Jews in Britain who enjoyed a very strong and stunning influence” he was not sacked.

The then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, whose Jewish ancestry (one grandparent too many, apparently) caused Dalyell to sense something sinister in his blood, offered the grown up response: “These remarks are too unworthy to be worth a comment.”

When old-Etonian Dalyell died, tributes were fulsome. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “The Labour movement has lost a giant… As Father of the House his wisdom was passed on to countless MPs.” Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Jew-sniffer had been a “good friend and comrade”. Other “friends” of Corbyn work at Hamas, whose mantra is the annihilation of Jews. As one Guardian writer notes, “Corbyn has associated with the worst type of antisemites: Holocaust deniers, men who think Jews made bread from Christian blood or were behind the 9/11 atrocities. No blood libel was too bloody for them. He keeps saying he’s not a racist, but he’s happy to keep racist company.”

James Bloodworth wondered: “Why is no one asking about Jeremy Corbyn’s worrying connections?” Having stated his belief that Corbyn is no anti-Semite, Bloodworth looked at context:

Corbyn wrote a letter defending Stephen Sizer, the vicar disciplined by the Church of England for linking to an article on social media entitled 9/11: Israel Did It. [He] Presented a call-in programme on Press TV, a propaganda channel of the Iranian government which was banned by Ofcom and which regularly hosts Holocaust deniers.

Is Corbyn advertising these people by being among them? Should he be blocked from doing so, lest his meeting with bigots be seen as an endorsement in the same way anyone watching an advert for Marks and Spencer’s on a jihadi recruitment drive fall into thinking M&S is enlarging its underwear range and selling thermal suicide vests in all sizes? Should Labour Party members get their money back when the context gets nasty?

Or are well robust grown ups, who enjoy freedom of expression and the right to offend, who baulk at the idea of State censors demanding we adhere to their interpretation of “common decency”, those prudes who trammel free speech and treat people as a problem to police and patrol?

Let’s trust that we are.

Posted: 21st, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


White House explains why Donald Trump didn’t shake Merkel’s hand

Do you know why Donald Trump failed to shake hands with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, when they met in a Washington state room? The White House spokesman has explained. But before he gets to it, let’s see if you can guess why Trump didn’t extend the hand.

 

merkel trump

Trump and Merkel shake hands – artist’s impression

 

a) His hands are too small and the full extent of his grip is one of Merkel’s fingers (see above)

b) He’s rude

c) His preferred greeting is to grab women by the p***y

d) The last time he touched an East European woman he wet himself (and her)

e) He didn’t notice she was there

It’s ‘e”, albeit with a caveat – he knew she was there but wasn’t paying her enough notice to hear her ask for a handshake.

 

donald trump merkel

Merkel presents Donald with a more familiar shaped target for his hands

 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer tells German’s Der Spiegel magazine: “I don’t believe he heard the request.”

We are now in the realms of what Sean Spicer believes. Facts are old hat. Belief is all.

Germany’s Bild newspaper calls it ‘improbable’ that Trump didn’t hear Merkel. It notes that Trump did not once look Merkel in the eye. Of course, had he have done, The Don would have turned to stone. Fact! We heard that Sean Spicer read it on a website and believes it to be true. So it is.

In other news: ‘Merkel: “My lucky escape.”‘

Posted: 20th, March 2017 | In: Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Anti-Trump swastika billboard in Phoenix road is more stupid that anything you’ll see in the White House

Phoenix billboard Nazis Trump

 

Let’s be clear: whoever erected the billboard calling Donald Trump a Nazi understands neither democracy nor history. The billboard on the 1000 block of Phoenix’s Grand Avenue is, according to reports, the work of Karen Fiorito. For those of you not au fait with the name ‘Karen’, Fox News tells us she’s a “female artist”. She is not a male artist, nor is she a coffee table.

“I got the opportunity to have a platform to say something, and I took that opportunity, and I take full responsibility for it,” Fiorito says. Shame that what she says is so crass and lazy.

Her portrait of Donald Trump sat before the nuclear mushroom clouds is the stuff of teenage angst. But the real misstep is the dollar signs that bear some resemblance to swastikas on each side of the orange lunk’s head. Irony of ironies, the other side of the same billboard carries the message “unity”, something history tells us Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were very much in favour of.

Her drawing is all about division. It’s childish, self-satisfied and regressive. It’s entirely in keeping with the shrill reaction to Trump’s presidency. It screams that the people – millions and millions of people – who voted for Trump, rejecting Hillary Clinton’s paternalism and the technocratic oligarchs who see democracy as something to be kept from the ‘low-information’ poor, are fascists akin to the Black Shirts. Taking the greatest evil and slapping it on a poster to attack someone who is not this age’s Hitler – really, he isn’t; read some books other than the one that reinforces your prejudices – demeans the Holocaust’s victims, negates actual Nazism and monsters the tens of millions of Americans who exercised their right to vote.

Using Nazi death camps to buttress your anti-human argument that the electorate voted for Trump because they were duped by Russian newbots and he spoke to their slack-jawed inherent racism co-opts the murdered millions into your monocular world view. It’s a hideous abuse.

In a game of Spot the Bigot, I’d point to the one screaming ‘Hitler!’ at everyone whose view they don’t agree with.

This lazy reductivism abates any need for reflection and the need to work out how progressive Left-wing politics mutated into a cloying, narcissistic hissy fit of entitlement, and why it is that the working classes seized their chance to storm the citadel and hope for a rosy-fingered dawn.

Posted: 19th, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Reviews | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Theresa May laughing like Muttley

It never takes the internet long to nail it. When Theresa May convulsed and heaved with laughter in the Commons as the Budget was narrated by Philip Hammond, Mutley, from the cartoon Dastardly and Muttley was channelled.

 

Posted: 9th, March 2017 | In: Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


You can buy George W. Bush’s portraits of US military veterans

Former US president George W. Bush’s portrait of post-9/11 US veterans is on sale. Called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, all author proceeds will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war”.

The book’s authorship and the eponymous ‘Center’ suggest the project is mostly about Bush, rather than the veterans. But do we mind the grandstanding so long as the hurt get help?

Can we overlook what many see as the ‘lies‘ that led to Bush declaring the “second stage of the war on terror” on 11 March 2002, six months after 9/11? The Bush administration went looking for the enemy. It identified Saddam Hussein and then hunted around for a cause to get him. Was the Iraqi leader behind 9/11? Did Saddam have Weapons of mass destruction?

Was it as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it ‘the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America’s sense of Manifest Destiny. Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975’?

 

bush portraits courage

 

Is this book a self-help book for Bush, who only continued the long-held US policy of intervening in foreign affairs?

The book’s blurb tells us:

Each painting in this meticulously produced hardcover volume is accompanied by the inspiring story of the veteran depicted, written by the President. Readers can see the faces of those who answered the nation’s call and learn from their bravery on the battlefield, their journeys to recovery, and the continued leadership and contributions they are making as civilians. It is President Bush’s desire that these stories of courage and resilience will honor our men and women in uniform, highlight their family and caregivers who bear the burden of their sacrifice, and help Americans understand how we can support our veterans and empower them to succeed.

So long as it helps, right…

Posted: 5th, March 2017 | In: Books, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The European Union bans free speech for MEPs

News for those of you who think the vote for Brexit is not a glorious triumph for democracy – it was. The European Union will enforce a new rule that says any elected MEP giving full throat to ‘hate speech’ in the debating chamber will be fined up to €9,000. The live feed carrying their hateful words to the impressionable masses will be switched off.

Of course, hate speech is free speech. Shorn of the right to offend, debate dies. With contrary views censored, debate is moulded into suffocating propaganda. Censorship is more sinister than any MEP’s opinion, however daft, brave, rude, rebellious, uncertain, outrageous or risky.

But some people don’t get it that stymieing free speech is anti-human and reveals a deep mistrust of the electorate, people viewed as a race riot in waiting. UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett supports the rule. He tells the Associated Press: ‘What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say, “Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular.”’

I’m more worried by what people are saying now rather than trying to regulate what others are thinking and might say. To paraphrase Corbett, ‘Let’s ban what we don’t agree with. Let’s make martyrs of dissenters. Let’s stop the tyranny of free speech. Let’s reveal our authoritarian, totalitarian-tendency, deep-seated fear of the demos by preventing them from seeing and hearing their elected representatives saying the wrong sort of things. Let’s kill off the disastrous democratic experiment by turning the chamber into a pious promulgator of moral righteousness. Let’s crush freedom.’

Posted: 3rd, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Donald Trump’s propagandist Sean Spicer was George Bush’s Easter Bunny

In 2008, Sean Spicer played the role of the Easter Bunny at President George W. Bush’s holiday do.

spicer aster bunny

 

Transcript:

The Easter Bunny Speaks

On Monday, the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll took place — complete with the Jonas Brothers and President Bush feigning some sort of excitement. But what about the Easter Bunny? He always gets the shaft, so we decided to interview a bunny, also known as Sean Spicer, a former Hill-er currently serving in the U.S. trade representative’s office.

Q. Is it hot in the bunny suit? Can you see in that thing?

A. It gets very hot. Each bunny gets a handler who guides them around the South Lawn. My handler for the event was my wife, Rebecca, who has been keeping me in line for years.

Q. How do kids react to you?

A. Kids love the Easter Bunny. There is something real special about seeing all the families on the White House lawn. The first lady and several members of the Cabinet, including Ambassador [Susan] Schwab, read to the children during the day.

Q. Any famous kids? Did any famous kids misbehave or behave really well?

A. I can’t see too much, and the bunny does not talk, but every child is special on this day. Most children are so excited to see the bunny that they are on their best behavior. I really get a kick out of the ones that thank the bunny for their basket or a gift they got on Easter.

Q. How many years is this for you being a popular bunny and all?

A. Second year.

Q. Any good bunny perks?

A. I think I have an in with Teddy from the Nationals’ racing presidents — we share a bond.

Q. You’re known for your props in helping the trade cause — any way a bunny could fit into that routine?

A. Sure. I kept telling the kids that “eggs-ports” help grow the economy and create jobs. All of the stuff kids got in their Easter baskets from Colombia entered the U.S. almost entirely duty-free, but when the Easter Bunny brought stuff made in the U.S. to kids in Colombia, he had to pay stiff tariffs — Congress should pass the Colombia trade agreement and end one-way trade.

Q. Any politicians talk to you? Or the Jonas Brothers?

A. Lots of moms and dads. I was not aware of anyone specifically — there are so many children trying to say hi and have their photo taken that there really isn’t much time, and since the bunny does not speak, it would be tough.

Last but not least, here’s a fun fact: In 2007, the U.S. exported about $221 million in eggs in their shells. Canada was the largest customer, taking about 22 percent of the total.

Via Politico, @RSchooley

Posted: 2nd, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fake views: George Osborne on post-Brexit Protectionism

It’s not fake news – it’s just spin. In a story called ‘Project Fear is BACK’, the Mail spots former Chancellor and perpetual Remainer George Osborne warning that the UK leaving the European Union without trade deals would be the ‘biggest act of protectionism’ in British history.

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in Westminster, Osborne opined:

“Let’s make sure that we go on doing trade with our biggest export market, otherwise withdrawing from the single market will be the biggest single act of protectionism in the history of the United Kingdom and no amount of trade deals with New Zealand are going to replace the trade that we do at the moment with our big European neighbours.”

What utter nonsense. Protectionism is about what you import not what you export.

If tariffs can be rebranded as protectionism, which is bad, why not allow free trade on goods traded with all countries? Mixing politics with trade is fraught with bias and agendas.

By way of an example as to how stupid things can get, the Economist told us:

FORD makes transit vans in Turkey, with passenger seats in the back. When the vans are shipped to America, the brand-new seats are immediately torn out and recycled.

Why? Because 46 years ago, Europe slapped tariffs on American chickens. America retaliated with a tax on European commercial vans.

To get round this, an American firm’s European factory adds passenger seats to its commercial vans so they can be classified as passenger vans, which attract a lower tariff. Then it trashes the seats once the vans are safely landed in Baltimore.

Sometimes the rules that make the least sense last the longest.

Unless you vote out of a trading bloc and trade the world as an open market.

 

Posted: 1st, March 2017 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jeremy Corbyn meltsdown in the Sun, Mail and Express but is smiling in the Mirror

When Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared on Sky News, he was asked about his leadership. “I’m carrying on as leader,” said Corbyn, “because I’m determined that we will deliver social justice in this country.” So, er, will you stay on as leader. “I have given you a very, very clear answer, yes,” said Corbyn.

At one point he face contorted. As 

 

jeremy corbyn monocle

 

The Express calls Corbyn’s reaction a ‘meltdown’.  He ‘dramatically flew off the handle’. On page 2 it features the same screen shot you see above, in which Corbyn seems to be auditioning for Steptoe and Son. 

 

Corbyn sky news daily express

 

On the Sun’s page 2, it’s ‘JEZZAAARRRGGH!’ cornyn ‘snapped’ on TV. He ‘snarled’ as he ‘dodged three questions on whether he would be in the job to fight the 2020 election’. The paper quotes a Comres poll that 77% of Labour voters ‘think their party has the wrong leader’.

 

Corbyn sky news the sun

 

In the Daily Mail, ‘snarling Corbyn features on page 24. He ‘snapped angrily’ when asked about his future. It’s slightly better news for Jeremy, though, because in the Mail he only ‘twice ducked questions about whether he would keep his job until 2020’.

 

Corbyn sky news daily mail

 

The story gets a different twist on the Mirror’s page 2. Thereon, Corbyn is issuing the rallying call : ‘We won’t give or retreat.’ No sign of a screw face here, it’s just Jezza with one thumb up as he addresses Labour’s Scottish conference – yes, they still have one, albeit in the room under the stairs. There is no word on his Sky ‘meltdown’. There is no word on the Comres poll.

 

Corbyn sky news daily mirror

 

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 27th, February 2017 | In: Politicians, Tabloids | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Stoke-on-Trent demolishes UKIP and the Brexit lie

Following the by-elections in Copeland  – the Tories won a seat Labour has held since it was created more than 80 years ago – and Stoke-on-Trent – Labour won with just 7,853 votes, seeing off UKIP leader Paul Nuttall who got a meagre 5,233 votes – we know three things:

  1. Brexit killed UKIP.
  2. Labour are doomed.
  3. A vote for Brexit was not a vote for UKIP’s Little Englander politics

And then there is voter apathy. Just 36.7% of the electorate bothered to vote in Stoke-on-Trent. In Copeland the figure was 51.27%.

When the people were asked to vote on Brexit, 65.7% of people in Stoke-on-Trent voted – 81,563 people wanted out of the European Union.

These people did not vote because they were nativist UKippers. Brexit voters are not, as one notable director put it, “a load of UKIP c**ts”. A vote for  Brexit was not a vote for Nigel Farage.

The Brexit vote was a victory for democracy, a glorious cacophony of noise created by the ignored and dismissed. A political party attuned to what what the people want will thrive, although what that is needs articulating. But the myth that a vote for Brexit was a vote for UKIP can be put to rest.

 

Posted: 24th, February 2017 | In: Politicians, Reviews | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Enemies of the People: the Daily Mail takes up Stalin’s cry

Daily Mail news, now. And a spot of Donald Trump bashing on February 18, 2017. President Trump labelled several media outlets as ‘the “enemy” of the people’.

For readers unsure what that means, the Mail is informative:

 

enemy of the people daily mail

 

Not that the Mail would ever behave like a Red:

 

enemies of the people daily mail

 

Perhaps not everyone at the Mail realises that columnist Craig Brown is a parodist? It was he who wrote on the then Labour Party leader Ed Miliband:

 

craig brown daily mail

 

Well, if Stalin was good enough for the Mail…

Posted: 22nd, February 2017 | In: Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ted Heath becomes ‘Ed’, the ‘Fred West of child murder’ and celebrity police appeal for calm

Time for another look at Ted Health’s corpse. A high-ranking policeman reportedly said that the former Prime Minister was a paedophile. A ‘source’ told the Mail on Sunday that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale, for it is he, is “120% certain” the dead man was a child rapist. You can either believe it and think, ‘Yeah, always knew he was a wrong un.’ Or you can wonder about the evidence, the messenger, the timing and if the hunt for the morally reprehensible can ever be satiated?

Pick your prejudice and read on…

In the Salisbury Journal, dead Ted’s local paper, we read Veale’s response to the Mail on Sunday’s story. This is it in full:

“On Friday 2 December 2016, I prepared and distributed an unequivocal open letter outlining the Wiltshire Police position in relation to the ongoing investigation into allegations made against Sir Edward Heath.

“This letter was written as a direct consequence further to unhelpful and inappropriate speculation about this case. However, this speculation continues and is of huge concern to me as I believe it will undermine trust and confidence in the police, have a potential prejudicial impact upon a live ongoing investigation, not to mention an impact upon the confidence of persons who have come forward with information.

“In my letter I made a number of points to provide absolute clarity about why Wiltshire Police is conducting this investigation. To reiterate, there is a clear legal requirement and supporting national policy from the College of Policing that I am required to undertake an investigation where allegations have been made, regardless of whether the alleged offender is living or deceased.

“In relation to the recent unhelpful speculation regarding the veracity of the allegations made, let me once again be clear, it is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our Criminal Justice System. Our role is to objectively and proportionately go where the evidence takes us. Further, those who choose to continue to make comment on this case whilst not in possession of the facts ultimately may serve to unfairly damage both the reputation of Sir Edward Heath and / or those who have disclosed abuse.

“At the end of my open letter I stated that I would not be making further comment about the investigation unless it was for operational policing purposes. Other than to provide clarity around a number of key points, my position remains unchanged.

“The operational security of this investigation and the anonymity of the people who have come forward remains of paramount importance to Wiltshire Police.”

That’s a very long ‘no comment’. And he doesn’t specifically say if the Mail on Sunday’s story is false or true. Pity.

 

ted heath satanic abuse

 

Mindful of the copper’s words, the Sun dutifully bows its head and reports with circumspection:

HEATH’S SEX CULT LINK Edward Heath ‘linked to a murderous paedophile ring that killed 16 kids’

Ted Heath was in cahoots with serial killers?! The story begins:

BIZARRE claims that former Prime Minister Ted Heath was part of a satanic paedophile ring which murdered 16 children have been dismissed as “wild allegations” by a close family friend.

Sensational claims make for sensational headlines.

Who are making the outlandish claims?

A group of women allege the Tory PM abused them as children as part of a sex cult run by their own parents which burnt babies in satanic orgies.

Wiltshire Police have spent more than a year investigating the allegations as part of an inquiry that has cost taxpayers over £883,431, the Daily Mail reports. But Sir Edward’s godson Lincoln Seligman said: “I understand that these claims from the 1980s were at the time dismissed as complete fantasy by police. It is disappointing that these wild allegations have been reheated and randomly attached to Edward Heath’s name.”

Oh, and:

There is reportedly no suggestion that Sir Edward killed any children in the women’s accounts.

Only ‘reportedly’? But gerraload of that headline!

After a few lines on tortured babies, Devil worship and murder, the paper delivers a selection of facts:

Sir Edward, who was Prime Minister from 1970-1974, was never married and died in 2005 aged 89. The lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989, and Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time.

Over in the Mail, the Sun’s source, we read more.

Group of women who say they were abused by Sir Edward Heath also claim their parents ran a satanic sex cult that was involved in SIXTEEN child murders

Like the Sun, the Mail delivers the claim in a big, bold headline before noting at the very start of the story:

The farce came as police probe incredible claims that the former prime minister was linked to a paedophile ring that killed as many as 16 children – which would make them the worst child murderers in British history.

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Ted Heath, the subject of a ‘bizarre’ ‘farce’. The paper adds:

The seemingly far-fetched allegations have been made by a family who allege that the politician was part of a satanic sex cult run by their own parents.

The paper delivers more on the allegations of terrible acts that only ‘seem’ to be far-fetched:

They say that the cult regularly slaughtered children as ritual sacrifices in churches and forests around southern England and also participated in similar ceremonies in Africa.
They claim their mother and father – who is said to have known the former Conservative leader – were responsible for slaughtering children ranging from babies to teenagers – yet they evaded justice.

The paedophile ring – which they say Sir Edward was part of – stabbed, tortured and maimed youngsters in churches and burnt babies in satanic orgies before men, women and children gorged themselves on blood and body parts, police have been told.

Can we take some small relief that no sex was involved in this alleged orgy of depravity? What we’d like, of course, are some facts. But instead of them we get news that, ‘If the bizarre allegations were to be proved, the parents who allegedly led the killings would be responsible for murdering more children than Fred and Rose West.’

Did Fred and Rose West meet Ted? Sorry, ‘Ed’? If ‘wild claims’ are newsworthy, look out for tales of MPs at the Wests? Reading on, we’re told:

The women’s lurid claims were dismissed by police in 1989 when they came forward. Sir Edward’s name was never mentioned to police at the time. It was only last year that he was named for the first time after one of the claimants said she had ‘remembered’ a man called ‘Ed’ was a prime mover in a network of paedophile abusers.

The story is so weak, a cynic might wonder if it’s put up to create a smokescreen to derail the whole search for so-called VIP paedophiles?

Maybe the Times can be more helpful? Beneath the headline ‘We can link Ted Heath to alleged victims of abuse, police claim’, the paper tells us:

The police investigating claims that Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile believe that they have evidence linking the former prime minister to a series of alleged victims.

Believe?

More than 30 alleged victims have contacted Wiltshire police with claims of abuse involving Sir Edward from the 1960s to the 1990s. A source close to the investigation said that “strikingly similar” allegations made against Sir Edward include the names used for the former politician, the type of abuse and the locations.

Detectives were reported to be initially sceptical about the allegations but “now believe them”.

And?

Wiltshire police said it did not know if the investigation report would be published. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of child abuse, although not linked directly to Sir Edward. The investigation is also considering claims that the abuse was reported to the police years ago but was covered up.

The paper then mentions Mr Veale’s aforementioned letter, noting:

The chief constable had previously apologised for launching the investigation in 2015 with a public appeal outside Sir Edward’s former home beside Salisbury Cathedral.

And what of the alleged Satanic murders?

An expert called in by the force to assess the claims by three women who alleged that Sir Edward was involved in occult abuse said that the police inquiry was the result of on “an over-active imagination”.

Is any of this going to be tested in court?

The Times revealed last week that three prominent victims of false abuse claims are suing the Metropolitan Police over their treatment in a separate inquiry. The legal actions by the former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, the former chief of the defence staff Lord Bramall and the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini could cost Scotland Yard an estimated £3 million.

The widow of the former home secretary Leon Brittan was reported yesterday to have sent a “letter before action” to the force as a result of raids on their homes in London and North Yorkshire after her husband’s death.

Having read what the police believe and what women imagine, David Mellor, the former Tory minister, takes to his blog on LBC radio, where he hosts a phone-in show:

In an interesting scoop yesterday, the Mail on Sunday claimed that the Chef Constable of Wiltshire, Mike Veale, believes that Ted Heath was a serial paedophile, whose crimes were covered up by the establishment. The MOS report that thirty complainants have allegedly been identified, and “Mr Veale believes them 120%, and thinks they are totally convincing”.

Scoop or utter balls?

He is not directly quoted in the piece, so it could all be made up. But I doubt it.

So much for facts. It’s all about belief.

It’s worth taking a look at the original ‘Statement from Wiltshire Police following the IPCC announcement re. Sir Edward Heath investigation’.

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said:

“Following the announcement today regarding an independent investigation by the IPCC into allegations concerning how Wiltshire Police handled an alleged claim of child sex abuse made in the 1990’s, we are carrying out enquiries to identify if there are any witnesses or victims who support the allegations of child sex abuse.

“On becoming aware of the information, Wiltshire Police informed the IPCC and later made a mandatory referral. The IPCC investigation will specifically consider how the Force responded to allegations when they were received in the 1990’s. [sic]

Sir Edward Heath has been named in relation to offences concerning children. He lived in Salisbury for many years and we would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our enquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim.”

Sir Edward Heath has been named. By whom? Dunno. What’s the dead man been accused of? Dunno. The statement kickstarts the hunt. We don’t know what Sir Ted’s been accused of but we know any ‘victims’ will be believed. They are not ‘alleged victims of…’ They police are at pains to paint them as victims:

“We are working closely with the NSPCC to ensure that any victims are appropriately supported. They provide trained helpline counsellors to listen and provide assistance… Victims will receive support throughout any investigation and associated judicial process…

“Please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk as they have dedicated staff in place to deal with victims or if you have information that may help police please call us via 101.” Ends

But it’s not all bad for Ted Heath. In the Telegraph, an article on a hot London property spot name-checks Ted as a stalwart of good taste:

Jermyn Street’s distinctive shops, some of which are still owned by the descendants of the original families that established them, have been frequented by Diana, Princess of Wales, Ted Heath and Joanna Lumley.

And you know who Diana was mates with, don’t you.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 21st, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal fan uses Trump demo to protest ‘Wenger Out’

To the anti-Trump protest at Whitehall, London. Some people would like the UK to rescind the invitation for Donald Trump to tread the red carpet with Her Majesty. They say Donald Trump being met by the Queen would be embarrassing. No, not for the elected leader of the world’s greatest republic, but for the hereditary leader of the feudal landed gentry.

 

Arsenal wenger out Trump

 

Anyhow, the best bit of the protest, which has zero chance of achieving its aims, is the Arsenal fan who showed off his anti-Arsene Wenger banner.

Talksis of Wenger lasting four more years, much like Trump. Which one garners the most protests is up to you.

Spotter: @arsenalviral

Posted: 21st, February 2017 | In: Arsenal, Politicians, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ted Health: what the police believe

Was Ted Heath a paedophile? The Mail says it’s been told that Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale ‘regards the allegations as “totally convincing”‘. An unnamed ‘source‘ tells the paper:

“Mr Veale believes in them 120 per cent and thinks they are totally convincing.”

What Mr Veale believes is now fact? Not too long ago police on Operation Midland said the words of a man known only as ‘Nick’ were “credible and true”. They weren’t. Whereas once the police response was to undermine the alleged victim’s credibility they now accept claims at face value. So much for evidence-based police work. The police arrested known faces at the airport as the cameras clicked and the BBC televised police raids on empty homes. The hunt for child abusers began to look like a PR drive to support the police and media, two pillars of society that had let down victims.

While we’re on the matter of moving your organisation to the right side of history, the police once supported laws that made homosexuality a criminal offence. That’s relevant because at the time of his alleged offending, Heath was a ‘confirmed bachelor, a euphemism for what TV light entertainers, the Press and the police in the 1970s termed ‘poofs’. Heath was not out and proud. He was very much in, giving organ recitals to his enthusiastic mates.

 

ted heath

ted hath paedophile mail

 

 

Back then to the source who knows Mr Veale’s opinions:

“There are very close similarities in the accounts given by those who have come forward. The same names used for him, the same places and same type of incidents keep coming up. What stands out is that the people giving these accounts are not connected but the stories and the details dovetail. It contains disturbing stuff. Investigators have been shocked by what they have learned.”

With the copper’s thought aired, the media pile in. The Sun (Page 14), thunders: ‘PM TED HEATH “WAS A PAEDO”.’ The ‘Cop is 120% certain’. Who needs all those barriers to justice, like evidence, proof, courts, charges and lawyers. The copper is more certain than certain can be. The trouble is that the man he knows to have been a paedophile is stubbornly dead.

The Sun says Heath’s supporters view the police investigation as a ‘witch hunt’. Seventeen police work on the matter. We’re told that the ex-PM’s supporters ‘say he did not have a car. Cops are thought to have proof that he did.’ This is relevant because one claim is that he picked up a 12-year-old boy and took him to his Mayfair flat.

 

9th January 1979: Edward Heath, British Conservative politician and prime minister (1970 - 1974) playing the piano to the amusement of Kermit the Frog and Paddington Bear. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

 

Back in the Mail, we see Heath ‘standing by the driver’s door of the Rover 2000 he bought after Margaret Thatcher ousted him as Tory leader in February that year… The Mail on Sunday has learned that Wiltshire Police has also obtained photographic evidence of him driving.’

 

daily mail ted heath

 

The Mirror, which featured Nick on its front page, covers the story on Page 4. The report is short. The final line says the police reports, ‘may reignite the case against Sir Edward’. Consider the flames lit and the smoke fanned.

The Express features the story on Page 2. ‘Tory outrage as police chief claims that Edward Heath was paedophile,’ runs the headline.  ‘Tory grandee’ Malcolm Rifkind calls the new “despicable gossip”. He adds: “Until you know the facts you no in a position to judge.”

You can’t judge it in a court of law, but you can make a judgement in the court of public opinion. We are free to wonder why 12 years after he played his last note, Heath is in the frame? Are accusations easy when the target is dead? Or is 12 years the time it takes for coppers, editors and politicos who were around at the time of the PM’s alleged crimes to retire, succumb to failing memory syndrome and die? Of course, as the adults accused of heinous act wither, their alleged victims mature into adulthood. One argument is that they’re speaking out now because they can. If they’re dismissed because their alleged abusers are dead, the message to deviants is that so long as your victim is much younger than you are by the time they get the confidence to point the finger, you’ll be polluting the water supply and out of harm’s way.

Which leaves only prejudices and gut feelings. Ted Heath, eh. Always thought he was a wrong ‘un.

So let’s end with this short extract from the Michael Cockerell documentary Westminster’s Secret Service broadcast by the BBC in 1995. Tim Fortescue, a Whip under Edward Heath between 1970 and 1973, told the cameras:

“Anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the Whips and tell them the truth, and say now, “I’m in a jam, can you help?” It might be debt, it might be a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help. And if we could, we did. We would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points. That sounds a pretty nasty reason but one of the reasons is, if we can get a chap out of trouble, he’ll do as we ask forever more.”

 

 

And Ted? In Churchill to Major: The British Prime Ministership Since 1945, Donald Shell writes:

The most significant changes in the role of the whips appear to have taken place during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Heath as chief whip from 1956 to 1959 brought a new professionalism to the job; he was the first holder of that position to routinely attend cabinet meetings,although neither he nor his successors have been full cabinet members. More significant was the way he systematically gathered information about every member of the party, and developed the art of using this to maximum advantage. He was after all responsible for piloting the Conservative party through the Suez crisis and its turbulent aftermath. When Edward Short became Wilson’s chief whip in 1964 he found that it ‘had been the practice to keep a “dirt book” in which unsavoury personal items about members were recorded’, and he immediately ordered this to be discontinued. It is probable that such stories arose simply out of the thoroughness with which Heath and his successors had gathered information. Heath himself explained his professionalism: ‘I acted on the principle that the more you know about the people you are speaking for, and the more they know about you and what you are being asked to do, the better.

‘Nuff said.

 

Posted: 20th, February 2017 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, Reviews, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Did UKIP leader use Hillsborough lie to promote himself?

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall did not lose “close personal friends” at Hillsborough. In 2011, a post under Mr Nuttall’s name on his official website featured a quote attributed to him. The post regarding efforts to block the publication of files concerning the Hillsborough Inquiry went:

“Without them being made public we will never get to the bottom of that appalling tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans including close personal friends of mine lost their lives.”

When challenged, Nuttall told Radio City News: “I haven’t lost a close, personal friend. I’ve lost someone who I know… Well, that’s not from me… This was an article that I did not write and did not see prior to it being posted by a member of my staff. Of course I take responsibility for those things that are put out under my name, but I was genuinely taken aback when this claim was brought to my attention and am both appalled and very sorry that an impression was given that was not accurate.”

That radio interview followed his denial that he had, as the Guardian puts it, “lied about being a survivor of the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989”.

Nuttall, who is contesting the Stoke Central by election for Ukip on 23 February, features in a Guardian story that challenges his claim to have been at match. The paper notes:

Nuttall was 12 at the time of the disaster, and was a pupil at Savio high school in Bootle, Liverpool. One of his former teachers, a Roman Catholic priest, has told the Guardian that the school believed it had been aware of the identities of every boy who had been at Hillsborough in order to help them through a difficult period, and that Nuttall was not among them.

A fellow pupil at the school who says he has been a friend of Nuttall for decades said the Ukip leader had never mentioned being there. “I have been very good friends with Paul for over 25 years,” he said, adding that during that time they had “never spoken” about Hillsborough.

What does that prove? Nothing. The Guardian says so:

While the teacher and friend expressed surprise that Nuttall has said he was at Hillsborough, their comments do not prove that he was not present.

He said he was there. A UKIP statement tells us: “Paul was indeed at Hillsborough. He attended the match with his father and other family members. For political opponents to suggest otherwise and for left-wing media organisations to promote such claims constitutes a new low for the Labour party and its associates.”

Says Nuttall: “I just want to make it perfectly clear. I was there on that day. I’ve got witnesses, people who will stand up in court and back me 100 per cent. It’s cruel and it’s nasty. It’s making out as if my family are lying as well, which is just not fair or right.”

It’s all unedifying stuff.

The Daily Mail notes:

Today is not the first time Mr Nuttall has had to distance himself from claims on his own website. In November, he made embarrassing denial of a claim he played professional football for his local team.

The site has two references to Mr Nuttall’s past as a ‘professional footballer’ for Tranmere Rovers, just across the Mersey from his childhood home in Bootle.

But when MailOnline contacted the National League club to ask whether he had ever played for the first team, a spokesman said, ‘Definitely not’.

The New Statesman adds:

Last year he denied having been responsible for a post on his LinkedIn profile that inaccurately claimed he had received a PhD in History from Liverpool Hope University in 2004, blaming an “over-enthusiastic researcher” for the page’s contents.

Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose 18-year-old son, James, was killed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989, said: “There’s a lot of people who survived that day who did lose personal friends. It’s devastating for them because they’re still suffering and for the guy now to backtrack is appalling.”

 

nuttall hillsbrough

 

The Guardian is supporting the Labour candidate at the Stoke by-election, and it surely relishes the chance to hasten the disintegration of UKIP, a pre-Brexit force and a post-Brexit non-entity. So what says the UKIP-supporting Daily Express? Can it spin the story? The paper reports:

…a source close to Mr Nuttall has said the “first time” the Ukip leader encountered the statement on his website was during the Radio City interview.

They added the website is edited by a member of the party’s staff and not Mr Nuttall, and while he didn’t lose a “close friend”, he certainly knew people who had died in the disaster.

Mr Nuttall is said to be “furious” with the error, which as a result of “two words” has thrown up another “bad headline” for Ukip in the run-up to the February 23 by-election.

Politicians have a long history of using football to reach and control the plebs. But this episode might well be the nadir.

 

Posted: 14th, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Oh Do Fuck Off: Piers Morgan is not Trump’s Goebbels

piers morgan hitler

‘Guten Morgan Britishers’

 

When Piers Morgan was told to ‘Fuck off’ on the telly by Australian comedian Jim Jeffries, right-thinkers on twitter loved it. Morgan, who identifies himself without invitation as Donald Trump’s mate, pointed out that there is no ban on Muslims entering the USA and that Trump is not Hitler.

Morgan’s correct. To say so does not mean you like him or Trump, it’s just to acknowledge the facts. Trump is not Hitler. Piers Morgan is not Trump’s Joseph Goebbels, the Reich’s Minister of Propaganda.

This anti-reason shrill denial of basic facts normalises the Second World War and diminishes the Holocaust into a routine event. If Hitler is the now and the everyday, the actual Hitler, the man who wanted to make Germany greater again and triggered the murder of 6 million Jews is not all that extraordinary. Isn’t this what anti-Semites say in their effort to denigrate the great crime, that the Holocaust was not that big a deal? In pointing at Trump and yelling ‘Hitler’, history is subverted. The innocent dead are demeaned and their guilty murderers exonerated.

For the infantile Hitler shriekers, engaging with Trump and, in turn, listening to the 62 million who voted for him means ushering in the embodiment of human evil’s reincarnation. People who protest the illiberal, kak-handed and cruel attempt to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries as something Hitler would do think they are making a principled suppression of Trump’s prejudice. They’re wrong.

Trump, the authoritarian and illiberal enemy of free-speech, is not rounding up Muslims, transporting them to ghettos and concentration camps in a plot to kill every last one them, as Hitler did with the Jews. To use that monumental crime in order to give any campaign against Trump some weight is hideous.

Encouragingly for Trump and any other modern-day Hitlers, things can turn around pretty fast. The New Statesman, which in 2013 branded Angela Merkel ‘the most dangerous German leader since Hitler’, now in the post-Brexit world – it wanted the UK to Remain – calls her ‘the defender of liberal values in the post-truth age’, while the Independent, Raw Story, the Daily Beast and The Australian call Frau Hitler the ‘leader of the free world’.

The ‘free world’ being the undemocratic EU, purveyors of the Germany-biased euro currency, whose technocrats colonised the mismanaged Irish and Greek economies, belittled and harried the Irish for rejecting the Nice Treaty and made second-class Europeans of Romanians and Bulgarians who having joined the EU in 2007 had rights to work and claim benefits limited for their first seven years of membership. Merkel the evil or Merkel the great hope? Everyone gets to decide but her.

As for Jeffries, well, he was playing to the crowd and hitting a soft target. Disliking Morgan’s to-deadline pomposity is easy. When I worked as a reporter one way to get people to talk was to ask them not what they liked but what they disliked. People are far more comfortable listing and detailing their pet hates than their loves. They will tell you don’t like the phrase ‘Oh My God’, when someone with whom they disagree says they’ve been ‘owned’ and the sound of a stranger’s sniffing. Ask them what people they dislike and the flood gates really open. Right now it’s safe to say in public that you dislike Trump. Disliking him – and, boy, is that an easy task – is the quick and easiest way to define yourself and be ‘on the right side of history’. It’s much the same with Morgan. Say you don’t like him and you’re playing to a sympathetic crowd.

And that’s what struck me about Jeffries’s negating of reason and debate in taking a verbal pop at Morgan. It was safe. No-one on the TV show was going to hound him for calling out Morgan, much less Trump. In his rules of modern comedy, Jeffries told us: “You can’t do jokes about black people or Asian people, but you can do a rape joke onstage now and there’s not a problem.”

And you know who was really good at playing to the crowd and hitting soft targets who couldn’t hit back?

Let’s not make the world a safe space, where dissent is censored, disruption mobbed and naysayers shackled. Let’s debate, consider the details, listen and hold things up to the light.

Posted: 12th, February 2017 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


John Bercow: anti-Trump apostate or jumped-up fool?

Is House of Commons Speaker John Bercow an apostate or a jumped-up pillock who overstepped his brief when he declared that Donald Trump should be banned from addressing Parliament? Maybe he’s both.

The Mail (front page) says Bercow ‘sparked fury’ when he told MPs of his opposition to “sexist and racist” Trump sullying the hallowed halls of Parliament with his presence. The paper quotes a ‘Whitehall source’ who calls Bercow “insulting” and in danger of damaging the so-called Special relationship between the UK and USA. Although the same source adds that Trump doesn’t “even know who Bercow is”.

A Mail writer says Bercow ‘let loose a volley of self-important rudeness’.

 

bercow trump

‘I am anti-Trump there for I am’

 

The Mail quotes another source mocking Bercow’s ability to straddle a high horse with such short legs. The paper shows Bercow welcoming such embodiments of enlightenment and protectors of the democratic flame as the emir of Kuwait and the president of China.

The Express (front page) calls it ‘Outrageous’.

The Sun (buried on page 5) says Bercow ‘was cheered by Labour and SNP MPs’.

And the Mirror (front pages) thunders: “Racist Trump banned from speaking in Parliament.’ On Page 2, the Mirror says, ‘Bercow was praised for standing up to Donald Trumps’s questionable values and blocking him from Parliament’. Whereas the Mail can find only people to belittle Bercow, the Mirror finds only voices to exalt him. ‘Tory MPs sat in stoney silence as their former colleague tore into Mr Trump,’ says the paper.

The trouble is that Bercow doesn’t have the right to peak for the nation. His grandstanding was just that. If the Commons values democracy, as surely it must, the man 62 millions American chose for their leader should be respected. Bercow is the Speaker. He is not The Guard. His role is to be versed in the Commons’ rules and officiate during bouts.

Of course, Trump a useful fool. Being anti-Trump means that you stand for something. He defines you by what you are not. But what are you? Being anti-Trump is not enough. It’s easy and it’s lazy. Its invites bigger questions: why don’t you trust the electorate? Who do you represent if not the voters? If you prefer bans over debate, why do you sit in debating chamber?

It’s easy to take issue with Trump. It’s less simple to explain what you would do instead.

Posted: 7th, February 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Thick Labour voters turn Stoke Central into a call centre paradise and Islington overspill

All Brexit voters are thick. So says Polly Tonybee in an article for the Guardian, ostensibly about the Stoke Central by election. Stoke Central is a safe Labour seat. Well it has been. But Labour is morally bankrupt and not fit for purpose. It has acquiesced to anti-Semitism. Labour positions itself as the immigrant’s friend but recent Labour governments have been very good at blowing up Muslims in their own countries and creating refugees. Labour no longer represents working-class concerns. It is no longer proletarian and clear voiced. It champions rose-tinted anti-progress eco-austerity over a rosy-fingered dawn.

By way of example, Jeremy Corbyn – the man democratically elected to lead the party (because it’s so directionless and inward looking that anyone with an assembly of supporters can lead it; just look at Tony Blair and his clique) – has been talking about limits on pay and pay ratios. He told us: “‘This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.” How is that not limiting? Labour is not about people getting more; it’s about people getting less. It’s not about aspiration; it’s about reducing everyone to a low level. Under Labour, socialism means less for all. How’s that inspiring?

After the 2015 drubbing for Labour at the General Election, one-time leadership candidate Chuka Umunna identified what he saw as the burning issue: “We spoke to our core voters but not to aspirational middle-class ones.” Labour never spoke for aspirational working-class voters. It failed utterly. To Labour, the working class cannot be aspirational. They can only be patronised.

Tonybee focuses on Labour’s rival:

For Ukip the stakes could not be higher. Lose here and the party is well and truly dead: its new leader, and its candidate here, Paul Nuttall buried on his first outing. Byelections are the great hope of insurgent parties, when voters can indulge in risk-free protest. No seat could be riper than this Brexit hotspot, where almost 70% voted leave: Stoke perfectly matches this week’s BBC research showing the closest correlation between high Brexit areas and low education qualifications.

Though ethnic minorities make up only 15% of Stoke’s population, on the doorstep I found immigration the hot button issue.

First up: is 15% a notable low percentage of ethnic minority people? The Office for National statistics tells us:

Whilst the majority of the population gave their ethnic group as “White” in the 2011 Census, results from the past 20 years show a decrease, falling from 94.1% in 1991 down to 86% in 2011. London was found to be the most ethnically diverse area, while Wales was the least diverse.

So Stoke is a little above average in its ethnic make-up. But the link being assumed is that fewer ethnic voters means Stoke’s voters are more prone to racism. Says Tonybee:

I found immigration the hot button issue. “Too many here, filling up our schools and hospitals.” What about EU doctors and nurses working in the NHS? “They can stay, but let us choose.” “Yes, immigrants work hard – but they send all their money back home and I’m against that.” “They’re not our culture, are they?” One or two said “Trump’s got the right idea”, matching YouGov’s finding that 29% in Britain support Trump’s migrant ban.

We are invited not to engage with these voters but look down on them. They want a better life. Picking out anti-immigrant views reveals more about metropolitan prejudices than it answers the question as to how how the white working class can achieve more and better. So will represent them?

As for thickos voting Brexit, well, insults will always win over the working-class demos, so keep going.

She then adds:

…the result will matter most for the people of Stoke: for their identity, their reputation, how they want to be seen in the world.

Right now, Polly sees them as thick and anti-immigrant.

Who do they want to be? If Stoke became the Ukip seat that set off a far-right tremor, that would blight its image and prospects, branding it a lost zone of the despairing and angry.

So vote Labour and get…?

Stoke should and could have a better future. Transport links are excellent, north and south, and it’s a good logistics base with large call centres. Rows of pleasing redbrick homes are cheap and potentially alluring for escapees from the unaffordable south.

Call centres, good escape routes and a place for southerners to downsize to. Live the dream in the Guardian’s vision of Stoke – a haven for the thick.

Posted: 7th, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fake News: Bosnia attack survivor Chelsea Clinton recalls the Bowling Green Massacre

Compare and contrast the following news about the Bowling Green Massacre and Hillary Clinton landing under enemy fire in Bosnia. Fake news is big news right now.

Sat at the top of the new cycle is the idea that pimply Putin supporters pumped out fake news stories which swung the election for Donald Trump. Amid reports that the great unwashed don’t trust journalists is news that fake stories were taken as fact and influenced people to vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton.

These people have trouble separating fact from fiction. It’s these slack-jawed people for whom health warnings appear at the end of soap opera.

A few years ago I was invited to talk on a BBC radio show about a story on British soap opera Coronation Street. A fictional child had gone missing. Fictional police and fictional people – actors repeating the words penned by scriptwriters working to replicate slice-of-life stuff to the fourth wall – were frantic with worry. The show ended by assuring viewers that everything they had seen was not real. Similarities to actual events were coincidental. If they had been affected by the heartbreaking story, they should call a number, where they would be given assistance but sadly not advised to stop watching the magic box, get a grip, get out more and get your head tested.

Such warnings suggests broadcasters have a pretty low opinion of their viewers.

 

 

Post-Trust.

A British poll in late 2016 found that 25% of those polled said they trusted journalists. Oddly, journalism is much more widely trusted – up to 65% – when the report is read aloud by a TV newsreader.

Politicians are trusted by just 21% of the people.

The assumption is that the people who fall for fake news – the stupid and gullible who read only one news source and don’t talk to people in the street (68% trust rating); who think Dallas was a documentary and Picasso a martial artist – are Trump voters. Clinton supporters, so goes the theory, are too knowing to be so easily duped.

 

Bosnia, 1996.

Hillary Clinton is on a visit to the war-town country. She tells media in 2008:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Utter balls. Hilary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton landed at Tuzla Air Base. Local and dignitaries met the Clintons at the airport. They gave them flowers, a poetry reading and at least one hug from a well-placed photogenic child.

In The Des Moines Register, said Hillary:

“We landed in one of those corkscrew landings and ran out because they said there might be sniper fire. I don’t remember anyone offering me tea on the tarmac there.”

Called out on her balls, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters in 2008:

“The facts are clear from contemporaneous news accounts that she was entering a potentially dangerous situation… is it possible that in the most recent instance in which she discussed this that she misspoke, with regards to the exit from the plane…”

Not a lie. Not fake news. A misspoke.

 

Bowling Green Massacre. 

President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway tells media:

“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

There was no Bowling Green Massacre.

Conway says she misspoke. She meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’.

In 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to federal prison after they confessed to attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq and tried to assist al-Qaeda in Iraq by sending money and weapons.

Massacre. Nothing like it. Utter balls. A lie? No. A misspoke.

 

Cue Sniper survivor Chelsea Clinton.

 

Chelsea clinton fake

 

Fake news is a big issue. But it’s nothing new. Why is one news item leading the TV news? Why does Israel and not Brazil or Pakistan top the BBC’s news show? Newspapers appeal to their readers’ prejudices. Bias is all around.

Facts can be checked. Claims can be disproven. You can read more than one newspaper or online report and watch more than one TV show.

So what changed?

Whereas once journalists were expected to be objective, they now emote, signalling their opinion and taking sides. The journalist’s report becomes just another opinion. It is no more valid – no truer – than any other opinion. Trust has been eroded by a desire to show all sides of an argument; to present the ‘facts’ from all angles; to be seen as impartial and in search of not one truth but of multiple talking points; to show views over verifiable fact.

If there’s no truth, all we get is fake. Hillary, Trump and Putin didn’t invent and encourage fake news. The mainstream media did.

Posted: 5th, February 2017 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0