Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
Jeremy Corbyn is upset by people calling him an anti-Semite. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, told Jewish charity Limmud at a meeting in Birmingham that Corbyn finds it “difficult to deal with the problem”. Jewish News reports: “Interviewed by Momentum founder Jon Lansman at one of the last Limmud sessions on Thursday, the Islington South MP also drew laughter when she repeated the claim that ‘there isn’t a racist or antisemitic bone in Jeremy’s body’.” The Islington South MP said of the Islington North MP: “When people accused Jeremy of being an antisemite, he was so upset, and as a result he has found it difficult to deal with the problem.”
Asked by an audience member how, given her comments about such “lazy, undisciplined thinking”, could she serve in a shadow cabinet “under a Labour leader who would surely fail under your own definition?” Thornberry dodged the question, saying: “It is my core belief that only the Labour Party can improve this country and make it more socially just. And it is for that and many other reasons that I am committed to my party and believe it’s my duty to serve my party and make my leader the best leader he can be, and for us to be part of a leadership team.”
The Daily Telegraph reports the story (“Jeremy Corbyn failed to tackle anti-Semitism because he was too ‘upset’, Emily Thornberry says). The Daily Mail bills it as: “Jeremy Corbyn was TOO UPSET to address Labour’s antisemitism crisis: Emily Thornberry is jeered at Jewish charity as she says Labour leader was ‘so upset, he found it difficult to deal with the problem’.” The Sun told us: “JEZ TOO BAD Jeremy Corbyn failed to tackle anti-Semitism because he was ‘so upset’ by racism claims, top ally says.” The Times: notes “Jeremy Corbyn was ‘too upset’ to tackle antisemitism.”
And in the Labour supporting Mirror and Guardian nothing. Not a word. Maybe the papers’ hacks were too upset to type?
Mrs Nick Clegg, Miriam Gonzalez Durentez, is talking to the Standard about moving to California for her husband’s new job with Facebook and Brexit. Highlights of the softest of puff pieces are:
“It is never a good time to leave London,” she says with a charming smile. “It is a wonderful place. Please don’t destroy London.”
She came to the UK reluctantly when her husband became MP for Sheffield Hallam in 2005. It’s grown on her. She loves its diversity — and the Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is in London, where he home is. Sheffield is somewhere else.
Taking a sip of black coffee from a Gruffalo mug, she continues…
It’s particularly concerning for the younger generation. González Durántez has three sons: Antonio, Alberto and Miguel, aged 15, 13 and eight. Their age group “feels strongly” about Brexit.
Most 8-year-olds talk of little else.
It “annoys Nick” that she’s a good sleeper and can spend whole transatlantic plane journeys asleep.
Is the PM a role model? “She doesn’t come up [with the people I speak to] but it might just be the types of girls we meet. In the UK they tend to say Beyoncé is the role model. I think that’s great because she is hard-working. The issue is when you ask, ‘Do you sing?’ and they say no.
Who are her role models? “I have women who, when I am in a conundrum, I think, ‘How would they do it?’ — for example Catherine Day [former secretary-general of the EU Commission].”
The figures were in: 700,000 people had walked the streets of London in a demand for a second EU referendum, a so-called People’s Vote. Numbers matter when you’re marching. The bigger the better. Numbers are a key propaganda element in a demonstration. But counting march numbers can be tricky. You either give everyone a numbered ticket (so much for freedom) or count the numbers in a given area and multiply it by the length of the march; or count marchers as they pass a set point.
The Guardian went big on the numbers. Its writers cheered on the “funky and fun” marchers. The belief was that a second referendum could only produce one victor: remain. The numbers do not lie. “It’s becoming ever clearer that Brexit is a far-right project. No wonder so many people are taking to the streets,” said one columnist. “Approaching 700,000 people marched on Saturday for a People’s Vote – from London’s Marble Arch to Parliament Square. The crowd seemed endless,” said another. A Labour peer “joined 700,000 people on the streets of London to demand a people’s vote on Brexit”. “So the will of the people was important until we discovered they lied to us,” says a child holding a ‘People’s Vote’ placard in the paper’s cartoon. The number stuck.
One month after the march, another columnist again linked Leave voters to the far-right: “Just over a month ago, 700,000 people marched for a people’s vote. Another Europe is Possible has, along with a series of prominent left figures, called for an explicitly anti-Brexit mobilisation on 9 December, which will build numbers for a joint general anti-fascist protest. If remainers mobilise, they could dwarf the pro-Brexit far right.” To say nothing of the pro-Brexit Tory centrists and working class would-be Labour Party voters, which he didn’t.
The Independent told its readers: “More than 700,000 protesters and celebrities join second largest protest in UK this century.” What’s a protest by the people without a few famous faces? I confess to the joy of spotting a celebrity. “Demonstrators from across the UK heard speeches from household names including television presenter Delia Smith and London mayor Sadiq Khan.” Is the London mayor a celeb? The owner of Norwich City FC certainly is. Conservative MP Dominic Grieve might not be.
The Guardian placed a hand over one eye and added perspective. “The scale of today’s protest places it in the upper echelons of protests since the millennium,” readers learned. “A march organised by the Countryside Alliance in 2002 calling for Liberty & Livelihood reportedly attracted more than 400,000 people, while the TUC’s March for the Alternative anti-cuts protest in 2011 also saw around 400,000 people take to the streets.”
But then the truth seeped out – or at least something approaching the truth. The Telegraph cites a document by the Greater London Authority. It puts the number of people on the march closer to 250,000. Although it might be fewer if you don’t count the people caught up on the throng on their way to Hyde Park (i.e. me).
At what point did North Korea’s man in Rome decide to stay in god’s own county indefinitely? I’d wager it’s about a microsecond after the diminuative nutjob Kim Jong-un told him he’s to be posted to…Italy, land of the dolche vita, manbags worn with confidence and food that’s been exported to every Western high street. News that North Korea’s man in Rome, one Jo Song-gil (‘but you can call me Toni’) “may have defected” is shocking only for the uncertainty. Why “may”? You might not flee a Stalinist dictatorship for Hull or Texas. But when Italy beckons you run.
Mr Jo, 48, was despatched to Rome in October 2017 when Italy expelled the previous ambassador in protest over North Korean nuclear testing. His tenure in Italy ended in November – about the time of his vanishing. South Korea’s Joongang Ilbo newspaper claims Mr Jo is seeking asylum in an unidentified western country . Italy is keeping him in a “safe place” her no-one will find him – like Rome’s branch of Gregg’s the bakers.
If he is plotting to defect, Mr Jo will be following in the footsteps of Thae Yong- ho, a former deputy ambassador at the North Korean embassy in London who claimed asylum in South Korea in 2016, claiming he wanted his sons to avoid a “miserable” life in North Korea.
Pyongyang described him as “human scum” and accused him of embezzlement and child rape.
A public shaming or profiteroles? No contest. Bring on the mad dogs!
Are you posh? I’m asking for David Dimbleby, the hereditary BBC journalist, former Bullingdon Club member, pal to Prince Charles and whose son attended Eton College. His fellow BBC lifer John Humphrys asked Dimbers if he was a posho. Dimbleby thought the question not rhetorical and replied: “I come from Wales, as you do.” So he is Posh, then, at least as privileged as his nation’s prince. Of course, what Dimbleby’s doing is denying his poshness. The old sod pitches himself as an outsider, a man of the valleys and so very unlike those entitled and titled toffs in Berkshire (Thatcham) and London (Newham).
Kenan Malik cites Dimbleby’s egotism – that stated belief in success founded on merit rather than dumb luck and membership of an elite tribe – in his article on the rise of meritocracy and those who can afford to live in one. Dimbleby is the product of talent and hard work. His rank played no role. Now read on:
So entrenched as a social aspiration has meritocracy become that we often forget that the term was coined in mockery. In his 1958 satire, The Rise of Meritocracy, the sociologist Michael Young told of a society in which classes were sorted not by the hereditary principle but by the formula IQ + Effort = Merit.
In this new society, “the eminent know that success is a just reward for their own capacity”, while the lower orders deserve their fate. Having been tested again and again and “labelled ‘dunce’ repeatedly”, they have no choice but “to recognise that they have an inferior status”.
Young’s dystopian meritocracy doesn’t (yet) exist, but we have something perhaps worse: the pretence of a meritocracy. The pretence that talent will achieve its just rewards in a society in which class distinctions continue to shape educational outcomes, job prospects, income and health.
Malik argues that rank is now based on education. Is admission to top colleges a meritocratic process? It’s competitive. How do you get the edge? How do you know where the edge exists if you’ve no access to it?
Today, we simultaneously deride poshness and want to be seen as having the common touch (hence Dimbleby’s outrage at being called posh), while also showing contempt for those who are deemed too common and whose commonness exhibits itself in the refusal to accept the wisdom of expertise and in being in possession of the wrong social values.
Trump supporters, wrote David Rothkopf, professor of international relations, former CEO of Foreign Policy magazine and a member of Bill Clinton’s administration, are people “threatened by what they don’t understand and what they don’t understand is almost everything”. They regard knowledge as “not a useful tool but a cunning barrier elites have created to keep power from the average man and woman”. Much the same has been said about Brexit supporters…
Too true, of course. Tory MP Michael Gove says a second Brexit referendum would tell voters that they’re “too thick” to decide on issues. Labour MP Mr Sheerman, opined: “The truth is that when you look at who voted to Remain, most of them were the better educated people in our country.”
Matt O’Brien finds evidence that “poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong”:
You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s annual conference, which is underway. Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.
What’s going on?
Well, it’s all about glass floors and glass ceilings. Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don’t need a high school diploma to get ahead. It’s an extreme example of what economists call “opportunity hoarding.” That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children’s favor.
David Dimbleby’s dad worked at the BBC, where he hosted the long-running current affairs programme Panorama. David succeeded his father as presenter of Panorama in 1974. Maybe knowledge and know how is inherited, like cash and connections?
It was the 117’s finest moment, the day they voted for a new Tory Party leader and to defenestrate Theresa May. They lost. May won by 200 votes to 117. May remains – but not before she’d pledged to leave her job before the next general election in 2022. Tory rebel Jacob Rees-Mogg said the result was “terrible”. No, not for him, the MP who led calls for the confidence vote and lost it – for her. “She said that in her heart she would like to fight the 2022 election,” said Rees-Mogg, “but that she recognised the party did not want her to, and therefore it was not her intention to. But the word ‘intention’ is a classic politician’s word, because intentions can change.” Thanks for stating the bleedin’ obvious, Jacob. Maybe with his plain talking and being in touch with the man on a private road in Latin-Speaking Surrey he could stand for party leadership? “Several Cabinet ministers already well advanced with their plans”, says The Daily Telegraph. Jacob isn’t one of them.
Maybe Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn can cross the house and have a bash at being PM? “Theresa May has lost her majority in Parliament, her government is in chaos and she’s unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country,” said Corbyn. So what would he do? Dunno. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king, and all that jazz.
Now back to Brexit. May is in Brussels for yet another EU summit. She wants legally binding assurances on the Irish backstop. The EU leaders says they can’t be arsed to renegotiate any points of the deal. What’s done is done. Ireland sniggers. A former leader of Luxembourg puts a drink. May leaves with nothing.
But wait a moment. The Sun has momentous news on page 2. Leo Varadkar, the Irish PM, wants Sinn Fein’s seven MPs to take up their seats in Westminster and support the Tory government’s Brexit deal. Good idea, Leo. Close you eyes and see Sinn Fein’s MP swearing their oath of allegiance to the Queen and backing one nation Tories. Now close them once more and see flying cows, Terry Waite’s chocolate radiator and Scotland winning the World Cup. Perhaps now is the time for the UK to boycott of Irish goods until they agree to sort the border issue out and stop siding with the EU’s vengeful, fearful thugs?
Back in the tabloids, and the contest is on: which one can harp on about Brexit for longest. Here are the results:
The Sun: 9 pages
Daily Mail: 12 pages
Daily Mirror: 6 pages
Daily Express: 6 pages
Daily Star: Brexit triggers lap dancer crisis!
More to follow…
With more sticking power than an adolescent’s sheets, can Theresa May stave off an attack on her leadership from her own party? Tory MPs will vote on Theresa May’s leadership. The Party received the required minimum of 48 letters from MPs saying they no longer had confidence in her – a move ostensibly triggered by her decision to postpone the Commons vote on her Withdrawal Agreement. If she wins the Tory vote, she stays as leader. Is she loses May enters a leadership contest which whoever wants to take her on – take yer pick from Walter Softy, Bonking Boris, Someone with Kids by Boden or the contents of Phil’s Mystery Bin.
Meanwhile… Labour continues to sit on their hands, a position they’ve adopted with such gusto and at great length that Corbyn’s tonsils jaggle when he hails a taxi. Labour’s latest dry wank saw them pass up the chance to table a motion of no confidence in May. You wonder what it is they’re waiting for? Does anyone else suspect Corbyn realises that this is the peak of his career, him playing a crocodile post-dental extraction in the Tories’ Punch and Judy show? He lurks. He waits. Will he pounce? No. He lurks. He waits. Bugger! He’s left his teeth at the allotment. He tilts his head like a worried budgie, narrows his eyes and opines: “We have no confidence in this Government. We need to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time to have a motion of no confidence in order to get rid of this Government.” The words “all options are open to us” will be written on his headstone.
Corbyn’s number 2, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, says Labour would announce a confidence motion “when we can win it”. Which is when? Wait and see. All options are open to us. He then told us that he’s either wilfully ignorant or a know-all: “We’ll make a judgement when we’re convinced about it. Never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.” These are the leaders, folks, an ambulatory Quentin Blake sketch and a man who had all the answers before he was encumbered by actual power.
Meanwhile… over on the dark continent, the European Court of Justice says Britain can revoke Article 50 without the approval of the other EU member states. Those are judges, laydees and germs, playing at politics. The bigwigs say we can stay in the EU under our current terms of membership. Sod the popular vote to leave. Just ignore that. Yes, you are supposed to leave the EU in March 2019. But the demos and their elected representatives can be directed by the judges in Brussels. When we outsource democracy to the judiciary we should check the bill.
Maybe these judges just know the answer to the question: what do British MPs want? Do the majority of them want Brexit, like the voters do, or are they after one of the myriad fudges that Remainers – of which two thirds of our MPs are – hope will tie the country to the EU indefinitely: a second referendum, a People’s Vote, Norway-plus, a ruling that the result of the last referendum is null and void?
PS: anyone thought to stock up on yellow vests? Or is yellow too close to the colour of our leaders?
How do you illustrate Brexit? The papers go with a photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas. The front pages feature a picture of Theresa May beneath a black umbrella. Her eyes are looking at the ground. We are approaching the “End of May’s reign”, says the Daily Mirror. “Tory rivals line up to oust May”, says the i. They’ve been lining up for so long a few have passed out. Someone should check their pulse. May’s not sheltering from a storm beneath that brolly – she’s keeping the drips off.
The Times hears “a leading Tory” MP says he “believes” Conservative MPs will file the 48 letters needed to trigger a confidence vote in her leadership. He also believes, allegedly, in free school dinners, man-made climate change, the Jews did it and the youthful effects of grey beards. Another anonymous MP tells the Daily Telegraph May knows she will not win Tuesday’s vote.
May, he says, reminds him of Charles Dickens’ Wilkins Micawber, who was forever insisting that “something will turn up”. Micawber also says: “Welcome poverty!..Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!” Hurrah for the eternal optimist. The poor live fuller lives than the rich. Bring it on. And if it fails, we can all leave for a new life in Australia.
As MPs dust off their York Notes to kick up a quote in place of original thought, readers wonder why they should chose to appear anonymous whilst sticking the knife in. The MPs’ vanity is clear – these people actually believe the great unwashed know who the hell they are. Dream on.
But there is a plan. The Sun commands May to head to Brussels and demand further concessions. The Mail agrees. And the Express. Well, it alone supports May.
Eyes up, Theresa. Keep yer powder dry. The sunny uplands await us.
After all the guff, bluster, grandstanding and outright lying let’s see what the tabloids make of Brexit. Page after page is given to dissecting the meaning of yesterdays voting in Parliament. The Government suffered a triple defeat in the Commons. A few MPs might be regretting their decision to vote against Theresa May and allowing Parliament to control Brexit should the PM’s plans be voted down next week. Can they vote again? Can we have a People’s Vote on that, or is one vote among MPs enough? These MPs, the people who approved the Brexit referendum, these representatives of the Labour and Conservative Parties who made exiting the European Union and enabling the will of the people a key part of the manifestos in the last General Election, these people now arguing amongst themselves as to what the word “leave” means are doing their best to scupper democracy. We could wade thought page after page of partisan commentary. But let’s just go with the editorials, the paper’s ‘last word’ comments.
The Mail: “Britain Will Never Forget A Brexit Betrayal.”
Most MPs are Remainers, and so in “conflict with the will of the people”. To allow them to dictate Brexit is a “recipe for chaos and betrayal”. Choosing to stay in the EU spits the faces of the 17.4 million of us who voted to leave. It is a “Judas kiss”. What to do? Vote for May’s deal, says the Mail. It’s not prefect but it “satisfies the main referendum criteria”. May’s plan is the “only hope of Brexit”. Vote it down and risk the chance of a Labour / SNP government under closet Brexiteer Jeremy Corbyn, which could “wreck” the nation and “split the UK for good”. Scotland leaves. And Northern Ireland follows. The Mail says John McDonnell, the show Chancellor and another closet Brexiteer, “longs” for a United Ireland. Be warned. Vote May or it is the end.
Daily Mirror: “Time for Plan B.”
Which is? What is Plan B? Invade France? That for later. For now the “will of the people must be respected”. Brexit must happen. But May has “lost all authority”. The PM must produce a Plan B. Aha! You thought the Mirror was about to reveal the second plan. No. It just wants one to happen. Maybe it can cite Labour’s plan. But Labour doesn’t have one. So, come on “weak and wobbly” May, get to work!
The Sun: “Utter Mayhem.”
After the pun the details. May has “all but lost control of Brexit”. An “enraged public” will have a second referendum foisted on it. But the DUP might suddenly realise that the Brexit deal on offer is better than letting Parliament’s Remainers “impose something worse”. The Sun reasons that the DUP’s support is key to May getting her way. She should “ditch the toxic Irish backstop” or insert a “route out of the restrictive customs union it sets up”. She must woo the DUP. She must do this or Corbyn will win the day. He’s already “measuring the curtains at No10”. Labour, were told, is putting its own interests ahead of the nation’s. Labour will “renege on its manifesto and back a second referendum”. Hard to disagree. Labour has no plan. So the simple thing to do would be to just repeat the act that went before.
Anorak Says! But hold on. Doesn’t the aforementioned McDonnell want to renationalise, well, everything? He does. And won’t the EU see that as illegal state aid? Surely it will. Really think Labour wants to scupper Brexit? If it does, it’s plans will be damaged – to say nothing of the party’s dying links to the working-class who voted to Leave.
Daily Express: “Remainers must not be allowed to eat Brexit.”
Yesterdays votes were “proof” Remainer elites” want to stop Brexit. The vote allows the Commons to block a “no deal Brexit”. The only way ahead is to back our “courageous and indefatigable Prime Minister’ and vote for her plan.
May losses three votes in the Commons! May wins!! Ain’t democracy grand.
Faced with journalists from the Mail and Times on her doorstep seeking answers to questions about her son’s conviction for intent to supply drugs, including cocaine, Labour MP Kate Osamor dialled 999. The Times says Osamor, your parliamentary rep for Edmonton, told its journalist to “fuck off”, ‘threw a bucket of water at him and then, in the presence of police, said she “should have come down here with a bat and smashed your face in”.’ Discuss.
The Times say Osamor has been accused of wasting police time, chiefly by Susan Hall, Conservative member of the London Assembly, whose given time and space to say: “It’s a bit rich of Kate Osamor to complain about police cuts at the same time as shamelessly wasting police resources. Dealing with media attention is all part and parcel of being a high-profile politician. If she is unable to cope with some probing questions from journalists, perhaps she’s in the wrong job.”
Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ’s general secretary, is unimpressed by the language. “Journalists, like any other workers, need to be able to go about their work without fear of threats or assault,” she says. “It’s completely unacceptable to respond to legitimate press queries, however unwelcome they may be, with physical or verbal abuse. There is a disturbing and febrile international climate at the moment that is facilitating and legitimising the notion that it is open season on journalists – such insidious and dangerous beliefs, particularly when they emanate from public figures in positions of authority, have to be challenged at every turn.” Watergate, eat yer heart out.
Back in the Times, we learn that Scotland Yard sent six officers over to Osamor’s home in just 24 hours to answer “emergency calls” about her son and parliamentary aide, Ishmael, 29, and what she knew of his arrest. Is that a lot? The Times smells the air:
The Times revealed on Saturday that Ms Osamor, 50, had written to the judge in her son’s case to appeal for leniency before he received a community sentence on October 19. The disclosure of his mother’s intervention contradicted earlier accounts from Labour that she had only heard about the case when the media began asking questions on October 26…
Ms Osamor’s differing accounts of her son’s case, her continued employment of him in her Westminster office and her threats to the journalist have led to questions about her fitness to be an MP.
Kids, eh. Who’d be a parent? It’s emotive stuff. The Press are excited. The Sun says “Ms Osamor has denied wrongdoing in the row over her son” and then values her home and questions her right to live in it. The i can’t even be bothered to identify the MP correctly. Instead of Osamor, the paper used a picture of the Labour whip and Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya, supplied by a news agency. “Jeremy Corbyn with Kate Osamor, who is accused of threatening a reporter,” says the i. Whoops!
Osamor has resigned her post as… anyone..? Anyone…? Yep. Shadow international development secretary.
Anyone know who her replacement is? And have they hired their kids..?
Shrewd dealers will stock up on chlorinated chickens, baggy satin vests and TV boxsets because the US-UK trade deal is in dire peril. Donald Trump has looked at Theresa May’s Brexit agreement and says it “sounds like a great deal for the EU”. He also says it means the UK might not be able to trade with the US. The chances of Trump having read all 500-plus pages of the winter fuel allowance are thinner than a parrot’s lips. The deal is crap. The UK is stuck in the EU, liaising with le club with the enthusiasm of a baby seal.
May counters that she is ready to defend her deal in a TV debate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He’s unlikely to have read the corpulent pamphlet either. Even a trainee MP knows the deal is dire, but Corbyn has never had his ideas encumbered by power so there’s every chance he’ll struggle to get past the coherently phatic before panicking and belatedly realising that student politics is best left to students. The excruciating TV debate could take place on 9 December – two days before the Parliamentary vote on May’s deal. It’ll make not a sop of difference to the outcome, but might finally trigger a rebellion among Labour MPs as Corbyn spends an hour incontinently telling a tired and irritated electorate that all options are open and he’s not a racist.
Back to Trump, then, who assured that his lacquer is made in China and not Chelmsford, guffs: “Right now if you look at the deal, [the UK] may not be able to trade with us. And that wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t think they meant that.” Cabinet Office minister David Lidington – he’s the one who looks like a hairy lemon sorbet, an amuse bouche of an MP whose job is to cleanse the pallet before something of substance arrives (spoiler: it doesn’t) – says Mr Trump’s comments “were not unexpected” and trade deals with the US are “challenging”. “The United States is a tough negotiator,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “President Trump’s always said very plainly ‘I put America first’. Well, I’d expect the British prime minister to put British interests first.”
Boom! Boom! Oh, he wasn’t joking.
Meanwhile, whispering from the shadows is Lord Kerslake, a former head of the civil service, said government officials were probably working on a “Plan B” in case the deal was rejected but there would be “no whisper of it” publicly until the outcome of the Commons vote. Failing that we can all vote for Boris Johnson, who’ll paste over the huge gaps in his and our political knowledge by lavishing on cheap gags and gratuitous insults. We’ll all be chortling and eating our young by teatime – but it’ll be British kids and taste better than that imported US chicken.
It’s not yet a crime to hate Brexit or the EU. It will be, of course. Hating most things is a crime. Most of us don’t rate the Brexit deal Theresa May wants to sign off. But many Leavers and Remainers hate it. The newspapers pick up the scent. They are full of Brexit news. The Daily Mail sums up best: “Let’s just get on with it.” Most of us just can’t wait to get it done and dusted. But what it is is up for debate. Can it be right that May has delivered a deal worse than no deal? The Guardian says the fight continues. The Telegraph focus on the backstop, a melting fudge designed by the EU to stop other countries – they have borders, right – to never leave the group. And the Sun says it’s all just dire.
Tellingly, the Mirror can’t lead with Brexit because the party it supports, the mess masquerading as Labour, has all positions covered. Their plan is to scupper May’s deal, encourage the great unwashed to vote for Labour in a General Election and then, well, just you want and see. It’ll be great. Jeremy Corbyn, a man who has pushed for Brexit pretty much all his adult life, now says he’s not all that into it and will every bit ‘Remain by another name’ as May, the arch Remainer pretending to deliver Brexit . That 17.4 million of us voted for Brexit in the great rebellion is a minor irrelevance to the powers that be.
Robert Tombs, professor of French history at St John’s College, Cambridge, gives a view that pretty much sums things up:
“May’s deal seems to mean the most extraordinary set of constitutional innovations. It would give, for an indefinite period, power over a large part of our economy and legislation not only to a foreign power but also to an unelected committee. The EU will have the power to decide upon and implement a whole load of laws and regulations. We will be required to accept them and we will have to pay for the pleasure…
…we are putting ourselves in a position where we will have to depend on the goodwill of a body that hasn’t been conspicuous in goodwill since June 2016. The EU has openly said it wants to make life more difficult for us. It has pushed us far enough already. It has made demands that have been accepted by a weak government. I’m sure even the EU could not have expected this at the beginning of these negotiations.
What the EU is clearly and openly worried about is disunity among its members and the possibility of other countries following in our footsteps. We would be voluntarily putting ourselves under the control of people whose interest is to make sure that we are not seen to prosper after Brexit. It is so stupid, it is almost unbelievable.
From today you can buy weed legally in Massachusetts for fun. The state’s first commercial marijuana stores opened for business. Stood first in the queue was Northampton, Mass. mayor David Narkewicz. CBS News tells us:
When asked whether the purchase is simply ceremonial or it will be consumed, Narkewicz said, “I am actually going to probably preserve it and display it…because it is historically significant.”
It isn’t. Really, it isn’t – not unless you also have the first bag of crips sold in a pub and other humdrum consumables in a home museum to the everyday. A lump of pickled weed is simply a waste of weed.
“There has been marijuana use going on in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a long, long time. What’s changing is it’s now being regulated. It’s now being tested. It’s now being strictly monitored. That’s really the major change that’s happening,” Narkewizc said.
Ah, smell that – it ain’t freedom blowin’ in the wind, folks. It’s the stench of regulation.
Claire Perry is accused of swearing and shouting at staff. The Guardian carries the news that the … Yeah, she’s the energy minister. Well, done, Claire and Claire’s mum for getting it right. Hard luck the rest of you. The paper’s story is choice:
Trade unions have written to the top official in the business department to raise concerns about claims that the energy minister, Claire Perry, has sworn and screamed at civil servants, the Guardian understands.
Trade unions are famously bastions of polite and civilised behaviour. No-one swears. No-one shouts. Right it is that they and the Guardian alert us to allegedly uncouth behaviour. In a welter of acronyms and counter-acronyms, the PCS, FDA and Prospect unions wrote a joint letter to Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the BEIS, noting Perry’s alleged behaviour. Civil servants are not there to be sworn at. What they are there for is to, well, again, shout out your answers; closest to the truth wins a job for life. No swearing.
The paper continues:
It is understood that the complaints given to the unions include claims that Perry screamed and shouted, texted one civil servant to say “Fuck off”, and wrote, “What’s this shit?” on a memo produced by staff. The MP for Devizes became energy minister in June last year, a role that involves attending cabinet.
To think a woman who allegedly uses such filthy words is that close to the seat of power. If we’ve learned anything from the Brexit vote it is that liberals love using the words “fuck”, “bollocks” and “shit”, often on placards. There is a time and there is a place. Journalists at the Guardian are understood to be dismayed.
Congratulations Theresa May for stopping Brexit. The big problem for her is that people noticed, chiefly the millions who voted for Brexit and secondly a few of the public servants whose job it was to make Brexit happen, notably members of her Cabinet who saw the binary choice on offer and resigned. You are either in the EU or out of it. May’s Withdrawal Bill is a deal to stay in. Over 17 million of us voted out. The two things don’t tally. Sign the deal and Brexit has been stopped.
Brendan O’Neill argues in The Spectator, “If we kill Brexit, we kill democracy itself.” May’s deal “will strangle British sovereignty and reduce us to a craven vassal state that not only has to abide by EU rules but will also lack any mechanism for unilaterally withdrawing from them. A ‘Brexit deal’, they call it. Do not insult our intelligence. Voters are not as dim as you think.” (Has anyone checked?)
Calm down, dear, says Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph. May’s deal is better than no deal or no Brexit, the other two offers on the table. The Withdrawal Agreements is not an end, rather a “staging post on the journey to a more complete form of Brexit”. Sure, Britain can only leave the Customs Union on the EU’s say so but if the arrangements are seen to be “very much against the national interest, then they will eventually unravel, even if that means breaking the treaty”. May’s deal begins the path to Brexit in “an orderly and manageable manner”. Yes, it’s got more holes that a Donald Trump wet dream but it is very British.
Leave it to Westminster to do right, then, a place Marina Hyde likens to “a sort of middle-management Westeros, where mostly terrible actors obsess over court politics, and the electorate are just CGI casualties in the Battle of the Bastards.”
Brexiteers remain in Cabinet. Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling are all there to tell May how wrong she is. An unnamed source told the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman, Gove is staying “to get this in a better place”. Or maybe he and the rest of them just want a few more days to measure No.10 for their own choice of curtains. Is May prepared for a leadership challenge? Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said: “I think the prime minister is ready for anything.”
The big issue with the deal is that backstop. The UK and the EU want to avoid a hard Northern Ireland border. So they’ll be a “backstop” – or back-up plan as trade negotiations continue. The backstop leaves Northern Ireland more closely aligned to some EU rules than the rest of the UK. Got a problem with the UK being broken up? The UK would not be able to leave the backstop without the EU’s consent. Sound like Brexit to you? But not to worry. Things will work out.
If the EU doesn’t take the hint, we can always go to war. Last week German chancellor Angela Merkel opined: “A common European army would show the world that there will never be war between the European nations.” Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative in the Brexit negotiations, tweeted: “I am very pleased that both #Merkel and Macron are now fully behind a European army. We fought for this for many years. In the world of tomorrow, we have to take our destiny into our own hands!” And French finance minister Bruno Le Maire added: “Europe needs to become a kind of empire like China and the USA… technological power, economic, financial, monetary, cultural power will be decisive. Europe can no longer afford to shrink from exercising its power and being an empire of peace.”
Nothing to worry about, then. We are either with the EU or we are with the EU. Vote now and vote often…
Are you keeping up with Brexit? Nothing’s been signed. No deal has been done. The UK remains in the EU. Millions of words have been written on the matter. But the whole thing can is best summed up by the BBC’s sign language interpreter:
— Ell Potter (@Pottell) November 15, 2018
Those Brexit options:
* A second referendum. Question to be asked: ‘Did you understand the 1st referendum?’
* Carry on talking to the EU forever
* Reduce number of people on benefits by giving the unemployed each two hours work as Brexit chief negotiator
February 1 1976: three months after the death of dictator Generalísimo Francisco Franco (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975), the Assembly of Catalonia (Asemblea de Catalunya) marched in Barcelona under the banner ‘Libertat, Amnesty, Estatut d’Autonomia’ (Freedom, Amnesty, Autonomy).
Local residents’ associations, Trade Unions, political parties (many illegal), along with members of cultural and artistic entities participated. Initially it was peaceful. There was a sit-in on the Passeig de Sant Joan, at the corner of Carrer de Provença. But the Civil Guard and riot police police-threw smoke bombs at the seated protesters and charged them. Later, numerous groups marched through the streets of the Eixample to reach the Modelo prison, where they sought the release of political prisoners.
The Civil Guard waited. They were armed with rifles. Manel Armengol had a camera.
What Donald Trump will make it has yet to be revealed, but for now all we have is Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov lifting golden weights bar before his applauding Cabinet. Mr Berdy is also the country’s prime minister and commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. And sine you asked, male homosexuality is illegal:
Turkmenistan’s president lifts golden weights bar before his applauding Cabinet. Will the madness ever cease? pic.twitter.com/9MszhO4dD4
— Peter Leonard (@Peter__Leonard) November 2, 2018
According to Human Rights Watch:
Turkmenistan remains an extremely repressive country. The government severely restricts all fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedoms of association, expression, and religion. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, his relatives and their associates control all aspects of public life, and the authorities encroach on private life. The government carries out forced evictions without adequately compensating those affected. The government continues to conceal the fate and whereabouts of dozens of people forcibly disappeared following their imprisonment during waves of arrests in the late 1990s and early 2000s, although it has begun to return to families the bodies of several inmates forcibly disappeared years ago who have recently died in custody. Activists and independent correspondents critical of the government face increased intimidation, harassment, physical attacks and imprisonment. The country remains closed to any independent scrutiny.
Jeremy Corbyn fans at Momentum want you to follow @PeoplesMomentum. “Let’s get a Socialist government to No.10! 💓 Join Momentum today! 👇,” runs their tweet. And there’s a video. Things are interesting about 36 seconds in when the campaign uses the Hillsborough tragedy to promote Jez:
Let’s get a Socialist government to No.10! 💓
— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) November 1, 2018
See that bloke chucking copies of the Sun newspaper into a bin bag? He didn’t do it because he wants Corbyn to be prime minster. He didn’t even do it to stick it to the right-wing media. The footage is of Everton fan Brian Kelly binning free copies of the Sun at Glasgow Airport as part of the boycott triggered by the paper’s appalling reporting on the horror of Hillsborough. The Sun apologised, albeit years later.
Mr Kelly told the Liverpool Echo: “A friend of mine, Tommy Fletcher, who’s a Liverpool fan, said put the lot in the bin and I gladly obliged. The rivalry obviously doesn’t come into it when this is involved… Loads of places now are gladly refusing to sell the paper. Football fans, true football fans, should agree to do the same.”
This Everton fan throwing all The Sun newspapers in the bin at Glasgow airport! 👏👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/5RD8Dl7bEa
— Sports Funnies (@SportsFunnies) August 24, 2016
That Momentum thought using the Hillsborough horror to promote Corbyn was a good idea brings their judgement into question. The survivors, friends, relatives and loved ones of the 96 who died in 1989 still await justice. Hijacking their suffering is opportunistic and demeaning. Corbyn a pal of the working class who were defamed and monstered by a lying media and police a Hillsborough ? Don’t make me laugh. Back then football fans were “scum”, a white riot-in-waiting; today Corbyn portrays the tabloid reading masses as mentally negligible bigots who voted for Brexit and Tories because they were stupid enough to believe lies. Wary of these fools getting the wrong kind of information, Corbyn wants to nationalise the news.
Back then right and left were united in a war on football fans. Football was “a slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums” (Sunday Times); a game produced by “yobs and slum cultures of the stricken inner cities” (New Statesman); a game for the “udserclass” (Sunday Times). They still seek to regulate and control behaviour by restricting our view.
Note: What does footage of a man chucking copies of tabloid newspapers into bins say about Corbyn’s attitude to press freedom? It’s chilling. Don’t vote for censorship.
President Donald Trump says mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue would have been “better” if the Jews had been armed. “They had a maniac walk in and they didnt have any protection and that is just so sad to see,” said Trump. “The results could have been much better.” One day when Jews return to their homeland after millennia of persecution they can invest heavily in the military. Then no-one will be attack them. They will be treated with respect and murderous anti-Semitism will end.
As for now, we’re told that Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue during Shabbat service and shouted “All Jews must die” before shooting dead 11 people sand wounding many more.
“This has little to do with it,” said Trump when asked what role US gun laws played in the massacre. “If they had protection inside the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist I suspect. But if they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a much different situation. But they didn’t and he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn’t have been able to do.”
It’s all too much like when an adviser to Poland’s president said Israel was ashamed “at the passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust.”
Jews have sometimes been described, often for the purpose of assigning blame or inflicting humiliation, as having acted passively in the face of the Holocaust. Key acts of resistance contradict the trope, most notably the Warsaw Uprising of 1943. Smaller revolts took place in death camps, including Sobibor and Treblinka, where starving prisoners without weapons faced heavily armed German guards.
Image: Felix Nussbaum (1904-1944), Camp Synagogue, Saint Cyprien, 1941. (Via)
The rush to blame President Trump for the nut job posting pipe bombs to leading Democrats has been notable for its haste. Do you really believe that a vote for Trump was a vote for terrorism? Blimey, the man’s a berk possessed of all the diplomatic nous of a puppy sat by a pile of poo, but to jump on the link that banging on about ‘fake news’ and locking up Hillary Clinton leads to acts of potential murder is a leap onto a convenient lily pad.
Did we all rush to blame Islamism for the attacks on Paris, London, Barcelona, Nice, New York, Berlin, Toulouse, Brussels, Manchester and Madrid? The advice after those attacks was to look to ourselves for signs of Islamophobia. It wasn’t the loons we need worry about. The real danger was non-Muslims reacting with phobic-born violence towards Muslim mates, work colleagues, family, nurses, doctors, pot heads, cab drivers, lawyers, postmen, Lords, politicians, waiters, victims of crime, victims of Islamist terrorism and any other Muslims who after mass murder would surely mutate before our lizard brains into the enemy unless we were monitored. After Manchester was attacked, we got candles and pledges to unite and remain united. But after pipe bombs in the post, the message is get Trump because the man on the trigger for millions of dangerous fools.
If you want to politicise extreme violence and terrorism, then allow all terrorism to be openly debated. There have been no renditions of ‘Love is All you Need’ in response to the pipe bombs posted to George Soros, Baraka Obama, CNN and Hillary Clinton. We’re not warned to look out for Demophobia and fight it when he see it. Why? Because it’s safe to attack what we believe we can change. Trump can be undone by linking him to acts of violence, hope his decriers ; but confronting the issues that drive a radical, murderous form of Islam, well, best light a candle, create a hashtag and hope for the best.
Let’s not bury debate and allow the berks and bigots to fill the void. Don’t do it if you want to get rid of Trump and stop empowering the likes of Tommy Robinson…
It’s fairly obvious that Donald Trump has lost the journalistic classes. Something that shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise, given that the journalistic class hating such things as Donald Trump and his supporter base is why he won the damn election. However, you might think that these people who make their livings with words would at least understand what he was actually saying rather than just mocking it. But that’s to misunderstand quite how badly the 90% Democrat and only 10% Republican profession is out of step with the America they write about and for.
I myself writing from the point of view of having been a part of that industry and really rather shocked at quite how vociferously all those in flyover country are derided.
Here’s the tweet Trump made:
When referring to the USA, I will always capitalize the word Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2018
And here’s the reaction from HuffPo:
His bizarre brag did not go unnoticed by fellow Twitter users, however:
Then follows a list of people making fun of the President. Fair game of course. AOL runs the same piece:
Trump’s bizarre grammar boast has Twitter users scratching their heads
But it’s not bizarre grammar in the slightest. We might call it a joke – not a very good one to be sure – or a claim to an excessive patriotism but it’s a good little piece of politics.
So, what’s the difference between country and Country? Well, we capitalise proper nouns in this language. So, if we capitalise then we’re making the claim that this is a proper noun. As with the difference between polish and Polish. Here the difference is between a country. Something that anyone can claim to come from as all of us do come from one or another. The other claim being Country, the country, not a, that is, *THE* country, the very apotheosis of what a country is and is supposed to be. And there are an awful lot of Americans out there in flyover country, those derided boonies, who think exactly that way about their place.
You know, it’s only the coastal elites that the journalistic class is drawn from who actually hate their own America.
Trump’s claim, with that capitalisation, is that the US is what every other place should aspire to be. Something that will indeed be understood – they still have grammar classes in that country – and which will play well out there where Republican isn’t a swearword.
Now it’s perfectly possible to disagree with this, entirely fair to deride it – look, it’s still a free country, you can think whatever you like – but to fail to understand it? Well, guess that’s why newspaper circulation is going down and no one does trust the fake news being sent their way, eh?
There’s really only one explanation for the Peoples’ March today in London – an advertising of personal virtue. For absolutely nothing else will be achieved at all, that time and money has been completely wasted.
But out they came, to march through the streets of London:
No one knows where negotiations over the U.K.’s exit from the European Union will end up. (Things are not looking great.) But it’s now obvious that no one heading to the polls in 2016 could possibly have grasped the full implications of this misguided decision — and that the British people deserve another say.
That’s not an entirely ridiculous claim. I say this as a committed Leaver too – rethinks are indeed part of responsible governance and democracy. There are two good arguments against another vote though:
Organisers say more than 600,000 people rallied in central London on Saturday to call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal
People’s Vote march: ‘more than half a million’ rally for new Brexit referendum
That’s part of the battle over numbers. Don’t trust that count for a moment:
Protesters seeking a referendum on the final Brexit deal have attended a rally which organisers say was the “biggest” demonstration of its kind.
Young voters led the People’s Vote march to London’s Parliament Square, which supporters say attracted more than 600,000 people.
MPs from the main parties backed the event calling for a fresh referendum.
This is something which has already been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The People’s Vote campaign said stewards on the route estimated 670,000 were taking part.
Scotland Yard said it was not able to estimate the size of the crowd.
No, really, do not believe that number.
Still, why shouldn’t we?
The first reason is that we’re British dammit. It’s the Europeans, the continentals, who keep having referenda about the European Union until the proles vote the right way. As was done in Ireland, France, Denmark. Admittedly, that’s an argument unlikely to find favour with those who like the EU.
So, the killer one. We’re out the door on 29 March next year. The deal, whatever it is going to be, is not finished yet. Reasonable people – that is others than me – think it might actually get sealed on March 28 at 11.59 pm. But even if it were sealed today then what?
British law insists that there be a 6 month run in to a referendum. Which is, of course, what a peoples’ vote is.
Our own laws say that we cannot have a Peoples’ Vote therefore. So why were half a million people pissing away their Saturday?
See ya, Nick Clegg. The man who wants a second EU referendum in the hope the great unwashed will vote for the status quo has opted to leave for the US, where he’ll work for Facebook. The former Deputy Prime Minister is now Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications.
On Facebook, natch., Clegg told us: “Having spoken at length to Mark and Sheryl [Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg] over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large.”
A journey…to Luxembourg to pay less taxes? Clegg continues his travels into X Factor speak:
“I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey. Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives – but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual, the integrity of our democratic process, the tensions between local cultures and the global internet, the balance between free speech and prohibited content, the power and concerns around artificial intelligence, and the wellbeing of our children.”
Maybe. Or you could just, you know, disable the app? Life will go on. But Clegg’s already at work, it seems, assuring us that Facebook is life itself. It’s not a company geared to make money from a leisure activity; it’s part of who we are.
He adds: “I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organisations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good.”
Or as he put it in a 2017 column: “Other critics of Silicon Valley are just plain disingenuous: traditional newspaper groups vilify social media companies for scooping up the lion’s share of advertising revenue. What do they expect? Social media companies – notwithstanding their occasionally pious New Age slogans – are profit-making companies, not charities.”
Good job he’s gone for the betterment of humankind and not the money.
Ivanka Trump is by far and away the best qualified daughter for the job of US ambassador to the United Nations. The incumbent Nikki Haley is leaving. Donald Trump says Ivanka getting the job “has nothing to do with nepotism”. She would be “dynamite”, an explosive presence in a diplomatic arsenal. She would be “incredible:
“It has nothing to do with nepotism. But I want to tell you, the people know… Ivanka would be dynamite,” Trump replied when asked who could replace outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
The president added that his daughter would be an “incredible” choice pic.twitter.com/pZ56nFrVXE
— POLITICO (@politico) October 9, 2018
Here are 10 reasons why Ivanka Trump would be the best choice for US ambassador to the UN:
Ivanka Trump is endorsed by Kin Jong-UN.