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Monday, 1 September 2014

Ashya King – Enter Clueless Pundits

Yesterday, I looked at the case of seriously ill five year old Ashya King and his family, and noted that “The pundits and editorial pronouncements have not yet started, but start they will”. Today they have started, and if you were inclined to place the occasional bet, you might put your money on the first ones out of the blocks for a quick NHS bashing to be the Guido Fawkes blog and Brendan O’Neill.
And so it came to pass: the Fawkes rabble, for whom castigating the NHS and accusing it of cruelty is roughly equivalent to breathing, has pretentiously covered the story under the heading of “Guy News”, although they have no news of their own. The NHS is accused of “arrogance” and “cruelty”, and the gap in The Great Guido’s knowledge – as in most of the story – is replaced by clumsy guesswork.

Readers are told “From what the father says the NHS doctors were unsure of how to proceed with treatment”. The only people who can say for sure how accurate that assumption is are, fortunately for the Fawkes folks, bound by patient confidentiality, although if past form is any guide, the assertion is likely to contain a significant amount of weapons grade bullshit.
Wibble

Moreover, for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, understanding what is going on is proving difficult, as witness his assertion “Jail for Ashya’s parents. Well done NHS doctors”. Yes, in the paranoid world of The Great Guido, Southampton General Hospital is able to take over the entire Spanish judicial system. But this is nothing to the logic-leaping exploits of clickbait-generator-meister O’Neill.

Given a pulpit by the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, the editor of Spiked (so titled because it should have been) tells readers “the motor to this grotesque spectacle of hunt-the-dangerous-parents seems to have been the now sadly commonplace belief that parents cannot be trusted to care for their offspring and so officials must often barge in and take charge”. “Seems to” means he doesn’t know.

He then briefly admits his ignorance: “Of course, much is still unclear or unknown in the King family case”. So why is he sounding off about it? Well, “one thing that we can be pretty sure of is that the authorities' implicit depiction of Ashya's parents as erratic and a threat, and of Ashya as being at great risk, turned out to be highly questionable”. Baloney. No such description, implicit or otherwise, was given.

But on he ploughs: “It also raises an even more important question about parental authority and family sovereignty”. No thought is given to the shitstorm the NHS would have faced had they not acted. Then there would have been even more accusations of “cruelty” and “arrogance”, together with O’Neill arguing the toss in his spare time. And just think how wilful Littlejohn will be tomorrow.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Clueless punditry just fills it with worthless drivel.

Boris Island – Flogging A Dead Horse

[Update at end of post]

Of all the “might have been” schemes from all those years ago, those cancelled by Harold Wilson’s incoming Labour Government in 1974 evoke the most poignant reaction: one was the Channel Tunnel, later built in more or less the same configuration as proposed back then, and the other was a new London Airport at Maplin Sands, which sounds rather nicer than Foulness.
Available only as an artist's impression

Had Maplin Sands gone ahead, it would have been operational 30 years ago, and all the brouhaha over Heathrow expansion would have been headed off. Instead, we now have a very full Heathrow and very few sensible ideas to relieve it. And one of the not at all sensible ideas, a new airport on the opposite side of the Thames estuary to Maplin Sands, keeps being pushed by its sole major fan.

Yes, this morning London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has used his “chicken feed” generating column in the Maily Telegraph to urge the construction of more and bigger runways for the benefit of Himself Personally Now. This is despite the Evening Standard, aka London Daily Bozza, the paper that normally cheers unconditionally for the Mayor, pronouncing the scheme dead.

That has not stopped Bozza from pitching some highly dubious assertions, such as “Heathrow is already by far the noisiest airport in Europe, about a hundred times worse than Paris”. As the mix of aircraft types using both airports is broadly similar, this is clearly bunk. What he presumably means is the number of people affected by noise pollution. Pity he isn’t so fussed about central London’s air pollution.

But he does know that other European airports have more runways: “Paris CDG already has four runways and serves 257 destinations; Frankfurt serves 291 from four runways; Amsterdam serves 277 from six runways”. None of this justifies Bozza fraudulently claiming that his new airport could be built for less than £26 billion: the road and rail links alone could add almost £45 billion to that.

What Bozza does not seem to get is that all the other airports he quotes were either established before Heathrow, and have fortunately been sited where expansion was easier, or, as in the case of Paris CdG, planned and then followed through without becoming a political football. CdG was also sited more favourably when it came to connecting to the French motorway and high speed rail network.

The London area does not have a site comparable to Schiphol, Frankfurt or Paris CdG. We are where we are. But the HS2 project – which Bozza now supports – will bring London close enough to Birmingham airport for it to be as convenient to access as, say, Gatwick. There are other ways to add capacity and destinations than to spray the best part of £100 billion on another Bozza vanity project.

Bozza’s estuary airport is dead. Perhaps someone at the Telegraph could tell him.

[UPDATE 2045 hours: Bozza's column appears to have fallen on deaf ears, as it is now clear that the Davies Commission is to drop the island airport from the preferred options for airport expansion in the south east. The same story has been carried by the Telegraph (Bozza's own chosen outlet for his musings) as well as the deeply subversive Guardian and the BBC.

Despite this, his airports man Daniel Moylan insists that the scheme could be exhumed at some time in the future, when Bozza is an MP. If he gets the nod for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, that could be a hard sell to his future constituents, given thousands of them depend on Heathrow, which would face closure if the island scheme went ahead.

As usual, Bozza spouts first and thinks at some later time. But his priciest vanity project has finally been killed off]

EU Vacuum Cleaner Row – Dyson Speaks

The sheer idiocy of some commentators observing the new EU-wide standards for vacuum cleaners was typified last night by, of all media outlets, the BBC, where viewers were left with the clear impression that they would have to spend longer cleaning their houses unless they had joined the last-minute panic and bought a machine with a 2000 watt motor.
Dyson DC02: still complies with the rules 18 years on

Here on Zelo Street there has been no such panic, as the trusty Dyson DC02 is still going strong, and despite being 1990s vintage, would not have fallen foul of the new rules, as Dyson have never sold a cleaner with a motor rating exceeding the new 1600 watt maximum. Yet Dyson cleaners, as even the Daily Mail has admitted, have seen a 78% sales increase recently.

Why should that be? After all, no Dyson model has been banned, so all will still be on sale for at least the next three years (when the maximum motor rating falls to 900 watts). Indeed, the upright DC50, which John Lewis will sell you for around £240, has a motor rated at only 700 watts: count the product reviews that describe it as “powerful”. Has the penny dropped yet?

At least the Mail has carried a comment from James Dyson alongside those from consumers who have been led to believe that a bigger motor rating somehow means they have bought a superior product. He put it directly: “Dyson has never made a vacuum cleaner of more than 1,400 watts because it is intelligent engineering that leads to high cleaning performance, not energy-thirsty motors”.

Moreover, Dyson has encouraged the EU to go further than the current standard: in a position paper on the issue, the company asserted that “Dyson considers that the Commission could implement more stringent thresholds to achieve greater energy savings”. The paper then went on to detail that support.

Energy caps? “These are an effective way to drive energy efficient design, will lower energy consumption and can be achieved without sacrificing performance” ... “The annual energy consumption of vacuum cleaners can be 1100W (circa 40kWh) after 2 years from implementation, reducing to 750W (circa 28kWh) after 5 years without sacrificing performance or consumer choice [my emphases]”.

Dyson’s paper then noted that, in 1994, a typical selection of vacuum cleaners on sale via the Argos catalogue did not feature a machine with a motor rated at more than 1500 watts. The trend to cleaners with motors rated at more than 2000 watts is a recent one; while some manufacturers have thrown more power at the problem, Dyson has gradually used less.

All of which just underscores the obvious conclusion: consumers are clearing out old and potentially unwanted old stock. The press has taken them for mugs.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

UKIP – Farage Putin Weakness

As the Daily Mail sternly noted, UKIP, with Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell as their candidate, could well win the upcoming Clacton by-election by a substantial margin, which in the Mail’s view means that Young Dave has been pandering to the unholy triumvirate of political correctness, the EU, and same-sex marriage, and sometimes all three. The Tories’ prospects look bleak.
It's squeaky finger up the bum time again

What may make matters even worse, as I observed last week, is that party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps may have to rely on his pal Mark Clarke and the Road Trip 2015 organisation, which will be able to send well over 1,500 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed activists into the constituency, but as they are mostly young people, all those UKIP-leaning retirees may not take kindly to the idea.

So what do the Tories do? The Clacton electorate would not be impressed if Cameron and his fellow jolly good chaps drafted London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson as their candidate, and they have been persuaded that the things to be concerned about are mainly immigration (not much of that in Clacton) and the dastardly EU.

The silver lining on this otherwise big and dark grey cloud concerns UKIP’s leader, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who, in one of those moments when he could be prised away from propping up the nearest saloon bar, declared that the world leader he most admired was one Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, now presiding over an attempt to annex part of Ukraine while pretending Russia is not involved, honestly.

Mr Thirsty said of Putin “The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant”, and he defended him a second time after Prince Brian likened the Russian leader to Hitler: “Prince Charles has made those comments. I know some people feel that way about Putin. I think there’s a difference and the difference, I think, is that right from the very start Hitler was expansionist and we haven’t seen much evidence of that until now from Putin”. He may be regretting that one right now.

That changed after MH17: “Everybody would like to see him say something rather more strongly than has happened. It shows the folly of putting weapons into the hands of indisciplined people. Be that the Russians to the separatists, or Britain to the rebel forces in Syria. He looks cold to the point of callousness”.

But Farage has given the Tories a significantly-sized stick for them to pick up and beat him with. His candidate is all in favour of more democracy – Carswell wants to move politics closer to the people – yet he professes admiration for one world leader whose only interest in the ballot box is massaging the results until they favour the view of Himself Personally Now. CCHQ will be working on that right now.

Nigel Farage may not lose Clacton for his party. But he has given the Tories hope.

Don’t Menshn Religious Incitement

The Super Soaraway Currant Bun may be hidden away behind a paywall, but a Zelo Street regular has made available an image from today’s paper (see how that works, Rupe?) which shows that falsehood and misinformation is being allowed to pass onto the printed page. I’ll go further: one column verges on malicious defamation and religious incitement. So who is the culprit, and what’s the deal?
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

But you know who is shooting her mouth off once again: former Tory MP Louise Mensch is off and running, telling that the Rotherham abuse scandal has been subjected to “party political efforts to cover it [up]”. Moreover, no opportunity to say “Muslim” is passed up, and in this way she continues to make this some kind of religious act, where it is not. And then comes the incitement.

Add in the Pakistani Muslim grooming gangs we know about in Oxford, Bradford and Rochdale and the number of rapes committed by Pakistani Muslim men against white children runs into the millions”. Yes, forget that there were many girls from Pakistani heritage homes who were also involved, and get that big scary number pitched. In the world of Ms Mensch, this is all about religion.

It is also about bashing the Labour Party: “It was Labour who did this in Rotherham and Rochdale – to win Muslim votes. Labour Police, Labour PCCs, Labour Councillors, Labour leaning prosecutors ... Labour’s greedy, sleazy pandering to Muslim votes brought us Sharia tribunals – Labour set them up in law – postal vote fraud, uncontrolled immigration, Trojan Horse schools, and now this sick hell.”

Where does one start with that lot? PCCs – a Coalition policy – are so recent as to have had no effect, there is no such thing as “Labour Police” or “Labour leaning prosecutors” – the Tories would have kicked off years ago if that had been the case – and, for the umpteenth time, Labour have not set up Sharia tribunals. As for postal voting, well, show us the evidence Ms M – you won’t.

Nor, despite her insistence, did any political party have anything to do with what happened in a few schools in Birmingham. And as for immigration, well, just repeating what her paper has tried to pitch as received wisdom does not make it a fact. This is, let us not drive it around the houses for too long, a complete pack of lies, a vicious attempt at demonisation and incitement.

So why have Rupe’s downmarket troops allowed Ms Mensch’s partisan and fact-free rant to pass into print? Simples. The discredited PCC has already wiped their collective arses: the precedent complaint Stable v Daily Mail (Littlejohn – need you ask?) has the details. Put directly, the PCC concluded that it was OK for pundits to lie, as readers would know it was an opinion column, and they say things for effect.

With a former MP, more care should be taken, but isn’t. That’s not good enough.

Ashya King And Proton Beam Therapy

The pundits and editorial pronouncements have not yet started, but start they will: a seriously unwell five year old boy taken from Southampton General Hospital by his parents and taken with the rest of the family to southern Spain has been found after a frantic Police search. Ashya King has a serious brain tumour. His parents have become convinced that the NHS is not giving him the best treatment.
That parents become concerned and focused on a sick child is not just understandable, it is an entirely natural reaction to the condition. So the sentiments expressed by Brett King, Ashya’s father, in a video released overnight, will strike a chord with many who have been in a similar situation. Their agenda is simply to give their child a chance. The press’ agenda is rather different.

That is evident from the Mail’s chosen headline: “‘NHS doctors would not give Ashya the treatment we wanted’: Father who fled with brain tumour boy, 5, to Spain posts heartfelt video explaining move hours before parents are arrested near Marbella”. Yes, the NHS is to blame for what happened. And the NHS could not provide the treatment. Except that the NHS can provide it.

What both the Mail, and the Telegraph, are not telling their readers is that, since 2008, around 370 patients have been approved for Proton Beam therapy paid for by the NHS. And Proton Beam therapy is what Brett King is convinced his son needs. He is so convinced that he has asserted that he will pay for the treatment himself (the cost per patient for treatment alone is around £90,000).

However, and in this case we encounter a significantly sized however, as Brett King has also said in his YouTube video, the team treating Ashya have said that, in his case, Proton Beam therapy “would have no benefit whatsoever”. But Mr King wants to find a cure, so as soon as he is given this information, he Googles the details in an effort to disprove it. It’s entirely understandable.

His recollection was that “I went straight back to my room and looked it up and the American sites and French sites and Switzerland sites where they have proton beam said the opposite, it would be very beneficial for him. Then I spoke to them again, ... saying OK - I will sell my property in order to pay for the proton beam”. The press is already suggesting that this is down to inability on the part of the NHS.

But it is not. As to whether Proton Beam therapy is the answer in this case, Cancer Research UK notes “The data on adults from the UK treated abroad seem to show that they are doing well after proton therapy, but the patients who get the treatment have been selected for it specifically because their doctors think they have a good chance of doing well from it”. In other words, it is not conclusive.

The press won’t care about that. Ashya King is the latest NHS bashing excuse.

Top Six – August 31

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have shopping to do later. So there.
6 Don’t Menshn James Dyson Into the EU vacuum cleaner row waded Louise Mensch, claiming that British cleaners would be banned and giving Dyson as an example. But Dyson have never sold a vacuum cleaner with a motor rated higher than the new maximum, and they haven’t manufactured in the UK since 2002.

5 Rotherham Abuse Scandal – Press Hypocrisy As the Fourth Estate howled long and loud about the scale of Child Sexual Exploitation uncovered in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham, none of the ranting pundits were asking the obvious question: if it had gone on so long, why hadn’t they covered it?

4 Mail Labour Dirty Tricks Exposed Veteran MP Austin Mitchell might have thought he was using the Mail to make a point, but one never uses the Mail without the Mail using one in rather greater measure.

3 Mel Calls Jewish Leaders Stupid The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a joint statement on Israel and Palestine with the Muslim Council of Britain. This gesture of peace and reconciliation was too much for Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips.

2 Don’t Menshn Rotherham Bringing a voice of calm moderation from a reassuringly expensive part of Manhattan, Louise Menshn declared that what happened in Rotherham was perpetrated by “Muslim extremists” and was a “religious hate crime”. Remember, someone let her become an MP.

1 Threat Level – Severe My Arse Young Dave’s assertion that ISIS was a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before” was put to a quick historic test, and found to be total bullshit.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Mel Calls Jewish Leaders Stupid

After the recent hostilities, and associated killing and hardship in Gaza, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Muslim Council of Britain came together and issued a joint statement headedBRITISH JEWS AND MUSLIMS CALL FOR PEACE, WISDOM AND HOPE OVER CONFLICT IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE”. It ended “May the God of Abraham grant our World more peace, wisdom and hope”.
Not even a teensy bit fair and balanced

Thus Jews and Muslims acknowledged that their religions are rooted in the Abrahamic tradition, as is Christianity. They also sought to show reconciliation between their individual faiths. But, for one observer, this was too much, provoking the reaction “It is hard to exaggerate the stupidity of the UK Jewish Board of Deputies in what it has just done”.

Who can possibly object to those seeking reconciliation? But you know the answer to that: in with both feet had come Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips. “It has signed a joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia and urging that the Middle East conflict should not prevent good community relations in Britain”. That’s “stupid”?

Apart from the false equivalence between antisemitism and Islamophobia, which equates a metaphysical global derangement – the cause of centuries of pogroms and genocide against the Jews – with a spurious thought-crime invented to silence legitimate criticism of Islam, these were unexceptionable pieties”. Yes Mel, the EDL is just a vehicle for legitimate criticism. Pull the other one. But do go on.

However, the statement also contains this passage: ‘The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses. The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions’ ... The Board of Deputies may have assumed the second sentence above could only refer to Hamas, since the IDF does not target civilians”. Of course not, Mel.

But there is no way the MCB would ever suggest that Israel behaves honourably while Hamas does not [why?] ... the MCB would ... claim that the Board had agreed with it that both Israel and Hamas had targeted civilians ... The Board has thus now enabled the MCB to claim that the UK's Jewish community leadership has condemned Israel for targeting civilians”.

The joint statement could, of course, have had no sinister purpose on either side, but this more straightforward interpretation has somehow evaded Mel, who wibbles “The Board of Deputies is not fit for purpose. It has shown that it does not have a clue about the true nature of the threat posed to Jews and to Britain by Islamic extremism”. Which means they aren’t paranoid, like she isn’t.

Fortunately, the Board of Deputies is not intolerant and hateful. Hint there, Mel.

Vacuum Cleaner False Panic Sucks

The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is in full Corporal Jones mode today as readers are toldThe great vacuum cleaner stampede: Panic buying hits shops as deadline looms for Brussels ban on high-powered machines”. Yes, the Daily Mail can congratulate itself for precipitating a needless panic among its readers, although manufacturers and retailers will be more than happy.
False panic: the Mail today

While the Mail fraudulently tells “Brussels diktat will prohibit companies from manufacturing or importing vacuum cleaners that are above 1,600 watts”, we already know that the new regulations are anything but a diktat, as the UK voted for them. And the Dacre doggies once again mistake motor power as the sole criterion of effectiveness. A short history lesson is in order.

Twenty years ago, vacuum cleaners, no matter how powerful their motors, were almost universally crap. Sure, when you replaced the bag, they sucked up dust for a few trips round the house, but then the bag got coated with particles that clogged it up, and you ended up going through bags at a ridiculous rate, just to get the thing to work as advertised. And then James Dyson arrived.

I can still remember getting back from Argos with my Dyson DC02 – yes, it’s old enough to have been manufactured in the UK – and marvelling not only at the consistent suction, exactly as it said on the box, but also at the sheer power of the thing. If you hadn’t detected a loose thread in a carpet, you soon found out as the Dyson pulled at it. The suction power was phenomenal.
Game changer: the Dyson DC02

Yet Dyson have never sold a vacuum cleaner that would be banned under the new EU standards. Have a think about that. The new maximum is 1600 watts, yet Dyson, the manufacturer that single-handedly dragged vacuum cleaner technology kicking and screaming into the 21st Century – look at how many of today’s machines look like 1990s Dysons – never needed more than 1600 watts.

In fact, Dyson are already using smaller motors for their current range, with full size uprights having 1400 watt motors, and cylinder models 1300 watts. All that those 2000 watt plus gizmos do is increase your electricity bill. So why should anyone buy one? Ah well. The Mail is doing the industry one big favour in whipping up a false panic: this enables them to clear out old stock.

Vacuum cleaner manufacturers have known for some time that the new standards would come in from next month. Thus they all have new – and more efficient – models ready to hit the stores next week. The last thing they, and retailers like Argos, want is to be saddled with lots of unsold, overpowered and unwanted machines. The Mail’s panic has made the undesirable briefly desirable.

Yes, Mail readers, your paper has had you for mugs. No change there, then.

Toby Young’s Book Gets Panned

The loathsome Toby Young has co-authored a book. It is called “What Every Parent Needs To Know”, and subtitled “How To Help Your Child Get The Most Out Of Primary School”. Tobes has proclaimed this to be a work of the greatest significance, and is promoting it with his customary shamelessness. Meanwhile, in the real world, his latest effort has been given the thumbs-down.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Tobes is a Proper Journalist (allegedly), and also a parent and co-founder of the West London Free School. This undoubtedly enabled him to persuade publishers to accept his new meisterwerk. He has attempted, in a Spectator column, for which he did not provide a link, to compare the book to Michael Rosen’s Good Ideas. He may think Rosen will be flattered; I suspect he will be horrified.

The idea is to provide some insights for parents into the new National Curriculum, among all the other advice. But, as Zoe Williams has discovered in her review for the Guardian, “The central point is that the national curriculum has changed ... Unfortunately, for the authors and, of course, us, nobody really knows what the new one will look like”. Looks like it was hardly worth Tobes’ while, then.
She explains “A primary school teacher friend of mine described it all a bit more bluntly – with the last lot, they had a huge number of targets and rules and stupid testing, but at least those rules were written down and anyone could consult them. Now, they are just as rulebound, without the rules; it creates, in the kindest possible reading, the tyranny of guesswork”. For Tobes, this is A Very Good Thing.

Others less kindly disposed towards the supposedly wonderful world of Michael “Oiky” Gove might suggest that this is a total waste of resources. And Nicholas Tucker at the Indy is not wholly convinced by Tobes’ tome, warning prospective readers that “there are almost too many good ideas here, plus some truly wacky ones hardly worth the time and effort”.
Like, er, what? “‘Electrifying your daughter's doll's house’ to provide a greater understanding of science? Not allowing ‘your child to see you using the percentage button on your calculator’ as an incentive for working out percentages for themselves?” Bloody hell, does Tobes need to use a calculator? Tucker also warns against “turning home into an active extension of school”.

Ms Williams dismissively notes “A huge amount of this is no more or less than you get in photocopied handouts from the primary schools themselves: I'm sure it's possible that my kids' school is the only one that imparts this stuff – cooking with children is a good way to introduce them to numbers and food, going to galleries a good way to introduce them to art – but I think it really unlikely”.

File this one under Another Desperate Status Generating Wheeze, then.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Threat Level – Severe My Arse

Most of the time, ministerial announcements do not raise the average citizen’s interest level one jot. Sometimes those announcements gain a flicker of recognition because they might affect you. And then there are the occasions when the Prime Minister stands there and says something that sets the bullshit detector howling long and loud. Young Dave just did one of those.
No Dave, that's a mic, not a frigging missile

So what has Cameron announced? Well, “new laws will be introduced to remove extremists' passports” [not sure he can do that] , and there are “fears over UK jihadis returning from Iraq and Syria”. But his own Home Secretary saysthere's no evidence to suggest that an attack is imminent”. Dave seems not to care about what Theresa May thinks: “A terror attack on the UK is now 'highly likely'”.

And what is Cameron’s assessment of the scale of this threat? It is, get this, a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before”. Really? Greater, perhaps, than the Spanish Armada? More significant than the Dutch venturing up the Medway and trashing a number of our ships and forts? More deadly than the Kaiser and his gang sending Zeppelins to chuck bombs out over London?

Does the Prime Minister think that ISIS, or whatever they want to be called this week, is a more severe threat than the Third Reich, which sent us the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, V-1s, V-2s, a submarine threat that came close to cutting off the nation’s food supplies, together with the side order of total war in Europe, north Africa, and much of the rest of the world?

Perhaps Cameron thinks that a bunch of hotheads with shoulder launch missiles and pick-up trucks is a more potent threat than Soviet Russia’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, which were estimated to be capable of vapourising much of the country at less than five minutes’ notice? Does he think, maybe, that the self-proclaimed Caliphate could inflict more damage than last winter’s storms?

What Young Dave has said there is a great big steaming pile of fresh and highly pungent weapons grade bullpucky. We’ve already got every sodding airport in the UK in a state of lockdown, ports likewise, and armed Police can even be seen patrolling around central London and major rail stations across the country. This is just a cheap attempt to make the Government look half competent.

ISIS, as Sunny Hundal has pointed out, has shown no sign of being even remotely interested in exporting its particular brand of terror. It wants to establish a Caliphate in the Middle East, which, the last time I looked, was no nearer to the UK than before the threat level got raised. This is just a cheap attempt by Cameron to get himself onto tomorrow’s front pages – and Douglas Carswell off them.

Hello Dave. Stop treating us like paranoid children and do some proper governing.

Clacton – Possibly Bad Road Trip

Tory Shock As MP Joins UKIPscreamed the Daily Express this morning, adding “Defection on day official migrant numbers soar”. The paper known as the Daily UKIP may be a joke across most of the country, but its ageing demographic and aggressive stance in favour of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers could be highly significant in Clacton.
That’s because Clacton, along with other reliably genteel seaside conurbations such as Frinton and Walton, are home to large numbers of retirees, the kind of people who not only pay good money for the Express, but read the paper and possibly even believe it. And Clacton is where the by-election, triggered by Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell’s resignation from the Tory Party, will happen very soon.
And this presents a problem for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps: while Cameron told BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson yesterday that Carswell’s ship-jumping was “counter-productive, he will have been livid that his party’s unity has been endangered – once more, over the issue of Europe, that did for Mrs T and hobbled “Shagger” Major. Moreover, the Tories now need another candidate.
There was nobody “nursing” the Clacton constituency: Carswell was expected to stand for the Tories next May. Then the local party has to be considered: many of them might jump ship along with Mr Kamikaze. Here, party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps is able to call on Mark Clarke and the Road Trip 2015 organisation, which has already been gearing up for the campaign.

The Road Trip 2015 Clacton Volunteer Force (which title sounds ominously like something paramilitary from the years of Northern Ireland’s troubles) has a Facebook page with more than 1,300 members. Sounds impressive. But what Shapps and Clarke have to bear in mind is that Clacton’s retirees may not take kindly to all those bright eyed and bushy tailed youngsters.
UKIP, on the other hand, has three factors working to its advantage (in addition to the advocacy of the Express): Carswell was a popular MP, the party can call on activists of A Certain Age who will be able to talk, reminisce, and complain about the modern world with all those retirees, before ushering them towards the voting booth – and then there are the European Parliament election results.

As Nick Sutton has noted, returns from the Tendring Council area, which covers the Clacton constituency, showed UKIP polling 48% of the popular vote, with the Tories way back at 25%. Farage and his fringe need to keep hold of as much of that as they can. The Tories may have a mountain to climb in one of the flattest and most featureless parts of the country. And they may not win anything with kids.

Meanwhile, everyone else can get the popcorn in and enjoy the spectacle.

Uber – What Did I Tell You?

Just three days ago, I noted that “Uber gets into price wars; it therefore lowers prices. Driver earnings take the hit”. This was clearly anathema to all those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants out there on the right, notably ConHome’s Mark Wallace, who had adamantly told that ““[Uber] Drivers work for themselves under better conditions with a better income”.
It does not require a qualification in rocket science to deduce that Wallace and I cannot both be right. So who called this one correctly? Ah well. Sadly for ConHome’s credibility, it was not Wallace: almost as soon as I had posted those earlier observations, Uber’s London operation decided to cut the price on its UberX offering, which means basic cars like the Toyota Prius and VW Passat.
London commuters face fare decrease. Starting tomorrow!” told the Uber London Twitter feed. The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines was in no doubt as to what this meant: “Free markets work. [Uber] just cut taxi fares by 15%. 2 sharing is cheaper than Tube! Get £10 off first ride!” Uber ain’t a taxi, and the aspect of that free market in action here was seemingly lost on Staines.
One critic knew exactly what was happening: “The race to the bottom”. What that 15% cut means is that, at existing fare levels, there was insufficient demand to meet supply, and so the price is being reduced in order to (theoretically) clear the market. All those right-wing think tanks would no doubt approve. But the 15% reduction was also a unilateral imposition of a similarly-sized pay cut on drivers.
Matt The List was unaware of this: “[Uber] was so cheap in [the] USA. So hooray ... 15% cheaper in London from Friday!” Car purchase or leasing, insurance, congestion charge, fuel and maintenance, and living costs for drivers remain constant. Yet their earnings are cut at a stroke by 15%. Hooray indeed.
Yes, as Knowledge Boy pointed out, that 15% decrease in fares meant “Uber X drivers face 15% pay cut”. Invariably self-employed, and with no union or trade association to fight for them, Uber’s London drivers are screwed. It is exactly as happened in the USA. In the new sharing economy, those with all the money still wield all the clout: nothing changes.
Yet the likes of Jamie Rigg just don’t get it: “I doubt London’s black cabbies are thrilled about Uber cutting prices in the capital by 15%”. If the two bods in that photo are Uber drivers, they might not be smiling quite so broadly now. Meanwhile, black cab drivers can sit back, smile and respond “I told you so”.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick thinks his main competitor is an “asshole”, and cares little about his own drivers. But he is a billionaire. And how d’you think he gained that worth? Have a think about it.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Don’t Menshn Douglas Carswell

The torrent of idiocy coming out of that reassuringly expensive Manhattan apartment never ceases to amaze: first, there was an article in the Daily Beast which was riddled with untrue statements, and then a tirade against Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, from Louise Mensch, who was caught lying about Piers Morgan, and then ran out on her party and her constituents.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Mensch asserts in her piece for the Beast that Labour established Sharia tribunals (untrue), funds Sharia scholars (untrue), that the Law Society “issued guidance as to how best to disinherit women” (untrue), and that the Human Rights Act is an “invidious, broadly drawn law that a liberal judiciary uses to overturn deportation orders” (untrue). Why the Beast failed to fact check it is unclear.
And then came the hypocritical attack on Carswell: “Douglas Carswell was always a bit of a slimeball. He organised referendums against Conservative MPs”. That can’t unseat them. But she felt suitably important about her role: “I remember telling him what a dick he was to his face in No 10 at a PM’s reception he didn’t hesitate to slime to”. Says someone else who slimed their way in.
Anyway, Doug’s going to lose: “Carswell will do every bit as well as Roger Helmer did in Newark”. Helmer had not been the sitting Tory MP. Have another go: “What a self-indulgent, toys out of pram, whiny Labour-supporting tosser Carswell is”. Says the whiny one who gifted her seat to Labour when she ran off two years ago.
Like that thought would stop her: “Hope people of Clacton remember how long and hard Carswell tried to help Labour in Tory marginal Thurrock”. Was she all right? “Note to self make sure you’re on message for GE15 – Vote Conservative”. Every day, and in every way, she’s getting better and better. Or maybe not.
There was time to spit on the hand of friendship, offered by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines: “I don’t drink, I don’t gamble and I don’t stuff my face”. Has she discovered perpetual motion, then? Whatever, she says Bozza should stand: “If he doesn’t put himself forward when needed, MPs and party activists will have contempt”. Not as much contempt as someone who forgot he’s applied elsewhere.
Oh look, real fantasy: “In order to exit the EU, we need David Cameron to be Prime Minister in 2017”. As if Young Dave would ever do the deed. Then there’s time for one last irony-free snark: “Listen to Douglas Carswell admit rebelling is childish, he regrets helping Labour”. If only one former Tory MP had been prepared to regret helping Labour – like gifting Andy Sawford over 48% of the vote in Corby.

Douglas Carswell may be accused of many things. But treating membership of the House of Commons as a career interregnum prior to piling off to the States is not one of them. Louise Mensch is right now standing in a very draughty glasshouse.

Douglas Carswell – Beyond Barking

This morning, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage informed everyone at the bar that he had a major announcement to make at 1100 hours sharp. What significant news did UKIP’s Oberscheissenfuehrer have to impart to an all too easily led press pack? Would he be giving up the smokes or going on the wagon, perhaps? Ah, but that would be an earth-shattering action too far. No, UKIP now had an MP. Perhaps.
It's the way he tells them

If one Tory MP could be said to fit the description unkindly bestowed by Bernard Ingham on John Biffen so many years ago – that he was “semi-detached” – it is Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, who represents the unfortunate voters of Clacton. Young Dave and his fellow jolly good chaps would have been more than happy to see him go – except that he is going to resign, and force a by-election.

Carswell will then stand as a UKIP candidate. Mil The Younger must be thinking that all his birthdays have come at once: UKIP and the Tories are about to engage in their own little local bloodbath, the issue of Europe has returned with a vengeance to bite Cameron, and Labour – plus the Lib Dems – need only get the popcorn in and watch what is bound to be a particularly nasty scrap.

Those who study past election results will have noticed that UKIP did not field a candidate in Clacton last time round. This meant the Tories had little problem racking up 53% of the popular vote – partly because UKIP gave Carswell their endorsement.. The constituency is popular with retirees: not for nothing did comedians once talk of “Harwich for the continent ... Frinton for the incontinent”.

Carswell and Farage will be hoping that many of those retirees – who also feature strongly in Walton (but only on the better side of the level crossing, don’t y’know) – take the Daily Express, aka Daily UKIP, of a morning. In this way, they will hope to prise enough lifelong Tory voters away from their natural home and into the realm of saloon bar propper-uppers populated by Mr Thirsty and his friends.

How will Cameron and his pal Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, react? The Tories can’t just let the constituency go without a scrap, not after all the crap they threw at Pa Broon after the Election That Never Was. They are the incumbent party, they have to win the by-election – or suffer humiliation as a result. And there could be worse to come.

CCHQ will be desperately scouring the ranks for another Europhobe, while hoping that the two other MPs that were endorsed by UKIP in 2010 – Philip Davies in Shipley, and Philip Hollobone in Kettering, do not follow Carswell, who is full value for his “Kamikaze” nickname. The Tories have no happier outcome on the horizon than hanging on to Clacton and heading off a worse split.

How’s that overall majority next year looking? The EU issue gets them every time.

Rotherham – Telegraph Pundits Go All Wrong

Now that the report into historic Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham has been published and disseminated, the ranks of pundits have suddenly and miraculously become highly knowledgeable on all matters relating to social services, policing, grooming, and whatever else it needs to generate lots of clicks for Themselves Personally Now.
Nowhere is this more prominently on view than at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, where the unholy trinity of Tim Stanley, Dan Hodges, and Dan, Dan The Oratory Man has persuaded itself that, unlike all those useless social workers and rubbish cops, they have all the answers, and that we all need to talk about it. Except that, in one very obvious way, we cannot.

Hodges goes first: “we cannot ignore that race played a part in these crimes” he asserts, going on to tell “The abuse experienced by the children of Rotherham is beyond belief ... But one equally vicious aspect of the assaults on these children is identified in a less explicit way. And that is the manner in which the vast majority of the Rotherham victims were also racially abused”.

Yes, they weren’t allowed to talk about race, but it was about race. Really? Not really: many of the victims were girls from Pakistani heritage families. Those who abused them weren’t discriminating racially: this was more about misogyny, control, and exploitation. And that means Stanley and Hannan, who both take their cue from Hodges, have a distinctly shaky foundation to their efforts.

The former homes in on social services: “The social services system is in need of overhaul, but there is also a moral question to be asked here. While some of the systemic problems in Rotherham can be blamed on underfunding and understaffing, or put down to political correctness gone mad, the reality is that individuals either failed to see or chose to ignore evidence of abuse”.

It wasn’t political correctness, as I pointed out yesterday, and social workers reported everything back up the chain. Did Stanley read the report? Whatever. Reading the report is something Hannan does not need to do in order to make his pre-determined conclusion, which he delivers in typically sniffy fashion.

If you take a group of people, not all of them terribly bright, and encourage them to be more concerned with following procedure than with doing the right thing ... you will end up with much injustice and an occasional atrocity”. Yes, Dan says that they were all too thick to understand – not like clever Himself.

But, unlike their dubiously talented array of pundits, Telegraph blogs cannot trust those who float around the comments sewer to have their say. “Comments are closed” on all three posts. They aren’t allowed to talk about race, either.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Uber – Now The Dirty Tricks

In the debate over the arrival of driver and rider matching company Uber into London, all those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants who favour the new kid on the block over the capital’s black cabs cite one supposed fact about Uber time and again: it is bringing competition to the streets. They favour free markets, and this is free market competition in action.
To which I say fine – so, if we’re talking about competition, and choice, there should be no problem with Uber having its own competition – other, similar services that match riders with drivers by means of a smartphone app. And, hey, there are other services like that in the USA already. So we can see how Uber deals with that free market competition, from the likes of Lyft and Gett.

Perhaps the likes of Mark Wallace, Christian “Mr Soundbite” May, Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam, and the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, who are all eager to tell the world that Uber is A Very Wonderful Thing, would like to endorse Uber’s response to Lyft and Gett. Or, given that the response includes playing particularly dirty, perhaps they will pretend it’s not happening. But it is, and could happen here.

Uber behaves aggressively not just towards regulators and established taxi operations, but also to competition in its own back yard. As The Verge reported, “Earlier this month, CNN reported that Uber employees around the country ordered and then canceled 5,560 Lyft rides, according to an analysis by Lyft (Lyft arrived at this figure by cross-referencing the phone numbers of users who tried to recruit Lyft drivers to Uber with users who had previously canceled rides)”.

There was more: “Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets”.

Gett gets the same treatment: “Uber considers Gett a threat: over the past few weeks, Uber employees have been posing as pedestrians, creating Gett accounts for the sole purpose of scheduling and then canceling Gett rides. The result is clear: wasted time for Gett drivers, fewer available rides for Gett users, and general disarray for the whole service. And it's coming from the top brass at Uber NYC”.

And what happened after all those cancellations? “After these rides had been canceled, Uber texted the affected drivers in an attempt to recruit them—and after all the frustration they'd had with Gett, it'd seem like a sweet offer”. Lobbyists recruited to bend the rules in their favour, a queue of useful right-wing idiots to cheer for them, and dirty tricks to keep competition out of that supposedly free marketplace.

Would those Uber supporters endorse these tactics? Don’t all shout at once, guys.

Don’t Menshn Rotherham

The Child Sex Exploitation scandal in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham has been attributed to many things, but a religious motivation is not one of them – unless you are a former Tory MP and attention seeker with a column in the Sunday edition of the Sun. Yes, unbelievable as it may seem, Louise Mensch has decided that what happened in Rotherham is not what has been reported.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Without doing any research – so the same as usual, then – Ms Mensch has decided that, behind the report published yesterday are the machinations of Scary Muslims. Moreover, these are not just Muslims, they are Extremist Muslims. And they have been perpetrating not just crimes, but Hate Crimes. You think I jest? Cast your eyes over this lot, then. It’s down to the usual standard.
For starters, the headlines are wrong! “This headline. It should read ‘Muslim Extremist Sex Abusers’”, she tells. And why should this be? “It is not right to gloss over the hate crime element of the paedophila [sic], which was racist and religious hatred against non-Muslims”. Yeah, what does that report author know, eh?
She goes on (predictably): “Nor is it right to say ‘Asian’ and leave out the word ‘Muslim’ there is no Hnidu [sic], no Sikh abuse here. There’s religious hatred Paedohilia [sic]”. And, just to make sure you get her drift: “ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED children raped by extremist Muslims in Rotherford [sic] in a hate crime, a religious hate crime”. And there is some advice for the authorities.
Rotherham Council did NOTHING. My God. You should ALL go to jail you pandering bastards. Children doused in petrol”. The cops don’t escape her all-seeing eye, either: “Our own Police did this to these children. By not helping them. Senior Police officers. Councillors. Name every one of them”.
As if a witch-hunt will help. But no-one should diss Ms M: “Stop saying ‘political pointscoring’ when a religious hate crime based on children being non-Muslim has been committed ... instead of crying Islamophobia [nobody has] accept that, yes, Muslim men committed religious hate crime against non-Muslim children, look to that cancer”. Guess what will be in her next Sun column?
Just in case you didn’t get the “Muslim” angle, there was more: “It is not one-off. It is not one city [Rotherham isn’t a city]. It is not multi-religious [it ain’t religious at all]. It is vast majority Muslim male child abuse against non-Muslim children ... This was Rotherham. Don’t forget Rochdale [that isn’t a city, either]. Judge found religion was a hate crime factor here [not true], non-Muslim victims [not all of them]”.

Remember folks, someone let her into Oxford University. And someone else allowed her to become a Tory MP. Now, someone has given her a column in the Sunday Sun. Never assume our ruling classes know more than jack shit about anything.