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Monday, 4 May 2015

Russell Brand - What Did I Tell You?

After Young Dave snootily dismissed Russell Brand as “a joke”, after hearing that Mil The Younger had called on the comedian and campaigner for a chat, right-leaning papers and pundits echoed him enthusiastically. This blog observed that, after all the righteous ridicule, “If Russell Brand needed any encouragement to endorse Miliband, this would be it”. And so it came to pass today.
Brand has released another video on his YouTube channel The Trews, which performs two functions: one, there was some footage of his meeting with Miliband which was not included in last week’s video, and two, he then summarises his impression of the parties and gives subscribers his conclusion. And the bad news for the Tories is that, in England at least, Brand has endorsed Miliband - and eviscerated Cameron.

Here’s what he said: “What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party. David Cameron might think I’m a joke but I don’t think there’s anything funny about what the Conservative party have been doing to this country and we have to stop them”. So he’s not suggesting a vote for the Tories, then.

And this was his recommendation: “My view is this: If you're Scottish you don't need an English person telling you what to do, you know what to do. If you live in Brighton, I think it would be a travesty if we lost the voice of Caroline Lucas in Westminster out of government in this country. But anywhere else? You've gotta vote Labour, you've got to get the Conservative party out of this country”.

Note that he does not endorse the SNP - he wisely admits that there is a different political dynamic right now in Scotland, and credits Scots with the ability to make their own minds up. The significant part is that someone with almost ten million Twitter followers, and a YouTube channel with almost 1.1 million subscribers, has endorsed Miliband as a potential Prime Minister. So the spin has had to be deployed.

It was too late to register to vote! He’d told them not to vote, so they wouldn’t have registered! He endorsed the SNP (he didn’t)! Brand was still a joke! Who cares - Brand’s a [characterisation omitted]! Do you really want to be like him? It’s not really happened! I shall write to the Times about this!! And it’s all so much lame drivel. Brand’s appeal to those who don’t feel inclined to engage with the political process matters.

As Owen Jones has pointed out - and, by doing so, irked right-wingers yet more - “Russell Brand matters … his endorsement of Labour in England and Wales will worry them. More people have registered to vote than ever before: between the middle of March and the deadline to register, nearly 2.3 million registered, over 700,000 of them 24 years old or younger”. That is why the counter spin is coming: this frightens the right-wing.

And if Russell Brand is such a joke, why devote so much energy to demonising him?

Daily Mail Promotes Labour

Some papers have still not declared their political allegiance, despite there being only three days before polls open. But we know that the Telegraph, and Murdoch Times, are going to declare for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps, and that, one might expect, would include the Daily Mail. After all, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre detests Mil The Younger, if only for standing up to his bullying.
Who f***ing says the joke's on me, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, this has not prevented the Mail from giving Labour more free publicity than the party could have dreamed of, and, it appears, more than willingly. The reason for this is the appearance yesterday of the party’s “Pledge Stone”, swiftly dubbed the “Ed Stone”, which had its six pledges carved into it. Dacre and his obedient attack doggies were swift to express their derision.

Miliband's Moses moment is ridiculed on a biblical scale: Internet memes mock Labour leader's grandiose plan for stone commandments monument in No10 gardendeclared the headline triumphantly, also letting readers know that the Mail was trawling the Web for cheap copy. But do go on: “Twitter users have posted hundreds of pictures mocking the bizarre move … People have posted pictures of Mr Miliband and the slab”.

The penny isn’t dropping, is it? People are posting pictures and talking about Labour’s priorities, how the Party proposes to address the concerns of voters. Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, did not allow this thought to enter, as readers were toldEven by the standards of a politician who cannot eat a bacon sandwich and falls off the stage during a live election debate, yesterday was beyond satire”.

And there was more: “How else is there to describe the scene of Ed Miliband standing in a field and unveiling an 8ft slab of limestone – chiselled with Labour’s manifesto promises – that he intends to install in the Downing Street garden?” How indeed. Go on: “What is most preposterous is the idea that it will be Red Ed who will decide the direction of the country if, after Thursday’s election, he limps into office propped up by the SNP”.

Ah, the suggestion that part of the UK doesn’t count. But one of Dacre’s retinue of loyal grovellers had his doubts: the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) mused “Hastings – lucky Hastings – was the venue chosen for Ed Miliband’s descent into lunacy … Or was it satirical brilliance? His latest move was so peculiar, so off the graph in self-parody, doubt nibbles me like minnows a bather’s feet”. The penny was starting to drop.

Indeed, as Carl Dinnen at ITV News told, “My, how everyone laughed when we heard about Labour's Pledge Stone. My, how clever it looks now … The stone was made to be easily parodied … what do punters do when they've looked at all the parodies? They take a quick look at what the original image was. Message delivered, thank you very much”. Paul Dacre has just ordered his staff to give Labour pages of free publicity.

And, what’s best, he doesn’t realise what he’s doing. What a total and utter numpty.

Sun Pundit Harasses Teenage Girl

Just when you thought the Sun could go no lower … along comes a Sun pundit to do just that. After it was revealed by an “A” Level student called Abby, who is the custodian of the #milifandom movement, that the Super Soaraway Currant Bun had turned up not just on her doorstep, but also that of her Grandma, although their locations had not been revealed, the paper became the subject of severely adverse criticism.
Meanwhile, over in a reassuringly expensive part of Manhattan, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch had got hold of the wrong end of this particular stick and was busily beating about the bush with it. Ms Mensch is beating around that bush so hard that she has decided, rather than leaving well alone, that she is entitled to go after Abby and subject her to yet more harassment, this time of the online variety.
You think I jest? After Abby had Tweeted “I did have the Sunday Mirror knocking on my door as well - but this was several days after milifandom after my location was revealed”, off went the Sun pundit. After Peter Jukes suggested she leave Abby alone, the reply was defiant and threatening: “I read her TL and that is where I discovered that a) she'd tweeted about me hence all ppl mentioning her to me (I don't care)”.
And what did that mean? “Storified that stuff. blog later. Most interesting, finding a different girl actually started milifandom, didn't get the credit”. So that looks like a deliberate attempt to destroy Abby’s credibility, especially when Ms Mensch also told “lots and lots of claimed harassment and threats when there were none. Emperor has no clothes. Phone number tweeted. etc. Night all”. And she doesn’t care.
There were many attempts to get her to see sense, Chris Dobson’s being typical: “Jeez get a life and stop picking on teenagers. Typical Tory - pick on the poor, pick on the young”.  But Louise was not for listening - or researching: “Ever less impressive, the timeline of Milifandom campaigner reveals Sunday Mirror also knocked on her door. Wouldn't know it”. After the location became known. Is this concept difficult to understand?
The idea of leaving 17 year olds alone while they’re preparing for “A” Levels seems to be: “Finally bothered to read her TL and yep, it's chock full of all the hypocrisy we've come to expect from Labour. Bore off … turns out she had her door knocked on by the Sunday Mirror. No ‘bully’ tweets for that”. Yes, it’s a difficult concept to understand.
And, as the man said, there’s more: “in fact it's a perfect mirror of Ed's silence on Mirror hacking. Labour hypocrisy all the way … I have absolutely no, zero, respect for her double standards between Mirror and News Corp journalists; typical #Labour”. There you have it: a Murdoch pundit about to go in with both feet on a 17 year old girl, for supporting Labour.

Of course, the likes of Stig Abell, and Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton, could simply instruct Ms Mensch to desist. The fact that they have thus far failed to do so tells you all you need to know about the Murdoch press. They are truly an absolute shower.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Don’t Menshn Milifandom

As most of Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun keep their heads down after the disgraceful behaviour of their colleagues in doorstepping a 17 year old “A” Level student - and her Grandma - for having the audacity to set up #milifandom, one might have thought that anyone else would get the hint and leave the subject alone. But that reckoned without (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Mensch had already stuck her bugle into this one, when she tried to stand up the idea that the Labour Party was somehow behind #milifandom because it offered to handle enquiries while Abby, the teenager involved, was revising for her exams. Note that it was assumed, rather than ascertained, that #milifandom was a Labour Party stunt. You think I jest? It’s all there on the Mensch Twitter feed.
After Laura Marcus had pointed out that a teenager might be justified in responding to what they perceived as bullying - the press attacks on Miliband - back shot Ms Mensch: “let her or Labour speak on the record b/c  their involvement stinks” [yes, they are involved, even if she didn’t bother to find out] … “I am NOT smearing her. I am asking a QUESTION prompted by Labour press getting involved”.
And still she hadn’t asked why Labour press was fielding enquiries. To be fair to Ms Mensch, she did eventually back off after belatedly realising that it wasn’t a Labour stunt, but then came this weekend’s doorstepping news. This was, as Ms Mensch immediately asserted, not the Sun’s fault: “no it isn't. She's not a child”. This was followed by an attempt to get Laura Marcus, once again her questioner, to “look over there”.
So why was the Sun in the right? You’ll love this: “she is no child; legally can wed and serve in the army. Perfectly fine … she's a student asking for press and complaining when she gets it. Disgraceful. Not a child at 17. Can marry, serve army”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the army justification is irrelevant - nobody under 18 is permitted to serve in a combat role, which many would understand as “serve”.
And two, she has not, repeat not, REPEAT NOT, “asked for press”. This does not trouble Ms Mensch: “I draw the same line the law does; under and over 16. She's 17 *and aiming for press cover*”. Setting up what is effectively a fan club does not “ask” or “aim” for press cover. It is blindingly obvious from Abby’s reaction to the intrusion on her family and her Gran that the press attention was neither solicited, nor wanted.
Nor was it expected. And, as for her standing up to the Murdoch bullying, Ms Mensch claims that “'Stands up to' = ‘is courting coverage from’”, to which I call bullshit. Standing up to bullies is not asking for anything. It is someone defending herself. Louise Mensch is another who pretends to be a “journalist”, but it’s clear that “Tory and Murdoch apologist” would be rather more apposite. This is lame excuse-note generation of the worst kind.

Meanwhile, the Murdoch press sinks further in public estimation. No surprise there, then.

Miliband - Stone Cold Antisemitism

While some in the media concentrate on the issues - well, a few people have to - rather a lot of the hacks and pundits are scouring the by-product from the 24-hour rolling news Speculatron. And the latest discovery is that Mil The Younger has apparently declared that he is going to have Labour’s six election pledges literally set in stone, so that if elected, the stone will be placed somewhere it can be seen by him every day.
Press still frightened witless of this man

This has generated much derision among the cheap media seats, but then, so did the “Woman to Woman” campaign and its “Pink minibus”. Miliband’s visit to talk to Russell Brand was also slammed. Neither has harmed his poll ratings, despite the column inches devoted to slagging him off. Someone in the Labour Party has discovered that, in this contest, no publicity is bad publicity.

The “Pledge Stone” is also generating much of the kind of reaction which reflects more on the shortcomings of those reacting than on Miliband. And someone out there has either not bothered to engage brain before sneering, or has just cast discretion to the wind and decided that they don’t have to bother about comparing a Jewish politician to Moses, who, being a figure from the Old Testament, was, er, Jewish.
The Mail ... just engaging in a little light banter

Veering across the antisemitism line has been something that part of the Fourth Estate has been unable to resist when it comes to their desire to demonise Miliband. We had the Mail telling “We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons”. Then there was Simon Carr, who writes Parliamentary “sketches” for the Guido Fawkes blog.

Carr was unabashed as he told that Miliband “dances at the despatch box like a spastic marionette … his convulsive string master taking another swig of the meths” (1930s Nazi stereotypes revisited, much?). On another occasion he talked of the opposition leader as “other-worldly” and “crucifixion material”. The path of some trying to take the piss over the “Pledge Stone” has gone there too.
The Telegraph ... just having a bit of fun

The Mail has pictured Miliband with a substantial beard, not that they’re trying to suggest anything particularly Jewish, you understand, as well as trowelling on the “Moses” parallel, because, er, they can. The Telegraph uses a photoshopped image which has Miliband’s head on a character holding the stone tablets. So that’s Mount Sinai and another Jewish biblical reference, although of course it’s only a bit of fun.

Meanwhile, the six pledges made by the Labour leadership have been given more free publicity than even the most optimistic party spinner could have dreamed of. And that free publicity is being awarded to Labour by papers that have either declared for the Tories, or who will declare for them before Thursday. Thus the idiocy of the right-wing press - giving Miliband both free publicity, and another stick to beat them with.

The finest minds of Fleet Street - and they can’t even organise a smear properly.

Sun Harasses Teenage Girl

The press has always proved touchy when it comes to explaining their dependance on “The Dark Arts”, especially in the wake of the phone hacking business, but nobody seriously pretends that practices such as blagging targets’ personal details, and getting information from sources that should be confidential - like Police records, the NHS, banks, and the like - does not still go on. Especially at the Murdoch Sun.
A young woman called Abby - we do not need to know any more about her - started the #milifandom campaign recently, partly in response to hostile and slanted coverage given to the Labour leader. At the age of 17, she is too young to appear on the electoral roll, yet the Super Soaraway Currant Bun got hold of her address, and that of her grandmother, and proceeded to doorstep them both. Think about that.
Abby at first questioned why the Sun would do such a thing: “I understand why the Sun wanted to interview me but  … A) I said on here I wasn't giving interviews, very clearly  … B) why my nan?” Why indeed. And it was interesting to see some quite aggressive questioning of her, especially that the Mirror had also called. However: “But Mirror did knock after part of my location had been revealed. Sun after I said nothing”.
This did not stop the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - Sun columnists, remember - to dishonestly tell “All those tweeting how terrible it is that @TheSunNewspaper sent journalists round to the #milifandom founder, so did the @theSundayMirror”. This had no effect: “I am a 17 year old girl and I'm less scared to stand up to Murdoch than David Cameron, a 48 year old man who is PM”.
Yes, an “A” Level student shows more bottle than Young Dave: “It's nice joining the 'Rupert Murdoch doesn't like me' club. We know we've done something right @Ed_Miliband … I have had enough of Murdoch and his sympathisers, disgraceful that one of them is actually in charge of the country”. Wasn’t such a good idea to doorstep her, eh Rupe?
The aggressive questioners, invariably from the right, and trying to play the “Look over there at the Mirror” game, didn’t fare any better, as Abby confirmed “Mirror sent after I revealed my location. Sun way way before … Apparently they got my address from the electoral roll. Which is funny, because I can't vote and am not on it”.
And she’s got some questions the Sun will need to answer: “Also: if they were only interested in politely asking my questions, why knock on my grandma? What does she have to do with it?” Those hacks will also have to explain how they lost the Tories a voter: “Another thing, my dad actually only found out about #milifandom because of reporters, sent me this text”. He used to vote Tory. He won’t be doing that next Thursday.

Abby has good grounds to take the Sun to IPSO, and it will be interesting to see how they excuse this latest slice of bad press behaviour. It’s a troubling world where a 17 year old girl expresses a favourable opinion of a politician and gets harassed for it.

Top Six - May 3

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 Boris Shuns His Own Voters London’s increasingly occasional Mayor bothered to turn up to only one of three hustings events in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, where he is the Tory candidate. And the one where he did turn up had no debate between the hopefuls, plus they got to see the questions first.
5 Flannelled Fool Spin Stupidity During Thursday evening’s Question Time special, the odious Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, told that Young Dave had “thumped” Mil The Younger. But he had misread the graph. Then he showed he did not understand what “X-axis” meant. Another fine mess.
4 Miliband - Not Reading Before Writing After Mil The Younger had dropped by to have a chat with Russell Brand, the increasingly desperate and piss-poor SunNation site turned to Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, to write a hatchet job. But Wickham had clearly not watched the video before condemning it. Another fine mess, once again.
3 Mail Hits The Panic Button The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre was so taxed by their inability to move the polls in the direction of their favoured party - the Tories - that they dug up an attack line from two years ago. And kicked him for talking to Russell Brand, just to be on the safe side.
2 Toby Young Is Two Years Late The loathsome Tobes will see his West London Free School moved into its new home - at least two years later than planned. And the move may have to be into Portakabins at first. Plus, don’t forget, we’re paying.
1 Telegraph Letter Unravels The letter from 5,000 small businesses in support of Young Dave and his jolly good chaps was exposed as being authored by CCHQ. Then some of the signatories were found to only work at the organisations cited, rather than running them. Some demanded their names be withdrawn. More quality journalism, eh?
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Rupa Huq Assault Approved By Tories

London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson went on a walkabout yesterday in the western suburb of Acton, where he was supporting local candidate Angie Bray. Ms Bray is coming under some pressure from a spirited Labour campaign led by challenger Rupa Huq, who intercepted Bozza during his further attempt to meet his less than adoring public. Cameras were in attendance.
Caught on camera, chaps? Yikes readers!

That is important, as the disgraceful scenes that followed were swiftly broadcast across a variety of platforms: Ms Huq confronted Bozza, who later claimed not to know who she was (yes, he went to support Angie Bray but someone didn’t mug up on her closest challenger). The Labour candidate was then manhandled by one of the Tory team before having a bunch of leaflets shoved in her face by another.
Caught on camera indeed, Bozza

While Bozza was doing his customary “yikes readers” and “oo-er chaps”, Laurence at Political Scrapbook had identified the bloke doing the manhandling as Karim Sacoor, and the leaflet-waver as a Tory Councillor, Seema Kumar. What was also revealed was that Ms Bray could be seen in the background of one photograph, happily looking on as Sacoor grabs Ms Huq’s left arm to make it look as if she is holding a Tory placard.
Karim Sacoor (left) clearly part of Tories' group

What Scrapbook may not have known is that Angie Bray has signalled her endorsement of both Sacoor and Ms Kumar on her own Twitter feed, and by doing so has strengthened the suggestion that Sacoor was “marshalling” Bozza’s appearance. He can clearly be seen at left of the photo, taken with the King’s Head pub in the background, and wearing a Tory Party rosette - which means he’s part of the group escorting Bozza.
Ditto Seema Kumar (behind camera)

The next photo, apart from showing that Ms Bray is wearing strides which do not have a volume control, also suggests that Ms Kumar is part of the group - her face is obscured by the cameraman’s mic, but her outfit matches other photos of her, and she’s holding the clutch of leaflets which were then shoved into Ms Huq’s face. The Labour candidate has not been backward in coming forward to demand an apology.
Better late than never

Boris Johnson and his team owe me an apology – it’s about the example politicians like him set to people, particularly around how women are treated.  If figures like Boris Johnson want to engage with voters, they can’t react to questioning by manhandling people. You wouldn’t accept it in other walks of life, and people expect better from the Mayor of London” she told. So how about it, Bozza?

Sadly, Bozza was too busy bumbling along while grunting “cripes readers”, but Angie Bray realised the seriousness of the situation: “it was unfortunately inexcusable even in heat of the moment and I have told him [Sacoor] to step down from my team. We apologize to Rupa”. Nothing about Ms Kumar, and no explanation of why she found it so funny at the time. And it may not wash with the Metropolitan Police.

Did Angie Bray only apologise because it all got caught on stills camera and video? You might wish to ask that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Dylan Sharpe - Gutter To Sewer

Some people never learn, and within the larger part of the Fourth Estate that has eschewed such niceties as the Leveson proposals and stuck its fingers up to all those inconvenient victims of press misbehaviour, it seems they are not interested in such things. That is the only conclusion that can be reached after observing the latest Twitter foot-in-mouth excursion of the Sun’s clueless PR chief Dylan Sharpe.
May soon be smiling on other side of face. Hopefully

Sharpe, a deeply immodest man with much to be modest about, managed to outdo even his sending unsolicited photos of topless women around Twitter as some kind of jolly jape as he decided to take the mickey out of those suffering in the wake of the Nepal earthquake that has left thousands dead and many more homeless. He must have thought all those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants would be terribly impressed.
The Mirror had splashed on a mother whose baby had been pulled alive from the rubble. For many, this would have been off limits, but not to the sneering Sharpe: “I will accept the shit but who does this pic on the Mirror's splash remind you of..?” he sniggered into his reassuringly expensive latté. He was trying to suggest that the baby’s mother bore a resemblance to Mil The Younger. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.
So who would stand in solidarity with the Sun’s chief spinner? Would all those right-leaning blogs like to make a positive gesture? Sadly, none of them were prepared to support him. The first responses tried to suggest that he should have thought this one through before opening mouth and inserting boot. “Mate …” suggested Luke McGee. Jim Waterson’s response was rather similar. Sharpe was unmoved.
He was so unmoved, in fact, that the offending Tweet was still there late this morning. Steve Akehurst also tried a gentle nudge: “Not cool” he observed. Chas McPherson went further: “Really? Political point scoring over a tragedy? Have a word with yourself”. It’s doubtful that Sharpe would do that, unless his employers caused him to.
Even a Tweeter telling him “you need help” did not elicit any sign of regret. Josephine Liptrott abandoned subtlety and tried to put him straight: “What the bloody hell is wrong with you? You're aware people are actually suffering & dying, right??” she told him, but then, awareness is not necessarily a requirement when you’re a Sun spinner.
Sharpe was still unmoved when Yes Matters observed “the sun, why am I not surprised”, followed by the hashtag #notallsunknobheads. There was an all too obvious reply waiting for that one: “I think it's safe to say ALL at the sun are knob heads”. So did Sharpe say sorry? Did he reconsider his actions? Predictably, that would be no, and no.

The only thing that will significantly modify Sharpe’s behaviour is if Creepy Uncle Rupe decides that his empire can get along without the Sun’s chief spinner’s services, and hands the SOB his P45 - and PDQ. On the basis of this latest Twitter exhibition, that moment cannot come quickly enough.