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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sarah Vine Self Awareness Fail

After getting a cross-party thumbs-down from both Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson on the BBC’s This Week over her needlessly abusive attack on Mil The Younger and wife Justine recently, Sarah Vine, aka Mrs Michael “Oiky” Gove has resorted to telling the world that she conforms to Olbermann’s Dictum (“the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”). Yes, she is really a victim!
Her husband still isn't getting Sam's husband's job

My vile trolls and why I pity today’s teenagersruns today’s headline, as she begins by pretending that the article is not really about Herself Personally Now: “Channel 4’s Teens follows the lives of a group of teenagers at a school in Loughton, Essex. If you have school-age children or grandchildren, I urge you to watch it”. But, as with most things Sarah Vine, it really is about Herself Personally Now.

One of the teenagers is apparently subjected to unpleasant name-calling, to which Ms Vine observes “This mindlessly cruel spectacle had a particular resonance as I’ve recently acquired my own small army of trolls. Not people taking a different view on things I’ve written - we columnists love to spark debate and, yes, controversy - but vicious, highly personal abuse”. Could she give an example?

She certainly could: “I am, so it seems, in no particular order, a sour two-faced bitch, so fat I look as if I don’t have any eyes and an ugly c*** who should do everyone a favour and set fire to myself … Don’t get me wrong: I’m fully aware I have a face best suited to radio — and that if you dish it out you can’t complain if you get it back in kind. But this abuse is of a different order and I admit I’ve found myself uncharacteristically wounded by these trolls”. So being abusive is clearly A Very Bad Thing.

In that case, perhaps she would care to explain the very next item in her column: “Researchers in Los Angeles say they have discovered that rich kids have bigger brains. So how do they explain Tamara Ecclestone?” Is that an isolated incident? Er, no it isn’t.

How about last week’s snark: “Part of me wants to congratulate Cheryl Fernandez-Versini for speaking out against the sexualisation of female pop stars. ‘Sexy and all that is great to an extent, but you shouldn’t have to sexualise yourself to be selling music,’ she told a magazine. The other part of me can’t help wondering how getting a huge red rose tattooed on her bottom chimes with that ethos

No wonder Ms Vine finds taunts about her appearance come so readily to mind when she is constantly dishing them out to others. When she whines “Seeing yourself through the eyes of those who truly hate you - however irrationally or mistakenly - is, frankly, frightening”, that is a luxury she awards herself, while the unfortunate Ms Ecclestone and Ms Fernandez-Versini are fair game for the same kind of abuse.

Vile trolls” are an interesting concept: only around when Daily Mail pundits are on the receiving end. Because such saintly individuals would never indulge in such appalling behaviour themselves. Pass the sick bucket.

Grant Shapps Lied On Newsnight

Still Grant “Spiv” Shapps is chairman of the Tory Party, and still his pants are well and truly on fire, as witness his quizzing by Evan Davis on Monday evening’s Newsnight. Shapps first helpfully explained that the Tories’ claim of Labour tax rises of well over £3,000 were per working household, to make the numbers look bigger, and then aggregated over five years, to make them truly scary.
Can you smell burning?

That much was merely misleading, and some of the minor untruths, such as asserting that Mil The Younger had done nothing with his life except be a professional politician, were what passes as mere background noise in today’s political campaigning. But when Davis moved the discussion on to business, Shapps could not resist the temptation to go into full delusional whopper mode - all captured on video.

The UK five years ago, he asserted, was “bust as Greece”. Er, hello? Let’s see what all those credit ratings agencies think of that, shall we? Greece generally merits a credit rating of B, on a scale that goes AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB and then B. The UK in 2010 was still rated AAA. The idea that it was “bust as Greece” isn’t just misleading, it’s a flat-out lie. And any credit downgrade has come under the Coalition.

Would Sir like to pour a little petrol on those flames to get his burning trousers blazing a little more fiercely? He certainly would: Shapps then asserted that the UK’s growth rate was the highest in the developed world. This depends on arguing that China, Nigeria, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are not part of that “developed world”, which “Spiv” could just about justify. But then it gets more difficult.

You wouldn’t say that other EU member states were not part of the “developed world”, would you? So how does Shapps explain the presence of Ireland, Hungary and Poland, all growing faster than the UK? Ooh look there’s South Korea too - hardly a backwater. And Norway as well. So that’s another flat-out lie from the Spiv. And, when it came to excusing his own online marketing business, there was worse to come.

Davis specifically alluded to a product which “scraped” content to get hits and generate income from adverts. Shapps eventually asserted that his businesses had been “perfectly legal”. That one was not: the product Davis mentioned was the notorious Traffic Paymaster, which had been sold by Shapps’ How To Corp, and which effectively plagiarised others’ content to garner clicks and income for others.

That was in flagrant violation of Google’s rules, and the product had to be withdrawn. Had the product been “perfectly legal”, then there would have been no need to withdraw it. So that’s three occasions on which the chairman of the Tory Party flat-out lied during his Newsnight interview. As he is still in post, it has to be concluded that his party has no problem with having a chairman for whom dishonesty comes so naturally.

That’s something that the voters will have time to consider before casting their votes.

Telegraph Wins Best April Fool

Yes, the month of April has begun, and with it the opening morning of wading through the murky stream of April Fool “jokes”, panning through the mud of tedious and repetitive boredom in the usually vain hope of finding a nugget of genuine and original humour. The bad news is that the mud-to-nugget ratio is as high as ever this year. But the good news is that the Telegraph had bucked the trend with its front page splash.
100 business chiefs: Labour threatens Britain’s recovery” announces the headline, followed by a list of names, some of which are rendered in a rather larger crimson type. These people, we are assured, control businesses which employ 500,000 in the UK. And they have, it has to be assumed, put their names to this declaration out of concern for their country. Or so it seems, until a little examination is made.

Who did the arranging? Well, reticence means that nobody is singled out by the Tel, but the name in the post-front-page-analysis frame is Stuart Rose, famous for his involvement with Marks and Spencer some years ago. Lord Rose, as he is styled on the Tel’s declaration of support for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps, is a Conservative peer. This is the most fortunate of coincidences.

Also in that larger type is the name of Anthony, now Lord, Bamford. He too has links to the Tories, not least because of donating money to them. He is also rumoured to be one of those behind the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, the Astroturf lobby group that works so tirelessly to demonise Government. Then there is Duncan Bannatyne, which reminds us that today is still April the first.

Then an anomaly enters: Philip Green has signed the declaration. But why should his name be rendered in smaller and less conspicuous type? Could it be that, once again, he is not only an unwavering Tory supporter, but also someone who resides in the tax haven of Monaco, and is, let us not drive this one round the houses for too long, a bit flash with his cash? Is the Tel wanting readers to look elsewhere?

Maybe they would rather we look at names like Cameron Mackintosh, theatre impresario, knighted during the Major years, briefly endorsing New Labour before openly regretting it and denouncing the whole project in forthright terms, and supporting the Tories last time round. And also in that larger type is the name of motor racing supremo Ron Dennis. McLaren’s new production centre was opened by Cameron in 2011.

And in the six years prior to that, the Tories had benefited from £126,000 in donations from, er, Ron Dennis. It goes on: Joanna (Baroness) Shields is a Tory peer, Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse fame is one of the Chipping Norton set, and Malcolm Walker of Iceland blamed the horsemeat scandal on the public sector, a most convenient conclusion for free marketeers everywhere.

It’s got to be an April Fool. Or is it? They’re the best ones: where you can’t tell the difference between the piss-takes and the real thing.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mail GMB Sexism Fail

Television news and magazine programmes show those of us who hadn’t got the message a long time ago that the tabloid press subject male and female presenters to the kind of double standards that they would be quick to condemn as deeply inappropriate if they saw it in other walks of life. Blokes are measured by their ability to bring gravitas, humour and spontaneity to their role. There is less of a problem with their age.
Susanna Reid

Women, on the other hand, cannot bring gravitas to a role, and no amount of telling the hacks that they have decades of journalistic experience makes a jot of difference. As for humour and spontaneity, this has always to be redefined as “flirtyness”. And woe betide any broadcaster who puts a female presenter before the viewers with so much as a hint of grey hair. You think I jest? Over to Mail Online.

The Mail has been on the case of ITV’s breakfast offering Good Morning Britain since its launch, and especially that of lead presenter Susanna Reid. But all the early attacks - snarking at her alleged salary, claiming that the show was about to be cancelled, complaining about the studio set with its presenters’ desk, and anything personal that could be dug up - have now been exhausted.

Now all that the Mail has left is to generate copy because Ms Reid went and changed her outfit while the programme was on air. And this is meant to be passed off as news. Er, hello? If Ben Shephard, Sean Fletcher or (as today) John Stapleton had needed to go off and replace a jacket, a shirt, or indeed anything else, that would not be news. One would not talk about such personal stuff. As the song said, it’s different for girls.

Susanna Reid suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction as she bursts out of her dress while live on air”. Hey readers - clickbait! Phwoar!! And thousands probably did click - only to find “She's known for her on-air flirty antics - and Good Morning presenter Susanna Reid gave her co-presenters, John Stapleton and Kate Garraway an eyeful when her dress burst open. The 44-year-old suffered the embarrassing faux pas just as she was live on air and was forced to dash out of the studio to change into another neon orange dress”.

Yes, a career journalist with more than 22 years’ experience in print and broadcast media is judged not on the merit of presentation, research, interview technique, preparation, originality, or any other of the skills one needs to master either medium, but whether or not she is unfortunate enough to wear a garment with a faulty zip.

And don’t forget, Mail Online readers, “She's known for her on-air flirty antics”. But hold on a minute - GMB is a two and a half hour programme. Was there nothing else worth talking about? Right at the end, readers are told “Also on the show on Tuesday was former footballer Clarke Carlisle, who spoke about how he's tackling his own depression and the stigma that comes with it”. Should that not have been the news, given recent events?

Priorities, eh? Clickbait before all else. And don’t worry about gratuitous sexism.

Brendan O’Neill Labour Race Shame

One hates to waste intellectual energy on the turgid click-bait counterfactual of Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, which certainly should have been. But his claim yesterday that the Labour Party has some kind of history of racism goes behind the pale. Not only is it jaw-droppingly selective in its presentation, it is also suggesting that the less palatable behaviour of parties like UKIP is just what Labour used to do.
Yes Bren, you've been rumbled again

O’Neill kicks off by asserting “For the past 50 years Labour has been anti-immigration to its core. And very often racist, too”. Would Sir care to advance some evidence for this claim? “The Labour government’s 1965 White Paper Immigration from the Commonwealth spoke of the need to ‘control the entry of immigrants to our small and overcrowded country’”. What Bren does not tell his readers is that there was no resultant legislation.

Never mind, have another go: “Labour’s Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 was designed specifically to keep out of Britain the black and brown inhabitants of Commonwealth countries”. The problem with this angle is that “Commonwealth” also included Australia and New Zealand. And what he isn’t telling readers is that the 1968 Act was merely amending the Tories’ 1962 one.

Then we are toldthe Labour government of 1974 to 1979 not only failed to repeal the Tories’ stringent Immigration Act of 1971, as it had hinted it would do, but actually proposed more immigration controls. It also published a Green Paper in 1977”. Very good Bren, a Green Paper is a discussion document only. And there are some of those inconvenient facts missing from the argument.

First, large-scale immigration from the Commonwealth began under a Labour Government, that of 1945 to 1951. Second, and something O’Neill ignores totally, a succession of Race Relations Acts, to tackle and prevent racial discrimination, were enacted by Labour, in 1965, 1968 and 1976, often in the teeth of Tory opposition. So don’t try pulling the “Labour=racist” rubbish.

But O’Neill’s Pièce de Résistance comes when he even tries to smear the Blair Government as racist. I kid you not: he tells “It kept out vast numbers of non-European migrants, of course, and even within the EU it discriminated: in 2006 it imposed a moratorium on the movement of low-skilled Romanians and Bulgarians to Britain, instantly turning vast swathes of poor Eastern Europe into second-class citizens of Europe who did not enjoy the same rights of movement as the rest of us”.

That’s a straight-A F*** right off in one: what O’Neill is alluding to is that Romania and Bulgaria acceded to the EU at the start of 2007, but that a number of existing member states imposed what are known astransitional controls”. Those controls could not be made more restrictive than previous immigration rules for the countries concerned.

Small wonder Brendan O’Neill didn’t like being on Twitter - his bullshit would have been exposed even more rapidly, and his credibility would have melted away even quicker. Get a life and stop trying to argue the toss for the hell of it, Bren. It isn’t working.

Sun Nation Is A Flop

Rather a lot of Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are at present working on the free-to-read SunNation website. This entails them churning out a relentless dirge of Tory-supporting and Labour-bashing copy, which is masquerading as fun and accessible ways to attract the less politically-minded. Thus, the followers of Creepy Uncle Rupe will, so they assume, help Young Dave back into Number 10.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. One look at the SunNation Twitter feed is all you need to tell you that all is not well with the latest Murdoch wheeze: less than 4,330 followers this morning, compared to, well, Zelo Street with 5,690 at the same time. All I have in support is my laptop and a blog: SunNation has News UK backing it.

Sure, SunNation is adding Twitter followers reasonably well: my information is that it puts on around 50 a day. But that, extrapolated through to polling day, would still only give it 6,180 by that point. By comparison, the Tories’ @cchqpress account has around 31,500 followers, Labour’s @labourpress has over 61,000, and even the Lib Dems’ @libdempress has 19,000. Small Twitter presence, small effect on the Twittersphere.

The calibre of the hacks who have been put on the case is also less than totally inspiring: take Alain Tolhurst, who describes himself asa journalist (in name), an idiot (in deed)” in a rare moment of honesty from the Murdoch shilling-takers. Or how about Emer Martin, woman of the people, part of the paper that loves to kick Labour for being out of touch with working folk, self-describing asA Mac, a coffee and avocado toast”.

And spare a thought for Georgina Stubbs, “Political geek and aspiring foreign correspondent”, who has been reduced to writing features about the world’s great politicians and diplomats … like, er, Joey Essex. SunNation has even had to rope in the Sun’s PR man Dylan Sharpe, the clown who sent unsolicited photos of a topless women to a number of women who failed to appreciate his puerile stunt.

But that, folks, is not the worst thing about SunNation - far from it. Despite throwing the site open to all, and putting all those hacks on the case, the lack of interest in the Twitter feed means that, according to information that has been received here on Zelo Street, of all the Retweets that SunNation receives, around 90% are from News UK accounts. That’s looking at the #sunnation hashtag. And that’s just lame.

No wonder that the exhortation to readers to switch off Mil The Younger’s encounter with The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah fell flat, despite the efforts of the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn to pretend otherwise. The Sun’s great failure has been to understand and use social media: the Murdoch hacks’ faith in paper and paywalls has been fascinating. But it has got them precisely nowhere.

Still, keep on spending the money, folks. As Lyndon Johnson nearly said, it’ll feel hot to you, but nobody else will seem to notice.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Guido Fawked - Tory Shill Fail

[Update at end of post]

As the General Election campaign has begun, one usually only nominally right-wing propaganda source has been swung firmly behind the Tories: to no surprise at all, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have turned their alleged “brand” into a thinly disguised shill for The Blue Team, to the extent that they have put out eight Labour-bashing items already today.
Fart in lift Inquiry is less than than a gas

Sadly, the slant is obvious from the word go, but when Staines has to depend on the likes of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, and newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham, items suggesting Labour supporters are all on benefits, from a sample of one, are all too predictable. Then they use a Green Party mug to claim that Labour Party mugs are rubbish, because, well, it’s Phil Space journalism, innit?
This, sadly, is all too true

Then there is an opportunity to bash Pa Broon. Ah, it must seem like The Good Old Days for Staines: the personal abuse, the claims of unsuitability for office from someone who celebrated Brown’s period at 10 Downing Street by narrowly escaping a custodial sentence for drink-driving. “You could not make it up. Despite no longer being an MP, Gordon is back and making outlandish spending claims in Scotland”.
They're not married

Got a credible source for that “outlandish” assertion? No, thought not. Ah, but then comesLabour Campaign Chief Breaks Social Media Election Law”. Lucy Powell may have been late amending her Twitter bio. So why not be even handed and castigate Young Dave for using his address in front of Number 10 earlier to channel Harold Wilson and use it to attack his main opponent? We won’t be going there, Paul, will we?
They're still not married

But hey ho, another hour, another propaganda item: Labour’s FT advert today gets a kicking, with the priceless line “Guido hears that Kellogg’s are pretty frosty about it all too”. No citation. No surprise. No change there, then. Could there be more after lunch? There certainly could: Andy Slaughter is accused of distributing election literature today claiming to still be an MP. We don’t get a verifiable citation for that one, either.
The inevitable conclusion

And then comes the Pièce de Résistance, as Labour’s new advert, featuring Martin Freeman, gets trashed on the grounds of his “Tax Dodge Shame”. Did he dodge any tax? Well, no actually: the suggestion is that he was somehow responsible for his partner’s tax bill. The Guido Fawkes and Alex Wickham Twitter accounts even refer to Freeman’s partner as “his wife”. They aren’t married. Accurate as ever, eh lads?

Oh, and Guido has also been “hearingthat there has been some kind of meeting between Alan Johnson and ATOS, although, as ever, you have to take that on trust, which here on Zelo Street we won’t be doing, thanks. As Peter Jukes has observed, “For current purposes looks as if Guido Fawkes is - like Ukrainian separatists supported by Putin - a disownable branch of Conservative HQ”.

It would be terribly sad to lose one’s editorial control. Which the Fawkes rabble have, of course, not done. Anyone suggesting otherwise may get another of those legal threats.

[UPDATE 1910 hours: the Fawkes rabble even failed to get their Martin Freeman story straight, it seems.

Amanda Abbington, whose tax bill was the basis for their snark at Freeman, paid the debt off last year. As the Mail On Sunday diary reported last March, "Amanda Abbington, the long-term partner of The Hobbit  star Martin Freeman, has finally paid off her £120,000  debts ... after landing lucrative roles in ITV series Mr Selfridge  and in Martin’s hit TV drama Sherlock, she is back in the black".

So no tax dodging took place at all! No doubt The Great Guido will be making amends to that post in short order. I mean, accuracy and all that, eh, chaps?

Five minutes' Googling does seem to tax the Fawkes folks sometimes. Another fine mess, indeed]

Don’t Menshn Top Gear

Demonstrating once again that the subs at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun don’t bother with fact-checking her column, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch has been pontificating on the Jeremy Clarkson saga, only to fill her copy with totally untrue statements and a fantasy approach to workplace behaviour. But all is in accordance with the line laid out by Creepy Uncle Rupe.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

The Clarkson sags doesn’t reflect well on anybody involved - except Richard Hammond and James May” she declares. This is down, supposedly, to their loyalty: “They stepped away from the BBC and the show that made their fortunes in order to support their pal Jeremy, saying ‘we come as a package’”. You didn’t know Hammond and May had left Top Gear? Neither did the BBC. Come to think of it, neither did they.

What James May actually said (note that they were his words, not Richard Hammond’s) was that Top Gear would continue “in some way”, adding “I don’t want to talk about that too much. I think we’re very much the three of us as a package, it works for very complicated reasons that a lot of people don’t fully understand. So that will require a lot of careful thought”. That means he hasn’t made his mind up.
Hammond has said “We're all three of us idiots in our different ways but it's been an incredible ride together”, which is equally inconclusive. So nobody has “stepped away from the BBC”. Never mind, though, Ms Mensch has another totally made up assertion ready and waiting: “this has led to the end of one of the BBC’s best shows”. Top Gear has finished? Did anyone tell the BBC? It hasn’t, of course.

Readers are then treated to a number of creative excuses for Clarkson’s behaviour: he was somehow entitled to a hot meal, the hotel was not “reasonable”, producer Oisin Tymon’s cut lip was downgraded to merely “bruised”, Jezza was only giving “voice to tired and hungry Top Gear workers” (so tired of Jezza that they forced him to report the “fracas”), and they should have taken it outside, except only one party was abusive.
But the Pièce de Résistance is held back for the end, as Ms Mensch assures readers “Clarkson, Hammond and May say they come as a team [no they don’t - see above] - look for some enterprising channel, either in the UK or US, to snap them up”. Who might she have in mind? How about Sky, with its Murdoch shareholding?

Stuart Murphy, who runs Sky’s entertainment channels, had this to say to the suggestion Jezza might be heading over there: “we aren't going to sign up someone who punches a colleague in the face. I wouldn't want that to happen to you or anyone at Sky”. What the utterly clueless Louise Mensch calls “a minor incident with shouting” has apparently reduced the number of enterprising channels considerably.

The BBC had a sound case for not renewing Clarkson’s contract. His co-presenters haven’t gone anywhere yet. And Sky don’t want to know. Facts, eh Louise?

Heffer Says Enoch Didn’t Do It

The unwavering hero worship of Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer for the late Tory and later Unionist MP has been put to the sternest of tests this weekend, as news emerged that an allegation had been made against The Great Man of potential involvement in historic child abuse. “Detectives investigating claims of a VIP paedophile sex ring have been passed lurid allegations relating to Enoch Powell” told the Mail.
The Hefferlump was aghast: “A monstrous slur against my friend: The allegations against Enoch Powell are lies beyond contempt … When on Saturday evening a fellow journalist told me of the allegations made by the Church of England, my first instinct was to laugh: but that soon changed into utter outrage when I realised he was serious … The Church has publicly accused Enoch of being involved in ritual satanic abuse on hearsay, without the slightest evidence”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

Yes, it’s all the Church of England’s fault: “It is disgraceful and destabilising for clergy to behave in this way … He has been demonised not least because to attack his memory is a quick and effective way for them to score points by setting out their own political correctness. What better way for some mischievous Leftist priest to damage Enoch further than by linking him with the current rash of stories about child abuse?

And he warns the clergy that he and his pals are going to come looking for them after it’s all over: “The allegations are a monstrous lie. That the lie appears to have been retailed by a priest is beyond contempt … There must be an investigation and, for all the distress this outrage has caused, there must be a reckoning”.

Had Heffer actually bothered to read what has actually happened, though, he might have stopped and thought, but then, that would not have enabled him to use the bully pulpit of the Mail to generate More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. In any case, the Independent has told “the claims against Mr Powell were passed to police by the Right Reverend Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, more than a year ago … they have only now been made public”. So he’s too late now.

Moreover, Heffer’s accusations of “political correctness”, a “mischievous Leftist priest”, and “the lie … retailed [my emphasis] by a priest”, ignore the inconvenient fact that “Under safeguarding rules, institutions such as the Church of England now automatically pass allegations of abuse to the police for assessment”.

So if names are submitted to those who, like the Bishop of Durham, deal with safeguarding, they have no alternative but to submit them to Police. It should be noted that the clergyman putting Powell’s name forward had “first heard the claims when he was counselling young adults as a curate in the 1980s”. The idea that this is some kind of leftist plot to besmirch the name of Heffer’s hero is arrant nonsense.

Child abuse allegations have to be taken seriously. That is all. Get over it, Simon Heffer.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Russell Brand - Another Sun Smear

The mean-spirited behaviour of the right-leaning press towards anyone of celebrity status who chooses to give their time to fighting their own chosen deserving causes knows no bounds: the attitude of papers like the Mail towards Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, for having the audacity to appear at the Leveson Inquiry, is well-known. And the hatred of that paper, and the Sun, towards Russell Brand is also a regular feature.
So when Brand put his advocacy and his money behind a venture called the Trew Era Café, opposite the New Era Estate in Hackney where he joined the campaign to prevent 93 residents being evicted by a new corporate landlord, which intended to triple rents, the deeply subversive Guardian might have given some straight publicity, but Rupe’s downmarket troops would never be far behind.

The café is “a social enterprise staffed by recovering drug addicts from the area …According to Brand, the cafe stands as a permanent symbol of the victory of a grassroots movement over corporate interests; a place for the people of the New Era estate to gather for social and political purposes, while also contributing to the community”.

What did it sell? “A chalkboard hangs next to the counter advertising the cafe’s offerings – cafe latte and cappuccino for £1.80, tea for £1.40 and juices (all organic obviously) for £4. Several cheesecakes made by Lindsey Garrett, a lead campaigner against the New Era evictions, are on sale, as are locally made jams”. Yes, there are teething problems, but Brand and his café have the backing of local residents and businesses.
Enter the Sun to smear and spin: “Leftie comic’s eaterie is a flop … Russ’s revolutionary café is revolting” it told readers. For starters, the toilet was “Horrible”. What was wrong with it? Ah, but you don’t need to know about that. It just is. “The Sun on Sunday visited yesterday and found it has no menu, no kitchen, no savoury food and is fast running out of cake”. And to that I call bullshit.

As the Guardian pointed out, what is available is on a chalkboard, it’s not yet pretending to sell savoury food, the kitchen is still being put together and if the cakes are selling well, what’s the problem? Instead, the Sun sneers at a spelling mistake on the chalkboard, disparages the idea of food being “ethically sourced” (something else they could have read about in the Guardian), and even tries to blame the café for local parking charges.

Did the Sun hack actually drive there from the Baby Shard? Did the Sun hack actually visit the place, given most of what was in the article could have been churned out of that in the Guardian? What does not get told by the Murdoch faithful, of course, is that the Trew Era Café has the support of the locals, and is serving a further purpose in helping to rehabilitate recovering drug users - they just pretend it’s a Brand vanity project.

When the obedient Murdoch doggies put their money into that kind of enterprise, they might be worth listening to. But they won’t do any time soon, and so they’re not.

Campaign Starts - Tories Panic

Don’t debate Mil The Younger directly, they said. Make sure you keep him away from allowing the viewers to make a direct comparison, they said. Bank on Kay Burley giving you the easier ride, they said. Just put your faith in Creepy Uncle Rupe’s obedient attack doggies and the inmates of Northcliffe House, they said. Now a post-Paxo YouGov poll shows Labour opening up a four point lead. That went well, then.
That looks like a favourable poll over there! Jolly good sheow!

The weekend has gone no better for The Blue Team: Young Dave, so often urged by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to tell voters about all his jolly good achievement, did nothing of the sort yesterday, resorting to calling Labour a “bunch of hypocritical, holier-than-thou, hopeless, sneering socialists” and confirming “Some might say: ‘Don’t make this personal’, but when it comes to who’s prime minister, the personal is national”.

That means it’s going to continue to be about personal abuse - and the strange assertion that “Miliband’s Labour party isn’t about liberating working people; it’s about telling you what to do. The same old condescending, bossy, interfering, we-know-best attitude of the Hampstead socialist down the ages”. Miliband lives in Primrose Hill, which is not Hampstead, but hey ho. It’s cut’n’paste smear time.

Today has not improved matters, with Iain Duncan Cough being dispatched to appear before the host’s inquisition on The Andy Marr Show (tm), only to get entangled in questions about when Cameron might step down during the next Parliament. By the end of the interview, Duncan Cough had been reduced to rambling in order to bat out time. Then he got beaten up by Joan Bakewell on the sofa afterwards.

All this matters because, at the start of the campaign, Labour activists are the ones with a smile on their faces and a spring in their step. The Tories are hamstrung by their pals in the media, who are making the campaign one of personal abuse against Miliband, and the spivvery of Grant Shapps. When the Labour leader turns out not to be as useless as their papers told them, the swing voters have begun to move in his favour.

The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn faces the prospect of failing to deliver his proprietor’s preferred outcome for the first time in forty years. The Daily Mail’s odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) faces being exposed for seriously misleading his readers on a daily basis. And the Times’ Tim Montgomerie faces being reminded that his general cluelessness hasn’t changed since he called Phonehackgate wrong.

The question has to be put: if this is the level of panic at a single poll, what happens if the numbers continue in the same vein, or even get worse? Was bringing Lynton Crosby on board wise, given the last Tory General Election campaign he masterminded was in 2005, when they lost, despite Tone being vulnerable on Iraq? If the press can’t move the polls, and Miliband’s TV appearances remain popular, what do the Tories do?

We the people decide this election. We are not fools. This may sink in. Eventually.

Katie Hopkins Antisemitism Idiocy

[Update at end of post]

To secure a column on the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, one need not be an experienced journalist, or indeed, a journalist at all. And in one particular case, it means having a total lack of self-awareness, to the extent that “telling it like it is” veers across the decency line into hate speech, with criticism dismissed as mere “lefty outrage”. Here we enter the deeply unpleasant mind of professional loudmouth Katie Hopkins.
You OK with that pal, Dave?

Ms Hopkins has crossed the line before, of course, not least in her attitude to the Scots, even having to apologise for one particularly insensitive outburst when her sneering observations on life expectancy north of the border coincided with the Glasgow helicopter crash. Then, undeterred, she was back to the abuse when nurse Pauline Cafferkey contracted the Ebola virus on return from Sierra Leone.
But now we’re in a General Election campaign, and she desperately wants The Blue Team to win. She is a great fan of Young Dave, having been snapped with the Tory leader recently. So what does she do? She makes thisjoke” about Mil The Younger: “Pollsters say Justine is the least popular of party wives. He might stick her head in the oven and turn on the gas”. Jeremy Duns tries to point out that this is just vile.
Ms Hopkins was not deterred: “Lefty outrage - you gotta love it” she trilled. Piers Morgan tried ever so gently to suggest the error of her ways: “Miliband’s Jewish”. Yes, making gas oven “jokes” about someone who is Jewish and many of whose relatives were victims of the Holocaust is not clever. Still Katie was unmoved, replying “And you're a Catholic Piers. Isn't this a fun game?” Fun for one person, perhaps.
It was so much fun for Ms Hopkins that she was convinced nobody who really mattered would be really, properly offended, telling that “Look peeps, Jews and Gays love me. Get over it. The Scots and Palestinians aren't so keen. I give you that”. Self-awareness? She wants the world to know she is Cameron’s pal, then makes a nasty gas oven “joke” about his Jewish opponent? Nope, no self-awareness at all.
She’s also rather hopeful when it comes to her appeal to Piers Morgan, batting his criticism off with “Piers - it's OK love. I know this is just sexual tension. I bear children and arms”. A former tabloid editor has taken time out to give her a helpful hint about what is acceptable “telling it like it is”, and what is definitely not. But still the message remains unheard and the Tories get damaged by association.
Ms Hopkins even tries to pass her gaffe off as mere trolling, telling “Lefty fools, if you don't like the freedom of my speech - get off Twitter” and linking to one of her all too many media appearances. But it isn’t just trolling, it’s anti-Semitic hate speech, way beyond what anyone - well, apart from her - can even hope to justify as “telling it like it is”. Katie Hopkins has hobbled the Sun, the Tories, and her own remaining credibility.

With friends like Ms Hopkins, Cameron and his jolly good chaps have no need of enemies.

[UPDATE 30 March 1000 hours: Ms Hopkins and her pals may have rather more difficulty shrugging this one off, now that the Mail has got hold of it.

The headline of their piece, "'He might stick her head in the oven and gas her': Katie Hopkins accused of using anti-Semitic jibe at wife of Ed Miliband, whose parents fled the Holocaust", tells you all you need to know about the angle being used.

Before long her pal Dave will be getting quizzed about it, and he won't think twice before throwing her under the nearest bus. And what will Creepy Uncle Rupe make of it? Time will tell]

Top Six - March 29

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 clearing up stuff to do later. So there.
6 Air Crash Mental Health Fail The reaction of the tabloid press, and especially the Sun, to the rumour that one of the pilots of the Germanwings flight that crashed in southern France may have experienced depression shows that there are some lessons they never learn.
5 Guido Fawked - Shapps In The Mire The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog inadvertently dropped Grant “Spiv” Shapps in the crap. But only gently.
4 Gove’s Last Foul-Up He was useless at Education, and his failure to get the votes for the Tories’ last minute attempt to hobble Commons Speaker John Bercow shows that Michael “Oiky” Gove is just as useless at being Chief Whip. There won’t be a cabinet role for him if Young Dave wins the General Election.
3 Don’t Menshn Sub-Editors Just to show that some Sun columnists don’t get their copy properly subbed, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch told her readers that Elm Guest House was in Wales. That’s quite a long way from south-west London.
2 Grant Shapps Digs Himself Deeper The Tory Party chairman was still having difficulty with reality last week, as evidence emerged to show he had been peddling his get-rich-quick schemes under the alias of “Michael Green” FOUR YEARS after becoming an MP. He had claimed to have stopped that in 2005. Or perhaps it was a bit later.
1 Arrivederci Katie Professional motormouth Katie Hopkins threatened to emigrate if Labour won the General Election. Mil The Younger’s ratings immediately improved. So she then made a gas oven “joke” about the Labour leader and his wife. Ed Miliband is Jewish. She did not understand the implications. And the Sun gave her a column.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Newton Dunn Joins The Man-Babies

[Update at end of post]

The result of the “Battle For Number 10” was not conclusive enough for some out there on the right, and nor was the fact that Mil The Younger gave as good as he got when passing before The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah. Nowhere was this more keenly felt than at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, especially when Labour did not include Rupe’s downmarket troops in their campaign launch yesterday.
Double Farley's for Mr Newton Dunn!

One might have expected the assembled hacks to be relived not to have to trudge over to The Red Team’s launch, especially given they would not take a collective blind bit of notice, as what they were going to write had already been decided, and the welter of abuse that would be handed out to Miliband and his team would not have any more than a passing mention to the substance of Labour’s campaign.
But that thought was shown to be badly misplaced, as the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn threw an Olympian-Style mardy strop and ejected all his toys from his generously remunerated pram in one go. “The Sun Says today: Miliband’s blunt message to the Sun and our readers - he doesn’t like us, or you”. Wahh! Not fair!! Rotten leftie didn’t give me and my playmates invites!!!
Newton Dunn includes the day’s editorial in his Tweet, from which it has to be concluded that he had a hand in its writing. And it’s certainly down to the usual standard. “Ed Miliband reckons he’s a tough guy … ‘Newspapers can write what they like’ he tells Jeremy Paxman on TV” [note that obedient Sun readers have to take that on trust, as the paper instructed them to switch channels during his interview].

But then the strop is thrown: “What cobblers … Just 12 hours later, here’s how he reacted to The Sun’s criticism of him as a wannabe Prime Minister … By petulantly excluding Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper from the launch of Labour’s General Election campaign … How we laughed”. No, you didn’t laugh. You bawled your eyes out, stamped the floor, ranted powerlessly and then loaded up the abuse dispenser for another tirade.
The real reason for this gratuitous drivel was captured by author and playwright Peter Jukes (whose book on the hacking trial, Beyond Contempt, is on sale at all good retailers), who Tweeted “Newton Dunn, Sun political editor, told Miliband circle ‘you can have Andy but not Rebekah’ days before Milly Dowler story broke … When Miliband called for Brooks' resignation, TND said ‘you've made it personal about Rebekah, now we'll make it personal about you’”. Politics and principled journalism do not enter.
This is yet another example of the vindictive Mafia mentality and sense of entitlement that pervades the Murdoch press: you dissed their pal, and whether or not you were right doesn’t matter - they’re going to come after you for it. And for Newton Dunn to call anyone else “petulant” is, as the late John Smith might have observed, a bit rich.

Newton Dunn has spat out his dummy. Volunteers for nappy changing are proving hard to find right now. No surprise there, then.

[UPDATE 29 March 1715 hours: Tom Newton Dunn has dismissed Peter Jukes' two Tweets, shown above, as "bollocks". I am more than happy to point this out.

The stance of his paper, though, is most definitely to "make it personal" about Ed Miliband]

Piers Morgan - Ever The Tabloid Man

With some figures from the recent history of the tabloid press, what you see is what you get, and Piers Morgan, ejected from the Daily Mirror after a mildly turbulent spell as editor and more recently a regular host for CNN, is typical of the breed. There is no lack of self-confidence: he is right about everything on which he passes an opinion, including the crash of a Germanwings flight the other day.
And here he shows us the tabloid mindset: likely to get ahead of what information is available, throw in the odd assumption for which he does not have anything to back it up, and trowel on the fact that he is considerably more wealthy than yow. Morgan travels a lot, and mainly by air. So, yes, he has an interest in it continuing to be a safe way to get around. But he tries too hard on the crash in southern France.

The headline, “Depressed pilots on medication for mental illness should not be flying passenger planes. That's not insensitive - it's protecting lives” sets the scene. If true, this would be a good starting point for discussion. But we do not know what Andreas Lubitz’ medication was for. Morgan goes on “The facts that we already know about this horrific incident are extraordinary, and terrifying”.

Sadly, the facts, as I noted yesterday, are not yet all established, as the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) has not been recovered. All that the press has had to go on so far has been the recording from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which the provincial Avocat, perhaps unwisely, pronounced upon, thus sparking all the shock horror outrage from yesterday morning’s papers. But back to Piers and his fears.

A co-pilot with a lengthy history of depression, on medication for his illness, and ignoring a specific doctor’s sick note for the very day he was flying, was allowed to command a plane full of 149 people”. Medication assumption re-stated, and let’s get our language straight: Lubitz was the First Officer, or Co-Pilot if you prefer. The bloke in the left-hand seat was the Commander. The casual use of “murder”, though, is worse.

Frankly, I don’t care if the co-pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz, was mad, bad or sad. He lost any sympathy I may have had for him the moment he decided to murder 149 people by deliberately crashing his plane into a mountain”. You can’t argue mental incapacity and then chuck words like “murder” into the mix. Compare with the BBC.

The co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a Germanwings airliner into the French Alps … A German hospital confirmed he had been a patient recently but denied reports he had been treated for depression … Data from the voice recorder suggests Mr Lubitz purposely started an eight-minute descent into the mountains after locking the pilot out of the flight deck” [my emphases]. Spot the difference.

Note also that the Beeb tells “Germany's Rheinischer Post newspaper, which spoke to the hospital, quoted its own unnamed sources as saying Mr Lubitz had been suffering from a physical, rather than a mental, illness”. Add to that the continued absence of the FDR - which should reveal details of all the control inputs made by Lubitz - and, as I keep saying, we do not have the whole story. So it would be best not to jump to conclusions just yet.

But Piers Morgan is ever the tabloid man. So jump to conclusions he has.

Amanda Knox Bests Daily Mail

The copy churned out by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail on the subject of Amanda Knox, who has finally been declared innocent of  any participation in the murder of Meredith Kercher in the Italian town of Perugia in November 2007, was slanted from the very start to tell readers one thing, and one thing only: that Ms Knox not only did it, but also that she was a very bad person indeed.
What the f***'s wrong with kicking some foreigner to get more sales, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

And the evidence for the Mail’s assault on Ms Knox’s character was so weak as to verge on non-existent: nudges, winks, prejudicial headlines, and the knowledge that the paper was not going to face contempt of court charges because the trial was in Italy, which, as all loyal Daily Mail readers know, is a country full of dodgy people who talk foreign, and whose legal system, being different to that in the UK, must therefore be rubbish.

The Mail called Ms Knox the baddie from the get-go: “Foxy Knoxy: Inside the twisted world of flatmate suspected of Meredith's murderscreamed an early headline, revealing, er, that her MySpace page had been trawled for cheap copy. This was clearly not down to the level demanded by the Vagina Monologue, and so it was soon followed byFoxy Knoxy, the girl who had to compete with her own mother for men”.

As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. Then came “The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy”, Andrew Malone’s hatchet job being based on Ms Knox having been up in court in Seattle for organising a party that got out of hand, which is totally different to a group of hacks getting ratarsed in London, upending litter bins and throwing up in the back of taxis whose drivers are not quick enough to spot trouble at fifty paces.

Fast forward to Ms Knox’s appeal against being fitted up for the murder of Ms Kercher in 2011, and the Mail infamously published the claim that she had lost that appeal, together with quotes about the aftermath which were entirely made up - because she did not lose the appeal. Freelance Nick Pisa had produced two versions of the story. He didn’t think making stuff up was wrong. Neither he nor the Mail said sorry to Ms Knox.

And even this week, in the run-up to the final appeal, the Mail has been loading its coverage to suggest She Did It. “Amanda Knox faces extradition battle if Italy upholds murder convictionwarned Monday’s headline. Then the next day cameFoxy Knoxy's ex love Raffaele Sollecito blows a hole in her alibi at time of Meredith Kercher's murder - on eve of final appeal”. So she had still done it.

On Thursday, readers were toldAn Italian prosecutor told the country's top court Wednesday that Amanda Knox's conviction for the sensational murder of British student Meredith Kercher was ‘beyond reproach’”. Well, now Ms Knox has been declared innocent. The case, according to one watcher, should never have been brought against her. But will the Mail say sorry this time? Will it heck.

Paul Dacre should hang his head in shame and personally apologise to Ms Knox. He won’t because he’s not capable of it. Bullies never are.