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Friday, 29 July 2016

Breitbart Twitter Share Plunge Fantasy

When Twitter finally lost patience with the antics of self-promoting man-baby Milo Yiannopoulos and banned him permanently, The Great Man did not take it well. He was the victim, they would regret it, this was an assault on free speech, his rights were being infringed, all the usual victimhood soundbites were deployed. It didn’t work. Yiannopoulos remains on the Twitter banned list. There is no way back.
Been locked out, have you? Aw DIDDUMS!

This created a dilemma for his current platform among the unappealing convocation of the terminally batshit otherwise known as Breitbart, which only gets its propaganda out there by the kinds of self-promoting use of Twitter which Yiannopoulos had, in his own inimitable style, made his own. Somehow, the banning had to be portrayed as bad for Twitter, as well as being framed to make them the aggressor and Yiannopoulos, again, the victim.

The Breitbart opportunity came when Twitter posted its latest quarterly results: although, as CNBC told, “The company posted second-quarter adjusted earnings of 13 cents a share on revenue of $602 million. Wall Street expected it to post earnings of 10 cents a share on revenue of $607 million, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Profit per share was up from 7 cents a year earlier, and revenue rose 20 percent … Average monthly active users came in at 313 million, slightly higher than analyst estimates”, the figures were short of market expectations.

CNBC again: “The social media company said it expects third-quarter revenue of $590 million to $610 million, well below analyst expectations for $678 million … The company's shares dropped more than 10 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday”. Twitter shares were losing value - for Breitbart, that had to be down to the Yiannopoulos ban!

You think I jest? Here they came: “Twitter Shares Drop By 9% As Company Escalates War On Conservative Media” was the Breitbart headline. Yes, there are 313 million average active monthly users, Yiannopoulos had a following extending to 338,000 of them - or just over a tenth of one per cent. This was real Ron Hopeful stuff.

As Javier Hasse at Benzinga has pointed out, “Twitter Shares Have Historically Dropped 9% The Day After Earnings”. As the BBC reported, Twitter suffered a share price fall in the wake of last October’s results, and again in February this year. This reality, though, is not allowed to enter the fantasy world of Breitbart, where the notion is being spun that the latest figures mean Twitter could be the subject of a takeover bid.

Ben Kew’s post talks of “the site actively choosing to alienate conservative users by making clear their double standards in terms of censoring content”, such is the paranoia engendered by Yiannopoulos’ actions. But Kew’s actions are not a surprise: he is, after all, one of Yiannopoulos’ gofers, paid to tell the world great things about The Great Man.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Yiannopoulos is off Twitter for good, it isn’t affecting the platform’s revenue, and the blubbering Breitbarts need to get over it. Game over.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Don’t Menshn Otto English

Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff is not merely double-barrelled, she is also a Tory Councillor who sits on Scarborough Borough Council, and represents a ward near the North Yorkshire seaside town of Filey. But, sad to say, she is not well versed in the ways of the Web, to the extent that she has ended up blaming someone else for the error of her ways, even though a former Tory MP has gone in with both feet in her defence.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Donohue-Moncrieff is clearly pleased about the result of the EU referendum, and to show her appreciation of local support for the Leave campaign, she Tweeted out a photo telling “Hero of the Revolution: Farmer outside of Muston in N.Yorks who painted Vote Leave on his storage tank”. Given that is probably the main road through the village in the foreground, the identity of the farm will not be hard to find.
This does not seem to have occurred to her. So when the Tweeter otherwise known as Otto English observed “If it's the one I think it is they've received about £100k in last 5 years”, she was incandescent: “totally inappropriate to do this. What are you encouraging people to do?” Eh? He wondered why she had acted as she did: “Struggling to understand why you have copied North Yorkshire Police into your tweet”.
Still blissfully unaware that she had already identified the farm, Ms Donohue-Moncrieff carried blithely on: “you are attempting to identify people in order to imply they voted Leave. This is intimidation”. Otto English put her straight: “if you don't want to publicise someone I'd suggest not tweeting the name of the place their farm is at”. Quite. But then came the inevitable intervention from (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
Ms Mensch, as would be expected, knew more about the subject than everyone else put together, except she didn’t. So she not only got everything totally wrong, she also advocated the wasting of Police time for good measure. She stated by telling Otto English “you should be censured for such repellent doxxing on the basis of a vote”. There had been no doxxing. And it got worse - a lot worse.
For reasons of politics you publicized the address of a farmer for voting a way you didn't like”. Wrong. And she doesn’t know how he voted, or wanted anyone else to vote. Rob Smith pointed out “But the farmer wrote Vote Leave on his silo, farmer advertised his own voting intent”. Indeed. And another Tweeter had worse news for her.
It was down to Ms Donohue-Moncrieff: “Which @MichDonohue duly shared on social media. As an ex-CID officer, trust me - no case to answer”. Instead, Louise Mensch has encouraged Ms Donohue-Moncfieff to waste Police time making a complaint, defamed Otto English for non-existent doxxing, and failed totally to understand how locations can be identified from place names, photos and landmarks.

To appeal to authority based on ignorance of the subject and wilful stupidity is quite an achievement, even for Ms Mensch. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

IPSO CEO Gets Teed Off

Our free and fearless press is, mainly, regulated by a body calling itself IPSO, which stands for Independent Press Standards Organisation. This is meant to show unbelievers that this relatively new body is properly independent, unlike the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which certainly was not. But there is one problem with IPSO, and that is that it is not independent at all.
What's that on the wall? MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN ... What's that all about? Bloody migrants get everywhere

IPSO is funded by the Regulatory Funding Company, which is controlled by that part of the press which signs up to IPSO’s regulation. So if the allegedly independent regulator goes off-piste, it can be brought to heel in very short order simply by having the RFC turn off the money tap. IPSO is a press puppet, and does as it is bloody well told. Worse, its CEO, one Matt Tee, has also shown that his impartiality is non-existent.
Tee, whose latest media outing included the priceless claim that “Migrants as such are not a group that can be discriminated against” - try telling that to the Mail, Express, Sun and several other titles - has been excusing IPSO’s inability to do anything about pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins’ Sun column comparing refugees to cockroaches, offering the suitably lame excuse that the regulator cannot stop bad taste being published.
You see, bad taste is not covered by the Editor’s Code, a document that is in any case not worth the paper it is sometimes printed on, as the press manages to ignore it when push comes to shove, with IPSO then wiping their collective backsides. Yes, Tee was in proper hand-wringing mode, but later became positively Napoleonic when challenged over his clear lack of impartiality - a discussion with a very revealing conclusion.
After Tee had openly advertised an article in the FT which made partisan political comment, Tweeting “Top analysis and writing. Janan is a must read”, another Tweeter questioned his judgment: “why is the head of the ‘neutral’ press regulator sending out supportive Tweets on anti Corbyn pieces?” Good question. Would the IPSO CEO care to respond? “Because I celebrate quality journalism, whatever perspective it comes from”.
Not as CEO of IPSO, you don’t. His inquisitor came back with “Okay, but if I was the press regulator I wouldn’t comment on party political comment”. Privately, yes, but not on an open Twitter feed. What did The Great Man have to say to that? Tee summoned up all of his intellectual reserves and declared “And I am and you're never going to be”. He can be as partial as he likes, and with no risk that anyone will do anything about it.
Indeed, once can almost imagine Tee - another of those immodest men with much to be modest about - attired as Napoleon and declaring “L’IPSO, c’est moi”. There was never a more outstanding example of IPSO’s sheer uselessness, combined with the breathtaking arrogance of its placeman CEO, than Tee’s Twitter outburst, coming on the back of his excuse-making for more of that incitement which masquerades as journalism.

IPSO is the PCC, er, fluid in a differently labelled bottle. That’s fluid, as in the kind of fluid that Matt Tee is so full of. In addition to the wind that goes with it.

Sun Jihadi Exclusive Isn’t

Today’s front page splash from the Super Soaraway Currant Bun surfs the wave of paranoia following recent attacks in Nice and Northern France, telling readersSun Investigation … LONE WOLF PLOT TO BLITZ UK … We expose jihadi car bomb bid”. This slice of hokum might persuade the more susceptible among the paper’s readership, but this is not only not worth the “exclusive” tag, it is also not a new story.
Today's non-existent plot isn't a new story ...

Moreover, the claim “Jihadi spent two months coaching our man on the orders of ISIS’s top recruiter” is bunk. There is no evidence that the man at the other end of the conversation struck up by a Sun reporter pretending to be Muslim, and an ISIS sympathiser, was working on anyone’s orders but his own. And there was no “lone wolf” - unless you are willing enough to suspend disbelief and apply the term to a Sun hack.

It gets worse: the Sun story describes how their man was sent a bomb-making manual and instructed to load the device into a car, along with fireworks and a gun, and to drive somewhere like a shopping centre, then describes this as a “Nice style attack”. Except the Nice attack wasn’t a bombing - it was a truck driven through crowds of pedestrians. The only reason the attacker died was because he was shot dead.

What the Sun describes is a suicide attack - the driver of the car would be killed instantly when his bomb detonated. Then it gets worse still: the Sun tactic of claiming the paper had foiled an IS attack, and then running the story hard on the heels of a genuine terror attack elsewhere, is not new. The same kind of story was splashed across the front page just after last year’s beach massacre in Tunisia.
... it was run by the same paper last year

And there it is: “I. S. PLOT TO BOMB UK TODAY … Lee Rigby parade blast plan smashed”, from June 27, 2015. Same idea as today’s story. Same exchange of messages with supposed IS presence somewhere outside the jurisdiction of the law enforcement services. Same bomb-making manual sent. Same shoddy journalism (last year’s story couldn’t decide whether the targeted parade was in Woolwich, or Merton).

Today’s story is equally lame, telling “Our evidence has been passed to anti-terror police and MI5 … We are not revealing the location of the shopping centre at their request”. The cops were so excited, they commented “It is always helpful when journalists share with police information that could indicate terrorist or criminal activity”. Notice use of the word “could”. Because all this is is a Sun hack going looking for a story.

The shoddy journalism backing up the story includes this gem: “During the Telegram sessions with The Sun’s reporter, Khurasani referred to the IS attacks in Nice, Germany and the gay club in Florida as examples of what jihadis could achieve”. Nice was not a suicide bombing. There has not been a suicide bombing in Germany. The shooting at the gay club in Florida was not a suicide bombing.

So not only is this last year’s Sunexclusive” reheated, the standard of hackery is equally lame. There was no plot then, and there is none now. Crap newspaper, crap journalism.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Daily Mail Refugee Smear Exposed

The Daily Mail’s Scottish edition has been making a characteristic contribution to the demonisation of refugees in its own inimitable manner by pretending that those who have found a new home on the island of Bute want to leave, that they are somehow ungrateful for all the taxpayers’ cash that has been spent on them. They might have got away with it. But the locals are well used to the Mail’s modus operandi.
We want to leave, plead refugees on Scots Island … Syrian families say Bute ‘is where people come to die’is the headline of Maureen Sugden’s article, which was included with the Scottish Daily Mail last Monday. The framing of the story is typical Mail: “It was a scheme designed to offer Syrian refugees a new life in Scotland, away from the horrors of their war-ravaged homeland … But some of the first to be given sanctuary in Rothesay eight months ago have spoken of their unhappiness on Bute, saying it is ‘full of old people’ and a place ‘where people come to die’”.

Only later on do we read that the refugees are “Struggling to learn English”. They could have also meant “where people come to retire” - the concept being a European one, and likely to be unknown in their native Syria. But this fits the Mail’s agenda, while the paper indulges in some industrial-scale brass neck when identifying the families.

Names have been changed because of fears about family members still in Syria” tells Ms Sugden. SO WHY THE FULL COLOUR PHOTOS IDENTIFYING THE TWO FAMILIES YOU INTERVIEWED? But enough: you get the picture all too well. Local author Lisa O’Donnell was horrified at what she read, and put the Mail straight.

She took to Facebook to tell “A journalist came to the Island … and wrote this article based on information received from a local refugee with very limited English skills. It is clear to me what has been lost in translation … given he probably saw houses bombed and innocent children slain on Syrian streets it's fairly unlikely he said something like this … the deliberate misinterpretation of that grief by the DM is designed to incite hatred by making the family appear ungrateful”. And it got worse for the Mail.

Local island paper The Buteman ran an article yesterday painting a very different picture of how the refugees are faring there. “Of the 26 individuals needing help with the language, all except a small minority have regularly attended classes. To date, nine have achieved ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) SVQ qualifications, and 15 have received a certificate of achievement to mark their progression and attendance”.

There was more: “Some of the refugees are already in full-time employment, a number have summer jobs and several have applied for college courses. Five of the refugees have recently completed a Skills for Work programme … several are volunteering to help with setting up the site for this weekend’s ButeFest music festival”.

People on Bute have seen through the latest attempt by the Mail to turn the local population against refugees. Well done Lisa O’Donnell. Well done The Buteman. And shame, once again, on the appalling journalism of the Daily Mail.

Murdoch EU War Hypocrisy Busted

While Theresa May’s band of Ron Hopefuls continues to not impress anyone who matters, with Liam Fox demonstrating a sense of cluelessness that will have the Civil Service cringing in embarrassment, and David Davis believes we can discover a free trade area with a larger GDP than the entire world, the EU side of the Brexit negotiation has decided to act, and appoint the Brussels “Minister For Brexit”.
As the BBC has told, “Michel Barnier, a former French minister and ex-European Commission vice president, has been appointed as the commission's chief Brexit negotiator, by Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Juncker said he wanted ‘an experienced politician for this difficult job’. Mr Barnier will take up his position on 1 October”.
This news induced apoplexy in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate. The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn was in no doubt about the significance of the appointment: “Juncker appoints Michel Barnier as EU Commission's Brexit negotiator. Hard to think of a more anti-British figure, declaration of war”.
Another taker of the Murdoch shilling, Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times, was, to no surprise at all, in agreement: “Appointing Michel Barnier, one of the least popular ex commissioners in London, as point man for Brexit is an act of war by Juncker”. I mean, these rotten Eurocrats, how dare they take this Brexit business seriously?
The press people were not alone in their analysis, either, with the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog also deciding that war had been declared, even though it hadn’t. But Aoife White was unimpressed by the Fawkes folks: “Naming @MichelBarnier Brexit negotiator is ‘act of war’ to @GuidoFawkes - unfair to the most affable ex-commissioner”. And there was soon more pushing back.
Claire Stewart put it succinctly: “Melodrama of calling choice of Michael Barnier 'an act of war'. Who did you think it was going to be? Elmo?” Well, yes: the EU is taking the whole business seriously, and showing the referendum decision the respect it deserves, even though Ms May has appointed a troika of the variously clueless to fight our corner.
It gets worse: although the press seems to think that using the W-word (as in War) is fine for them, it is clearly not A Good Thing for broadcasters to do the same, and the Murdoch Times’ serially clueless pundit Tim Montgomerie went after BBC contributor Hugh Sykes for doing so: “‘Top’ BBC reporter Tweets that letting people have say on EU membership was ‘act of stupidity’ and ‘worse than war’”. Sykes didn’t say that, but hey ho.
Sadly, not only was that an act of monumental hypocrisy by the Murdoch doggies, Montgomerie had gone after a Real Journalist (tm) as Jimmy Smallwood pointed out to him: “@montie, @HughSykes has reported from war zones, survived a roadside bomb in Iraq and NI death threats. Don't question his credentials”. Ouch!

The moral of this particular story is clear: the Murdoch empire and its hangers-on can hyperventilate to their hearts’ content, but woe betide anyone they don’t like having an opinions. Oh, and the standard of EU reportage ain’t making it, guys.

Liam Fox - Terminally Clueless

If one man had to be selected to symbolise the disconnect between the belief of right-leaning pundits and hard reality, that man would be Liam Fox. Lauded by the likes of Conservative Home, many MPs on the right of his own party, and a string of equally clueless pundits, Fox is not just someone whose previous disgrace makes him unfit to even be an MP, he is ignorant to the point of national embarrassment.
Coming soon: it's goodnight from them

Liam Fox has been appointed Secretary of State for International Trade by new PM Theresa May. One might therefore expect that he would be able to muster sufficient knowledge of that subject to be able to speak coherently on it, even if only to yield sufficient soundbites to satisfy the press corps and not insert foot in mouth when so doing. Sadly, though, this straightforward task has proved beyond him.

This week’s events should prove instructive to all those prepared to judge Fox on the available evidence, rather than talking up his every utterance. Typical was his announcement that the UK would set up its first USA trade office in the state of North Carolina, an area that has faced protests and trade boycotts over a new law aimed at transgender people. PepsiCo and GE have since avoided the place.

Not only did Fox apparently blunder into this faux pas, he managed to get the Labour Party some press attention into the bargain, as leadership challenger Owen Smith called him out for his poor judgment - or maybe lack of it. Still, there was always Fox’s demand that Ms May take the UK out of the EU customs union. That would restore his reputation, wouldn’t it? Well, no: Chancellor Philip Hammond is not going to buy that one any time soon.

It gets worse. Fox had also proposed a free trade deal with the USA: “The US has rebuffed attempts by Liam Fox to open negotiations on a free trade deal, saying that ‘meaningful’ talks before Brexit were impossible … Dr Fox, the international trade secretary, who is on a three-day charm offensive in the US, later had comments he made on a possible trading agreement with the EU ‘clarified’ by No 10” reported the Times.

But it is his comment that, while withdrawing from the EU customs union, the UK “would probably seek to enter a free-trade agreement with the EU” instead. That is code for “he doesn’t have the first idea what he’s talking about”. Fox can have had no complaints about being stitched up by the rotten lefty media: his comments came in an interview for the Murdoch Wall Street Journal. He won’t get a more sympathetic platform.

Then he gave a speech in Chicago: “Promising there would be no backtracking on the UK referendum decision, he outlined a vision of the UK negotiating a phalanx of bilateral free trade deals”. Ri-i-ight. Backtracking will not be down to him - Ms May will see to that - and negotiating “bilateral free trade deals” will need someone to negotiate that. We don’t have any trade negotiators in Whitehall right now.

If Theresa May were setting up Brexit to fail, she could do no better than let Liam Fox show the world that he is the most singularly inept Englishman abroad since Carlton-Browne of the FO. And he was a fictional character in a comedy film.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Manchester Mayor - Labour Stitch-Up?

Members of the Labour Party are now casting their votes to select the nominees to go forward as the party’s candidates in the new Greater Manchester and Merseyside Region Mayoral contests. And word has arrived on Zelo Street that all is not well with many members in the Manchester area, who suspect the local establishment of being less than totally transparent about delays in getting ballot papers out - and maybe worse.
The story has already reached the press, with the Manchester Evening News report being typical: “Andy Burnham has sent a formal complaint to the Labour party after it emerged mayoral ballot papers had still not been sent out to members across Greater Manchester … The papers were originally meant to go out two week ago - but only started arriving today … Some Labour party members are still waiting”.

It got worse: “There have also been reports of confusion around e-ballots, which some members have either not received or have misunderstood and so deleted them”. Burnham has been joined in submitting a complaint by Steve Rotheram, who is running for the Merseyside Region nomination. The reason for the confusion with e-ballots becomes clear as soon as you see the email, a copy of which has been forwarded to Zelo Street.

The email, from which personal details have been redacted, tells “Over the coming weeks Labour members and supporters will choose our candidate for next Prime Minister of Britain. Details for that contest will be sent in due course … Enclosed in this email are details of this year’s ballot to elect your representatives on the National Executive Committee (NEC)”. Nothing about nominees for Mayoral elections there.
Indeed, the email is titled “Labour NEC Ballot: How to cast your vote”, and only in the final paragraph before voting instructions are given does it concede “This year, members will be electing six Constituency Labour Party representatives to the NEC. Labour Councillors also have a vote for two Local Government places. Some members will also be able to vote for Labour’s candidate for directly elected Mayor in their area”.

As the Mayoral contests were not mentioned in the title of the email, and indeed, were introduced in an almost discreet fashion well down the body of the text, it’s not difficult to see why so many Labour members either binned the email, or assumed it was not relevant to the Mayoral nomination. The MEN story hints at the likely beneficiary.

Neither Tony Lloyd nor Ivan Lewis has backed Andy Burnham’s complaint. Mr Lloyd said extending the date when ballot papers have a deadline of August 5 printed on them would lead to more confusion … Mr Lewis’s campaign declined to comment”. It’s entirely off the record (of course) but word from Tony Lloyd’s camp is that the lower the turnout, the greater the likelihood of their man winning the contest.

It may be mere coincidence that Tony Lloyd stands to benefit from what appears to be more cock-up than conspiracy, of course. I’ll just leave that one there.

Corbyn - We Have To Talk

Lyndon Johnson had to ask an old colleague to draft him a speech on the subject of economics. He approved enthusiastically: “It’s exactly what I want to say. I’m not going to change a word. It’s great”. Then he added “But I can tell you something. Nobody else will think so”. And then came the legendary dose of scatology. “Did y’ever think … that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else”. The Johnson metaphor is still relevant today.
It speaks to the problems faced by the Labour Party right now, and would go some way to showing why having half a million members will not necessarily propel The Red Team into power - if those who have invested their faith in Jeremy Corbyn would listen.
Here on Zelo Street, we give those gratuitously attacking politicians and public figures for no good reason short shrift. As a result, many who have pursued the Corbyn leadership for nothing more than self-promotion and the satisfaction of proprietorial or editorial diktat have found adverse comment passed upon them. But that does not mean Corbyn’s shortcomings should be given a free pass, and they have not been.
There are many deficiencies in Corbyn’s leadership, but we need only consider one of them today: his ability to look Prime Ministerial enough to persuade swing voters to back him in a General Election. It is little use having half a million people who think that leadership seems hot to them, when it is a number millions larger that has to be swung behind his banner. He does not look electable to the voters he needs to persuade.
And to underscore this lack of electability has come the latest poll from ICM, which shows General Election voting intention percentages at 43% for the Tories, and 27% for Labour. A Tory lead of 16%. This would translate into the Tories gaining 45 seats, and Labour losing 44. That means ending up with fewer seats than Michael Foot won in 1983, generally accepted as the recent nadir in Labour electoral fortunes.
But, those protesting will tell, look at the internal strife caused by those dissenting from the Corbyn leadership, and the rotten press coverage. Well, yes, but Ed Miliband was frequently mired in talk of challenges and plots - and his treatment by the right-wing press verged on the vicious. At this stage in the electoral cycle, Labour under Miliband had an 8% lead over the Tories. His worst opinion poll return was a 6% Tory lead.
Every polling measure shows Labour under Corbyn way off the pace, typical being “Best team to run the economy”, which has Theresa May and Philip Hammond on 53%, with Corbyn and John McDonnell on 15%. So many have said it, but I will say it again: there is no path to securing change without securing power. And the most effective way of securing power is to win elections. Right now, Corbyn is on course not to win, but be routed.

All those followers enthusiastically pissing down their legs will not change that. Just because it feels hot to you does not mean those who matter are listening. That is all.

More United Attack Fawked

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown appeared before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm) last Sunday to let the viewers know about More United, which describes itself asa tech-driven political startup created to give a voice to the millions of open, tolerant people in Britain who feel the political system doesn’t speak for them anymore”. It is supported by people from across the political spectrum.
But while they talk of “using the power of the Internet to transform the way politics is funded, making it easier for moderate, progressive MPs to get elected and creating a new centre of political gravity in the UK”, More United stress that “We are not a political party and we won't stand candidates in elections. Instead we will drive change by giving financial and human resource to candidates, from all parties and none, who formally commit to support our principles”. This is not difficult to understand.

Or rather, it can be difficult to understand if you are the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, whose right-wing paymasters have clearly decided that More United has to be taken out before it can do anything like, er, drive the change that is clearly part of its modus operandi. So out has come the smearing iron.

‘Non-Partisan’ More United Is Lib Dem Front Group” declared the Fawkes massive this morning, to the clear surprise of those allied to this group who are not Lib Dems, or indeed allied to any political party. The Great Guido goes on to ask “who is working More United behind the scenes?” Er, probably those we know about. But do go on.

Well, top LibDem Paddy Ashdown is a director. As is Elizabeth Mayhew, Nick Clegg’s former correspondence secretary. Then there is LibDem peer Rumi Verjee. And former LibDem press officer Debbie Gore and HQ staffer Austin Rathe. As well as former LibDem candidate Maajid Nawaz and one time LibDem supporter Sunny Hundal”. And to that I call bullshit. My good friend Sunny Hundal is definitely not a Lib Dem, and indeed has been helping out recently with Political Scrapbook, which is also definitely not Lib Dem.

It gets worse: while the Fawkes rabble moan that “Celeb backers include the most frightful bores like Dan Snow and Caroline Criado-Perez”, they aren’t Lib Dems either. Nor is Jonathon Porritt, who is from the Green Party. Nor is Martha Lane Fox, who has worked for the Cameron Government and sits in the Lords as a cross-bencher. Nor is Simon Schama, who is a supporter of the Labour Party.

So when The Great Guido sniggers “What a surprise that this collection of metropolitan losers masquerading as a non-partisan political movement is just a front group for tired old LibDems”, they are not only talking out of the backs of their necks, they are just plain jealous that some of the country’s more upwardly mobile movers and shakers have joined a movement over which they have no leverage.

More United is a bold idea. It may or may not work. But what it is not is a front for the Lib Dems, or indeed any other party. So that’s the usual Fawkes level of accuracy. Another fine mess, once again.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Piers Morgan’s Lost Causes

You have to hand it to Piers Morgan: if you’re his pal, he will defend you even when others have long abandoned the cause. For him, loyalty to friends is clearly to be taken seriously, even to the bewilderment of everyone else. Today, his chosen lost cause was the now-disgraced former boss of BHS Philip Green, who is on track to be stripped of the knighthood many believe he should never have been awarded in the first place.
Green, as I’ve previously told, was today excoriated in an MPs’ report that took his alleged business acumen apart, and concluded that BHS, all of whose stores will close very soon, had been subjected to “systematic plunder”, the most obvious example being a pension fund shortfall of more than £570 million. While all this was going on, Green and his family were becoming enriched beyond most peoples’ dreams of avarice.
Morgan was - almost alone in the print and broadcast media today - ready to defend Green to viewers of ITV Good Morning Britain, although his campaign developed not necessarily to his advantage. Here on Zelo Street, though, Piers Morgan always gets cut a little slack, as he stood against the Iraq adventure when it was fashionable to go with the crowd, something for which Alastair Campbell has still not forgiven him.
But his innings today got off to a sticky start when he opined “Just pointing out that Sir Philip has been very generous to a lot of charities over the years”. That sounds awfully like the defence of Dinsdale Piranha: “He was a lovely man, he bought his mother flowers an’ that”. The journalistic licence didn’t help, either: “I didn't defend what he did at BHS & I can’t … I just don't share the popular view he's a monster”.
Bloody hell Piers, nobody is suggesting he’s a “monster”, just that he shafted BHS. And although his initial reaction was to stand by Green and not be swayed by mass sentiment - “I'd rather stay true to myself & what I honestly feel than run with the baying mob” - reaction to his GMB pitch has not been favourable. At all.
Indeed, Danny Baker had to point out to Morgan a most unfortunate incident: “When we did Apprentice he thought I was crew member & was pompous & boorish. When told who i was changed completely”. What say Piers to that one? “He has his faults but I'd rather wait to see how he resolves the BHS situation before passing final judgement … The BHS employees & pension holders must be recompensed & looked after. I hope Sir Philip does this”. Well, he’ll need to write out a cheque for £570 million - and then honour it.
I know Piers Morgan likes to stick by his pals, but as with Andy Coulson, who presided over what was a borderline criminal enterprise at the late and not at all lamented Screws, and Donald Trump, who has abused and alienated many in his own chosen party on his way to securing the Republican nomination for the US Presidency, he does seem to back lost causes way past the point that others might at least keep schtum.

Philip Green’s behaviour is beyond forgivable. The BHS employees who are getting screwed over for their years of moderately paid loyalty can attest to that.

The Tories’ Philip Green Problem

Sir” Philip Green, sitting there in Monaco atop his unfeasibly large pile of money, pondering his leisure options which may include a highly specified yacht, executive jet, and an unending stream of hot and cold, well, just about anything, has few cares in the world beyond the revulsion of his homeland at the successive acts of familial enrichment which have left the BHS pension fund in the mire and the taxpayer potentially on the hook.

Sadly, though, Green is about to be distracted from the momentary interest of his gilded existence by a most inconvenient event: as the Guardian has told, “Green’s business reputation is torn apart in the report put together by MPs on the work and pensions select committee and the business, innovation and skills (BIS) committee, who concluded there was ‘little to support the reputation for retail business acumen for which he received his knighthood’”. The verdict on his stewardship of BHS is particularly harsh.

The Guardian again: “BHS was subject to ‘systematic plunder’ by former owners Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective ‘hangers-on’, according to MPs, leading to the collapse of a company that once employed 11,000 people [the report] says the ‘tragedy’ of BHS was the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’ and raises questions about how the governance of private companies and their pension funds should be regulated”.

Green is likely to be asked to make up the shortfall in the BHS pension scheme or be stripped of his knighthood, which would be embarrassing for him, but potentially far worse for the Tories, who invested heavily in Green’s supposed business acumen not long after the Coalition Government took office back in 2010.

How heavily did the Tories invest? Well, then Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude oversaw Green’s lead role in an efficiency review, which identified a number of areas where money might be saved. Maude was positively effusive in his praise for The Great Man: “The scale of the waste uncovered by Sir Philip and his team is staggering … His review shows that for too long there has been no coherent strategy to make government operate more efficiently”. And how was the future Mr Green able to make his conclusions?

You’ll love this one: “Sir Philip and his team were given access to departments’ resource accounts and information on government contracts and leases”. The spiv who fleeced BHS in order to enrich his family was given information from which he could very easily have profited, if only by making it available elsewhere.

Philip Green was appointed to head that review not by some middle-ranking minister, but by Young Dave personally. One can only assume that the order to open the books to Green and his team came from an equally highly placed source. Small wonder Cameron and his former next-door neighbour George Osborne are not only on the back benches, but also looking like they will stay there until they depart the Commons.

Tory sleaze did not end in May 1997. Dave’s legacy is unravelling already.

Kelvin McFilth Ups The Stakes

As Zelo Street regulars will recall, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie demonstrated his talent for forthright bigotry recently when he went after Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji, who had committed the heinous crime of not only fronting Channel 4 News, but also dressing in the same way she always does. The latter involves wearing a headscarf, or hijab. For most viewers this does not present a problem.
But for Kel, coming at the time of the Nice attacks, it meant the broadcaster was in league with the Scary Muslims (tm), and was a provocation of a severity not known since someone went up to one of Derek and Clive at a Spurs home game against Arsenal and said “Hello”. What was Kel to do? He wasn’t going to be put upon by someone doing something worse than coming up to him and saying “Hello”, was he?

So Kel not only went after Ms Manji, Jon Snow, and anyone else he could connect to Channel 4, he also doubled down on the abuse later, which led the presenter and her boss to complain directly to press regulator IPSO. Around 2,000 other complaints had already been received by IPSO by that stage. The regulator is now facing the prospect of bawling out the Sun, or demonstrating that is is a toothless sham.

All this has put Kel in what Spike Milligan might have called A Very Difficult Position. He’s been called out for his boorish, aggressive and bigoted behaviour, but saying sorry is out of the question for those who live in their hermetically sealed elite media bubble. So he is not just going to continue to play the helpless victim, he is also going to complain about Channel 4 to media regulator Ofcom. Seriously.

We know this because he has spelled it out in his latest lamentable column for the Sun, where he firstly says the BBC nearly banned symbols of religious affiliation, but didn’t, and then suggests the Beeb’s consideration for so doing - “especially at a time of heightened religious tension” - automatically applies to Channel 4, even though the BBC didn’t rule on the issue, and what they decide is not binding on other broadcasters.

He then deploys a diversionary tactic, combined with faux appeal to authority, by telling “I am the liberal in this argument as progressive female Muslims look upon the headscarf as a sign of submission … Don’t take my word for it … I know a Turkish Muslim who [miraculously agrees with him]”, before dropping his bombshell: “I will be looking at making a formal complaint to Ofcom under the section of the broadcasting code which deals with impartiality”. A Sun pundit will call lack of impartiality on a broadcaster. Ri-i-ight.

And the reasoning? “Since the question of religious motivation was central to the coverage of the Nice attack, I would ask whether it is appropriate for a newsreader to wear religious attire that could undermine the viewers’ perception of impartiality … For television dealing in such sensitive issues, surely it makes sense that reporters, when dealing with Muslim terrorist outrages, don’t wear the headscarf”. No it doesn’t.

Kel says he’s going to make his decision next Friday, which is code for “Ofcom is more likely to act than IPSO, so withdraw your complaint, Channel 4 people, or I’ll have you worked over, because I can”. If Ofcom have any cojones, they will be waiting for the SOB and will refer him to the precedent legal case of Arkell versus Pressdram 1971.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Carole Malone - The Poor Victim

The Mirror titles are the only national papers that support the Labour Party. Or perhaps that should read “usually support the Labour Party”, because they are becoming uneasy at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn continuing to be leader, and so going from lukewarm support to outright hostility. And there are few more hostile parts of the Mirror than that occupied by their very own Sunday Glenda, Carole Malone.
Ms Malone recently got her facts and her history horribly wrong when she talked of Lenin and the Gulag (not contemporaneous), and tried to suggest that Corbyn supporters were behind threats to MP Luciana Berger, when that was down to a far-right provocateur. But she is nothing if not a real trouper, and so has returned to the fray today to blame her lousy research on anyone and everyone else. Cos she didn’t do it.

She does not make an auspicious start: “I don’t suppose the Corbynistas thought I’d write about this again. I’m sure they thought the insults, the intimidation, the trolling would silence me, that it would put me, a mere woman, in my place. Nope, sorry. No can do”. You can’t claim the moral high ground when you use nicknames coined by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.

And pointing out that something is wrong is not intimidation or trolling. But do go on. Ms Malone, like Dan Hodges, uses Angela Eagle as first witness: “She and her staff have suffered so much abuse she can’t now do her job as an MP because the police have advised her if she goes ahead with meetings in her Wallasey constituency she could be in danger”. No they haven’t. She is continuing with meetings.

Not so heavy on the research, eh? But there’s more: “last week I was branded a liar because a death threat to MP Luciana Berger - which was initially thought to be from a Labour supporter - turned out not to be. Which gave Corbyn’s nasty little gang carte blanche to abuse me, to call me a liar, to trash everything else I’d said about the intimidation and the bullying of women”. She got it wrong, that’s all.

Had she bothered to find out, she’d have known Ms Berger’s threat did not come from anywhere near the Labour Party. It’s no use blaming others for not getting your facts right - something that newspaper pundits find so hard to accept is that the days when they could just churn out any old rubbish and few would know any difference are long gone.

Still, let’s cut to the question Ms Malone wants answering: “So why are people refusing to accept the ugly truth - that Corbyn’s Labour has given free rein to a vicious gang of bullies and misogynists who don’t want women in politics?” The answer is that there is no defined gang, vicious or otherwise, and the number of women who turn out to cheer Jezza on tends to give the lie to Ms Malone’s simplistic victimhood.

There are many things one could criticise about Jeremy Corbyn (policy definition is often poor or haphazard, he’s a poor Commons performer and speaker, doesn’t get after the Tories when he should, is not well-liked outside his own party or sometimes within it, gives too many hostages to fortune, isn’t cutting through with the electorate, looks like he’ll lose the next election big time), but Carole Malone gets sidetracked and misses them.

The problem here is not Corbyn. It’s Carole Malone’s crap journalism and research.

Munich Shooting - Breitbart Paranoia

The killing of nine mainly young people at a shopping centre near the German city of Munich has been reported, analysed, and discussed for much of the past 48 hours. We know that the perpetrator was a young man who had been bullied at school and had researched mass killing. We also know that he was born in Germany, and so the idea of pinning the crime on refugees is not going to work this time.
I wonder where they get that conspiracy instinct?

Ali Sonboly had also developed a fascination with Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, and it may have been this that led him to execute his planned attack five years to the day after Breivik’s rampage in Oslo, and on the island of Utoya. As the Guardian observed, “Germany has a grim track record of attacks on young people, with two teenagers returning to their schools to launch massacres in the last 15 years, one in 2002 and a second in 2009”. But one “news” source knew better.

At the convocation of the uniformly batshit otherwise known as Breitbart, only one conclusion could be drawn from the shootings, and that was the Scary Muslims (tm) were behind it. So every scrap of material was dredged up to make the narrative fit the conclusion in an attempt to prove this conspiracy theory true.

Their first account starts relatively normally: “At least nine people have been killed and 21 wounded after a gunman opened fire on shoppers in the German city of Munich before killing himself. The attacker has been identified as Ali David Sonboly, an 18-year-old German-Iranian dual citizen”. But then we read “Now German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière says the attacker had no links to international terrorism”.

Boo Hoo! And there was more: “After denying Islamist links, police try to link gunman to Anders Breivik, the Norwegian nationalist who killed 77 people five years ago yesterday”. But the Breitbart mob weren’t taking that as final. Raheem “Call me Ray” Kassam knew there was a conspiracy: “The BBC has unilaterally chosen not to report the Munich attacker’s full name, in what appears to be an attempt to scrub any Muslim or Islamic heritage link to its coverage of the incident”. See, it was Scary Muslims (tm)!

And just to make sure their readers knew what to think, there was another article tellingThe attack sparked fears of a new jihadist attack on the West, but police later described it as ‘classic act by a deranged person’ obsessed with massacres who had no link to the Islamic State group”. This piece then tried to link the Munich attack to other killings.

To no surprise at all, it tried to connect the Munich killings to attacks in the USA, Belgium, France, Turkey, Tunisia, and even Egypt. The Egyptian killing was the bombing of a Russian airliner last October. One hates to sound slightly uncharitable towards the batshit Breitbarts here, but the idea that there was some connection, other than that people got killed, is total baloney. There is no conspiracy. This one is not going anywhere.

Breitbart - where they could find terrorist conspiracy in a road accident. No change there, then.

Dan Hodges Sells The Corbyn Pass

While Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party continues, and continues to attract significant hostility from the generally right-leaning press, his very presence is taxing some pundits to the extent that they veer over the reality line. There is no pundit more susceptible to this tendency than the not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has brought forth an excellent example of his craft today.
He's desperate, Dan

Whether or not Hodges is still a member of the Labour Party - he flounced out during the Miliband years, only to come back last year - is not known. But he really, really cares about it, so much so that he will take the money from the Mail On Sunday while putting the boot in. “Reckon he's a nice, decent bloke? Well let me show you the dark, menacing reality behind 'The Great Corbyn Myth’is the all-revealing headline.

Firstly, Hodges frames his attack: “The last time I talked to Jo Cox she was scared. It was 12 days after she had expressed her regret at nominating Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership. Her office had been inundated with phone calls. Many of them were aggressive, some were openly abusive”. Remember Jo Cox? Well, that Corbyn and his followers were rotten to her! So believe what you’re going to be told, right?

And under cover of this sympathy blanket, Dan drops his first whopper: “On Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn formally launched his re-election bid. ‘I hold out the hand of friendship,’ he said. Then he announced all Labour MPs would be facing mandatory reselection”. Except that wasn’t actually what he said, was it? Corbyn merely reiterated the party’s rules, which allow for reselection. He was also talking about how things will look in 2020.

The next General Election will almost certainly be fought on new constituency boundaries, which will mean some MPs - sometimes of the same party - competing for seats, as there will be fewer of them. So how else would Hodges want to see such disputes settled, other than by some kind of democratic process? Still, Desperate Dan could always fall back on the claims of bullying and intimidation, especially when it concerned other Labour MPs.

Typical of this tactic was “it was announced that police had advised Angela Eagle to cancel all her public surgeries on safety grounds”. Two things here. One, the Police do not comment on advice they give to public figures. And two, Ms Eagle has not cancelled “all her public surgeries”. She has cancelled walk-in surgeries, but will still meet constituents by appointment, and will attend constituency events. Still, details, eh?

Plus there is always the old chestnut of name-calling to fall back on: “Jeremy Corbyn is not a nice or decent man. He is a coward. He is a hypocrite. He is a bully. And he is a fraud”. Coming hard on the heels of his shamelessly milking the memory of Jo Cox, deliberately misrepresenting the bloke he’s attacking, and telling a whopper about Angela Eagle and her Police advice, that is, as one recent Labour leader might have put it, a bit rich.

Dan Hodges doesn’t like Jeremy Corbyn leading the Labour Party. We can figure that out without the deflection and dishonesty, thanks.

Top Six - July 24

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 domestic clear-up stuff to do later. So there.
6 Milo Shunned - By His Own Side The Twitter ban on the repellant Milo Yiannopoulos was roundly ignored by many on the libertarian right.

5 Katie Hopkins Munich Muslim Meltdown Hatey Katie did not need to wait to find out the story behind the Munich killings - she was already sufficiently paranoid to know that the Scary Muslims (tm) were the ones Wot Done It.

4 So Farewell Then Milo Yiannopoulos The antics of self-promotion specialist Yiannopoulos caused Twitter to ban him permanently, to the relief of many who wished it had happened earlier.

3 Sun Channel 4 Bigotry Busted The attack by former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth on Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji was totally out of order. No surprise there, then.

2 Bataclan Torture Story - THE END The Murdoch-bankrolled Heat Street website’s recycling of a conspiracy theory alleging torture during the Bataclan Theatre siege was finally and irrevocably called out.

1 Simon Danczuk - A Tory MP? Rochdale’s under-fire MP has been cosying up to The Blue Team. You read it here first.

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