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Monday, 22 September 2014

Everyday Labour Conference Sexism

Party conferences give the press an excellent opportunity to actually do some real reporting. Sadly, very little of this takes place: instead, the hacks and pundits tend to project what they think will attract or repel their readers (depending on the political stance of the paper concerned) onto the participants. Additionally, the Labour conference allows antediluvian right-wingers to show they’re past their sell-by date.
What's f***ing wrong with leering at a few girlies, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

This is typified by a combination of patronising, leering objectification and sexist behaviour directed towards all women who have the audacity to voice views that may be interpreted as being to the left of those that the press have decided they should hold. It is then backed up by those of the premature dinosaur tendency, such as the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not).

So today’s speech by Gloria de Piero, who speaks on equality for Labour, was not only fraudulently misrepresented (monitoring staff backgrounds translated as “She aims to cut the number of privately educated people in public sector”, for instance), but used as an excuse to publish several photos of her, discuss her clothes, and insist on calling someone who is 41 years old “Miss”.

What message is being sent to readers? Is there a reasoned and thoughtful analysis of Ms de Piero’s speech? As if you need to ask: the most important thing as far as the Mail is concerned is to tell “Showstopper: In a sleeveless two-tone shift dress and strappy wedge heels former GMTV presenter Gloria De Piero gesticulated passionately during her speech to the Labour party conference in Manchester”.

So she was On Telly once. So was Esther McVey, and in a rare case of equal treatment, that’s one particular Tory MP who will probably get the same kind of crap next week in Birmingham. Elsewhere, the appalling Letts has decided to patronise Justine Thornton, because she is married to Mil The Younger: “Justine gazed at her beau, fragrant...but baffled”. Yes, she’s just the little woman, eh Quent?

And there was more: “Glam Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the Commons, rose to her hams and said that the Coalition Government was ‘hell bent on dismantling all of the NHS bit by bit’. I don’t suppose even Sister Eagle believes that for a minute. It was crazed, desperate exaggeration, the sort of thing you expect from student Trots, not from a senior MP who hopes to be in the Cabinet in eight months

Quent believes that only feminists refer to women as women (rather than “ladies”, his preferred 1970s style), and to finish, he too had a kick at Ms de Piero: “Frontbencher Gloria De Piero was aghast that more MPs had not been manual workers. Her own former occupation: Breakfast TV cutie”. Tomorrow: Littlejohn will describe them all as “dopey birds” and claim he’s only saying what his readers are thinking.

Objectification, sexism, misogyny – yes, it’s all happening in the Daily Mail.

Hilary Mantel Thatcher Blowback

Author Hilary Mantel has won the Man Booker prize twice. She has been made a Dame for services to literature. And she has recently become a favourite target for that part of the press than likes to go into why-oh-why mode as a means of frightening readers (who will generally be upstanding, hard-working and conservative) and thereby boosting sales.
The event that set this process in train was a lecture given at the British Museum, where Ms Mantel talked of how the press gave a particular impression of the Duchess of Cambridge. The conclusion – urging that they shouldn’t be so beastly to Kate – underscored this. But, for the Daily Mail, this was a heaven-sent opportunity to paint the author as a part of the “out of touch metropolitan elite” (tm).

So what Ms Mantel had attributed to the press treatment of the Duchess was asserted to be her own view. Twitter was trawled extensively to find those of like mind. Young Dave allowed himself to be outraged, along with those all-important Daily Mail Readers with whom the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre enjoys his daily “conversation”. It set the template for the future.

And so it came to pass: Ms Mantel has penned a collection of short stories, one of which is an alternative reading of recent history called The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983. It is clearly a work of fiction. Yet the Mail, once again, has exploded in faux outrage, lining up The Usual Suspects to heap condemnation on Ms Mantel – and, of course, the Guardian for publishing it.

The line-up of critics is as predictable as it is laughable: Tim Bell, attempting to occupy the moral high ground despite being caught openly, er, stimulating himself by hand in full view of passers-by, wants the Police to waste their time doing some kind of investigation. Tory MP Conor Burns, a professional nonentity who once met Mrs T, wibbled about “the disordered psyche of some on the left”.

Yes, you don’t like what they say, they must be part of “the left”. Another Tory back bencher destined to remain one, Nadine Dorries, worried that “It is about a character whose demise is so recent”. And the Mail ordered Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover to suggest that Ms Mantel is trying to legitimise assassination of political leaders that “the left” do not like, which she is not.

Glover also dishonestly suggests that “the left” would be in uproar if this kind of thing had been written about the likes of Michael Foot and Tony Benn. He forgets the outpouring of right-wing hatred and bile that accompanied Foot’s death, and was then replicated when Benn passed, which is interesting, because much of the nastiness was in the same paper for which he is now writing.

Meanwhile, Hilary Mantel has done nothing wrong. Read her short story HERE.

English Votes For Clueless Pundits

If anyone needed a demonstration of the way in which factual and rational discussion is shamelessly replaced by partisan politics in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, the frankly pathetic attempts by some pundits to frame the “English Home Rule” question will satisfy their curiosity. To pontificate in the press, one need not know anything about what is involved. All that is needed is rabid bluster.
Hey - that looks like a policy over there!

Ed refuses to back English home rule 13 times!howls the Mail. The Telegraph assertsMiliband cornered over home rule”, while the Murdoch Times claims “Cameron wants vote on English home rule”. This is frightfully good stuff chaps, but when is someone going to define “English home rule” when we are part of something called the United Kingdom?
Perhaps they mean a devolution of powers in line with what has been transferred, and promised, to Scotland? But some of those powers (not all, though) have also been transferred to the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff. So what’s with the emphasis on Scottish MPs? And some powers, for instance, have been devolved to City Hall in London. Do London MPs get shut out, too?
Even the narrative is inept: the Mail talks of “David Cameron’s proposal for ‘home rule’ for England”, and the Telegraphplans set out by the Prime Minister for ‘home rule’ in England”. THERE ARE NO PLANS OR PROPOSALS. As a result, no decision has been taken on what powers will be devolved where. “English home rule” exists at present only as a device for Cameron to gain political advantage.
You think I jest? Consider what legal commentator Jack of Kent has had to say on the affair: “Enjoying watching those who support ‘supremacy of Parliament’ now trying to limit powers of some MPs with ‘English votes for English laws’ ... It appears Parliament is ‘sovereign’ and ‘supreme’ unless you are a Scottish MP, when somehow it isn’t ... Good constitutional logic there”.
He went on “Either Parliament is ‘supreme’ or it is not; and, if it is, Scottish MPs can vote on what they want just like English and Welsh MPs can ... Parliamentary supremacy must mean all MPs are equal. But ‘English votes for English laws’ means some MPs will be more equal than others”. In other words, Cameron’s supposed proposals are going nowhere. They are just a way of kicking Labour.
The way in which the right-wing press is misleading its readers – probably because its hacks and pundits can’t grasp the issues themselves – is as shameless as it is deliberate. And why this should be is clear: Labour saved Cameron’s skin on the Scotland vote, and the idea that Miliband could gain popularity and inch closer to 10 Downing Street as a result is scaring the press shitless.

So expect more of this crashingly inept punditry for the next eight months.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Football Racism – Sadly Still Alive

[Update at end of post]

We are told that the days when black players were subjected to the taunt of “monkey”, and “fans” did monkey impressions and threw bananas at them, are in the past, or at least confined to Italy. Here in England, we have accepted teams that reflect a multiracial and multicultural background, and can be assured that all that gratuitous racism is a thing of the past.
Well, have I got news for you: when Mario Balotelli, formerly of Inter Milan, Man City, A C Milan and now at Liverpool, took to Twitter to show his amusement at Man United’s defeat at Leicester this afternoon, all hell broke loose and the striker was subjected to a veritable tsunami of racist bile. There was screen after screen of it: one did not have to go looking very far.
Just filtering the abuse on the word “monkey” produced hundreds of Tweets. Many were grammatically and linguistically inept; this did not stop some using terms such as “retard” in addition. There were banana and jungle references.
Also in abundance were variants on the N-word, along with MF and “bitch”. The more creative abusers included banana graphics. Occasionally there was a reply pointing out the racism. This did not stem the tide.
Along the way, derogatory references to Balotelli’s family history were posted. Others made references to hygiene. The player was accused of being a Scouser (er, no) and there were generous applications of the F-word.
One “fan” considered that it was not Balotelli’s business to pass an opinion, while another worked the word “dog” into a Tweet. Another gave the impression they used to watch Love Thy Neighbour. The obligatory Napoli reference was included.
On and on flowed the tide of, one has to say it, filth. This included references to sexual violence and a variety of body parts and extremities. As Retweets of Balotelli’s brief Tweet piled up, so did the abuse.

And what came clear was that none of those dispensing the abuse seemed in the least bit concerned. Now, no-one wants to see social media censored, but this is verging on the totally inexcusable. It’s blindingly obvious that racism in and around football has not been stamped out – it’s just been driven out of the grounds, and away from the buses, coaches and trains, into peoples’ homes.

What Mario Balotelli was subjected to was bang out of order. Full stop, end of story.

[UPDATE 2040 hours: the Echo has reported that Merseyside Police have begun an investigation into the slew of abusive Twitter comments directed at Mario Balotelli.

As a result, I have contacted them and made available the Twitter extracts used on this blog post. There is no place for this kind of behaviour, not just in and around football, but anywhere. Full stop, end of story]


English Home Rule – Hello Lynton

The leaders of the largest Parliamentary parties invested significant credibility in their “vow” to the Scottish people: there would be more powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote. Now they have to deliver, and one of them has a problem: Young Dave has many unhappy back-benchers to placate, and he needs to counter the impression that Labour pulled him out of a hole.
So it should surprise no-one to see the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate banging on abouthome rule for England”, that MPs representing Scottish constituencies can be easily prevented from voting on purely English issues, and that all of this is “fair”. This looks to have the paw prints of somebody’s crudely populist Aussie spinner all over it, and it’s going to unravel in short order.

More powers for Scotland will indeed create an imbalance with the rest of the UK. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the idea that devolution for England can be tied to the same timescale as the already tight one for Scotland is absurd: it falls apart on the very first point, which is to ask to whom those powers will be devolved. There isn’t a mechanism for doing that.

Now look at the reality: for Scotland, and indeed, with very little change, for Wales, there is already a body in place to take on those powers, and a process in place for their transfer. For England, not only is there no process in place, there is no body, and no agreement as to what form the body or bodies should take, or what parts of the country they should represent.

What are we talking here? Regions? Cities? City regions (like Merseyside and Greater Manchester – in other words, the areas covered by the metropolitan counties whose authorities were abolished by Mrs T, partly because they all returned Labour majority administrations)? Is Cameron suggesting this conversation can be had, a result agreed, and bodies set up, in the next few weeks?

Is he buggery. To devolve powers in England to the same timetable as that which will be required to fulfil the promise – yes, promise – made to the Scots is not even remotely feasible, except in the minds of press owners, editors and pundits who are either sympathetic to the Tories, who just go with the herd, or who are generally so credulous as not to subject this drivel to a basic reality check.

What we have here is opportunist spin, nothing more. Someone behind the scenes is deploying his dog-whistle, and that someone is not Cameron, and nor is it any other member of his Cabinet. This particular stick of rock appears to have Lynton Crosby running through it. It is cheap, it is crass, it is pointless, and to call it unhelpful in the extreme would be to exercise just a little too much restraint.

English Home Rule”? That’s what the papers print when the Tories don’t have any.

Christopher Booker Is Unwell

When it comes to the debate on Europe, one constant is the stance taken by Christopher Booker. Whatever comes out of the EU is A Very Bad Thing, is to be vigorously opposed, and is proof of whatever doom-laden prediction he made all those years ago when Sailor Heath was Prime Minister. We can, he has made no secret in telling, do fine without the EU.
Can this be the same man?

Indeed, he has told repeatedly (see HERE and HERE) how the UK can enjoy just as much influence outside the EU, his contention usually being spun around membership of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Thus he has given the Eurosceptics a touchstone: not for nothing does James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole refer to him as “The mighty Booker”.

But now, the mighty rock that was Booker appears to be cracking, although this will, as with all extreme weather events, have nothing at all to do with climate change, honestly. The Great Man has not only begun to agree with what the EU is doing, he is also pouring scorn on the Eurosceptics’ supposedly solid case for life outside the club, comparing them unfavourably with Alex Salmond.

I’m afraid all that hyper-ventilating about how Brussels is trying to save the planet by ‘banning’ our vacuum cleaners misses the point ... In fact, there is no ‘ban’ on powerful vacuums ... What Brussels is doing, under its Ecodesign Directive 2009/125, is to encourage manufacturers to develop appliances that require less electricity to produce a much more efficient performancehe asserted.

Yes, while the Daily Mail was encouraging its readers to buy up stocks of otherwise unwanted vacuum cleaners, Booker was supportive of the new rules. OK, he did have a get-out clause: “Brussels is following moves in the US to reduce electricity demand by switching to appliances that are much more efficient”. But he was supporting the new standards. And, as the man said, there’s more.

The Yes campaign failed to carry the Scottish referendum because theyso obviously didn’t have a plausible ‘exit plan’ to convince voters that an independent Scotland could prosper ... But we can see exactly the same fatal flaw in all those who clamour for Britain to leave the EU”. Wait, what?

He meant it: “A properly worked out case to show how Britain could indeed thrive outside the EU (and still have full access to its single market) has no more been put by the Eurosceptics than Mr Salmond could explain how Scotland might happily survive outside the UK”. The greatest Eurosceptic pundit of all says that his own side doesn’t have a plan. He even calls much of their literature “half-baked”.

Christopher Booker must be unwell – or someone has provided him with a serious dose of reality therapy. What will Del Boy think? Will he think? Probably not.

Top Six – September 21

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 outdoor stuff to do later. So there.
6 Guido Fawked – Brown Speech Ignored The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble said not a word about Pa Broon’s intervention in the Scottish independence debate. And they would only have done so had the Yes campaign won.

5 Scotland – NHS Sting In The Tail Alex Salmond and his pals – plus most of the press – were left flat-footed as the BBC had news of an impending NHS funding shortfall in Scotland leaked to them.

4 Dan Hodges Confuses Himself As the No campaign, backed by Mil The Younger, prevailed in Scotland, Hodges tried to explain why this was yet another of his imaginary Disaster For Flailing Miliband moments.

3 Yes It’s No The No campaign carried the Scottish referendum vote, and straight away an ungrateful David Cameron misjudged the mood by not thanking Pa Broon for saving his bacon.

2 Fake Sheikh – The Net Closes Another Mazher Mahmood related trial collapses, another chipping away at the myth. The Fake Sheikh’s past may be about to catch up with him.

1 Don’t Menshn The Scottish U-Turn She supported the Yes campaign, but then Creepy Uncle Rupe wavered. So Louise Mensch supported the No campaign instead. And remember, someone allowed her to become an MP.

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

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Delingpole – He Knows All About Wind

Over at the batshit collective that is Breitbart London, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole is stuck for rotten greenies to censure, so much so that he has been forced to dig out an opinion piece from Mexico and then claim that what happens in that country applies equally all over the world. Del Boy starts with his sights set low, and soon hits bedrock.
"Gay marriage" ... "Global warming" ... "Eco crucifixes" ... "Red meat conservatism" ... "Blatant invention" ... "Desperate click-bait"

A Mexican ecologist has blown the whistle on the corruption, lies and incompetence of the wind industry - and on the massive environmental damage it causes in the name of saving the planet” tells Del, citing “Patricia Mora, a research professor in coastal ecology and fisheries science at the National Institute of Technology in Mexico” (you can read the actual interview HERE).

She talks of “absolute corruption”, and of environmental impact assessments being distorted, made up, or otherwise fiddled, but it is also clear that much of this is down to Ms Mora’s opinion: the effect of sound waves from wind turbines, on which she says there is “abundant” information, is often exaggerated. Delingpole knows all about that – he is one of the most able exaggerators.

And corruption in Mexico is part of the way of life there: “corruption pervades nearly all levels of Mexico's government and society, according to the US Department of State. It is also important for companies to note that the degrees and types of corruption that companies encounter in Mexico vary significantly between the federal, state and municipal levels”. There’s more.

Organised crime continues to be a very problematic factor for doing business in Mexico and imposes large costs on businesses. Collusion between public officials and drug criminals is not uncommon in the country, and officials have been found accepting bribes from drug cartels in return for information”. Nobody wanting to retain their credibility will pretend that the same happens in this country.

So what does Del Boy do? As if you need to ask: “Though Professor Mora is talking specifically about Mexico, what she says applies equally well to supposedly more transparent democracies such as Britain, Australia, the US, Canada and Denmark. The wind industry is necessarily one of the most corrupt enterprises on earth ... Without crony capitalism, the wind industry simply would not exist”.

And now he’s got the air quotes ready, so ends with a sneering flourish: “As I can personally testify from a decade spent covering this scandal, there are few forms of life on the planet lower than those parasites who make their fortune out of bird-chomping, bat-slicing eco-crucifixes”. Yes Del, as opposed to those who make their fortune out of inventing mainly untrue stories about them.

This is blatant false equivalence. So pretty mild stuff for the Breitbart bigots, then.

Tim Montgomerie – Ungrateful Clown

There is no finer example of grovelling as a means of career advancement than the rise of the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie, formerly of Conservative Home, through the ranks at the allegedly upmarket Times, which, since Creepy Uncle Rupe got his hands on it all those years ago, has ceased to be a paper of record. To this can now be added a streak of ungratefulness.
Monty made his name in both the right and wrong ways when he told, in a piece for Comment Is Free, that “Rupert Murdoch has been an overwhelming force for good in this country's life and politics”, which was bullshit, but at least it was career-enhancing bullshit: before long, Monty had been plucked from ConHome and made Comment Editor of the Times.

In the same piece, he opined that Phonehackgate was “a desperate attempt by Labour to get revenge for the ousting of Damian McBride who, while working in Downing Street, conspired to circulate false smears against Conservative politicians. The Labour machine's attempt to drag others into the gutter with Team Brown is as ugly as it is transparent”. This was bullshit, full stop.
But the Guardian willingly and tolerantly gave Monty a platform for his opinion pieces (see also HERE, HERE and HERE), contrary to the right-wing meme that holds, generally, that the paper is a hotbed of rotten lefties. This, though, counted for nothing as Montgomerie, now raised to the giddy heights of leader writer, put the boot into Alan Rusbridger and his team over today’s paper.
Ladies and Gentlemen – Today’s Guardian” he told. With a short story by Hilary Mantel (that means someone who is fair game for a kicking, as pioneered by the Mail) about someone assassinating Mrs T. An alternate reality for recent history, and remember, someone did try to kill her. But all context is forgotten: this is a mission to get payback on the paper that did for the Screws (allegedly).
“[I] don’t want [the] publication banned but it’s my free speech to point out the hate and obsession” he told in explanation. It’s fiction, Monty, nothing more. But he was off in full Murdoch-grovel mode: “Further to previous Tweet, Mantel’s words about Mrs Thatcher so full of hate. Really disappointed Guardian chose to promote it in way it did”. He truly hates the gratuitous kicking he’s dishing out.
In any case, undecided people, it’s about “taste”, and not, as might be thought by some, that Monty wouldn’t have said boo if the subject had been a Labour politician. It’s fiction, and from an award-winning author. But that does not get in the way of Monty hearing His Master’s Voice and laying into the paper that gave him a platform when he was rather less well known.

What profit a pundit that he gain the Rupegeld, and lose his soul?

Trump Says It Could Have Been Yes

As Alex Salmond prepares to do the right thing, acknowledge that there will not be another vote on Scotland’s future for a generation, and that means it won’t feature him, somewhere across the North Atlantic, an ego that puts his firmly in the shade has spoken on the subject of leadership, and how the Yes campaign could have won the day, if only they had listened to him.
Donald, where's yer hairspray?

Yes, in the tacky and tasteless world of conspicuous consumption, gobshite extraordinaire Donald Trump has paused between applications of hairspray to tell anyone listening that only Himself Personally Now is capable of sorting out the problems facing the States, and that Salmond is his friend (for letting him screw around with the environment and build a golf course).
Sadly, The Donald also fails to see when His Adoring Public is taking the piss. Take for instance his approval of one Tweeter who suggested “Mr Trump, I would love to see you spice things up, and cut a rug on Dancing With The Stars [USA version of Strictly]”. Someone seems not to have told him that “rug” is also slang for “hairpiece”. But don’t have a wig-out over it, eh?
Trump does not dwell on such trivialities, commending another Tweeter who opined “Donald Trump is the only man who can save this country and run it efficiently”. He asserts that “Many agree”. That, of course, is why Trump will talk the talk on a 2016 run, and then not run, just like all the other times he has pretended he will run, and then not run. He’s the ultimate sham candidate.
That does not stop him encouraging the saddoes who Tweet him encouragement, especially if they are prone to fantasise about “in 2017 when Obama (hopefully) leaves office and we can begin to rebuild America from his nightmare”. Barack Obama, as with all Presidents, is term limited and so will definitely leave office in early 2017. But his replacement will not be Donald Trump.
But on to the Scottish referendum, and here, Trump claims to speak as a friend to the soon-to-depart First Minister. “The people of Scotland have spoken – a great decision. I wish Alex Salmond well and look forward to playing golf with him at Aberdeen!” he proclaimed. His controversial “golf resort” is several miles out of the Granite City, but details, eh? At least he got the country right.
He also thinks he could have got the vote right for his pal: “I am convinced that if Alex Salmond had not pushed ugly wind turbines all over Scotland, the vote would have been much better for him!” That, folks, is purest bullshit: the issue did not so much as register, and even if it had, renewable energy would probably have counted in the Yes campaign’s favour. Trump’s belief does not trump reality.

So don’t have nightmares over in the USA. He still isn’t going to be President. Ever.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Nadine Dorries Scots Twitter Hypocrisy

After the passion of the Scottish referendum campaign – with some of that passion coming rather too close to boiling over at times – there is a need for a period of calm, of healing, of reconciliation. And one MP south of the border has rightly looked at what has been going on in that campaign, and recoiled at some of what she has seen. Sadly, she has not practiced what she has preached.
That less than totally upstanding Honourable Member is (yes, it’s her again) Mid Bedfordshire’s Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who initially told her followers “Truly shocking to read and hear about abuse journalists and campaigners have received from the Yes campaigners in Scotland ‘off the scale’”. So she won’t be recycling abuse from the Yes camp, or slagging off Scots, then.
Well, only up to a point: even before her pronouncement, the fragrant Nadine had sat down to the evening’s TV and declared “Women over 50 removed from TV presenting for fear of giving offence and yet we are subject to Andrew Neil on Newsnight”. So Brillo is exempt from her “not being nasty to Scots” because he once took the piss out of her. Just like tens of thousands of other folks do.
Rather worse was in store, just four hours after her observation on the state of the referendum campaign, for Andy McSmith of the Independent: “back on Twitter you inadequate misogynistic bully? I’m delighted to provide you with an opportunity [to] vent your woman hating bile”. What did McSmith do to deserve that? He asserted that she was “an unreliable witness” (a masterful understatement).
In doing so, he was merely agreeing with her now legendary “70% fiction” claim, but, as the man said, there was more: “your book is doing really well Andy, 190,000 on Amazon. Maybe you should achieve something in life before you criticise others”. And then came the Retweeting of some particularly nasty abuse from one of the more forthright of the Yes campaign’s supporters.
Someone called Jason Dolan opined “People who voted no. I hope you die in f***ing agony of cancer. You don’t deserve to live”. Why would Ms Dorries be watching his Twitter RTs? Why indeed? But not only was she watching, she Retweeted that one, prompting cancer survivor Sarah-Jane Phillips to recoil in horror. Citing the book based on her experiences, she added “I am appalled by my MP!
The fragrant Nadine’s excuse – that she was attempting to shame Dolan – also left Ms Phillips less than impressed: “The comments were vile, why give him an extended audience, I found your Tweet upsetting”. Thus far there has been no apology from Ms Dorries to her constituent, and the RT is still there, which, given her recent supposed concern on Twitter excess, is interesting.

One might think that Nadine Dorries was guilty of double standards. Which she is.

Boris Says I Want Some More

Now that the wheels have been set in motion – however slowly – towards Scotland ultimately getting more power for its Parliament, calls for the same kind of thing to happen across England are bound to follow. This appears sensible enough: the problem comes when people realise just who might be getting their hands on more powers, given their track record to date.
Which areas would get more powers? Very probably these would accrue to regions of England, and to London, in the first case. And the latter example has one very keen fan: step forward London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has now declared his intention to go back to being an MP, remain Mayor, and thereby have his cake and eat it.

Boris Johnson today signalled a major push for London to seize greater power over its own future in the wake of Scotland’s independence referendum. The Mayor said the capital now had an opportunity to win sweeping new tax powers as the UK worked out a devolution settlement for the English regionstold an obedient Standard today. See – new powers are A Very Good Thing.

Bozza added “I am very pleased that the Prime Minister has identified one of the best and most elegant solutions – greater fiscal devolution for the great cities of England, London included. Together with the core cities of England – Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield – we have drawn up detailed proposals on how this would work”.

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, a regional strategy does not do things that way: Liverpool and Manchester would be part of a North West region. Bozza should stick to London, and while he’s at it, consider that there might be considerable disquiet over handing over more powers to someone like him who has proved so adept at spraying public money up the nearest wall.

What is worse, he has already committed yet another act of blatant hypocrisy: as has been noted north of the border, Bozza “said that there is ‘no reason’ for Scotland to have more powers – and said instead that tax-raising powers should be granted to major cities in England”. So not only is he advocating a system that may not work outside London, he’s saying it shouldn’t apply to Scotland.

Bozza’s solution over more powers for Scotland appears to be “don’t give them more powers, but give them to Myself Personally Now”, or, put another way, a clear sign that he is not fit to lead a national party like the Tories. With Bozza at the helm, the chance of regaining seats outside England would start low and finish even lower. He wants more for himself and the rest can go hang.

Some Tory MPs think he is their saviour. He’s not even a very naughty boy.

Yes It’s No

There were thunderstorms over London in the small hours, but as I type this, looking out over a pleasantly quiet square in the West of the city, the sun has broken through and the late Summer warmth has returned. So it has been with the Scottish independence referendum, where some significant areas voted Yes – Glasgow being the largest – but overall the vote was a clear No.
That was, as I said yesterday, “the outcome that appears the most likely – that the ‘silent majority’ ensure there is a No vote, and this is upwards of 55% of the poll. All parties will try to claim credit for saving the Union, but the one that will garner the lion’s share of that credit will be Labour. So that will be Fair Play to them, then. But it will be grim news for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps”.

And so it came to pass: 55.3% voted No, against 44.7% for Yes. There was the inevitable last-minute movement in favour of the status quo. That part is over; now, attention has shifted back to the Westminster parties and how they will deliver not just more powers for Scotland, but a genuine regional settlement for England. But first came the reaction of the party leaders.

This, inevitably, put Young Dave in the spotlight, and straight away he misjudged the mood badly. It has been plainly obvious that the late intervention of Pa Broon was a significant help towards preserving the Union: Cameron has been all over the place, and his fellow Tories have been largely irrelevant to the No campaign. So what thanks did he give Brown? He gave him none at all.

That is at least consistent: Dave and next-door neighbour Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, have made denigrating Gordon Brown part of their raison d’ĂȘtre, the idea that he was part of the Rotten Lefty Bad Old Days that they are sweeping away by implementing their much-vaunted Long Term Economic Plan (which in reality is just a PMQs talking point).

The Union has been saved, mainly, by Her Majesty’s Opposition. Cameron cannot get away from that. Nor can he get away from the rising tide of resentment among his own MPs, the belief that he has given the Scots something that not only puts them at an advantage, but by the same token puts English voters at a disadvantage, something Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow Kippers will readily exploit.

Right now, the Prime Minister will be mightily relieved to have got through what could have been a career-ending event for him. But, as I noted yesterday, he will now “be facing Mil The Younger across the dispatch box, knowing that his opponent was keeping him and his increasingly fractious coalition on life support until next May’s General Election – and no longer”. Cameron is a Dead Man Walking.

His advisor “Shagger” Major will be able to tell him all about that.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Tories Will Be Biggest Referendum Losers

While Scotland votes today, some observers are looking ahead at the consequences for the established Westminster parties, and particularly the Tories, where voices of discontent are already being heard over the potential further devolution of powers to Scotland, and the mentality suggesting that they are getting something that decent (and of course hardworking) English people are not.
But let us look first at the outcome that appears the most likely – that the “silent majority” ensure there is a No vote, and this is upwards of 55% of the poll. All parties will try to claim credit for saving the Union, but the one that will garner the lion’s share of that credit will be Labour. So that will be Fair Play to them, then. But it will be grim news for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps.

Cameron being saved from having to walk the plank by Her Majesty’s opposition would be only slightly less humiliating than seeing a Yes vote and having to resign as a result. He would be facing Mil The Younger across the dispatch box, knowing that his opponent was keeping him and his increasingly fractious coalition on life support until next May’s General Election – and no longer.

That will be worth a dig at every PMQs in the intervening period. And it would be even worse if the Yes campaign wins: Cameron would become the PM who lost the Union. Despite claims to the contrary, or that Miliband should be the first to go, Dave would be almost certain to resign – and thus precipitate a bloodbath of the kind that only today’s Tory Party can serve up.
While the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie tells “If Cameron resigns in event of Yes vote the cabinet will aim to unite around a successor to avoid likelihood of damaging leadership race”, not all those Tories in the Cabinet will agree on who that successor should be. For starters, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, will assume the job is his.

He would not be the only one so to assume: Theresa May would be another. Philip Hammond would fit the John Major role. And, outside the Cabinet, the likes of Liam Fox, despite the idea being beyond delusional, would see the chance to get his hands on the job for which he is manifestly totally unfit (as with any Cabinet level position). Unity – what unity?

Dave’s position is by no means secure even in the immediate term in the event of a No vote: already, the likes of Claire Perry are questioning what is seen as an unduly favourable settlement for the Scots. All it needs is something EU related to crop up – and there is plenty of scope on that front – and the in-fighting for which the Blue Team has become infamous will break out once again.

Win next May? Remain in one piece until next May would be more realistic.

Dan Hodges Confuses Himself

[Update at end of post]

He’s suffered for his art, and now it’s your turn: floor-crosser extraordinaire Dan Hodges has demonstrated via the platform afforded to him at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, and the occasional excursion on to Twitter, that Scotland’s referendum campaign has got the better of him. Dan may be saying no, or even yes, while also saying it could be a maybe.
Yes! He's a No! Or maybe not ...

And whatever the outcome, the Labour Party has automatically done the wrong thing, whatever that thing is. This diverts attention from his own lack of research, such as the assertionThe loss of the 40 Scottish Labour MPs would set an almost insurmountable barrier to an outright Labour parliamentary majority”. Ho yus? It wouldn’t have changed the result in 2005 (for instance).
Hodges’ hatred of Pa Broon and Mil The Younger knows no bounds; he calls them “The Labour Party’s nemeses” (probably not, Dan). But, even though he hated Labour, the No camp would prevail: “Despite everything, we are another day closer to the Scottish people voting No ... People commenting on the 17% ‘undecideds’ in the ICM poll. They’re not undecideds. They’re No voters”.
He voiced his opinion unequivocally at Tel blogs: “I predict that the margin of victory for the No camp will be larger than many people suspect”. So that’s that, is it? Er, no it isn’t: “Meanwhile, the bookies have started paying out on a ‘No’ vote. It’s too close to call. It really is. Honestly”. And the latter comment was made the day before the former.
You can forget Pa Broon’s speech, which did not impress Hodges one bit, or even as much as move him: “Gordon gave lots of speeches like that as PM. Didn’t have 95% of the press or 60% of public backing his cause then though”. So never mind all those people out on the streets enthusing about it.
In any case, by yesterday, while Dan was telling the readers at Tel blogs about that wider margin of victory for the No campaign, he was saying otherwise on Twitter: “Whatever your view on tomorrow’s vote, it’s clear that in constitutional terms the best thing would be a ‘Yes’ vote and a clean break”. They’re going to win, then?
The mood of personal confusion was completed by a rank non sequitur, as he tried and failed to demonstrate an Ealing films parallel: “Now Shetland wants to secede from Scotland. This referendum is ending as a cross between Passport to Pimlico and Whiskey Galore”. Very good Dan, Whisky Galore (note correct Scottish spelling) had nothing to do with moves to independence.

Dan Hodges has thoroughly confused himself. One wonders if the readers are, too – if, of course, any of them are still paying attention.

[UPDATE 19 September 1400 hours: true to form, after Labour saved the Union and Young Dave's bacon, Hodges has thrown a mardy strop in their general direction.

"This man wants to be Prime Minister in eight months time. And he clearly hasn’t got a clue in his own mind about what that United Kingdom should actually look like" bawls Dan petulantly.

Then, without bothering to find out what Mil The Younger and his team are thinking, he whines "Labour Party conference starts in less than 48 hours. Is Ed Miliband seriously just going to try and wing it?" Having resigned his party membership during a previous mardy strop, Dan won't be there, of course.

Why bother asking, Dan? You already made your mind up that, whatever Miliband does, it will be a disaster for the country, because you can't have a Mark 2 version of the sainted Tone, and you're going to jump up and down screaming "Look at me Labour people" until you start a froth at the mouth and fall over backwards.

Miliband, with Pa Broon's help, made sure in Scotland. Cameron did not. This is not a difficult proposition to grasp. Unless you're Dan Hodges]