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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Telegraph Writer Demands Concentration Camps

What's the ugliest
Part of your body?
What's the ugliest
Part of your body?
Some say your nose
Some say your toes
(I think it's your mind)
But I think it's YOUR MIND
(Your mind)
I think it's your mind, woo woo
- Frank Zappa
Allison Pearson - far less pleasant than she looks

After last night’s bomb attack outside the Manchester Arena, even the most combative politicians are taking a step back, urging calm, seeking to bring different faiths and cultures together, stressing what unites us all. Even those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet - well, most of them - are taking time to stop and think. But out there on the right, there is always that nasty itch of hatred that someone has to scratch.
And no-one scratches the itch of hatred and intolerance more readily that Allison Pearson, who has inexplicably been retained to do alleged journalism by the increasingly downmarket and desperate Telegraph. Ms Pearson needs no prompting to go off the end of the nearest pier, and the Manchester attack was no exception.
At first, her response was perfectly rational: “Oh, God. Confirmed fatalities at Manchester Arena”. This state was not to last, though. Because this was all about Scary Muslims (tm) and so the red mist swiftly descended. “We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children”.
Internment camps. What kind of camps might those be, the kind where those interned are concentrated together? Did it not occur to her that this is exactly the sort of response that whoever perpetrated the attack was looking to provoke? No, fingers in ears, la la la, she wasn’t listening. She was right and anyone saying otherwise, er, wasn’t.
If we don't do something we are just waiting for another attack and another”. It was then pointed out to her that we had an example of why this kind of thing does not work - internment was once of the least successful tactics used during the Northern Irish “troubles”. She still wasn’t listening. “What do we do? Wait for another massacre?
What if the newsroom sinks? What if he’s got a pointed stick? Did Ms Pearson think the security forces sat around and did nothing all day? James Jones summed up the response to what was nothing more than unnecessary background noise: “Just in case you needed further reminding that the Telegraph shouldn't be taken seriously”.

Quite so. In days gone by, Allison Pearson - and she isn’t the only one - would not have got in the door at the Telegraph. Now the paper will let in any old froth and rant merchant. Right now the ugliness of Ms Pearson’s mind is the last thing we need.

Manchester Attack - Sun Blames Corbyn

Sometimes comments made, articles written and headlines splashed are overtaken by events in such a way that they seem callous and insensitive, when that may not have been the intention, however pointed the gesture. Those who then hold their hands up and admit they got it wrong at least recover some credit from the ruins of their reputations.
Not sure what I mean? Consider the ill-timed remark made by pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins after a Police helicopter crashed into the Clutha Bar in Glasgow. She had not known about the crash. She apologised. Yes, not even Hatey Katie would go that far. But the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, who have their orders for the General Election campaign, most certainly would. And they have done.

Today’s front page Sun splash, which would have been decided upon and green-lighted well before the Manchester attack, is a predictable escalation of their demonisation of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over past contacts with Sinn Féin leaders. So it was never going to be subtle: “Labour Exclusive … BLOOD ON HIS HANDS … Ex-IRA killer’s Corbyn verdict” screamed the headline. “Ex-IRA killer”?

You read that right: “Jeremy Corbyn boosted morale of IRA killers with his support and prolonged the violence leading to more deaths, IRA killer reveals … Sean O’Callaghan claims Corbyn's solidarity encouraged the IRA to 'prolong the violence’”. The Sun is now so desperate that it’s prepared to take a double murderer who turned Police informer at his word - so long as that word fits their Labour-bashing agenda.

That much was bad enough, and suitably shaming for the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, under whose byline this appears. But all those hours after news emerged that there had been a bombing in Manchester, with more than 20 dead as a result, one might have expected that even the Murdoch goons would stop and think. They did not. Instead, they doubled down for maximum effect.
Today’s Sun Says editorial, which rantsThe harm done by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell sucking up to the IRA … Labour pair were snivelling IRA fanboys as it unleashed slaughter on Britain … FOR Labour it does not get more damning. Innocent people were murdered specifically because Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell sucked up to the IRA”, was not committed to their website until 0235 hours today. It was revised at 0950 hours. Still it remained live. It’s still there now (1100 hours).

You read that right, and this post includes a screen shot to prove it. The Sun could, and should, have pulled that front page splash as soon as it became clear that they could have been accused of trying to use the Manchester attack to denigrate Labour. Instead, they deliberately doubled down on their Labour bashing MORE THAN FOUR HOURS after the bombing - when they would have known the full extent of the horror.

The Murdoch goons claim that someone else is a disgrace. They are wrong. The real disgrace is their vicious and premeditated attempt to use the Manchester bombing to reinforce their crude and dubiously sourced copy. Once again - don’t buy the Sun.

Katie Hopkins Calls For Genocide

At around 2230 hours last night, as concert-goers were leaving an Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena, an explosive device was detonated either in the building’s foyer, or immediately outside. Thousands had been at the concert, many of them children. So far it is reported that there have been 22 deaths, with countless injuries. The area is now closed off and adjacent Victoria railway station has been closed for the day.
Viewers may want to look away now

We do not yet know the identity of the bomber, who is believed to have died in the blast. Campaigning by all parties in the General Election has been suspended. Greater Manchester’s newly-elected Mayor Andy Burnham has said “after our darkest of nights, Manchester is today waking up to the most difficult of dawns”. What today is not about is the scoring of cheap political points - for most people.
While the security services begin their search to find out who was behind the bombing, who might have assisted them, and what drove them to carry out what looks like a suicide attack, some out there on the right have decided that The Scary Muslims (tm) Done It. Hence the appearance on Twitter of Battersea bedroom dweller Paul Watson, aka Prison Planet, to start stirring the pot in his usual inimitable fashion.
Watson, whose Twitter avatar now shows him smoking a cigarette to suggest a more tough-guy persona, started the ball rolling with “Manchester has been bombed several times in the past by the IRA, but this is the first time anyone has died”. Nudge, nudge, they’re worse than the IRA. Then came a particularly stupid intervention from Geraldo Rivera, a host with Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
Many terrorists arrested in mowing down of pedestrians outside Westminster London in March were from #Manchester hotbed of Islamic radicals”. Dickhead. One lone attacker and not from Manchester. But this was mere amateurism, compared to pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. “Politicians. Do not insult us with your platitudes. Do not tell us we stand shoulder to shoulder. The dead never carry on as normal” she scolded.
There was more. Andy Burnham’s dignified and measured statement was dismissed with “Disgusting. Business as usual. Tell that to the mother of the child felled by nails and bolts”. And then Hatie Katie overreached herself. “22 dead. Number Rising. Schofield. Don’t you even dare. Do not be part of the problem. We need a final solution #Machester”. Who is this “Machester”? What the heck, it’s somewhere ghastly up north.
After changing that last line to “We need a true solution”, she was challenged and offered the weasel words “I stand by my tweet. I find the typo disrespectful to the survivors in Manchester”. But it wasn’t a “typo”. Mis-spelling “Manchester” is a typo. What Katie Hopkins did was to trot out a line so infamous that it needs no explanation. This was a clear exhortation to genocide. It has rightly been reported to the Police.

Katie Hopkins didn’t learn from losing that court case. And she won’t learn from this slice of viciousness unless and until she suffers some kind of sanction as a result. The people of the North West don’t need Katie Hopkins’ advice. And nor does anyone else.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Danczuk Media Ban FAILS

As if the twists and turns of the Rochdale constituency saga were not enough in themselves, with former MP Simon Danczuk barred from standing for Labour, former Greater Manchester interim Mayor Tony Lloyd inserted as the candidate instead, and then Danczuk deciding to run as an independent, possibly because he’d miss out on some more money unless he fought the election and lost, there has been more today.
Overnight had come the news that Danczuk’s latest squeeze, Charlene Meade, had at last seen sense and dumped him. As she has now taken her Twitter feed private, we have to rely on press reports to relay the news. For this, the Murdoch Sun claimed an exclusive. So Spanker was now on his own. And he wasn’t pleased. So he decided to take it out on the unfortunate people at BuzzFeed News.

Tomorrow, there will be a hustings event put on for a group of local business people. The lunch event is called the “Rochdale Hour”. Danczuk declared that he would not participate if anyone from BuzzFeed were invited. As the excellent Rochdale Online has reported, “The organiser, Damien Maddock, is reported to have withdrawn Buzzfeed's invitation to the 'Rochdale Hour' business lunch, saying ‘his hand had been forced’”.

Their report added “Buzzfeed is a well respected global news organisation headquartered in New York with offices in cities around the world … Last week a BuzzFeed reporter called on Karen Danczuk to make enquiries about Danczuk claiming on his election nomination papers that he lived with her - something she denied before launching a tirade on Twitter against BuzzFeed”. The other candidates were unimpressed.

Lib Dem candidate Andy Kelly said: ‘Disgusting behaviour by Danczuk and disappointing decision by the organisers. Danczuk should not be allowed to dictate who attends and reports. In the circumstances I will not be attending’ … A spokesman for the Labour Party said: ‘It is deeply concerning for a candidate to be allowed to prevent a well respected, bonafide news organisation from attending’ … Conservative candidate Jane Howard said the organisers should tell Danczuk it is not for him to dictate who can attend, she said: ‘It should be open for any media to go along and report on the hustings’”.

Then, as Tony Lloyd had also apparently declined to go along with the ban, BuzzFeed was re-invited. Rochdale Online again: “Mr Maddock has now taken the decision to re-invite Buzzfeed and Buzzfeed reporter Hannah Al-Othman has accepted the re-invitation”. So what’s Spanker going to do? Will he stay away?

It is not known if Danczuk will now boycott the meeting, as he threatened, as he refuses to respond to Rochdale Online”. So who knows. And, indeed, who cares? Simon Danczuk has tried to throw his weight around, unaware that his word no longer carries much weight in the constituency he represented for seven years.

And whether his ex-wife Karen turns up, seeings she hates BuzzFeed as well, nobody cares either. The era of the Danczuks in Rochdale was for a time, but not for all time.

Theresa May Is No Margaret Thatcher

At the depth of her unpopularity in 1980, Margaret Thatcher attended the Tory Party conference in Brighton. Unemployment was bad and getting worse, as was inflation. The embrace of monetarism, far from putting the inflationary genie back in the bottle, was instead putting smaller companies out of business as they found it impossible to get funding from the banks (multinationals, on the other hand, had no such problem).
Opinion polls showed the Tories’ ratings in free fall. Some in Mrs T’s own party were becoming nervous. There would, surely, have to be some kind of re-think? Other might have stopped and thought. Not her. “To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!she declared to conference.
Fast forward 37 years and we have another woman Prime Minister, one who wasted no time in comparing herself to Mrs T. At her first PMQs, Theresa May stared down Jeremy Corbyn and goaded him with “Remind him of anyone?” She was in no doubt that she was the true heir to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But then came the manifesto, its dreaded “dementia tax”, and the widespread revulsion from voters.
There was only one thing to do: make the equally dreaded U-Turn, but ensure it was spun in such a way to ensure that the more compliant part of the media knew to tell their readers that it was no such thing. Also, any idea that there ever was a dementia tax could then be painted as a scare story by those ghastly socialists. The strong and stable imperial progress of the Empress Theresa could then resume!
First with the story, proving that editor George Osborne still has rather good contacts within the Tory Party, was the Evening Standard, which has put it on its front page: “PM’s emergency move comes as Conservative candidates panic over ‘Dementia Tax’ … NOW MAY GOES INTO REVERSE ON SOCIAL CARE COST”. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg confirmed “Here it comes - 'consultation will include an absolute limit' i.e. A cap, which was not in manifesto last week”. A blatant and panicked U-Turn.
But then came the spin. Faisal Islam of Sky News recorded its application: “PM says Corbyn & Labour is trying to scare old people with ‘fake claims’ about social care system”. What? You heard that right. “Theresa May: ‘these are good and sensible plans... but since my manifesto has been published, has been subject to fake claims’”. “My manifesto”.
There was more. “May: Green Paper ‘will include proposals for an absolute limit on what people have to pay’ - that its not what the manifesto briefing said”. Kevin Maguire of the Mirror was unimpressed. “Theresa May killing irony by accusing Corbyn of ‘fake claims’ when she falsely accuses him of wanting to abolish the army”. Michael Deacon of the Telegraph confirmed this: “Less than two minutes before accusing Corbyn of ‘manipulating people's fears’, May suggested Corbyn would abolish the Army”.

The media has already seen through this desperate U-Turn. And there is still the means testing of the winter fuel allowance to go. Owen Jones was right - you can’t trust a word Theresa May says. She is no Margaret Thatcher.

Tories Deploy IRA Dead Cat

The furore over the Tory manifesto’s social care proposals, which if implemented would see the elderly have their homes sold after their death to pay care bills, with their children getting to inherit very little indeed, shows no sign of going away. And with weekend opinion polls recording a closing of the gap between Labour and the Tories, The Blue Team’s press cheerleaders had to change the subject, and fast.
Their new chosen specialised subject would have been Brexit, a trusty staple where readers could be reminded of all those ghastly foreigners being faced down by the might of Empress Theresa. But then came Jeremy Corbyn’s interview by Sophy Ridge on Sky News yesterday morning, where Ms Ridge brought up the subject of Northern Ireland.

Corbyn would have known this was a highly likely line of questioning, as his side-kick John McDonnell would know that he might face prodding on Marxism. There was no ideal answer for Jezza: unequivocal condemnation of the Republican side would lay him open to charges of hypocrisy, and less than unequivocal condemnation of the Republican side would have him, once again, labelled an IRA sympathiser.

And so it came to pass: Ms Ridge wanted to know if Jezza condemned the IRA. He replied “I condemn all the bombing by both the Loyalists and the IRA”. This was enough to have the dead cat duly deployed by the more obedient part of the press.
Pride of place has to go to the Telegraph, for inflating this particular soufflé of news well beyond the limits of viability: “Corbyn engulfed in IRA furore … Labour leader refuses to condemn group”. Er, he did condemn them. The Mail was also ready on the hair trigger: “Labour leader refuses FIVE times to unequivocally condemn IRA … CORBYN’S KICK IN TEETH FOR IRA VICTIMS”. The supporting articles were equally condemnatory.

Daily Mail Comment talked ofthe twisted Corbyn narrative - peddled by Marxists for years … The thought of this IRA cheerleader becoming Prime Minister is simply grotesque”. The Sun’s editorial, backing up that front page “IRA pal Corbyn blasted” teaser, tells “The hardcore leftie is making the party more out of touch day by day with his immigration policies and IRA ties”. But the Murdoch goons can always be relied upon to foul up.
Ranting “He was snapped having coffee with [Gerry] Adams and the late Martin McGuinness in the summer of 2015 - shortly before he became party leader … He also observed a minute’s silence in 1987 for eight IRA members killed by the SAS in an ambush in Gibraltar”, the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker duly sell the pass.

The SAS ambush in Gibraltar resulted in the deaths of THREE IRA members, something the Murdoch press ought to know about. After all, when it was revealed that the three were unarmed, the Sun and Sunday Times went after the ITV documentary Death On The Rock, and were so creative in smearing those involved that they ended up paying most of the £300,000 libel damages awarded to witness Carmen Proetta.

The Murdoch press can’t even get its Corbyn IRA smear right. But good to see the knee-jerk deployment of the dead cat. I’m sure Lynton’s cheque isn’t in the post.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dan Hodges Can’t Figure Tories

Those who think the Tories are wilful and uncaring may be right, especially having seen the party’s election manifesto. But there are people out there rather more wilful, and certainly more uncaring, and they are the right-leaning part of the Pundit Establishment, those trousering six-figure salaries to pontificate on why the political stance of those earning a small fraction of that amount should align with theirs.
He's desperate, Dan

And recently joining that right-leaning band on his generously remunerated floor-crossing journey has been the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has signed on to the imperial progress of the Empress Theresa so enthusiastically that the merest wobble in the opinion polls gives him a visible case of the vapours. Thus it was with his attempt to get MoS readers to “look over there”.

In an instant, Theresa May has killed off Thatcherism. It may end in disaster. But by God, she is brave” read the grovelling headline. Yes, pensioners wary of losing all but the last £100,000 of equity in their houses, and children seeing their modest inheritance vanishing before their eyes, the Tories may be proposing to crap all over you, but think how brave they are being! And, er, what has Ms May actually killed off?

Thursday’s manifesto launch represented Theresa May’s Clause IV moment. Where [Tony] Blair had tried sleight of hand, she, characteristically, preferred bluntness”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “‘For too many people in Britain today, life is simply much harder than many seem to think or realise. They are not ideological. They don’t buy into grand visions. They aren’t fooled by politicians who promise the earth and claim no tough choices are required’”. Yes, she said that. But, so what? What’s such a big deal?

“In that instant, Thatcherism - and its dogmatic faith in the power of free markets - died. Along with John Major’s sepia tinted vision of Britain, and David Cameron’s liberal, metro-centric Toryism”. How, exactly? “To grasp the full significance of what she said you need to understand what she didn’t say. Mrs May could have ignited the blow-torch of a new Conservative revolution. A bonfire of regulation. The slashing of taxes. An acceleration of deficit reduction, coupled with a fresh assault on public services”.

I hate to mention this to Dan, but she didn’t exclude any of that. He’s not for listening, though, preferring to sup a little more Tory Kool-Aid: “Who could have stopped her? The Election is won. The official Opposition are a rabble. Her opponents within her own party are still reeling from her turbo-ascent to the premiership. But instead, she lined up the Conservative Party’s holy cows, and slayed them”.

Theresa May slayed nothing. And the idea that Dan Hodges’ witterings carry more authority because he attended a Labour Party conference almost 23 years ago does not stand serious analysis. Instead, he ought to start learning about the Tory Party. When Hodges cites claims such as “We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous” as some kind of Damascene conversion, it is nothing of the sort.

The Tory Party is the party of the Establishment. And the Establishment always figures out how to look after itself - even if it means having to co-opt a few of the lower orders to achieve its goals. Dogma was never the name of the game. It’s all about being in power.

Don’t Menshn Impeachment

Some of us here in Britain have watched the troubles of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump unfold with one particular interest in mind - to see when the scales would fall from the eyes of those Stateside and the wibbling of (thankfully) Tory MP Louise Mensch would be called out for the conspiracist tosh we already knew it was. That moment has now come.
The pivotal moment when Ms Mensch’s house of cards began to collapse was when Vox ran a piece titledDemocrats are falling for fake news about Russia … Why liberal conspiracy theories are flourishing in the age of Trump”. This focused on Ms Mensch’s constant outpouring of claims about the Trump Gang, and rather a lot more.

And it’s interesting for us in the UK to see Ms Mensch linked to Democrats and others called liberal. This is, of course, part of the problem for Dems looking for Trump to topple - Louise Mensch is no liberal. She’s a Tory, she backed every Republican except Trump last year, and she is also a taker of the Murdoch shilling. That’s the same Rupert Murdoch who is devoting serious amounts of media resource to talking up … Donald Trump.
But that she’s away with the fairies is at last becoming clear to more and more watchers of the unfolding Trump crisis. After Ms Mensch claimed the process of impeachment had started - it hasn’t - Alexandra Erin lost patience: “Louise Mensch is lying to people and saying impeachment has started. She is spreading dangerous lies that can demoralize the resistance”. That could be because she isn’t really part of that resistance.

Ben Dreyfuss was less subtle: “These are the most shared lies from Louise Mensch’s actual fake news blog”. There were rather a lot of them. And Graham Linehan, seeing that the Mensch and Gamergate connection had also been twigged, declared his relief: “Good that Americans are beginning to see Mensch for the hustling opportunist she is”.
That anyone in the USA ever took Ms Mensch seriously is baffling to many here. Her lack of credibility was exemplified by the Rochdale grooming saga, which saw many men jailed after a Prosecutor had the files reopened. She got it totally wrong and claimed the same prosecutor was covering it all up for his mates and the Police.

Her vicious pursuit of anyone not backing her line on Tim Hunt (the Gamergate connection) resulted in the Association of British Science Writers declaring her complaints to it vexatious and without credibility. The Korean Federation of Women in Science and Technology talked ofthe ongoing serious distortion of facts by foreign commentators”.
She claimed the Russians killed Andrew Breitbart. She claimed the Guardian and New York Times had revealed “agents’ names” when discussing the Edward Snowden leaks. She viciously harassed a teenage girl over nothing more than a hashtag. She told her readers there had been an EU coup in Portugal (wrong). She was sure that Charlie Hebdo was an actual person. She even threatened me with a libel action (didn’t happen).

There are more examples of Louise Mensch’s idiocy - many more. It is my pleasure to bring them to the attention of all those good people in the USA.

David Davis’ EU Bluff CALLED

After last week’s party manifesto launches, and the realisation that the one with the real suicide note in it was not the Labour one, the Tory-supporting press has realised that they must move the narrative away from social care. Because the more time the voters who will decide next month’s General Election spend looking at the prospect of not being able to leave their home to their kids spend looking at those proposals, the more the polls move.
So this morning the fallback position was being adopted, and that meant increasingly telling readers to look somewhere else. And, as the election was supposed to be about Brexit, Brexit was now the issue. The problem for the Tory press was what exiting the EU was going to entail. So while the Sunday Telegraph teases readers with “May: We want Brexit refund”, the Murdoch Sunday Times is ready to ‘fess up.
There, it is admitted that the Brexit “divorce bill” will not mean a refund, but a substantial payment in the general direction of Brussels, hence the headline “Davis warns Britain will quit talks if EU demands €100bn”. So the Tories are ready to pay up - as their manifesto admitted, and Zelo Street covered the other day - but they want voters to know that those ghastly foreigners will not be permitted to hit us too hard.
To this end, outgoing Brexit minister David Davis has shared his thoughts, including “Rounding on European Commission officials who leaked details of a recent dinner with the Prime Minister, Davis said Eurocrats had ‘axes to grind’ and accused the other member states of posturing, incoherence and failing to tell the truth”.

So yet more pointless railing at those other 27 member states who have left it all to Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker, then. What else did Davis have to tell the ST? “He made clear the UK was prepared to walk out if the other 27 member states did not moderate their demands”. Why the tough talk? Ah well.

Buried in the ST interview narrative is this: “Davis spoke out as the other 27 countries prepare to sign off on a legally binding negotiating position tomorrow … Senior EU sources say their position has hardened and they will demand more than €100bn, including money they claim is still owed by Britain from the period from 2007 to 2013”.
Whoops! The ST calls this “a dramatic escalation of hostilities”, and goes on to tell “A senior source says the other countries would not back down either”. So where does this needless exercise in comparative swaggering leave the UK? Any falling back on an environment where our industries face both tariffs and customs delays means only one thing - a substantial part of that which can more elsewhere will move elsewhere.

David Davis and his fellow Tories have been reduced to explaining their problem away by telling interviewers “look over there at that dreadful Corbyn chap”, as London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson did when quizzed by Robert Peston this morning. That is because, despite the bluster, all Davis can summon up is empty threats. We can’t just walk out, because if we do, we’re even more stuffed.

Davis has, despite the press refashioning, had his bluff called by Brussels. Game over.

Top Six - May 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 kitchen cleanup stuff to do later. So there.
6 Uber App - Dangers IGNORED The distraction of Uber drivers, because they cannot interact with the app unless they use their hands, has resulted in an increasing number of variously bent Toyota Prius models. It’s not good for the passengers, either.

5 Daily Mail Doxing Shame The intrusive response of the press, as they rushed to identify the person who helped stop the spread of “ransomware” across NHS networks, was totally unnecessary and yet another example of the papers’ inability to behave themselves.

4 Karen Danczuk’s Council Tax Secret News arrived on Zelo Street that Kazza had been claiming Single Occupier discount on her Council Tax. But her ex-husband had put her address on his nomination papers, and the press has been running a story claiming her new partner moved in with her recently.

3 An Open Letter To Toby Young Tobes has once more been saying things about press regulation that are demonstrably untrue. So perhaps he could do everyone a favour and debate the subject with someone of opposing view.

2 Tories Cave In On Brexit Bill Hidden away in the Tory manifesto is the admission that, if elected, they will pay up when the EU “divorce bill” is presented.

1 Nigel Farage’s German Skewering The people at Die Zeit did what far too few interviewers in the UK have managed - to expose the former UKIP leader as a blustering nonentity and busted flush.

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Tory Internet Regulation Hypocrisy

Some people say that it is not for Government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. We disagree”. So begins “A FRAMEWORK FOR DATA AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMYon page 84 of the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto. And how does the manifesto see this lofty goal being accomplished?
So we will establish a regulatory framework in law to underpin our digital charter and to ensure that digital companies, social media platforms and content providers abide by these principles. We will introduce a sanctions régime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law”.

They weren’t finished: “We will also create a power in law for Government to introduce an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms, just as is already the case with the gambling industry”. The gambling industry. You read that right.

Just as we led the world in regulating embryology thirty years ago, we know that if we create the right system of governance for the digital economy and use of data, we will attract the right businesses who want to become the global centre for data use and research”. Thus the final delusion of Theresa May and her obedient followers.
Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will need no reminder of the tendency of our free and fearless press to demand the highest standards of the New Media, while refusing to have the Government go anywhere near placing anything resembling regulation upon them. These proposals could, like the Tories’ abject proposal to drop Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, have been written for them by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate.

Hardly a week goes by without the shock troops of the tabloid media launching another assault on Google, or Facebook, or anyone else who has incurred their displeasure. But the idea of self-regulation for online content providers is Streng Verboten for Team Theresa. That luxury is only to be permitted for their pals in the press.
But this is not merely a case of rank hypocrisy: the idea that the Internet is like the evolution of embryology research is delusional in the extreme. How will these new laws be enforced against companies based in other jurisdictions? Do the Tories expect to be able to tell Governments in the USA and China how they should proceed?

How will those services be shut out of the UK? Do the Tories and their press pals intend to indulge in censorship? They wouldn’t be adopting double standards, would they? But enough. This is, once again, the disproportionate influence of the press barons and their interventionist editors, sourly resentful at losing so much advertising revenue to the likes of Facebook, but still possessing enough influence to bend the ear of Tory technophobes.

The idea that a future Tory Government could police the internet from the UK is laughable. All that proposals like this will do is to guarantee that digital jobs migrate to other, marginally less authoritarian countries. Then, Team Theresa will be able to repent at leisure after following the word of the false press prophets.

Jeremy Corbyn MI5 Scare BUSTED

The General Election may not be until next month, but the electoral process gets going in earnest next week, when postal ballots are sent out. So this weekend, the parties are looking to make the kind of impact that will resonate with the electorate. Helping them along will be the partisan part of the press - for which read almost all of it - with a few well placed slices of knocking copy to scare voters into line.
So who was going to jump first? That question seems to have been answered by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, which has decided to frighten folks away from Labour by chucking the “security risk” dead cat on the table. “MI5 ran file on Corbyn to investigate IRA links” tells the headline. Jezza asked then PM Margaret Thatcher if someone in prison could have more visits. How traitorous was that?

Well, not really. We know that Mrs T, and other Prime Ministers, were either talking to the IRA, or had chaps doing that sort of thing for them. And the Tel - not for the first time - is taking a small amount of information and inflating the resulting soufflé beyond the limits of viability. We know this as the Telegraph’s story has been lifted away from its paywall by the Mail - and a “source close to the investigation” has spilled the beans.

If there was a file on someone, it meant they had come to notice. We opened a temporary file and did a preliminary investigation. It was then decided whether we should open a permanent file on them”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “A file would be opened on ‘someone who sympathises with a certain group, or is friends with a specific person’ and the purpose was to ‘assess whether the person was a threat’, the source added”.
So we don’t know if this claimed “investigation” went any further than a preliminary stage. The reports on the Corbyn story are all filled out with nudges and winks, although the Mail also volunteers “It has previously been claimed that the Metropolitan Police special branch had opened a file on Mr Corbyn over his association with anti-racism campaigns”, and it is admitted the security services snooped on anti-Apartheid activists.

How much of a security threat were Jack Straw and Peter Hain? Moreover, MI5 has in the past kept files on many other politicians. They kept one open on Harold Wilson, even through his eight years as Prime Minister. Stafford Cripps, chancellor of the exchequer in the late 1940s, was also the subject of MI5 surveillance. John Strachey, Attlee’s under-secretary of state for air, was another target, as was Liverpool MP Bessie Braddock.

MI5 kept a file on Tony Benn. They snooped on Peter Mandelson. Trades Union leaders were a favourite target. There was even a file on Peter Hitchens. That the spooks opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn is next to irrelevant: the Telegraph might as well have exhumed the Zinoviev Letter, for all the good their propagandising will do.

Expect more of this non-story deployment in the next two and a half weeks. But nothing about Tories who are security risks. Hello Liam Fox.

Tories Get Away With Media Ban

When their long-serving editor-at-large Adam Boulton made an on-air announcement telling viewers of Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) that the Tories were refusing to give the broadcaster the same level of access afforded to BBC, ITV and Channel 4, some pundits found this hard to believe. Sky? Where the Murdoch mafiosi have a 39% stake? The story did not seem plausible. But Boulton was dead right.
This was confirmed in a Sky News statement: “Since early in the election campaign, Sky News has not been getting live interviews on election issues with Conservative ministers. Also, we weren’t initially invited to follow the leader’s tour … We understand this to be because members of the Prime Minister’s team are unhappy with aspects of our political coverage. Sky News stands by its journalism and is committed to fair, impartial and accurate reporting of all the political parties”. What sensitive souls they are.

And, it seems, the slap in the face for Sky News was not an isolated incident. Steven de Foer of Belgian newspaper De Standaard observed yesterdayThe Conservative party might rhapsodise about traditional values, but hospitality, courtesy and respect for the press are apparently not among those”. He, too, had been shut out. So, whisper it quietly, has the New York Times. What was the Tories’ game?

After a significant amount of badgering, CCHQ eventually brushed de Foer off with a sniffy “There are limits to the amount of media we can accommodate at visits, and we have had a lot of requests from both UK and international media”. That might sound like an honest answer to a pressurised situation, but de Foer had seen through it.

The suggestion that May is besieged by hordes of camera teams and reporters from around the globe is nonsense. That media frenzy was last year, during the Brexit campaign … The UK is important, but not that important. The truth is that today only the usual suspects from the national media follow May on the campaign trail, which amounts mostly to nothing more than photo-ops”. So what was going on?

Simples. The Tories are indulging in micro-management of media opportunities that verges on the paranoid. Sky News had discovered that The Blue Team was keeping London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson out of the way. They had the story triple sourced. Theresa May’s spinners didn’t like that. The Belgian press? Stuff them, very few Tory votes in Belgium. And they’ll get away with it.

Why can I be so sure of that? Two things here. One, the rest of the media, having seen the punishment beating handed out to Sky News, will think twice before incurring the displeasure of Ms May’s minders, and two, the press will almost all ignore it, instead choosing to keep on cheering for the Tories. They have made that choice because the imperial progress of the Empress Theresa means no more press regulation reform.

So the Tories can behave like a bunch of Soviet-era thugs and get away with it, thus demonstrating how free and fearless our press really is. Banana Republic here we come.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Julia Hartley Brewer’s Unfree Breakfast

Tory-supporting pundits know their talking points, and make sure the lumpen proletariat know their place. School lunches for all? What a ghastly waste of money. School breakfasts for all? No, it’s so unnecessary. Who says so? As if you need to know, this is the latest example of how Julia Hartley Brewer, radio host and shameless promoter of Herself Personally Now, shows how out of touch she really is.
Don't they know who you are? Er, yes, that's sort of the problem

Ms Hartley Dooda has taken grave exception to the idea of her taxes contributing to all those hungry children actually being fed a half decent breakfast at school. I mean, how dare they? Before you know it, political parties will be suggesting that Talk Radio hosts use public transport, including buses. One does have certain standards to maintain.
And so it came to pass that Ms Hartley Dooda took to Twitter to register her displeasure: “New Tory policy offering free school breakfasts to all kids. When did it stop being parents' job to feed their kids?” Who manages for seven days on five days’ breakfast? Whatever. She still wasn’t happy: “there isn't a parent in this country who can't afford to feed their kids breakfast”. Her statistical expertise is quite magnificent. Or maybe it isn’t.
April Preston begged to differ. “I was one of these children which apparently do not exist”. What did the great radio host and after dinner somnambulism inducement specialist have to say about that? “Tell me about it. Why couldn't your parents afford to feed you?” Slightly presumptuous assumption there, as Ms Preston soon confirmed.
My mothers husband died, my father, and she is half paralysed and deaf. Unable to work and pay bills. With two daughters”. But reply came there none. Ms Preston noted “Still nowt”. And waited. The response, when it came, was as kindly and understanding as might have been expected: “I was in a meeting. Some of us have jobs”.
Callous, much? Where was the empathy, the realisation that she might have been wrong? Paul Unwin was not pleased with Ms Hartley Dooda’s response: “Thank you April. If this is true @JuliaHB1 must answer you”. After Ms Preston replied “It is true”, he affirmed his stance. “Thank you. @JuliaHB1 please answer? You cannot say what you did and when challenged withdraw”. Well, most reasonable people couldn’t. Not her.
Indeed, after the callous and dismissive “I’ve been in a meeting because I’m important” response, and the cynical addition of “Well you're out of it. Care to answer?” from Ross McCafferty, Ms Hartley Dooda added some of that sniffy patronising, just to make sure the lower orders knew their place. “Sweetheart, this conversation happened just fine without your help. Move along” she sneered. Except it didn’t.

April Preston never got her response. And more importantly for Talk Radio’s mid morning weekday host, there was no admission of getting it wrong. And don’t even think of asking for an apology. One has more important things to do with one’s time.

Some people in this country are so poor that they have difficulty putting food on the table. And they aren’t all druggies and wastrels. Hello Julia Hartley Brewer.