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Monday, 21 August 2017

Ofcom Tells BBC Basher To Shove Off

Since the beginning of April this year, Ofcom has had regulatory responsibility for the BBC, superseding the BBC Trust. This followed a series of what were classified failings by those shouting loudly enough, which usually means the Tories and their pals in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, all of whom dislike any organisation which declines to serve the news up in a way that meets with their approval.
Sadly for The Blue Team, merely subjecting the hated Beeb regulation by Ofcom was not enough. There had to be more, although what exactly that means was not at first told. But then came the bid by the Murdoch mafiosi for the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own, and thus a superb opportunity for culture secretary Karen Bradley to be proactive - and get Ofcom to look over there at the BBC, instead of noticing all the Murdoch misbehaviour.

And so it came to pass that Ms Bradley issued a stern missive to Ofcom. She was concerned! “While a number of existing BBC Trust quotas for radio have been retained in the draft operating licence, there are some significant omissions … In my view some of the most critical aspects of our Charter reforms seem to have been left to retrospective review … The government reached very clear policy conclusions and the Charter sets out a new vision for the BBC which requires them to be more distinctive, more collaborative and more diverse”. Her conclusion was short but to the point.
I would be grateful for a response which clarifies your position and the rationale for these decisions in the operating framework, and confirms Ofcom’s continued commitment to hold the BBC to account and deliver the government’s ambitions and expectations for the BBC”. The letter, though, had to be made public. And others immediately smelt a rat.

For Labour, Tom Watson also smelt interference, and observed “For a secretary of state to try to influence Ofcom in such a heavy-handed way is a serious mistake. I hope Karen Bradley will realise, on reflection, that she should let Ofcom get on with its job and get on with her own”. An unstated Murdoch Sky bid hint there.

And as the Guardian has noted, “The minister’s letter drew a firm response from the chair of Ofcom, Dame Patricia Hodgson, who said in a reply to Bradley that it was important that the regulator was ‘transparently independent’”. After all, there was plenty to occupy Ofcom on the Sky front, much of which was happening Stateside.
The source of the disquiet, to no surprise at all, is Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), which has generated such recent headlines asA former guest who appeared regularly on the Fox News channel says a senior producer solicited sex in exchange for a paid job at the network” and “Per Fox News Spokesperson, Eric Bolling has been suspended. An investigation will be conducted by law firm Paul Weiss”.

Bolling was accused of sending “lewd messages” to women colleagues. The channel is also accused of being behind illegal eavesdropping. Also, Karen Bradley doesn’t seem to want to ask the Murdochs whether it’s son James’ more enlightened approach that will rule over a 100% Murdoch Sky, or Rupert’s two-fingers-up-to-critics one.

But she does want to stick her nose in on the BBC. Priorities, priorities.

Big Ben Campaign HAS FAILED

Falling sales, faltering advertising revenue, and now failing influence: the iron belief of the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre that he could somehow bend politicians to his will with no more than a thundering front page assault was put on notice as long ago as 1997, when he instructed his readers to hold their noses and vote Tory, only to see many of them help sweep New Labour into power.

And now that iron belief has been well and truly busted: after last week’s sudden realisation at the Northcliffe House bunker that the chimes of Big Ben were to fall silent for all of four years, in order to allow long-overdue restoration work to be carried out, and the successive days’ front page leads suggesting the Mail would stop the silencing in its tracks, has come the realisation that it was all in vain.

Big Ben chimed at noon today, as a crowd gathered in Parliament Square and around 20 MPs with nothing better to occupy their time looked on forlornly, and that was that for the next four years. Fact. End of story. That has not stopped a last defiant tirade from the Mail, which has told readers “Crowds expected at Parliament Square at midday to hear bells for last time … Plans to silence Big Ben for four years met with outpouring of anger by public”.

Yeah, right. There have been perhaps a thousand onlookers in Parliament Square, and very little anger. That number will have been a tiny fraction of the tourists milling around central London today. Still, on with the Phil Space copy and the compulsory getting out of the ritual onion: “As Big Ben is silenced for up to four years today, MPs are set to gather outside Parliament with ‘heads bowed’”. The campaign has failed. Get over it.

That has not deterred the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who has claimed anexclusive” for “Dropping a clanger … Commons boss vows to fight to get Big Ben’s bongs back as bell falls silent for renovations”. Readers are told “Efforts are continuing to shorten Big Ben’s silence”, but no evidence is ponied up, and none will be.

Then we are told “But the move has sparked an angry backlash, led by PM Theresa May”. So angry, in fact, that the PM is working in her constituency today. In any case, where’s the “exclusive”? You’ll love this. “Commons leader Andrea Leadsom last night pledged to ensure Big Ben is heard during the work … She said: ‘It is right that the House of Commons Commission has the opportunity to review the decision’”. And that’s it.

Someone will have the opportunity to review the decision. And what d’you think they will do with that opportunity, take no action at all or suddenly decide that the Dacre Doggies and Murdoch goons know best, and reverse it? There will be no reversal. No change of mind. No pandering to the obscenely overpaid, swaggering, sneering, boorish, misinformed know-all dinosaurs scrabbling around the dunghill that is Grubstreet.

There are plenty of other clock and bell combinations around London chiming the hour. And the public, whose opinion our free and fearless press didn’t bother asking before ranting on their behalf, overwhelmingly couldn’t give a fig about Big Ben’s bongs.

All of which means Toby Young is not the only Bellend in town right now.

Katie Hopkins Flouts The Law

Head of the CPS Alison Saunders has signalled a crackdown on social media hate crime, telling Guardian readers “Left unchallenged, even low-level offending can subsequently fuel the kind of dangerous hostility that has been plastered across our media in recent days. That is why countering it is a priority for the CPS … Whether shouted in their face on the street, daubed on their wall or tweeted into their living room, the impact of hateful abuse on a victim can be equally devastating”. Who could she be meaning?
Viewers may want to look away now

That was not hard to deduce, after pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins, back from being feted by the more delusional part of the US right-wing, decided to indulge in a little borderline incitement against her favourite target, followers of The Prophet, as well as suggesting we start another war on her say-so.
Governments were cracking down on van hire operations, which does not seem such a bad thing, given the white van attacks in places like London and Barcelona used hired vehicles - as did the Westminster Bridge attacker. But Ms Hopkins wants her devoted followers to know that this is just namby-pamby, wishy-washy poo.
Hatey Katie sneers in their silly faces! “Now Mohammed, are you hiring this van for the purpose of running over innocent women & children in the street to please your god. Yes or no”. Gosh, that was so impressive, well, to her anyway, that she instantly promoted it to Pinned Tweet status. And there was more. “NEW: govt approved HURTZ van hire authorisation”. Hirers could tick “shady business” or “Jihad” as reasons for hiring.
Laugh? I thought I’d never start. Also on her mock form was “Christian - former religion of Western Europe”. Because some people don’t understand that Western Europe does not have an official religion. But she does need to avoid getting sued (again), and so let everyone know “Respectfully @Hertz and @PilotPenUK have nothing to do with my satire. They either sold me a pen, or let me wear the headset of Jedi power”.
Incitement against Muslims is now satire! All those 60s pioneers of the genre missed out big time. Still, she wanted us to know that this Government crackdown was rubbish, and so had her mock hire form done properly, with the observation “A very British response to watching our women & children slaughtered by jihadi maniacs in hired vans”. No men were killed in Barcelona? And what is her preferred solution to the problem she has identified?
As if you need to ask. “We used to send young men to fight for our country. Now our babies die because we don’t”. And where does Ms Hopkins propose they go and fight? On what pretext? Can’t she get it in to her head that the last time we did that, the consequence was ISIS, which is most likely behind the current wave of vehicle attacks? How much bloodshed does she want others to indulge in to satisfy her bigotry?

Still, good to see that the CPS had someone in mind when those guidelines on hate speech were being drawn up. Fortunately, when it comes to combating terrorism, others are in charge of the situation. And Katie Hopkins is not. Just rejoice at that news.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Tommy Robinson’s Popularity ISN’T

[Update at end of post]

As part of his drive to promote a book claiming to give a reliable interpretation of the Qur’an, which has mainly been authored by someone else and has, as far as is known, had no input from any Islamic scholars or clergy, former EDL head man Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who calls himself Tommy Robinson, has decided to organise an event in Manchester to promote his work, and of course Himself Personally Now.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson

This has involved not only promoting himself - not difficult, he’s had plenty of practice - but also securing a venue where he can meet his adoring public. But here a problem has entered: not all the public, and certainly not those in Manchester, are as adoring as others. Moreover, Yaxley Lennon’s peddling of hatred towards followers of The Prophet , and his past in the EDL, means that where he turns up, so, inevitably, does trouble.
Yes, that's the Britain First duo on the left. But he's not racist, honestly

Indeed, the last time he was involved in a gathering in Manchester, as the BBC reported, “Eight people have been arrested following a march by protesters in central Manchester opposing extremism … Bottles and flares were thrown as the UK Against Hate group and counter-demonstrators clashed and police said the protest ‘turned nasty’”. Mayor Andy Burnham was particularly severe on Yaxley Lennon’s “UK Against Hate”.
These EDL-types who came today need to have a look at themselves … To those saying they weren't EDL - I honestly don't care … I care about our Police being unnecessarily distracted when they are worn out & still working hard to investigate a major incident”. The gathering took place in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing.
Nevertheless, “An Evening With Tommy Robinson” was duly advertised earlier this month. Yaxley Lennon took to Facebook to tell “Thank you for the tremendous support you have shown for this event. At this rate we will sell out within two weeks so if you do not have a ticket I urge you to buy now to avoid disappointment”. A link was provided.

So, almost two weeks later, has the event, which will not be held until early November, sold out as predicted? Seemingly not. Worse, there appears to be a problem with the proposed venue. But it’s still going ahead. Apparently.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham - not impressed

“My Manchester event on November 3rd will now be moved to a secret location. Everybody who has bought a ticket do not worry they are still valid, and tickets are still on sale. 50% of tickets have now sold, we will reveal the new venue location 7 days prior to the event which will be in city centre Manchester. This is an all ticket event with no pay on the door”. So it hasn’t sold out. And the subterfuge won’t stop protests.
After all, giving the opposition seven days’ notice, and telling them well in advance that the event will be held somewhere in Manchester city centre, means that anyone wanting to use it as an excuse to kick off will be there, ready and waiting.

And if Stephen Yaxley Lennon is so “against hate”, it has to be asked why he devotes so much time to dispensing hatred towards a significant part of the population - and encouraging others to join him in his endeavours. I’ll just leave that one there.

[UPDATE 21 August 1720 hours: as has been pointed out by several commenters on Twitter, sales of Yaxley Lennon's new book are also not going as well as some are claiming. Amid the fantasy claims of hundreds of thousands being sold, the reality of real-world information from Amazon makes for more realistic, and much more sobering, reading.
Although "Mohammed's Koran: why Muslims kill for Islam" is indeed shown as a #1 best seller, this is only in the "Koran" category. And the total sales up to the point a screen shot was taken this afternoon, was 1113.

Still, helps to keep all concerned out of trouble, eh? Real world intervenes once more]

Tories Sell Bank To Asset Strippers

While most pundits and their editors were looking at Brexit, events in places like Barcelona, and the continuing shambles that is the Presidency of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, our own Government has flogged off a public asset to a company known for one business skill above all others - asset stripping. Moreover, they were warned about it months ago. But it was clearly a good time to bury controversial news.
The Green Investment Bank has been sold to Australian group Macquarie, which was confirmed as preferred bidder before the end of last year. An official press release made suitably optimistic noises: “The £2.3 billion deal ensures that all the taxpayer funding invested in GIB since its creation, including set-up costs, has been returned with a gain of approximately £186 million”. And the GIB’s future had been secured.

Macquarie was “an ambitious new owner committed to growing the business”. Moreover, “moving [the GIB] into the private sector now would free it from the constraints of public sector ownership allowing it to increase investment in our green infrastructure as we transition to a green economy. GIB’s independent Board supported the government’s decision to sell the business to Macquarie”. Also, we should not worry.

This was because “The green ‘special share’ held by the Green Purposes Company Limited also comes into force now. Five independent trustees have the power to approve or reject any proposed changes to GIG’s green purposes in the future” and “The government will continue to hold an interest in a portfolio of a small number of GIB’s existing green infrastructure investments”. And then came the but. A big but.

Greenpeace Energy Desk noted thatThe UK’s Green Investment Bank has created 14 new companies ahead of its expected privatisation this month … The move has sparked concerns that the bank is being prepared to have its core assets sold off, essentially dissolving the British government’s key mechanism for driving private investment into developing green energy sectors”. And it got worse.

Remember that “special share”? Well, “According to Sepi Golzari-Munro, a GIB expert who analysed the documents, the UK government’s ‘special share’ - designed to ensure the GIB stays fit for purpose - would be rendered moot if there are no assets or investments to keep green”. Macquarie, it is noted, has acquired the nickname of “The Vampire Kangaroo”. Also, “Lord Greg Barker, former Conservative energy minister, has called for the sale to be cancelled, while former business secretary Vince Cable has warned of the dangers of the deal”. But the mainstream press has been largely silent.

That silence included very little reporting of the Urgent Question granted to MP Caroline Lucas, which she used “to highlight serious concerns raised by a number of people, including former Business Secretary Vince Cable, that the company set to buy the GIB is likely to strip it of its assets, leaving it unfit for purpose”.

Taking climate change and green issues seriously does not sit comfortably with flogging off the GIB to a well known group of asset strippers. Creating new companies to make aset stripping that little bit easier looks worse. What you will not read in the right-wing press.

Sun Hard Brexit Fantasy BUSTED

Great excitement has been generated by a report telling us that what is termed “Hard Brexit” - in other words, one not requiring any kind of deal with the EU - would be potentially of great benefit to the UK. The report claims that the annual “uplift” to the economy could be as much as £135 billion. And then we discover that the principal author of this work of not-really-fiction-honestly is Patrick Minford.
Don't go, I was just getting started ...

Minford was one of those loudly cheering on the adoption by the Thatcher Government of the monetary medicine prescribed by Professor Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago. The medicine was initially taken, inflation leapt to a peak of almost 20%, and unemployment rocketed to over 3 million. We were informed, equally loudly, by the right-wing press that “if it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working”.

None of this is allowed to enter at the Murdoch Sun, which has today championed Minford’s alleged meisterwerk. First has come an article allegedly by Dover’s Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, telling “The EU would be mad to spurn our offer of tariff-free trade and should shake on post-Brexit deal - or be stuck with a £13.2bn bill … THIS week our Government offered Brussels the deal of the decade.They would be crazy to turn it down”.

The £13.2 billion is the claimed amount of tariffs the EU would pay if they were to decline the offer of tariff-free trade. Meanwhile, the Sun’s editorial leads on praising Minford, asserting that we “Trust the man on the right side of history”. This re-evaluation of Minford’s alleged achievements requires a significant degree of creativity.

This begins with “IN 1981 Britain stood on the brink … Inflation and unemployment were rocketing, productivity collapsed and a heavy recession threatened to topple the Government … That year, 364 of the country’s top economists wrote to The Times to tell Margaret Thatcher her Budget was a disaster, compared with fewer than half a dozen who backed the PM … But the latter were ultimately proved right as Maggie went on to transform the country. One of those backers was Patrick Minford”.

The Sun manages not to tell us that there had already been two years of the measures Minford had advocated to bring the economy to that brink, and also misses the fact that the Friedman medicine was gradually abandoned. Moreover, North Sea oil revenue was there to paper over the cracks. Minford was not proved right at all.

But hey ho, have another go. “Minford also found himself in a tiny minority 35 years later as George Osborne’s Project Fear warned of an immediate collapse of the economy if we voted for Brexit … It never came and Minford again found himself on the winning side”. No-one said there would be an immediate collapse, or anything like it. But there is now a gradual economic slowdown - which was predicted.

And there is one all too obvious corollary to the idea of unilaterally scrapping tariffs: cheaper imported goods immediately become more popular than anything produced at home, leading to a balance of payments imbalance which would then result in a run on Sterling and, if maintained for any number of years, national bankruptcy.

Still, minor point, eh? Moreover, Patrick Minford has not only not been as accurate in his analysis as the Sun claims, he’s been woefully wrong more than once in recent years.

Take his advocacy of the Poll Tax - dressed up by the Thatcher Government as the “Community Charge” - of which he claimed at the timethe Community Charge has much to commend it. Opponents underestimate the political maturity of the electorate”. That was in June 1990. By the end of the year, his heroine Mrs T had been consigned to the dustbin of history - by the revolt against that same measure. And Europe.

Could it get worse? It certainly could: Minford admitted last year thatOver time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us”. Yes, all those car plants would disappear, and the jobs with them. And then there’s Airbus. And BAe. And the train builders at Derby. And lots more.

The Murdoch goons ought to know about that howler. Because he made it in an article for, er, the Sun. On the right side of history? Come off it. Patrick Minford is another of those cranks peddling outmoded economic ideas who has been passed by by the real world.

That unilateral scrapping of tariffs isn’t going to happen. And the world is not flat.

Top Six - August 20

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 places to go and people to see later. So there.
6 Sarah Champion - You’re A Fool By allowing her name to appear on the by-line of an article in the Murdoch Sun, the Rotherham MP allowed herself to be used as part of the paper’s viciously racist agenda.

5 Julia Hartley Dooda - Uber Bossy The 21st Century’s Lady Bracknell was gratuitously rude to her minicab driver - and the reason she did it was all wrong, anyway.

4 Uber And TfL - It’s Literally Criminal Second week on the Top Six for this post. New FoI disclosures show without doubt that Uber should have their London license revoked - and TfL needs shaking up.

3 Murdoch And The Jewish Question The Sun’s faithful retainer Trevor Kavanagh went full 1930s racist as he calmly talked of “The Muslim Problem”. Just like “The Jewish Question”, except it was OK because bashing Muslims is regarded as acceptable at the Baby Shard bunker - and elsewhere in the Murdoch empire’ management.

2 Guido Fawked - Chapman Gaslighting BUSTED The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were chosen by their masters in the press establishment to administer a punishment beating to former hack James Chapman.

1 The Vindictiveness Of Leon Daniels While TfL’s head of surface transport appears to have behaved in a shockingly disproportionate manner towards a humble cabbie who taunted him, he has plenty of questions of his own to answer.

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

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Brendan O’Neill Barcelona Bunk

After the van attack on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, which left 13 dead and scores more injured, someone out there on the Muslim-hating right noticed that this story, and the discussion around it, had now supplanted the Charlottesville march by white supremacists, and its aftermath. As the someone was Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, so titled because it should have been long ago, a false equivalence would not be far behind.
So it has come to pass, as O’Neill makes the bogus assertionIt’s clear now: the left only hates certain kinds of neo-fascism”. It’s all, predictably, the left’s fault. “If the extremists are white and fond of the swastika, they’ll be roundly condemned, organised against, transformed into a focal point for the activities of a flagging left” he starts.

Then comes the switch. “But if they’re Muslims, if it’s a misogynistic, homophobic caliphate they want to build, if their targets are ‘kuffars’ rather than pinkos or black people, they will be frowned upon, of course, but never raged against. Never organised against. They will be treated more forgivingly, and explicitly so”. Hence the five dead attackers, eh?

And, of course, the demand that we look over there. “Even before the barbarism in Barcelona, even before that Islamist terrorist mowed down scores of people, killing 13, the discussion about Charlottesville had become unhinged. What was in truth a nasty but small demonstration by white-power losers was transformed into the second coming of the Third Reich”. It was nasty, but it certainly wasn’t small.

Against this allegedly teensy group, O’Neill pits his real target. “Yes, there are extremists in the West who have declared war on our fellow citizens, our liberties and our democracy. But they aren’t American hillbillies who once tried to read Mein Kampf - they’re Islamists, Muslims who subscribe to an extraordinarily intolerant interpretation of their religion and who increasingly think little of slaughtering anybody whose values run counter to theirs”.

Following that, he has a Prison Planet moment: “Islamists, if we add Barcelona, have killed more than 460 people in Europe in the past three years. Four-hundred-and-sixty. Let that sink in”. Oklahoma City 158 dead, Iran Air 655 290 dead, and the point is? Why don’t we throw in all the hundreds of thousands slaughtered in the series of interventions by the supposedly civilised West in the Middle East in the recent past?

Hell, even if we only go back to the US-UK backed Iranian coup of 1953, that takes in the Iran-Iraq war where the West was egging on Saddam Hussain, and the 2003 war whose legitimacy is highly questionable. If we include all the interventions in Afghanistan, then the body count really starts to rack up. And here’s O’Neill getting all righteous.

That’s without the mildly inconvenient fact that Charlottesville is symptomatic of a deeper racial problem in the USA - along with the current President’s inability to address it. It bears no similarity to what is being done in the name of Islam by the easily led acting on behalf of ISIS. But O’Neill only wants “an honest discussion about the Islamist problem”.

Not the Muslim Problem, then: by this much has he moved on from Trevor Kavanagh’s viciously racist attack last week. If Brendan O’Neill wants an honest debate, he could start by cutting the hyperbole and false equivalence. He will not. Far better for the refugees from the RCP to demonise in accordance with the press’ dictates. It makes more money.

Karen Danczuk - Not Really Racist

One of the saddest sights in the media landscape is to see those wannabes who have not made it, and never will, but who are unable or unwilling to take the bad news on board. And one of those who most certainly is never going to make it is Karen Danczuk, no longer able to depend on her ex-husband as a way in with the tabloid press. But reality has not yet been allowed to dent Kazza’s boundless ambition.
Karen Danczuk - has much to be modest about

Someone, somewhere must be able to find a suitable Sleb role for Kazza. So off she has gone in the wake of the Barcelona attack to dispense her questionable wisdom to a less than totally adoring Twittersphere. The only problem, though - apart from her ending up no nearer to becoming the next Housewife Superstar - is that she has found herself looking like a pale imitation of pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins - with even less talent.
Still, she gets A for effort, even if it is occasionally difficult to decipher. “Is anyone else thinking what I am? Close all borders, send the boats back & stop the ‘political correctness’ world we live in!” Er, what? Quite apart from the slogan working even less well than it did for the Tories in 2005, how will sending boats back somewhere stop terrorism? And how do you close a sea border? Her tirade was, to no surprise at all, not well received.
What also caused her campaign to progress not necessarily to her advantage was her inability to tell her Twitter followers what on earth she was talking about. “The left will say it's ‘our duty’ I say when they start showing us respect & stop killing us, accepting our way of life we will talk!” This appears to confuse refugees with terrorists, and as at least one of the Barcelona attackers was a Spanish national … she’s not thought this through.
This was evident in not just the response to her “I’m not racist, honestly” schtick, but also her inability to handle it. “So i'm ‘a racist’ because I speak common sense. Those killing us are ‘a minority’ That's how it works doesn't it?” she snapped at one dissenter. How is being a bigot who can’t get her argument straight “common sense”? Still, the English had not been too shonky so far, but with Kazza, you just need to give it time.
And after one Tweeter suggested that the only people who were thinking what she was thinking were Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, the English did indeed turn shonky. “I'd check Twitter and replies to my tweet darling. Millions think it … but people like you call us racist instead of condemning terrorist”. Could we have a translation of that? Still, she had one trick left to pull.
That was to latch on to someone who really is well-known, in this case Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who had passed adverse comment on the Daily Mail. “You call yourself a survivor. Are saying you were a victim of child sexual abuse or just using the term loosely?” demanded Kazza. But quite apart from her making no sense, Ms Shah was not for entertaining her. And so Kazza still failed to become a star.

Nor will she become one by playing a Poundshop Katie Hopkins. But perhaps there could be a vacancy for her down the local Asda. One has to know one’s limitations.

Farage The Movie - It’s A Con

This week, our free and fearless press has once again lost sight of the old but reliable adage that warns something looking too good to be true may just look that way … because it is too good to be true. Add in the herd mentality of the Fourth Estate, and an inability to realise that the Telegraph is not described as increasingly desperate and downmarket for nothing, and you have the fiction that is Farage The Movie.
Naturally, the UKIP-loving Express was in its element, telling “Bad Boys of Brexit: The Movie - And you'll never guess who's tipped to play Farage in epic … NIGEL Farage's life story is to be made into a £60million six-part Hollywood film series … The former Ukip leader and the party's top donor, Arron Banks, are set to sign a deal with a Hollywood studio for the series based on Mr Banks' diary of the referendum campaign”.

Do go on. “Oscar winner Kevin Spacey or Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch have been tipped to play Mr Farage”. Now, at this point, the bullshit detector should be screaming so loudly that anyone with brain engaged and a hole in their backside would avoid the alleged story like the plague. But only slowly was reality allowed to intrude.

The Evening Standard told readersNigel Farage’s Brexit campaign has caught the eye of film bosses who are keen to transform it into a £60 million TV series … Farage and Arron Banks are reportedly gearing up to sign a deal with a Hollywood studio next month”. So it’s only “reportedly” being made, with bosses “keen to transform” Banks’ diaries.

And the Independent is that little bit more sceptical: “Mr Farage and Arron Banks, one of the co-founders of the Leave.EU campaign, are reportedly all set to sign a £60 million deal with a major Hollywood studio for a  TV series next month”. So again, it’s “reportedly”, and Banks and Mr Thirsty are “set to sign”. But they haven’t.

Meanwhile, someone at Business Insider appeared to have seen the Telegraph story coming, making sure the caveats were clear for readers to see: “A major Hollywood studio is about to sign a £60 million ($78 million) deal to dramatise the events that led to Brexit, The Sunday Telegraph reported … The newspaper said an agreement will be signed in Los Angeles next month to adapt book ‘The Bad Boys of Brexit’”.

Moreover, BI also cautioned “It is also not clear what form the project will take” and quoted broadcaster and publisher Iain Dale as saying “The main question is Danny DeVito is available to play Arron Banks”. There is a heavy hint there that rather a lot of newspapers have been unable to take. So let’s cut to the chase.

The alleged studio involved is not named, although there is more of that oh-so-dependable speculation. Nothing has been signed. It looks like the story has come from a single source. And Farage and Banks, who are the only ones wanting to shoot their mouths off about it, are not known for their dedication to pure unvarnished truth.

Farage The Movie is a con. The Telegraph was desperate enough, and friendly enough with the former UKIP leader, to take the bait. The remainder of the press was, to a greater or lesser extent, gullible enough to go along with the idea.

Nigel Farage cons the press once again. They have no-one to blame but themselves.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Uber CAUGHT Plying For Hire

While arguments continue as to whether the Uber app means its drivers are (a) effectively plying for hire - which would make the whole operation illegal - and that the app (b) acts as a taxi meter, which would have the same effect, one of the driver and rider matching service’s more enterprising exponents has removed all doubt by getting himself caught bang to rights pretending to be a taxi - and convicted for his trouble.
As Get Surrey has reported, “Ifran Hamid Hussain, 33, appeared at Guildford Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (August 16) where he was found guilty … Hussain was caught in the act on August 28 last year when he parked outside the George Abbot pub in lower High Street to take the council officers for a ride”. The two were council licensing officers, and the journey had not been pre-booked. Oh dear!

Amazingly, though, “Despite the unbooked journey going against the conditions of his licence, Hussain pleaded not guilty when he first appeared in court on March 14 but was later convicted … He was charged with ‘driving a carriage / stand / ply for hire when the carriage was not licensed as a public hackney carriage’ … Hussain, of Honeysuckle Close in Southall, Middlesex, was ordered to pay Guildford Borough Council £1,500 following his conviction … He was also fined a further £250 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge”.

Those reading in London will note Hussain’s Greater London address, and may be nodding sagely to themselves at the proof of yet another slice of enterprising out-of-area working. Meanwhile, though, Uber has had no choice but to throw Hussain under the (as it’s outside London) deregulated bus. And so it came to pass.

Get Surrey once more: “Uber has hit out at drivers flouting the law by picking up passengers on unbooked rides after a man was convicted for ‘illegally plying for hire’ … Following Ifran Hamid Hussain's conviction this week, Uber has slammed illegal pick ups and warned drivers would be barred for any such activity”.
Uber was, for once, as one with the licensing authorities: “Any driver who is found to have accepted a job without a pre-booking will permanently lose access to the Uber app and risks having their private hire licence taken away … We are fully supportive of this enforcement activity and work closely with councils to stamp out illegal activity”. Uber has, as they like to put it, deactivated Hussain. But was he really a lone offender?

Those in the taxi trade who have wised up to the many and varied aspects of Uber drivers’ ways of working may just already be on the case, looking for more of those supposedly isolated incidents of accidentally-on-purpose forgetting to use the app and just happening to behave as if they are real taxis. Somehow I doubt that Ifran Hamid Hussain was the sole practitioner of this art. So expect more of them to be unearthed in due course.

Was Hussain registered as a PHV driver with TfL? And if so, what are they doing about it? I’m sure the people at City Hall will be happy to pony up the answer to that.

Murdoch Tells Trump To Go

As has been evident for some time now, the power base of the Murdoch mafiosi has gradually been shifting. It was James Murdoch who allied with the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks to consign the deeply unpleasant and disgraced former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth to the Sun’s dustbin of history. And it is most likely to be with James’ support that current editor Tony Gallagher is sent down the road.
The new umpire says he's out

So it also appears to be across the North Atlantic: although Rupert Murdoch has taken personal charge at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), it is James who is taking the lead in speaking out against the recent upsurge in far-right protest, which culminated in the confrontations in the city of Charlottesville, VA last weekend, when one person died and many were injured, some seriously.

Murdoch Junior has taken the exceptional step of issuing, by email, what amounts to a denunciation of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, whose implicit support for the far-right, and the memory of the Confederacy - for which read slavery - has so repulsed many pundits and neutrals, if not (yet) many voters from the Republican base.

He tells “I’m writing to you in a personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father. It has not been my habit to widely offer running commentary on current affairs, nor to presume to weigh in on the events of a given day save those that might be of particular or specific concern to 21CF and my colleagues. But what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people”. And there is more.

These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation - a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals. The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob”. Then comes the unequivocal denunciation.
I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so”.

Moreover, “To further demonstrate our commitment, Kathryn and I are donating 1 million dollars to the Anti-Defamation League, and I encourage you to give what you think is right as well. We hardly ever talk about our charitable giving, but in this case I wanted to tell you and encourage you to be generous too. Many of you are supporters of the Anti-Defamation League already - now is a great time to give more. The ADL is an extraordinary force for vigilance and strength in the face of bigotry”. Forget his Dad, this is now the Murdoch line.

The behaviour of the President has “concerned” James Murdoch. He is publicly donating generously to a body opposed to those over whom the President has equivocated. He has denounced those people explicitly. He has, effectively, told Trump the game is up.

James Murdoch is now the voice of his Father’s empire. He has told Trump that that empire no longer supports him. The 45th President is now on borrowed time.

Rebel Media In Meltdown

Many observers of the far-right will have heard of Rebel Media, the outfit run by Canadian conservative activist Ezra Levant, if only because it has been the conduit for the Muslim bashing hate speech peddled by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, recently. Also involved with Yaxley Lennon has been Caolan Robertson, if only to hold the microphone and make the former EDL leader look more important.
Ezra Levant

And it was Robertson who announced yesterday that he had parted company with Levant, claiming not merely to have been sacked, along with his producer, but that Levant had tried to offer him “Hush Money” - the choice of words was Levant’s, and Robertson recorded the conversation - not to make waves following the split.

Levant could be heard suggesting that Robertson behave in a “smart” manner to make light of his separation from Rebel Media, citing the behaviour of former contributors Lauren Southern and Jack Posobiec. But just so that Robertson got the hint, Levant also talked about retaining the services of Kingsley, Napley - that means it’s expensive - who would make phone calls and otherwise prevail on those who had incurred his displeasure.

There has been no word from Yaxley Lennon yet - other than to claim that he doesn't know very much about what has happened - but it is clear from what Robertson says in his video exposé that Rebel Media is in potentially serious trouble. Levant is accused of making rather more money than he needs, and the Canadian revenue service wants to look at Rebel Media’s accounts.

So Levant, in response, totally lost his shit and claimed “that he's being blackmailed … He's alleging that there were repeated demands for money from former Rebel Media employees in the United Kingdom”. His problem is that Robertson’s recording of Levant’s words shows The Great Man offering several thousand pounds of “Hush Money”.
Caolan Robertson - sacked

Moreover, in the meantime “iPolitics has reported that more than 250 companies and institutions have ‘confirmed they will pull their ads from Rebel Media, according to an online group that targets far-right websites’”. The report noted “Right-wing broadcaster and Rebel Media cofounder Brian Lilley severed ties with the outlet earlier this week”.

Why might that be? Lilley explained “I am not comfortable being associated with a group that, rightly or wrongly, is being increasingly viewed as associated with the likes of Richard Spencer … Like many of you, I had family that fought the Nazis, I never want to be in the same room as one”. And there is another problem for Levant.

That is the long line of those he has defamed, and who have either taken legal action, or threatened it in order to force Levant to apologise. The roll of honour includes, predictably, George Soros. There have also been claims that Levant is using legal action, or the threat of it, just to silence critics. Caolan Robertson suggested that in his video. He also claims Levant tried to poach Paul Watson, aka Prison Planet, from Alex Jones.

All of which shows the alt-right in yet more disarray. Couldn’t happen to more deserving people.