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Friday, 28 November 2014

Guido Fawked – Thornberry Snark Falls Flat

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog are so keen to keep up their campaigns of petty vindictiveness that, when stories are not available to help with their knocking copy, they have to take whatever is going and twist any facts to fit. The resulting lack of veracity means that, as before, they are still full value for that 4% positive trust rating.
Fart in lift inquiry suffers serious blow

Take, for instance, another attack yesterday on Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who, according to Staines, was unwilling to allow his children to commit an act of trespass and so, in the vindictive world of The Great Guido, gets kicked whenever the opportunity arises, and even when it does not. The latest lame snark featured Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Under the typically fictitious title “Pickles Trolls Thornberry”, the Fawkes folks observe that “Today he’s winding up Emily Thornberry by flying the flag of Lancashire”. Why does flying the flag of Lancashire “troll Thornberry”? It wasn’t involved in the mainly fabricated White Van ruckus from Rochester. Perhaps the former shadow Attorney General has some connection with the county?
That won't go down too well in Keighley

Well, no she doesn’t: Ms Thornberry hails originally from Surrey, attended the University of Kent at Canterbury, and represents a constituency in North London. So what of Pickles? This is where the Fawkes rabble went completely wrong: he, too, has no connection to the Red Rose County. And a Yorkshireman promoting Lancashire is a promotion too far.

No self-respecting representative of God’s Own County would want wave the flag of Lancashire, even on Lancashire day. I’ll go further: had that been a Labour politician, The Great Guido would have been down on them like a ton of bricks. Not when it’s Pickles, though: he’s on their team, he makes agreeably right-leaning noises at their prompting, so they wouldn’t say boo.

And when they recycle Pickles’ text, “Whatever one’s class, colour or creed, flags like the St George’s and the Union flag are unifying symbols for our nation. We should also champion the great diversity of local flags. Let’s fly them all with pride, because this sense of shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together”, they don’t tell that he’s been giving the same speech for years.

So not only has Pickles offended many in the county of his birth, but the Fawkes rabble has claimed that he was “trolling Thornberry” with a speech on a totally unrelated event, managing in the process not to mention that Pickles is a flag enthusiast. Thus The Great Guido has given one of its pals a free pass, and reinforced it with another of those freely-dispensed packs of lies.

Someone fears the Fawkes rabble. But not fact checkers. Another fine mess.

UKIP Resurrects Apartheid

Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP have decided to frighten potential voters into their camp by suggesting that children born to those who have migrated to the UK should also be called migrants, and indeed that they should be “classified” thus. By doing so, those people would have been “reclassified”. Thus far the press has given the Kippers an easy ride on that.
Fortunately, the ridiculousness of the idea has been pointed up: all the Queen’s children would fall into that category, as Phil was born in Greece, and so would the Leader of the Opposition, together with the children of London’s occasional Mayor. And that’s before considering those born overseas to servicemen’s families and other British citizens.

But what Farage and his pals have so far got away with is the idea of reclassification. As the Independent told, “Nigel Farage’s Ukip has called for the children of immigrants to themselves be classed as migrants”. A UKIP spokesman said that “the issue of ‘hiding’ those born to migrants from statistics had ‘ramifications for healthcare and other public services’”. Really? Do go on.

Party spokesman again: “If the figures for migration don’t include children, you’re not taking the correct facts into account for public policy ... [it is] not the children that are the problem, it is hiding them that’s the problem”. Hiding them? The sounds like something out of The Diary Of Anne Frank, which is a less than pleasant echo of the past. But it is a more recent policy that the Kippers are echoing.

Reclassifying” citizens is straight out of the Hendrik Verwoerd playbook, one of the most insidious weapons of control used by the Apartheid state in South Africa. Some would be reclassified more favourably: rebel West Indian cricketers were given documentation to say that they were classified “white”. Those the state wanted to punish were reclassified less favourably.

The Apartheid state became an international pariah: economic and sporting sanctions isolated it from the international mainstream after the 1960s. The idea of having different classifications of citizenry was at the time considered abhorrent, the worst kind of bigotry. Now we have UKIP proposing just that, behind a smokescreen of “only telling it like it is” and dismissing criticism as “political correctness”.

Well, Mr Thirsty, I don’t give a rat’s arse about your excuses. Talking about “reclassifying” those born in this country in order to exhume a bigotry that was once fashionable is bang out of order. If Farage thinks that he is being misinterpreted here, then let him say so. But there won’t be any say so: UKIP has been caught letting the cat out of the bag. The party is a cesspool of prejudice.

Hopefully the public will “reclassify” their view of this shower in short order.

Don’t Menshn Plebgate

Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell discovered yesterday that his campaign to take Rupe’s downmarket troops to the cleaners for libel had developed not necessarily to his advantage, as a judge at the High Court decided that he had called a Police officer at the Downing Street gates a “pleb” after the officer’s refusal to open the main gate for him to cycle through.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

For one obedient Tory supporter, this decision could not go unchallenged: over in her reassuringly expensive corner of Manhattan, (thankfully) former MP Louise Mensch decided that Mr Justice Mitting was wrong, because he had heard all the evidence, and she hadn’t. And she didn’t need to, because she was right.
No doubt in my mind that the Plebgate verdict is an appalling miscarriage of justice” she declared, unaware that this was not a criminal trial. And the rozzers were the bad boys here: “I say again that Andrew Mitchell should be given back his front bench post, stolen from him by Police collusion; Police jailed for it”. But she had nothing to back this up, and it still wasn’t a criminal trial.
But wait – she did know it wasn’t a criminal trial: “A civil case is a civil case; no way do I believe Andrew at any time used the word ‘pleb’ to Police officers. A shocking result”, she told, going on to talk of “The jailing and dismissals for severe misconduct we saw on the Plebgate case, to criminal standard”. But the judge wasn’t assessing that – he was deciding what had or had not been said at the gates that evening.
And it was still wrong: “based on one bent copper jailed and others dismissed from the force? Just a thought ... I’m saying the judge was very clearly wrong based on the admitted Police conspiracy over Plebgate with multiple bent Police”. Again, the judge was not looking at the bloke who invented the crowds outside the gates, or any alleged conspiracy. He was deciding who had said what.
Still, there was always Michael Fabricant to kick: “Another obnoxious comment from Michael Fabricant. So glad he was sacked for his nastiness towards Maria Miller. Once fun now just vile ... truly Fabricant’s Tweets on colleagues went from class clown to nasty piece of work overnight”. And Mitchell still didn’t do it, honestly: “Andrew Mitchell did not lie and I have no idea whether or not the Policeman did”.
But, by ignoring the elephant in the room – Mitchell now faces a bill for costs of at least £2 million – Ms Mensch was missing the point about the whole business. Perhaps Peter Jukes could enlighten her? “Looking at the eye-watering costs of [the] Plebgate trial – the need for a cheap effective press complaints system is all the more apparent” he observed. Got it in one there.

In the meantime, Ms Mensch might consider for a moment that she is briefing against the paper that keeps her in regular paid employment. Just a thought.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Owen Jones – Know Your Railway

I hate to call out Owen Jones, who has just penned a Guardian Comment Is Free piece on the awarding of an eight-year franchise for what we used to call InterCity East Coast (ICEC), because he’s a sound bloke. But his analysis, “East coast rail has been too successful – quick, privatise it ... Being publicly owned doesn’t fit the free-market dogma that dictates that the railway must be a rip-off, fragmented mess”, misunderstands the way that passenger rail services are operated in the UK.
King's Cross station, London

It’s true that a Government company, Directly Operated Railways (DOR), has run ICEC for the past five years since previous incumbent National Express handed back the keys, and has generated more than £1 billion for the Treasury. But any assumption that the replacement franchise could not do better is false.

In fact, the joint venture of Stagecoach and Virgin – in a 90% to 10% split, unlike the West Coast’s 49% to 51% - has bid what is known as a premium profile to yield £3.3 billion in total. That is around twice the rate of premium paid by DOR. And when Jones tells “it must be run by a tax exile and a Scottish businessman perhaps best known for campaigning against gay equality” he goes wrong again.

The new operator has agreed to run services to a timetable, and with trains, specified by the DfT. They may run more than DOR, but only if the DfT agrees and allocates paths for them. Richard Branson and Brian Souter have no say in the matter. It is the same on West Coast: they have no more say in specifying the Virgin Trains service out of Crewe than I do.

British public opinion ... despairs of our fragmented, inefficient, rip-off rail network” asserts Jones. Well, up to a point. The despair is at what the travelling public see, while the reality is rather different. Virgin Trains operates several stations along the route of the West Coast operation. It owns none of them. Nor does it have any control of the tracks on which its trains run.

All are within the ownership of Network Rail (NR), which is a public body. All of that is already nationalised. No new trains are ordered for franchise operators unless the Government is prepared to underwrite the lease payments. The Government writes the timetable for them. What is not socialist is socialised. To some observers, franchise operators are the front the Government can easily hide behind.

And please, Owen, don’t fall into the “English passengers pay more for rail tickets than anywhere else in Europe” trap. It ain’t that simple, and like the choice of using a franchise system, to subsidise less than other European operations is a political decision. Demand management, especially for long distance services, is an area where the rest of Europe is more likely to move in our direction.

I welcome Owen Jones’ interest; I hope he sticks around and gets knowledgeable.

Mansion Tax – Poor Rich Tories

While their MPs and cheerleaders talk of securing an overall majority in next May’s General Election, the Tories’ actions suggest they expect Mil The Younger and “Auguste” Balls to be Downing Street neighbours after the votes have been counted. Nowhere can this be seen to better effect than their reaction at both national and local level to the proposed Mansion Tax.
Across London, the panic button has been well and truly struck as occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has lent his name to a letter asking the party faithful to donate to help him – and Dave, natch – hold the Red Menace at bay. The suggested level of donation, as Laurence Durnan at Political Scrapbook has noted, starts at the kind of level the Mansion Tax would start – then gets a lot higher.

So the idea is that all these poor people who can’t afford to pay should pay anyway – on the off-chance that Bozza and his pals can keep Labour out. Then, if they fail in their endeavour, they have to pay again. Sounds like the kind of value for money for which Bozza has become infamous. But over in Kensington and Chelsea, there is a yet more blatant sob story being spun.
As London Weekly News has told, council leader Nick Paget-Brown “is calling on residents to join a ‘peoples’ movement’ to stop the retired and elderly being forced from their homes over the threatened ‘Mansion tax’”. And he’s got a petition to sign: “if we are going to stop the tax, the campaign has to be less about the politics of the Mansion Tax and more about the real people who will end up paying it”.

So another meaningless soundbite, then. But Paget-Brown is serious: “Many residents of Kensington and Chelsea are now in a state of very great fear and worry about the Mansion Tax proposals. They are just ordinary people who have paid rather a lot of tax already; many of them are now retired and on fixed incomes. The Mansion Tax will destroy their well-earned retirements”.
And to which I call bullshit: as the LWN goes on to say, the Mansion Tax proposals provide for “those on incomes below £42,000 [to be] allowed to defer until they sell their homes or die”. If retirees defer a £250 a month tax for 25 years, that takes £75,000 off the value of a £2 million property, or less than 4%. Nobody would have their retirement “destroyed”, and nor would they be “forced from their homes”.

Paget-Brown’s blatant and obvious scaremongering just underscores that there is a real belief that not only will the Tories lose next May, but also that whatever Government takes over, it will introduce the Mansion Tax, with the intention of using the funds raised to help the NHS. This idea is popular enough not only to frighten Tories, but also make more voters choose Labour.

From Bozza to Nick Paget-Brown, that’s one hell of an admission. Thanks chaps!

The Sun Is Out To Lunch

Today’s Sun front page merely hints about it; the editorial within confirms it. Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are either living in some kind of warped parallel universe, or they really believe that they can dupe the readers into thinking that something happened yesterday that proves their paper victorious. We are back to the acquittal of Clodagh Hartley.
Top Sun reporter cleared” proclaims the item at left on the front page. But Ms Hartley is not a “top Sun reporter”. More to the point, she is not any kind of Sun reporter: after her ordeal was ended yesterday, she confirmed that she would not be returning to journalism. And, despite the miserably pisspoor nature of its content nowadays, working at the Sun still counts as journalism.

And the front page item is a mere warm-up for the editorial, which proclaims “She was just doing her job. That’s what the jury found yesterday after the expensive trial of our colleague Clodagh Hartley ... It’s not just a victory for Clodagh, but for all journalism ... Because the press has become an easy target”. Brass neck, much? Why was she put on trial in the first place?
Clodagh Hartley was charged because of information provided to the authorities by the News International (as was) Management and Standards Committee. In other words, and using the Sun’s favoured technique of putting the really important stuff in capitals, SHE WAS SHOPPED BY HER OWN BOSSES. Yes folks, Ms Hartley WAS JUST DOING HER JOB until her bosses SHAT ALL OVER HER.

Do Sun readers get to know that? You jest. Instead, we get the Tory-supporting tabloid confirming Olbermann’s Dictum (“the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”) by bleating “[The Government] would have a meek press, over-regulated and under the tightest of controls. George Orwell warned about this ... while the focus on us all continues, social media gets away with whatever it wants”.

That would be the same social media that the newspaper proprietors cannot control, and have difficulty understanding. Meanwhile, the elephant in the room goes unnoticed: Clodagh Hartley got shopped by her own side, and, as James Doleman has noted in his report of the trial, she “also said that other senior staff at the paper were fully aware of her relationship with civil servant Jonathan Hall”.

One wonders if those senior staff included the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who may well have been behind today’s editorial. Ms Hartley had a bullying complaint against him upheld, but now he is pretending that she was a valued colleague and he cares deeply about her predicament. Pass the sick bucket.

This was entirely of the Murdoch press’ making. The Sun’s reputation came out of it utterly trashed. No amount of pretence can clean away the stain. End of story.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Guido Fawked – Sun Not Victorious

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were in buoyant mood this afternoon, as the trial of former Sun journalist Clodagh Hartley ended with her acquittal, and shewalked free from the Old Bailey after a jury found her not guilty of paying for leaks from a corrupt tax office official”. The official concerned had already pleaded guilty.
The Great Guido was in no doubt as to what had happened, proclaiming “Sun Victory In Court”. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea – it was bollocks. For starters, although the Sun and News UK were not in the dock, they were effectively on trial too, and came out of proceedings with their reputations in tatters.

Ms Hartley has no intention of going back into journalism, and certainly not with the Sun. This was not hard to understand, given she was shopped by her own employer: “She said she had no idea her conduct could be questioned by police and hit out at the decision of the Sun’s then-publisher, News International, to hand over swaths of data to the Met. ‘I thought that sources would be protected’ Hartley said”.

Yes, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun was prepared to betray its own staff, and the paper’s sources, if it thought it would better serve the company’s interests. Some victory that is, eh, Fawkes folks? And, as the man said, there’s more: “Hartley had told jurors about the poisonous atmosphere working within the Sun’s Westminster team, describing how a senior colleague bullied her and stole credit for her work”.

Until the trial ended, it was not possible to know the identity of this “senior colleague”, although anyone who wanted to know already knew. “The paper’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, ‘had succeeded in stealing contacts’ from her, while ‘bullying’ and constant demand for exclusive stories meant she was forced to take time off to deal with the stress, she testified”.

Counsel for Newton Dunn took issue with this view, but sadly for them and their client, Ms Hartley had already had a complaint of bullying upheld against him. Now the whole world knows that the Sun’s non-bullying political editor, well, isn’t non-bullying at all. The likelihood of collective raised eyebrows at the BBC, ITN and Sky News becoming “we’ll ask someone else to appear, thanks” is all too real now.

Moreover, Newton Dunn’s behaviour was central to Ms Hartley’s defence. He is still in post, but for how long? And who is going to want to work as part of that team, given his presence and all the talk of a “poisonous atmosphere”? There was no victory for the Sun today, and the only reason The Great Guido span the trial’s outcome that way was to prostrate himself before Creepy Uncle Rupe.

The Fawkes rabble – sell-outs singing for their supper. Another fine mess.

Letts Pretend To Be Ordinary

In the wake of David “Shagger” Mellor being caught ranting at an unfortunate taxi driver the other day, the Daily Mail had to pass judgment. And, perhaps not totally willingly, the appalling Quentin Letts (let’s not) has been sent over the top by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to pass severely adverse comment. In doing so, Quent has opened mouth and inserted boot spectacularly.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan

The headline, “Who do they think they are? First Labour's sneering Emily. Now Mellor. How much more proof do we need that the smug elite despise the rest of us”, does not help Letts. We are supposed to believe that he is not one of this “smug elite”, despite his having attended a private prep school, Haileybury and Imperial Service College, Trinity College Dublin and Jesus College Cambridge.

Moreover, Quent is a member of the Savile Club, and has a place in the country, dontcha know. He sneers that Mellor “sets himself up as a connoisseur of the higher arts”, yet he is the Mail’s theatre critic. “David Mellor is warped by self-belief, fuelled by an unerring sense that he can do no wrong” he tells, seemingly unaware that this could serve equally well as a description of Himself Personally Now.

The unfortunate parallels keep on coming: “he remains a national voice on our radio airwaves and he continues to pop up on serious news programmes as a political pundit”. Like you do, Quent. “Mellor was never much of an oil painting, but he was vain and bright — impressively fluent, too, even while being palpably insincere”. Was he looking in the mirror while writing this?

Others noted his smarmy way with TV interviewers, using their Christian names and presenting himself as a moderniser” he goes on, immediately invoking memories of a recent BBC Question Time appearance. “At the same time he was superbly knowledgeable about classical music”, which I suspect Quent is, although I might just get him on opus number nerdery.

But do go on. “Mellor was National Heritage Secretary, the position we today call Culture Secretary, and had given a warning to newspapers that they were ‘drinking in the Last-Chance Saloon’ when it came to ethics”. Ah, the real reason for the shameless hypocrisy, just like the Letts attack on Leveson – despite his having not bothered taking notes at the presentation and getting caught, eh Quent?

And so he goes on, right to the bitter end: “But as the world can now see, that sophisticated aesthete has a rotten core. Not that he will care one hoot. The man ... is shameless”. You certainly are, Quent. You couldn’t give a flying foxtrot, and “rotten core” sums up rather well someone who has sold his soul to the Vagina Monologue in return for a nice wad and an easy life.

They looked from Mellor to Letts, and from Letts to Mellor”. No change there, then.

Facebook The Fall Guy

It was all that the authoritarian right could have wished for: the official report into the brutal killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year named “an American Internet Company” that had failed to pick up on a message left by one of the killers expressing a desire to kill a soldier. The company was then revealed to be Facebook. War on Facebook was duly declared.
First with the ritual condemnation, because as any fule kno it is the paper that supports our soldiers more than all the others put together, was the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, ranting “Facebook ACCUSED ... Lee Rigby family fury as net giant failed to report murder threat ... BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS”. Yes, Sun readers, take the killer Facebook away from your kids RIGHT NOW!
The increasingly downmarket Maily Telegraph concurred: “Fury at Facebook over terror note left by Lee Rigby’s killer”. And the Daily Mail typically added its own smear as it thundered “Damning report into soldier’s slaughter by fanatics reveals ... FACEBOOK KEPT QUIET ABOUT RIGBY KILLER’S PLOTTING”. The Dacre doggies say they knew but kept conspiratorially schtum!
It was left to the Independent to draw the obvious conclusion: “The war on Facebook” was its headline. And Amol Rajan and his team are spot on: had Michael Adebowale used the Royal Mail to convey his message, they could hardly be held to blame for not opening the letter en route. Nor could a telecoms provider be accused for not knowing to listen in to his calls.
This ridiculous blame game could be taken further: someone sold the killers a car. Do they also have “blood on their hands”? A filling station provided the fuel that powered it. How about the owners? A number of food retailers kept the two plotters fed and watered. The conspiracies could be extended to provide hours of fun for the why-oh-why merchants. And it would be totally pointless.

There are two facts that the authoritarian press manages to either ignore or miss here: first is that Adebowale was about to be put underintrusive surveillance” by the security services, but that it took several weeks to complete the admin work and by the time that was finished, Rigby was dead. That’s not good enough.

And the second is the idea that Facebook should spy on its users. Think about that for a minute: it is a platform available to all, just like any other publicly available communications medium. There is nothing preventing MI5 from accessing Facebook and doing its own monitoring. So why the hell didn’t they? Why shoot the messenger for the spooks’ inability to get with the technology?

That the predominantly right-leaning and authoritarian press doesn’t ask that question tells you all you need to know. Clueless, ranting technophobes all of them.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Sarah Vine Remains Vain

Sarah “Vain” Vine wants her Twitter followers to know that she is a patriot. In fact, she is so patriotic that she is still displaying a poppy on her Twitter avatar even though Armistice Day was a fortnight ago. What the Daily Mail pundit otherwise known as Mrs Michael “Oiky” Gove also has no trouble in telling the world is that she takes to Twitter late in the evening.
No point being envious Sarah, your husband definitely ain't getting her husband's job. Ever

This happens despite recently throwing a night-time online mardy strop after Young Dave demoted “Oiky” in a bid to persuade some of the teaching profession to vote for him next year, which caused Private Eye to refer to her state at the time as “Absolutely Pixellated”. But, on a more serious note, she has been on another late-night Twitter excursion to berate Jack Monroe.
2155 hours: no "fury" in sight, just curiosity ...

Ms Monroe expressed an opinion on Twitter about the manner in which Cameron defends his party’s actions on the NHS. Free speech means that is allowed. Ms Vine, though, being a Mail columnist who has met the Camerons, has been ordered over the top by her legendarily foul mouthed editor as part of a coordinated hit on Ms Monroe for being Not The Daily Mail’s Kind Of Person With Intent.
... but give it sheventeen minutesh, and she's really, really angry. So angry that she left the #CameronMustGo hashtag in. Oops!

So cruel and such a hypocritestarts the typically endless Mail headline, designed to firm up opinions without the need to read the underlying article. The assertion is made that Ms Monroe used her son to “build her career”, which she did not. This assumes that Ms Monroe secured her income streams as a result of the content of a book which she had yet to write – a difficult proposition.
Sounds like business as usual for the Mail, then

There’s more: “Contributing to a thread on the site called ‘cameronmustgo’, she wrote: ‘Because he uses stories about his dead son as misty-eyed rhetoric to legitimise selling our NHS to his friends.’ In a fury, I replied: ‘If I’m not wrong, you used misty-eyed rhetoric about your son to build your career. People in glass houses…’”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
"What is 'transphobic' - and can I buy it at Waitrose?"

One, we are talking about a hashtag, not a website, and Ms Vine, not being stupid, ought to know the difference. And two, that was not her first reply to Ms Monroe (her first effort was a rather more mild “Sorry, who exactly is ‘buying’ the NHS? Just curious to know”). Anyone not charitably inclined might think that taking a whole 17 minutes to work herself up into that “fury” looks ominously faux.
Yep, that's what Mail pundits care about. Damaging their targets, then running away

And save us the “I have received so much online abuse from her Left-wing supporters I seem to have ‘blocked’ half of North London”. Ms Monroe, partly as a result of Ms Vine’s Mail hatchet job, has received rape and death threats. But then, Mail pundits and their editor don’t give a crap about a little “collateral damage”. All that’s on Sarah Vine’s mind is knowing what “transphobic” means.

Plus, of course, wondering how to spend her six-figure wad. Pass the sick bucket.

Don’t Menshn Sharia Wills

There was great joy somewhere within the reassuringly expensive part of Manhattan yesterday, following the news that the Law Society had withdrawn its guidelines to solicitors on drawing up wills in accordance with Sharia custom. (Thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch was ecstatic as the National Secular Society declared victory via its director Keith Porteous.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

This is an important reversal for what had seemed to be the relentless march of sharia to becoming de facto British law” he told, to which I call bullshit. The move changes nothing in law: the underlying legislation, the 1837 Wills Act (as subsequently amended) allows a will to be drawn up in accordance with the dictates of Sharia. And there will be plenty of copies of those guidelines already downloaded.
Did this occur to Ms Mensch? Not a chance: “This is a HUGE victory for all women, and especially for Muslim women”. It is? What have women gained from a set of guidelines being withdrawn? As solicitor Stephen Newman said at the time, “Provided the will is signed in accordance with the requirements of [the Wills Act] there is nothing in English law to prevent a person domiciled in England from choosing to dispose of his or her assets in accordance with sharia succession rules”.
But Ms Mensch was not for listening: “Fantastically good and persistent work by the Lawyers’ Secular Society. Thank you so much for defending my rights as a woman”. What rights has the Society defended? The right to prevent lawyers having access to accurate and up-to-date information?
Seriously, no right has been “defended” by the withdrawal of the guidelines. She doesn’t care: “Just as [Lawyers’ Secular Society] succeeds in getting rid of Sharia law guidance by the Law Society, dispiriting news that Israel is going the other way”. Wait, what? A state where the overwhelming majority of the population is Jewish is flirting with Sharia law? Get out of here.
By this time, though, Louise was done with her declaration of victory, and was on to the gratuitous abuse: “Clear from Telegraph’s report that it was Nicholas Fluck leaving as President of Law Society that won Sharia victory for women #FluckOff”. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.
And now that she hasn’t won a campaign to prevent the making of wills in accordance with Sharia custom, Ms Mensch is on to the next campaign that she isn’t going to win: “Next up: OFSTED” she declared. Would that be the same Ofsted that, under Michael Wilshaw, has stepped up its zero notice inspections of schools and found serious shortcomings in some of them? Yes, Ms Mensch would have him sacked – after all, wanting to raise standards, pretty shocking, eh?

Just remember that the author of this stupidity was allowed to become an MP.

Littlejohn Leads The Hypocrisy Parade

The ability of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his retinue of overpaid attack poodles to indulge in breathtaking hypocrisy while remaining righteous and indignant has been confirmed today with a triple helping of trashed glasshouses led by tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn, who has been ordered to kick Guardian writer Jack Monroe for allegedly mocking the disabled.
Disability, Guv? That's my subject, innit?!?

Of course, Ms Monroe has done no such thing, but Dicky Windbag never lets such details get in the way of a good rant. But the thought occurs that The Sage Of Vero Beach has very little room to scold others for their attitude to disability, and here on Zelo Street, Dick’s nasty campaign against the disabled has featured more than once in the past, not least his smear of wheelchair-bound campaigner Jody McIntyre.

Littlejohn claimed he was not making light of McIntyre’s disability, then told “Jody McIntyre is like Andy from Little Britain”. That’s right, he said that McIntyre was faking his disability. And it wasn’t the only smear: when the Vagina Monologue wanted to hatchet the Motability scheme, there was Littlejohn telling his readers that the disabled weregiven a free car on the taxpayer”.

He wasn’t finished: there was the claim thatThere are now 3.2 million people claiming long-term disability, even though they are perfectly able to do some kind of job”. The figure was actually those claiming an out of work benefit, and the claim purely malicious, clearly intended to demonise a group of vulnerable people. Not that the million pound hack gives a flying foxtrot about them, of course.

And Dicky Windbag is not the only source of Mail hypocrisy today, as witness Tamara Cohen wailingLabour’s class war on private schools with threat to cut £700million tax breaks if they do not help state schools”. She went on “Critics will argue that this approach will only force private schools to raise their fees ... One private school head teacher has already warned that fees are now so expensive they are being used as ‘finishing schools for the children of oligarchs’”.

Children of oligarchs”? Children of Daily Mail editorial staff, more like: small wonder Dacre wants a negative slant on Hunt’s speech. He is interested only in trashing the reputation of the state education sector, and defending the freedom of Himself Personally Now to send his sons to Eton.

But the icing on the cake has to go to Max “Hitler” Hastings, taking a break from appearing on TV and going on and on and on and on and not letting anyone get a word in edgeways, to condemn Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton for waving the Union Flag but not paying tax in the UK. Rather like Lord Rothermere, then – you know Max, the bloke who owns the paper you’re writing for.

The Daily Mail – a veritable cesspool of stinking hypocrisy. No change there, then.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Boris Says Look At Miliband

London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has used his regular “chicken feed” generating column for the Telegraph to try and get readers to look at Mil The Younger, or indeed, anywhere except what is happening in London as a result of his leadership, or perhaps that should read lack of it. Bozza is increasingly leaving the shop to others to run.
Why he might want to shift attention to kicking Miliband is not difficult to fathom: even this far away from the end of his second term as Mayor, the combination of drift and waste is becoming all too obvious, as is Bozza’s tendency to get flaky under pressure, which resulted in him losing his rag at a recent Mayor’s Question Time and telling a Labour AM to “stick it up your ...”.

If only he had exhibited such indignation when it was revealed that the latest Thomas Heatherwick boondoggle, the Garden Bridge, would not be entirely funded by the private sector after all, but would require at least £60 million of public subsidy, and the distinct possibility that the public purse would have to pick up the tab for maintenance if sponsorship and merchandise could not meet demands.

It got worse: the much-vaunted new Thames crossing would not be a public thoroughfare, any group larger than eight people would need permission to cross it, there would be no additional toilet facilities in the vicinity, despite the expected crowds, it would not be open 24 hours a day, and would not be open every day of the year. But it would be extremely stylish.

So why is it passing through the planning process? Well, Lambeth Council, whose domain includes the South Bank, has passed the application, and City of Westminster, who look after the North Bank, looks likely to follow suit. Never mind the objections from all those lawyers in the Middle Temple, and the inconvenient fact that several conventional bridges could be built for the money.

Bozza has become absent from the whole exercise, as he appears to have done as Transport for London (TfL) have taken it upon themselves to order another 200 of Bozza’s vanity buses, for which there will now, it has effectively been admitted, be no export orders at all, meaning all those tours abroad were a waste of money. Worse, the latest Euro VI compliant ones have gained over 300kg in weight.

Why have another 200 been ordered when there is no contractual obligation on TfL to do so, and when costs are under ever-greater pressure? We don’t get to find out, and Bozza isn’t going to go there while he’s got one eye on taking over the relatively safe Tory seat of Uxbridge next year. Nor will he go near those new concept Tube trains that have drivers’ cabs, but no money to pay for them.

With that kind of legacy, it’s no wonder he wants to divert attention elsewhere.

Mail Cliff Richard BBC Climbdown

The inmates at Northcliffe House hate any other media organisation getting a story before they do, and if it’s the hated BBC, they become positively incandescent in short order. So when the Beeb got an exclusive on the raid, earlier this year, of Cliff Richard’s place in Berkshire, there was faux outrage. Whatever it was, he couldn’t have done it, because the BBC is always wrong.
So it was no surprise to see yesterday’s Mail On Sunday rant “Sir Cliff: I’ll Sue The BBC ... Star to demand damages after TV news crew filmed abuse inquiry Police raiding his home”. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea – it was bollocks. To no surprise at all, the story does not contain one word from Cliff.

This means he has not said “I’ll sue the BBC”. The best the MoS can manage is to quote “Friends”, who “say Sir Cliff is now determined to launch a concerted fightback”, and that “One legal expert said last night that the level of intrusion meant Sir Cliff would have a ‘strong case’ and added that the BBC would struggle to mount a public interest defence”. And that’s that.

So, mindful of the lack of substance in its sister paper’s splash, the Daily Mail has run with the story – showing that this is a co-ordinated hit by both weekday and Sunday title – but talk of legal action is qualified: “it was claimed Sir Cliff, 74, is preparing to sue the broadcaster over its live TV coverage of the search of his home ... The singer is expected to seek damages for breach of privacy”.

Claimed and expected by the Mail’s sister paper, that is. But onwards and, er, onwards, eh? Instead, the daily title switches to the emails that have been obtained through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests. “How the BBC colluded with police to spin their way out of trouble over raid on Cliff”, readers are told. Yes, two people agreeing a course of action via email is collusion.

Top executives at the BBC worked frantically with police behind the scenes to spin their disastrous coverage of the raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home, it emerged last night ... The Corporation was plunged into a huge row over its cosy deal with police after it was allowed privileged access to a search of the singer’s £3million Berkshire home”. Bullshit. There was an email discussion. That is all.

Moreover, the Mail clearly has no problem if it is another newspaper – well, apart from the deeply subversive Guardian, of course – that does the deal with the rozzers. What has the Beeb done wrong here, apart from got in before the press had a sniff? It wouldn’t be such a heinous crime if the Mail had received the tip-off. In fact, it wouldn’t be a crime at all in those circumstances.

One rule for the Mail, one for everyone else. No change there, then.

Express UKIP Poll Whopper

The remaining readers of the Daily Express, aka the Daily UKIP, may have been surprised this morning to see, at the top of the front page, the proclamation “UKIP Surge To Second Place In New Poll”. This news, which by the most fortunate of coincidences, exactly matches the paper’s pro-Kipper editorial line, cannot be found anywhere else. Has the Desmond flagship got some original news for once?
Ah, but you know the answer to that one: no it hasn’t. Another round of staff cuts means that the dwindling ranks of hacks have to depend on reheating stories from elsewhere, and this one is no exception. So the headline on Alison Little’s article, “Ukip is now MORE POPULAR than Labour: Nigel Farage gets polls boost as Ukip surges ahead”, should be taken with a suitably large pinch of salt.
Despite telling readers “NIGEL Farage won a fresh boost today when an opinion poll pronounced his party the second most popular after the Conservatives, pushing Labour into third place ... The YouGov survey also found that nearly three times as many of those asked thought the UK Independence Party leader would be the best Prime Minister compared with Labour's Ed Miliband”, it’s total crap.
It’s true that YouGov conducted the poll concerned, and also true that the numbers, showing 38% for the Tories, 28% for UKIP and 25% for Labour, were those recorded. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the poll was carried out for the Murdoch Sun, and was carried out only among that paper’s readers. The Express just stripped out that inconvenient fact.
Not, of course, that Rupe’s downmarket troops are blameless in this affair: the poll was a very deliberately calculated means for spinning against Labour, as witness the Twitter output of the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, telling “Startling finding in YouGov poll of Sun readers today; 25% still vote Labour but only 6% have Ed Mili as best PM”. It was indeed startling.
Yes, even after being fed a constant diet of anti-Labour smears and lies, 25% of Sun readers still intend to vote for the party. So faithful Rupe retainer Trevor Kavanagh is probably wasting his time with his “Ed Miliband is the biggest loser of the Rochester vote” drivel. And back in the real world, Mike Smithson of Political Betting has not only rumbled the Express, but brought bad news for the Blue Team.
Having noted that the percentages quoted by the Express look the same as those in the poll of Sun readers, and given readers the lowdown on “Voodoo Polls”, which the one of Sun readers appears to be, Smithson then told that the latest Populus poll, the first to appear post-White Van Man-gate, had a Labour lead of five points, two more than its predecessor. What the Sun and Express won’t tell you.
The Desmond hacks prefer whoppers – another Benchmark Of Excellence!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sun Labour Beer Whopper

[Update at end of post]

Even watchful for another of those “expedient exaggerations” they can use to frighten all those hardworking voters that they claim to represent, Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have manufactured more outrage at the apparent nanny state proposals coming out of the Labour Party on alcohol consumption, a subject dear to their hearts.
Luciana Berger - another right-wing smear

Craig Woodhouse has claimed an “exclusive” for his creative interpretation of a speech given by Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger, concocting the headline “Labour in one pint of ale a day limit”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, Ms Berger made no such pitch, and there is no such proposal being made by the party.

Moreover, Woodhouse needs significant exaggeration to make his headline stand up. Here’s what he says of Ms Berger’s speech: “Luciana Berger told Alcohol Concern’s annual conference she ‘aimed to reduce the proportion of the population who consume above the recommended level’”. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that there is no mention of any “limit” there.
Amateur hour at fairytale central

It gets worse: he goes on “For men, that is three to four units a day – a pint of strong lager”. They sup some bloody powerful stuff at the Sun, then: a pint and a half of 5% ABV beer comes out at less than four units. That’s the strength of bottled San Miguel or Staropramen. For drinkers of cask beer, that’s the same quantity of Greene King Abbot ale, or Hawkshead Cumbrian Five Hop.

And the public health concern over some of the population’s smoking and drinking is nothing new: Labour has been discussing its policy approach for years now. We know this as the Mail On Sunday ran a more extensive shock horror article last May about the party’s ideas, pretending, as does Woodhouse, that they are proposing to use the law to crack down on public choice.

That was total crap then, and remains so. What Woodhouse and his bosses cannot get into their collective heads, and certainly don’t want to tell their readers, is that when large numbers of people cease to overindulge themselves, the costs to the NHS and emergency services are likely to fall dramatically. And the Sun certainly doesn’t want to let readers know that Labour wants to save taxpayers’ money.

Instead, Woodhouse continues his browse through the fiction section: “The plan engulfed Labour leader Ed Miliband in more claims he is out of touch with working people”. And to that I call bullshit: no other news outlet is running that story, and nobody is being "engulfed" by it. That’s because it’s a pack of lies, backed up with blatant exaggeration and other misinformation.

So it’s a routine day at the office for the Sun man. No surprise there.

[UPDATE 24 November 0940 hours: the Mail lifted this story and a version appeared yesterday evening on Mail Online.

However, and here we encounter another significantly sized however, the item was pulled overnight, and so the link (HERE) no longer picks it up.

Yes folks, the Sun story was such a blatant pack of lies that not even the Mail would touch it. That tells you all you need to know]