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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Boris Talks Exclusive Wank

In the clearest sign yet that Creepy Uncle Rupe does not think Young Dave and his jolly good chaps will win May’s General Election, the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn has been accompanying London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson on manoeuvres, which means some distance away from where Bozza should be in City Hall. From this, he has garnered two alleged exclusives.
Cripes chaps, I wonder if it makes you forgetful?

And the second of these is lame, even by Newton Dunn’s piss-poor standards: he has brought Sun readers the news that Bozza has been talking about masturbation, a subject close to the heart of at least one former faithful Murdoch retainer, or even close to the right hand. Yes, Bozza has confided in the Sun’s political editor his conclusion that British jihadis spend too much time punishing Percy in the palm.

Jihadists are just a bunch of w*****sscreams the headline, which is rather confusing for those who might think words like workers or wizards should not need blanking out. Even the sub-heading, “BoJo reveals the secret shame of fanatics”, is a little coy. Fortunately, the deeply subversive Guardian has lifted the initially paywalled story (see how that works, Rupe?) to reveal “Boris Johnson: jihadis are porn-watching ‘wankers’”.

I can’t wait to hear the details. “Boris Johnson has described men who go to fight with Islamic State as ‘literally wankers’ who watch porn because they can’t meet women. Citing a report from MI5 on the profile of jihadis, the mayor of London said: ‘If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists’”. Yikes readers!

While some might find it mildly interesting that the spooks see some followers of The Prophet as ditching the Qur’an in favour of a dirty book and a hankie, excitedly flogging their logs in the privacy of their bedrooms, the thought enters that the one talking applied wank is actually Bozza himself. MI5 are not going to give him access to their assessments only for him to loose off his North And South about it in the Sun.

And it’s deeply hypocritical of the Sun to try calling out others for excessive twanging of the wire when they splash industrial amounts of Phwoar! related photos all over every issue of their paper. If lads can’t afford a real wank mag, there’s always the Sun. No, this not-worth-the-exclusive-tag article is just upmarket Bullingdon bully boy Bozza peddling the age-old puerile put-down - because he’s a real man, dontcha know?

I mean, Bozza wouldn’t be seen nipping to the Gents to pull himself off when there are all those rather fine young fillies to chase after and hump, eh readers? After all, it’s only a bit of sport, Wifey won’t find out, won’t be any more of those Petronella malarkies, nod’s as good as a wink, just keeping the British end up and all that. Crikey chaps, no need for Beano Bozza to have one off the wrist, or at least, that’s what the Sun’s being told.

Newton Dunn should be able to do better than this. What a complete and utter wanker.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Statporn - 100K Of It

Those who look in on Zelo Street may have noticed that there have been no posts poring over the blog’s stats, no information about unique visitors, nothing about numbers.
Until now.

The reason for that is simple: this blog is about blogging, not about navel gazing. But today, a small milestone was passed, and so you’re getting the full belly button, whether you like it or not.

January 2015 is the first month that Zelo Street garnered over 100,000 pageviews. Or, to make the numbers bigger and scarier, as the tabloids would prefer, we’re running at well north of a million hits a year.

Boring but true.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of Myself Personally Now. And with that, blogging will resume. Well, tomorrow, anyway.

Miliband Speech - Press Scared Of Reporting It

Yesterday evening, Mil The Younger “was the keynote speaker at the second annual Westminster political correspondent's dinner – Britain's version of the White House correspondents' dinner – and delivered a speech heavy with self-deprecation”. That much the Telegraph will tell its readers. But most of the content has been lost in the laundry. What the Tel was too frightened of telling is most interesting.
The HuffPost UK noted the more serious stuff: “Miliband also made a serious plea to the media to concentrate on the ‘issues’ at stake in the upcoming general election and not question the motives of politicians competing for power. He said the parties were made up of people who entered politics for ‘right reasons’ - regardless of their affiliation”. That failed to get into the Tel’s report. Nor did its follow-up.

‘You will shape this election too,’ he said. ‘And my only request is that you do your bit too to try and make this election about the issues, choices and beliefs that matter to the country as well. One of the biggest enemies of politics is cynicism, the belief that we are all in it for base motives. Agree with us or disagree with us, but report us for what we believe. This is all we can ask for.’” The Tel denied his request.

On the Mail On Sunday’s preposterous story about him keeping the 2008 crashsecret”, he told “I’m apparently ‘Mystic Mili’ because I kept the global financial crisis from everyone but I choose to reveal to only one person - not the head of the World Bank or the IMF or the governor of the Bank of England. No, instead someone at the epicentre of the global financial system - the mayor of Doncaster himself”. In BuzzFeed, but not the Tel.

And, on the MoS’ ludicrous claim that he game someone a “Muslim prayer mat”, he made light of that, too: “This atheist Jew confesses tonight to being a secret Muslim. I was wondering, where have I heard that before about a political leader? I think Donald Trump is available to go in search of my birth certificate and prove where I was really born”. And not a word of that got into the Telegraph, either.

Nor did the Hampstead Heath joke: “I went to Parliament Hill with my two boys. I was actually looking for Gareth at the time. I thought he might have a couple of pages of my conference speech … I met another man with a large dog. It was really odd actually because he stopped me and he started talking to me quite intensely about politics, the weather, Europe, statins, Princess Diana. I thought to myself - hang on a minute, I know you - you’re Richard Desmond”. No mention of Dirty Des in the Tel.

No, nothing about Miliband asking the press to cover the issues and maybe tone down the cynicism. Nothing about newspaper owners. Nothing about the made-up stories. Nothing about the bonkers Muslim references. And no more than a hint about his being able to deliver a speech that shows he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Anyone would think the Telegraph has an agenda. Which they have. No change there.

Mail Patriotism Hypocrisy

The realisation among the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre that some of those who contributed to the events that unfolded on the day when Winshton was given his state funeral fifty years ago were paid for their efforts has continued to feed into the pages of the Daily Mail, with Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer being sent over the top to freely dispense false equivalence and selective historical recall.
The dockers, Churchill and the war's most shameful secret: Second World War strikes reveal disgusting lack of patriotismthunders the headline, as the Hefferlump skates conveniently over the actual reasons for those strikes: workers were being asked to put in longer and longer hours in often dreadful conditions. Something had to give, and on occasion, it did. Patriotism did not enter.

On the question of the dockers being paid to lower those crane jibs, Heffer is particularly harsh: “This revelation is a reminder of one of the most shameful aspects of both World War I and World War II: the disgraceful lack of patriotism of many in the Labour movement.
Indeed, even in 1965, there were trades unionists who considered Churchill as a class enemy”. And why does he think that was?

Some of that hatred dated back to 1910, when Churchill was Home Secretary and he sent troops into Tonypandy to control striking miners”. And to that I call bullshit: Heffer is being obtuse and selective. Who would have recalled the time before the Great War by the mid-60s? The event he manages not to reveal is Churchill’s fateful decision, when Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1925, to return Britain to the gold standard.

Sterling had declined in value during and after the Great War: the pre-1914 exchange rate, when the currency had last been backed by gold, was $4.86. By the mid-20s, a pound was worth approximately $4.40. Putting Sterling back on the gold standard, at $4.86, effectively increased the cost of exports by 10% at a time when much of mainland Europe’s manufacturing industry was getting back into gear.

The effect of Churchill’s mistake was to render much of British industry uncompetitive, with the result that unemployment rose and remained high throughout the rest of the 20s. And when the effect of The Great Crash crossed the North Atlantic, things just got worse. For many, there was a decade and a half of unemployment, poverty and misery - all precipitated by Churchill’s action. But the Mail’s readers are not told this.

Nor are they told that, while Ralph Miliband, reviled by the Mail, volunteered to join the Royal Navy, although, as a foreign national, he could have sat the war out, Paul Dacre’s father Peter sheltered behind the cover of a reserved occupation to avoid being called up when he turned 18 in 1943. Anyone less than charitably inclined might call that, oh I dunno, how about a “disgusting lack of patriotism”?

Those in charge at the Daily Mail have no room to lecture anyone about patriotism.

Nadine’s Thameslink Muddle

Those of us who use the rail services that run up and down the West Coast Main Line  have the advantage of continuity: Virgin Trains have run the Inter-City service since the sell-offs, and London Midland have provided the regional services along the route for several years now. So there has not been the worry that comes from a change of operator. These do not always end well. Handovers can bring disruption.
So it has been for commuters along the Midland Mail Line (MML) from London to Luton and Bedford, where the local services have just been taken over by GoVia, and given their old Thameslink name back. As cancellations have increased, so have complaints, and wading in on behalf of her constituents has come (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, whose patch includes the commuter belt north of Luton.

The new franchise is short of train drivers. It has been explained to Ms Dorries that training them takes around 12 months, a considerably shorter time than in the past, when whoever sat in the driver’s seat would have worked their way up through the ranks over a number of years. But she has decided that this isa tad excessive”. Moreover, she is certain that the reason for this apparent inflexibility is the dreaded Trades Unions.
As Mrs T might have said, "No, no, no, no, no"

Problem is shortage of drivers and Union has [Govia Thameslink] over a barrel [in] terms of recruitment and driver training - [cue] streams of left wing abuse” she Tweeted. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, no Trades Union dictates any rail operator’s recruitment policies. And two, nor do they have any operator “over a barrel” on driver training, as that is down to the entire industry.

The most recent, and signally grim, reminder of what happens when driver training is not thorough enough is the Ladbroke Grove collision in 1999. Michael Hodder, the driver whose outbound train overran signal SN109 and then met an incoming train at a closing speed of 130mph, did not know the history of sighting difficulties for that signal. His trainer, it emerged, also had no knowledge of the problems.

Moreover, Hodder’s training had focused only on learning the traction - the multiple-unit trains he would be driving. It came clear that he did not have sufficient route knowledge to safely navigate the layout of the approaches to London’s Paddington terminus. The gaps in his knowledge were probably cock-up rather than conspiracy, with a result that killed him and thirty other unfortunate souls. The lesson of Ladbroke Grove is a clear one.

And that is that driver training cannot, and will not, be skimped under any circumstances. For the MML, with commuter trains typically having at least eight crush loaded coaches and therefore up to 1,000 on board, Ms Dorries and her constituents should expect nothing less. And there will be no “move to driverless trains in 2017/18” anywhere on the National Rail network - someone has clearly misinformed her.

Only one on-train passenger accident fatality in ten years. Let’s keep it that way.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sun Labour IRA Fantasy - The Truth

[Update at end of post]

Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have today been once again milking their totally untrue story claiming that Mil The Younger was in league with terrorists. Yesterday’s claim that Labour was proposing some kind of coalition with Sinn Féin - clearly untrue, as that party does not take its seats at Westminster because its members refuse to swear allegiance to the crown - has made it into the editorial.
HAVE Labour gone mad? How do they think even their diehard voters will react to them flirting with Sinn Féin? For years they were the mouthpiece of the murdering IRA. Their MPs still refuse to sit in the Commons. Yet Labour’s front bench, desperate for power at any price, want them onside if they can’t get a majority”. Even the Sun admits they don’t take their seats, but still the dead horse gets flogged.
David Jack from the Times defended the “story” on the basis that it had been broken by Gary Gibbon at Channel 4. But what Gibbon said and what the Sun splashed are not the same thing, and in any case, the thought enters that journalists are there to do journalism, and not copy and paste someone else’s work, stopping only to overlay a creative retelling as dictated by Creepy Uncle Rupe.
Kevin Schofield, who wrote the original piece, claimed “The story is that talks have taken place, which Labour haven’t denied”. Really? What does Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy say about that? “We have met with all of the major British political parties in the line of our work as MPs over many years … None of these parties have ever asked us over the course of these meetings to support them on the other side of an election”.
Another Sinn Féin spokesman quoted by the Guardian said “The story which appeared in The Sun is another example of lazy, fantasy journalism which is befitting of this particular newspaper”. And Labour? Ivan Lewis, their Northern Ireland spokesman, called the Sun story “untrue nonsense”. That’s as close to a denial as makes no difference.

He went on “Sinn Féin have said themselves that this story is ‘pure fiction’, and that absolutely no discussions have taken place. Labour’s record as an honest broker in Northern Ireland speaks for itself”. So what has been happening? The Guardian explains “The reports appear to have been prompted by a meeting between Sinn Féin deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness and Ed Miliband in Belfast last week. But the discussions … were linked to peace process issues only, Labour has insisted”.

So there have been talks, but not about what the Sun claims. And both Labour and Sinn Féin have denied the paper’s claims. One wonders what part of that Messrs Jack and Schofield do not understand. The thought also occurs that it would not have been unduly taxing for the latter to make the checks I did before typing out this blogpost. It’s almost as if the Murdoch poodles didn’t want to bother with the facts.

But that’s what happens when you shamelessly shill for the Tories.

[UPDATE 30 January 1520 hours: it's been pointed out to me that one political party has tried to amend the oath of allegiance to enable Sinn Féin MPs to take their seats should they decide to abandon their abstentionist stance. Sadly for the Sun, that party is not Labour.

As the Telegraph reported back in 2006, "The Oath of Allegiance to the Queen sworn by MPs should be reviewed to encourage Sinn Fein to take up its five seats in the House of Commons, David Lidington, the Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, said yesterday ... He suggested the five absent Sinn Fein MPs, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who represent the political wing of the Provisional IRA, could take an 'alternative' oath with references to the monarch removed".

This was also reported at ConHome. All of that, of course, puts the Murdoch poodles in another of those very difficult positions. Not only have they been shamelessly lying about what is happening right now, but in order to make their story stick, they have had to ignore the backstory.

A photoshopped image of Young Dave and Gerry Adams - something that is rather more grounded in reality, but what you will not see in the Sun]

Mail BBC Churchill Outrage Fail

The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre cannot allow any opportunity to kick the hated BBC to be wasted, however mean spirited and trivial. So it was that the Dacre doggies were watching when The Great Pax Jeremiah presented a documentary recalling the state funeral given to Winshton, after the great man died at the age of 90 half a century ago.
What's so f***ing wrong with using Churchill's memory to kick the BBC, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Everyone who knew Churchill was keenly aware that his death would soon be upon them: the preparations had begun back in 1958. St Paul’s was booked, the armed forces readied, the barge for the journey along the Thames was put on stand-by, broadcasters were duly rehearsed. Even British Rail was prepared: the locomotive bearing the name Winston Churchill was kept in reserve for the coming occasion.

The sticking point was what many viewers thought was a spontaneous tribute by London’s dock workers: we saw the cranes ranged along the South Bank - now no more than a memory - lower their jibs in tribute as the barge bearing Churchill’s coffin passed. It was, in reality, anything but: those dockers had to be paid extra to stay at their posts beyond Saturday lunchtime, when they would normally have finished for the day.

This horribly inconvenient news, relayed by one former dock worker who also said he didn’t like Churchill, was too much for the Mail, but sufficient for an attack to be launched on the Beeb: “Anger as BBC pours scorn on tribute to Churchill: Viewers' shock after docker claims operators were PAID to lower their cranes in Thames tribute”. Yes, the BBC was “pouring scorn” by giving viewers factual information.

Never mind that Paxman had included gushing tributes from Winshton’s family, those who worked with him, members of the armed forces who carried the coffin, staff at St Paul’s, the owner of the Thames barge that carried the coffin from Tower Pier to Festival Pier, a villager who witnessed the final interring, and even the former railwayman who was fireman for that last journey from Waterloo station: none of that counted.

Instead, every last whining comment from across the Web has been trawled to make it look as if the hated BBC dropped this awful deed on an unsuspecting public. But here a problem enters: there was sufficient information already available for TV guides printed several days beforehand to mention the dockers having to be paid to attend on Saturday afternoon and lower the crane jibs.

For instance, the Guardian’s TV guide, included with last Saturday’s paper, tells “No one who saw it would forget the dock cranes … lowering their jibs in silent respect as Winston Churchill’s funeral barge sailed past. Except it wasn’t a spontaneous gesture; the dockers … had to be bribed to do so”. All of which means the Mail knew what was coming, and so the outrage is utterly phoney. It’s just another lame excuse to kick the Corporation.

Still, it’s easier to do than proper investigative journalism, so that’s all right, then.

Mumsnet Confirms Toby Young Bellend Status

Since it emerged that the Sun has done away with Page 3, plenty of feminists have popped up to claim that there’s a direct link between the ‘objectification’ of the female form and violent assaults against women, including rape. But there’s no evidence of this”, pontificated the loathsome Toby Young last week. “The idea that we’re in the midst of a rape epidemic somehow caused by ‘everyday sexism’ is a myth”.
Tobes remains stuck in the Weinbunker

The post, titled with appropriate pretentiousnessJe suis Page 3” (see, it’s about free speech and it’s only a bit of fun, innit?!?), was followed with the equally mirth-inducingWas it us wot won Page 3 back?” later, where Tobes proudly told that he must be right because he was on the same page as Brendan O’Neill. Seriously. But over at Mumsnet Towers, contributors were not at all happy about his outpourings.

After all, Tobes is supposed to be some kind of exemplar (no, don’t laugh) to youngsters in his role as champion of Free Schools, and in particular the West London Free School (WLFS), of which Trust he claims to be the CEO. The forum, which boasts the strapline “by parents for parentshas been running a thread titledWest London Free School founder Toby Young spectacularly misses the point on Page 3”.

And it kicks off as it means to go on: “I am staggered that there hasn't been more of a reaction to this ridiculous piece in The Spectator … If I was a parent at WLFS I would be v. tempted to move my child on the basis of these views. Depressing in the extreme”. Another contributor told “It's not that we want to spoil fun, or that we're repressed or lecturing. It's that we don't like being objectified, having sexually explicit pictures of just one sex in the pages of a newspaper is clearly wrong”.

Others were yet more direct “It's Toby Young. I have yet to read anything written by him that doesn't make me want to bang my head repeatedly on the floor and pull out my own hair … I'm not reading the link as Toby Young is a twat … He is an odious little man … I wonder what the board of governors makes of his comments”. Listening, Tobes?

It seems he was: what looked very much like a Tobes sockpuppet was duly ridiculed. And one poster made this worrying observation: “He is also trying to turn ‘his high school’ West London Free School, into a pseudo private school by giving preferential places to children who go to the 2 associated primary schools (60 places), pretty much removing it as an option for most other children in the borough & creating an 'elite' publicly funded school”.

You can see the letter detailing that mildly controversial step HERE. Meanwhile, while some men might have stopped and thought after being given such a drubbing, Tobes will almost certainly not do so. He is not known as Captain Bellend for nothing. All that his leering over topless photos in the Sun will do - sorry, Tobes, but quoting Orwell doesn’t take it anywhere upmarket - is to confirm that status.

Yes, Captain Bellend really is s bellend. And he won’t be saying sorry to Mumsnet.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fleet Street Fox Foxed Again

Susie Boniface, who goes under the alias Fleet Street Fox, yesterday denied that her story about former footballer Ally McCoist and his alleged “Txt Sex” were the product of hacking. She was adamant: “I’ve been very clear that it’s not a tactic I witnessed, knew of or indulged in at any paper”. Those are most reassuring words. Perhaps she would care to restate them after considering the name of Natasha Kaplinsky.
Butter wouldn't melt in her North and South

Why so? As Press Gazette has told, “Trinity Mirror is facing a fresh wave of phone-hacking compensation claims after the current group are settled in the High Court. Cricketer Phil Tufnell and his wife Dawn, actor Neil Morrissey and newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky are among those to have filed claim forms against Mirror Group Newspapers”. Ms Kaplinsky was good copy for the tabs because she has also been on Strictly.

Now, one hates to add two and two and come up with a number that is not four, but one particular item from the Sunday Mirror back catalogue on Ms Kaplinsky, titled “TV NATASHA AND HER SECRET LOVER; Live-in boyfriend left ‘devastated’”, does beg a number of questions as to how some of its material was obtained. And one of the two names on the by-line is, guess who, Susie Boniface.
Starting at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start, we learn “BBC Breakfast's Natasha Kaplinsky has been cheating on her long-term partner with her former boss” before being informed that “They were also spotted together in a cafe in South London. The couple looked relaxed in each other's company, Natasha playfully toying with a lip gloss which she applied [to] her lips after the couple shared a kiss”.

There were photos of this encounter to accompany the story. Now, the snapper could have just been passing, but the likelihood of that happening is remote. How did that snapper know that Ms Kaplinsky and her pal would be there, and at that time? It’s always possible, though not plausible, that one of them told someone of the clandestine meeting. It’s more likely that one left a message on the other’s phone.

That’s after the snippet telling that Ms Kaplinsky “has tearfully confessed to spending nights in hotels with 46-year-old TV executive Lloyd Bracey - the latest in Brighton”. That information came from where? And there’s more: “In a phone conversation Natasha apologised to Barnard and begged him to give her another chance”. That’s a rather one-sided “conversation”. It sounds more like the contents of a voice message.

Oh, and while we’re on those inconvenient details, there’s also “Barnard, who was in France when he received the call”. How do the authors know he was in France? All that the article uses for cover is “a pal said”. These “pals” do tend to be very conveniently informed. In any case, we may find out rather more about this case soon. It would be most unfortunate for Ms Boniface if one of those 45 offending by-lines turned out to be hers.

She did say she’d hack phones fora minor shagging story”. What a coincidence.

Sun Labour IRA Smear Busted

Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have seen their YouGov poll post a whole 1% lead for the Tories for two days in a row. On the basis of this not particularly ringing endorsement for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps, the paper has decided that they will win in May. So it’s time to tell readers that Labour is in league with terrorists. Or at least people who can be made to look like terrorists.
Yeah, those rotten lefties are so desperate that they’ll do election deals with anyone! And so, this morning, there it was on the front page: “DESPERATE LABOUR WOOING SINN FEIN”. Really? “LABOUR chiefs have held secret talks with Sinn Féin about forming a post-election coalition, it emerged last night”. Emerged where, Murdoch poodles? In a Sun editorial meeting discussing how best to smear Mil The Younger, perhaps?

But there’s more: “Discussions have taken place over whether the political wing of the IRA [that means they’re terrorists] would prop up a minority Government led by Ed Miliband … The move will outrage families of victims of Republican killers”. Readers are shown photos of Gerry Adams and Miliband together, just in case they hadn’t got the idea. So what does the Labour Party have to say about that?

Labour has denied approaching Sinn Fein to stake out the party’s view on a hung parliament”. And the apparent source for the Sun story, Pat Doherty, who represents West Tyrone, has “reiterated that his party would not take its seats in May”. It would be a challenging proposition for a minority Government to be propped up by a party whose declared policy towards the Westminster Parliament is abstentionist.

Doherty spelt it out: “Let me reassure you we will not be entering into the House of Commons, or indeed the House of Lords". The BBC has confirmed it: “The Sun is reporting that Labour has sought talks with Sinn Fein about forming a post-election coalition. The paper quotes a Sinn Fein source saying he'd been approached by members of the shadow cabinet. Sinn Fein have not taken up their five seats in Parliament and say they have no intention of doing so”. That is why this is just a smear.

Sinn Féin have not taken up their Parliamentary seats in recent times. The reason for this is straightforward: the party is a Republican one which does not recognise the legitimacy of British rule anywhere on the island of Ireland. As such, its members are not prepared to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown.

Anyone with brain engaged knows this. Yet the Sun’s hacks clearly think that this kind of puerile smear will influence their readers, showing just how little regard they have for their intelligence. This story is right down there in the gutter alongside such prize turds as the Mail’sClegg In Nazi Slur”, rushed out in the run-up to the 2010 contest when it became clear that Cameron was not winning the TV debates.

Expect more of this brainless smearing. Murdoch wants to show he is still strong.

Daily Mail Durham Free School Fail

After Education Secretary Nicky Morgan made the decision to terminate the funding agreement for Durham Free School, the victimhood machine was duly fired up at Northcliffe House and the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre decided, on the basis of no evidence at all, that, as this was a Christian school, Christianity was once more under attack, whatever the reality.
Why can't I slag off f***ing state schools while sending my kids to Eton, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

In support of this came headlines like “Girls of 11 quizzed about lesbians and how Whitehall zealots are waging war on Christian schools: A Special report by Tom Rawstorne”, backed by assertions like “It comes after the introduction of new Ofsted rules based on Equality Act … Inspectors can downgrade status based on teacher's handling of law”. And it was a “highly controversial practice”.

Yes, something sinister was at work. And the Mail knew the real reason the school was closed: “Parents and leaders at the school have claimed it was targeted because of its Christian ethos. They allege pupils were effectively seen as bigots by inspectors desperate to promote a politically correct diversity agenda and find evidence of religious extremism”. This was backed up by another suitably pejorative article.

You’ll love this: “Is anyone in your school gay? The 'inappropriate' Ofsted questions for children aged just 11 at school where children were branded bigots … Children were asked whether they had ever met gay or bisexual people … Boy branded a bigot for referring to terrorism when asked about Islam … Chairman of the board of governors branded questions ‘aggressive’”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

But here a problem enters: the Ofsted report on Durham Free School categorises it as “inadequate” across the board, including “Leadership and management” and “Quality of teaching”, neither of which have anything to do with “diversity” or the questioning of pupils. And the area’s MPs have clearly had enough of the Dacre doggies sticking their bugle in, as a report in the Northern Echo has shown.

Durham Free School was 'a haven for every crap teacher in the North-East', MP tells Commons debate” reads the headline. Pat Glass, who represents North West Durham, put it plainly. The city’s MP, Roberta Blackman Woods, told that most of those fighting the closure had “no direct knowledge of the school”. She cited “very selective comments from the Ofsted report” and a national newspaper talking of “waging war on Christian schools”.

Ms Glass told that “I was aware that there were very high levels of teachers working at Durham Free School that had already been through competency procedures with other local authorities”. All of these minor inconveniences have been selectively removed from the Mail’s coverage, and instead, the idea that Christianity is once more under attack has been substituted. The reality, though, is that it was just a crap school.

Not that the Dacre doggies give a damn about that. No change there, then.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tories’ Shale Dreams Well Fracked

Shale of the Century” proclaimed the Times leader yesterday, telling readers “Britain has a chance to be a world leader in fracking for natural gas. Low oil prices and nimbyism would be poor reasons for the Infrastructure Bill to be derailed”. Whoever wrote that had good reason for the optimism: Young Dave, and the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, had been advocating for fracking of late.
As the Guardian told, Cameronhas rejected calls for a moratorium on fracking from senior MPs, including his former environment secretary Caroline Spelman, saying the US shale gas revolution can be repeated in the UK”, and Osbornehas requested that ministers make dozens of interventions to fast-track fracking as a ‘personal priority’, including the delivery of numerous ‘asks’ from shale gas company Cuadrilla”.

And the Times leader tells “there could be somewhere in the region of 1,329 trillion cubic feet of [shale]gas under northern England alone. We would be mad to leave it there … In truth, most opposition to fracking is not environmentalism but nimbyism in disguise, with an ironic similarity to opposition to wind turbines”. The initial response of Lancashire Council to refuse a fracking application is cited in support.

Then comes the stirring peroration “It would be a pity to strangle an industry in its infancy because of such concerns. Britain has the potential to become a global pioneer in fracking, much as our last energy boom allowed us to become one in off-shore drilling. One day the whole world will be hungry to extract resource from tricker fields such as these. Let us lead the way”. What boundless optimism! What stirring rhetoric! And what complete bollocks.

In any case, the Tories managed to forget that they alone did not have the votes to get their proposals through the Commons. This meant they were forced to accept Labour amendments. “David Cameron had previously said the government was ‘going all out’ for shale gas development, but widespread public concern and a looming defeat by worried Tory and Liberal Democrat backbenchers forced ministers to back down”.

How restrictive would the amendments make it? “The changes accepted by ministers would ban fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and in areas where drinking water is collected, ruling out significant regions of the UK’s shale gas deposits. The new regulations will slow down exploration by, for example, requiring a year of background monitoring before drilling can begin”.

Humiliating or what? Today, Philip Johnston in the Telegraph whines “Stop this madness over fracking – or the lights really will go out”, while the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were dismayed: “A Labour Party on the run from the Greens put a cheap political stunt before cheap energy in the middle of a freezing cold January”. There is no chance of the lights going out, and nobody knows how “cheap”.

The Tories and their media pals just got routed. Because we don’t really need fracking.

Dan, Dan The UKIP Defecting Man

In the run-up to the Rochester and Strood by-election, during which it was reported that he had not troubled himself to campaign for his own party’s candidate, Dan, Dan The Oratory Man was the subject of speculation as to whether he would join his pals Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell and Mark Reckless in jumping ship and joining UKIP. Hannan maintained radio silence on the subject.
One MEP, what am I bid? It's with you sir, the one with the pint and the cig out on the right

This did not stop James Forsyth telling, as I mentioned at the time, “Senior Tories now regard [Dan Hannan] defection as a question of when not if. Word is he’s gone dark since Reckless quit”. Now the speculation has restarted, after Laura Pitel penned an article for yesterday’s Times, titled “Tory MEP ‘in talks on defecting to UKIP’”, revealing that Hannan had twice met with businessman Arron Banks, a leading donor to the Kippers.
Ms Pitel went on “The Bristol-based businessman said that he was surprised to read claims that Mr Hannan had been instrumental in delivering Amjad Bashir, a UKIP MEP, into the hands of David Cameron this weekend”. Dan was not a happy bunny on reading the story: “Laura Pitel’s story about me in the Times is uttter, unadulterated bollocks” he frothed, but then, Mandy Rice Davies situation, eh Dan?
The remainder of Ms Pitel’s article tells anyone not sure about the corner Hannan may be in just why he is wriggling so energetically about it: “Mr Hannan had made some ‘very punchy’ claims about the Conservative leader, Mr Banks said … He said that David Cameron was an intellectual vacuum. He said the he was a pro-European and he hoped that he was replaced after the General Election”.
It got worse: “Mr Banks said that he and Mr Hannan had discussed the possibility of defecting to UKIP at two meetings, one at the Army and Navy Club in London and another at the Royal Automobile Club”. Small wonder Dan was reduced to desperately pleading “Laura, this is wholly untrue, as others present will confirm. It’s outrageous for you to claim that you tried to contact me”. So he did meet Banks - twice.
And Ms Pitel was unmoved by the Hannan bluster: “I did contact you and did not get a response, as the story makes clear. I reported Banks’ account. You don’t deny you met him?” Still Dan dug himself in deeper. “You sent a text on a Sunday evening when my phone was switched off. You didn’t want an answer: it would have killed your story”. Switched his phone off on the day of the Greek elections?
That would be the elections about which he wrote an article for the Daily Mail - so one might have expected he would have been contactable. Hannan did not deny he met Banks. He has not disowned the comments he made about Cameron. And, for someone well enough off to frequent a club when in London, he has not yet contacted his learned friend with a view to redress. Someone is complaining a little too much here.

Hannan should stop messing about and decide which party he wants to represent.

Murdoch Scared Of Twitter

As the saying goes, if you want to find out what Rupert Murdoch is thinking, read a Sun editorial. Well, this morning, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun is doing a shed load of editorialising, with its pretentiously styled “Sunifesto” for the General Election, which claims to reflect what We The People really want, but in reality is the usual wish list of More And Bigger Changes For The Benefit Of Rupe Personally Now.
That's what I think of youse bladdy social media, ya whining bladdy Pommie drongoes!

On the economy, the Sun wants to “cut tax”, which would benefit Rupe. On Britishness, readers are told “Nation’s identity paramount” (this from a paper owned by an Australian-born US Citizen). On Politics, the demand is “Give us honesty over spin and lies”, which suggests a dose of “physician, heal thyself”. And, predictably, for the BBC, we get “Strip it back to basics”, again to benefit Murdoch above everyone else.
But it is the response to social media where Rupe’s downmarket troops sell the pass in no style at all. On “Free Speech”, the message is “Social media mob must not prevail”. Er, hello? Social media is the ultimate expression of free speech, a large and disparate group of individuals given a voice by technology and able to articulate, and campaign for, what matters to them - not what matters to Rupert Murdoch.
What is the Murdoch press scared of?

The impression that Murdoch and his attack doggies are frightened shitless of something beyond their control is only reinforced by the detail of the Sun’s concerns. “The rise of social media has caused many in power to lose their heads … Twitter is fun but it also gives voice to mobs which find offence where none is meant and demand punishment … political correctness is taken too far and ends up neutering debate”.
They're scared of a little blue bird

And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, anyone pretending that Twitter is some sort of haven of political correctness needs, in the words of the old Ford Fiesta advert, to Get Out More. And two, “mobs” which “find offence” and “demand punishment” describes very well the behaviour of the press pack in full flight, pursuing, cornering, intruding on, threatening and monstering its targets.

But when that happens, we are told that this is a mere side-effect of our allegedly free and fearless press, which, in the case of the now-defunct Screws - that would have been one of your titles, Rupe - meant a cesspool of significant and organised criminality, and management who were prepared to act like a legitimised Mafia. It may have looked free to Rupe, but it sure as heck didn’t look that way to the man or woman in the street.

Now that something threatens that stranglehold, Murdoch shows that he is scared of it: scared of being able to bend politicians to his will, scared of no longer being able to trash opposition and destroy his enemies, scared that technology has overtaken him. In his cosy corporate world, Rupert Murdoch is safe in the knowledge that his money makes him rather more equal than the rest. On Twitter, it counts for nothing.

But it’s too late. The Sun’s words are laughable, meaningless. Murdoch is out of time.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Greek Elections - Don’t Panic

The outcome of yesterday’s snap General Election in Greece, with centre-left party Syriza taking 149 out of 300 seats and agreeing a coalition deal with independent representatives today, has already achieved shock horror status in much of the right-leaning press, with the Mail and Telegraph trying their best to frighten readers with stories of Euro meltdown, Greece leaving the EU, and worse - none of which is actually in prospect.
While Liam Halligan at the Tel warns “Even if Greece stays in the single currency, after choosing a party determined to defy the European Central Bank, negotiations over bond repayments between Athens and Frankfurt will be extremely hard-fought”, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, now Greek Prime Minister, has said unequivocally thatwe do not support any Euroscepticism”. So no leaving the EU, or the Euro, it seems.

EurActiv appears to confirm this: “Syriza has decisively ruled out the 'Grexit' option, according to EU Parliament Vice President and Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, who spoke in an exclusive interview with EurActiv Greece in Strasbourg”. He said “There is absolutely no case for a Grexit. Those who invoke such a possibility play a propaganda game against the Greek and European economy”. Hello Telegraph hacks.

The Mail continues the pretence of instability for the Eurozone: “Will SPAIN be next to scrap austerity measures after Greek revolt? Voters warned they are playing 'Russian Roulette' as support for anti-cuts parties surges across EU in wake of Far Left's victory”, giving readers the dreaded news'Uh oh, new Greek leader really IS a socialist': Alexis Tsipras still lives in this working-class block of flats”.

But Syriza, as Papadimoulis has pointed out, wants Greece to remain “a respectable member of the the European Union and the euro zone”, noting that his party “has been working for a long time ‘for making people inside and outside Greece that we are not those populist and anti-euro monsters we are depicted like by our competitors and by media’”, and that others “do not need to be afraid of a possible government led by Tsipras”.

It’s almost as if some of the right-leaning UK establishment are trying to create a caricature of what Tsipras and his party might do once established in office. Indeed, the Mail has hired Dan, Dan The Oratory Man to give his usual creative analysis: “It is a coalition of Trotskyists, Maoists, eco-protesters and Occupy types. Mr Tsipras has only recently removed the Che Guevara poster from his office”. Yeah, he’s a dangerous leftie!

Hannan is even prepared to slip in the odd whopper: “If forced to choose, he would pick the drachma over more austerity” (no citation), following that with “In truth, this is what EU leaders fear. Not that Greece will leave the euro and collapse, but that Greece will leave the euro and prosper. A competitive Greek economy, exporting its way back to growth, might inspire Spaniards and Italians … to follow”.

Hannan is talking out of the back of his neck. So is much of the press. Syriza is a mainstream centre-left party and the world is not about to end. Boring but true.

Trinity Mirror In Hacking Mire

[Update at end of post]

While the now-defunct Screws was being exposed as an enterprise that had profited from a significant level of criminality, which may not have stopped with phone hacking, fingers of suspicion were being pointed at the Mirror titles, and especially the Sunday Mirror, which would have needed to keep up with the Murdoch empire’s Sunday offering. And keeping up with Rupe’s downmarket troops may have meant hacking.
Here on Zelo Street, the more fanciful assertions about the Mirror titles, and especially those personally directed at Piers Morgan, have been treated with scepticism: there was an awful lot of hot air, and little in the way of evidence. But since October 2012, the evidence has been mounting, and by last November it was clear that the house was in danger of falling in rather soon.

At the start of that month, Graham Johnson came clean and admitted he had hacked phones while at the Sunday Mirror. It was already known that Dan Evans, who had given evidence at the Hacking Trial, had been a prolific practitioner of the art. Then the suspicious by-lines began to appear, often involving Susie Boniface, aka Fleet Street Fox (you can see examples of those HERE and HERE).

Now, Press Gazette has revealed thatTrinity Mirror has admitted that 71 stories across its national titles, with 45 bylines attached to them, were enabled by phone-hacking, the High Court has heard”. That suggests an awful lot of hacks have been benefiting from the proceeds of voicemail interception. David Sherborne confirmed that “all three of MGN's national titles - the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People” were involved.

It should also be remembered that Ms Boniface has said hacking would be justifiedto catch a dodgy politician, expose corruption at the heart of FIFA, locate someone the cops can't find … I'd do it for a minor shagging story … those dark arts should continue to be practised … Journalists are expected by The Reader as much as their employers to do things no-one else would”. Like breaking the law, perhaps?

At the Guardian, Roy Greenslade asserted thatTrinity Mirror should come clean about phone hacking”, noting that “Unlike News International (now News UK), its staff’s hacking activities have largely passed below the media radar”, and that “the consistent line peddled down the years by Trinity executives about its staff working within the law and within the editors’ code was disingenuous”. Why is the group not coming clean?

Ah well. Look at that number of by-lines: that’s a lot of hacks who may then find themselves being visited by the Police, who may wish to ask what knowledge they had as to where those stories that included phone messages came from. With the suggestion that the scale of hacking may be worse than that at the Screws, and seeing what happened to hacks and executives there, some hacks will be getting very nervous indeed.

Get caught now, or get caught later. Decisions, decisions, Mirror people.

[UPDATE 27 January 1030 hours: over at the Speccy, Mr Steerpike, which, as any fule kno, is an alias for the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guid Fawkes blog, has tried to turn the hacking at Trinity Mirror on to the Guardian, and the BBC, because to clueless right-wingers, the two organisations are the same thing, honestly.

"When hacking was discovered at the News of the World, there was great excitement from the Guardian and the BBC. How much coverage will they now give to the disclosures about the Mirror?" asks Cole, trying to link the two organisations, while, in reality, the coverage was always driven by the Guardian alone, with the BBC occasionally reporting on that.

And, as so often, the flannelled fool has failed to do his homework: the Guardian has been on the Mirror group's case several times recently (see HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE), and, as to his snarking at Roy Greenslade, he said that Trinity Mirror "must come clean" some four and a half hours before the Steerpike post was published.

"Both the corporation and the Guardian have taken glee in the past at resting the phone hacking crimes firmly in Rupert Murdoch’s court" offers Steerpike, managing not to notice that several former faithful Murdoch retainers got guilty over the affair. Nobody has "taken glee" at anything: Master Cole will have to try rather harder to convince those outside the jerking circle that comments on the Coffee House blog.

It's also worth remembering that the Fawkes blog hasn't said a peep about hacking at the Mirror titles for some months now. Because they're now doing business with them, and so have once again shamelessly sold out to the press establishment. Another fine mess]

Techno Guido Is Technically Illiterate

A recent development for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog has been the appearance of Techno Guido. Whatever the attributes of the person behind it, it is clear from an intervention late last week that the level of accuracy exhibited by the rest of the Fawkes folks has not been improved upon, but then, given the readership, and the one-eyed man being king in the land of the blind, that’s no surprise.
Fart in Tube lift Inquiry fails to reach platform level

So what’s the story? “Another year, another tube strike on the cards. The RMT union are balloting members on Monday and could be launching industrial action as early as 17 February. This time the militants are upset that one their comrades was fired for turning up to work boozed up. All out… on the lash!tells the post, which, to no surprise at all, is not what the dispute in question is about.

As the Standard told last November - and it’s the same dispute - “Tube drivers on the Northern Line are set to go on strike next month in protest over a driver being sacked for allegedly drinking on duty”. Moreover, “Defending the sacked tube driver in a statement, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said his fellow member had a ‘specific medical condition’ and accusations that they had been drinking on duty were ‘totally untrue’”.

So The Great Guido is peddling the usual level of accuracy, then. And it soon gets worse: “It seems as good a time as any to remind downtrodden London commuters that we don’t actually need drivers. By Guido’s arithmetic there are at least 63 fully automated subway train systems in world, including Dockland’s [sic] Light Railway which has been happily driver free since its construction”. That would be since its opening, you mean.

The test for automation is whether the system concerned can function without human intervention. The DLR, as any fule kno, cannot, and had the Fawkes rabble bothered to do their homework, they would have seen that the RMT had called a 48 hour strike there over terms and conditions (the announcement was published the day before the Fawkes blog posted on the possible tube strike).

So why isn’t the rest of tube network automated? Well, much of it kind of is; the Jubilee, Victoria and Central lines are all semi-automatic” tells Techno Guido, trying to explain Automatic Train Operation, or ATO, asserting “‘drivers’ literally have to press two buttons at the same time once and the train drives itself”. Not quite: the Train Operator (note correct title) has to look after the doors, liaise with controllers, and intervene when required.

Then comes the pièce de résistance of howlers: “The RMT’s stranglehold over the Underground is so great that even though Boris’ soon to be delivered 250 new trains are capable of running on auto, they will have drivers until the 2020s”. Soon to be delivered? If that’s referring to the “New Tube For London”, there’s no money to even order them. The Bakerloo Line fleet may be turned 60 before replacement comes.

This piss-poor slice of applied ignorance ends with the observation “robots don’t strike”. What is not told is that the existing Tube network would requires so much work as to make full automation both eye-wateringly expensive and many, many years away. There will be someone in the front cab not just into the 2020s, but after 2030.

No research, no result, Fawkes folks. Another fine mess, once again.