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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sun Replaces Bullied With Bully

While Parliament takes its customary lengthy summer break, over at the Baby Shard, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun is reshaping its political team, after all the Operation Elveden trials and the subsequent departures. And the result may be a result for cost accountants, but at a cost: the number of properly trained staff - that would be as in real journalists - appears to have been reduced by one.
Courtesy? What's one of those?

Before the rozzers descended on all those unsuspecting hacks - as a result of the News International (as was) Management and Standards Committee shopping them in the hope that it would divert attention from what the rest of the Murdoch faithful were up to - the Sun’sWhitehall Editor” was one Clodagh Hartley. She was one of those shopped, but after her acquittal, it was clear she would not return to her previous job.

Why she might not want anything more to do with her previous employer was laid bare at her trial: she had been subjected to persistent bullying by one of her colleagues, who was still in post. Who that colleague was, we were unable to hear, as had she been found guilty, that colleague could have found himself facing prosecution. So all concerned had to keep schtum and wait for the trial to run its course.

And so it came to pass that the name in the frame was revealed to be the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, whose routinely disgraceful behaviour towards women continued recently, to the extent that he featured in a recent issue of Private Eye magazine after a particularly unpleasant episode where he made a number of allegations against a waitress in Moncrieff’s Bar. And there was more.
It's his new middle name

Newton Dunn later complained to one reporter about being named. The target of his ire had to point out that the Sun man’s barrister had not raised any objection. The bullying attitude was also evident in his exchanges with Labour MP Tom Watson - not that trying that approach was ever going to work. So now Ms Hartley has to be replaced, not with another “Whitehall Editor”, but a “Westminster Correspondent”.

Yes, the nearest replacement for the luckless Ms Hartley is the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, and here Newton Dunn has a problem. There is no way he is ever going to get away with bullying Master Cole and getting away with it. Cole is well experienced in the art of bully-boy tactics. One wonders if the Sun people have thought this through.

What will happen the first time Newton Dunn tries to pull rank on the flannelled fool? Will the expensively educated duo - neither of whom managed to get into Oxbridge - really get on without the occasional shouting match - or worse? And will they be able to keep any outbreaks of disharmony out of Private Eye? On previous form, the answer to that one would appear to be an emphatic no. Indeed, popcorn ordering may be more useful.

The Sun’s new political team may prove interesting, but not for the reasons they hoped.

Guido Fawked - Owen Jones Smear Hypocrisy

The one thing that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog cannot stomach is someone who does not share their warped view of the world becoming successful. Hence their petty and vindictive campaign against author and campaigner Owen Jones, because he is doing better than they are, and is one of those rotten lefties to boot. Sadly, this is one campaign that is going nowhere.
Feared. But only by wobbly furniture

After the attempt to smear Jones over allegedly phoney Twitter followers - which, as Zelo Street regulars will recall, involved Staines threatening legal action against me, but failing to follow through - the Fawkes fables have continued, the latest being to pick up on his comments about the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and suggest that somehow he sympathises with campaigns that involve hundreds of deaths.

This highly creative interpretation of Jones’ beliefs involves taking a statement he made in his mid-teens, such is Staines’ desire to smear. But the thought then enters that The Great Guido is, in making his accusations, standing in an extremely draughty glasshouse. Staines’ past includes supporting the Nicaraguan Contras, and an association with David Hart, a vain and deeply unpleasant right-wing rabble rouser.

The Contras, by even the most generous account, were responsible for rather more deaths than occurred during the Easter Rising: the group was also involved in the wholesale violation of human rights. Staines’ pal Hart was deeply involved in support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, with Staines’ past including membership of the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS), who were of like mind.
And don't forget his reputation

The Apartheid regime was also responsible for creative interpretations of every known convention on human rights, even to those who the South African state of the time classified as white. And there is one more matter on which Staines would rather not dwell, and that is his brief flirtation with the BNP while a student, something he has been trying to shrug off for some years now as nothing more than a youthful indiscretion.

It gets worse: unlike Owen Jones, Staines has found himself on the wrong side of the law on several occasions, not least his promotion of what were, at the time, illegal raves. He has, in the more recent past, acquired a string of alcohol related convictions, including two for drinking and driving. A recent Esquire magazine profile revealed that his favourite lunchtime tipple was a bottle of Chablis - a whole bottle of Chablis.

On top of that is Staines’ legal battle which, ultimately, saw him feature in the London Gazette after being declared bankrupt. During that series of actions, he was criticised for his flagrant dishonesty before the courts. All of that can lead to only one conclusion: Paul Staines is in no position to criticise Owen Jones, or indeed anyone else, for one comment they might have made some years ago.

The moral high ground is a foreign land to the Fawkes rabble. Another fine mess.

Calais, Refugees, And Press Hot Air

That there has been disruption to ferry and tunnel passenger and freight services at Calais and Coquelles for some days now, due to a combination of industrial action and refugee incursion, is well known, and has been aired across the media. But the thought that the hacks writing the stories might become personally affected has focused minds, and caused an almost hysterical outpouring of shock horror demands.
The Super Soaraway Currant Bun attempted humour: “CALL TO SEND IN OUR ARMY … Softie Calais goes ballistic … Frenchies are atrocious” screams the headline. The Celtic and Inverness Caly Thistle original was better, but hey ho. The Express simply demands “SEND IN ARMY TO HALT MIGRANT INVASION”. There’s been a “migrant invasion”? I blinked and missed it. But pride of place goes to the Mail.

As Cameron preaches abroad about slave labour, migrants besiege Tunnel to join OUR black economy and MPs demand … CALAIS: SEND IN THE ARMY”. I mean, one of them tried to get into Nigel “Thirsty” Farage’s car, so things must be desperate. Also desperate is the Mail, which has called Andrew Percy a “senior” Tory MP - he has no ministerial rank, and has been in the Commons just 5 years - because he says what they want to hear.
What does Percy say? “The situation is now clearly out of control and it is clear that the current arrangements are not working and that the French are unable to guard against these infringements of our border … It is time we considered more radical options, including the use of the Army. The British people expect our border to be secure and the Government must do whatever it takes to achieve this”.

Farage, by the most fortunate of coincidences, is of like mind: “To make sure we’ve actually got the manpower to check lorries coming in to stop people illegally coming to Britain... if in those circumstances we can use the Army or other forces, then why not?”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
One, the most recent incursions, at the Channel Tunnel terminal, are most definitely on French soil. We do not deploy our armed forces in other countries unless they have agreed the deployment with our Government, unless it is a hostile action. We are not at war with the French, despite the ranting of the tabloid press. And two, this is a case of civil unrest, and that is not a matter for the army.

In any case, why the sudden interest in what is happening in Calais and the surrounding area? Ah well. Daily Mail Comment gives the game away there: “The Calais shambles may have been building for months, but make no mistake: we are now witnessing a crisis which is having devastating repercussions across Britain. Family holidays in mainland Europe, long planned and saved for, are being ruined”.

Yes, now that the hacks and pundits are being directly affected, and can’t go off on their holidays, it’s a crisis and the army has to be called in. Otherwise they couldn’t have given a stuff. Our free and fearless press are just a shower. An absolute shower.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fake Sheikh Back In Court

Events may not have moved very far at the CPS as regards the decision to charge Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, but the Court of Appeal is about to hear the case of one Alex Smith, former professional prankster, who was, it seems, set up by Mahmood back in 1998 over a counterfeit money sting. Smith thought he was playing a prank on Mahmood, only to find himself on the front page of the now-defunct Screws soon afterwards.
He later changed his plea to guilty, partly because of Mahmood’s ability to hide behind journalistic privilege, and a third party whom he had previously befriended turning out to be one of Mahmood’s accomplices. Smith was given a custodial sentence. But the bad news for the Fake Sheikh is that there are five other appeals that may get bundled in with Smith’s, one of which is that of actor John Alford.

Alford was effectively ruined after Maz stung him over a drug deal which the actor had been induced into making. The Fake Sheikh was seen laughing at the prospect of his target being ruined in a video shown as part of John Sweeney’s Panorama investigation which the Murdoch empire’s lawyers did their best to keep off the screens. The reason for asking for all six cases to be heard together is straightforward.

As the papers to be laid before the court tell, there are “serious concerns over the safety of those convictions … The common thread to all matters is the integrity of Mazher Mahmood … who was the sole progenitor in all of the cases. In January 2015, the CPS sent ‘Disclosure Packs’ to 25 defendants who had either pleaded guilty or who had been convicted as a result of evidence provided by Mazher Mahmood”.

There was more: “In nearly all cases, complaint was made about the methods employed by him in the obtaining of ‘evidence’, the veracity of that evidence, the disclosure regime that he operated in, as well as his hiding of ‘sources’ from the court, Police, and the defence via journalistic privilege. There is now a suggestion that he has been involved in, and with associations, whose activity can be properly described as criminal”.

And here was the pièce de résistance: “Furthermore … it is submitted that on the face of it, not only has [Mahmood] lied in a staccato fashion to a number of courts over the years, it is clear that he misled the Leveson Inquiry”. So who else is in the frame for appealing their conviction? To no surprise at all, former boxer Herbie Hide’s name is there. Hide also featured in the Panorama exposé of Mahmood’s methods.

The submission, indeed, refers to the Panorama film, the attempt to block its screening, and, to no surprise at all, Judge McCreath and the Tulisa Contostavlos case. It covers the match-fixing case against several footballers, which has also recently been thrown out. It notes that Mahmood continues to have all his legal fees paid by the Murdoch press. And the observations include Maz’ claim to have bent Police officers on his side.

All of which suggests that the Fake Sheikh, his lawyers, and eventually the press, when they all decide to wake up and smell the coffee, may be gainfully employed with this one for a while yet. We will be having another look at proceedings later.

Captain Bellend - Pants On Fire

Not content with his previous mardy strop exhibition at being found out by the Labour Party and his application to become a registered supporter refused, the loathsome Toby Young has been given a platform by the Telegraph - not that they’re partisan in the Labour leadership election, you understand - to whine that this effectively means the whole process is somehow suspect, as well as it jolly well not being fair.
Fire extinguisher for Tobes!

Zelo Street readers may recall that Tobes found he could sign up as a supporter for just £3, did so, then threatened legal action when he was rumbled and Labour declined to give him his money back. By this time, though he now claims otherwise, he would have had to make two fraudulent declarations - to assert he supported the party’s aims, and that he was not a member of an organisation opposed to it - to complete his application.

This all happened six weeks ago. But, like the BBC which he, along with all those other Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants, hate with a passion obligatory among the ideological right, Tobes is not averse to the occasional repeat, and so back he has come to tellLabour has purged me from their leadership election. How many more will follow?” And, who knows? More importantly, who cares?

But he wants anyone still reading to know that he’s serious: “Harriet Harman is right to stop Tories from infiltrating the contest. But a broader cull could undermine the leadership election result”. So let’s take this one nice and slowly. Weeding out the likes of Tobes is the right thing to do, but Ms Harman and her team should not remove too many names - how many we are not told - because that would not be the right thing to do.

It gets worse: “The chief difficult [sic] faced by those trying to police this election is that the new rules leave it unclear as to who should be entitled to vote. Harman says she also wants to weed out members of hard left groups like Militant - and gave Derek Hatton as an example - but it’s hard to see how Labour can do that while, at the same time, allowing members of Unite the Union to sign up”. No thanks Tobes, I don’t want to look over there.

Think about that. A supposedly mainstream pundit suggests that being a member of a Trades Union is equivalent to being part of the Militant Tendency. That’s the kind of stupidity that would get someone run out of the stupid faculty of the University of Stupid in Stupid City. And it gets worse than that.

If you try and become a ‘registered supporter’, you’re asked to confirm that you ‘support the aims and values of the Labour Party’ and that you are ‘not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it’. I wasn’t asked that question when I applied earlier this month and it’s clearly been introduced to exclude members of the Conservative Party – honest ones, anyway”. Tobes’ pants are now well and truly alight.

That declaration was on the Labour website on the day Tobes made his application - as the screen shot in my previous blogpost shows. His claim is totally untrue. Should he have problems with being called out for his flagrant dishonesty, he is free to contact his legal representative - there will inevitably be a first time for me to refer someone to the precedent case of Arkell versus Pressdram 1971.

The Labour Party’s electoral processes are a matter for the Labour Party. End of story.

Tory Press NHS Smear Busted

Regular visitors to Zelo Street may recall the highly creative reinterpretation by the Telegraph of an NHS patient survey that recorded a 99.2% satisfaction rate. This was spun by the Tel as “NHS Shame”, the headline justified by finding that, out of 4,500 NHS wards, the survey responses for 36 of them had been awarded a negative score. The Tel span this as “so bad patients would warn friends and family to stay away”.
This was blatant scaremongering, and equally blatant misinterpretation of the figures: the responses for those 36 wards - eight of which were based on a single respondent - merely said that they would not recommend the care given. That, though, does not deter the supposedly quality right-wing press from their mission of creativity, and the Murdoch Times has just been caught doing something rather similar.

The paper’s “Social Affairs Correspondent” Rosemary Bennett, who is keeping schtum right now, wrote in May of the “Scandal of ‘appalling’ end-of-life NHS care”. Readers were told that “Hundreds of thousands of people endure a painful, undignified and lonely death because of ‘appalling’ end-of-life care right across the health service, a harrowing report has revealed”. Sounds bad. And there was more.
The health service ombudsman says that too much treatment ‘falls short’ as patients near death, and the failure of doctors to recognise or accept that a patient is dying can lie at the root of the problem”. You may not have heard about this apparently scandalous state of affairs on the TV news. And a “Corrections and Clarifications” entry yesterday shows why.

We stated that ‘Hundreds of thousands of people endure a painful, undignified and lonely death because of “appalling” end-of-life care right across the NHS’ (News, May 20). This was incorrect and misleading. The report by the Parliamentary and health service ombudsman on which our statement was based expressed the opinion that ‘there is potential to improve the experience of care in the last year and months of life for approximately 355,000 people’ - the number of expected deaths each year; it did not suggest that the majority of NHS patients currently receive poor end-of-life care”.
So what was the true number for that “appalling” tag? You’ll love this one: “‘Appalling’ was the reaction of the Department of Health to the 12 cases of very poor care cited by way of illustration in the ombudsman’s report”. Well, well.

The constant misuse of Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio data for Stafford Hospital and elsewhere can be put down partly to ignorance - few papers have reporters specialised enough in understanding such things - but the Timesstory”, along with the Tel’s equally blatant misreporting two years ago, is down to one thing, and one alone: readers have to be frightened off the NHS, if necessary by lying about it.

This, in turn, is used to assist less than scrupulous politicians in their own attacks on the NHS for ideological ends. And that’s not good enough.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mail Still Hacked Off With Coogan

Even though the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has taken time off for medical attention - private, of course, none of your NHS and mixing it with the hoi polloi for the Vagina Monologue - the Daily Mail’s pursuit of those to whom it has taken an irrational dislike continues unabated. This includes actor, writer and campaigner Steve Coogan, who has had the audacity to appear before the Leveson Inquiry.
Who the f*** says we should have independent press regulation, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

So it was no surprise to see this week kick off at Mail land with Dominic Lawson - someone who should know better, but hey, he’s being well paid and in the Northcliffe House bunker, that means doing as you’re told - telling readers of the Lord Sewel cocaine sting “The peer who thinks he's Steve Coogan has dealt democracy a terrible blow”. He thinks he’s got a cabinet full of awards, does he?

Well, no: Lawson then confirms that the headline is not just the invention of a creatively minded sub-editor by rounding off his discussion of another paper’s story by telling “But at the moment, the Lords seems to be undergoing some sort of identity crisis — rather like the 69-year-old Lord Sewel, who appeared to be confusing himself with Steve Coogan”. Because nobody at the Mail ever did Snow, right?

Rather, anyone at the Mail who did Snow kept it quiet so the assembled hackery could pass severely adverse comment on the personal lives of the likes of Coogan, who has on more than one occasion been the subject of dishonest and improper behaviour by the Mail, which then uses its dubiously sourced copy to get righteous over his conduct, while somehow not noticing their own appalling behaviour.

And the Mail kicks Coogan on the most feeble of pretexts, as witness “Steve Coogan's American dreams in tatters after his prime-time TV series is cancelled after just one season”, about Happyish, where he secured the lead role after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death. The Mail tells “It was considered Coogan’s big break after his acclaimed performance in the 2013 movie Philomena, which also starred Dame Judi Dench”.

Considered by whom? It was on the Showtime channel, not a major national network. Bizarrely, there is even the obligatory made-up quote: “A source said: ‘Happyish was supposed to be the show which made Coogan a household name in the States … He got the role fresh off Philomena, which the critics loved. But Happyish never found its feet and Coogan never really gelled with the American audience’”.

And to that I call bullshit. The only “source” is from whoever cobbled up the article looking in the mirror. That a US channel only orders one series of a show is no big deal - in fact, it’s a credit: had Happyish been really bad, it would have been pulled before the end of its run. The only reason the Mail is whining for the sake of it is because Coogan is a supporter of Hacked Off, which campaigns for properly independent press regulation.

That means the Mail, by the iron code of Fleet Street, has to take every last opportunity to kick him. Welcome to the playground.

Dan Hodges Does Not Rejoin Labour

Among the dwindling ranks of the Blairite faithful, one hack continues to rail louder than the rest against the inclusion of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest, the attention-seeking extending to rejoining the party he walked out on two years ago. Yes, the Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges has declared to those still reading that he has returned to Labour. Except he hasn’t.
A return to the Labour fold. Or maybe not

Earlier this week, I rejoined the Labour Party. It was a surprisingly easy decision. I didn’t need to pretend to be someone I’m not – adopt a disguise, or a funny accent. I didn’t even need to put on a northern accent. I simply logged onto the website, clicked on the video of a small child attempting to eat a Vote Labour badge, and hey presto. I put in my details, paid my £3, and I was in”, he told triumphantly.
There was more: “Everyone’s doing it, apparently. According to the Sunday papers, up to 140,000 people will have joined the Labour Party by the time the leadership election ends”. Er, a word in your shell-like, Dan: that figure is for Labour Party members. What you signed up to for £3 was to be a registered supporter, not a member. So you didn’t actually rejoin the Labour Party at all. But hey, minor point, eh?
It’s just another example of how Hodges makes next to no sense on the Labour leadership issue, which, fortunately, is fine for someone at the Tel, as making no sense on anything to do with the Labour Party is just what they need. His bewilderment was evident as he Tweeted “There probably is a way Labour's leadership election could have become a bigger mess, but I'm struggling to think of it at the moment”.
Yes, democracy and the open exchange of ideas are difficult concepts for those disaffected Blairites who openly suggested that Corbyn should be kept off the ballot - just as the sainted Tone tried to keep Ken Livingstone and Rhodri Morgan off their respective ballots. Still, even with Corbyn on the ballot, he was certain: “People need to get a grip. Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be elected Labour leader".
No, Jezza would not win, and Hodges was even prepared to deny the name of The Great Leader in order to get his message across: “Even with Tony Blair's insane intervention, Jeremy Corbyn won't win”. Yes, for the Tel and for the maximisation of publicity for the benefit of Himself Personally Now, he cast Tone adrift, telling “I've rejoined the Labour party so I can vote for Jeremy Corbyn”.
Sadly, he still hadn’t rejoined the party, not for £3, but the piss-taking continued: “Please help support Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, add a #Twibbon now!” Laugh? I thought I’d never start. That’s so intercoursing original, Louise Mensch was pulling the same stunt months ago - so long ago, in fact, that she’s now removed it. Admit it Dan, you haven’t a clue what’s happening in the Labour Party right now.

Not even a clue on the difference between registered supporters and real members.

Coke Sting Hack’s Osborne Question

As Lord Sewel finds the Met’s finest calling on his London address, and decides to leave the House of Lords for good - although he retains his title - there are still questions as to how the Sun secured the story that started it all off. And who is Stephen Moyes, the hack whose name appears on the by-line of the original scoop? That, it appears, is a story that reveals a great deal about how the tabloid press has behaved in the past.
Stephen Moyes

Moyes, by his own testimony, is the only news reporter to move from the now-defunct Screws to the Sun when the Sunday title was closed down in 2011. He had only joined the Murdoch title a year before, after eight years at the Daily Mirror. He recalled “When I joined the NoW it had a clean bill of health. It had been given the thumbs up after probes by Assistant Met Police Commissioner John Yates, the Commons' Culture Media & Sport Select Committee, and the Press Complaints Committee industry watchdog”.
And he has obediently stuck to the accepted line on what happened next: “after The Guardian's factually incorrect page one claim that the NoW had deleted murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail messages, it was closed in disgrace”. That the paper was sacrificed at the Murdochs’ choosing to keep the Sky bid in play, or that the Guardian’s claim is not “incorrect”, but merely “not proven”, is not told.
Then he had his collar felt as part of Operation Elveden, and Moyes knew exactly who was to blame for this: “the newspaper-hating Guardian, and the hysterical rantings of hand-wringing, frenzied self-styled media commentators on social media”. But one scoop does not make it to his statement after being cleared of wrongdoing.
And that is a story about the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, and former dominatrix Natalie Rowe, which, it seems, was going to appear in the Mirror, but didn’t. Ms Rowe Tweeted yesterday “@stephenmoyes Well done on your SCOOP re #LordSewel. Any chance of the pics you have when you worked at the #Mirror in relation me/Osborne?” Ooh, interesting. And there’s more.
She followed up with “@stephenmoyes Its odd how you suppressed those pics of #Osborne & your Editor at the time was removed unceremoniously, #SewelScoop no prob!” Moyes appeared concerned: “@RealNatalieRowe Hey Nat. Tried calling you. Pls ring or DM me. Cheers”. And then came the real eyebrow-raiser: “Can I have the #Osborne pics @stephenmoyes, I now know that all that time & money you gave me to expose #Osborne was in fact to set ME UP!”.
Observing this exchange was the man otherwise known as Joe Public, who asked the obvious question “Did Andy Coulson get Natalie Rowe story by hacking Sunday Mirror? Was the softer NOTW version the reason Osborne hired him as Comms chief?” Pundits wondered at the time why Osborne recommended Coulson to Young Dave, despite the Screws having given the future Chancellor a working over.

Stephen Moyes won’t be enlarging on that part of his CV any time soon. But someone might. There is still more to come on the Screws, the paper with the “clean bill of health”.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Boris Bus - A Warning From History

As arguments rage over the latest problems to be exhibited by the New Bus For London (NB4L), which is definitely not a Routemaster, the idea has been pitched by Labour Mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar that these vehicles might best be taken out of service - and, by implication, deliveries stopped - to save TfL any further embarrassment. There is a significant precedent for this action, from half a century ago.
A new Guy Wulfrunian stands outside the Charles Roe bodyworks in Leeds, prior to delivery

The NB4L was not first offered by a bus manufacturer to TfL; rather, the Heatherwick concept was taken to the manufacturers to see if they would like to build it, and this parallels what happened in the late 50s. West Riding, the largest independent operator in the UK, operated in an area where the roads were in a generally awful condition. Fleet engineer Ronald Brooke had his own ideas of how to tackle this.

He decided that the solution was a vehicle with air suspension and disc brakes - at the time unheard of in the UK bus industry. Armed with his specification, he presented builders with it. With one exception, they passed on the idea. It was just too radical. But Guy Motors of Wolverhampton saw this as their opportunity to mix it with the biggest players, and so was born the Guy Wulfrunian.

The Wulfrunian had a lot in common with the NB4L: it was heavy for a late 50s double decker, some vehicles had their passenger capacity reduced, although this was for maintenance reasons, rather than legal ones, hardly anyone except the launch customer went near the design, the number of novel features led to unforeseen problems, and the cooling system had a reputation for alternately baking and freezing passengers.

The design looked attractive at the outset: for instance, the drop-centre rear axle meant it was a genuinely lowbridge design, and so could operate on a wider range of routes. But placing the engine at the front, when Leyland and Daimler were already working on rear engine designs, was not a good idea. Drivers complained of the roasting heat, made worse by the Gardner power unit having a right-hand exhaust.

Eventually, even the enthusiasm of West Riding waned, and they cancelled a final order for 25 buses, which ended production of the Wulfrunian after the mid-60s. By 1972 - the newest vehicles managed less than seven years in service, less than half what might have been expected - they had all gone. West Riding, by now in dire financial straits, replaced the Wulfrunians with rather older second-hand Bristol Lodekkas.

The NB4L is already operating for most of the time without rear platform attendants, and so the “hop on, hop off” feature is effectively redundant, a waste of time. If battery reliability persists, that will harm the design’s green credentials. Electrical problems are harming reliability. The air cooling problem has still not been solved. TfL need to ask themselves: can they swallow their pride, bite the bullet, and admit defeat?

Having a bus designed on the personal whim of a key player was not a good move by Ronald Brooke, West Riding, and Guy Motors. It’s still not a good idea, even if Bozza says it is. The Boris Wulfrunian may have been an interesting concept, but no more.

Sun Cocaine Hypocrisy

The revelation in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday that Lord Sewel (“Lord Who?”, some may ask) had been filmed taking cocaine and being entertained by prostitutes has got the more moral end of the Fourth Estate in a terribly righteous froth. He has resigned his House of Lords deputy speakership; now there is a clamour for him to be booted out of the upper house altogether. Someone may not have thought this one through.
Photo (c) Natalie Rowe

And not thinking it through was clearly the order of the day at the Mail, which has maximised its coverage of the affair, despite it being another paper’s exclusive. “A peer filmed snorting cocaine with two £200-a-night prostitutes was today facing calls to stand down from the House of Lords. Lord Sewel, 69, was reported to the police and quit as deputy speaker of the Lords after the video emerged”, they observed.

Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, went further: “Sewel has rightly resigned these roles but he should now be stripped of his peerage and the criminal allegations against him investigated by the police. Beyond his disgrace, however, this squalid affair shines a wider spotlight on the disturbingly low calibre of many peers”. Yes, Something Must Be Done. Because, look, it’s written, that’s why.

What does not appear to have occurred to the Dacre doggies, nor to the Murdoch faithful who first ran this story, is that there is rather a lot that we are not being told about Sewel and his, er, recreational pursuits. Did the Sun pay the sex workers involved? Who supplied the cocaine, which, let us not forget, is a Class A drug, and supplying it is therefore an illegal act? We’re not being told, but if the Met gets involved, we may find out.

That may not be to the Sun’s advantage: after all, it was for that paper that Mazher Mahmood was working when a judge called him out for lying and threw out the case against singer Tulisa Contostavlos last year. Was Maz involved in this one? Were any of his associates? And, apart from taking cocaine, exactly what law was being broken by Sewel’s actions? And then there is the right-wing press’ political hypocrisy.

If we’re going to chuck Coke sniffers out of Parliament, then there would be no point stopping at a former Labour junior minister - which is what Sewel was. Any peer or MP who was on record indulging in illegal substances, and using the services of sex workers, would have to go. And first in that queue, it seems, on the balance of evidence, would be the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet.

Osborne has always denied taking cocaine, but the photo taken of him sitting with former dominatrix Natalie Rowe suggests otherwise - as does her recollection. The Mail knows all about the story - they covered it two years ago. So if the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker want to clear out all those “squalid” politicians, they could do worse than start with Osborne, who recently appeared at PMQs looking wasted.

But we’ll have a long time to wait for that, because the right-wing press are hypocrites.

Don’t Menshn Barack Obama

The observation by Barack Obama that he (and probably his successor, whatever their stripe) would prefer Britain to remain an EU member state has not gone down well with all those who work in the service of Creepy Uncle Rupe, who bows to no man in his detestation of any Democratic Party politician. So it was no surprise to see (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch dutifully kicking the Prez in her latest Sun column.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

We can read all of the tedious drivel as her witterings are not considered worthy of putting behind the Sun’s paywall, right from the headline, “Disastrous, weak Obama might as well quack it all in … We don’t need to listen to him on EU”, to the lame “SO Barack Obama thinks the UK needs to stay in the EU. ‘Quack quack, special relationship quack,’ the US president reportedly said … What? Sorry, I was translating it into ‘lame duck’ — what they call a useless politician on their way out”. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.

It’s just lies and spin, from beginning to end. “He said we need to bow to Brussels”, she claims. No he didn’t. “Nobody paid him any attention over Greece’s debt crisis”, she wibbles. Not a US issue. “He did sod all to stop President Putin when he invaded the Ukraine”. It’s not called “the Ukraine”, and what does she want the US to do? Start World War 3? “Obama even allowed Russia to host fugitive whistleblower Ed Snowden”.

Terrible, eh? The USA doesn’t stick its bugle into other countries’ internal affairs. But then it gets seriously stupid. “He wrapped up with [?] an Iranian ‘deal’ that will do nothing to stop the mad mullahs developing nukes”. The Iranian “deal” - not yet finalised - provides for an unprecedented level of monitoring, and, yes, stops Iran “developing nukes”.

Can’t she get one thing right? Nope: “some brave Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, in an operation started by President Bush”. Yes Ms Mensch, it took the Navy Seals two and a half years to get to northern Pakistan. How about health care reform? “Even at home, his Obamacare health programme is unpopular”. Yeah, right. That’s why the percentage of US citizens without cover is at its lowest ever.

Let’s cut the crap: only the most wilful and blinkered right-winger can fail to concede that Obama has been one of the great Presidents. Quite apart from bringing Iran in from the cold and effectively pointing the country to the west, he has ended the pointless stand-off with Cuba, bringing that country into the mainstream for the first time in over 50 years. And Ms Mensch’s claim that he’s doing nothing on Syria is also bunk.

Otherwise, how did all those US warplanes get there? His approval ratings, which one might expect to be poor for a Prez late in the second term, are holding up well. Even now, there are new initiatives: “Executives from 13 major U.S. corporations will announce Monday at least $140 billion in new investments to decrease their carbon footprints as part of a White House initiative to recruit private commitments ahead of a United Nations climate-change summit later this year in Paris”, announced Bloomberg news today.

While Louise Mensch sits there in her upmarket Manhattan bunker, the world has moved on. Meanwhile, her puerile sniping shows just how out of touch she is. Sad, really.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Dapper Laughs Comeback - Don’t Bother

Regular Zelo Street readers may recall the brief interlude last November when one Daniel O’Reilly, who styles himself Dapper Laughs, was notorious, before ITV2 decided not to commission another series of his “Lad Comedy” show On The Pull, in which he gave out advice to young men, who were not as proficient in getting forward as he, on how to make themselves rather better received by young women. As it were.
Funny. So he says

The reason his show was pulled may have been the lame torrent of misogynist drivel that emanated from his North And South, it may have been comments he made during his stand-up show, but it was indeed pulled. Now, Dapper Laughs wants a way back, and has secured a feature in the Sunday Times magazine, where Martin Daubney has given him the benefit of the doubt - and concluded he quite likes the bloke.
As the Indy has noted, “When O’Reilly was filmed at a gig making a rape joke last October, before telling the audience that a woman in the crowd was ‘gagging for a rape’, he lost his TV show and cancelled his tour due to the backlash, in which 68,000 people had signed a petition calling for him to be taken off TV. He later claimed in an interview with Newsnight that he had killed off the Dapper Laughs character”.
Though it seems O’Reilly spoke with forked tongue: “But O’Reilly has begun gigging again, and in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine this weekend he has attempted to defend the jokes he made that night, while seeking to assure people that ‘I have never said I condone rape’”. No, it’s nothing more than PROPER LAD BANTER.
I mean, next he’ll be coming on all Reformed New Man … oh hang on a minute, will you look at that Twitter feed: “My point was, with 2 million followers why not ask me to put a message across to young lads, instead of trying to ban me. Stay tuned”. Actually, it’s less than 400K on Twitter, but do go on. “As a son, brother, and boyfriend to some amazing woman id [sic] love to use my position to educate men on sexism”.
Has he turned over a new leaf? “I didn't make ‘rape jokes’ I don't joke about rape. Or find it funny...I spoke about it. Unlike any other comic ever”. Is this reformed character also going to cut out his, shall we say, creative use of Twitter to have critics monstered? Sadly, as Mic Wright has discovered, no he isn’t: “I see Dapper Laughs is up to his old trick of quote tweeting people who criticise him so his followers monster them. Classy as ever”.
Wright has weighed the evidence, considered his words carefully, and concluded of Dapper Laughs that “he's a scumbag as is Daubney. And The Sunday Times should be ashamed of giving them the platform”. One thing is for certain: this is a thinly veiled attempt by Daniel O’Reilly to get himself another fifteen minutes. And he does not merit it, whether he gets himself into the ST Magazine or anywhere else.

So O’Reilly can draw an audience for his stand-up show. Fine. Just don’t anyone pretend that he’s any kind of phenomenon other than one worth ignoring.

Times Finds Reds Under Labour Bed

The Murdoch press has suddenly become most concerned about the future of the Labour Party, the Sunday Times today carrying tales of 1980s-style entryism and a totally erroneous suggestion that the upcoming leadership election may be suspended. The problem for Rupe’s supposedly upmarket troops is that their favoured party - the Tories - is the one with the real entryist problem. So what’s their claim?
Hard left plot to infiltrate Labour race … Harman urged to halt leadership vote” claims the headline, going on to tell “HARRIET HARMAN has been urged to suspend the Labour leadership race after evidence emerged that hard left [again] infiltration is fuelling a huge surge in party membeship … More than 140,000 new activists are projected to have joined by the deadline for registration to vote, a rise of more than two-thirds since the election, with many signing up to back the hard left [again] candidate Jeremy Corbyn”.

Readers have the names of the Communist Party and the Green Party pitched to them, before being told “Some of the new members have previously stood as candidates for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, an electoral alliance including the Socialist Workers’ party, founded by Bob Crow, the late hard left [again] leader of the RMT rail union”.
D’you think the ST wants us to think that there is something “hard left” going on here? There’s certainly precious little journalism: readers are told “Labour MPs say their local parties have been flooded with new members, most of them supporting Corbyn”, but have only one name given, that of Bassetlaw MP John Mann, and even then, the Murdoch faithful have to be highly selective when presenting his contribution.

While Mann has indeed said “People who chose not to vote #Labour at the General Election should not be able to vote for the next Labour leader”, he has also Tweeted “I will be backing whoever is elected #Labour leader (and being awkward). 2016 has elections everywhere and they should be judged by results”. That second comment does not make the ST story, because it does not fit the idea of Labour being split.
Meanwhile, the ST - like all the other right-leaning parts of the Fourth Estate - says nothing about the infiltration of the Tory Party by the alphabet soup of deeply conservative and often Neo-Con influenced lobby groups: the ASI, CPS, IEA, TPA, the Freedom Association (which has been banned from the secure area of party conferences for years), and of course the Young Britons’ Foundation, that supplies so many party activists.

No, all that is hunky dory, but what is not is the prospect of yet another Labour leadership candidate that is beyond the bidding of Creepy Uncle Rupe: Corbyn, like Andy Burnham, has refused to give the Sun an interview. No wonder the Murdoch press wants to frighten the readers against him, to the extent of borrowing the “hard left” meme so beloved of hosts on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).

The Labour leadership contest isn’t being suspended. And Rupe still doesn’t have a vote.

Gove Puts His Foot In It

What better way to give voice to the Government’s claim that the NHS is not properly open for business at weekends than one of its ministers discovering that first hand? And what better way to get the information out there to a still sceptical public than having that minister married to a tabloid journalist? So when Michael “Oiky” Gove injured his foot - falling over a toy, for Goodness’ sake - the opportunity was obvious.
Oiky”, who has form for falling over and making a prat of himself, was driven to an NHS Treatment Centre by wife - and Daily Mail writer - Sarah “Vain” Vine, only to make the Shock Horror discovery that they were unable to X-Ray the potentially broken foot because he’d turned up at the weekend. Here was the smoking gun, the evidence that proved Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) was right.

The Telegraph was clearly not best pleased: “Michael Gove left on crutches because he couldn’t get an X-Ray over weekend … Michael Gove’s wife has called for all NHS services to be available 24/7, after her husband was let down by the lack of Sunday services”. Ms Vine told the Tel that “Oiky” “has been unable to receive treatment for a possible fractured foot because parts of the NHS shut down on the weekend”.
Ms Vine was deeply insulted: “His work diary was packed (he left home before 8am and returned after I was asleep); Tuesday’s, too … The foot has not yet been X-rayed. Obviously it’s not life threatening. But it is very painful … Trouble is, like most people, he doesn’t have a spare half-day to sit around awaiting the pleasure of the hospital radiographer”. There was more. Rather a lot more.

No one is suggesting NHS staff don’t work very hard and do an excellent job. Just that the service needs to be a 24/7 one. And that means all departments - not just acute emergency departments - need to be available at weekends”. The problem for Ms Vine is that radiology departments at many NHS hospitals are open 24/7.
So the Tel then had to issue a “correction”: “Yesterday’s article … wrongly implied that Michael Gove could get no treatment because all NHS radiology departments close on Sundays … These departments are in fact open 24 hours a day for emergencies in many hospitals other than the minor injuries unit that Mr Gove attended”.

It got worse: the NHS Treatment Centre in Shepton Mallet, where “Oiky” and Ms Vine fetched up, is run not by the NHS, but Care UK, a private provider. So the rotten socialist NHS, which Ms Vine was so joyously attacking, already provides a 24/7 service, but the Very Wonderful private health providers that the Tories want to see lots more of do not.

And so the latest attempt to demonise the NHS in pursuit of another needless and misleading Tory campaign has been unmasked as a sham, driven more by the cluelessness of a Mail pundit than reality. Still, generates column inches and gives Young Dave and his jolly good chaps a nice warm feeing. Mustn’t grumble.

Top Six - July 26

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have domestic stuff to do later. So there.
6 Welfare Bill - What Does Labour Stand For? Opposition consists of more than just sitting there and doing nothing. Especially when tens of thousands of people in work are facing a significant reduction in their living standards.
5 Newton Dunn - Still A Bully The Sun’s political editor got himself into the latest issue of Private Eye magazine for allegedly behaving very badly towards a waitress in Moncrieff’s Bar. Not that he’s a bully, you understand.
4 Nadine Dorries Protests Too Much The fragrant Nadine’s latest attempt to silence the serially tenacious Tim Ireland failed as press regulator IPSO - for the second time - threw out her complaint.
3 Subsidise Uber? You’re Having A Laugh The idea that taxpayers should subsidise a global company with a cash war chest of over $1 billion, just so it can make provision for the less able, something that London’s black cabs do anyway, really was taking the biscuit.
2 Sun’s Picky MP Paedophile Claim The Sun’s latest “Paedo Scare” was notable not for what the story contained, but for what it did not.
1 Hillsborough - The Full Truth The Sun’s disrespect for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster went a lot further than one front page story.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Liz Kendall Sexism Row Fail

With each passing day, and voting beginning in around three weeks’ time, the Labour leadership campaign of Leicester West MP Liz Kendall looks a yet more forlorn cause. Today’s news is typical: the tally of Constituency Labour Party (CLP) nominations stands at 106 for Jeremy Corbyn, 98 for Andy Burnham, and 86 for Yvette Cooper. Ms Kendall has garnered the support of just 14. She’s run out of road.
But, given the nature of the voting system, those calling for her to pull out are not thinking this one through: votes are allocated to second, then third preferences as candidates are eliminated when those votes are counted. There is little point in taking a name off the ballot right now. There is, though, no point in trying to whip up controversy for the sake of it, and the latest such event does those involved no favours at all.

Charles Falconer, long-time friend of the saintly Tone, is backing Burnham. He explained his choice thus: “Neither Yvette [Cooper] nor Liz [Kendall] can steer the party through the challenging few years ahead of us when we need a leader who can reach out to all wings of the party and provide unity”. What he did not do was make any generalisation about the capabilities of women in a leadership role.

Not that you would know that from Ms Kendall’s response: “It’s depressing to see a senior man in the party dismiss the contribution of women so easily … For Charlie to say that somehow women aren’t tough enough to lead the Labour Party is a gross insult and, as for standing up to Jeremy Corbyn, I’m the only candidate who has been saying he would be a disaster for our party and that I wouldn’t serve in his shadow cabinet, unlike the candidate Charlie is supporting”. If only Falconer had said what she claimed. But he didn’t.
Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News disagreed: “I can spot sexism a mile off, and I’m not afraid to say it. But Lord Falconer - Charlie to his mates - is no sexist … what cheerful Charlie was saying was a statement of fact, based on YouGov’s opinion poll released early this week”. The involvement of the Murdoch Times has not helped matters.

The paper, seeing its chance to make mischief, reported Falconer’s comments under the headline “Women ‘are not tough enough to lead Labour’”. That, he observed, “suggests I think that women are not tough enough to lead the Labour party. That is not my view and I said nothing that suggested it was … The Times itself has acknowledged in emails that the headline was ‘stupid’, ‘misleading’ and ‘sexist’”.

Would Ms Kendall now accept that? Well, no, the Times headline may have been wrong, but “I based it on what he actually wrote … He said that myself and Yvette weren’t up to the challenge of leading or uniting the party, and I think that’s just plain wrong. He only picked out the two women”. The impression is given that someone is arguing in their spare time. And that person appears to be Liz Kendall.

Sorry, team Kendall. Your candidate is not going to win. Maybe quit the attention seeking.