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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

So Farewell Then Ken Livingstone

In the end, he jumped before being pushed: Ken Livingstone, former leader of the GLC, thorn in the side of Margaret Thatcher, long-serving MP, two-term Mayor of London, and enthusiastic participant in the city’s successful Olympic bid, has resigned from the Labour Party days before a disciplinary hearing into his conduct, following his initial suspension almost two years ago. He was, in the end, the architect of his own downfall.
And while those that Robin Day memorably and rightly called here today and gone tomorrow politicians crow contentedly about Ken’s departure, one should not whisper it quietly - he did at least achieve something in his political career, unlike many of them.

The credit side would have earned Livingstone a significant place in history, had he not also been notorious for the twin habits of shooting his mouth off a little too readily, and then being incapable of saying sorry afterwards. His time as London Mayor was key.

It is difficult even this far down the line to see why the Blair Government had such a control freak mentality: Tone had to have his placeman at the Welsh Assembly - that failed spectacularly - and likewise had to impose his own obedient candidate for the London Mayoralty. Livingstone would not play that game: he stood as an Independent in 2000 and won against official Labour, and the Tories. And he was right to do so.

Only he was prepared to face down the car lobby and impose the London congestion charge - a move that has endured, even though his successor caved in to the motorist faction and abandoned the western extension of the charging zone. Ken put on more bus services, and set in train replacement of the oldest Underground trains.

Those who like their new air-conditioned District, Circle and Metropolitan trains have Livingstone to thank: they, along with new trains for the Victoria Line, were ordered under his Mayoralty. His occasional successor, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, ordered none, with the result that the Bakerloo Line’s veteran stock may see 60 years in service.

The campaign by the right-wing press against bendy buses, another joined with gusto by Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, was fatuous. They provided capacity and speed; the vanity BozzaMasters that came after them did neither, and were a waste of money. But Gilligan did get paid off by Bozza for his services.

Johnson’s Mayoralty by comparison to Ken’s was a disaster. The waste was on an eye-watering scale. The cancellation of the Cross River Tram condemned south-east London to years more at the bottom of the public transport pecking order. At least Bozza did not cancel Crossrail: now he’ll be there at the opening to claim the credit.
But, as I suggested, Livingstone could never keep his trap shut at times when keeping it shut should not have been difficult. His clumsy berating of the Standard’s Oliver Finegold was indefensible; his inability to own up and say sorry was worse. Whether that was a sign of anti-Semitism is debatable: Ken was an equal opportunity insult machine.

Likewise, the behaviour that got him suspended was perhaps not deliberately anti-Semitic, but the last thing to do when the subject is such a sensitive one is to blunder into the nearest TV studio and proclaim “Yes but Hitler”. Again, he should have kept schtum.

On top of that was the impression that Ken was not really a party man, unless that party was the one led by Himself Personally Now. That had occasional benefits - it was so much easier for him to defy Blair and stand as an independent in the first London Mayoral election. It was less easy for him, and his party leadership, later on.

Now that he has gone, there has inevitably been a chorus of triumphalism from those who despised him. It would be a more effective chorus, were it not comprised of so many who have achieved nothing in politics, and most likely never will.

Not least among the no-marks sneering at old Ken as he shuffles off has been Wes Streeting, an utter worm of a politician who will blow whichever way the press establishment demands, and espouse any campaign he can, to ensure he remains in the comfort to which he has become accustomed. Streeting is the kind of machine politician who gave Labour such a bad name in recent times. There are others.

No, Ken Livingstone should have long ago learned to hold his tongue and own up when caught shooting his mouth off. Thus he became, ultimately, the architect of his own downfall - while of course Good Old Bozza could indulge in more explicit racism, for which he has been awarded a free pass by his fellow journalists.

But at least Ken achieved something in his career, and something useful to all Londoners. His critics, like the crawler Streeting, never will. Such is politics.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Nadine Dorries - Nailed-On Racism

The racist tropes which casually depict those who are not white as “other” are by now so well-known as to be glaringly obvious to anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside. And one of the most obvious racist tropes is that framing the target as “other”, as somehow not belonging. Despite this, the number of right-wing pundits prepared to lecture others that they should “be more grateful” to this country remains worryingly high.
The best-known recent example was the Mail’s Glenda Emeritus Amanda Platell (who is an immigrant) lecturing Stormzy on being grateful: “is it asking too much that he show a scintilla of gratitude to the country that offered his mother and him so much?” She wouldn’t have dreamed being such a witless hypocrite if her target had been white.
Nor, it seems, would Mid Bedfordshire’s MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who has decided to have a go at Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - well, so many others in the less than well informed pundit class are doing, and perhaps she doesn’t want to miss out. What set the fragrant Nadine off was “Is it safe to be back on twitter? Have people- including royal wedding journalist junkies- run out of breath yet? Proof again that GB is an infantalized, escapist nation” from Ms Alibhai-Brown. Why? Don’t ask.
Yasmin, why don’t you just try to be nice? Maybe appreciate just a little the country and the people you have chosen the live, work and benefit from all of your life” snapped Ms Dorries. Nailed-on racist trope - the “ungrateful outsider”. There is the white person saying “you, yes you, the brown person - be grateful for what we give you”.
Small wonder that the condemnation was immediate, typical being the response from Matt Kelly: “oh wow - @NadineDorries; know what you sound like here? And they wonder how #windrush could have happened”. His concern was shared by others.
Zoe Williams of the Guardian was one of those: “It is frankly unbelievable, the racist & misogynist (remember mike fabricant?) insults serving conservative MPs will throw at @y_alibhai”. And one pundit was markedly less subtle.
Ash Sarkar had seen it all before: “This is such a classic racist trope: the demand that one must suspend all critical faculties in the name of ‘gratitude’ in order to exist as a person of colour in this country”. She also ended with the ultimate expression of disgust.
Ms Alibhai-Brown had also seen it all before, and perhaps wearily replied “So this is the modern, diverse Tory party. To that over excited @NadineDorries I say, remember freedom of opinion? Or is that just for white Brits? And where will you send me back to? Does maverick @OborneTweets also have to go?” Quite.
What made it worse is that Ms Dorries just didn’t get it. “Seriously Yasmin, the last time you and I were together you apologised to me for being so ‘hateful.’ Below you to play the race card, you’re better than that. Have a nice day”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The one playing the race card was the fragrant Nadine, not her target.

And don’t forget, they allowed her to become an MP. I’ll just leave that one there.

Dan Hodges Defends “Moderate” Gang Rape

[Update at end of post]

It is part and parcel of modern-day politics, and indeed much else, that a job applicant’s social media history gets pored over before they are even considered for appointment. Even those in office get the treatment. And it’s not just blogosphere gotchas that are made of wayward Tweets, as the trashing of Paris Brown, the successful applicant for Kent Youth Police Commissioner, by the Mail on Sunday showed.
He's desperate, Dan

And the past Twitter history of the loathsome Toby Young was enough to influence his decision to resign a post on the board of the new Office for Students recently. But oh, how the tune changes when the boot is so firmly on the other foot.

There is to be a Parliamentary by-election in Lewisham East soon, after Heidi Alexander resigned the seat, to take up the post of London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport. Much has been made of the selection battle, but all that paled into insignificance yesterday after Ian McKenzie, chair of Lewisham East CLP, was caught in possession of two viciously inflammatory items in his Twitter history.
Twitter shaming - OK for the MoS ...

These told “Emily Thornberry is too old for ISIS. They won’t make a sex slave of her. They’ll behead her and dump her in a mass grave”, and “Maybe she’d agree sex slavery to one man only, provided he didn’t sell her on or insist on gang rape”.

Now I hate to come over all censorious, but that is bang out of order. No ifs, no buts. So what would a representative of the MoS - the paper that thought it OK to trawl through a teenager’s Twitter feed and then trash her all over its front page - like to say about it?
... even if the target is a teenager

Well, we have an answer: the MoS’ not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges has come to his paper’s rescue. After Owen Jones had called out Mike Gapes, a Labour MP who ought to know better, for dismissing criticism of McKenzie’s abhorrent behaviour as “trolling and sectarian bullying”, Hodges was away.
The Corbynites’ commitment to internal Labour democracy being underlined by the way they’re currently targeting Lewisham East chair @iMcKenzied for having the temerity to take a stand against the attempted stitch-up in favour of their candidates … Moderate Labour MP says ‘enough is enough’. Corbynites move to stitch up the selection of her replacement. CLP chair takes a stand against them. Corbynites extract revenge by targeting and smearing him. This isn’t politics, it’s base gangsterism”.
Oh look - Twitter shaming is now Very Bad Indeed!

There was more. “Important lesson tonight for any Labour moderates who think they can engage constructively with the Corbynites. Take a stand against them - even in defence of internal Labour democracy and due process -and they will come for you and try to destroy you”. Shine a light, his comments were beyond the pale. But Hodges wasn’t finished.
There had to be leftie blaming: “I understand Skwakbox and other Corbynites have claimed I “doubled down” last night, and defended the chair of Lewisham East Ian McKenzie after he made comments which a number of people found offensive. So let me clarify. Yep, I did. And I’m doing it again this morning”. Someone else’s fault, see?
And then came the pièce de résistance: “Ian McKenzie's comments were ugly. But in the context of negotiating with the murders, torturers, rapists and slavers of IS - legitimate”.
No, Dan. Just no. Not even a little, teensy bit justifiable. Had that been a Corbyn supporter making those comments about someone on the right of the Labour Party, Dan Hodges would have been cheering on his pals in the right-wing press as they splashed the comments all over their front pages. There would have been no “context” justification then.
But when it’s someone who they can call “moderate”, even the representative of the paper that creepily trawled a teenager’s Twitter feed just so they could trash her reputation on their front page is back-pedalling so furiously that he looks beyond foolish.

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less’”. Humpty Dumpty Hodges has shown the world that he and his press pals are now Through The Looking Glass.

[UPDATE 22 May 0855 hours: The interventions on behalf of Ian McKenzie have been as successful as Dan Hodges' election predictions. As Paul Waugh at the HuffPost has now confirmed, McKenzie has been suspended by the Labour Party.

There was stuff all "context excuse" about what he did. It was wrong, and nothing, but nothing, to do with Rotten Lefties (tm) ganging up on him.

After all, Hodges has once again walked out on Labour, so why should they listen to Northcliffe House inmates like him? The right decision, promptly made]

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Mail-Promoted Racist JAILED

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may recall the lack of filter applied by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre back in September 2016, when they got a little carried away in their efforts to put the boot in on comedian and campaigner Eddie Izzard. After had his hat knocked off by a counter-demonstrator, the temptation to splash a few photos was too much.
Jeremy Bedford-Turner

The Mail told readers “Angry scenes as police separate Leave and Remain protesters at anti-Brexit rallies across Britain (and Eddie Izzard has his pink beret knocked off) … March for Europe launched to pressure Government to delay Article 50 … Protests in London, Birmingham, Oxford, Edinburgh and Cambridge … Typically British scenes included gentleman in tweed waving a Union Flag … And hundreds walked through rainy streets of Bristol during the protest”. But it was not any “gentleman in tweed”.
What's wrong with f***ing ignoring some anti-Semitism, c***?!?!?

He was identified as one Jeremy “Jez” Bedford-Turner (sometimes known as Jeremy Bedford-Taylor). The previous April, the Standard had reported “To occasional boos and jeers speaker Jeremy Bedford-Turner made a long, rambling speech telling people ‘the future is white’ … Footage was later uploaded to YouTube, with the description claiming it had been held ‘deep inside The Jewish Republic of North London’. The video culminated in Mr Bedford-Turner waving a pork pie in the air before taking a bite”.
The Mail had given free publicity to a raving anti-Semite. And now Bedford-Turner is a jailed raving anti-Semite. As the Guardian has reportedA far-right army veteran has been found guilty of stirring up racial hatred after the Crown Prosecution Service was pressured to reconsider its decision to not bring charges against him”. There was more.
Jeremy Bedford-Turner, 48, called for his ‘soldiers’ to liberate England from ‘Jewish control’ in an address outside Downing Street and blamed Jews for issues ranging from both world wars to Jack the Ripper”. When? “The 15-minute speech was made at a rally against Jewish neighbourhood watch group Shomrim in Whitehall on 4 July 2015”.
Do go on. “Bedford-Turner, who served for 12 years in the army, and speaks Pashtu and Arabic, told the crowd: ‘Let’s free England from Jewish control. Let’s liberate this land. Listen, soldiers, listen to me. It’s time to liberate our country’ … Dozens of his supporters attended his two-day trial. Under cross-examination, he admitted that he wanted all Jews to leave the UK”. Yes, he really is a raving anti-Semite.

His supporters are equally away with the fairies, one Tweeting out the suggestion that Bedford-Turner’s pals write to him in jail, talking of “a malicious 3-year campaign by Jew-Zionists”. The Twitter account has since been suspended.
His supporters aren't reported in the Mail, either

So the question has to be asked of the Mail: why so little coverage of Bedford-Turner being sent down for clear and blatant anti-Semitism, while the paper runs page after page of claims that the Labour Party is, er, anti-Semitic?

The Dacre Doggies wouldn’t be indulging in selective reporting of anti-Semitism just so they can put the boot in on The Red Team, would they? Perish the thought.

Football Lads Alliance - IT’S OVER

The Football Lads Alliance, which is supposed to be about opposition to extremism, and not just a bunch of thugs looking to protest against people in this country who are not white, was intending to hold a demonstration in Manchester yesterday. Sadly, this was a campaign which turned out not necessarily to their advantage, as no more than 300 of the so-called “lads” turned up, and they were outnumbered by a counter demonstration.
Someone at the FLA decided to organise the protest on the anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing last year, reasoning that this would show all those Scary Muslims (tm) and their pals that they meant business. But what that someone managed to miss was that this was the same day that both the Royal Wedding, and the F A Cup Final, were being held elsewhere. As a result, both turnout and spirits were at a low ebb.
On top of that, the someone who was organising the march did not get it cleared with the Police, and so it didn’t happen. But the counter demonstration, by Stand Up To Racism, went ahead: “Over 600 joined the rally against the racist group organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) Manchester. They rallied in St Peter's Square then marched down next to where the FLA had gathered to chants of ‘Whose streets - our streets’”.
It got worse. “In a sharp contrast to the confidence on the anti-racist side, the FLA supporters were dour, demoralised and divided. They turned out at most 300 - compared to 20,000 in London last October and 3,000 in Birmingham in March … The FLA had planned to march through the city centre on the anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing to whip up Islamophobia”. And then worse still. 
But, as their march wasn't allowed to go ahead, at most 250 rallied in a near-empty Castlefield Bowl. Over 50 remained drinking in the adjacent Castlefield Hotel balcony, noticeably disappointed by their numbers”. Some of the mirth-inducing comments from the FLA faithful show the frustration at their leaders’ ineptitude.
It was good while it lasted” … “said this before Birmingham numbers will drastically drop and within 12 months the group will be finished” … “Everyone scattered all over what a shambles no March thought this was a sorted demonstration obv not who sorted the demo?” … “Shambles more lads in the pubs [than] at the speech as everyone thought there was a march there wasn’t but very bad timing on FA Cup day”.
The less than totally grammatical verdict? “I travelled from central London to both events & this was embarrassing … No excuses EMBARRASSING … All the speakers at both events were worthy of so many more numbers but where was everyone … Getting handed a piece of paper after 2 hours plus on a train by the old bill to say the march is off by the leftist scum turn up … Embarrassing”. So a bit embarrassing, then.

The FLA was for a time, but not for all time. Good thing too.

Top Six - May 20

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have a big city to visit later. So there.
6 Matt Hancock - You’re A Liar The press-compliant Culture Secretary claimed that an Inquiry into past wrongdoings somehow threatened press freedom. Er, no.

5 Spectator Goes Full Third Reich The increasingly trashy and right-wing magazine is now publishing articles praising Hitler’s army. Yes, seriously.

4 Daily Mail Racism Shame The Dacre doggies took just a month to abandon the Windrush Generation and demand that anyone who looked a bit foreign was thrown out of the country.

3 Press Reforms Itself - OR MAYBE NOT The claim that all has been changed since the Leveson Inquiry was shown, by the way the Mail on Sunday went after Danielle Hindley, to be just more hot air.

2 Vote Leave Cheating CONFIRMED The designated Leave campaign, and its last-minute offshoot BeLeave, used the exact same dataset for their Facebook adverts.

1 Theresa May Jumps The Terrorist Shark While Tories accuse Jeremy Corbyn of talking to terrorists, their leader has just put one in the House of Lords. Still, details, eh?

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

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Royal Wedding - And The Real World

Those of you in the UK (I’m out of the country right now), and especially anyone in London and the south east, has today had - I stop short of saying “enjoyed” - the pleasure of wall-to-wall Royal Wedding coverage. The allegedly popular press has been awash with coverage, the ceremony has been screened live, with the kind of build-up surpassed only by this evening’s F A Cup final. Few have been spared the full Meghan and Harry.
And that’s OK if Royalty, Sleb spotting, flag waving and a little escapism is your bag. We have a hereditary monarchy, and as long as that monarchy remains relevant to, and popular with, most people, then that is how it will stay. But we should remember that there is another side to the town of Windsor, the London area, the south east, and indeed the rest of Sceptre’d Isle. And that was not on view today.

It was not on view to all those homeless people who were cleared from Windsor’s streets in order that those streets were nice and tidy for the Royal procession. It was not on view to all those families with nowhere else to live than overcrowded, badly maintained, damp and vermin-infested rooms with dodgy electrics and rotting windows.

It was not on view to all those mourning another victim of London’s street crime, with the Met under increasing strain after yet another round of budget cuts and job losses. It was not on view to all those NHS workers who did not get the option of time off, or a break in yet another all-day shift. It was not on view to all the midwives, first responders, doctors, surgeons, maintenance staff, managers and support teams.

It was not on view to all the firefighters battling to cope with their own budget cuts and job losses. It was not on view to social workers almost drowning under increasing case loads, and hanging over them the ever-present fear of missing a domestic abuse case, a potential suicide, a battered child, and as a result ending up being pilloried by overbearing, judgmental and of course obscenely overpaid newspaper editors.

It was not on view to those who long ago made their own decision to join the minority - but note it well, an increasing minority - for whom the monarchy is no longer relevant. And perhaps they have a point: the Exchequer can find the money to refurbish Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, other Royal residences, and indeed the Palace of Westminster, yet there, night after night, we see the homeless there on our streets.

In the early 1930s, Spike Milligan, whose family had arrived in London from British India - his father had been made redundant by the Army - looked at the detachment of Royalty and said something along the lines of “God save the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson - and heaven help the rest of us”. One hates to be a party pooper to Harry and Meghan, the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but there is another and perhaps more relevant world out there, with a lot less joy, and no small amount of problems.

Enjoy the pomp, circumstance and stardust. But don’t forget the poor souls who are never going to get as much as a sniff of it.

Theresa May Jumps The Terrorist Shark

The familiar refrain from the Tories and their press cheerleaders is that Jeremy Corbyn cannot be trusted, because, dammit, he talked to terrorists. Jezza’s talks with the likes of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, we are frequently told, put him beyond the pale. So how those same press pals will spin the news that Theresa May has not merely talked to terrorists, but put one in the House of Lords, will be a challenging proposition.
Using today’s Royal Wedding as one of those days where bad news can be usefully buried, a list of new peers has been released. As the BBC has reported, “Downing Street has nominated nine new Conservative peers, including a number of former ministers, to sit in the House of Lords … The Democratic Unionists will get one new peer while Labour will get three”. And who might the DUP have nominated?
Vote early, vote often, eh?

The list, which has to be approved by the Queen, is completed by former DUP MP Dr William McCrea, a Free Presbyterian minister who was MP for Mid Ulster between 1983 and 1997 and for South Antrim between 2000 and 2015”. To call McCrea “a Free Presbyterian minister” does not do justice to the full range of his talents.

A selection of McCrea’s greatest hits has been provided by Ken Griffin, who put it plainly. “I am afraid that @theresa_may has finally jumped the shark with her appointment of the DUP's William McCrea as a Lord. His record is utterly incredible. Highlights include … Membership of proto-loyalist paramilitary group, the Shankill Defence Association”.
There was more. “Lobbying the British government to carry out airstrikes against Irish towns … An association with Billy Wright, one of loyalism's most vicious sectarian killers, even appearing at a rally in support of Wright … And a stint in prison for riotous behaviour”. Sounds like one of the villains from the Piranha Brothers stable.

It got worse: McCrea did not merely lobby for airstrikes against Irish towns. As the Belfast Telegraph noted, “Rev McCrea wanted ‘Libyan-type strikes’ against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore … He made the call in April 1986, just days after the US government had unleashed air raids on Col Gaddafi's regime”.
Carrickmore and Crossmaglen are in Northern Ireland. So William McCrea, who is now being elevated to the Lords, wanted “Libyan-type airstrikes” against British towns - solely on the basis that their population was overwhelmingly Catholic. The Belfast Telegraph report gives a flavour of the conference where McCrea made his demands.
The documents, held by the Public Record Office, are released today under the 30-year rule. One memo reports on the DUP annual conference in Belfast on April 19, 1986. Noel Cornick, an official at the NIO's Political Affairs Division, wrote that staff from the division had not been welcome at the conference … The main speech was given by Peter Robinson, in which he outlined two alternative solutions - negotiation or confrontation. He said the latter would be ‘devastating, terrible and bloody’”.

Bit worse that napalming Cheltenham, then. Robinson, of course, went on to become First Minister of Northern Ireland, and now McCrea is headed for the Lords.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Dominic Cummings Says Come And Get Me

After the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee summoned former Vote Leave man Dominic Cummings to appear before them, Michael “Oiky” Gove’s former chief polecat dug his heels in: “I will not give evidence to this Committee under any circumstances. (I may to other Committees depending on behaviour.)
Dominic Cummings - doesn't get it

But Alexander Nix, former Cambridge Analytica supremo, has seen sense and will now be appearing before Damian Collins and his team. So this puts Dom in what Spike Milligan might have called An Extremely Difficult Position. “Former campaign director of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings, had also been issued with formal summons to appear next Tuesday 22nd May but has refused to appear on that date. The Committee will therefore be reporting the matter of Cummings’s refusal to appear to the House” told Collins.
Damian Collins MP

And the BBC Daily Politics team has confirmed that this is no mere threat: “Dominic Cummings, who was a senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign, is being reported to the Commons by a committee of MPs over his refusal to take part in an inquiry into fake news”. So what is Cummings’ response to these developments?

First off, Dom has decided that the Facebook letter, which exposes Vote Leave and ostensibly separate BeLeave as working together, shows that Facebook is wrong. “Correspondence from Facebook was published and used by the Committee to suggest that Vote Leave/AIQ have lied about when they started working together” he tells, but what the letter showed is Vote Leave and BeLeave very obviously working together.
Perhaps Dom missed that. And he concedes “This isn’t actually important viz the legal claims and the EC investigation but I make the point in the interests of trying to clarify FACTS - so far the fake news inquiry has spread fake news around the world and clarified little. Also note how the Committee drops correspondence on the day of the hearing to maximise their chances of creating embarrassing moments for witnesses. This is the behaviour of people happy to see false memes spread, not the behaviour of truth-seeking MPs”. Then he gets on to his appearance, or the lack of it.
The Committee is now threatening me with ‘contempt of Parliament’. Their behaviour in seeking headlines rather than cooperating with witnesses over dates for evidence is  the sort of behaviour that has increased the contempt of the public for MPs over the last 20 years, which of course contributed to the referendum result. The Committee doesn’t understand Vote Leave”. Think it does, Dom. But do go on.
New Cummings residence shock horror

We had to deal with threats from MPs every day for a year, including from the PM/Chancellor and their henchmen who could actually back up serious threats. We ignored that. Why would you think we’re going to worry about EMPTY threats? If you think I care about ‘reputational damage’, you are badly advised”. Well, well, well.

So instead of stopping and thinking, Dominic Cummings has decided to lecture and smear the DCMS Committee, as well as doubling down on his stubborn and foolish refusal to appear. This is not going to end well - but only for him.

Dan, Dan The Banana Man

The shambles that is Brexit rumbles on, uncontrollable - at least, by Theresa May and her pals - and gathering pace as it approaches the inevitably messy dénouement. In its wake come those dedicated supporters, prepared to say anything to keep the departure of the UK from the EU on the road. This, once more, brings us to the parallel universe inhabited by the increasingly isolated figure of Dan, Dan, The Oratory Man.
Hannan’s latest slip-up has been on that most appropriate of subjects, bananas. Seeing the reappearance on the British political scene of Mil The Elder, he carefully selected the field on which he was prepared to die, and like Bluebottle from The Goon Show, was then deaded once more. “The EU applies a tariff of €114 per ton to bananas, David. Even if you're not a free trader, what British industry do you think that helps?” he proffered.
Sadly, Hannan had not been doing his homework (again), as Miliband pointed out. “Bananas used to be my specialist subject, Daniel. There are NO EU tariffs on African, Caribbean or Pacific bananas. Your alleged point is nonsense. Last weekend you were arguing for common sense and compromise. Get back into that branch”.
It got worse. A lot worse. Jim Cornelius, who describes himself as “Accidental tariff nerd. Not an expert, I just look stuff up”, responded “This might surprise you and your followers, but if that tariff was removed the first to complain about it would be the former colonial nations of the Commonwealth in the Caribbean and West Africa”.
He went to to explain “All Bananas from ACP countries on EBA or EPA are on a 0% tariff. In the Caribbean that's: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Rep, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago,St Vincent & the Grenadines”. More bananas, though, came from Latin America: “Production of bananas in those Latin American countries is dominated by 3 American-based multinationals. Dole, Del Monte and Chiquita”.
So what about Dan’s €114 a tonne tariff? “The standard rate for 3rd countries is €117/tonne (not €114) but there's a preferential rate for the countries shown, as follows (per tonne) Ecuador: €90 Columbia: €89 Costa Rica: €89 Panama: €89 Peru: €89 Guatemala: €89 Mexico: €70”. But that’s for a whole tonne.
At €90 Euros per tonne that works out at €0.09 per kilo. Assuming you get 6 bananas per kilo (avg 166g per banana) that's €0.015 per banana. So the amount of tariff on the banana David Miliband is holding is about 1.3p, unless it's from an ACP country in which case it’s nil”. Also, “Tariffs on Latin American bananas protected banana producers in former British & French colonies. But in a trade dispute with US-backed Latin Americans the ACP preferences were deemed illegal by the WTO. So the tariffs are undergoing a phased reduction”. So ultimately it will be even less than 1.3p a banana.
Cornelius concluded “So Daniel, in your original tweet you asked: ‘Even if you're not a free trader, what British industry do you think that helps?’ Well, as you will hopefully now recognise, it actually helps banana producers in commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and Africa. Hope this helps”. And Steve Peers was there to put the lid on it.
After noting “Here's Dan Hannan MEP, Dansplaining about banana imports to the UK. His comments are not only misleading but also give us an insight into what he actually thinks about the Commonwealth”, Peers adds “The link *which Hannan himself provides* points out that there are *no* tariffs on bananas from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. (Also I think he's confused between metric tonnes and imperial tons)”.
All those happy Brexiteers put Hannan on a pedestal. They hang on his every word. One might expect that the least he could do, to ensure he doesn’t disappoint his followers and make himself look foolish, would be to get his facts right.

But once again he has not. I’ll just leave that one there.