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Monday, 27 February 2017

Dan Hodges - Beyond Desperate

Despite the Mail on Sunday’s resident Ron Hopeful telling readers that he was “Britain’s best political columnist”, the sheer cluelessness alone tells anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside that the not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges is anything but. And to put the lid on his deservedly wobbling reputation, Desperate Dan has had a less than happy weekend to boot.
He's desperate, Dan

The blowback for the pundit who told the world that Mil The Elder would become Labour Party leader in 2010, UKIP would fail to break 6% of the national vote share at the 2015 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn would not become leader of the Labour Party, Britain would not vote to leave the EU, and that Hillary Clinton would become the 45th President of the United States, began when Matthew Black reminded us of his 2016 analysis of Hodges, which included the passing of severely adverse comment.
Ava Vidal - plain speaking

And for the pundit who claimed to be a Labour member, but who embraced Lynton Crosby in celebrating the win of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in the 2012 London Mayoral Election - Bozza’s disastrous eight years pretending to be Mayor of London is only now entering the consciousness of the Pundit Establishment - it swiftly got worse.
Hodges decided to pick an argument on the wrong subject, on the wrong pretext, and with the wrong person. His subject was racism, his pretext that he had experienced it, and the person was comedian Ava Vidal. He could have desisted, but the Hodges iron law of Twitter argument holds that, unless he comes over all righteous, throws a mardy strop and blocks his adversary, battle must be joined until won, or, as in this case, lost.
Had Hodges experienced racism? Ms Vidal had to put him straight: “If we walk down the street together (unlikely) &someone calls me n****r, I personally EXPERIENCED racism & you personally WITNESSED it”. But what about if they, er … “Please get your black friends to explain to you that you being called a ’n****r-lover’ is not racism against you. This is embarrassing”. Not going very well, was it, Dan? And then it got worse.
Hodges signed off a reply to Ashiwaju Bisi Alimi with “thank you Nigel Farage”. He was just not going to get that one past Ms Vidal: “Jesus. He's now calling a black person 'Nigel Farage.' A mainstream columnist gaslighting and being a racist troll. Total disgrace”. But Dan’s got black friends, honestly. Was she convinced by that? “Sure. Amazing that you've been banging on since yesterday using them as props and they've decided not to confirm your story. Says it all”. That would be a No, then.
And just to make sure he got that, she followed up with “What has that got to do with your 'black friends' not confirming your story we all know is bollocks?!” Dan Hodges could have just admitted he was clueless, was talking crap, and then yielded to Ms Vidal. But because he’s a Really Important member of the Pundit Establishment, he won’t.
It used to be rumoured that David Cameron was an enthusiastic reader of Hodges’ missives. Which goes some way to explain why he was the worst Prime Minister in living memory. Meanwhile, Dan Hodges, far from being “Britain’s best political columnist” is in line to succeed Peter McKay - as The World’s Worst Columnist. You’re welcome, Dan.

Toby Young Oscars Racism BUSTED

Last night, the great and the good of the film industry - well, those that the newly paranoid inhabitant of the White House was prepared to let in to the USA - gathered in Hollywood for the 89th Academy Awards. This was an opportunity for the real stars of the silver screen to collect gongs, make speeches, or just be seen at the ceremony and after party. It was also an opportunity for shameless nobodies to piggyback a little attention.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

And there is no-one more shameless among the ranks of nobodies than the loathsome Toby Young, who has inexplicably been gifted the editor’s position at Spectator Life magazine, which still features a regular column from a career racist and anti-Semite. Tobes had clearly decided beforehand to use the Oscars to score More And Bigger Self-Promotion Opportunities For Himself Personally Now.

So it was that Spectator Coffee House readers were subjected toThe most politically correct Oscars ever?” with Tobes telling “this year’s Oscars will be even more politically correct than usual – not so much the 89th Academy Awards, as Hollywood’s First Annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards”. And there was, regrettably, more.
African-American actors have been nominated in each of the four acting categories. Six black actors have been nominated in total, a whopping 30 per cent. Four of the five nominees in the Best Documentary Feature category are people of colour, while Barry Jenkins, the African-America writer and director of Moonlight, has been nominated in two different categories”. Er, Moonlight did get the Best Picture award. Minor point, eh?

Tobes was too busy sneering to realise that there might be a good reason for the nominations: “In case you don’t get the point, the Academy has nominated the black playwright August Wilson for Best Original Screenplay for Fences, even though he’s been dead for 12 years. I don’t recall William Shakespeare being nominated for Macbeth last year. Perhaps that’s because he’s ‘too white’”. Who let those bleck cheps in hyah?
And don’t forget, good right-leaning Spectator readers, “This year’s four-hour telecast, due to be broadcast tonight, will be a tsunami of virtue signalling. No self-respecting Oscar winner will be able to leave the stage without letting the audience know just how much they really, really dislike Donald Trump”. That’s because Trump is a weapons grade, sexist, misogynist, bullying, sexual molestation practicing, dishonest, intolerant shit.
But enough of the “I’m white and straight and I’m in a minority AND IT’S NOT FAIR” whining. Best Actor and Best Director - that would be two key awards in any Oscars ceremony - went to white males. Make that white STRAIGHT males. This has proved such a humiliation to Tobes that he has deleted his Tweets sneering “And the Oscar goes to … anyone provided they’re not white, heterosexual or male”. But he was too late.

Toby Young’s whining, entitled twattery might gain him some attention from the right-leaning part of the Pundit Establishment. But from out here in the Real World (tm), the only thing his amateurish snivelling merits is ridicule. Away with you, Tobes.

Sun Prisoner Deportation Hypocrisy

The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are in full mock horror mode this morning at they announce to the world “Killer Exclusive … American strangler dumped on Britain”. Who he? Well, Dempsey Hawkins, who is 57, has spent 38 years in prison in New York State for murdering his then girlfriend, and has been released on condition that he gets deported. He is British, and so has been deported to the UK.
Here, he has worked to rebuild his life with the help of friends, got himself a job and somewhere to live, and is a generally productive member of the community. But that’s not good enough for the Murdoch mafiosi, who have readers to frighten and papers to sell. “‘HE'LL KILL AGAIN’ … Killer who strangled girl in US now in UK after Brit campaigners fought for his deportation … Murderer Dempsey Hawkins denied parole nine times since being jailed for murder of his 14-year-old girlfriend in 1970sthey howl.

Do go on. “When he was 16 he strangled his 14-year-old girlfriend Susan Jacobson with a shirt and stuffed her body in an oil drum … He then pretended to help searchers look for her while keeping them from finding her … retired NYPD cop Mark Corrao added: ‘This man has been dumped on you people. The family feel powerless. Everyone in the UK should be alerted and know what happened’”. But, er, hang on a minute.

Deporting criminals? Where did I hear that before? Was it … no, surely it couldn’t have been … yes, I think it was … wasn’t it … rings a bell … of course, it was in that well-known paper … what’s it called … y’know, I do believe it’s called … THE SUN!

Deporting criminals is a Sun speciality - so long as it’s the UK deporting them, or as they are saying today, dumping them - somewhere else, preferably somewhere full of brown or black people or, failing that, somewhere they speak foreign. “Moroccan criminal who cannot be deported identified as Abu Hamza’s ‘daughter-in-law’ … Tory MP Philip Davies outed her using parliamentary privilegewas a typical example.

There was more. We’ve been told ofDeport delays for hundreds of European criminals being hosted in UK … Brexit MP says figures show the 'system is broken’”. Then there wasALMOST 1,800 foreign criminals who should have been deported are still here five years after being freed from jail”. Or how aboutNEARLY 6,000 foreign criminals waiting to be kicked out of Britain are freely roaming the streets, official figures reveal”?

Or this variation: “THOUSANDS of foreign offenders could be escaping deportation each year because police officers are failing to check their immigration status”. And don’t forget the Poles: “AT LEAST 130 Polish criminals serving time in UK jails should have been sent home over the past four years – red-faced officials admitted”. Yeah, who do they think they are, getting above their station by doing cheap plumbing for us?

The Sun is fine with deporting criminals - so long as it’s somewhere outside the UK they get dumped. So that’s the usual stinking hypocrisy from the Baby Shard bunker, then.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Lily Allen - Say Sorry, Tabloids

Once again, the malign influence of our free and fearless press has come to bear on one of its favourite hate figures, singer Lily Allen. Except this time papers like the Mail and Sun, which have relentlessly demonised Ms Allen, especially when she committed the heinous crime of showing compassion towards refugees, did not need to set their attack dogs on her: their readership was already conditioned to undertake the assault for them.
Lily Allen

Ms Allen revealed that she had suffered from PTSD after suffering a still birth. And that was when the abuse began: there were suggestions the still birth was caused by drug dependency - most likely because the member of the brains trust making the comments read it in the paper, so it had to be true. That she had also admitted to having issues around post-natal depression and bipolar disorder just fired up the mob even more.

As the BBC has told, “Her Twitter account has now been taken over by a friend to try to stop the abuse … The trolls accused her of being to blame for the death of her baby and suggested she had mental health issues … It started when the 31-year-old singer tried to highlight the prejudice shown towards immigrants … But, when mostly anonymous trolls started abusing her things started to get nasty”. The keyboard warrior massive again.
That's what I bladdy think of some bladdy singer bladdy taking the bladdy piss out of me, youse bastard Pommie drongoes!

The Beeb’s report also mentions “Lily regularly posts about controversial subjects and it's not the first time she's faced abuse on Twitter … She spoke out about the Calais migrant crisis last year, apologising for what she deemed to be a lack of action on the part of the UK government” before the inevitable news that “Lily … has now announced she's taking a break from Twitter”. The misogynist, sexist and even racist abuse was too much.

Where might these anonymous beings of less than total courage have got their inspiration for their attacks on Ms Allen? We do not need to look too far: the Murdoch Sun has used any excuse to attack her, ever since she took the piss out of Rupert Murdoch. Don Rupioni is nothing if not a vindictive SOB, and the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker are all too ready to attack anyone, especially if it will get KRM to throw them a biscuit.
Why can't I f***ing put the boot in to some singer, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Also guilty as charged are the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail, all keen as mustard to denounce anyone showing compassion for people who are not white. The Vagina Monologue’s hatred of Ms Allen was such that Glenda Cattia Maxima Jan Moir was instructed to pen a hatchet job on her. Anyone not prepared to keep their distance from refugees is not the Daily Mail’s kind of person.

So what are the Mail and Sun saying about this disgraceful attack on Ms Allen? Nothing. Not a sausage. Zero. Zip. Nil. Nada. Bugger all. After a suitable pause to let the bully boys do the hard lifting for them, they will score some cheap column inches by saying “Singer targeted by Vile Trolls”, say it’s all the fault of that Social Media that their readers should not trust, and snigger into their upmarket designer snackettes at a job well done.

This targeting of Lily Allen is a direct result of yet more bad behaviour from at least two tabloid papers who knew full well what they were at when they targeted her, and what the result would be. Say sorry, Tony Gallagher and Paul Dacre. You are utter filth.

Brexit - The Dark Money Reality

Recently, Zelo Street attended a gathering of media people where the subject being discussed by the invited speakers was Brexit, and its potential aftermath. Among the questions asked afterwards was one notable intervention from a well-known writer whose name does not need to be disclosed. His pitch was basically “yes, but what about all the Dark Money?” This was a most prescient question, as we are now discovering.
We now know that both “designated” campaigns, Britain Stronger In Europe and Vote Leave, are being investigated for potential spending irregularities, but this is a mere “Look Over There” item - the Dark Money is beyond conventional investigation. But we do know that the Dark Money has been a part of the referendum campaign.

Why we can say that the presence of Dark Money, most probably emanating from the USA, is rather more than the conspiracy theory some would have us believe, is that the tip of this particular iceberg is now in plain sight. Moreover, the bulk of that iceberg is becoming clearer with each new revelation. We start in Northern Ireland.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) spent just over £58,000 on its 2015 General Election campaign. But somehow, it managed to spend £425,000 on the referendum. What’s more, most of that money was expended on mainland British campaigning. How so? As the Guardian has reported, the DUP “spent £282,000 on a pro-Brexit advert in a newspaper that is not published in Northern Ireland, according to documents released by the Electoral Commission”. They bought a wrap-round in the Metro freesheet.

So who paid? As the Guardian has also told, “Under a provision in funding rules dating to the Troubles, which allows Northern Irish political parties to accept anonymous contributions, the identity of the donors to the DUP campaign had not been made public”. And despite the later claim “the DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson revealed on Friday that the little-known pro-union Constitutional Research Council (CRC) had donated”, that does not tell us where the money originated. Thus the invasion of the Dark Money.

And it gets worse: also in that paper’s sights is the leave.EU campaign fronted by the likes of Arron Banks and Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, and here the sums potentially dwarf the DUP’s Metro advert. Here’s the intro: “Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a British company, SCL Group, which has 25 years’ experience in military disinformation campaigns and ‘election management’, claims to use cutting-edge technology to build intimate psychometric profiles of voters to find and target their emotional triggers. Trump’s team paid the firm more than $6m (£4.8m) to target swing voters”.

Who owns Cambridge Analytica? Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and the connection to the EU referendum? You’ll love this: “the longstanding friendship between Nigel Farage and the Mercer family led Mercer to offer his help - free - to the Brexit campaign”. This is what is referred to as a “benefit in kind.
Following the money - and the money you can't see

So what was the game? “The strategy involved harvesting data from people’s Facebook and other social media profiles and then using machine learning to ‘spread’ through their networks … the campaign used this information, combined with artificial intelligence, to decide who to target with highly individualised advertisements and had built a database of more than a million people, based on advice Cambridge Analytica supplied”.

And how did this pan out? “Two weeks ago Arron Banks, Leave.eu’s founder, stated in a series of tweets that Gerry Gunster (Leave.eu’s pollster) and Cambridge Analytica with ‘world class’ AI had helped them gain ‘unprecedented levels of engagement’. ‘AI won it for Leave,’ he said”. But what was that about benefits in kind?

Well, any benefit in kind worth more than £7,500 must be reported to the Electoral Commission. They have no such item from Mercer, or leave.EU, filed as yet. How much might Cambridge Analytica’s services have been worth? If the Trump campaign shelled out the thick end of £5 million, what leave.EU got is probably going to be well into seven figures. And thus a further, more subtle, invasion of the Dark Money.

On top of all that is the possibility that opinion formers - newspaper pundits, solo and group blogs, and other social media warriors - have been suckling at this particular teat as well. More Dark Money, and more probably untraceable Dark Money, at that.

Who might those beneficiaries be? Well, Mercer has now been revealed as one of the owners of the Breitbart News Network, that convocation of the irredeemably batshit that has turned the proliferation of Fake News into its own particular speciality.

But the money is only one aspect of this invasion: as the description of the Cambridge Analytica methods shows, the potential is also there for wholesale misuse of personal data, an area where the Information Commissioner may want to get involved.

One should not dismiss the Information Commissioner’s powers too readily: this is, after all, the body that brought an end to the (mainly) illegal information gathering operation of Steve Whittamore back in 2006. Another Operation Motorman could well be in the offing.

The elephant in the room is, of course, that the referendum has been held and the damage done. But who drugged the beast and paid the bills are still to be uncovered. More later.

UKIP On Brink Of Breakup

The excuses for UKIP’s failure to win the Stoke on Trent Central by-election have been coming thick and fast, and there was no thicker or faster presence than the party’s deputy leader Peter Whittle (who?) fetching up on The Andy Marr Show (tm) and claiming that there was no problem, Paul Nuttall was going to remain leader, and that his being absent elsewhere was nothing to do with his taking his bat home after losing, no sirree.
Farage and Banks - taking their bats home

Whittle was in that corridor of delusion that so many in UKIP seem to inhabit so enthusiastically, claiming that Nuttall’s going off on “a trip” was usual in the aftermath of a by-election, that the electorate did not know him well enough (baloney), whined about the personal attacks on Nuttall (which he richly deserved for his dishonesty), and seemed to actually believe that the party is “more united than ever”.

Just how delusional this is can be seen from the antics of former Oberscheissenf├╝hrer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pal, Kipper paymaster Arron Banks. Farage took his bat home from the Stoke campaign when he discovered Lisa Duffy, who passed severely adverse comment on him, was running the show - so much for unity. Mr Thirsty has been giving more attention to his media career - over in the USA.
Nuttall - a useless joke figure

Banks, after helping to derail Nuttall’s election effort by insulting the families of the Hillsborough victims, has now returned refreshed from his reassuringly expensive skiing holiday in non-EU Switzerland and decided to enact the modern-day equivalent of the Munich Beer-Hall Putsch. This will result either in UKIP becoming the party of Himself Personally Now, or not getting any more of his dosh.

This is what Banks told the joke paper that is the Sunday Express: “I am giving Paul Nuttall an ultimatum that either I become chairman and sort out Ukip by bringing in business people and professionals to make the party electable, or I am out of there … The party cannot continue to be run like a jumble sale … If Nuttall doesn't professionalise it and toss out the likes of Douglas Carswell, Suzanne Evans and the rest of the Tory cabal then the party is finished anyway”. Yes, that’s UKIP unity for you. And there was more.
Carswell - only UKIP MP now out of favour

These dullards aren't bringing in Tory votes, Stoke proved that, so what are they for? The party now needs to bring in serious people to fix its ramshackle administration, stay relevant, and stay radical or it will die … From what I hear far from winning elections, Carswell's main concern is sabotaging Nigel's knighthood, which is why he must leave the party”. UKIP isn’t “radical”. It’s a rag-bag of opportunist bigots.

Back in that corridor of delusion, Peter Whittle responded to the prospect of Banks flouncing off by claiming that other backers would come forward. But who? Ms Duffy’s presence in Stoke - she’s supposed to be employed as an EU civil servant, which prohibits her working on non-EU related stuff - has been reported to the EU’s OLAF fraud unit. Nuttall could yet face criminal charges over his nomination papers. And it gets worse.

UKIP is rumoured to be in debt, with creditors becoming restless. Who would volunteer to take on all of that, just to have to put up with all the infighting? Farage is only concerned with self-promotion, Banks is a damaging loose cannon, Nuttall is a figure of fun, and the only thing they can all agree on is lying to the electorate. The UKIP party is almost over.

Top Six - February 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 Laura Perrins Double Hypocrisy The new star of the right wing has promoted herself as a stay at home Mum, and someone proud to use her married name. So that’s a double helping of hypocrisy, then.

5 Paul Nuttall’s Chairman RESIGNS The chairmen of UKIP’s Liverpool and Merseyside branches threw in the towel in response to the “Bad Bootle Meff” lying about losing close friends in the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

4 Farage Sweden Rape Lies BUSTED The former UKIP leader claimed that Malmo was now the “rape capital of Europe, if not the world”. He was, as with so many other claims, lying through his teeth.

3 Don’t Menshn Paedophile Milo After Milo Yiannopoulos was caught on camera advocating for paedophilia, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch realised that he was not her best choice of friends.

2 Paul Watson - Alt-Right Nobody The far-right shill dropped himself in deep legal shit after offering to fund anyone wanting to report on the alleged violence in Malmo.

1 Simon Danczuk’s Friends VOTED OUT The Rochdale CLP’s AGM featured every one of Spanker Si’s apologists who had someone standing against them getting voted off.

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

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Don’t Menshn Russia Paranoia

If only to prove that a stopped clock is right twice a day, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch finally managed to latch on to something plausible about the connections between the new administration in the White House and the increasingly unelected dictatorship of Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin. But, sadly, it was then a case of two steps forward and three steps back, as she lost it totally on Russian influence in the USA.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

The Guardian - not previously Ms Mensch’s favourite paper - has reportedIn the journalistic race to get to the bottom of one of the most closely guarded secrets in Washington - the investigation into the Trump team’s contacts with Moscow - one of the biggest scoops came from an unexpected source: the British former MP and novelist Louise Mensch”. And what, pray, was her scoop?

On the eve of the November election, Mensch published a sensational story reporting that a special intelligence court in Washington had granted a warrant to allow the FBI to conduct surveillance of ‘US persons’ in an investigation of possible contacts between Russian banks and the Trump organisation”. She has since alleged that aircraft movements show a possible Russian “handler” meeting with Trump in Florida.
But then it all went wrong as she ranted “I absolutely believe that Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Putin, just as the founder of RT was murdered by Putin … under his successor, Breitbart has agitated for Russia's strategic objectives in US and UK. Including Texas separatism even”. Wibble, wibble, she’s a hatstand.

One hates to pass adverse comment on Ms Mensch’s pearls of wisdom, but this is weapons grade bullshit. Andrew Breitbart died from a sudden and massive heart attack - which was not his first - in February 2012, or to put it in the US political context, some months before Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term. Is Ms Mensch suggesting that the Russians were planning their interventions so long ago?
Moreover, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole admitted that Breitbart enjoyed “a voraciously Type A lifestyle - drinking, smoking and burger-scoffing like there was no tomorrow” (yes, Del Boy now works for the Breitbart empire, but when he made those comments, that appointment, and the creation of the Breitbart London outpost, were around two years in the future). And there is more.

Not long before he died, Breitbart, clearly fired up, was caught on camera ranting and raving at Occupy protesters outside the 2012 CPAC venue. That would not have helped his condition one bit. The Los Angeles County coroner’s report into his death statedNo prescription or illicit drugs were detected. The blood alcohol was .04%. No significant trauma was present and foul play is not suspected”.

Andrew Breitbart had his warning some months before the heart attack that killed him. As the CPAC protest video shows, he took little notice of it. And soon after that video was recorded, he was dead. That is all there is to it.

Louise Mensch is once again adding two and two, only to get a result well in excess of four. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

Trump Bans BBC? NO STATE VISIT

The deeply paranoid state of the new administration in the White House was once again highlighted this week by the continuing use of the Third Reich playbook to attack media outlets whose reporting incurs the displeasure of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. Where the Nazis attacked the “Lugenpresse”, any outlet Trump dislikes is now attacked as “Fake News”, and more recently “Enemies of the American people”.
So far, so disquieting, especially given the presence of those like Steve Bannon, formerly of the convocation of the irredeemably batshit otherwise known as Breitbart and believed to be the real power behind The Donald, but now the real censorship has started, with media organisations incurring Trump’s disfavour being barred from White House press briefings, which themselves are being taken away from the cameras.

Think about that for a moment. A great constant, no matter whose candidate occupied the Presidency of the USA, has been the visible and regular briefing of the press. Journalists have been free to question not only the President’s press officers, but the incumbent himself. Now, the Trump gang is cutting back on letting the President face questioning, and on top of that, shutting out many media organisations.
Who has fallen out of favour? Well, this is where it gets really worrying: the New York Times, CNN, the Guardian, the New York Daily News, Politico, BuzzFeed and even the Daily Mail (remember the Melania Trump lawsuit? You can bet the President does) have been excluded. And … the BBC. But Breitbart, the conservative Washington Times, and Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) have been allowed in.

Meanwhile, Trump has addressed the annual gathering of the right wing at CPAC, telling them “As you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn’t tell the truth … I say it doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we’re going to do something about it”. And the press in the UK blubbers and snivels at the thought of having a press regulator they can’t directly control.
What is starting in the White House is a premeditated attack on the freedom of the news media to report as they see it, without fear or favour. And the new occupant of that building has been - all too hurriedly - been invited to make a State Visit to the UK by our new and not at all unelected Prime Minister. Well, if Theresa May wants to show her commitment to the freedom of the press - and broadcasters - she has a very simple solution.

And that is that the invitation to Trump to make a State Visit to the UK be put in abeyance until the attack on free speech being made on his behalf ceases. No doubt there can be concerned diplomatic noises made beforehand, but the intent should be clear: a Presidency that is copying from the Nazi playbook should not be given the cachet of having the Royal Family wheeled out to give it its implicit seal of approval.

Theresa May is all for press freedom? Then she should stand up to Donald Trump. Now.

Sun Pundit’s Lies EXPOSED

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may remember a post from October last year when I called out faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh for deliberately lying to Sun readers about unaccompanied refugee children. In a routine attack on those showing compassion for the less fortunate in the world, he had penned “Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist - we just don’t like being conned”.
Why did Kavanagh cross the road? He didn't - it was only an opinion piece

Yes, the Sun is not racist, BUT. We know. And it was when Kavanagh claimed “Home Office figures show two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue from Calais are lying about their age” that he went too far. The tireless Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council complained to press regulator IPSO - on whose board Kavanagh sits - that the Sun article was peddling falsehoods (no change there, then).

As Press Gazette has now reported, “Versi said that out of 3,472 asylum claims received, 933 individuals had their ages checked, and 636 were found to be adults, which represented 18.3 per cent of the total … He noted that a correction had been published in print, but was concerned that it had not been published online and the article had not been amended … After the matter was raised with IPSO The Sun changed the article and published a correction online”. Kavanagh lied, and IPSO confirmed he lied.
Fatima Manji

The significance of the ruling was underscored by Aisha Gani at BuzzFeed News: “The Press Watchdog Said Its Own Board Member Broke Its Accuracy Clause In His Column On Refugees … IPSO said Trevor Kavanagh had ‘failed to take care’ in interpreting official statistics”. The thought enters that it was rather more deliberate than that.

Miqdaad Versi is, however, unimpressed that it has taken four months for IPSO to come clean: “The integrity of Ipso is seriously undermined when its own Board takes four months to make a substantive statement on this issue - and when it does, its decision is deeply disappointing and has only happened because of my complaint … I recognise the theoretical value of having a journalist on IPSO’s board but is it too much to ask that the journalist is known to be responsible for their actions?

And it gets worse for Kavanagh: although Versi’s complaint against his suggestion that Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji had been deliberately selected to read the news after the Nice truck massacre, telling “nobody seeing [Ms Manji] in full Muslim headdress could doubt it was provocative of Channel 4” (she had in fact been rostered to read the bulletin ten days before the attack), was rejected by IPSO, there was more.
Press Gazette again. “The IPSO board has issued its own statement slapping Kavanagh down … It said: ‘IPSO is committed to ensuring that individuals who believe that they have been wronged by the press are able to seek proper redress without fear of retribution or victimisation … In this instance, public comments by an IPSO board member brought the strength of this commitment into question. This should not have happened … The board has received an apology from the board member and an assurance that it will not happen again’”. Yes, IPSO has censured its own board member.

It is most unusual for a board member to have a judgment go against them and then be slapped down. So why is Kavanagh still on the IPSO board? Another $64k question.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Guardian Abandons Press Victims AGAIN

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee has issued its response to the Government’s “consultation” on commencing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, and part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry. It has recommended that sham press regulator IPSO should be given a year to become Leveson compliant, and that if it doesn’t, then at least partial commencement of Section 40 should follow.
Kath Viner, editor, the Guardian

That would mean costs protection for those pursuing complaints against publishers - like national newspapers - which would mean, in the case of actions deemed to pass a credibility threshold, those publishers that refused to submit to low-cost arbitration of those claims, as is offered by truly independent regulator Impress, the publisher would find themselves liable for both sides’ cost in any subsequent legal action.

This is because the “reasonable route” to take would be to offer that low-cost arbitration; to deny complainants this, and force them to bet the house on going to law, is deemed to be unreasonable, and hence the penalty. Many papers are either not reporting this, or are doing so selectively and slanting their reports to fit their agenda, which is inevitably hostile to Section 40, and especially Leveson Part 2.

And talking of Leveson 2 (covering the relationship between press and Police), which would cover less than trivial items such as the wider use of phone hacking - it didn’t just happen at the late and not at all lamented Screws - along with the creative back catalogue of Mazher Mahmood, the Daniel Morgan murder, the trade in illegal information gathering, and much more, the Committee has recommended it should go ahead.

So who is reporting this news? To its credit, London business freesheet City AM has carried the story and reported it more or less straight down the line (the paper even describes Impress as “Government-recognised”, rather than the more pejorative “state-backed”), and of course campaigning group Hacked Off has a press release out, with comments from QC Hugh Tomlinson, who is the group’s Chair.
One other paper that has reported the story, although slanted out of all proportion and turned into another tedious rant about Max Mosley and the NUJ, is the Murdoch Sun, although, as Zelo Street will be discussing later this weekend, they have good reason right now to be telling anyone who will listen that they should “look over there”.

But one news source which had been in the vanguard of reporting the battle over press regulation reform, and which had for so long championed the causes of many of the victims of press misbehaviour, has been silent: step forward the Guardian. Once again, as I pointed out with the paper’s hypocrisy and volte face over Section 40 last month, the legacy of Charles Prestwich Scott and his successors is being forgotten.

Instead, the Guardian is being gradually assimilated by the Borg of the media establishment, to end up an anodyne shadow of its former self. The next exposure of press misbehaviour will not be achieved by those at King’s Place.

Hence the need for others to step in and take forward the torch of genuine investigative journalism. The Greatness of the Guardian was for a time, but not for all time.

Jeremy Corbyn - We Have To Talk

What little solace Labour could take from the realisation that, however bad the party was under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, UKIP was infinitely worse, was wiped out with the result from a by-election some way North by Northwest from Stoke Central, in the Cumbrian constituency of Copeland, where they lost to the Tories for the first time since 1931 (the seat, formerly Whitehaven, had been Labour since 1935).
While the seat, vacated by Jamie Reed running off to secure More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now from the nuclear industry, has not been quite as safe as some have painted it in the recent past - Reed’s predecessor Jack Cunningham scraped home by fewer than 2,000 votes in both 1983 and 1987 - for the opposition to lose a seat to a governing party is little short of a humiliation.

The Tories in Government last won a seat at a by-election from an opposition party in 1982, and even then the circumstances were unusual: Angela Rumbold won Mitcham and Morden not from a Labour candidate, but a former Labour MP, Bruce Douglas Mann, who had defected to the nascent SDP and then decided, unwisely, to fight a by-election in the aftermath of Mrs T’s successful prosecution of the Falklands conflict.

Excuses from the Corbyn faithful have already proliferated: their candidate was not left-wing enough (wrong), it was Reed’s fault (ditto), it was the media’s fault (ditto), it was a one-off (and so is every other constituency), it was Tony Blair’s fault (wrong), and now Corbyn himself is saying the voters in Copeland were “let down by the political establishment”. He’s been an MP for almost 34 years - he IS the political establishment.

Discontented Blairites and Brownites? They’ve kept schtum and held their fire for months now. The reality is that the Tories established a straightforward narrative: in a constituency where the nuclear industry is the largest employer, they took Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance and played on it remorselessly. The strong Labour counter-claims on the NHS - especially after Theresa May visited the area and was evasive on the subject - fell short.

So other constituencies don’t have the nuclear industry. But Corbyn is just not cutting through to the electorate, either in Copeland or the wider country. Labour shows no sign of regaining ground lost to the SNP in Scotland, and no sign of tapping into those seats won in 1997 and 2001 which were later lost to the Tories. Jeremy Corbyn is not a credible proposition as a prospective Prime Minister - even with Ms May leading the Tories.

That’s the problem in one. Theresa May is not another Margaret Thatcher: she is weak and evasive, an unappealing figure propped up largely by a combination of fawning press coverage and - hello Corbyn fans - a lack of a credible opposition. Jezza has had enough time to set out his vision and take Labour forward. It hasn’t happened. The pleading will continue; for hardcore Corbyn fans, he can do no wrong. But the reality is different.

I’ll finish with this snippet from the BBC report: “Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the Copeland result was the best by-election performance by a governing party in terms of the increase in its share of the vote since January 1966”. Two months after that, Harold Wilson went to the country and increased his majority from 2 to 97. Just be thankful Theresa May can’t do that right now. And get real about Jeremy Corbyn.

Paul Nuttall - End Of The Road

The Stoke on Trent Central by-election could not have been set up more favourably for UKIP: a candidate at odds with his party leader on the EU, an area that voted strongly the way the Kippers wanted in last year’s EU membership referendum, a mainly post-industrial constituency with discontent over the whole political system waiting to be exploited - and a storm on election day to depress turnout among Labour voters.
An' I used live bullets last night

Yet UKIP’s new leader, “Bad Bootle Meff” Paul Nuttall, got nowhere near Gareth Snell, who retained the seat for Labour. The Kippers only just retained their own second place from the 2015 General Election, with the Tories hard on their heels. And while Snell had faced his own questions over the occasionally dubious contents of his Twitter feed, he had come clean and ‘fessed up every time. Nuttall had lied, been caught, and then lied again.

There is still the possibility that Nuttall will be disqualified for making a false statement on his nomination papers; he could even face criminal sanction, possibly ending with a prison sentence. So he’d be a Crim as well as a Meff. What is also looming on the Kipper horizon is the spectre of the EU’s OLAF anti-fraud agency asking how UKIP funded their campaign manager Lisa Duffy, who is employed as an EU civil servant.
Squeaky selfish SOB finger up the bum time

That means she cannot work other than on European Parliament related business, and a Parliamentary by-election doesn’t count as anything like that. On top of that, the excuses made for Nuttall’s defeat have been lame in the extreme: the idea that Stoke on Trent Central was only 72nd on UKIP’s target list doesn’t stand up when the party’s leader makes a personal commitment to stand. Sack the spinners.

And then there are the two clowns who did not have to stand on the stage in the small hours of this morning and share in the defeat, but who need to take their share of the blame (although they won’t). Arron Banks, UKIP paymaster, prioritising a skiing holiday in a suitably exclusive part of non-EU Switzerland over bothering himself to do any more than insult the Hillsborough families on social media, is one of them.
WRONG

The other is former Kipper Oberscheissenf├╝hrer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who took his bat home on discovering that Ms Duffy, who had passed adverse comment on The Great Man, was involved in the Stoke campaign. Farage has instead gone off to attend CPAC, showing the world that UKIP under his leadership was nothing more than a vehicle to provide More And Bigger Self-Promotion Opportunities For Himself Personally Now.

UKIP has still not enjoyed its Orpington moment, and with its current dysfunctional leadership and tendency for infighting it probably never will. The party won’t replace Labour in its northern heartlands by fielding a candidate reviled in his own city who is known to be a refugee from the Tories, and who struts around the constituency in tweeds like some minor landed gentry. This is not a serious political party.

As Winshton might have put it, this may not be the end for UKIP. It may not even be the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning. Bye bye UKIP.