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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Arron Banks Double Own Goal

Arron Banks, the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit”, self-appointed diamond geezer, serial disrespecter of Parliament and unprincipled spiv of uncertain means, spends a disproportionate amount of time hurling abuse at those who pass adverse comment on him, and especially the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr.
This is because Banksy knows his stuff, well, he claims he does. Not only does he possess spirit, bravado and a touch of derring-do, he ranks as high as any in Rome. And his ability to open mouth and insert boot is only matched by his ability to open mouth and insert boot - only to excuse himself by doing it all over again.
To show just what a complete clown Banksy is, we need look no further than a Twitter exchange which progressed not necessarily to his advantage. Also, what happened was entirely self-inflicted. The story unfolded after Labour MP Chuka Umunna Tweeted “Britain was the only G-7 country to see growth slow in 2017. We are feeling the effects of Brexit and we haven't even left yet. That's why we need a People's Vote on the Brexit Deal”.
Banksy wasn’t having any of that. So, with the mental agility of Gerald Ford talking about Russian influence, in he went. “Canada, the USA & Japan aren’t in the G7, dopey”.  Er, along with Germany, Italy and France, yes they are. Perhaps he’s confusing this with the G8, which is no more after his beloved Russia got booted out.
The Tweeter otherwise known as JustaMum was on hand to award Banksy his jacksy on the customary plate. “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the ‘Brexiteers' … According to the monumentally stupid @Arron_banks - ‘Canada , the USA & Japan aren’t in the G7’ . I think you might find they are”. Perhaps he’s looking to beat Robert Mueller’s polygraph when the FBI comes for him. But that was not the end of it.
Banks was not downhearted, far from it. He didn’t really mean the G7! “Lol EU” he spluttered. Well, yes, but … Scott Lawson had a hint of how Banksy had just made matters a whole lot worse for himself. “France, Germany and Italy are both in the EU and G7 though”. And they are still outperforming the UK. And it gets worse.
As the Guardian reported in June last year, “The UK economy was the worst performer in the European Union in the opening months of 2017 as the Brexit vote took its toll, according to official statistics that underscore the challenge facing the next British government … With economic growth of just 0.2% in the first three months of this year, the UK was well behind its European neighbours”.

So not only was the UK bottom of the G7 class, it was bottom of the EU one too. Whichever way you slice it, we did worse than the competition last year. And Arron Banks only made things worse by saying “don’t look at us being bottom of a class of seven, look at us being bottom of a class of 28 instead”. Worst. Including Greece.

Arron Banks. When you want to see someone excuse his stupidity by displaying even greater stupidity. What was that about business acumen? I’ll just leave that one there.

IEA - Poor Little Rich Think Tank

After the IEA’s director Mark Littlewood was caught in a Greenpeace sting, and the organisation’s charitable status once again came under fire, the reaction was to do what came naturally - spin the whole exercise as the IEA being the poor victim. And playing the victimhood card for all she is worth is their talking head Kate Andrews.
Kate Andrews

Ms Andrews, as befits the representative of an outfit that has just been caught bang to rights, protests a little too much, throwing out false equivalences, spurious claims, and downright lies in her efforts to claim the moral high ground. But she convinces no-one, other than those already convinced. Still, let’s have a look at her pitch.
My colleagues and I have been facing an increasing number of accusations (mostly from social media), that we’re paid to say what we say. That our commitments to free-markets and liberty are simply bought-and-sold sound bites. This could not be further from the truth”. One, “It’s only social media, so it’s wrong”. Wrong indeed. Two, “commitments to free markets and liberty” are not the subject being broached. Still, details, eh?
But do go on. “The IEA’s turnover is roughly £2m per year. There are 32 people on our staff page. Divide that up, and that’s £62.5k each per year, to allegedly shill out for ‘big X’, to say things we don’t believe”. Nobody us claiming she is shilling for “Big” anything.
We’d have to be out of our minds to sell our principles for £62.5k a year. We could make more if we successfully ran for Parliament promoting these socialist ideas we're supposedly repressing, than we could at our think tank!” For an amount twice the national average? Plenty of people would sell their souls for far less. And you don’t just run for Parliament. Ask one of those MPs you provide top lines and soundbites for.
Have another go. “Greenpeace has been discredited by over 100 Nobel Laureates for their fight against GMOs - especially Golden Rice - which has proven ability to save lives. I’m with the Laureates in thinking their policies are deeply misguided”. This is plain flat wrong. The Nobel laureates did not discredit anyone (see link HERE). And, as the Guardian has told, “Greenpeace … says so-called ‘golden rice’ is still not commercially available after more than 20 years of research”. Not going so well, is it?
Still, how about a little projection? “I suspect most Greenpeace donors expect their donation to go to creating a cleaner, greener planet - not on jet fuel to follow around think tankers. And yet, that’s where the money goes, apparently”. No evidence. No surprise.
Or even more projection, with a little deflection and victimhood playing thrown in? “It’s amazing to me that Greenpeace, w/ a turnover of £6m and the Guardian, w/ a turnover of £200m, are so obsessed with a think tank of a turnover of £2m. It’s flattering - in a strange, obsessive kinda way - but it reveals something important about the current state of debate”. They’re obsessed! We’re being stalked! Come off it.
I suspect the Richardsons and the Krays had a relatively modest turnover. Oh, but what’s this? Moral high ground again? “We have an extremely talented team. But it helps that liberty sells itself. It’s innate in all of us, to want more freedom rather than less. In practice, higher taxes, the nanny state, and patronizing bureaucrats aren’t all that popular. Our arguments resonate”. Yeah, right. Liberty and freedom, eh?
Having to shell out thousands a year for healthcare must be so liberating. Having tens of thousands of your fellow citizens bankrupted every year by medical bills must really make them free. Having to live on perhaps less than the minimum wage with no prospect of advancement - real freedom stuff, especially the part where you don’t get to have holidays and see the world. Yes, that’s so liberating. But there is yet more.
Are we winning? Absolutely not. Britain’s tax burden is at an all-time high. This government actually thinks the pay gap reporting measures are a good idea. HS2 keeps living to see another day. We have a LOT more work to do!” Well, if your transport “expert” wasn’t a clown who thinks he can discredit HS2 by adding the costs of projects like Crossrail 2 to it, and who believes that all the extra freight capacity can be provided by upping the lorry weight limit and dumping it all on the motorway network, your HS2 coverage might be credible. Which it isn’t.
Remember that sneering remark about “jet fuel”? Here we go again: “I’m fresh off a plane, at our IEA staff away day, where we’re going to spend our time discussing what more we can do to make the world a freer place. You can be sure we’ll come up with a bunch of ideas. I’d suggest the Guardian & Greenpeace spend time doing the same”. Why should Greenpeace and the Guardian be talking about how the poor can be screwed over and the top 1% pandered to in order to pay their salaries, as with the IEA?
Because, let us not forget, pandering to the top 1% is where groups like the IEA are at. Ms Andrews confirms this by responding to the question “Do you believe in our NHS?” with “I don't worship false gods”. Abolition of the NHS is where the IEA is at.

Along with those bulging pay packets that those like Ms Andrews pretends are somehow trivial. But they’re victims. Falsehood and misinformation never paid so well.

Fawkes Corbyn Smear MAY BE ACTIONABLE

With accusations still being made about the Labour Party’s stance on anti-Semitism, and the way in which it deals with complaints of anti-Semitic behaviour, there is always the risk for the more enthusiastic Labour bashers to get a little carried away, to make claims about the party and indeed its leader Jeremy Corbyn that cannot be backed up.
This brings us to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, where a new apprentice sandwich monitor, oops sorry, reporter has recently been hired. Claiming to be a journalist - so just like all the others, then - Tom Harwood is already churning out posts. He’s particularly keen on nailing anyone indulging in anti-Semitism. And today, he has perhaps been a little too keen.
I haven't screwed up again, have I?

The Jewish Labour Movement had revealed a particularly vicious email they had received last weekend. Their Twitter feed has told “Imagine opening your inbox on a Monday morning to find an email telling you Hitler was right. We don’t have to imagine, this email was sent to us on Shabbat”. The email talks of a “Jewish Mafia”, equates “Jews” to “Goldman Saks” [sic], and ends by asserting “Hitler was right”.
The email was signed “Dave Neve”. But thus far, a search for him has shown only that there is no trace of a Labour member called Dave Neve. That did not stop Harwood, who has told Fawkes followers “This is the sort of abuse being emailed to the Jewish Labour Movement at the moment, claiming ‘the Jews (Goldman Sacks) [sic]’ created the subprime mortgage crisis, and that standing up to anti-Semitism ‘does nothing but to convince millions of people that Hitler was right.’ This is all being done in Corbyn’s name”.
Except that Harwood does not know in whose name it is being done, and after he proudly Tweeted out his post with the comment “Beyond sickening”, City Pride chair Craig Spencer  replied “How was this done in Corbyns name? I couldn't see the direct link”.
This matters, and for reasons which should be all too obvious. One Labour member has reminded us “For clarity, the person calling themselves Peter Arif on Facebook who was posting vile AS statuses on his page is a ‘no trace’ as a member of the Party. Complaints have just emailed me to confirm that he can't be found on the database anywhere”. And Harwood almost certainly did not check with Labour before making his accusation.
The Fawkes new boy has made a claim that looks, right now, as if he is going to be unable to stand up. If “Dave Neve” turns out to be somehow untraceable, or, worse, merely an agent provocateur with no connection to the Labour Party, Tom Harwood could be in deep shit. And that’s quite an achievement for someone so new to the job.
Staines and his rabble have put out so much Fake News of late that defaming someone was perhaps inevitable. Another fine mess, once again.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Brexit Chaos - Corbyn’s Opportunity

As Theresa May staggered to the finish line of the last Parliamentary term, still in Downing Street but not really in power, the cry went up whenever the issue of Brexit was raised. Where was Jeremy Corbyn? Where was Labour’s solution to the impasse? The Tories had got us into this mess, but if Labour was to gain power, how would they figure a way out?
Those cries will only magnify, as Sky News has told todayBritish public opinion has shifted sharply against Brexit, according to a new Sky Data poll”. The headline points from that poll were all bad for the Tories and their Brexit strategy, such as it is.
The government is haemorrhaging trust regarding the Brexit negotiations … Two-thirds of the public - including a majority of Leave voters - now think the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be bad for Britain … A significant increase in the proportion who think Brexit will negatively affect themselves personally, the economy and the country overall … Most people would like to see a referendum asking between the deal suggested by the government, no deal, and remaining in the EU”.
Theresa May, tone deaf to the end, was having none of it. “No second Brexit referendum will be held ‘in any circumstances’, Downing Street said after a Sky Data poll showed most people would like to see another vote on Britain's exit from the EU”.
So how can Jezza capitalise on this mess - and offer a way out? Corbyn supporter Paul Mason, on holiday but never far from Twitter, has an insight into how that might happen.
As I said after the Chequers deal collapsed, Labour should now embrace Norway+ and offer a second referendum on the deal done: deal or Remain only on ballot paper”. Why so? “150 Labour CLPs debating 2nd Vote resolution - has to be discussed at Labour conference - front bench must take ownership of this new mood”. That’s why. The number will only have grown by the time Conference comes round.
How does he see that opportunity unfolding? “The sequence is: defeat May deal in Commons; force election & campaign on promise (not leaving open) a 2nd vote; negotiate Norway+ deal and put that deal vs Remain to a 2nd Referendum”.
OK, but why no “No Deal”? “And to summarise why my position is changed: collapse of Chequers deal leaves Tory hard Brexiteers in position of: ‘We tried, we failed’. Electorate can see that, hence Sky poll finds moral authority of May. and positivity about Brexit, collapsing”. Also, the reality of “No Deal” meaning “Cliff Edge” is coming clear.
And as to where Mason was coming from here, he had one warning. “Finally my Tory chums. Try saying the words ‘stockpile food’ to a mum hanging around the out-of-date shelf at Tesco at 5pm, waiting to see if she's going to feed her kids tonight. If it all goes to shit, that's the moral authority of your party gone for a generation”.

Remember Galbraith’s definition of leadership: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”.

Theresa May’s leadership is non-existent. Time for Jezza to step up to the plate.

IEA - What Have They Done Wrong?

After the Greenpeace sting has come the pushback, the spin, the credulous hacks and pundits prepared to spray what little credibility they still possess up the nearest wall in order to defend that part of the establishment that is the IEA. And the accepted narrative, adopted universally from the word go, was to ask what the IEA had done wrong.
That may seem all to obvious to those outside the hermetically sealed Westminster bubble, but there were still plenty of takers, not least the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, confirming his floor-crossing journey to anyone who had not known it for some time previously.
Can someone explain what the IEA are supposed to have done wrong. Genuinely” whined Dan (the punctuation still isn’t making it). Rabidly right-wing pundit Iain Martin chipped in “baffling - seems to have pushed some anti-Brexit people over the edge. Insane comments”, thus framing the issue as “anti-Brexit”, and making a mental health smear.
Hodges offered to open out the discussion. “If the IEA have acted improperly then every think-tank, public relations company, public affairs company, charity and trade union in this country will have to close its doors tomorrow”. Maybe not. But Martin was up for a bit of that: “indeed - what do people think unions do at westminster? The response is pure BDS (Brexit Derangement Syndrome)”. Yes, it’s about Brexit, and its the unions’ fault.
Then along came Mark Wallace, formerly of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, who may even believe the drivel he utters. “It's a bizarre way to attack them - I'm struggling to think of a position the free market, pro-individual liberty IEA holds which anyone could suggest they have adopted at a donor's behest rather than on their principles. Oppose nanny state? Support low taxes? Back free trade?” Individual liberty? Yeah, right.
Then he tried to get really clever, never a good idea when you aren’t: “Lads, I've been doing undercover filming and I've found out a think tank raises money to fund its work promoting the views it holds. Apparently it even tries to get that work read and heard by people in power”. This may have convinced himself, but others were not persuaded.
And here we meet Pete North: he is included to illustrate to the faithful of the right-leaning punditerati that revulsion at what the IEA has been caught doing is not some kind of anti-Brexit cabal at work. North is editor of Leave HQ, “Making the case for leaving the EU”.
Although North does not think the Vote Leave cheating amounts to much - “As it happens I don't think the VL accounts fiddling is much to write home about” - he has no doubt as to the IEA being bang to rights. “The real scandal is the IEA acting as a broker to sell UK trade policy to the highest bidder”. And he had another thought on the matter.
And you know what? The latest revelations, I bet, are only the tip of the iceberg. I strongly suspect the IEA is taking money from the palm oil lobby and others have suggested big tobacco and private health. It's a sordid den of thieves”. Well, as Tom Pride pointed out some time ago, the IEA has previously advocated abolition of the NHS.
As to who the IEA is taking money from, examples of the US foundations that have been bankrolling the organisation I covered earlier, including one with a religious slant.
And what the IEA has done wrong, insofar as it is supposed to be a charitable organisation, is to not be about education or informing, but lobbying. Hence Mark Littlewood asserting that the IEA is in “The Brexit-influencing game”. Like the rest of the alphabet soup of SW1, it is a lobby group first and foremost.
Effectively offering ministerial access, heavy hints that the outcome of “research” will align with the objectives of those commissioning it, and even, so I’m told, bragging that it can get its talking heads on the BBC’s Daily Politics - rather than the Beeb deciding whether they get asked on. Those are not the actions of a charitable organisation.

Meanwhile, the Charity Commission is already at work, telling “We already have an open case into the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and will shortly be receiving evidence from the Greenpeace investigation reported in the Guardian. We will assess concerns raised within that carefully as part of our ongoing case”.

Perhaps Hodges, Martin, Wallace and the rest of their jerking circle would like to try their sneering and dismissive response to the Greenpeace action there.

But that would be too much like hard work. So they’ll just sit on the sidelines and whine.

Sarah Vine - Fake News Hypocrite

After the DCMS Committee report on Fake News, it was inevitable that some within the press and pundit establishment would come over all righteous and call Fake News on others - like anyone they disliked. So it was that Sarah “Vain” Vine, who left Twitter because it wasa sewer”, but then came back because of the need to promote Herself Personally Now, decided to have a go at activist and pundit Owen Jones.
Behold the face of righteous entitlement

Taking to that “sewer” once more, she trilled “Ever wonder why there is so much #FakeNews around? Because there are so many fake journalists. Principle among these is @OwenJones84. No training, no rigour, just social-media driven guff. Here, by contrast, is Dominic Lawson”. She really hasn’t thought this one through, has she?
One, Jones is a pundit and not a news reporter. Most of those who know of him have figured that one out. And Two, Dominic Lawson, of whom she clearly approves, is just, well, another pundit. But that was only the start of her troubles.
Mike Powell mused “There must be a bottom to this barrel … Your husband @michaelgove is meeting with Steve Bannon and you want to lecture people about fake news?” Meanwhile, Jay Rayner was on hand to remind Ms Vine that “Oiky” had been busted over-claiming his MPs expenses. By several thousand pounds.
Sarah Vine protests too much ...
... because this is the Bellend she is defending

That, though, was a mere hors d’oeuvres for a much more substantial entrĂ©e, as Ms Vine went total Fake News herself as she sought to defend the loathsome Toby Young: “Brilliant @toadmeister @pollytoynbee @CarolineLucas - and everyone else who sought to destroy this flawed but fundamentally good man: you should read this and then apologise. Not that you will, of course”. Apologise? For someone who has been spreading malicious lies about, yes, Owen Jones this morning? Which Sarah Vine Retweeted?
It gets worse: Ms Vine has also endorsed Darren Grimes’ crowdfunding appeal, with the comment “Fightback”. Fightback against what, being caught breaking electoral law and trying to screw with the country’s democracy? A crowdfunding campaign that makes a crude and malicious accusation against the Electoral Commission? A narrative that is the epitome of Fake News? And that was not the end of it.
She then Retweeted Tom Harwood, who is the new apprentice sandwich monitor to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, who was “Super excited to say I’ve joined @GuidoFawkes as a reporter!” The Fawkes blog is a borderline Fake News outfit. And Sarah Vine, who claims to be against Fake News, is endorsing its minions.
On top of that, she still has her £100,000 a year-plus sinecure at the Daily Mail, a paper whose hacks and pundits are well versed in the art of Fake News. And she’s married to one of the most Fake politicians ever to be foisted on the British people.

Sarah Vine is a fine one to call Fake News on others. I’ll just leave that one there.