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Monday, 22 July 2019

Charlie Elphicke - The Tories In A Nutshell

[Update at end of post]

Back in November 2017, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, then happily taking the Murdoch shilling at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, told readersTory MP Charlie Elphicke suspended after ‘serious allegations’ referred to police”. There was more.
What's that, Officer? I'm nicked? Oh SHIT

THE Conservatives tonight called in the police and suspended the whip from senior backbencher Charlie Elphicke … New Chief Whip Julian Smith said: ‘I have suspended the Conservative Party whip from Charlie Elphicke MP following serious allegations that have been referred to the police.’” But it wasn’t serious, honestly.

We know this as Master Cole made sure to let the world know “A pal of Mr Elphicke's told The Sun: ‘Charlie is adamant that he has done nothing wrong’ … Tonight, the 46-year-old married backbencher tweeted: ‘The party tipped off the press before telling me of my suspension … I am not aware of what the alleged claims are and deny any wrongdoing’”.

See? Nothing to see here, even though That Spreadsheet told plainly that Elphicke was “Inappropriate with female researchers”. In any case, whatever the complaint, his behaviour can’t have been considered to bad, because last December he had the whip restored, as the Guardian reported: “Two Conservative MPs who had the party whip removed after being accused of sexually inappropriate conduct will be allowed to vote in Wednesday’s crucial ballot to decide whether to sack Theresa May”. Do go on.

Elphicke was suspended from the Conservative party in November 2017 and was interviewed under caution by police in March after allegations of sex offences. He vehemently denies claims of any ‘criminal wrongdoing’”. He let it be known “Important for my constituents to know that, 13 months after having it withdrawn, I have been given back the Conservative whip … I remain as confident as I always have been of clearing my name and will continue to work as hard for Dover & Deal as I always have done”.

Must have been something and nothing, then. Except it wasn’t: as the BBC has now reported, “A Conservative MP has been charged with three counts of sexual assault against two women … Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, is alleged to have assaulted one woman in 2007 and a second woman twice in 2016 … Mr Elphicke, 48, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 6 September”. Well, well.
Has he had the whip re-suspended yet? Well, Tories? He hasn’t, has he? And with opposition to the idea of allowing London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to become Prime Minister in succession to Theresa May building, even within the Tory Party, The Blue Team may be reluctant to do so.

Even with the ten votes of the DUP, the Tories’ Parliamentary majority is down to four. Losing the upcoming Brecon and Radnorshire by-election will make that just three. The Tories are so desperate to keep that number from going negative that they are prepared to keep Elphicke within the fold, even though he’s been charged with sexual assault.

When Malcolm St Clair became MP for Bristol East in 1961, following Tony Benn’s disqualification due to being made a peer on his father’s death, he promised Benn that as soon as he renounced that peerage, he would resign the seat. He kept his word: two years later, Benn did indeed renounce his peerage and St Clair then resigned as an MP.

Indeed, the Tories did not even stand a candidate at the by-election whose result returned Benn to the Commons. It seems almost quaint today that a Tory MP would Do The Right Thing, so desperate has the party become to hold on to power.

The Charlie Elphicke affair encapsulates the modern Tory Party: power at all costs.
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[UPDATE 1805 hours: the BBC report linked above has now been amended to tell readers "Mr Elphicke will sit as an Independent MP in the House of Commons after the Conservative Party again suspended the whip following the charges".

Better late than never, then]

Arron Banks Legal Fundraising REVEALED

How, one wonders, does the alleged “Man who bankrolled Brexit” manage to pay for the legal actions - another has been threatened against Netflix if they go ahead with The Great Hack, which includes contributions from the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr - and find all the money to back his pal Nigel “Thirsty” Farage in his bid - now put on hold - to become a media personality in the USA? Put simply, who funds Arron Banks?
We may be a little closer to answering that question - if only in part - after the Bristol Post told readers last weekWedding venue which causes 'intolerable noise' and wakes kids up gets licence extension … Old Down Estate in Tockington has had its licence extended to include a large neighbouring field, known as the Festival Field”.

There was more. “A wedding venue north of Bristol can now hold functions over a much wider area to the annoyance of villagers who claim the noise from events is already ‘intolerable’ … Old Down Estate in Tockington has been hosting weddings and events since 2010 … Its licence allowed alcohol sales and music in the manor house and the immediate surrounding area”. What’s so wrong with that, then?
More money for his pal Nige ...

But a dozen members of the community objected to the application, fearing the extension would only worsen the ‘intolerable’ noise from music and fireworks that ‘rolls down the hillside’ from the estate during events … Villagers claimed the noise was so loud at times that it woke their sleeping children, ‘terrified’ farm animals, and caused their windows to vibrate and a pet dog to ‘shake’”. Yet the license extension was granted.

Yesterday (July 16), that licence was extended to include a large neighbouring field, known as the Festival Field, within the 66-acre estate … A barn in the field, Foxholes Barn, will be the new wedding and events area”. So who’t behind this enterprise?
... and for frightening off inconvenient questions

An agent for Arron and Ekaterina Banks, who submitted the licence application, said that, other than weddings, the estate holds ‘occasional’ events, mainly over summer”. Yes, it’s Banksy and his Russian wife Ekaterina Paderina (not that Banks has any of those Russian connections, you understand) who are expending their money-generating scheme.

Banks, as the Washington Post noted in their recent profile of him, does not live in “Old Down, a sprawling hilltop estate with giant rabbits, wandering llamas and views all the way to Wales that Banks rents out for weddings and seminars for pensioners on ‘wealth management’. He lives in a much smaller farmhouse down the road”.
As to the terms of the license, we are told “Fireworks cannot be any louder than 120 decibels, and all outdoor live and recorded music must stop by 11pm … Festival-goers must wear wristbands, with a different colour for under-18s, and ‘there shall be no painting of body parts that expose genitals or female breasts where those body parts may be exposed to children’ … No oxygen bars or Shisha or Hookah tobacco bars are permitted”.

So that’s all right, then. Another big shilling in the litigation meter coming right up!
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Steven Edginton - We Don’t Believe You

After Steven Edginton, the routinely dishonest gofer to mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott, opened his heart to the Mail on Sunday, giving the paper the truth, the holed truth, and nothing like the truth on his involvement in those leaked diplomatic cables, his story began to unravel. His claim that this was merely an “honest journalistic endeavour”, given his back story and clear bias towards the Brexiteers, merely compounded the disbelief.
Steven Edginton - not really a journalist

The claims about his alleged “journalism” were summarised directly by Julia Macfarlane of ABC News. “Curious about the Mail on Sunday piece by Steven Edginton. The MoS describes the 19 year old as a 'journalist' and in his piece he claims to have 'provided exclusive stories for national newspapers including the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and the MoS.’” What stories these might be, we do not know.
Why so? “Steven Edginton has no bylines at the Times/Sunday Times, or Telegraph. He also doesn't have a profile on Muckrack (as 99% of journos do). What he does have is previous positions at Leave Means Leave and the Taxpayer's Alliance, where he was Chief Digital Strategist at both”. That’s why. And there was more.
He has a byline at the Sun - but it's a comment piece. Anyone can submit an oped to a national newspaper, but that doesn't make you a journalist … So given his previous roles in the Taxpayers Alliance and Leave Means Leave, we can describe him as a former lobbyist. Given his previous work with the Brexit Party, one might consider his argument in the MoS that his role in the leak was not a 'Brexiteer plot' to be questionable”.
Ian Dunt of Politics Co UK was yet more direct. “So to summarise, he worked for Banks' Westmonster site and Tice's Brexit party, but the leak was nothing to do with Brexit. He's an ambitious 19-year-old journalist who leaves his byline off the biggest piece of his life”. And his brutally honest conclusion? “Did anyone really believe we were going to buy this bullshit? It's extraordinary”. Journalists say alleged journalist is not really a journalist.
As for Edginton’s supposed impartiality, Ian Fraser, whose works include Shredded, the inside story of RBS, observed “Steven Edginton, 19-year-old journalist behind the Sir Kim Darroch scoop, claims he’s impartial yet he formerly worked for [Westmonster], [The TPA] and [Leave Means Leave] and currently runs social media feeds for [The Brexit Party]”.
Impartial he is not. And on the core of Edginton’s story, David Allen Green has dissected the claims with his customary forensic precision. “Imagine if you were a source wanting to make a disclosure which you would know is a criminal offence … doing it by a telephone call (where data records are easy to get) to an inexperienced journalist would be the worst way of doing it”. Also, he reminded us that he has some authority in this area.
I am a media/communications lawyer and ex-government lawyer, so see legal/evidential issues for both disclosing and receiving parties … And I genuinely cannot think of a more risky way of disclosure than such a telephone call, given ease State can get call data … Would be mad”. As to Edginton’s source, “If I were the source of the disclosure I would be utterly livid at the publication of the means of communication … So, implausible”.
Green also pointed out that, even if there was no phone conversation involved, Edginton’s story did not hold water. “Someone has correctly pointed out to me that the article says ‘when a trusted source read out to me an astonishing letter’ and no mention of a phone … Fair point, but if parties in same place, then the document would just be shown, allowing it to be copied … But yes, my assumption”. His point still stood.
The ‘read out to me’ makes sense to me only if there was some form of communications medium … However, bear this in mind with my points above … In any case, source should/would be livid even with the wording used in piece, if true”. And that’s before the possible involvement of others in the Brexiteer camp is considered.
The MoS story is not credible. Edginton’s back story has been hopelessly over-promoted. And - the inevitable tell-tale - that part of our free and fearless press which has shilled most ardently for Brexit is asking no difficult questions about the whole business.

Steven Edginton is not believable. Nor is his story. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Gloria de Piero - Resignation Disinformation

Disinformation, Wikipedia tells us, is a term than derives from a Russian original, which was in turn “derived from the title of a KGB black propaganda department … Disinformation was defined in Great Soviet Encyclopedia(1952) as ‘false information with the intention to deceive public opinion’”. It is a concept that is alive and well in the UK today, with the decision to stand down by one Labour MP giving a prime example.
Gloria de Piero

Gloria de Piero has represented the constituency of Ashfield since 2010. This part of Nottinghamshire is a former coal mining area, and a heavily Leave voting one. She has decided not to stand again as the Labour candidate, but this could not be permitted by our free and fearless press to pass without embellishment.

So it was that the Murdoch Sun told readersLABOUR’s Shadow Justice Minister Gloria de Piero quit last night - with a blast at the ‘intolerance’ in the party … The widely respected MP told members in Ashfield, a Leave constituency, that she had been subject to ‘grim’ abuse from second referendum campaigners”. This example was typical.
To show how typical, the Daily Mail told readersLabour MP and former TV star Gloria de Piero QUITS amid 'utterly offensive' abuse from hard-Left - as she accuses Corbyn's party of 'lacking tolerance of different viewpoints’”. But it then added “Ms de Piero said she had faced online abuse from Remain supporters who opposed her support for Brexit”, which sounds rather different. Other papers trod the same ground.

Even the usually centre-left Guardian went withThe shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, has quit the Labour frontbench and announced she will not be standing at the next general election, citing the party’s ‘lack of tolerance’ … De Piero, the former shadow minister for young people and voter registration, said a ‘lack of tolerance for different viewpoints in the Labour party frankly worries me’”. And then came the Mirror.
The usually Labour-backing paper almost fell into the same disinformation hole as its fellow titles, telling readersshe said that the ‘lack of tolerance for different viewpoints in the Labour Party frankly worries me’ … She continued: ‘We have to have respect for each other, even if we disagree, because we are all part of this party. This party is about a set of values, not any individual, and we would all do well to remember that’”.

But at least the title was changed to “Labour MP Gloria De Piero quits as she 'cannot give commitment that members deserve’”, with the article being amended to let readers know “An earlier version of this article stated that Gloria de Piero was standing down because of 'lack of tolerance' in the Labour party. She has since stressed that this is not the reason for her decision and the article has been amended to reflect this”.
No decision to stand down taken by a Labour MP can be allowed to pass without being framed to enable severely adverse comment to be passed on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Worryingly, even the Guardian has been suckered into endorsing this framing. But the “lack of tolerance” narrative is disinformation, false information, intended to deceive.

That is only underscored by the Mirror being the only title prepared to admit framing the story wrongly. Unlike the former Soviet Union, the UK has no need of a state black propaganda department. Because the press establishment does the job instead.
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Steven Edginton - I Told You So

Nine days ago, as the hunt began in earnest for whoever had leaked Kim Darroch’s confidential Foreign Office cables to mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott - a process that led to Darroch having to resign as UK Ambassador to the USA - Zelo Street pointed out that someone not unadjacent to Ms Oakeshott might be worth questioning.
Steven Edginton - the patsy

At the time, I told “good of Ms Oakeshott to confirm who hasn’t been handling the cables … she is to be congratulated for reminding me that her gofer Steven Edginton is a nasty … piece of work … I’m sure he would be happy to have a chat with the Met to confirm that he, too, had nothing to do with those leaked cables”. And guess what?
Isabel Oakeshott - still not coming clean ...

Edginton did indeed have something to do with those cables. And today he has grandly proclaimed “I’ve been investigating the Civil Service for months … Tonight I can reveal I am the journalist behind the Washington Cables”. Well, apart from him being unable to investigate an act of alcoholic derangement in an EU wine lake, and not being a journalist, that’s most interesting. And of course Ms Oakeshott is proud of her patsy.
... ditto her partner Richard Tice ...

Incredibly proud of my protégé [Steven Edginton] for his role in the … scoop, which can now be revealed. Team effort, for which he deserves great credit” she gushed. So let’s see what Edginton has told in his tell-all-well-sort-of for today’s Mail on Sunday.
... about their interest in rubbishing Kim Darroch

I am sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists but this was not a Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim, nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the Civil Service by installing a political appointee in Washington. Instead, it was simply an honest journalistic endeavour”. And to that I call bullshit.
Edginton’s CV tells you why: “I first worked as a video journalist for a site called Westmonster [that’s Arron Banks’ site called Westmonster] before stints as a digital strategist at the Taxpayers’ Alliance [pro-Brexit and anti any form of Government] and Leave means Leave campaign [which broke the law]. Since April, I have worked for the Brexit Party, helping run its social media feeds”. But he’s not a Brexiteer, honestly.
The rest of his article is in the same vein. “There had been repeated reports claiming that Europhile mandarins have been quietly working to thwart the result of the referendum”. Totally impartial, that. No partiality at all, no sirree. On his first reaction to being read one of Kim Darroch’s cables, he tells “I was shocked by the brutal language from a supposedly impartial diplomat”. It is not the job of out Ambassadors to be impartial. They are meant to give honest assessments of the Governments in the countries where they are posted.
He pretends “I spent several days mulling over what to do before contacting Isabel Oakeshott, a highly experienced journalist with whom I have worked”. No Steven, you’re Ms Oakeshott’s gofer. She has said as much. And if this is not a “Brexiteer plot”, to use his happy phrase, why contact a Brexit Party supporter who’s dating the party chairman?
Edginton also attempts to downplay his involvement: “No one can deny that this was an intensely embarrassing episode for the Government, but I challenge anyone to show how the publication of these cables and memos in any way imperilled national security”. Try reading them. And then try answering the obvious follow-up questions.
To get a flavour of those, Byline Media’s Peter Jukes has mused “A Civil Servant apparently ‘read out’ the Darroch cables to [Steven Edginton] … 1 How did [Richard] Tice know their markings … 2 How did Edginton verify … How did a Civil Servant get on [the] restricted list of 10 … Why contact Edginton?” Why indeed.
Tice, Ms Oakeshott’s partner, apparently knew the cables were not marked “secret”. How? And yes, how did Edginton know the goods were genuine? And, most important of all, how is Edginton defining “Civil Servant”? We’ve been here before recently, as I told 13 days ago: “The Civil Service is not even on my suspects list. But political appointees, who may have access to Kim Darroch’s cables, or know someone who does, certainly are”.
Someone on the public payroll contacted Steven Edginton. Was it really a Civil Servant, or a political appointee? His story is not only painfully naive - the idea that an Ambassador must be “impartial” is not even Foreign Office 101 - but it becomes increasingly obvious as one reads through it that readers are not being told the full story.
Now we need the name of Edginton's source

And what is increasingly clear is not that Edginton has performed some act of bravery for the cause, but that he has come clean - or perhaps that should be partly clean - before someone else comes clean for him. His name was about to be released, so best exercise whatever control he and his pals could, before control over the narrative was lost.

Which means the net is closing over the actual leaker, the person Edginton calls a “Civil Servant”, but who might not be. There is more to come on this one. A lot more.
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Top Six - July 21

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 places to go and people to see later. So there.
6 Jewish Chronicle Disses Board Of Deputies Stephen Pollard lets slip that the claims of Labour anti-Semitism are not about eradicating it within the party - they’re about removing Jeremy Corbyn.

5 Tracy Ann Oberman - Name The Name The behaviour she described to Victoria Derbyshire was totally out of order - she has to identify the “Labour supporting actor” so the party can deal with him.

4 Farage Declares EU Referendum INVALID After a new European Commission President was elected by a 52% to 48% majority, Mr Thirsty declared that this did not confer legitimacy. Er, hello Nige?

3 Labour Anti-Semitism - Sinister Dexter For the latest party whistleblower, it seems that some kinds of racism are more equal than others.

2 Guido Fawkes Lie Deletion BUSTED The Great Guido fouled up a claim about the EU and VAT on private schools so badly that the post was quietly deleted. But the Internet never forgets - and you can read it here.

1 Steve Bell Guardian Split WORRYING If the paper parts company with its star cartoonist, which is looking increasingly likely after yet another of his offerings was censored last week, then it really has lost its way.

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

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Jewish Chronicle Disses Board Of Deputies

While attacks on the Labour leadership over allegations of anti-Semitism have ebbed and flowed over the past two or three years, one aspect of them has been constant - that organisations representing Jews in Britain have stood shoulder to shoulder, making common cause against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and keeping well away from any dispute which might expose differences between them. Until yesterday.
Stephen Pollard

The act which provoked a most unseemly falling out was a letter from Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to the Labour Party. This has incurred the displeasure of Stephen “Vicky” Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who has gone after the BoD in no style at all for daring to engage with the Rotten Lefties™.

After claiming “Other than the tiny number of members of the Corbynite propaganda group JVL, the entire Jewish community is united in the goal of ensuring that the antisemites who now run the Labour Party are defeated” - no citation, and nor will there be - Pollard warned “As the crisis has developed … it is clear that one of those two bodies (BoD and Jewish Leadership Council) does not understand what is actually going on and how to confront it”.
What’s his problem? “The Board has repeatedly misunderstood how Labour should be approached. Infamously, it offered a platform at its Chanukah party to a senior member of the Shadow Cabinet and invited the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, to its annual dinner”. Pollard then calls the BoD’s approach “utterly misguided”.

Then he goes totally OTT. “As for the letter from Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board: no one who understands what is actually going on and how to fight it could possibly send such a letter … The Board suggests a series of measures for Labour to take ‘to resolve this crisis’, as if the only problem is that Labour has somehow omitted to tick the necessary boxes to enable it to receive a hescher”. And there is more.
In a sentence that is almost beyond belief, Ms van der Zyl singles out Labour’s ‘bland, generic statements’. Ms van der Zyl writes: ‘Labour’s media handling throughout the three and a half years of this scandal have served to exacerbate the mistrust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community and wider public alike. Bland, generic statements should give way to condemnation of specific harmful behaviours - and, where appropriate, condemnation of specific individuals.’” What’s wrong with that, Steve?

Don’t ask. “But it no longer makes the slightest difference what Labour says. Who cares? Who gives a damn about Labour’s ‘bland, generic statements’, other than for dark amusement at their repetition? What matters is not what Labour says to journalists. What matters is that it is led by racists for whom antisemitism is a political tool [no citation]”.

And he hasn’t finished. "It is close to astonishing that there are still people left in our community who have not twigged that the lesson of the past near-four years is not that Labour isn’t doing the right thing and needs to be told what to do, but rather that the party is now institutionally racist [no citation]”. Will he spontaneously combust next?
What is truly astonishing is not that Stephen Pollard is throwing a wobbler at the Board fo Deputies (and throwing around a series of potentially defamatory accusations that he cannot stand up), but that he believes (a) that his prejudice against the Labour leadership is equivalent to fact, (b) that his bombastic and abusive denunciation of Labour is the only way to proceed, and (c) that he is more important than the BoD.

And what is truly disturbing is that Pollard has decided that, whatever Corbyn and his team do, it will not be enough for the JC: “There is no more room for dialogue or engagement. These are not people with whom we can or should ever work. There is no room for good faith engagement or actions to be taken, after which we can all work together”.

That is where Pollard has let slip that whatever actions Labour takes to eradicate anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks, however robust its disciplinary systems, however many members are reprimanded or even expelled, the denunciation will just carry on.

It was never about eradicating Labour anti-Semitism. It’s about getting rid of Corbyn.
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Luke Akehurst Channels Joseph Stalin

Amidst the welter of highly adverse comment being passed by those on the right of the Labour Party against Jeremy Corbyn, and indeed anyone who speaks in favour of him, it only takes one Tweet to give the game away and reveal the true nature of those claiming to be the inheritors of true party democracy, thus showing that they are about anything but. The latest to let the mask slip is one Luke Akehurst.
Luke Akehurst ...

Akehurst, who describes himself only as “Labour”, which sounds rather Louis XIV, presides over a Twitter feed which gives the impression of a low moaning noise in response to anything and everything emanating from the party leadership. Whatever Jezza does is, by definition, wrong. Any hostility to Corbyn is gratefully Retweeted.
But when a list was published yesterday titled “Councillors in support of Jeremy Corbyn”, Akehurst lost his cool. The sight of all those names under the assertion “We are elected councillors who are proud to represent the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership” was just too much for him. “Useful list for future reference” he sniffed.
Why would he need that list for future reference? Akehurst’s proclamation was immediately picked up, not least by one Tweeter who simply asked “What for, Luke?” Alistair Sinclair tried to see the lighter side, offering “Maybe you could add to your list that I’m Lancaster City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Social Justice, have worked in social care for 30+ years, + despair at folks who keep lists for sinister purposes? I’m also a Pisces if that helps”. Serious point made humorously. So Akehurst might not get that one.
Meanwhile, Rupert Higham was concerned. “Well, that’s not a remotely sinister thing to say”, while one Labour councillor in the West Midlands reminded Akehurst “As a Labour Cllr do you realise how often I consider that my personal safety may be at risk? Every time I go campaigning … so thanks for that Luke”. Well, quite.
One responder tried to point out that Akehurst might not have viewed someone who backs Jezza making such a reference: “A bit sinister, no? Imagine the uproar if, say, [Rachael Cousins]  had done this for councillors who don’t support Corbyn”. Got it in one. Then came the use of the S-Word: “Letting your Stalinist slip show there, Luke”.
Chris Spence also felt the need to mention The Great Purger Himself: “Readying a purge if you ever regain control? How very … Stalinist”. Another Tweeter was on the same page, asking “Are you planning on purging them on the day you regain power, Luke? Will these be first against the wall?” Corbyn’s opponents not making friends or influencing people.
... and an interesting role model?

There does seem to be an authoritarian streak emerging among those howling the loudest at Jezza: yesterday we had three of the party’s MPs effectively demanding immediate expulsion of members without recourse to due process - in a chilling echo of Theresa May’s infamous “deport first and hear appeals later” speech - and now we have Luke Akehurst suggesting a list of names may come in useful in future. Unsubtle hint.

All of which means those ranged against Corbyn will persuade none of those rank and file members who they need to get on side. Thus another pointless gesture bites the dust.
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