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Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Isabel Oakeshott Politics Live Giveaway

While investigations continue into how the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks managed to find £8 million to donate (or loan) to Leave EU and other similarly minded groups during the 2016 EU referendum campaign, others have been busy telling anyone who will listen that there is nothing to see here, and that we should all move along. One of their number is mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott.
Isabel Oakeshott - butter wouldn't melt

In pursuit of her “look over there” campaign, Ms Oakeshott turned up on the BBC’s Politics Live yesterday, where she had to contend with an insistent Sonia Sodha of the Observer, which has made the running on Banks’ Brexit bumper bonus bonanza and its potential origins. Her excuses began as Tory MP Chris Skidmore spelled out the donation rules.

Donations from foreign bodies are illegal, regardless of whether that’s within the electoral period or not …  you’ve got to be on the electoral register to make a political donation” he told host Jo Coburn. Ms Oakeshott was in like a flash. “It wasn’t a party … Leave EU wasn’t a party … it barely existed at that point” she pleaded.
Jo Coburn

By now, anyone investigating breaches of electoral law should have been alerted to Ms Oakeshott’s implicit admission - she is excusing foreign donations to Leave EU. And doing it while deploying the usual deflection and projection tactics.

These were on display as Ms Coburn challenged her “Would you support a Mueller-style investigation into this question of foreign money in the referendum?” Off went Ms Oakeshott. “I would support an investigation into fundraising by the Remain side … an investigation on both sides that gave equal attention”. Ms Sodha pointed out that there was no evidence that Remain had done anything wrong.
She then pointed out that the Observer investigation had revealed there was communication between Arron Banks and Steve Bannon. Back came a sneering Ms Oakeshott: “Big wows … big wows”. Questions about where Banks’ £8 million came from? Deflection once more: “I just don’t think people are talking about this down the pub”. It was all going so well. But then Ms Coburn pitched the $64,000 question.
It’s the first time on the programme, Isabel, since the National Crime Agency launched an investigation into Arron Banks”. “I’m not here to defend Arron Banks” protested Ms Oakeshott, but she was not getting off quite so easily. Ms Coburn continued “but you wrote a book about Mr Banks’ exploits in the referendum campaign. Have the Police been in contact with you?” No they hadn’t. The questioning continued.
I’m asking because you said you became privy to a great many secrets during your time working with Arron Banks. Were you aware of any wrongdoing or illegality?

And the answer? “In relation to what?” Not “No I wasn’t, don’t be daft, Banksy wouldn’t do anything like that”, but a defensive “In relation to what?” which leaves open the door to there having indeed been wrongdoing or illegality.

The NCA may already be poring over that Politics Live transcript. And if they haven’t already, they bloody well should be in very short order. Oh what a giveaway.
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Monday, 19 November 2018

Phone Hacking - Guido Fawkes Off

What follows is yet another example of how the press establishment follows the same maxim for dealing with those of inconvenient thought as that attributed to David Lloyd George: “do we square ‘em, or squash ‘em?” In many cases, that establishment squashes its critics, but in the case of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and the Guido Fawkes blog, it is all too clear that The Great Guido has been squared - and silenced.
As the phone hacking scandal broke, with the late and not at all lamented Screws taking the brunt of public revulsion, the Fawkes blog mounted a campaign of deflection, claiming that the Mirror titles were at it too. This has since been shown to be true, but at the time, Staines and his pals did not have the hard evidence to back up their claims.

The Fawkes massive homed in on then Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver, opening the assault in July 2011 by assertingSunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver has been accused directly by Max Keiser of Russia Today of knowing about phone hacking”. The problem was that Keiser can be a bit, shall we say, off the wall with his claims, and of course this was RT for whom he was working. But they were on the right lines.

And a week later, they were after Ms Weaver again, talking ofthe Mirror group, who are as guilty as those arrested at the News of the World. Illegal hacking and blagging, with no public interest defence, has been endemic at Mirror titles”. Staines suggested that he was going to “take down” Piers Morgan, sniping “I’ve taken cabinet ministers down, Downing Street’s toughest operators. They were smart people, not boastful idiots like you”.

Staines even made his claims before the Leveson Inquiry. “The editor of the Sunday Mirror personally ordered her journalists to engage in phone-hacking and blagging, the Leveson Inquiry heard today … Political blogger Paul Staines told the judicial investigation into the Press he had been told that Tina Weaver allegedly commissioned unlawful activities at the Sunday tabloid newspaperreported the Evening Standard at the time.
And then something else happened: The Great Guido secured a column with the Murdoch Sun on Sunday, successor to the Screws, and as Zelo Street noted at the time, celebrated ten years blogging by holding a celebratory bash, showing that he and his pals had crawled their way into the heart of the establishment. They had been squared.

That meant no more going after the Mirror titles, and especially no further pursuit of Piers Morgan. Not when the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks has his back, and Staines at the end of the phone. So when the Fawkes hunch was proved right, it was left to the people at Byline Media to lay bare the misbehaviour of Ms Weaver.

Weaver, 53, gave a sworn statement to Lord Justice Leveson in 2012 in which she insisted on having neither knowledge - nor even hearing ‘gossip’ - about the illegal news-gathering practice while running the paper … But, after reviewing evidence seized by Scotland Yard detectives, and also whistle-blower testimony, Britain’s top media judge, Mr Justice Mann, found at the High Court in London that Weaver was in fact a hacking mastermind”. What you will not read in any mass market newspaper today.

And there is more. “He said: ‘In evidence given to the Leveson Inquiry Ms Tina Weaver, then still editor of the Sunday Mirror, denied knowledge of phone hacking or even of gossip of it. I have already found that she was involved in it, and she clearly had knowledge of it in the evidence I have referred to, and in the light of those findings this evidence was wrong”.
Ms Weaver may have perjured herself before the Inquiry. Justice Mann’s judgment “suggests Weaver may have committed perjury, an offence carrying a maximum two-year custodial sentence if proven … It also suggests she broke section 35.2a of the Inquiries Act – the offence of distorting or altering evidence - punishable by up to 51 weeks in prison and a fine of up to £1,000”. That’s jail and a fine. Not or.

The Byline article points out “Weaver’s alleged crimes would have been uncovered at the proposed second part of the Leveson Inquiry, however former Culture Minister Matt Hancock cancelled it … There, Lord Justice Leveson - or another senior judge - would have been able to review Justice Mann’s findings against Mirror Group Newspapers detailed in the so-called Gulati Judgment, named after hacking victim and former Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati". In which Justice Mann named Ms Weaver.

And there is one more nugget that may interest Zelo Street regulars. “Sometimes a comment was perceived as useful, and the victim, or a PR person, would be called to see if more detail could be elicited. Mr Evans said that Ms Weaver was particularly good at that”. That is the method used by Piers Morgan to flesh out his knowledge of the Sven and Unrika-ka-ka-ka story, contacting Ms Jonsson’s PR Melanie Cantor.

Morgan, on that occasion, had not been party to hacking, just the knowledge that the Screws had been at it. But that he was adept at using such information to pursue a story in that way, if it was an automatic response, hints that it may have been done before.

So where are the Fawkes rabble today? Does Staines not want to claim his prize? But you know the answer to that. The Great Guido has been snuffed out by the press establishment. Flattered by attention, cushioned by money, he has indeed been squared.

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”. And so it was.
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Tommy Robinson Crosses The Line

So many videos were deleted by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, on Saturday that anyone interested in his complaint about politicising football games may have been lost. Fortunately - but maybe not for him - the ever-vigilant Luke Collins has lent a hand and, together with one of Lennon’s Facebook posts, we can see what he was on about. And, as ever, it was all about Himself Personally Now.
Here’s a leaflet full of LIES which was handed out by a guy from Luton called David Powell (Scouse), Roy Ali & his little communist mates at a Luton football match. Trying to turn a lad’s day out into a political stunt by unveiling a banner for a far-left organisation built on lies. The FLA or DFLA have never been to Luton football clubhe claimed.

But this is disingenuous in the extreme: the leaflet Lennon shows his followers is from Football Lads and Lasses Against Fascism, or FLAF. This group had previously leafletted outside Luton Town’s ground, and as Zelo Street noted at the time, Lennon had responded “Can anyone please help me identify these men. They were outside Luton football stadium yesterday handing out leaflets with total lies about me. Please direct message with information on who they are”. A little vigilantism on the side.
So he’s just sore because, one, someone is calling him out on his recent past, and two, he ended up getting unceremoniously decked on the way to the match on Saturday. And he wasn’t finished, as a video he made later shows all too clearly.

This is what he told his followers. “Fake News at it again, eh? Just had the Sun on the phone. They were on about yesterday, when I went to [the] Luton Town football game. Now what I’ve always said is, keep politics out of football. Football’s football, yeah? And yesterday, the first game, a couple of Muslim fans, one called Shaz, some Bengali, and some other smack dealer [my emphasis], they come with some other geezer called Scouse. Scouse is another far-left activist”. And there was more.
Always sharing Hope Not Hate and all these articles, Socialist Workers Party and bullshit like that. They went to [the] Luton game, and there was a meeting in the pub, there were about 250 Luton lads, and they pulled out an anti-FLA banner. And they’ve been handing out anti-FLA leaflets, but they tried to make it look like the whole day was an anti-FLA day, but it wasn’t, it was a reunion treat for men”. Disingenuous once more.

What was being promoted, as Lennon’s Facebook post confirms, were leaflets passing severely adverse comment upon Stephen Lennon. His claim that someone is “politicising football” is just a distraction, an attempt to divert attention away from those leaflets, which clearly have touched a nerve. And he hasn’t managed to stop them coming.
But worse than that is his casual characterisation of Muslims: “one called Shaz, some Bengali, and some other smack dealer”. He can claim he’s not racist until he’s blue in the face, but when that’s the first thing that comes into his head, he damn well is.

Football Lads and Lasses Against Fascism have caused the façade to crack. Now we can see just how non-racist Stephen Lennon really is. And it looks rather like he isn’t.
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What’s Eating Andrew Marr?

Still way out in front of its rivals in terms of ratings, and having seen off the challenge from ITV political editor Robert Peston’s show, BBC flagship Sunday politics offering The Andy Marr Show™ has managed to brush off complaints over the right-leaning paper reviewers, staged confrontations which give off more heat than light (hello Isabel Oakeshott), and remains the show every London-based pundit wants to be a part of.
Not so cheery yesterday

Moreover, the security of Andrew Marr as lead presenter appears unassailable. He’s been in the role for 13 years, come back from a debilitating stroke, and shown himself to be better overall than any number of stand-ins. His interviewing style is persistent but never angry or shouty - or rather, it was until yesterday.

Marr was interviewing Shami Chakrabarti - Labour’s representative on the show - on the party’s Brexit stance. She did not seem fazed or impressed by Marr’s line of questioning. There was no trace of anxiety. And then he snapped. “I can't understand why you want to leave the EU ... you're going to go to a general election campaign as a member of a party who says we are leaving the EU” he told her. Then came the reply.

I'm a democrat, I don't know about you Andrew but I'm a democrat”. The result of the referendum should not be disregarded. Marr could have responded “So are we all”, or “You’ll be glad to know that I too am a democrat, so what’s your answer?” Instead, he snapped “Don't try and patronise me, I'm as much a democrat as you are”.
Shami Chakrabarti

Even the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog described the exchange as “testy” and concluded “Awkward doesn’t begin to cover it”. They are not fans of the Labour Party, and certainly not Baroness Chakrabarti.

The Independent put it more directly: “Veteran BBC political broadcaster Andrew Marr lost his cool with a senior Labour figure after suggestions he was not a democrat”. Perhaps Marr was unhappy at the brush-off he received after asking if she had read the withdrawal agreement: “Yes I have actually. I’m sure you have too”. After he ventured “I’ve read an awful lot of it”, she rubbed it in with “Well I’ve read it all”.

Chris York at the HuffPo summed it up: “Labour's Shami Chakrabarti Left Stunned After Bruising Interview With Andrew Marr … Things got rather heated … Labour’s Shadow Attorney General was left almost dumbstruck”. Right-leaning press outlets, inevitably, called it for Marr. But those on the left were not happy at all.

The Mirror told readersViewers were stunned today as BBC host Andrew Marr snapped at Labour's Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakribarti … The meltdown came during a testy exchange on his Sunday Morning Politics programme”. Meltdown once more.
What had got into The Great Man? Had he been ground down by his interviewee’s mild disdain? Was the Sky News scoop of securing interviews with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for Sophy Ridge’s show, which went out an hour before Marr’s, and no minister of cabinet rank being offered to the Beeb, getting to him?

Whatever the reason, as Zelo Street put it, “.@AndrewMarr9 snapping ‘Don't try to patronise me’ at Shami Chakrabarti not his finest hour”. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Brillo Mag Pushes Brexit Deal Whoppers

Still not saying sorry for his disgraceful late night Twitter attack on the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, BBC star politics host Andrew Neil has now found himself embroiled in another controversy, this time concerning the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, where the unappealing bevy of hate merchants have been dutifully rubbishing the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU.
So it was that the anonymous Steerpike - back in the day, this was the domain of the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who this weekend strolled, or perhaps that should read waddled, across London from the Baby Shard to Northcliffe House to join the Mail on Sunday - brought forth “The top 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal”. What was not brought forth was any fact checking.
Still, it did promote the accepted Speccy line - “This week, Theresa May’s Government teetered on the point of collapse over her proposed Brexit deal” - and gave readers what they wanted to hear. The problem was that much of the Steerpike article was plain flat wrong, to the extent that 10 Downing Street requested, and was given, the right of reply.
Serially dishonest Spectator editor Fraser Nelson put a brave face on it as he told his followers “No10 has written 40 rebuttals to Mr Steerpike’s 40 horrors of the Brexit deal. Delighted to publish them here”. The problem, as Nelson knows all too well, is that of the lie being halfway around the world before the truth has got its socks on.
Hence the response of George Peretz QC, who told “Worth a read: but unfortunate that @FraserNelson and @spectator decided to publish the original without fact-checking - many of Mr Steerpike’s errors are serious and would have been corrected by any EU lawyer. The debate is febrile enough without spreading false ‘horrors’”. Peretz knows a little about trade, economics, competition and tax.
Rowena Kay regretted, though, that this was all too late. “I suspect that that was the intention [publishing without fact checking]. Just set him free and worry later. Take a look at the replies to the rebuttal tweet. The people who want to believe the original still do. It has done its job”. The comments whining about Olly Robbins prove her point.
These were not the only Euro-myths out there, as Charles Tannock reminded us: “Brexiteers are always keen on arguments that support hard Brexit and whether they are verifiable or not is of secondary importance as they know Euro myths have an extraordinarily long shelf life once circulated in the media. I'm still rebutting some years after disproving them”. Then there was the backstop role of Andrew Neil.
James O’Brien put it directly: “The Spectator ceased to be an organ of note when @FraserNelson elected to go after the Breitbart clicks. Tragic to observe. Somewhat more concerning when you remember that Mr BBC Impartiality himself, @afneil, chairs the publishing company for the Barclay brothers”. The alt-right swerve of the Speccy.

Yet that same chairman not only remains on the roster of BBC hosts, the Corporation is prepared to wipe his backside for him. Not a good look.
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Sunday, 18 November 2018

Katie Hopkins Racist Royal Jibe BACKFIRES

Temporarily out of the UK - for which we can all give thanks - pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins is attempting to build a following in the USA, telling anyone who will listen that all those Scary Muslims™ are coming to get them, and talking in not always hushed tones about the Judeo-Christian heritage she is trying to protect. But even with her current commitments, she is still able to let slip the jealousy and underlying bigotry.
Viewers may still want to look away now

What set Hatey Katie off this time was the sight of the Duchess of Sussex standing at a first floor balcony overlooking the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. What was so wrong with that? But the Duchess is not 100% Whitey. So Hatey used a photo of the Duchess of Cambridge for comparison. “Again, no competition. You can’t buy class”. 
Was it racist? If it looks racist, smells racist, and comes from a racist, it probably is racist. It also pointed up the gulf in popularity between Meghan and Ms Hopkins, with a fan of the Duchess pushing back “Katie Hopkins is 43 and looks the same age as 62 year old Teresa May. Only 6 years older than Meghan, but she looks like she could be her grandma”.
Having put down that marker, the memes came in thick and fast. Including the one about Ketamine, Katie, and horses. And a notorious photo from the Hopkins archive.
Yes, it was that notorious photo: there were Harry and Meghan alongside Hatey Katie having an al fresco shag in a field, with the comment “Again, no competition. You can’t buy class”. Some Z-list acts really shouldn’t see the snappers invited.
But that was mild compared to some of the memes that Ms Hopkins’ unwise Royal snipe provoked, like one comparing her to Robbie Savage. Not sure the former Leicester City, Birmingham City, Derby County and (inevitably) Crewe Alex player will like that one.
Then it was back to comparing Hatey Katie unfavourably with the Duchess of Sussex. This was not proving difficult, with the wedding dress comparison wheeled out time and again (Ms Hopkins really shouldn’t have pulled her wedding dress stunt at the Tory Party conference). One observer mused “Like I told you in your previous tweet just after the wedding, I AGREE! There's no competition, you can't buy class. No doubt about it! How old are you? Just 43? Hmm”. That age comparison kept coming up.
Including from a Tweeter in Houston, TX, who took one look and concluded “Apparently you can’t buy decent skin care. How is it possible that you’re a year younger than me and look older than my mom? Is it the racism? It’s probably the racism”.
And a comparison of Hatey Katie with Meghan watching the Remembrance ceremony? It had to come, one Tweeter agreeing “Yup, no competition whatsoever!” before differentiating between the “Lady” and the “Tramp”. Which was which? Have a guess.
But the pièce de résistance came from someone who cited Ms Hopkins’ insolvency agreement. Can’t buy class? Er … “You can’t buy anything”. BOOM! Ouch!
If she’s having such a good time in the USA, perhaps Katie Hopkins could do us all a favour and not use her return ticket. They think she’s so wonderful, they can keep her.
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Tory Think Tank Paedophile Excuses BUSTED

As if those right-leaning Astroturf lobby groups that have coalesced in the area around 55 Tufton Street did not have enough problems following the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance effectively admitting the accusations made against them by whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, one of their number has had to wheel out the excuses after a convicted paedophile managed to secure an invitation to an event where some under-18s were present.
Not for the first time, the right-leaning press has bodyswerved this one, but the Mirror has not: “A Conservative think tank unwittingly invited a paedophile onto a boat party with underage revellers … Guests at the bash were left outraged after child porn hoarder Richard Neate was sighted on board, just months after he was sentenced … The 28-year-old was found with indecent images of children as young as six and had a video of a man having sex with a dog”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

There was more. “One appalled partygoer said the paedophile's appearance came after a pal was banned from attending the same shindig for criticising the group publicly. She said: ‘It’s 2018, and a think-tank lets men get away with being literally sex offenders, but not women who express dissatisfaction’. She added: ‘There were under 18s on the boat.’
So what did he get convicted for? “Neate walked free in October 2017 with a three-year community order and 150 hours of unpaid work. He was put on the sex offenders’ register for five years after more than 200 videos and images were found on his computers. Neate, from Cambridge, was snared after police investigated a series of tweets he had sent knocked at his door. After searching his hard drives they found the horrific abuse images”.

Plus “There were 129 of the worst category A ‘moving’ images discovered by police, as well as 76 category B and eight category C pictures … Neate admitted performing sex acts while watching the material and said he was sexually interested in children about 15 years old”. But it was all “inadvertent”, right? Well, that’s the ASI line.
Their excuses include “Over 300 invitations were sent out from an bulk email list. Unfortunately due to plus ones being invited by guests it might have been possible someone boarded the boat that should not have done so”. This is bunk.

The ASI should have known who Neate was, because before he was convicted, he posed for two photos: one with ASI President Madsen “Dr Mad” Pirie, and another with Tory MP Nigel Evans. Are they both going to claim that they didn’t know who he was?
Those two images suggest that the ASI is being highly economical with the actualité on this one. My information is that Richard Neate was rather better known to the ASI, and in Tory circles more generally, than they are all letting on.

If he’d been a Corbyn supporter, the press would have been all over it, and the “unwittingly” claims would have been given short shrift. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Arron Banks - Out Of Excuses

The people at Open Democracy had the story first - yesterday - and now has come the version for the Observer, co-authored by Carole Cadwalladr, telling how the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks is now, effectively, out of excuses. The headline, “Emails reveal Arron Banks’ links to Steve Bannon in quest for campaign cash”, tells it all. We are talking potentially illegal acts here. And there is more.
Arron Banks was keen to involve Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon in a scheme to raise US cash for his Brexit campaign as far back as 2015, emails leaked to the Observer suggest … Banks, as founder of Leave.EU, wanted Bannon’s data firm Cambridge Analytica to devise a plan in late 2015 for raising funds in the US that would support the unofficial Brexit campaign, according to the correspondence”.
Would there be any tangible evidence of this? “An email, dated 24 October 2015, written by Banks and copied to Bannon among others, states that Leave.EU ‘would like CA [Cambridge Analytica] to come up with a strategy for fundraising in the States and engaging companies and special interest groups that might be affected by TTIP’”.
And there is yet more. “Banks states in the email that US citizens with British relatives could be targeted for donations, writing that a potential strategy should look at ‘how we could connect to people with family ties to the UK and raise money and create SM [social media] activity’ … The same email, written nine months before the EU referendum, also reveals that Banks would ‘like to get CA on the team, maybe look at the first cut of the data’, suggesting the firm may have been offered access to information about British voters from Banks’s Brexit campaign, a claim denied by Banks”.
The excuses to be inevitably advanced by Banksy, Wiggy and their pals be delivered with nonchalance, with the resulting fog of misinformation a thing of wonder matched only by the BBC’s ability to wipe Andrew Neil’s backside. But few are going to buy it.
Worse for Banks and his cronies, there is now another publication on his case, that being the New Yorker, which has put the legendary Jane Mayer on the case. Ms Mayer literally wrote the book on Dark Money. The New Yorker Twitter feed has told “The possibility that Brexit and the Trump campaign relied on some of the same advisers to further far-right nationalist campaigns has set off alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic”.
Meanwhile, on this side of the North Atlantic, Peter Jukes of Byline Media has asserted “Brexit - that great assertion of British National sovereignty - was basically funded by foreigners: US hedge fund billionaires and Russian Oligarchs. That’s now a fact. And the @BBCNews won’t report it and the Government can’t admit it. So the losing control continues”, a worrying claim if true. And it looks like it is.
While Ms Cadwalladr has put the question which Banks now needs to answer: “Today @ObserverUK reveals Arron Banks sought Steve Bannon’s help to raise $$$ from US funders. A highly illegal act if carried out. This was a British election about British sovereignty that legally (& morally) had to be funded with British money...was it?

Of course, he could wait until it’s Robert Mueller asking the questions. No pressure, then.
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