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Tuesday 9 July 2024

Reform And The Phantom Menace

Hardly has the General Election result been reported and picked over, than suspicion has been aroused as regards some of the candidates who stood for Reform UK, the domain of self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals. It was put to his side-kick Richard Tice (he’s not very nice) that some Reform candidates may not even have existed.

This was put to Tice by Robert Peston on the latter’s ITV show, causing the Reform man to lose it in no style at all. “It is a total fabricated lie that is nothing short of defamatory, libellous and totally outrageous. We’ve proved it to people like [the Lib Dems] and the Guardian and still they print this utter trash and garbage. I’m steaming mad about it”. Steaming, Goon Show fans!

There was more. “To suggest that we put forward false names and candidates - one of whom was in hospital at the count with pneumonia, nearly died for heaven’s sake. People need to get a grip”. Tice’s problem was that people were indeed getting a grip - like those asking questions getting a very firm grip of the narrative. Peter Walker of the Guardian had a correction.

Reform have *not* as yet provided details to prove the identities of some candidates. We emailed them yesterday at 11am with three names (not mentioned in the story) asking for evidence. We are yet to get a reply”. Meanwhile, the candidate who had “almost died” took just 96 hours from that moment to be videoed dancing around his kitchen.

Mark Matlock had used a clearly doctored photo, for which he made a variety of excuses - it had to be edited so his tie could appear to be in the Reform UK colours, or that the photographers had all been booked up. He then appeared with apprentice gobshite Patrick Christys on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) to show he was a real person. However.

He looked nothing like the photo, and also appeared to have problems with his use of English. “Unfortunately I will not be attending the count tonight as I have pneumonia. The hospital I visited was closed before it’s [sic] closing time. I said to the nurse on a buzzer I am struggling to breath [sic] and she said call a number”. 96 hours later and he’s bopping around his house.

They seek them here, they seek them there, they seek Reform UK candidates everywhere

And on the subject of defamation, Peter Jukes of Byline Times noted "While Tice rages about ‘defamation’ he should remember Farage admitted there was no proper vetting of the candidates, and this is a matter of high public interest (and therefore has a public interest defence) given Reform are seeking public ‘short money’ dependent on votes cast”. Quite.

Furthermore, Byline Times had discovered more Reform UK candidates who were absent elsewhere when their counts happened. “Now Mark Matlock has been verified (with quite an amazing recovery from the pneumonia that kept him away from the count) we have at least 30 other Reform candidates who have not been identified or have other potential issues with their declaration”.

There was more. “Overnight the number of unverified candidates with no official photo or presence at the count has risen to 50. At best, these may be ‘paper candidates’ - but it is still bizarre that they require no photo ID or verification, unlike voters”. We have also seen one reliable right-wing shill site trying to put journalists off asking all those inconvenient questions.

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog told anyone not yet asleep “Some dark corners of the sanctimonious left’s presence on Twitter have been frantically trying to come to terms with the fact that Reform did so well at the election. Their chosen conspiracy? That Reform’s ‘paper candidates’ in unwinnable seats aren’t real people at all”.

So that’s an admission that Reform UK fielded “paper candidates”. Spend a few thousand notes on online ads, and add the rest of the £55,000 per candidate spending allowance to the pot for pushes in winnable seats. Not illegal. But if any of those candidates aren’t even “paper candidates”, that’s different. And the Fawkes folks don’t want anyone going there.

All of which means investigations will continue. Questions, questions, eh?

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Sunday 7 July 2024

Hello BBC - Your Team Lost

Winston Churchill once said that he knew very little about economics, but he did know that shooting Montagu Norman would have been a good thing. Churchill had relied heavily on the advice of the then Governor of the Bank of England when he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin in the latter’s 1924 to 1929 Government. The sentiment concerned one issue.

A most unfortunate juxtaposition

Norman had been highly supportive of returning Sterling to the Gold Standard, and at the pre-World War 1 rate of one pound to 4.86 US Dollars. The obvious problem was that Sterling was by this time worth no more than around $4.40. The initially lauded return to Gold had the effect of increasing the cost of UK exports by around 10%. So those abroad went elsewhere.

Norman and his counterparts from France and Germany then went to the USA to ask if the folks Stateside could perhaps alleviate the situation by a little loosening of monetary policy, which they duly did. From that point, rather a lot of the easier money went on purchasing common stocks, with the result that an overheated stock market crashed in late 1929.

Now, I know very little about the internal machinations of the BBC, but I do know that removing Robbie Gibb - permanently - from the Corporation would be a good thing. Anyone who is comfortable sharing a platform with the luminaries of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, and the rest of the Tufton Street alphabet soup brigade, has no place at our national broadcaster.

Looking at the Beeb’s website this morning, one could be forgiven for concluding that it was the Tories who won last week’s General Election, such is the glaring bias in coverage. The faux “equivalence” is there in the first UK News headline: “Starmer heading to Scotland as Jenrick says Tories failed to deliver”. Who gives a flying foxtrot what Robert bloody Jenrick thinks?

Scroll down a little and it gets worse: “Who could replace Rishi Sunak as party leader?” Only in the sub-heading does the word CONSERVATIVES appear. Default party = Tory party. Scroll down a bit more, to Latest Updates. “A quick guide to the PM who only lasted 45 days” is followed by “A very quick guide to Penny Mordaunt” and “A quick guide to Rishi Sunak”.

Not only are those features about Tories, but the first two lost their seats. And what’s this? “Gloomy in Looe as fishermen reflect on Labour coup”. Tanks on the streets, was it? It didn’t get any better when the Laura Kuenssberg show had its first post-election airing. Jenrick was one of two Tories given a platform. That’s the party with just 121 MPs. As opposed to Labour with 411.

Ed Davey, whose party put on another 61 MPs to reach a record high for them of 72, was greeted by the grudging “Congratulations, I suppose”. Former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal summed it up: “Laura Kuenssberg seems to be finding it hard to be in opposition”. So Jenrick is kicking off the Tory leadership race? Who cares? They’re out of it. Stop promoting them.

Likewise, the effective awarding of a season ticket for Question Time and other shows to Reform UK Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has to stop: his is a fringe party with just five seats. If he and his pals get access, so should the Greens. So they got a lot of votes. So did the Liberals in 1974, and the Liberal-SDP Alliance in 1983. Did the Beeb give them season tickets, too?

Giving the Tories such prominence despite their drubbing last week, and worse, giving a platform to the kinds of Tories who belong firmly in the wacko fringe, is out of order. Questionable displays of “impartiality” - pitting those with comprehensive knowledge of a subject against lobby group activists with bad faith talking points - should also be brought to an end.

That means serving up news and current affairs in a genuinely even-handed manner. No Astroturf lobby groups, especially those who decline to say who funds them. Fact check those known to peddle assertions of dubious veracity. No more Question Time audience plants. And let the Tories run their own leadership contest. They’ve got enough pals in the press as it is.

Robbie Gibb at the BBC was for a time, but not for all time. Order the taxi.

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Saturday 6 July 2024

Labour Landslide - Slow Handclap

And so ends the 2024 General Election campaign, the triumphant end point of the mission, so the media narrative goes, to make the Labour Party electable once more, with voters now able to make the positive choice to vote for The Red Team. After all, Labour now had a 170 seat majority, and had won in a landslide. But that electable positive choice was absent elsewhere.

New and electable leader secures for Labour ...

It was left to master pollster John Curtice to bring Labour cheerleaders the bad news: “Actually, but for the rise of the Labour Party in Scotland... we would be reporting that basically Labour’s vote has not changed from what it was in 2019”. In fact, the party garnered fewer votes than in 2019.

You remember 2019? Labour allegedly in the grip of “trots”, beset by claims of institutional anti-Semitism, when rather a lot of people within the party, it has since been alleged, either didn’t bother to campaign for its then leader, or tried their damnedest to throw the contest. Yes, totally unelectable Labour scored more votes than new and totally different Labour.

How such a thing could happen, and with such a different result, is down to the Tory vote collapsing - and the First Past The Post voting system. Labour’s vote share was up on 2019, but turnout was, shamefully, lower at something like 60%. The “Landslide on 34%” has now incurred the displeasure of the Daily Mail, calling it a “Loveless landslide”. There will be more of that.

And while the Tories were duly turfed out, Labour’s stance on the Gaza conflict, Starmer’s clumsy mention of “returning people to Bangladesh”, its below shitty treatment of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, and equally shitty treatment of some of its candidates deserve analysis, as does the patently ridiculous behaviour of some of those client journalists out there.

Corbyn stood as an independent. Labour’s choice of Praful Nargund was staggeringly arrogant: here was someone who had made a lot of money in the healthcare business. A series of party luminaries let it be known that they were campaigning against Jezza. And then came the superior insights of the New Statesman magazine, starting with pundit Rachel Cunliffe.

Here was her schtick, delivered on live TV: “I have always found the argument that Jeremy Corbyn is such a prominent local figure, that he would be able to mount a strong, independent campaign. That has never really chimed with my experience living in the constituency. He certainly wasn’t particularly active in the time that I was there”. Would a Tweet/X/Whatever extolling the analysis of Ben Walker and Finn McRedmond add more?

... fewer votes than his predecessor. Who won his seat, thanks

It certainly would. “A few weeks ago Novara Media tried to claim that Labour's 14-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn in this seat was a narrow gap. It really isn't. But it has narrowed slightly”. Get sneering! Nose a little higher in the air, eh? Corbyn won, with a majority of more than 7,000. The Staggers? Meet the new client journalists, not so different from the old client journalists.

The new authoritarian Labour Party had other problems, too. In Chingford and Woodford Green, the cynical last-minute sidelining of Faiza Shaheen, on whom Keir Starmer had showered so much praise, resulted in her running as an independent, the anti-Tory vote splitting, and Iain Duncan Cough living to fight another day. And no, it was not Ms Shaheen’s fault. It was Labour’s.

Had the ousting not taken place, she would have won. Who did the ousting? The newly authoritarian Labour Party. For party loyalist Jonathan Ashworth, it got much worse: he lost his seat to a pro-Palestinian independent. Wes Streeting came close as Leanne Mohamad got within 530 votes of dispatching him. He described the campaign as “ugly”.

Which is an interesting way of saying “I nearly got humiliated by one of those Scary Muslims™”. How “ugly” is it for tens of thousands of Gazans to be randomly blown to pieces, Wes? Streeting, whose reputation at this blog was shredded when he failed to call out Tom Harwood’s lying on Question Time, needs to ask himself why he nearly lost, which he may not.

Starmer himself experienced a fall in vote share and number of votes cast for him. He also had to contend with a significant independent campaign from Andrew Feinstein. Labour lost Dewsbury and Batley to an independent by almost 7,000 votes. They lost Blackburn. They kicked out and then patronised Jo Bird, who has came second in Birkenhead for the Greens.

Calling for a ceasefire in Gaza is not anti-Semitic, or indeed anti-Israel. Labour could have done that and headed off all the grief. Instead, a large part of their core vote has been alienated. On the other side of politics, the far right now has a presence in Parliament, given yet more airtime yesterday evening by the BBC, which really has had a dreadful election.

Relying on Tory collapse in order to win cannot be repeated. Realisation has dawned that Labour is beatable. Slow handclap, authoritarians.

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Thursday 4 July 2024

Election Day Press Shame

The day has finally dawned, when, if the latest poll is to be believed, Labour will sweep to a tally of well over 400 MPs, with the Tories facing something between annihilation and wipeout. The conclusion to the election campaign is as obvious now as it has been since Rishi Sunak went to see Brian in late May, his pals bet on the election date, and Labour were thereby alerted.

Turnout looks as if it may be on the high side: good. Sunak might, just might, provide the ultimate Portillo moment of the night as it looks possible that he could lose his seat. Five-figure Tory majorities are set to fall across the country, with at least one poll suggesting that Esther McVey in true blue Tatton could be a casualty. The Tories may end up with fewer than 100 seats.

If The Blue Team does worse even than that low bar, we could be looking at their being replaced as the official opposition by the Lib Dems. All of the foregoing is shaping up to provide excellent spectator sport after polls close at 2200 hours. But for one group of observers, there is a fear and foreboding in the air. They are the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press.

While the Murdoch Sun has done a screeching U-Turn during the week, going from attacking Labour to telling their remaining readers that Keir Starmer and his pals are actually the winning team, and the Sunday Times has also backed The Red Team, the daily title under the editorship of the deeply unpleasant Tony Gallagher has gone into fence-sitting mode.

Not so the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, which is pleading with any readers not yet asleep to back the Tories. The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has invented a Labour council tax raid. The Mail is trying to get readers not to back Reform UK. It is in a blind panic.

Soaring taxes [no citation], uncontrolled immigration [no citation] … rampant wokery [meaningless drivel], betrayal of women’s rights [should be right up the Mail’s street, then], Net Zero mania [there is no mania], weaker defence [no citation], surrender of our Brexit freedoms [what ‘Brexit freedoms’ would those be, then?] - and votes at 16 to ‘rig’ future elections [is that in the Labour manifesto? I blinked and missed it]” And the “Supermajority” crap, too.

As well as the blatantly dishonest “You can stop it”. Right now, those Daily Mail readers with whom the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre had his imaginary “conversations” are queuing up at polling stations to vote out his preferred party of Government. After 14 years of ineptitude, corruption, waste, cronyism, cruelty, gaslighting, dishonesty, and rampant self-interest.

But what frightens the press more is that they have thus far failed to coax any assurance out of the Starmer team that there will be no return to Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, and the associated prospect of properly independent press regulation. No assurance that the press will be able to carry on behaving as badly as they see fit. Hence the panic, more lying, and scare stories.

Because a Government with a three-figure majority need not fear what all those obscenely overmonied hacks and pundits do in their efforts to derail whatever agenda is put before Parliament. If Labour triggers Leveson 2, not all the press lobbying in the Western world will stop it. Seeing what the press got up to for all those years will begin to turn the public’s heads. Good.

Worse for the press, the proliferation of poverty, those thousands of food banks, many working full time and still unable to make ends meet, will count against them. Why buy a paper when those who contribute to its production have so little understanding of how difficult life is for those hardworking people whom they claim to champion? They don’t care. Like the Tories.

The voters listened to the press, and their pals in all those Astroturf lobby groups. It got them a country that is in serious decline, a health service that is on its knees, roads that are literally falling apart, public transport that is either absent or expensive, a Police service that is mostly ineffective, and all they see is rich people filling their pockets. Then they see the press.

A press supporting more cruelty and more poverty. Don’t forget to vote.

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Wednesday 3 July 2024

Behold The New Entitled Elite

One word that endures, whoever is in power, is Entitlement. It was on display throughout the tenure of disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson; this, sadly, continued through the blessedly brief interregnum of batshit and utterly inept Liz Truss, and has been maintained by the self-promoting failure that is Rishi Sunak.

The New Elite 1 - Luke Akehurst ...

What has become clear, furthermore, is that, in its own way, entitlement will be the name of the game for Labour when, as now seems inevitable, the Party clears out the Tories tomorrow and takes power for the first time since 2010. The new entitled elite will not be Something In The City, and nor will they have a berth in or near 55 Tufton Street. But they will still be entitled.

And they will still be elite, although in a different way. Not for the up-and-coming Labour entitled elite the moonlighting on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”). Not for them the column in the Mail, Telegraph, Express, or indeed the Spectator, the latter’s summer parties about to become a sad irrelevance, and deservedly so.

No, the new Entitled Elite of Labour will show their entitlement through their hold on power, on the party, controlling who is in, who is out, who is to be praised, and who has incurred their displeasure. Availability of directorships is out. Ennoblement may only be temporary, unlike the Tories. Seats in the Commons, SpAd appointments, vacancies for backroom plotters, are in.

They will be featured in the Guardian (BTDTGTTS), or in some cases, they already have been, such is the swaggering confidence bordering on downright arrogance. We’ve seen Spreadsheet Shitlord Extraordinaire Luke “Arthur Putey” Akehurst described in almost fawning terms - “Really Nice Guy” - before he was imposed on the constituency of North Durham.

Also given a fawning write-up in the same paper has been Morgan McSweeney, readers told how he is supposedly considering only allowing sitting MPs to vote on a new Labour leader, should the need arise between General Elections. Which sounds like a reduction in democracy. So does the implication that General Election manifestos be effectively imposed.

... The New Elite 2 - Morgan McSweeney

He, the Guardian feature suggests, will be entitled to A Big Job, come the expected victory. After all, he and Uncool Hand Luke stayed and fought the dastardly Rotten Lefties™. One sincerely hopes that staying and fighting also included backing the party in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections. Because it is all too clear that some others did not. And that is beyond unforgivable.

This may induce in some readers a sense of Déjà Vu, that we have been here before. So we have. It was a baffling attribute of the New Labour project that the control freakery extended to imposing Their Selected People on electorates such as those in Wales, and Greater London.

Hence the digging in of heels to stop Rhodri Morgan becoming First Minister of Wales. This did not go well, Ron Davies embroiled in a scandal, and Alun Michael departing before a no confidence vote. Also not going well was Frank Dobson’s candidacy for Mayor of London. After Ken Livingstone left Labour and stood as an independent, he won. Dobson came third, behind Tory hopeful “Shagger” Norris. Control freakery has a record of not working.

What is also clear is that the new Entitled Elite has no problem with the bouts of flat-out lying that have come with Starmer’s leadership. The current leader made all manner of promises to get the job, and has since reneged on every one of them. But this does not concern the new Entitled Elite, for the same reason that right-wing lobbyists don’t care that they lied too.

That reason is that, as with Vote Leave and subsequent Brexit negotiations, too many people in that party bubble see it all as a game. Lying to secure the EU referendum vote? It’s only a game, we won, you lost, tee hee hee. So it is with the new Entitled Elite. Candidates kicked out in favour of loyal bag carriers? We won, you lost, tee hee hee. But here a problem enters.

It’s not a game for tens of millions of screwed over voters. Just a thought.

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Sunday 30 June 2024

Farage Paranoia Boils Over

As the going gets progressively more difficult for Reform UK, the limited company pretending to be a political party, so its self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals sink deeper into a world of paranoia, conspiracy theories, and pathetic self-pity.

Mr Thirsty has already instructed Carter, Ruck (that means it will be expensive, whoever ends up paying) over a story emanating from the Northcliffe House bunker. Then came revelations by Channel 4 News that some of Reform UK’s supporters, and even candidates, had been engaging in blatant racism. Well, colour me surprised. But Nige had a get-out clause.

One of those supporters, a man called Andrew Parker, is by profession an actor. Cue Farage paranoia: “Andrew Parker was the man that made the astonishing racist comments that have given us so much negative coverage. We now learn that he is an actor by profession. His own website says he is ‘well spoken’ but from the moment he arrived in Clacton he was doing what he calls ‘rough speaking’. This whole episode does not add up”. Yeah, right.

Farage’s sidekick Richard Tice (he’s not very nice) declared “Ch4 caught fibbing again … They said they did not know Parker … he works for them”, but Richard Bartholomew corrected him: “Andrew Parker is ‘known for Channel 4 News’ because IMDb has logged his appearance as ‘Self’ on 27 June”. Also, he might just be a Reform UK supporter.

The paranoia had already been stoked up when Mr Thirsty decided that Ofcom were agin him. “Ofcom are engaging in election interference. Their new rules will only give Reform UK 8% of the coverage. They are trying to protect the cozy club and stop new challengers like us”. He’s never been an MP, but demands more coverage because he’s going to win this time. Or he will do if he has the coverage. Perhaps. Circular argument time again.

And then came BBC Question Time, where Farage has, over the years, enjoyed the equivalent of a season ticket. The audience had to represent a range of views - it was, after all, broadcast in the immediate pre-election period - and he was roundly ridiculed by many of them. So guess what?

It was a fix! It was part of the conspiracy against Reform! He would write to the Times about it! “I have just been invited to appear on Laura Kuenssberg. I’m refusing until the BBC apologises for their dishonest QT audience. Our state broadcaster has behaved like a political actor throughout this election. Reform will be campaigning vigorously to abolish the license fee”.

He would abolish the dastardly BBC for the heinous crime of giving him a platform to spout his drivel for decades. But there was something he was not being totally honest about (again). He could not have appeared on the Laura Kuenssberg show because he was already down to attend his party’s victory rally in Birmingham. Adam Bienkov of Byline Times was tiring of the circus.

Vetting websites, audience members, TV producers and even his own activists are now conspiring against him. This is rapidly turning into one of the biggest extended sulks in political history”. LBC host James O’Brien addedThe speed with which he resorts to pathetic whining & bogus victimhood whenever he’s exposed to the mildest scrutiny is extraordinary. Whenever the bullshit & bluster fail, the bleating begins”. And then another thought enters.

What happens when Reform UK wins fewer seats than The Great Man has decided they merit? One poll claimed as many as 73 seats: if the actual number turns out to be in single figures, or they win no seats at all, expect Trump-style claims of a stolen election, and refusal to accept the result.

There was derisive laughter when Farage claimed the EU had interfered in a member state’s internal elections. There won’t be any of that if he kicks off next Friday; it will be deadly serious. The Tories believed they were entitled to power, some in Labour believe they are entitled to become MPs after purging the Rotten Lefties™. But Farage entitlement is the really dangerous kind.

Reality is, for Reform UK’s leaders, a state of mind. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Thursday 27 June 2024

Tory Press In Blind Panic

The realisation that, no matter how apocalyptic the Labour-bashing headlines, none of the press attacks are cutting through, and that as a result The Red Team is set to win a crushing victory in next week’s General Election, is now hitting home among the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson ...

As a result, the scare stories are being ramped up: Net Zero, Small Boats, Tax Hikes, and every last lame culture war issue, all are being thrown at a readership that long ago ceased to be interested. Other scary terms being bandied about include the alleged Supermajority about to be conferred on Labour, despite the term having no significance in the UK. At all.

But some voters may recognise it from the USA: the Supermajority has to do with the Senate, and describes a scenario where one party holds 60 or more of the 100 seats. This allows the majority party to legislate without any filibustering by the minority party. But legislation in the UK does not involve an elected Senate, and it matters not whether the party in power secured a majority of 80 or 180. If they can get a majority, their view will prevail.

All of which brings us to the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, and its editor Fraser Nelson, who has, over the years, used his faux-posh Scots accent to talk well, but lie badly. Nelson has seen the Labour future, and he is sore afraid. In an article for the magazine titled “How Nigel Farage became the left’s greatest weapon”, Nelson reveals his detachment from reality.

Some opinion polls say the Conservatives could be looking at as few as 50 seats, perhaps fewer than the Liberal Democrats. Starmer is believed to be on course for about 450 seats … Labour is looking at ten years of power” he splutters, forgetting that the Tories just had 14 years and screwed over the country and its economy so badly that 10 years is the least Labour needs.

But do go on. “It’s not hard to see what happens next. If the polls are right and Starmer ends up with a majority out of all proportion to his support, he will be urged to use this freak moment of power to make the political landscape more favourable to the left, just as the Thatcher revolution promoted home ownership, share ownership and other causes more favourable to the right”. Ah, the boot so firmly on the other foot.

... and his idea of press freedom

Then he loses it completely. “State regulation of the press could be forced through, stifling commentary that challenges the government”. Ah, the old “Leveson equals state regulation of the press” ploy. This is total crap. What it’s about is totally independent press regulation. Which we don’t have.

The press marks its own homework. It pleases itself. It absolves itself of racism and other hate speech, illegal information gathering, illegal surveillance, bullying, blackmail, doxxing, harassment, and other elements of its penchant for creative behaviour in order to gaslight the public, bend Governments to its will, and do all this with no-one to tell it to desist.

Have another go. “GB News, the television channel where Farage and Rees-Mogg are both presenters, may end up being taken off air”. One, GB News is not a news channel, but what Jon Stewart called Opinutainment. And Two, the only thing that will be needed for GB News to be taken off air is the plug finally being pulled on its obscene levels of loss-making. There is more.

A crushing majority will make it easier for Starmer to water down Brexit. He can sign Britain up to various regulatory schemes, taking it back into the EU’s orbit while stopping short of rejoining. Not a single member of Starmer’s front bench backed Brexit, so his team is unlikely to seek new trade deals to make Brexit work”. There is no trade deal on offer anywhere to make Brexit work.

What Fraser Nelson, and all the other right-leaning hangers-on, really fear is this: the voters, having shunned the Tories and consigned the party to the electoral oblivion it so richly deserves, may follow that with shunning the right-wing press, without whose superior insights the country would not have been reduced to an international joke. First the Tories, then their backers.

The likes of Fraser Nelson were for a time, but not for all time. Rejoice!

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Tuesday 25 June 2024

Oh Tommy Tommy - You’re An Illegal

One thing Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, dislikes is when he believes people are not being totally honest. “You’ve been telling lies about me” was his opening gambit when he rocked up on my doorstep in the dead of night. It is so very different when the boot is firmly on the other foot, as it was yesterday evening in Canada.

The Mail, friend of right but not far right, told thatRobinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, appears to have been detained by officers outside the Carriage House Hotel and Conference Centre in Calgary. Video footage showed the far-Right activist being taken away in handcuffs by a team of police as he laughed and protested that the arrest was 'absolutely insane’”.

Do go on. “He could be heard asking an officer: 'What have I got a warrant out for?' They replied: 'You've got an outstanding immigration warrant, we'll talk about it in the vehicle.' Robinson was then put in a car and driven away. It appears the 41-year-old was later released, but he claims to have now been prevented from leaving Calgary”. Are they keeping the SOB? Good!

There was more. “The English Defence League founder later tweeted: 'OK I'm free, well sort of. None of this makes sense, I'm now detained in Calgary, prevented from leaving the city … These conditions stop me from continuing my tour of Canada and meeting with guests for podcasts. I'm not even allowed to leave to travel home’”. Cos they took his passport. Carry on.

Robinson had been speaking at an event called 'An Evening with Tommy Robinson', organised by far-Right media website Rebel News and its founder Ezra Levant … He also had a speaking event booked in Edmonton tonight, with the exact location not revealed to ticket holders until this morning - but this is now in doubt. Then this Sunday, Robinson also had a similar engagement in Toronto”. A bad case of Griftus Interruptus, it seems.

Levant could be seen in the video of Lennon’s arrest pleading with Police officers to let him know where his pal was being taken, so bail could perhaps be arranged. The Great Man confirmed later to Levant that his passport had been taken and he could therefore not leave the country.

Why he got nicked was spelled out by Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate. “Stephen Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson) has been arrested in Canada on immigration violations. It appears that he entered the country claiming he had no convictions .....whereas of course he has loads. He will claim to be the victim, but the truth is he lied. Simple as that”. Telling lies, is he?

He won’t like that a bit. He might even have to drive 150 miles or so and doorstep himself loudly in the dead of night, doxxing the address as he goes. Then he can loudly blame someone else and doorstep them loudly in the dead of night, doxxing their address too. Then he can loudly start another grift from his adoring fans. By that time he will of course be telling THE TROOF.

After being released by Calgary’s finest later last night, Lennon took on an air of mild panic as he realised that being told that when he goes home is not down to him might mean he gets held in Canada for long enough to stop him attending his own celebratory event in late July. This, too, will be someone else’s fault, rather than his own doing for lying to get into Canada.

Which means that, yes, he is now an illegal immigrant. One observer of this situation musedTommy Robinson must be delighted to see how effectively Canadians deal with illegal immigrants”, and Louise Raw, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, reminded us that Lennon “has previously been caught travelling under TWO DIFFERENT FALSE PASSPORTS”. So he has.

So Lennon might miss his July event? Tough. He should have thought about that before lying to the Canadian authorities. If he doesn’t appear before the courts on the 29th, he’ll be in even deeper shit. And that appearance - linked to his facing a contempt of court charge and yet another stretch - really would put the lid on his freedom. Which would, once again, be all his own fault.

Stephen Lennon’s comeback tour got cancelled. Just rejoice at that news.

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Monday 24 June 2024

Tories - Bent Beyond Redemption

With its polling numbers now widely below 20% and entering wipeout territory, it might have been thought that the Tories’ situation could not get any worse - except that it has got worse, and is about to get worse still. What hundreds in and around the party are being investigated for - making a fast buck rather than governing the country - will not go down at all well with the electorate.

Or rather, that part of the electorate still prepared to vote for them before the latest scandal unfolded. That latest scandal is now being referred to as Gamblegate, Fluttergate, Betgate or Bettinggate, and allegedly involved using knowledge that the General Election was to be called for early July to nip down to the nearest bookies’ shop to get a few Bags of Sand on it.

Although some of those involved are thought to have only pitched a Monkey-sized stake, the impression of impropriety is now inescapable. Advisors, hangers-on, prospective candidates, retiring and now former MPs, and yes, even one or more Government ministers are, it seems, under investigation.

Even the Murdoch Times was reporting it, with George Grylls telling “a dossier containing a list of all bets that stood to win more than £199 has been compiled by the Gambling Commission. An industry figure said this list contained ‘hundreds’ of names. Among those known to be under investigation are Sunak’s aide Craig Williams, the Tories’ chief data officer Nick Mason and party candidate Laura Saunders - all of whom insist they did nothing wrong”.

HOWEVER. “Though Williams has admitted to a ‘huge error of judgment’, which is certainly one phrase for it”. Jo Maugham mused “When you have learned that the rules are for the little peopleand also askedIf you watched other Tory VIPs make PPE gazillions from who they knew, you might well think, 'why not grab a little for myself?’” Why not indeed.

Edwin Hayward addedSeems the Tories have learned absolutely nothing from Partygate … Back then, they hid behind ‘the police are investigating’ to avoid commenting or taking action … Now it's ‘the Gambling Commission are investigating’, but in all other aspects it's the same mistake all over again”.

By yesterday, Sky News had more, with Beth Rigby declaring “Betting scandal crisis deepens: Many more people than Tories already identified being investigated by gambling regulator re bets on election date. Watchdog widened inquiries to investigate whether people with inside knowledge may have asked third party to place bet, via [Jon Craig]”. Soon after came news that bookies’ odds were on Sunak to lose his seat come polling day.

Strangely, one thing that could help the embattled Tory leader - taking action against those betting - is not happening. But the kinds of papers that might be seen as sympathetic to the Tories, like the Times and indeed the Telegraph, are reporting the news alongside their latest lame efforts to blunt Labour progress by dredging up culture war stories that few care about.

We’re back to the Italian Job derivative, where Mr Bridger tells Camp Freddie “we need that senior Tory MP - get on to it, Freddie”, Camp Freddie asks “but Mr Bridger, what if the senior Tory MP isn’t bent?” and Mr Bridger responds firmly “Camp Freddie, everybody in the Conservative Party is bent”.

When the choice came between serving the people and making a fast buck, the modern Tory did not hesitate. Nor should the voters. Out they go, then.

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Sunday 23 June 2024

Don’t Mention The War, Sorry, Brexit

Perhaps the most surreal aspect of the General Election campaign is that the party most likely to form the next Government - Labour - is steadfastly refusing to recognise the elephant in the Economy room. The Elephant which has resulted in higher taxes, a decline in the UK’s ability to trade freely with its nearest neighbour, and therefore its attractiveness and competitiveness.

The name of the Elephant is Brexit. And Labour would rather not mention it, so frit are they of the fury that would rain down upon them from the general direction of our free and fearless press should they dare to Go There. This level of cowardice before gaining power gives every impression of enduring after Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves take up residence in Downing Street.

But at some time, Labour will have to talk about the Elephant. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems are unencumbered by Labour’s cowardice, and John Sweeney, who is now fighting Sutton Coldfield for them, has put it directly: “I remember listening to the Brexit result in my little backyard and then it started to drizzle. Our wonderful country was conned something rotten: we have ended up with a broken economy, a blighted future and our national security endangered”.

And his solution? “The sooner we are back in the European Union the better and, if elected, I shall campaign for that … Vote for me and I shall fight for you”. Fight is the right word. Because the overmonied and intolerant part of the media class, less affected by Brexit, will fight to keep it.

They will always be able to summon a member of the punditerati to tell whoever reads the final article that the UK imposing economic sanctions upon itself is a small price to pay for the benefit of keeping all those FORRINS from making decisions that affect Brits. Screwing over farmers? Throwing the fishing industry under the nearest bus? Not their problem.

While the comfortable part of the media class can still dine at their reassuringly upmarket restaurants, can still summon tradespeople to patch up their over-valued properties, can still get domestic help without breaking the upmarket bank, and can still use the app to hail a private hire vehicle and therefore keep the hoi polloi away from them, Brexit will be excellent.

Typical of that media class is one Iain Martin, who claimed‘The Office for Budget Responsibility says UK GDP will be around 4% lower every year than it would have been had we remained inside the EU,’ reports the [Observer]. This is not what the OBR says”, only to be Community Noted and for Jonathan Portes to tell him “This is *precisely* what the OBR says”.

In the meantime, Edwin Hayward, who has written a little on the subject, has put together a thread (HERE) where he groups the benefits of EU membership under the headings of Economic Benefits, Freedom of Movement, Education and Research, Consumer Rights and Protections, Health and Safety, Workers’ Rights, Environmental Protection, Citizenship and Legal Rights, Data and Digital Rights, Cultural and Creative Industries, Trade and Business, Security, Political Influence, and Future Potential.

Put yet more directly, improving the lot of all those Ordinary and Hard Working People without sinking yet deeper into decline and a vicious cycle of higher taxation, and without Sterling losing all remaining credibility, is going to be, er, challenging without returning to the EU. With or without another poll.

It will also involve not giving con men like Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his ability to talk well, but lie badly, equal status with leaders of democratically constituted political parties (which Reform UK, being a limited company with no internal democracy, cannot claim to be). Treat him on merit. Or lack of it.

But above all, Labour has to have the courage to talk about the EU. To be straight with the voters. This may well risk the bad faith lobbyists who lied and conned their way to success last time to crawl out of the Tufton Street woodwork. So what? They will have to be faced down whatever happens.

The average Polish citizen will soon be better off than their British counterpart. John Sweeney is right. The UK has to rejoin. That is all.

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Saturday 22 June 2024

Nigel Farage - You’re A Fraud

The potential collapse of Tory support, to the point where consideration is being given to the idea of the Lib Dems becoming the opposition after next month’s General Election, has also seen an increase in poll ratings for Reform UK and its self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. But with the poll ratings has come - at last - serious scrutiny.

Our free and fearless press, and those in the broadcast media, have woken up to this potential threat to the UK: Farage urged what became Brexit for so many years, and the result has been to hobble the country’s economy, to precipitate a state of national decline of the likes not seen before. Now he wants more. That this may mean more decline has not passed unnoticed.

So what never got done in the past - genuine scrutiny of Farage, his team, and his backers - is now happening. After all, that same media gave a free pass to disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson too, and look where that got us. Now Farage is under pressure, and the edifice of bonhomie is cracking. He is being exposed as a fraud.

Worse, his sometimes wacko ideas on how the world is ordered have provoked ridicule, and from the right-wing press, disgust. Today’s Mail goes for Mr Thirsty, howling “FARAGE: THE WEST ‘PROVOKED’ PUTIN … Fury as Reform leader suggests Nato was to blame for invasion”.

There is a problem with Reform UK and its supporters claiming that Ukraine looking to join Nato, and indeed the EU, was what triggered the invasion by those in the service of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and his gangsterist régime in Moscow, one of timing: Ukraine’s move to join Nato and the EU came AFTER the invasion. So it could not have been some kind of provocation.

On the domestic front, Reform UK’s Contract With Britain (or perhaps that should be Contract ON Britain) has seen the BBC’s Nick Robinson tell Farage “In your manifesto there are promises to spend more on health, more police, more soldiers, tax cuts for this group, tax cuts for that group, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the poor, everybody gets everything they want. It's like Christmas”, telling him he’s offering 50% more than Labour in 2019.

Exit ... stage right

Worse still, the promise to leave the World Economic Forum is unachievable - mainly because Britain is not a member of the WEF. And the long-standing commitment to leave the ECHR is worrying, given that this membership guarantees the right to a fair trial, the right to due process - when Farage spends so much time talking up deportations. And it gets worse still.

As David Clark has pointed out, apropos the Farage flagship feature, “This is why Reform UK deserves the designation far right. By talking about ‘invasion’ and framing immigration as an issue of national security, Farage is endorsing the conspiracy theory that it is being driven by a hostile foreign interest. It’s a fascist dog whistle”. Couple that with leaving the ECHR.

He blames Net Zero for “de-industrialising Britain”. Because it can’t be Brexit that done it. He claims exports are up, Britain going from 7th to 4th in the export league. Except this is only in services, not goods. Robinson pulled him up again on the infamous and swiftly-reversed Liz Truss “mini-budget”.

You're laughing but you said on the day of the mini budget: Today is the best Conservative budget since the 1980s.. Is that the judgment of someone who deserves to be Prime Minister?” Ah well, responded Mr Thirsty, “Some of the thinking was right, the delivery was wrong, the timing was appalling”. No, the thinking was wrong too: handing rich people a tax handout is not the way to go for growth. Propensity to save v propensity to spend, and all that.

Also, Reform UK’s stance on climate change is in the wacko category. But, although the increased level of scrutiny is welcome, the thought enters that this may have been too late. Maybe Farage will win in Clacton. Which would, perversely as it may seem, be a good thing. Because then he would have to turn up to the Commons. Where he would get ridiculed more often.

And would finally be exposed as a fraud. Pity the country is screwed, mind.

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Friday 21 June 2024

Corbyn v Bozo - Starmer Was Right

After a party leaders’ special edition of BBC Question Time yesterday evening, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog concludedthat’s proceedings over. A bit of a snoozefest”. But after seeing this morning’s faux outrage from the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, that opinion was hastily recalibrated.

The Beeb’s “Key takeaways from BBC Question Time election specialtells why: “why did Sir Keir [Starmer] back [Jeremy] Corbyn in the 2019 general election … Fiona Bruce [asked] whether he had meant it when, in 2019 he said Jeremy Corbyn would be a ‘great prime minister’ … He finally added he thought Mr Corbyn would have been a better PM than Boris Johnson”.

But for the right-wing press, and indeed the Fawkes massive, Bozo was their hero, his defenestration a shameful casting off of someone who had won such a conclusive election victory in 2019, albeit aided and abetted by some downright poisonous attacks on the then Labour leadership, and arguably by some within the Labour Party trying to throw the contest.

So this morning, Staines and his gofers have offered any of their readers not yet asleep this revision of history: “Keir Starmer said last night that Jeremy Corbyn would have been a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson … An outlandish remark considering Corbyn would have sent the country into ruins”. Bad English, bad argument, bad upcoming losers.

But good for their relationship with the press, where the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has told readers “Starmer: Corbyn better than Johnson as PM … Labour leader pinned down during debate over support for MP forced out of party”, while the Mail has gone Full Dacre on it.

CORBYN WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER PM THAN BORIS, KEIR CLAIMS … Starmer’s extraordinary answer in TV grilling by voters … The Labour leader was left squirming on live TV as he was grilled over his support for his predecessor, who he twice tried to make PM”. So is the Mail right to go into maximum pearl-clutching mode? We can more usefully consider the Jezza v Bozo question by looking at the one issue to hit the UK early in 2020.

And that issue was the Covid-19 pandemic. Bozo hesitated, acted later than he should have, and somehow became enamoured of the idea that “Herd Immunity” could save the day. Remarks such as “let the bodies pile high” did not help his cause. But Bozo’s worst Covid minus point was the revelation that Downing Street had become Party Central during the pandemic.

While the little people had significant restrictions placed upon their freedom of movement, in Number 10 there were parties where staffers and other hangers-on indulged themselves freely upon whatever bottles were to hand, with the result that many became not only Elephant’s Trunk And Mozart, but physically sick to boot, hurling their hoops on the wall to wall.

Jeremy Corbyn’s abstemious inclinations would not have countenanced such behaviour. And, as John McDonnell would have been Chancellor of the Exchequer, there would have been no chance of Covid-spreading wheezes like Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Jezza would have done Covid better. But the right-wing press would have moaned all the way.

And on concluding the Brexit negotiations, nothing could have been worse for the country than the frankly inept approach of Bozo and his supposed expert negotiator “Lord” Frost. Nor would there have been the infamous “VIP Lane” via which so many hundreds of millions were spaffed up the wall, to use Bozo’s happy phrase, with precious little to show for it.

So why is Corbyn not still in the Labour mainstream? Ah well. That has more to do with a new authoritarian and control-freak mentality emerging from the Labour NEC than Starmer personally. But he must tackle it sooner rather than later. The control-freak episodes were not Tony Blair’s finest hour. And they will not end well for Labour. Even though Starmer was right last night.

Corbyn would have been a better PM. Although we’re not allowed to admit it.

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Wednesday 19 June 2024

Reform UK - Unfit To Govern Whelk Stall

After reading the headline “UKIP candidate also works as porn star ‘Johnny Rockard’ [Geddit?!?!?]”, Isabel Oakeshott musedBeyond parody. I thought UKIP was grown up enough to vet candidates these days?? Epic fail!” But that was back in 2015, and she is less effusive right now, after UKIP’s successor organisation Reform UK messed up in the very same area.

Another fine mess ...

The party’s self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage had already been the subject of media cynicism over the costings behind its manifesto commitments, which he was told directly did not add up. He and his pals then lied about the figures’ veracity. which generated yet more cynicism. But worse was to come. A lot worse. It was back to candidate vetting.

And what made Reform UK and its leading lights look yet more stupid was that they openly admitted what had happened - or, as it turned out, what they claimed had happened, before they were exposed as more stupid still. You think I jest? Rob Hutton’s initial response was “How am I supposed to write anything funnier than this Reform press release?

Several Reform UK candidates had been called out for wacko, racist or downright fascist views. This, the press release told, was someone else’s fault. “Reform UK has consulted lawyers about suing the company to which it paid £144,000 to vet over 400 of its candidates in April but which failed to return a single piece of research”. Did someone see them coming?

There was more: “Vetting dot com is co-owned by Colin Bloom, a former Conservative adviser who once worked as a faith engagement adviser under Boris Johnson, who rewarded him with a CBE … Reform UK is now exploring legal action, as well as potentially involving the Police”. Do go on.

Richard Tice, the chairman of Reform UK, said: ‘They promised a deep dive, particularly on social media, and adverse press checks, received our candidate data but then delivered absolutely nothing … Suddenly, a round of stories appear in the Times and elsewhere after nominations close, including some stories that are 15 years old. Something feels very wrong, and I have instructed lawyers to pursue this matter vigorously’”. Any more claims?

... we got ourselves in to

As if you need to ask. “Mr Farage said ‘This is an establishment stitch-up. The owner of the vetting company has deep links to the Tory party, and they have some serious questions to answer’”. Reform UK may also have some serious questions to answer after what looks like potentially actionable comments from Farage (who is himself part of the establishment).

What say Vetting? “Everyone’s working assumption was that the election would be in the Autumn, giving us the Summer to complete this work. Given the explicit need for candidate consent, as well as our systems needing basic personal data like dates of birth, our automated software was not able [to] process Reform’s candidates with the data that was provided when it was provided … Mr Bloom has not had anything to do with the UK Conservative Party since 2022 and remains politically neutral”. It then got worse.

Tom Witherow concludedIn that statement they say ‘our automated software was not able process Reform’s candidates with the data that was provided when it was provided’. That suggests that Reform did not provide the data required to do checks, or the candidates' consent forms, or it did so too late”.

Also, the Vetting FAQs contain this nugget: “Q: Are you an outsourced background screening company? A: No, we provide you with the ability to complete your own background screening in house”. Which suggests this was just a means of helping Reform vet their own candidates more rapidly.

Or, as Frances Coppola told Mr Thirsty, “Nigel ... you bought a licence to use their platform to carry out YOUR OWN CHECKS”. This is shaping up to become an outstanding example of why no-one should trust Reform UK with anything - especially their vote. More stupidity than the stupid faculty at the University of Stupid in Stupid City. And all by their own admission.

Reform UK, who went to catch a toe-hold in Parliament - and dropped it.

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Tuesday 18 June 2024

Oh Tommy Tommy - Facing Jail Again

It had all seemed so promising: Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, had produced another of his mind-numbingly tedious videos, had gathered his fans in central London, and had declared that there would be the ultimate gathering of the faithful on July 27th. He was back! No surrender, no going back! What could possibly go wrong?

What indeed. This blog has not always given groups like Hope Not Hate a free pass - after all, when Lennon came after his critics, including me, in his usual doorstepping, harassing, threatening manner, they were absent elsewhere - but this time they have stepped up to the plate and, by their actions, put The Great Man in one of those Very Difficult Positions.

So what’s going on? Nick Lowles of HnH has toldTommy Robinson has been charged with contempt of court after he is alleged to have broken a court order preventing him from reporting lies relating to the Jamal Hajazi case”. Moreover, “He will appear at the High Court for Directions on 29 July”.

The HnH feed had more. “In April 2023, we submitted a dossier of evidence and an open letter … to the Attorney General, showing how Tommy broke a court order relating to the Jamal Hajazi case … We brought to light that Tommy had aired a documentary … in breach of a court order … Our research team uncovered Tommy promoting the film around the world & interviewing a number of far-right activists”. So what say Lennon?

As if you need to ask. “I'M FACING 2 YEARS IN PRISON … Support my legal fund here”. Ah yes, the grift goes on. There is more. “I'm amazed that I get to hear about this first from a far left Antifa linked Communist hate group run by a man who you would never employ as a baby sitter. What does that tell you?” It tells me that Lennon is on the smear once again.

A man who you would never employ as a baby sitter” is dog-whistle code for PAEDO. “Antifa” is something Lennon doesn’t understand, except that it’s LEFTY and BAD and probably FORRIN. “Communist” is Ye Olde Red Scare tactic from the 1950s. And, as for “hate group”, who is it who turns up mob handed on his critics’ doorsteps in an effort to intimidate and silence them?

Lowles already has enough to fire off a Letter Before Action in Lennon’s general direction. But for Lennon, life right now is excellent: he has arrived in Canada for events in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. Sadly, in the meantime, he has demonstrated to the world that he has learned nothing on the subject of Contempt of Court, as one example from his feed shows.

This is potentially in Contempt of Court, and very obviously so: “remember the Syrian child Jamal who had a little bit of water poured over him, it was global news, the Syrian was invited to parliament . Every famous commentator spoke about it yet they all remain silent on these Muslims children abducting a homosexual Scottish child , tying him up & telling him they would behead him, we have a corrupt judiciary & a corrupt media”.

Lennon is, it seems, driven to make such unfortunate statements by his obsession with Islam, trying to frighten his followers with claims that Sharia Law is being implemented in the UK (it isn’t), that Muslims are going off to fight for ISIS (not easy as there isn’t ISIS any more), and suggesting to those who dislike far right attacks on them that they should leave the country.

So hung up on his irrational hatred of Islam is Lennon that he has now posted a graphic from train operator LNER titled “What is the story of Eid ul-Adha?” which goes on to talk of Ibrahim having a dream “which he believed was a message from Allah asking him to sacrifice his son Isma’il as an act of obedience to God”. Those who know their Old Testament will recognise this.

It is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Except, in Islam, they are called Ibrahim and Isma’il. The same story which is also in the Torah. But so full of bile is Lennon - and, apparently, ignorant of the Christianity he claims to support - that he goes off on one about it. And, sadly, so do his followers.

If Lennon is jailed for this alleged Contempt, he will have richly deserved it. Then perhaps he can get himself a real job. And get a life. That is all.

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Monday 17 June 2024

Question Time Bust - Bad Timing

For a supposedly unbiased and impartial political debate programme, what would be the worst time to be exposed as exhibiting right-wing bias? Well, how about two and a half weeks before a General Election, with the party favoured by one of the board of the Corporation that commissions your show expected to suffer a result somewhere between heavy defeat and wipeout?

Moreover, the party expected to come to power has a deputy leader in place who has called for that member of the Corporation’s board to resign. So it was very good timing (for those who suspected right-wing bias), but very bad timing (for those responsible for delivering the programme concerned) when the BBC’s allegedly flagship debate show Question Time got called out.

It was The Conversation (article and data HERE) which sounded the warning with the headline “BBC Question Time: analysis of guests over nine years suggests an overuse of rightwing voices”, going on to tell “Like most public service broadcasters worldwide, the BBC believes that impartiality is a core tenet of its approach to covering political debate”. There was more.

Coverage should be unbiased, balanced and objective, with no favouritism towards any side. This is monitored by the UK’s media regulator, Ofcom … our researchers compiled a dataset of all editions of the programme from September 2014 until July 2023 - a total of 352 programmes with 1,734 guest slots across the nine seasons, filled by 661 different people”.

Some people get to go on rather more than just once, then. But do go on. “Given the format of Question Time, it is not surprising to find that both Labour and Conservative politicians were well represented throughout the nine seasons”. There is a table showing how many appearances some politicians racked up. But then comes bad news for the Beeb.

Removing politicians from the list of most frequent guests shows that several high-frequency panellists are being used, most of whom come from the political right … [these are] typically opinion columnists who contribute to rightwing press outlets such as the Mail or the Telegraph, or who make appearances on right-leaning broadcasters like GB News and TalkTV”.

Do go on. “The Spectator wields significant influence, with the top five most frequently used panellists all writing for the magazine. In contrast, there is no comparable influence from leftwing publications”. So who are these “top five most frequently used panellists”? Who’s top of the Question Time Pundit Pops? Or perhaps that should read “joint top”. Here they come.

Isabel Oakeshott. Well, knock me down with a feather. And flap mouthed bigot Julia Hartley Dooda. Both on 13 appearances. Before we (eventually) get to the most-featured left-leaning voice, who is Ash Sarkar of Novara Media on six invites, we pass Kate Andrews of the IEA on 12, Tim Stanley also on 12, and Camilla Bloody Tominey on a mere ten shows.

The right-wing supporting cast also includes, all on seven appearances, the Speccy’s editor Fraser Nelson, Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, Peter “droning on and on and on and on and on” Hitchens, and former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan.

What say The Conversation to that? “The regular appearances of panellists such as Isabel Oakeshott and Julia Hartley-Brewer - the two most frequent non-politician guests in our analysis - raise questions about how producers choose guests”. Liz Gerard observedYou know it ‘feels’ like this, but the statistics are stark. There are no voices from the left in this list. Does it mean there are lots of left wingers appearing once or twice? Apparently not”.

As to that party favoured by one of the BBC’s own board, the name in that frame would be Robbie Gibb, a “Thatcherite Conservative”. As Angela Rayner has already called or him to resign, it’s highly likely that a Labour victory next month could see him sent Down The Road. And an overhaul of Question Time - to represent voices from across the political spectrum more evenly.

Question Time was for a time, but not necessarily for all time. That is all.

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