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This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Thursday, 23 March 2023

He Came, He Saw, He Lost It

The game is over. The game is up. The crowds have all gone home. For disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the end of the road has been reached: his attempt to lead a rebellion against the Windsor Framework failed, his appearance at the Privileges Committee will most likely see him sanctioned, and his supporters are deserting him.

One look at today’s Daily Mail should prove instructive. “Harman’s face was thunder. Boris was as agile as a cat. Pure box office but, after four nit-picking hours, had a single mind been changed?” Sarah “Vain” Vine showed the Mail’s new line: no more the bombastic dismissal of any anti-Bozo elements, and though she is still lying (agile as a cat my arse), the hero worship is gone.

Worse, at Bozo’s spiritual home, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, readers are told “The cults of Boris and Brexit are simultaneously imploding". And the name on the by-line? Camilla Tominey, that most Bozo and Brexit boosting of Tel staff. Why the change? Ah well.

That Privileges Committee grilling was a campaign that developed not necessarily to Bozo’s advantage. This was obvious to anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their arse after he declared that lockdown-busting gatherings to celebrate someone leaving were “necessary”. As Alex Andreou has pointed out (thread HERE), 10 Downing Street, the nerve centre of Government, is the last place where encouraging the spread of Covid-19, and potentially taking out key decision makers, should have been allowed.

He couldn’t resist a threat, as Paul Waugh noted. “After much pressing, Johnson refuses to say whether he will accept the findings of the Committee if it finds against him. Says he ‘deprecates’ the term ‘kangaroo court’ BUT, and this is a big caveat: ‘I wait to see how you proceed with the evidence.’

Nice people at this Privileges Committee, be a pity if they was to end up on the wrong end of a Daily Mail hit piece, eh Guv? But did he correct the record after all that? Adam Bienkov of Byline Times had bad news: “After apologising for misleading Parliament about whether Covid guidance was followed in Downing Street, Boris Johnson says that he doesn't want to correct the record on this as it ‘remains my belief’ that the guidance was followed”.

He can’t say he wasn’t warned. Ian Dunt observed[Harriet] Harman says ministers get things wrong, that's fine, they simply routinely correct it. But ‘misleading intentionally or recklessly or refusing to answer or failing to correct impedes or frustrates the functioning of the House and is contempt’”.

Any lawyers willing to offer a view? Adam Wagner certainly was. “My summary view of Johnson's evidence is the same as it was before he started: his case that the guidance allowed boozy non-socially distanced drinks events with no work being done is absurd and he's either lying that he thought it did or was reckless for asserting it”. Not looking so good.

As to that R-word, as in Reckless, Tory MP Bernard Jenkin prompted Bozo to lose it completely on the subject. Ian Fraser notedBoris Johnson loses his rag when asked by [Bernard Jenkin] why he didn’t take legal advice before misrepresenting #partygate to Keir Starmer in the House of Commons. Is he now toast?” Johnson had instead relied on the word of two SpAds.

Will he be sanctioned? Ian Dunt musedI think it's pretty much guaranteed the committee finds against Johnson. At best they'll find he recklessly misled the Commons. At worst that he did so wilfully. There's a strong basis for the latter, but intent is always hard to demonstrate so former more likely”.

He’s too kind. The mood of public revulsion at all those party revelations, which ultimately led to Bozo’s defenestration, may yet see him sanctioned for both recklessly and wilfully misleading the House. Palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke was in no mood to listen to the excuses.

We didn't have parties to ‘boost morale’ … We didn't have quiz nights … We didn't have champagne … We watched our colleagues die, though … We were STEEPED in death … We kept going … We had to … We kept on … So don't you DARE say your parties were ‘necessary’ [Boris Johnson] … You make me sick”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

The Privileges Committee will soon pass judgment. Won’t be good for Bozo.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Bozo - Bluster Versus Reality

And so the day has finally arrived when disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is lightly grilled before the Privileges Committee of the Commons, before seven of his peers, a majority of whom are his fellow Tories. The subject will be misleading the house, and doing so knowingly, or what ordinary people call lying.

Bozo, or someone on his behalf, has clearly been briefing parts of the right-leaning press, the Mail telling readers what to think (no change there) as it thunders “Ex-PM issues 52-page defence dossier ahead of today’s 4-hour grilling by MPs on live TV … BULLISH BORIS UP FOR THE FIGHT”. But the Murdoch Sun does not deem him worthy of a front page lead.

And the supposedly more upmarket Times tells readers “Aide warned Johnson about Covid claim”. Looks like Rupe has decided Bozo is past his use-by date. Still, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph remains loyal, telling “Aides assured me no rules were broken, says Johnson” while putting the boot into Labour leader Keir Starmer.

While some may dislike Murdoch Père, and others merely cordially detest the SOB, he did not get where he is today without being able to correctly identify winners and losers. And although he may not yet have decided Bozo is in the latter category, he looks to be wavering. Hence the less than full-throated support from Sun and Times. Why might he waver thus? Ah well.

We need look no further than the BBC’s summary of the evidence now before the Committee. And while the press baited Bozo with “Why should the British people believe anything you tell them?” as he left his London home, what he will face when it gets serious and the cameras are rolling is of a magnitude more serious. His former Downing Street staff have shat all over him.

Like Lee “Cain advising his colleague that a drinks event in the garden of No 10 on 20 May 2020 was a ‘comms risk’ … [the document] quotes Cain as saying he went on to have a conversation with Johnson's then chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who went on to speak to the then-PM about the risk”.

However, “Johnson didn’t see meeting in the No 10 garden with a bottle of wine as a breach of the rules … ‘I would encourage people into the garden for the pandemic … I felt it would be wrong to stop people going into the garden … It is democratic and conducive to staff wellbeing - where to go to draw the line?’” You tell us, Chief, you’re the one making the rules and telling the hoi polloi to follow them in all those TV appearances, remember?

It gets worse. “Cabinet secretary says he never told Johnson all rules were followed … cabinet secretary and top civil servant Simon Case denies that he gave any assurances to the then prime minister that Covid rules or Covid guidance was obeyed at all times in No 10”. And worse still.

Boris Johnson had the opportunity to stop the lockdown partying in Downing Street, but allowed the culture to continue - according to one No 10 official … In their evidence, the unnamed employee says that the route Johnson would take through Downing Street looked straight into the press room, so it would have been ‘impossible’ not to know they were happening”. Tell us more.

That employee told “He had the opportunity to shut them down but joined in, made speeches, had a drink with staff. He could have taken the issue up with Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary, to shut them down. He could see what was happening and allowed the culture to continue”. Martin Reynolds, meanwhile, now “regrets [the] BYOB invite”.

Which just makes Bozo’s grilling later that much more difficult to negotiate. He isn’t making it any easier by slagging off former Chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings with comments like “He cannot be treated as a credible witness”. What colour is the pot, O Great Bozo Kettle?

All that is before he rocks up for that grilling, which, it is estimated, will take a whole four hours and be broadcast live. And even before that begins, it is becoming all too clear that there is a widening gulf between what Bozo-backing papers are telling their readers and reality - not for the first time. Moreover, two of the four Tories on the Privileges Committee may lose their seats come the next General Election. Not looking good for the former PM.

Johnson looks highly likely to be sanctioned. That means he’s toast.

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Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Bent Cops And Worse Hacks

When it comes to the ultimate in lack of self-awareness, out free and fearless press is without peer. The state of the economy and its effect on ordinary citizens stems directly from the press’ fawning endorsement of successive, and successively inept, Tory Governments, helped, or hindered, depending on your point of view, by Brexit. But it’s not their fault, honestly.

The state of the NHS, exacerbated by Tory underfunding, Brexit, and a welter of press attacks, is also nothing to do with them. So it is no surprise to see a report castigating the Metropolitan Police for sexism, misogyny, racism and homophobia sending those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet into faux pearl-clutching mode. How COULD they?!?

But as the late John Smith might have observed, this is a bit rich coming from the same Fourth Estate that has had no problem working hand in glove with bent coppers, and for decades past. Corruption in the Met and other Police forces was fine as long as the press benefited from a host of informants, and all that not always legally obtained information they provided.

Louise Casey’s report, as the Guardian has told, says the Met “is broken and rotten, suffering collapsing public trust and is guilty of institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia … The report … one of the most damning of a major British institution … details disturbing stories of sexual assaults, usually covered up or downplayed, with 12% of women in the Met saying they had been harassed or attacked at work, and one-third experiencing sexism”.

The report “warned that ‘public consent is broken’ with just 50% of the public expressing confidence, even before revelations about the force’s worst recent scandals. She pinned the primary blame on its past leadership and said: ‘Public respect has fallen to a low point. Londoners who do not have confidence in the Met outnumber those who do, and these measures have been lower amongst black Londoners for years’”. Shocked? Not shocked.

But the press claims to be. The Mail is especially righteous, howling “BROKEN AND ROTTEN … Devastating review says Met is ‘institutionally racist, corrupt, misogynistic and homophobic’ … May be many more Police like killer Couzens … Force must reform or be ‘overhauled’”.

That’s the same Daily Mail, together with the Mail on Sunday, which featured so prominently in the information gathering work, much of it illegal, undertaken by the likes of Steve Whittamore - often depending on bent coppers to improperly access the Police National Computer.

And while the Murdoch Sun leaves the report off its front page, the supposedly upmarket Times splashes with “Rotten Met ‘has lost public faith’ … Predators could still be hiding in Police force rife with bigotry, says damning review”. The same Murdoch press that, once upon a time, contained within its list of titles the now late and not at all lamented Screws.

That’s the same Screws that was intimately involved with the Daniel Morgan murder case, still unsolved and at every turn hampered by Police corruption. The same Screws that was a by-word for phone hacking, about which we would have known more, and known it sooner, had it not been for cops like Yates of the Yard getting in the way. The Screws and the cops moved as one.

As they did in service of Mazher Mahmood’s various sales-generating setups and stings: all those the Fake Sheikh set up for drugs busts, and also the fake stories, like the Beckham kidnap that was never going to happen, and the Dirty Bomb Plot that wasn’t. The press wasn’t so righteous about the Met then. Now that same press is chucking the Met under the bus.

Worse, there is no mention of one recent event where the Met’s inertia has been to the benefit of the right-leaning part of the press - its unwillingness to investigate apparently illegal activity by the two Leave campaigns. As with phone hacking, the Met sat on the evidence, to the benefit of both campaigns, and with the press not saying boo. Corruption wasn’t so bad then, was it?

Our free and fearless press has known full well that the Met was “Broken and Rotten” years ago. And what did they do about it? Nothing. Nix. Nil. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Not a sausage. Bugger all. Because bent coppers were good for business. Illegal information gathering, joining in with manufacturing fake stories, obstructing investigations, covering up - that was OK.

Anyone might think the press were massive hypocrites. And they’d be right.

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Monday, 20 March 2023

Bozo Bombshell Defence ISN’T

Coming back into view this week is the Parliamentary Standards Committee and its inquiry into whether disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson knowingly misled the Commons, or, in other words, lied to it. And the prospects for Bozo are not good, especially given his track record of dishonesty, serial and indeed congenital.

What is also not working in his favour is the mood among Tory MPs, an increasing number of whom are coming round to the view that perhaps it is now time for their one-time hero to at least scale down his Parliamentary profile, if not leave the scene altogether. Nonetheless, Bozo has come out fighting, or at least friends of his have (which most likely means Himself).

And working in his favour is the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, in which there are still plenty of influential voices prepared to tell the world that OK, maybe he is an SOB, but he’s their SOB. So it is that the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph tells readers today “MPs accused of moving goalposts over Partygate”. They’re batting for Bozo.

So is the Murdoch Times, splashing with the headline “Lockdown parties inquiry is unlawful and biased, says Johnson”. But the actual substance of his defence, er, isn’t. Times political editor Steven Swinford has spelt it out: "There is no 'bombshell' Whatsapp message. There is one message - already referred to by the committee as setting out a 'line to take' - which Johnson argues supports his case. There are some other documents showing Johnson sought assurances, but just the one Whatsapp message”.

And for those responding “Yebbut Sue Gray Labour, eh?” Swinford notesIt's also worth noting that for all the furore surrounding Sue Gray - including Johnson personally criticising her - her move to Labour *is not* being referenced in his legal submission”. And it gets worse. A lot worse.

If the line to take is that rules were not broken, that does not mean rules were not broken. It’s not a legal opinion. Moreover, whatever the line to take, Bozo should have known what the rules were, if only because he was on TV regularly during the pandemic telling the public what they were.

Mikey Smith of the Mirror has concludedBoris Johnson’s strategy, other than bad faith undermining of parliament’s standards process (again), appears to hinge on messages he says prove he was *told* no rules were broken. That’s pretty wobbly”. As so often with Bozo, the briefing to his press pals is not matched by reality. He’s batting on a sticky track. So what happens next?

As the BBC has reminded us, “The former prime minister faces a crucial televised evidence session in front of the Commons Privileges Committee on Wednesday. The committee is yet to publish its final verdict - but its initial update earlier this month said Mr Johnson may have misled Parliament multiple times. Mr Johnson denies misleading MPs”. He would, wouldn’t he?

Do go on. “Wednesday's session, which could last up to five hours, will be a key chance for Mr Johnson to persuade the seven cross-party MPs [with a Tory majority] who make up the committee that he did not mislead MPs in December 2021 … Sources close to Mr Johnson say he will publish a ‘compelling dossier’ that will provide evidence and arguments that he did not knowingly mislead parliament”. And if he fails to convince them?

If he … is found guilty, he could be suspended from the Commons, and even faces a recall petition, which would trigger a by-election, if that suspension is for more than 10 days … Crucially, though, MPs would have to approve any sanction on Mr Johnson”. But it will be a free vote. Which means one thing.

Those Tories who have concluded that it’s time for Bozo to leave the stage can vote as they see fit. Their only problem is the last line of Bozo loyalists - the vindictive and deluded constituency associations who have already deselected some of their colleagues for being insufficiently loyal to him.

Also, Bozo’s press pals won’t like it, especially the prospect of a by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip which the Tories are, right now, a racing certainty to lose. He might have been an election winner in 2019, but his behaviour during the pandemic caused revulsion among many of those who had been conned into voting Tory because it would “Get Brexit Done”.

The time of Bozo was for a time, but not for all time. Just rejoice at that news.

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Sunday, 19 March 2023

Ill Met By Gaslight

Reality, for many out there on the right, either in the Tory party or among their cheerleaders in our free and fearless press, really is a state of mind. It is a state whose existence they are most unwilling to admit. While an increasing part of the electorate realise just how far they’ve been taken for mugs, the gaslighting is merely cranked up further. Now it’s getting silly.

Gaslighting can talk up the elite's preference ...

Rishi Sunak, too weak to stamp any kind of authority on his party, has caved to the rabid Brexiteer death cult out there on the far right by allowing Suella Braverman not only to remain as Home Secretary, but also waste taxpayer funds taking her press and broadcasting pals - but not the BBC, Mirror or Guardian, you understand - on a client journalism jolly to Rwanda.

Here, she has fed lines to those at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph (“so impressed by the … homes being built for migrants deported from the UK … she wanted the name of their interior designer”), and the Mail on Sunday (“SUELLA: I’LL SEND BOAT MIGRANTS TO RWANDA BY SUMMER”), revealing the press’ creepy personality cultism.

It began with “Boris”, then moved to “Nadine” and “Priti”. Now we have “Rishi” and “Suella”. And, talking of “Boris”, our disgraced now former alleged Prime Minister, we have the flight from reality infecting Tory constituency associations to the extent that they are willing to deselect MPs who were insufficiently loyal to a lying, wasteful narcissist who cares only for himself.

... while viciously dumping on its targets ...

So much swallowing of the Kool-Aid, so willing to support someone who has single handedly screwed up the UK so badly that the damage will take decades to repair, and still ready to contemplate Bozo doing a Lazarus and returning to high office. This has also been facilitated by the press, with the Tel claiming “Bombshell dossier ‘will clear Johnson over parties’”.

As befits a title trading on its brand while the idea of it indulging in investigative journalism is now a distant memory, the Tel has just been fed the story by Bozo’s pals and has duly applied enough hedging and quote marks to stop it looking even more foolish when the whole thing falls flat. But we do learn that the former PM has a six-strong legal team. And we’re paying.

Jolllies to Rwanda? Legal bills for someone who just trousered £5 million in speaking fees? One might have thought that voters would recoil from such abuses, but that thought would have been misplaced: those groups who claim to be hot on apparent misuse of public funds, like the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, have not said boo about any of it. Because they support the Tories.

... manufacturing stories out of, well, nothing ...

But opinion poll ratings are still dire for the Tories, with Labour posting leads which would see them into power with the kind of overall majority not seen since the days of the 1931 National Government. So that’s all right, then, isn’t it? Sadly not: we have an opposition so scared of that same press establishment that it dare not peep out of turn for fear of angering them.

Worse, when the flag drops and the General Election campaign begins in earnest, the accumulated dirt that the press has on Keir Starmer and his pals will be ruthlessly and indeed viciously expended in pursuit of a Tory victory, not least the presence in the background of Peter Mandelson, a hate figure of the Fourth Estate from the Blair days. And there will be more.

Labour’s legal pursuit of those it accuses of leaking to the press and TV will be used to ridicule Starmer. The presence of some MPs on picket lines will be exploited, anything suggesting the party is still dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism will be front and centre, while the presence of Ed Miliband will see that same press indulging in a little anti-Semitism of its own to smear him.

... and unleashing hate campaigns. Just for fun

And this level of gaslighting would not be maintained unless those doing it were not confident in their pursuit of one desired result: a Tory victory next year. But look at Labour’s poll leads, you might respond. Look at the ineptitude of Sunak and his ministers. Look at the evasion, the flat-out and easily rumbled lying (pace Oliver Dowden on this morning’s politics shows).

To that, the response is straightforward: you think the Tories are going to lose, and lose badly, but think on. The gaslighting already got a majority of voters - albeit a slim one - to back taking the UK out of the EU, a move which is slowly but inexorably impoverishing us. It also got Bozo a General Election victory that his rank dishonesty and crashing ineptitude did not merit.

It also got many voters to believe that a lifetime anti-racist was in fact a raving anti-Semite (he wasn’t, and isn’t). Moreover, it allowed the establishment to blame its ills on migrants (who had nothing to do with those ills), a mythical other “elite” (ditto), something called WOKE which those doing the gaslighting would have trouble even defining (ditto), and a sports commentator (ditto).

Gaslighting has been all too effective, and not in a good way. So it will be deployed again and again by the real elite. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Monday, 13 March 2023

BBC Capitulates In Lineker Row

Look before you leap: one of the oldest of proverbs, and yet somehow overlooked by the BBC’s hapless Director General Tim Davie or anyone in his team. Last week he was on a mission to bring a little more of his version of impartiality to the Corporation; now, having failed abjectly to think through his and his team’s actions, he rightly faces calls for his resignation.

Match of the Day lead host Gary Lineker passed severely adverse Twitter comment on the Tories’ Illegal Migration Bill, noting that the language used by those promoting it was akin to that used in 1930s Germany, which it was. The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press became most indignant and demanded he be sacked for, well, something. The Mail was especially righteous on the matter, as ever.

Here was Davie’s opportunity: Lineker was to “step back” from presenting MOTD. At first this move was briefed as “agreed”. But it was not agreed: Lineker had made no such agreement. Still, impartiality was being enforced. But then a problem entered: what about Andrew Neil when he had been at the Beeb? What about Alan Sugar? What about Chris Packham, who was a freelance, like Lineker?

Then the house fell in: first Ian Wright, then Alan Shearer, then many others, withdrew their services in solidarity. MOTD was severely curtailed; other programmes were cancelled. Suspending Lineker had been intended to show that BBC management was still strong; instead, it served only to show weakness and supreme foolishness, as well as what looked like pro-Tory bias. And not impartiality.

It was OK for Neil to use his Twitter feed to promote the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, and get away with misogynist abuse directed at Carole Cadwalladr. It was OK for Sugar to smear former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. And on it went into the weekend, with Laura Kuenssberg obediently giving viewers a pro-Corporation, and apparently pro-Tory, slant on the affair.

But now a problem entered: in addition to all those hosts who had already declared their solidarity with their suspended colleague, a series of team meetings, at least partly via Zoom, had been scheduled for Monday morning. These could have proved mutinous. So, in another show of weakness, the BBC backed down. According to some accounts, they apologised to Lineker. He was reinstated to MOTD.

He would follow the Corporation’s social media guidelines, but this made no sense, as those guidelines were to be reviewed, which suggested they were not fit for purpose. Davie was now under severe pressure, with calls for his resignation coming from Ed Davey of the Lib Dems, and, at long last, Keir Starmer, although Labour has once again shown zero backbone in its response to the row.

After all, their talking heads refused to endorse Lineker’s criticisms, saying the presenter was OTT in his 1930s Germany comparison. This once again suggests The Red Team is so scared of the right-wing press that it dare not even peep in a direction that press finds disagreeable. But Starmer’s lukewarm response pales into insignificance when compared to the precarious position of Tim Davie.

The DG has shown himself to be both out of touch and inept: he is not there to bow down before the Murdoch and Rothermere press. He should treat the Tory fringe, whether it’s the European Research Group or the so-called Common Sense Group, as what they are: fringe wackos, paid up members of the Brexiteer death cult, a convocation of the mindless, bigoted, and intolerant.

But what he should also do as a matter of urgency is to signal his admission that he loused up, and then hand in his resignation. When leaving the building for the last time, he should take Richard Sharp with him: the Corporation’s Chairman should not be a Tory donor, or indeed former fixer for disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. The BBC should be independent.

Moreover, if we are to have impartiality, there is no place for Robbie Gibb anywhere in the organisation, and certainly not the news gathering and presenting part of it. This fiasco could, and should, have been avoided. The buck stops with the DG: that is all.

The BBC is not there to pander to the right-wing establishment. Clear out the Tories.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Dead Cat Again - Dacre’s Worried

Despite several of the titles published by the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press throwing their collective toys out of the pram yesterday at the horror of a sports commentator having an opinion with which they disagreed, some of them can’t get enough of Lineker bashing. One title that clearly wants to keep kicking the Match of the Day lead presenter is the Daily Mail.

Unrepentant star mocks ‘ridiculous’ row over Tweets [because it IS ridiculous] … As bosses dither [you don’t know], he renews attack on ministers [he took the piss out of Penny Mordaunt] … Boasts he WILL be on TV tomorrow [because Saturday is MOTD day, duh] … LINEKER’S PLAYING THE BBC FOR FOOLS”. And a false assumption to round it off.

But a quick look at the BBC website, which had been covering the story, shows no sign of it - suggesting that, whatever has been said between Lineker and the Corporation’s management, the matter is, effectively, closed. Which, in turn, suggests that papers still throwing mardy strops about the hosts’s comments are indulging in a little al fresco dead cat throwing.

So the question has to be asked: from what are the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker trying to distract attention? Ah well. This comes down to another current controversy - the resignation honours list put forward by disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, which apparently features at least one figure from the Mail titles.

Yesterday, the Guardian told who that was: “Boris Johnson has once again nominated Paul Dacre for a peerage as part of a pared-back resignation honours list despite the Daily Mail chief having previously been rejected by the appointments watchdog, the Guardian has learned”. Ah, the legendarily foul mouthed editor in chief of the Mail titles. And there is more.

Sources with knowledge of the list have said that Johnson has put forward Dacre’s name for a second time. He had been knocked back last autumn after reported doubts raised by the House of Lords appointments commission. If the commission raises the same objections again, it will create a major headache for the prime minister”. Why would that be?

Because Rishi Sunak “will have to choose whether to overrule its members or risk the wrath of one of Britain’s most powerful newspaper bosses”. Also, “Dacre is one of the most powerful media executives in the country, and the backing of his papers could help decide the next election in Sunak’s favour”. But here a problem enters: lawsuits. Rather a lot of them.

Especially this one: “Dacre’s battle for a peerage has coincided … with legal challenges from a group of prominent individuals who allege the Mail newspapers engaged in illegal reporting tactics - including during Dacre’s time as editor … Lawyers acting for the group - which includes Prince Harry, Elton John and Doreen Lawrence - allege they were ‘victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy’ by the Mail”.

There was also - so it has been alleged - a knighthood for current Daily Mail editor Ted Verity in Bozo’s list, although whether that has survived the paring down imposed on Johnson is not known. But it’s the Dacre gong that demands the slinging of dead cats well beyond the shelf life of stories.

So Mail readers, and those of many other papers, will not have seen the reaction of the Hacked Off campaign to the alleged peerage: “No way Dacre should be given a role in the Lords (the ‘house of unelected wreckers’, in the words of his own newspaper) until claims hacking & other illegality took place under his editorship are fully investigated”. So how’s that lawsuit going?

That we do not at present know, but should do before too long. In the meantime, those vetting proposed honours should once again knock back the proposed peerage for the Vagina Monologue. Remember - when the press bangs on about what is effectively a non-story for as long as it has, it’s a racing certainty that it’s at least partly a dead cat. And this one is just that.

No gong with lawsuits pending. There need to be limits to Tory corruption.

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Thursday, 9 March 2023

Lineker Exposes Media Fascists

Free speech is a concept trumpeted loudly by those in the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, but, you understand, there are limits: it is fine to proclaim opinions that meet with the approval of those champions of free speech, but streng verboten to take a contrary stance. This has been highlighted by attacks on Match of the Day lead presenter Gary Lineker.

His on-air denunciation, apparently with BBC approval, of Qatar’s human rights record was fine. This was free speech that our not at all even slightly racist press could get behind: foreigners who are not white behaving cruelly to their own people enables that same press to frame their narrative to show how much better We British are. No criticism of Gary on that one.

But using his personal Twitter feed to point out the cruelty of Tory rhetoric elicited a different response. “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?

That was not the kind of free speech the Mail was prepared to tolerate. “LINEKER FACES BBC REBUKE FOR LIKENING SMALL BOATS PLAN TO NAZIS” thundered yesterday’s front page headline. He called our pal Suella and our other pal Rishi NAZIS! He did! HE DID!! How DARE he?!? He had “crossed a line”, and the Mail had BBC Sources to prove it (allegedly)!

He hardly needed to make the point later yesterday morning: “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree”. It would have been the same in 1930s Germany: say something favourable about the Third Reich, your free speech was fine. Say something unfavourable, you would not keep well.

So the Mail was rather making the point for Lineker. Moreover, he had not called anyone a Nazi, merely talked about the use of cruel and inflammatory language. This had not penetrated the skull of Tory loudmouth Lee Anderson, who harrumphedTo use the Nazi word in this context is disgusting and vile. The BBC should disassociate themselves from these types of comments and ask themselves the question 'is this the type of comment they expect from their publicly funded presenters?’” He still didn’t use the N-Word.

Worse for 30p Lee, others pointed out not only that Lineker was right, but also that, as he wasn’t at BBC News, he was entitled to his opinion. Free speech, remember? But the Mail was not satisfied. It wanted punishment.

So it was that this morning, the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker howled “Staff ‘boiling’ with anger at star’s disdain for rules they obey … He fails to apologise for Nazi slur … and doubles down … Beeb crisis talks as insiders say he’s ‘passed a tipping point’ … IS LINEKER ABOUT TO GET BOOT FROM BBC?” Translation: we demand he is sacked NOW! Or else!

He still didn’t call anyone a Nazi. And LBC host Sangita Myska pointed out that it was about language, noting that “Gary Lineker says the language used by Suella Braverman against refugees & asylum seekers is ‘not unlike’ that used in 1930s Nazi Germany. Holocaust survivor Joan Salter said the same thing on [LBC]. Mr Lineker, I suggest, is in very good company”.

Her fellow host James O’Brien addedIf you’re cross about being compared to Nazis, then calling for your critics to be silenced & sacked probably isn’t the best way to prove them wrongand went onRight-wing politicians & pundits attacking a sports broadcaster for a measured description of deliberately disgusting rhetoric is not just about Gary Lineker.” There was more.

Who're you calling a f***ing fascist, c***?!?!?

It’s a warning to everyone at the BBC not to upset them. Fear of being next in the firing line influences many decisions”. Do go on. “They don’t want impartiality, they want to eradicate dissent & replace it with client journalism. Some senior BBC staff are happy to go along with it. Others, thank goodness, are not. Can’t blame Lewis [Goodall] for leaving”. Target. Hit. Direct.

And while Lineker himself retained his sense of humour, telling followersI have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly). I want to thank each and every one of you. It means a lot. I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice. Cheers all”, the point had been made.

Free speech in the UK is now on a par with free speech in 1930s Germany, the only difference being that displeasing the fascists is restricted to denunciation and a campaign to have the target sacked, or at least silenced. By this much have we progressed from the knock on the door, physical attacks, random imprisonment, torture, and summary execution.

Gary Lineker has exposed the media fascists. He deserves all our thanks.

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Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Stop The Boats = Save The Votes

Rampant and endemic corruption. Failure to invest in, well, just about anything, and especially infrastructure, housing, the NHS, Police, security agencies and education. Refusal to pay public sector workers decently, driving many into poverty. Inability to prevent blatant profiteering by energy suppliers. Doing nothing to encourage use of public transport.

Who has been responsible for all this? On whose watch has the UK become a significantly poorer and less happy place? Where does the buck stop? That would be the Government of the day. And that Government, although it knows full well the length and breadth of its own ineptitude, would rather the people look somewhere, anywhere else. And blame someone else for its mistakes.

So it came to pass that Suella Braverman, who ceased to be Home Secretary last year after breaking the Ministerial Code, but was reinstated to the post a week later by Rishi Sunak, brought forth her Illegal Migration Bill, accompanied by yet another of those Three Word Slogans, this one being Stop The Boats. It is not an original slogan, but an Australian import.

Those arriving on small boats, crossing the Channel from France, would be arrested. They would be returned, or sent somewhere like Rwanda. But Ms Braverman has had to make an addendum to the opening page of her bill, on the European Convention of Human Rights. And it doesn’t look good.

Secretary Suella Braverman has made the following statement under Section 19(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act 1998: I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nonetheless wishes to proceed with the Bill”. But Rishi Sunak says the UK will not be ditching the European Convention on Human Rights.

Which, combined with the lack of potential Parliamentary time available, given the challenges the bill is likely to face in both Houses of Parliament, means that this is not a serious legislative exercise. It is, to quote some Tories’ immediate analysis, merely “Performative”. “Small boats bill aimed at galvanising political support at homewas the BBC’s understated headline.

The Tories are predicted to lose so badly come the next General Election that they will be down to fewer than 100 seats - maybe far fewer. Altrincham and Sale West, for example, where Graham Brady, head of the Tory 1922 Committee, has decided he will not seek re-election next time, is predicted to go Labour with a majority in excess of 10,000. Red Wall? Forget it.

So the Tories’ idea is to frighten the living daylights out of those same voters who they conned with the last Three Word Slogan: “Get Brexit Done”, pushed so enthusiastically by disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in 2019. Swing voters may usefully note that Bozo’s slogan was a dud, and be suitably warned about the latest variant.

Especially when the inflammatory language from Ms Braverman verges on the desperate: there were 100 million displaced people around the world “who could qualify for protection under our current laws ... they are coming here”. This is Vote Leave writ large: then, it was “75 million Muslim Turks” who were “coming here”. It wasn’t. Now it’s “100 million”. And it still isn’t.

The Home Secretary was challenged by host Susanna Reid on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on those numbers, it being pointed out that only 26 million of the notional 100 million had actually left their own country. And Ms Braverman fell back on the dog-whistles: all those in hotels, and WE’RE PAYING FOR THEM. They’re in hotels because the Tories ran down the system.

We are also given the “jumping the queue” chestnut. But there is no “queue”. Enough. We know that, to use that word again, this is merely Performative. It is another way of distracting from failure elsewhere. That much was confirmed when Match Of The Day lead presenter Gary Lineker passed adverse comment on the bill and those out there on the right demanded he be silenced, or even sacked. The bill is a sham? Look over there again!

Our country is broken, but those who broke it want to blame those so desperate to flee war and persecution that they are willing to sail across the Channel in little inflatable boats to get here. The Tories have their own desperation: they have nothing else to offer the electorate.

The difference from 2019 is that, this time, it won’t work. The Tories are done.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Murdoch Fake News EXPOSED

Many of those who read papers like the Times and Sunday Times, and even some who read the Sun, believe what those titles feed them. There must be some substance in what they are told, they think, no-one seems to be taking them to court over the stories, and in any case, not even Rupert Murdoch would push that much falsehood and misinformation. Or would he?

It is here that the goings-on elsewhere in the Murdoch empire prove instructive: the discovery phase of a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against the Casa Rupra for accusations levelled by hosts, and others, on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) around the 2020 US Presidential Election has shown us exactly what they would push.

FNC’s hosts knew that some of their guests, like lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, were lying and pushing conspiracy theories, rather than dealing in facts. But such was the channel’s grovelling backing for Combover Crybaby Donald Trump that they let rather a lot of the lying pass without challenge. That was bad. But what the New York Times just found is worse.

What the NYT has revealed is that, in the aftermath of that election, when those at FNC called Arizona for Joe Biden, the channel began to ship serious numbers of viewers. All those MAGA wackos were being told what was happening out there in the real world, and they didn’t like it one bit. So they turned off, or turned over - to media outlets that were even more wacko.

At this point it has to be stressed that FNC’s number crunchers have - or maybe that should be had - a reputation for getting their predictions right. This was demonstrated in 2012, when they called one key state for Barack Obama in the teeth of protests from their then guest Karl Rove - another Republican who didn’t want to hear what was really happening out there.

Following the accurate Arizona call, there was a panic meeting over Zoom, the entire content of which appears to have arrived at the NYT. And it was during that call that CEO Suzanne Scott and hosts such as Bret Baier considered pulling the (accurate, remember) Arizona call as a means of placating the MAGA wackos and getting them to tune back in.

You read that right: they gave their viewers the truth, a lot of those viewers didn’t want to hear the truth (that Trump was losing the election), and so they considered withdrawing the truth and pretending it hadn’t happened. This would mean changing the whole of FNC’s election coverage. Truth is playing badly, so let’s lie instead. They know they would be lying, but hey, ratings.

FNC’s CEO is on tape saying “If we hadn’t called Arizona for Biden … our ratings would have been bigger”. The channel’s experts’ job was not about accurate election coverage, but to … “protect the brand”. They pushed back, stressing that they had called Arizona right. And Ms Scott agreed that it was important to be right. But, and this is a significantly sized But.

But I think we’re living in a new world, in a sense, where half the voting population don’t believe in big corporations, big tech, big media … there’s a lack of trust”. So Fox News lies to its viewers, over a period of years, thereby undermining trust. Then the channel’s CEO bemoans a lack of trust. Half the population disagrees with the truth, so let’s not report the truth.

Unsurprisingly, MSNBC is making hay with this revelation, with its Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber pointing out “The whole role of a legitimate news organisation is to report the truth, regardless of disagreement and especially when there’s a coordinated attack on the facts”. This is how blatant the lying very nearly became. This shows the Murdoch mafiosi’s standards. Or not.

Why, some media watchers in the UK wonder, is anyone concerned about noise floor occupants like Murdoch property TalkTV? One look at Fox News Channel is all you need to answer that one. Why is anyone worried about the Times and Sunday Times? Likewise, look at what’s happened to the Wall Street Journal since Murdoch took over. And you get the same answer.

Rupert Murdoch has poisoned media discourse in the USA. He was already well on the way to doing the same in the UK. Call him for what he is: this is not someone wanting to impart news. This is a far-right propagandist.

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Monday, 6 March 2023

Bozo Does Not Have A Horse

No matter how serious the corruption in and around the Tory party, and especially that not unadjacent to disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, those in the right leaning part of our free and fearless press can content themselves that at least it’s not as bad as the worst excesses of Roman emperors like Caligula.

After all, Caligula wanted to make Incitatus, his horse, a Consul in the Roman Senate. Sad to say, he was assassinated before that event could come to pass, and equally sad to relate, we don’t do that kind of thing in the UK, so Bozo is able to indulge in the slightly less bad practice of putting forward his father’s name for a knighthood, as part of his resignation honours list.

That would be the same Stanley Johnson who flagrantly broke lockdown rules (like father, like son), was accused of being a sex pest (ditto), and beat up his former wife, Bozo’s mother, to the extent that he broke her nose. While such a nomination sends the worst possible signal on domestic abuse, at least we read that Stan deeply regrets what he did, so that’s all right, then.

And while those out there on the right are playing “look over there” by howling with joy at Labour leader Keir Starmer coming over all evasive under questioning from LBC’s Gammon Emeritus Nick Ferrari on when he first approached Sue Gray about becoming his new chief of staff, the Bozo honours list is not going to go away. Because it’s about more than Stan.

Indeed, that list contains an awful lot of names which are, shall we say, a tad controversial. The only saving grace is that, unlike his contemporary and predecessor Young Dave, he does not have a horse. So perhaps we should be thankful for that news: instead, as Peter Walker at the Guardian has noted, we should, rather, be wary of other names being allegedly pitched.

After telling readersBoris Johnson has been accused of having ‘discredited the honours system’ after it was reported that his long-delayed resignation list includes a knighthood nomination for his father, Stanley Johnson”, he reminds us “Previous reports have suggested Johnson could also be considering honours for his wife, Carrie Johnson, and his sister, Rachel Johnson. As prime minister he made his brother, Jo Johnson, a peer”. There was more.

According to other reports, among those in line for peerages are the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and the former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre”. Arise Lord Effing And Blindigham of Arnos Grove in the London Borough of Enfield. Or perhaps it will be Earl Vagina of Monologue. And it got worse.

Other reports have said peerages could also go to Ross Kempsell, 30, who formerly worked for Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV station as political editor, and subsequently for Conservative central office and for Johnson, and to Charlotte Owen, one of the ex-prime minister’s former assistants who is understood to be in her late 20s”. Ross Kempsell? Who he?

Kempsell became initially infamous after covertly recording a conversation between Paul Mason and a Spanish MP in a Liverpool eatery at the time of the 2016 Labour Party Conference. He subsequently went to work as assistant sandwich monitor, er, sorry, “Senior Reporter” for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. Real peerage material.

But then, Bozo has already ennobled the likes of Evgeny Lebedev, son of a “former” KGB officer, despite the reservations of the security agencies, and Zac Goldsmith, whose campaign to succeed Bozo as Mayor of London was tainted by the racism aimed at eventual winner Sadiq Khan.

Over at the HuffPost, readers are told that “It also emerged last year that Johnson has nominated four of his closest allies for peerages in his resignation honours … The former prime minister wants to ennoble Nadine Dorries, Alister Jack, Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams”. Is that the same Nigel Adams who used to be a regular at Young Britons’ Foundation gatherings?

Well, we’ve already seen the ennoblement of Claire Fox, a bona fide terrorist sympathiser and a part of Living Marxism, famous mostly for genocide denial. All that the alleged K for Stanley Johnson does is underscore the corruption that Bozo has brought into politics, and at which all too few commentators out there on the right have raised a finger, never mind condemned it.

Bozo will get away with it, too. Because no-one who matters will stop him.

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Sunday, 5 March 2023

Dan Hodges And A Lack Of Evidence

One problem that faces those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet is ensuring that, behind every one of those attention-grabbing headlines, every social media boast, is sufficient evidence to stand those claims up. It is an issue that the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges has failed to address - more than once.

He's desperate, Dan

Desperate Dan was for some time merely an opinion writer, and only for the MoS, but has more recently branched out into pieces for the Daily Mail too. Perhaps, with all those redundancies coming down the line, he is having to prove his worth to his editor in chief, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.

The Hodges problem was demonstrated superbly after the Mail pitched the misogynistic and, indeed, untrue and likely defamatory smear of Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, claiming that she had done a “Basic Instinct” at now disgraced and former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to put him off his stride at PMQs, which she did not.

As those working in the service of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog noted, “The oddest thing about this row is that from Boris’s vantage point, and with Rayner sat behind her despatch box, the line of sight for Boris means it is almost certain that he was unable to see Angela’s legs”. Yet Hodges claimed to have “sources” and the “truth”.

Now has come the move by Labour leader Keir Starmer to appoint senior Civil Servant Sue Gray as his chief of staff. At least Hodges is not, this time, among those attempting to invalidate her inquiry into Partygate: his line is to attack Starmer, something which will be taking up more of his time, and that of other Northcliffe House bunker inmates, as the General Election looms.

Headlined “This grubby Sue Gray recruitment annihilates all pretence that Sir Keir Starmer is a man of principles”, Hodges rather let himself go when advertising the piece on Twitter. “Sue Gray attempted to block government over Trans-policy veto. Intervention came at time when she was believed to be negotiating with Keir Starmer to join his team”. Cue the article.

Just before Christmas, Ministers took the fateful - and controversial - decision to block Scotland’s new Gender Recognition Bill … On December 22, Sue Gray, Second Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office, sent an email to those discussing the legislation … ‘I found reference to S35 [the section of the Scotland Act that allows the Scottish Secretary to exercise a veto] difficult,’ she wrote, ‘but I found even more difficult the words about stopping the Bill. But as you say, this seems to have been agreed.’

Why's my f***ing photo here again, c***?!?!?

What was that, again? “THIS SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN AGREED”. Moreover, the approach from Starmer and his team is believed to have come as recently as last month. Hello Dan Hodges. But it isn’t the only problem with this article: he then infers that she, and Labour, are jumping the gun on her move.

A key part of Gray’s defence is that her appointment will be fully scrutinised by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). But again, the regulations are crystal clear. The Business Appointment Rules for Crown Servants state that people leaving the Civil Service ‘should not accept or announce a new appointment or offer of employment before it has been approved’” he notes. Then comes the lack of evidence.

But last Thursday, a Labour spokesman confirmed: ‘The Labour Party has offered Sue Gray the role of chief of staff to the Leader of the Opposition. We understand she hopes to accept the role subject to the normal procedures.’” SUBJECT TO NORMAL PROCEDURES. Like that approval. But do go on.

Labour and Gray are self-evidently flouting these procedures. And going to increasingly desperate lengths to cover up that fact”. Bullshit. And he then doubles down: "The only logical rationale for the move is that Starmer - and Gray - want the flexibility of operating in a more overtly political way”.

Now he’s just guessing. But revealing interesting details on how the Mail titles intend to go after Starmer and his party. And go after him they will: remember, these are the papers that refused to endorse Tony Blair’s New Labour, telling voters to “hold their noses” and keep on voting Tory. The problem for the Mail and Hodges is that this kind of drivel will not seriously detain swing voters.

Because it’s just more desperate barrel scraping. But you knew that anyway.

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Saturday, 4 March 2023

Mail Joins Bozo Down The Rabbit Hole

On occasion, our free and fearless press likes to remind us that, not only is it a bought and paid for part of the political establishment, and usually the right-leaning part of it, but also that it is prepared to bend the facts well beyond the limits of structural integrity in pursuit of shoring up that establishment.

So it was that the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker went in to bat for disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson this week. This was, you understand, with the highest of motives, and nothing to do with the Mail’s editor in chief, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, and its current editor, Ted Verity, both apparently being in line for gongs when Bozo eventually gets his Prime Ministerial resignation honours passed.

10 Downing Street under Bozo’s tenure, despite the Covid restrictions that most of us had to obey, had been Party Central. The booze flowed, there were impromptu bouts of freestyle vomiting, some engaged in consensual if alcohol fuelled sex, a little property damage occurred, and worst of all, this resulted in 126 fines being issued by the Metropolitan Police.

Under pressure from all sides, including his own, Bozo commissioned an independent inquiry into what he claimed not to know anything about. This would be undertaken by senior Civil Servant Sue Gray, and we should wait for her findings. She came to a conclusion not dissimilar to that of the Met: there had indeed been parties in Downing Street during lockdown.

And it was here that the Mail began its journey into the rabbit hole, by talking well, but lying badly. Bozo had a birthday party in Downing Street? Readers were told “The cake remained in its Tupperware container”. Once established upon the course of saying anything - usually untrue - to excuse Bozo’s antics, what has happened this week was the inevitable end point.

Ms Gray has now, it seemed, been tapped by Labour leader Keir Starmer to be his chief of staff. This should not surprise anyone: he knew her from his time as Director of Public Prosecutions. She had already been praised for her rigour and independence by senior Tories; Starmer would therefore demonstrate that he was serious about getting the Top Job himself.

The result at the Mail, though, was one of pant-wetting fury. “Outrage as Sue Gray accepts plum job with Starmer … Boris allies say validity of her No10 inquiry is ‘destroyed’ … Ex-PM ‘shocked and disgusted’ as senior Tories ask IS THIS PROOF THE PARTYGATE PROBE WAS A LABOUR PLOT?” howled the Friday headline, bringing a superb example of QTWTAIN.

Who went in to bat for Bozo? Sadly, only (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, and Jacob Rees Mogg, already on record praising Ms Gray’s independence. And the Commons Privileges Committee, before which Bozo will be giving evidence later this month, is now awaiting the ex-PM’s explanation.

Why so? “On 1 December 2021, Mr Johnson told the House: ‘All guidance was followed completely in No10’. We will consider why Mr Johnson told the House that no guidance had been broken in No10 when he knew what the guidance was and was in attendance at gatherings where the guidance was breached; and why he failed to tell the House about [those] gatherings”.

There was more. “On 8 December 2021, Mr Johnson told the House: “The guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times”. We will consider why Mr Johnson told the House that no rules or guidance had been broken in No10 when he knew what the rules and guidance were and was in attendance at gatherings where the rules and guidance were breached; and why he failed to tell the House about [those] gatherings”. Ouch!

What the f***'s my gong to you, c***?!?!?

Bang to rights, Mr Johnson! So how is the Mail going to spin that one? As if you need to ask. “Report claims Partygate rule breaches would have been ‘obvious’ to ex-PM … But he insists they’ve found no proof and he’s been vindicated … BORIS: NOT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE I MISLED MPs”.

Yes, Dacre and Verity have led their unfortunate hacks even further down the rabbit hole. The problem with going in to bat for a congenital liar is that you end up having to, at a very minimum, broadcast his lies, and as with the cake-and-Tupperware-container whopper, throw in a few of your own. And going from praising Sue Gray’s independence to slagging her off.

All this to save the reputation of someone who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on Dacre and Verity if he saw they were on fire. All the reinvention of reality just to keep alive the increasingly distant prospect of the two of them securing honours from a system that Dacre, for one, has regularly denounced as being “tainted”. Reality, for him, truly is no more than a state of mind.

Bozo is toast. He will be found to have misled Parliament, and on multiple occasions. And his boosters will be exposed as sad, pathetic fools. The end.

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Thursday, 2 March 2023

Hancock Half Hoakeshotted

She told Vicky Pryce that it would be OK to shop her former partner Chris Huhne over his getting her to take the points for him being caught speeding on the way back from Stansted Airport to London. Ms Pryce was then convicted of perverting the course of justice and jailed. That alone should have rung warning bells about mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott.

Cock indeed

And it wasn’t the only time where information in Ms Oakeshott’s possession leaked, although attributed to her equally untrustworthy protégé Steven Edginton: the nominally confidential cables sent by then UK Ambassador to the USA Kim Darroch were leaked to the Mail on Sunday. Darroch incurred the displeasure of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump and had to resign.

On top of that was the time Ms Oakeshott claimed she’d been hacked, as an explanation for Byline Media getting hold of a tranche of emails exposing the true extent of Brexit Bad Boy Arron Banks’ relationship with representatives of the Russian state. The dirty tricks, spoilers, and damage limitation would have made even the late Max Clifford stop and think.

Nevertheless, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, for reasons best known to him, and which he will probably come to regret, entrusted Ms Oakeshott with a significant tranche of WhatsApp conversations around Hancock’s behaviour during the then developing Covid-19 pandemic, for his “Pandemic Diaries”. He also got her to sign an Non-Disclosure Agreement.

This has proved to be a most unwise choice, as Hancock discovered earlier this week when the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph revealed that the former minister’s trusted source (ho ho ho) had shared said WhatsApp conversations with its hacks. “The Telegraph has obtained more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between Matt Hancock and other ministers and officials at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic”. Whoops!

There was more. “The Lockdown Files is the biggest leak of data involving the Government since the 2009 MPs' expenses scandal, shedding new light on issues including care home deaths, lockdowns, testing, school closures and face masks”. To be recycled by the Tel in favour of lockdown deniers.

And more. “The Telegraph analysed messages containing 2.3 million words. In The Lockdown Files we reveal the contents of those messages, and the serious questions they raise … In the first major story from The Lockdown Files, we found evidence that Matt Hancock watered down his Chief Medical Officer’s plan for testing in English care homes”. And yet more.

Hugely embarrassing not just for the Evening Standard, but every other paper, was the revelation that Hancock tapped the title’s then editor George Osborne - his former boss - for favourable coverage, and Osborne effectively responded “yeah, sure”. Ben Kentish of LBC admitted he waslost for words”.

Rachel Clarke, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, observedWow. In Sept 2020, Covid testing backlogs were so dire that people were driving hundreds of miles for tests. But [Matt Hancock] personally arranged for a test to be couriered to Jacob Rees-Mogg for one of his kids. And then sent straight to a lab … A corrupt little man to the core”. Were any more Tories thus favoured?

The questions are being asked already, with Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper putting the Government front bench very much on the back foot. Meanwhile, the questions are being asked as to why Ms Oakeshott feels it’s OK to shaft Hancock, NDA or no, but not Brexit booster Banksy.

Marina Purkiss put it this way: “Have I got this right … Oakeshott felt compelled to leak Hancock’s WhatsApp messages because we need ‘urgent answers’ … But apparently sat on emails showing alleged Russian interference in Brexit and our democracy … Or have I missed something?

Why did Ms Oakeshott break an NDA and shaft Matt Hancock? Whatever her claims - which should be treated with maximum scepticism and equal contempt - one thing comes clear: this is someone that no-one should trust, not even as far as they could chuck her. She is not a disinterested party, but someone most likely wanting to push a lockdown demonising agenda.

Never trust Isabel Oakeshott with anything confidential. Ever. That is all.

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