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Thursday, 28 January 2021

Desmond Swayne - A Suitable Case For Treatment

Those who have looked in on Zelo Street down the years may recognise the name of very old school Tory MP Desmond Swayne, and his occasional difficulty with reconciling his beliefs with reality. Swayne threw his weight behind sacked ticket clerk Ian Faletto in the infamous Lymington litter pick case (featuring a shopping trolley which did not exist), only for reality to intervene. Faletto remained sacked and Swayne ended up looking foolish.

Desmond Swayne

Desmond Swayne was either unable, or unwilling, to consider a simple truth: the railway does not just sack someone who has more than 25 years’ service to their name on a whim. You have to have done something serious for that to happen. And now has come another example of Swayne not acquainting himself with real world facts before going off on one.

More than 100,000 UK residents have now died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19. The pandemic is seriously taxing health services. Many who recover will have to live with long-term conditions as a result. But now the people at Sky News have toldA senior Conservative MP urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against government restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being ‘manipulated’ to exaggerate the scale of coronavirus”. There was more.

Sir Desmond Swayne, who was a senior aide to former prime minister David Cameron, told Sky News he would not apologise for telling a group - who say vaccines are dangerous - to ‘persist’ with their campaign against COVID restrictions”. However, “There is no evidence of data being manipulated, and at the time of the MP's comments, deaths were 14% above the five-year average - according to the Office for National Statistics”.

Do go on. "During an interview in November with Save our Rights UK, obtained by Sky News, Sir Desmond said: ‘It seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated... We're told there is a deathly, deadly pandemic proceeding at the moment … That is difficult to reconcile with ICUs (intensive care units) actually operating at typical occupation levels for the time of year and us bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year’”. Sadly for Des, his view is not universally held.

A Tory MP who urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against coronavirus restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being ‘manipulated’ is ‘wrong’ and ‘completely out of order’, a senior minister has said … Michael Gove told Sky News that Sir Desmond Swayne should apologise and retract his comments”.

It’s only a pity that it has taken so long for the Tories to admit that the Member for New Forest West is a problem. After all, Swayne has previously claimedThere may be a virus one day that threatens our very way of life, but this is not it”, argued against wearing face coverings, and told that the Government was “paying too much attention to health professionals and scientists on health and science issues”. Wibble. Hatstand.

Will Swayne lose the Tory whip? But you know the answer to that one: in the party of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his merry band, no-one is ever disciplined, no-one accepts personal responsibility, and no-one resigns.

Desmond Swayne is not yet beyond redemption. But you can see it from there.

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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

We’re Honestly So Fucking Sorry

With the grim inevitability of night following day, the UK yesterday officially passed the milestone of 100,000 Covid-19 related deaths. The journey from a mere 50,000 had taken just two and a half months. To mark this occasion, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson did something totally out of character: he said sorry.

Bozo rambled away: “It's hard to compute the sorrow in that grim statistic...for so many relatives, a lost chance to say goodbye … As Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything the Government has done... we did everything we could”. Would he care to tell the world what that meant? “You'd exhaust the thesaurus of misery”.

On he shambled. “I just want to repeat what I said ... We did everything that we could to minimise suffering and loss of life in this country ... I'm deeply sorry for every life lost. What I can say is that the Government will continue to do everything we can to minimise life lost”. Just how much more of that success can we take before our resolve snaps?

Pass the sick bucket

Worse than Bozo’s weasel words has been the sycophantic response not only of our free and fearless press, but also the BBC, who really should know better, and serve its audience better. We expect the Daily Mail to tell us of “Boris’ Heartfelt Message”. We expect the Murdoch Sun to proclaim in vomit-inducing tones “We Will Remember Them”.

Make that two sick buckets

But the Beeb trying to deflect and excuse is something else. “How did we come to be one of the countries with the worst death tolls? There is no quick answer to that question … Some will point a finger at the government … Others will spotlight deeper rooted problems with British society - its poor state of public health, with high levels of obesity, for example”.

Do go on. “Some of the UK's great strengths - its position as a vibrant hub for international air travel, for example; its ethnically diverse and densely packed urban populations - exposed its vulnerability to a virus that spreads effortlessly in the close air between people”. What about all those tens of thousands of avoidable deaths? “This, of course, is said with the benefit of hindsight”. No. Just no. This is not good enough.

Nick Pettigrew did not take long to deliver a dose of reality. “The UK is ranked 50th-highest in the world for median age. We're ranked 36th in the world for obesity. We have one airport in the top 40 busiest airports in the world (China has 7, for example). None of these excuses work. It took me five mins to look this up. Do your job, BBC”.

Jonathan Lis was also unconvinced. “‘Everything he could.’ Just think about that. The man who boasted about shaking Covid patients’ hands, skipped the early meetings, and refused to follow immediate advice to lock down *three* times. He did everything he could, alright”. Also, Bozo undermined public confidence by refusing to sack The Polecat.

Mic Wright pointed out the joint failings of both Government and media. “If Boris Johnson was truly ‘deeply, sorry for every, every, every life lost,’ then he would resign .And so would Hancock. And Williamson. And the editors of The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mail … for starters … Any fucker who tells you that the newspapers and TV news have generally held power to account during this pandemic should be made to dig graves”.

They’re honestly so fucking sorry. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Man Who Would Be Salazar

Within the living memory of those of A Certain Age, the southern fringe of Europe was dotted with totalitarian dictatorships, all now almost forgotten. In Greece, the régime of the Colonels expired in the aftermath of a foolish attempt to impose énosis on Cyprus - the result of which, partition, is still with us. The following year, Francisco Franco died and his Falangist state soon followed him to the grave. And then there was Portugal.

André Ventura - the man who would be kingmaker

The very oldest of those dictatorships, the Estado Novo, was established in the early 1930s under the less than benign leadership of António de Oliveira Salazar. He balanced the books, doing do by keeping his people poor, and for many years, less than totally literate. Portugal was still the poorest country in Western Europe by the time the Estado Novo was overthrown peacefully by the Carnation Revolution of April 1974.

Salazar’s régime was corporate, authoritarian, and only marginally less brutal than that of Franco. Going back to those dark times was not a serious proposition - until last weekend’s Presidential Election. Centre-right-to-Independent favourite Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won a second term with over 60% of the vote. But there in third place, with almost 12% of the vote, was André Ventura. Remember his name well.

António de Oliveira Salazar - the casting of a long dark shadow

Ventura became a Deputado in the Portuguese Assembly in 2019. He has criticised his Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been scratching an anti-Roma racist itch, saying those people should be put into camps. He has called for a new dictatorship. He has claimed that the Presidential vote may be rigged. Sound familiar?

As his Wikipedia entry points out, “he provoked an outcry in Parliament in January 2020 by proposing that a black colleague be ‘returned to her country of origin’. At the 2020 convention of the Chega [‘enough’] party, he passed a motion at the party's 2020 convention calling for the removal of ovaries from women who have abortions”.

A playbook we have seen before ...

Where is he, politically? “At the beginning of the Portuguese electoral campaign, the president of the French Rassemblement National party, Marine Le Pen, confirmed that she would go to Lisbon to support André Ventura's presidential candidacy”. Right there.

What is more concerning is where Ventura got his support: as well as largely rural Bragança and Portalegre, he did well in Évora, Beja and Faro - the areas from where the 1974 revolution drew its support. And how did he get his message across? As Aitor Hernández-Morales has shown in a must-read thread [HERE], it’s a familiar story.

... and fringe loudmouths amplified by the media

In addition to copying the Bannon / Trump playbook in terms of diatribe, Ventura also similarly benefitted by media complicity in his rise. Portuguese TV personalities were totally fine with bringing him onto their shows (and whitewashing him) in order to boost their ratings”. Just as the BBC did with Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. Look where that led us.

Portugal’s constitution prohibits “armed associations, military, militarized or paramilitary-type associations and organizations that are racist or display a fascist ideology”. It looks like André Ventura is determined to put that to the test in the near future. His latest claim is that he will be the kingmaker in future electoral contests.

We thought the dictators had left the European stage. Just hope they don’t come back.

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GB News - Chat Shit, Get Wedge

Sounding more and more like a media offering following in the footsteps of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), GB News has tried to head off claims of right-wing bias. Press Gazette has headlined its latest report on the newcomer “GB News launches recruitment drive for 140 jobs and declares commitment to 'impartial journalism’”.

Andrew Cole

It is been widely reported that the channel will be right-wing, with some even predicting that it will be the UK’s answer to Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox [News] in the US … But today chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said ‘we are committed to impartial journalism’”. Sadly, early reports that the channel is courting LBC’s Gammon Emeritus Nick Ferrari, and self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda, suggest otherwise (The latter had far right agent provocateur Andy Ngo on her show today).

As does this snippet: “Chairman and ex-BBC presenter Andrew Neil … has said GB News will target ‘the vast number of British people who feel under served and unheard by their media’”. Those of us who remember Brillo as long-serving editor of the Murdoch Sunday Times, which indulged in AIDS denialism, crudely libelled the lead witness in ITV’s Death On The Rock, and otherwise cosied up to Mrs T, will not be reassured.

Nor will those who saw Neil use the BBC Sunday Politics to push climate change denial. But that is not the only driver of GB News’ potential editorial direction: there are also the media players in the background. Like Andrew Cole, about whom Byline Times notes “Cole is a director and board member at Liberty Global - a multinational telecommunications company with roughly 47,000 employees”. And what does Liberty Global own?

According to the trading website Wallmine, Cole is also a shareholder at Liberty, reportedly owning stock worth more than $1 million. Liberty Global has an interest in mainstream broadcasting in the UK, owning 9.9% of ITV Plc, the company that effectively owns and operates the ITV network”. So much for Brillo’s non-MSM pitch.

Cole, co-owner of All Perspectives Ltd., the company which appears to own GB News, has an interesting LinkedIn entry, telling us where he might expect the channel to position itself. His recent likes include three Tory posts - two from Bozo, one from Matt Hancock.

But none by other political parties. And in response to a Google post on how to position oneself for that big job interview, he has sniped in response “Other tips from Google: - How to position yourself as something you are not - How to appear to be good when in fact you are a politically motivated negative force for the world - How to unethically squeeze your competition - How to influence politicians in unscrupulous ways - How to undermine a constitutional right in the US: free speech”. FREEZE PEACH! FREEZE PEACH!

What free speech would Cole seek to protect? His latest LinkedIn like: “Biden’s been in office 2 days and Democrat cities around the country are reducing Covid restrictions and opening indoor dining. YOU LITERALLY CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP! They ruined American businesses, livelihoods and lives for an election. This should repulse you”. Christine Yeargin, who penned those words, is an ambassador for Turning Point USA.

What should repulse anyone concerned is that someone with influence on GB News is liking wacko conspiracy nonsense. Ofcom is going to be awfully busy very soon.

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Monday, 25 January 2021

Julia Hartley Dooda Protests Too Much

As the Covid-19 UK death toll passes 100,000, those bleating at Government restrictions on all our freedoms and claiming that they don’t work might have been expected to stop and think. But that would have been to underestimate the determination and self-justifying behaviour of those who claim merely to be “sceptics”, such as those at the Murdoch noise floor operation TalkRADIO, and especially the self-promoting Julia Hartley Brewer.

Such is Ms Hartley Dooda’s belief that she is right, and anyone suggesting otherwise is not only wrong, but also a very bad person to boot, that this morning she has taken out a king-sized onion and told anyone not yet asleep that she is a victim. The problem with her apparently spontaneous protestation is that she had to keep looking down as she pontificated, suggesting that she was reading from a pre-prepared script.

I’ve been called a lot of names … names I can’t say out loud on the radio … I believe when they start calling you names, that’s when you’re winning the argument”. There’s delusion for you: someone thinks she’s channelling Mrs T. Then comes sheer desperation as she fixes on the D-Word, as in Denial or Denier.

To use Denier - echoes of a Holocaust Denier, people who deny the worst crime in history, is just despicable”. That lame excuse was trotted out over a decade ago by the Climate Change Denial brigade. The problem with it is that the word Holocaust is missing. And without the word Holocaust, no-one is suggesting Holocaust Denial. Next.

Then it was on to mere scepticism. “Since when was being sceptical about Government policies rolled out without any evidence [false claim: there was plenty of evidence] that would achieve not anything that they claim to achieve [false claim: restrictions last Spring and Autumn reduced the number of infections, which was the whole idea]”.

There was more. “Since when was being sceptical about that a bad thing? Asking questions, demanding evidence and proof for a policy that devastates millions of lives [no citation] … destroys children’s education [at the very least, this is wilful exaggeration, and again, no citation] and according to eminent experts from some of the top Universities in the world, will cost more lives than it will save [no citation]”. But enough.

Let’s just see what she’s defending. Comments such as “The virus kills. It just isn’t causing excess deaths anymore … No, we are not seeing excess deaths over and above roughly what we would expect at this time of year … Excess deaths are no higher than, for eg. autumn 2018, and they are happening at home and to under 65s, which suggests very strongly that they are NOT Covid deaths … We don't have 200 deaths from coronavirus a day. There are no excess deaths”. And then there were all those False Positives.

She claimed “An FPR of 0.8% when the virus prevalence is so low means that at least 91% of ‘Covid cases’ are FALSE POSITIVES”. When Dominic Pimenta, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, told her she had her sums wrong, she sniffed “you actually don't understand the maths, do you?” followed by “Why don't you do some basic research into those statistics and into the false positive paradox and then get back to me”.

Some might take that as a flat-out denial of reality in order to push misinformation. Like supporting the Great Barrington Declaration, which suggested erroneously that the elderly and vulnerable can simply be shielded. They can’t. You cannot, repeat cannot, REPEAT CANNOT simply “shield the vulnerable”. What about care home staff? They interact with families, families interact with friends, transmission happens. The GBD is a sham.

Not that Ms Hartley Dooda is having any of that: “the Great Barrington Declaration was and is correct: help the millions of old & sick to shield while allowing the young & healthy (& our economy) to carry on living”. She also misunderstands the concept of “underlying conditions” to excuse her contention that restrictions should be ended.

Just 377 healthy people under 60 have died of Covid. That's not a typo. There are no zeros missing. 377. Yes, that's sad but we have locked down an entire country for a virus that mostly kills the very old & the very sick. The rest of us should be free to decide our own risks”. What she means is 377 people with no underlying condition.

But those underlying conditions include hypertension, asthma, diabetes and many other common conditions which are managed by medication and which would otherwise not stop those affected from being full contributors to society, or indeed from living long and happy lives. In the world of Julia Hartley Dooda, they simply get in the way.

Still, back to her pleading this morning. “If the evidence for lockdowns is so strong, and not just a totally debunked computer model from a year ago [false claim] then why are those in favour of lockdowns so terrified of a public debate?” Who’s terrified? Dominic Pimenta wasn’t terrified. Ms Hartley Dooda was. So is there a point to all this?

The people who want to shout names, or insults, or slurs, including by the way, some MPs [probably a reference to Tory MP Neil O’Brien, who has been roasting the loathsome Toby Young] and leading newspaper columnists [Nick Cohen of the Observer, and even Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday, have called her out]. If they want to carry on, so be it. But they will not stop me … from speaking out on behalf of the millions of people who do not have a voice”. That’s just plain delusional. So let me put her straight.

Nobody wants lockdowns. Nobody is a lockdown enthusiast. This is a false premise which Ms Hartley Dooda, and her fellow “sceptics”, peddle in order to demonise their opponents. Lockdown is something most people accept, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Claiming otherwise is just more peddling of misinformation.

She calls the current restrictions, which are at last showing a reduction in the number of new Covid-19 cases, “a policy which has been proven time and time again to be wrong”. This is a pack of lies. We don’t want lockdowns, but they do their job.

Let history be the judge” pontificates Julia Hartley Dooda. It might just. And in that case, I hope she and her fellow misinformation enthusiasts have their excuses at the ready.

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Saturday, 23 January 2021

Mike Graham Racism Hypocrisy

For people who revel in the ability to shoot off North And South for hours at a time, the hosts at Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkRADIO are terribly sensitive souls, none more than Mike Graham, the Mr Blobby of the Baby Shard bunker, who has been so hurt by being called a racist that he is apparently prepared to go to law over the accusation.

Sadly, like his fellow host Julia Hartley Dooda, Graham’s knowledge of how this defamation business works is somewhat lacking, as is his sense of self-awareness, and, indeed, his sense of timing. We can see this from the time stamp on the Tweet that launched his latest offensive - 0042 hours yesterday morning.

Responding to Michael Walker, sometime of Novara Media, he blustered “Hey Michael. Just discovered your [Novara Media] video where you called me a racist. Can you please furnish me with your address for legal correspondence? Thanks”. “Furnish me with your address”? You don’t need someone’s address to send a Letter Before Action.

That assumed Graham was serious about doing so. Walker, later that morning, took a relaxed view: “Happy to have my day in court on this one Mike”. Very soon after that, Ash Sarkar pitched in. “I'm no legal eagle, but I reckon suggesting that repeatedly calling a South Asian woman a man with a moustache might be motivated by racism could be covered by ‘honest opinion’ [Mike Graham]. Also, you quote tweeted the wrong video”.

Would Graham care to respond? “I didn’t quote tweet the wrong video. And having an opinion about racism isn’t the same as calling someone racist. That’s a big difference I’m afraid. As any lawyer will tell you”. Any lawyer, to quote Graham’s happy phrase, would tell you that you don’t need someone’s address before launching a defamation action.

Meanwhile, Aaron Bastani had also got the message on Graham’s hissy fit. “The idea these people believe in ‘free speech’ is absurd … I’ve been called racist (and all kinds of things) over the years. I obviously don’t think that’s true (!) but in a free society I think an individual should be able to say that. Freedom is freedom to disagree”. It’s true that the TalkRADIO crowd are hot on telling their critics that it’s just FREEZE PEACH.

The problem that Graham faces in perhaps going to law in order to sooth his hurty feelings is that calling racist on people with very little other than hot air to back up the claim is something he does rather a lot. And it does seem to happen at the same time of day - or, rather, night. Last June, just after midnight, off he went: “Oh look. Another racist Leftie”.

In October, there were two late night snipes at Labour MP David Lammy, with “A racist speaks” at 2317 hours followed half an hour later by “More dangerous lies from the racist Lammy”. If anyone is on shaky ground dishing out the R-Word, it’s Mike Graham doing it to David Lammy. Even this month he was still at it, sneering “Miffy the racist” at Miffy Buckley.

That last one, once again, was soon after midnight. In the cold light of mid-morning, Ms Sarkar suggested he pony up his action: “we look forward to hearing from your lawyers. Perhaps they could have told you that all the information you needed to begin legal correspondence was already publicly available, and you didn't need to harangue anybody on Twitter at midnight to get things started”. Quite. So where’s the lawsuit? We’re waiting.

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Friday, 22 January 2021

Nigel Farage - Now An Irrelevance

After Combover Crybaby Donald Trump left the White House for the last time earlier this week, to the great relief of all those who wished the SOB had never arrived there in the first place, some of his supporters were left bereft. They had backed The Donald to the exclusion of any thought that he might lose. And their number included the now forlorn figure of Reform UK Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage.

Nige was certain Trump would beat Democrat challenger Joe Biden, so certain that he let it be known he had wagered £10,000 on the outcome. And he lost. He also lost his cachet as someone with access to a serving President. Worse, there was the prospect that Trump was facing an impeachment trial and may be barred for holding office ever again.

So Farage had to not only defend Trump, but make himself sound knowledgeable and relevant. Sadly, he achieved none of these goals, starting with his claim “This is why impeaching Donald Trump is a mistake”. Yeah, right. Holding to account someone who incited the armed storming and trashing of the United States Capitol is a mistake.

Like heck it is. But do go on. And on he went to talk to fellow bigot Rowan Dean (still alleged to be editor of Spectator Australia, even after losing that lawsuit) on Sky News Australia, that well-known Antipodean variant on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), asserting that Republicans who want to dump Trump are “making the biggest mistake of their political careers”. Yeah, why bother saving their party from wipeout, eh?

And while he was in pretend mode, Mr Thirsty pretended something else - that Trump has some kind of Presidential legacy, other than that of a chiselling gangster. “I will be posting a new video on the Trump legacy later today … Watch my thoughts on the Trump Legacy” he pleaded. What legacy? Tax cuts for the rich, his followers dishonestly gaslighted into believing the election was stolen, a country divided, Covid-19 almost ignored.

So that’s For Some Value Of Legacy, then. Still, there were still media appearances, weren’t there? Well, if you count a chat with dribbling bigot Mike Graham at Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkRADIO, maybe there are. Here, Nige told anyone not yet asleep that the Democratic Party had been taken over by The New Hard Left. This means that THE SQUAD got re-elected to Congress, and added two new members. Yay The Squad!

Not going too well, was it? And it got worse, as Farage desperately blubbered “There are media reports that the bust of Winston Churchill has been removed from the Oval Office. If true, this is a slap in the face to the British and any prospects of good relations”. Who gives a flying foxtrot what he thinks? And as to that photo he posted, well.

James Doleman pointed out that Nige had posed “While standing in front of a portrait of George Washington, who carried out a successful armed insurrection against the British Crown”. One last pointless gesture from Mr Thirsty? You got it. "Trump’s greatest legacy is that he restored faith and trust in politics. He made promises and kept them”. Master, how far shall I tell him to Fuck Off? Trump spent four years lying his head off. End of.

That desperation tells you all you need to know. Nigel Farage is irrelevant at home with his pals protesting about Covid restrictions while the death toll skyrockets, and he’s even less relevant in the USA now Trump has gone. All that hot air and no-one listening. Sad!

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