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Monday 30 September 2013

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad UKIP?

The Tory Party conference is an odd affair: unlike the Labour bash last week in Brighton, it already seems to be fixated not on moving up a gear in preparation for the 2015 General Election campaign, but to try and second-guess and elbow out Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar proper-uppers in UKIP. That might not be what the undecided part of the electorate needs to hear.
On top of that, the Tories are listening rather too much to unrepresentative groups peddling ideas that have already been demonstrated to be unworkable, are obviously going to be unworkable, will alienate the voters, or maybe all three at once: step forward the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), which actually represents less than one-tenth of one per cent of all UK taxpayers.

So Young Dave and his jolly good chaps are becoming hostage to ideas based not on practicality, but on ideology, while at the same time trying to second-guess Nige on issues such as immigration. The upshot is a bogus-looking attempt to look mean and hard on unemployment, as the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, did this morning.

Then the Tories get to look mean and hard on immigration later on, with measures announced by Home Secretary Theresa May, who is actually a highly intelligent and sensible person, but who is also as aware as the next Tory that Farage may be outside the tent, but after a few scoops of Tetley’s at the Circus Tavern this affy, he will all too soon be pissing in.

So Ms May is talking about getting really tough with immigrants, including throwing them out of the country before they have chance to figure out whether they can do anything about it. Will that assuage Farage? Not if today’s meeting with Tory Eurosceptic Bill Cash is anything to go by: you might think that he and Farage would be close to one another, but in reality they hate each others’ guts.

And Nige’s political antennae might not be as sharply tuned as some pundits would like to think: the idea that Jacob Rees-Mogg, Peter Bone (and, no doubt, Mrs Bone) and (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries should not be opposed by UKIP as electing them would be “in the national interest” will raise much hollow laughter among those who have witnessed the trio’s various recent antics.

Which begs the question: why are the Tories bothering with UKIP? They’re trying to steal their clothes, but Farage is a cheap opportunist, whose every manifesto unravels in minutes. They appear to be looking to smear UKIP with “under the radar” activity – so less effort going into facing up to Labour. And all the while they have a membership in terminal decline and an increasing poll deficit.

The Tory Party this week appears to be all at sea, and with nobody on the bridge.

Workfare – TPA Tail Wagging Tory Dog

So this year’s Tory Party conference is to be given the exclusive news – well, except for those who already saw it in the Maily Telegraph – that Young Dave and his jolly good chaps are going to get tough on the long-term unemployed, and make them jolly well give something back in exchange for their dole money, because, well, they need to throw the electorate some kind of populist bone, that’s why.
Popular opinion favours the idea of “work for the dole”, we are told, but then, it also holds that unemployment benefit takes up a far greater proportion of welfare spending than it actually does. But the Tories are not going to bother explaining such things when they can look dead hard instead. And it is here that we see who is really driving the policy – and why that may not be good for Cameron and Co.

Work for the dole” is also the title of another slice of suitably loaded propaganda from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), which made the claim that it was “A proposal to fix welfare dependency” (note the assumption that long-term unemployment is equivalent to “dependency”). This was duly filleted in a Zelo Street post early last month.

Such matters, like questionable assumptions and iffy costings of the TPA study, are not allowed to enter as the Tel’s James Kirkup tells readers “Tens of thousands of long-term jobless welfare claimants will have to work for 30 hours a week doing community service or lose their unemployment benefits. The announcement is the latest toughening of the Coalition’s welfare rules, a key part of the party’s pitch”.

So this is one of the Tory offerings in the run-up to 2015. But, although the TPA has claimed that this approach works, previous Government studies have examined the idea and the feedback has not been promising. Here, for instance, is the conclusion of a 2008 study which looked at schemes in the USA, Canada and Australia.

There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers. Subsidised ('transitional') job schemes that pay a wage can be more effective in raising employment levels than 'work for benefit' programmes. Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high”.

Weak labour markets where unemployment is high? That rings a bell. Note also mention of subsidised job schemes that pay a wage – something that is anathema to the TPA, as it means Government intervention. Paying a wage is what the TPA does not want to do, and this is an excellent opportunity to get around minimum wage rules, which the TPA opposes. So now we know who’s driving this particular bus.

Something to think about when listening to Osborne’s speech today.

Boris Admits He Is Like Mugabe

Another Monday, another Maily Telegraph column from London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, dialled in from wherever he was awaiting luncheon yesterday, and full of the usual self-promotion, sleight of hand, and with the occasional historical reference thrown in, because, as any fule kno, Bozza is the go-to occasional London Mayor when it comes to quoting the Romans.
Bozza is, once again, taking a pop at Mil The Younger, demonstrating that anything Dan Hodges can do, he can do at a far higher price. So while Hodges really does get “chicken feed” for his Miliband moans, Bozza will collect £5,000 for this one, and someone else will have to sub the piece and otherwise knock it into some kind of coherent shape. And, even then, there is a howler at the start.

It is astounding that people are falling for the opposition leader’s Wonga-like offer” he tells readers. So Wonga equals A Very Bad Thing, does it? Clearly things have changed since December 2010, when Bozza was more than happy – except for the barrage of criticism he faced as a result – to take Wonga’s wonga to sponsor free New Year travel on the Tube and other public transport in the capital.

Still, Bozza has an anecdotal Miliband story about how he and his team at City Hall heroically attempted to secure Government funding to tackle London’s pollution. Yes, if only Ed had been paying attention, brave Bozza would have swung into action and cleaned up the capital’s emissions. The problem here is that he has made bugger all effort to do so in the time since Labour were in power.

So on he goes to energy prices, and here readers are treated to Bozza’s encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Ancient Roman: of Miliband he tells “He says he will imitate the catastrophic policies of the emperor Diocletian”. Well, knock me down with a feather, I never knew they had mains gas and lecky in downtown Herculaneum. You learn something new every day.

We need new transport infrastructure – and that means a government with boldness and vision, such as the one led by David Cameron” he pleads, managing not to realise that Young Dave has just restated his commitment to HS2, while Bozza is agitating against it. But he really sells the pass when it comes to all those developers and their land banks.

You won’t get developers risking their cash to build, if they are told they are vulnerable to Mugabe-style expropriations” he protests. You mean like the kind of expropriations outlined last May by, er, You actually, Bozza? So the Tel’s star columnist admits that he is threateningMugabe-style expropriations” of developers’ land. Good to see him likening himself to the Zimbabwe leader.

Although the reality is that he couldn’t be bothered to do his homework – again.

Sunday 29 September 2013

32 Year Cooling Period Discovered!

Even after sitting through the Q&A session following the release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Mail On Sunday’s resident naysayer David Rose is sticking to his guns: the warming has stopped, there may even be cooling, and they’re all rotten and nasty because they did’t answer his question the way he wanted.
But, as Nobel Laureate Michael Mann has pointed out, the IPCC report is a deeply conservative document, having been thoroughly researched, with any conclusion that cannot be convincingly supported taken out. It has had to be couched in the kind of language which is acceptable to all the Governments involved. And it still concludes, with 95% certainty, that mankind is largely responsible for the warming.

And, as Phil Plait has explained, there is a natural cycling of temperatures which means they rise and fall over time – or, as has been happening recently, they cycle between rising more steeply and then flattening off. He points out that, when temperatures cycle back once more, the rise will resume. This can be seen when examining temperature movements in the recent past.
As seen in the Mail On Sunday (again)

While Rose bangs on yet again about his “pause”, reproducing the graph that claims there has been no warming since 1997 – that’s over a 16 year period – and then asserts that “because 2013 has been relatively cool, it is very likely that by the end of this year, world average temperatures will have crashed below the ‘90 per cent probability’ range projected by the models”, two can play at that game.

And – guess what – I can find a period in the recent past twice the length of Rose’s recent so-called “pause”, and where I can even show that, over that period, the temperature fell. Yes, I give you a 32 year cooling period: this means I can be twice as certain as David Rose that global cooling is taking place (OK, the temperature rose steeply after the period I selected, but you get the picture).
Thanks to Phil Plait

If I choose 1944 as my start year, and 1976 as the end year, I get a massive 0.25 degrees Celsius of cooling! Eat your heart out David Rose! Sadly, though, going back from 1944 to 1909, there is over that period around 0.6 degrees of warming, and after 1976 there is almost 0.75 degrees of warming over the 22 years to 1998. That illustrates the cycling of the temperatures.

And if you’re wondering what happened to Rose’s “16 year hiatus”, that’s the bit at the top right of the graph. You won’t read about this in the Daily Mail or Mail On Sunday, of course, as the titles are fixated on an agenda passed down to staff after Nigel Lawson bought the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre that lunch. But it is, nevertheless, indicative of what is really happening out there.

That real world, folks, is what should concern us, and not the likes of David Rose.

TPA – Local Government Theft Smear

The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) on occasion exhibits an appetite for pejorative language which verges on smear tactics: anyone debating the HS2 project, for instance, will know all about this. This usage has recently also been adopted by non-job holder Andrew Allison, supposedly the TPA’s national grassroots coordinator, although this is an organisation with no grassroots.
More bore from the second floor

It appears that local authorities in West Yorkshire are contributing to the effort going into the opening stages of next year’s Tour de France, which, despite the name, will actually start from Leeds, on 5 July. The combined amount, from the various councils in the region, will total around £6 million. As befits a TPA non-job holder, Allison is suitably aghast at this activity, and has branded it as “waste”.

There follows the usual TPA fog of whataboutery: why can’t they get the private sector to pay up? Do they really think that anyone in their right mind will choose to take a holiday in Huddersfield (all those using the newly restored Narrow Canal and visiting places like Holmfirth must stop somewhere else)? What about commercial sponsorship? What if he’s got a pointed stick?

And, as usual, Allison has not bothered to find out any more about commercial sponsorship, nor about the proportions of public versus private funding, nor what benefit/cost analysis the councils may have done in support of their decisions. Moreover, anyone reading his attack will have noticed the use of a particularly loaded term on more than one occasion.

West Yorkshire councils dip into budgets to fund the Tour de France” [my emphasis] is the headline. Later we read “Yorkshire councils will be dipping” [ditto], and that “Bradford is dipping into its reserves”. There is only one credible reason for using that word rather than any other form of description, and that is because of its association with pick-pocketing.

Allison’s message is clear: an act of theft is being slyly suggested. Council tax payers are having their pockets picked, and of course they have no say in it. This achieves two things: the TPA immediately gets the punters on side, and then makes it doubly hard for the authorities involved to get their own message across, as they are inevitably pushed on to the back foot.

And that pushing comes from the TPA, who couldn’t be bothered to engage with them in the first place. After all, Andrew Allison and his fellow non-job holders aren’t interested in that sort of thing: all they want to do is to rubbish and otherwise belittle any form of public body, with the ultimate objective of having it diminished or even wiped out. So what better than to imply that they’re just petty crooks?

Then it’s filed under “Burning Our Money”. What a bunch of cheap spin merchants.

Kenya – White Widow Wasn’t There

The attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi has set the press off looking for the usual simple answers, and easy to define villains. So it should surprise no-one that many of them have fixated on the possibility that Samantha Lewthwaite, aka the “White Widow”, may have been present. And, as so often, once one paper runs with the story, the pack mentality kicks in, and they all have to run it.
So, while the deeply subversive Guardian cautioned against jumping to conclusions, the Mail had made its mind up: “Terror raid ‘led by white widow’” screamed the headline. This was swiftly followed by “Why the White Widow is prime suspect”, and then the magnificently fraudulent “Has British 'White Widow' been killed in final assault on Kenyan shopping mall? Body of white woman terrorist is found at scene”.

That was all that the Express needed to pile in with its own version of the same story, starting with “Did the White Widow fugitive storm the Westgate mall?”, then “Kenyan massacre: ‘White Widow may have acted alongside Americans’”, “Worldwide hunt for ‘white widow’”, and the supposedly damning “WANTED: Interpol issues arrest warrant for ‘White Widow’”.

The Mirror could not resist the temptation to join in, led by Russell Myers, formerly of the Mail On Sunday, and the hack who entrapped Paris Brown. “'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite feared to be behind Nairobi shopping mall massacre” he informed readers. There followed stories about her fake passport, how she was “wanted, and the “lairfrom which she allegedly plotted the attack.

Even the supposedly “qualityTelegraph had to join the herd: “Was July 7 bomber widow Samantha Lewthwaite among Kenya attackers?” it demanded. Then came “Samantha Lewthwaite arrest warrant issued by Interpol” (nudge nudge), and “The ‘White Widow’: the new face of terror”. But there was one teensy problem with all this coverage, and that is that Ms Lewthwaite was not actually there.

We know this as the New York Times has actually been doing some investigative journalism around the story, reporting that “There is no evidence so far, the police and security forces say, that Samantha Lewthwaite ... was involved in the Kenya attack, let alone was its ‘mastermind’”. The Kenyan interior minister, and spokesman for the group involved, both said “no women were involved in the operation”.

But what about the Interpol arrest warrant? “The red notice was issued in response to a Kenyan request concerning events nearly two years ago, not the Nairobi attack”. So the press had been peddling yet another pack of lies all last week, which could have been easily checked by making a few enquiries. On the information currently available, Samantha Lewthwaite was not there. She wasn’t involved.

Still, it fascinates readers and sells more papers, so that’s all right, then.

Top Six – September 29

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have to go out later. So there.
6 Don’t Menshn The Syria U-Turn More routine hypocrisy from former Tory MP Louise Mensch as she moves from wanting bombing and action on chemical attacks to, er, the exact opposite.

5 Boris The Absent Mayor London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was once again absent as one of his vanity buses apparently went onto autopilot, shot a red light and rear-ended a line of traffic. Three were seriously injured, including two unfortunates who had to be cut out of their car.

4 Delingpole Admits Defeat Again Ahead of the IPCC report on climate change, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole showed, by his resorting to abuse and falsehood, that he had given up on arguing against the science. Again.

3 Flannelled Fool Stalking Fail The odious Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, attempted to gatecrash a gathering organised by the Hacked Off campaign. He failed. So he hung around outside. But saw nothing. So he made up a story to suit.

2 Iain Dale And A Police Caution The publisher and blogger found himself in hot water after a fracas on the Brighton seafront. Would this make him reconsider his previous attitude to others’ experience of Police complaints?

1 Don’t Menshn The U-Turn Dear Louise Mensch was duly rumbled, praising the deeply subversive Guardian on the one hand, before taking the Murdoch shilling and deciding that it was a rubbish paper after all.

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

Saturday 28 September 2013

Mail Labour Spinmeister Hypocrisy

Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover had a question for all his avid Daily Mail readers the other day (Paul and Geordie Bonkers): “His sins make McBride look saintly. So why is Alastair Campbell now treated with such reverence?” he thundered in mock outrage. Glover is horrified that Big Al is still around so long after the departure of Tone, and that he’s “regularly given a platform by the indulgent BBC”.
Why not f***ing kick Jewish immigrants, c***?!? 

He goes on (at length, I’m afraid) “The astonishment for me is that such a man, who did bad things and made so many enemies, should be treated by most of the media as a respectable figure. In particular, the BBC, which he tried to crush in a mood of unbalanced fury, cossets and indulges him ... one day, before he meets his Maker, he will be forced to confront the magnitude of his sins”.

Or did he mean “Dacre”? It does rhyme with “Maker”, after all. But this is unequivocal stuff: Campbell stands duly accused, so what, like the proverbial Romans, has he ever done for us? Well, for the cause of promoting better awareness of mental health – Big Al suffered a serious breakdown, and has to deal with depression – he’s done rather a lot, and only this week, too. Which Glover’s own paper reported.

Glover and his fellow pundits may not care about such matters, but it was partly down to Campbell’s advocacy that Asda was forced to withdraw a “Mental Patient” Halloween outfit, with Tesco forced into similar action over a “Psycho Ward” outfit later on. Asda also donated £25,000 to the charity Mind, whose CEO told that “This really went way beyond the line of acceptability”.

Campbell added “We are trying to change attitudes towards mental illness so people do not stigmatise it and something like this comes along and it just reminds you we are basically still in the Dark Ages ... We are still in the Dark Ages if some of the biggest companies in this country, Tesco, Asda and Amazon think that it's acceptable to sell something like this”.

Added to using his media profile to promoting understanding of mental health issues, Big Al also promotes Leukaemia and Lymphoma research (what efforts the Daily Mail’s pundits make in this area is not known). And of course he is not backward in coming forward to routinely denounce the paper he calls “The Dacre Lie Machine”. So it’s just spite, as is today’s attack on Ralph Miliband.

The latter, from the pen of Geoffrey “Lickspittle” Levy, righteously denounces the father of Mil The Younger (describing him condescendingly as a mere “Jewish Immigrant”) while glossing over his three years service in the Royal Navy. One wonders who hated Britain more, Miliband senior, or a paper that, a decade earlier, had been championing fascism, proclaiming “Hurrah for the Blackshirts.

It’s all in a few days’ routine hypocrisy for the Daily Mail. No change there, then.

Boris Bonking Back To Westminster

Forget all those suggestions that he was more likely to be reincarnated as an olive: London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has at last ‘fessed up to what we knew all along. He wants to return to Westminster, and not just to sample the less than wonderful interior of one of his vanity buses plying Route 24. Bozza wants to be an MP once again.
Cripes chaps! Oo-er! Down Percy!

This news was released to a not really expectant world by Bozza’s preferred media outlets, the Evening Standard (aka London Daily Bozza), and the Maily Telegraph, for which he dashes off a column while awaiting his Sunday luncheon (served by whichever unfortunate host he dumps on that weekend), trousering a mere £250,000 a year of “chicken feed” in the process.

So what finally persuaded him that he should favour the House of Commons with the presence of Himself Personally Now? Er, Syria, that’s what: “I did feel for the first time in more than five years, I felt during the whole Syria thing, I thought I wish I’d been voting there”. Like he’d have made a jot of difference to what happened (maybe the vote against the Government would have been even more conclusive).

And MP it is, then: “I’m more likely to serve my country in that form than as either a Premier League footballer or the lead singer of a boy band ... We’ll have to see what crops up. I cannot give you a more categorical answer because genuinely there is no more categorical answer. It’s not as though there is an answer in my head that I’m concealing from you”. So the usual waffle, again.

In any case, Bozza would need a seat to fall vacant in 2015, and preferably with a sizeable Tory majority. So what chance is there of that? Ah well. The Telegraph, ever helpful to his cause, has the answer: “Is Crispin Blunt MP being forced out to make way for Boris Johnson?” asks the headline, after the Member for Reigate was told recently to re-apply for the berth.

Who that? Reigate has been represented since 1997 by Blunt, whose majority in 2010 was larger than the vote secured by the Lib Dem runner-up. He scored more than 53% of the popular vote. This is a comfortably safe Tory seat. And easing Blunt out, after he “came out” over his sexuality, appears to be a process already set in train. This shows a strange set of Tory moral imperatives.

Confessing to being gay is clearly trumped by the serial philandering and subsequent dishonesty of Bozza, which famously got him sacked from the shadow cabinet – not for screwing around, but lying to Michael Howard about it. And, for the icing on the cake, voters get someone whose legacy to Londoners includes dumping a half-billion pound bill on them for all those vanity buses.

Good to see Reigate Tories have their priorities in order. No change there, then.

Don’t Menshn The Syria U-Turn

Just when you might have thought that there was no more hypocrisy and U-Turning left for former Tory MP Louise Mensch to do, she goes that extra mile and proves you wrong.
Has she got hypocrisy for us? You betcha

Last week it was her blatant volte face over the deeply subversive Guardian, and now it’s Syria, where, only a month ago, she was cheering on Young Dave’s jolly good wheeze to lob cruise missiles into the country.
And when Mil The Younger dissented from the Cameron view, she was indignant: “Miliband looking exceptionally weak after trying to face both ways on Syria. Playing politics with the lives of the gassed” she ranted, although of course the Labour leader had been consistent from the start.
Her solution? Get bombing: “A targeted strike against Assad’s chemical facilities would be right and just”. And why would that be? Ah well. One should not query the wisdom of Ms Mensch. See what happened to those rotten lefties, for a start.
Labour whips were applauding, laughing and cheering Miliband in their office ... Cameron was the only leader who led ... hang around is all we’re going to do and it is on Miliband’s head”. Listen up, political people, Louise says we’ve got to do some bombing, and do it NOW!
Fast forward one month, and guess what? We don’t need to do some bombing! No, we need to do the humanitarian aid thing instead. “Children are starving, bombed in Syria outside Govt areas and the border is closed for food and water. Get a humanitarian resolution through” she commanded yesterday.
But what about all that “leading”? What about the chemical weapons attacks? Nope, she’s hearing none of it: “Reports of new chemical attack in Syria miss the point. Food, water are choked off outside of Damasus [sic], Govt areas. Concentrate on AID now”.

So what about “the lives of the gassed”? What about that “right and just” targeted strike? What indeed. Another example of rank hypocrisy from another of what Robin Day so rightly called “here today and gone tomorrow politicians”. Pass the sick bucket.

Friday 27 September 2013

IPCC Reports – Press Spins

So the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) has finally published the first part of its fifth assessment report, and the findings are unequivocal: warming of the climate is real, it is almost certain that mankind is responsible, it is unlikely that temperature rises will be less than 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, and that means rising sea levels, weather events and the rest.
Now, some might view the conclusions, and that many commercial organisations are feeding the findings into their risk management strategies for the coming years, and conclude that the scientific approach has convinced even those who previously doubted that warming was real. But they would be wrong, as the sceptics, even though they cannot yet fault the findings, are spinning and moaning as usual.

One of Anthony Watts’ pals has whined “I am watching the IPCC farce right now, North Korea would be proud of this type of stitch up” (nothing to contribute, then). Andrew Montford, aka Bishop Hill, dismissed all journalists present as “environmentalists” except for David Rose of the Mail On Sunday, who will be spinning the findings at the weekend. And the press has more.

The Daily Mail, as befits the excellent value extracted by Nigel Lawson from his lunch with the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, tells readers “Is this the evidence all those green taxes are cash down the drain? The world's hardly got any hotter in the past 15 years!”, and that’s before any of the hacks or pundits bothered to read a word. So the headline had already been written (as usual).

The Maily Telegraph makes the pretence of straight reporting for once, but blots its already inky copybook by accompanying this with an editorial that starts by damning what it calls the “zealots” on both sides of the argument, while making sure not to even mildly scold their own zealot, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, whose latest rant did not even wait for the IPCC to publish.

And, as the man said, there’s more: “Climate change campaigners have not been helped by the fact that their advocates include some of the bossiest and most irritating people in politics. When told by the likes of Chris Huhne, Caroline Lucas or Ed Miliband that they must pay sky-high energy bills to plaster the country in ineffective wind turbines, it is no wonder that the public are resentful”.

So that’s the usual stance by the back door, then. There certainly won’t be any reining in of the likes of Christopher Booker, and his “nobody understands except myself” nonsense. David Rose will be along on Sunday to pretend that he was told whatever he’s going to make up in the meantime at the IPCC press conference. And all other true believers that it isn’t happening will carry on as before.

Meanwhile, the world moves on, and all the moaning sceptics are out of time.

Captain Bellend Pisses Down His Leg

[Update at end of post]

Forget fantasy football – the loathsome Toby Young, or to give him his full due, the Honourable Toby Daniel Moorsom Young, has hit upon the idea of fantasy politics, which is, as the name says, fantasy, but may provide an alternative to endless games of Monotony on damp autumn weekends, when pundits find themselves at loose ends and need to convince themselves that someone cares about them.
And Tobes’ latest fantasy politics wheeze is to call “Unite the right!”, as if he can declaim a few instances of “Shazam” and miraculously bring Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar proper-uppers back into the fold that is the Tory Party. Sadly, as anyone with a hole in their jacksy knows all too well (except Tobes, of course), this is total crap.

But Tobes has convinced himself, and that is all that matters: “What I have in mind is something bottom-up rather than top-down. A unite-the-right website set up by members of both parties that tells people who they should vote for in their constituency to keep out Labour and the Lib Dems”. Well, neither party leadership will have anything to do with it, but minor point, eh?

But do go on. “Take Eastleigh, for instance, a seat currently held by the Lib Dems. Ukip came second at the by-election last year, so the advice would be to vote for Diane James in Eastleigh because she’s the candidate best placed to defeat the incumbent ... Sceptics will say this example is misleading”. Dead right it is: the two parties would immediately fall out over 2010 versus 2013 vote share.

The Tories were runners-up in Eastleigh at the General Election. They had held the seat for decades before Stephen Milligan’s bizarre demise let in the Lib Dems. So how will Tobes square the circle? “Who will decide which candidate the website endorses? A committee made up of equal numbers from each party”. So it’ll be a fair fight when they fall out after the second pint, then.

In any case, if this is such a brilliant idea (OK it isn’t, but let’s humour Tobes for a moment), why doesn’t Young set up this new website himself? After all, as Political Scrapbook revealed yesterday, he’s a dab hand at web based stuff, having edited his own Wikipedia page some 200 times two hundred times in six years. But he won’t be going there, and it’s blindingly obvious why not.

UKIP and the Tories hate one another. And Farage and his pals take support from a far broader pool than disaffected Blue Team members. This idea is a non-starter. It’s another example of Lyndon Johnson’s characterisation of a speech on economics being like pissing down your leg – it feels hot to the bloke doing the pissing, but nobody else seems to notice.

And right now Tobes is nursing a chapped leg. No change there, then.

[UPDATE 1615 hours: Tobes has been joined in making his clarion call for unity by James "saviour of Western civilisation" Delingpole, who, in that strange form of English used by those right-leaning Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants, says he is "totally with" his pal on this.
Sadly, as anyone who has suffered the rantings of Delingpole in the recent past will know, he has dispensed so much abuse towards Young Dave, and indeed most of those in the Tory Party, to mean that his advocacy would be little short of poisonous. So that's another damp squib in the making, then]

The Mail And Stephanie Flanders

With the certainty of night following day, anyone appearing in front of the camera at the BBC is routinely attacked by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre for being, well, someone who appears in front of the camera at the BBC. Because this, as any fule kno, means that they are part of the rotten leftie conspiracy that lies at the heart of the Corporation.
What's f***ing wrong with kicking BBC staff, c***?!?

And in recent years there has been no greater hate figure than a presenter who is (a) female, (b) unmarried (Oh! The shame of it all!!), (c) attractive, (d) highly intelligent, (e) on top of her subject, and (f) once dated not one, but two leading figures in the Labour Party. Step forward Stephanie Flanders, who, during her tenure as BBC Economics Editor, was the target of The Full Dacre spite attack. Several times.

The Mail lost no time telling readers that Ms Flanders once dated Mil The Younger and, later on, “Auguste” Balls. This meant that she was, by association, just as rotten and leftie and damn socialist as they were. The scene being by now duly set, the hacks and pundits just needed to go into “colour by numbers” mode and it was “job done”. An early example was an exchange with Young Dave.

Ms Flanders was sceptical of Cameron’s “recognition of marriage in the tax system”, asking “I'm not married. I have a small child. Are you saying the Conservative Party would like me to be married?” which was sufficient for tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn to assert that Ms Flanders was “symptomatic of the whole BBC/Guardianista/New Labour mindset”.

Later, the Mail clearly sided with Iain Duncan Cough after he had unsubtly accused Ms Flanders of “peeing all over British industry”. She was accused of siding with Labour, Duncan Cough was quoted in full, and just to make readers sure which side they should support, it was stressed that she had been privately educated and lived in a house worth over £1 million.

That story was recycled as the Mail dutifully reported onthe liberal, left-wing leaning of the state broadcaster”. It wasn’t the only slice of knocking copy aimed at Ms Flanders (see HERE). Even human interest stories about her were patronising and snarky, as witness the characterisation of Ms Flanders as “The Credit Crunch Crumpet” (this from a female author, too).

So how do the Dacre doggies deal with the news that Ms Flanders is to leave the BBC to join J P Morgan Asset Management? Whoops! Out go all the “rotten leftie” insults. The Beeb is no longer a profligate and money-wasting machine. Instead, readers are told to be jealous because she is going to be paid A Huge Sum Of Money, the amount having been invented in the newsroom.

And no apology for all the malicious tat of the recent past. No change there, then.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Iain Dale And A Police Caution

[Update at end of post]

Blogger emeritus, radio show host, and lately publisher, Iain Dale has recently secured the rights to Power Trip, Damian McBride’s memoirs of his time in the service of Pa Broon. In promoting the book, McBride was interviewed on camera earlier this week with the Brighton seaside as backdrop, and publisher in close attendance. And the whole episode had a most unfortunate conclusion.
Iain Dale

Well-known protester Stuart Holmes worked his way into shot, brandishing his placard. Dale, for reasons known only to himself, took a severely adverse view and attempted to manhandle Holmes out of shot. There followed an unseemly fracas, as publisher and protester ended up in a random heap on the floor. Then Holmes’ dog bit him in the knee, just to make sure.

Initially defiant, and claiming that he was doing nothing more than protecting his author, Dale was later prevailed upon by the Police to return to the seaside, where he was duly nicked. A by now deeply contrite publisher has now apologised to Holmes, McBride, Ed Miliband, anyone connected to the Labour Conference, the TV viewers, everyone at LBC, and of course the dog.

This may be not unconnected to the fact that Dale has also accepted a Police Caution for common assault. Given that video footage of the incident has gone viral, it would have been difficult to mount a denial. At this point, those with moderately long memories may recall an earlier conjunction of “Iain Dale” and “Police Caution”, but in regard not to himself, but Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads fame.

In the run-up to the 2010 General Election, Ireland had attended (by invitation) a hustings event at Flitwick, in the constituency of (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. He had secured permission from the chair to both film and broadcast the event. Ms Dorries, on establishing his identity, made the false and defamatory claim that he had been “stalking” her (criticising her, yes, but that goes with the territory).

She then pursued the case with the Police, matters concluding when it was found that Ireland had committed no offence. Ms Dorries insisted that he hadbeen issued with a warning under Section 2 of the Harassment Act”, which he had not. He did not have, and does not have, any criminal record. Iain Dale reported this verbatim. It is still live and easily accessible.

Pursuit of politicians is something that both Nadine Dorries, and Iain Dale, do not find to be a bad thing when their pals at the Guido Fawkes blog do it. Perhaps Dale will, in the light of this week’s events, think again about what he did two years ago. Sadly I doubt that Nadine Dorries, whose recent actions include apparently trying to get Tim Ireland sacked from his job, would be up to such a task.

Accepting a caution is a serious business. Mistakenly accusing others is worse.

[UPDATE 27 September 1205 hours: what Iain Dale did not know was that he had been doomed by The Curse Of Littlejohn's Support. The Daily Mail's tedious and unfunny churnalist  has whined in his column today - clearly written earlier in the week - "what useful purpose does Sussex Plod think might be achieved by bringing possible assault charges against ... Iain Dale, who wrestled a well-known, attention seeking nutter to the ground during a live TV interview?"

He goes on "Can't the Old Bill ... tell the difference between a genuine public order offence and a publicity stunt?" to show that his knowledge of the law is not unadjacent to sweet Jack. But good to see Dicky Windbag calling it wrong yet again. Bad news for Iain Dale, though]

Miliband Versus The Fat Cats

Some commentators either have short memories, are capable of deploying double standards, or perhaps have engaged autopilot without first thinking. That is the inescapable conclusion after seeing the tide of ritual abuse directed at Mil The Younger following his commitments on energy prices and land banking made during his speech to the Labour Party conference.
(c) Steve Bell 2013

The Labour commitment to not only cap bills for almost two years following the 2015 General Election, but also to put in place reforms in the meantime to make the market work better for ordinary consumers, has caused share prices to take a hit and the right leaning part of the punditry to recoil in horror – before unleashing yet another tirade of abuse at Miliband.

Typical was Max “Hitler” Hastings, now reduced to churning out copy to the order of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, who called the Labour leader an “assbefore going off on a rant: “deeply depressing ... evasions ... outright untruths ... disastrous class-war mindset ... discredited socialist obsessions ... contemptible ... absolute unfitness”. Yep, autopilot engaged all right.

But reference to what happened when Labour was elected in a landslide back in 1997 there was none. And there’s the rub: that was when Pa Broon, following a pre-election pledge, hit the energy companies with a one-off “windfall tax” to raise £5.2 billion for training young people. The probable cost of Miliband’s price cap is in the region of £4.5 billion – to be retained by consumers.

And, as Adam Bienkov has pointed out at politics.co.uk, it’s a little rich that Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole is up in arms at the Miliband pledge, as he was one of the stoutest defenders of the Brown “windfall tax”. Moreover, it isn’t just over energy bills that the Labour leadership is criticised: there is the matter of how to solve the ever-present problem of land banking.

Even compared with his energy freeze bombshell, Ed Miliband’s threat to seize undeveloped land owned by property developers sounded extreme” asserted the Maily Telegraph. Yes, it was a THREAT to SEIZE something that was OWNED by someone else. And that, as any fule kno, is only done by rotten lefties. But the Tel is forgetting that someone else said the same thing only last May.

That someone was their star columnist, London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who, the Standard reported, “has threatened large housing developers sitting on land until its value goes up with tough compulsory purchase orders unless they start building”. That’s the same idea as Miliband’s. But from a Telegraph pundit and One Of Us Jolly Good Tories.

So that’s two more examples of rank hypocrisy. No change there, then.

Paul McMullan – Clown In Denial

He has left the newspaper industry, hopefully never to return. His political career, with UKIP, ended ignominiously after the party ditched him. And his appalling pub does not sell cask beer. But Paul “privacy is for paedos” McMullan is eternally unrepentant, and, more importantly, still willing to give interviews to anyone who will stump up for his bar tab.
Paul McMullan at the Leveson Inquiry

Latest volunteer to listen to McMullan’s tape-loop of self-justification is Vice magazine’s Chris Goodfellow, who has ventured to Dover to find his subject as defiant as ever. “There’s nothing wrong with phone hacking and there's nothing wrong with hacking Milly Dowler’s phone” was his opening gambit, followed by yet more delusional self-justification.

She was dead, so there's no crime, which seems so heartless. The whole reason why we [the press in general] had to hack Milly Dowler’s phone is because [the police] are so useless that [they] left a mass murderer walking around the country banging women on the head with a hammer”. What he doesn’t say is that the Screws tried to send the Police on a wild goose chase – hampering their investigation.

But McMullan knows who the baddy is – Lord Justice Leveson: “Do I care about Leveson? Yeah, I think so – only because I used to have a surveillance van. I used to be able to pick on targets, to sit outside their house and make a lot of money, and I can’t do it any more. It’s so boring and shit”. Rotten Leveson stopped him stalking and harassing the public. It’s just so totally not fair!

So just how not wrong is all that stuff McMullan and his pals – notably Glenn Mulcaire – got up to? We can put a value on this as, while he was giving the usual spiel to Vice magazine, the Hollywood Reporter was setting out the sums that the Murdoch empire has had to shell out in settling the hundreds of claims made against it for what McMullan called “nothing wrong”.

News Corp has so far settled literally hundreds of claims, either under a compensation scheme (272 cases), or being fast tracked through the courts in order to reduce overall costs and get the claims out of the way (276 cases, with 32 still active). The total amount of money paid out in settlement has been almost £240 million, with over £110 million in the past year alone.

For actions that McMullan claims were “nothing wrong”, that’s an awful lot of dosh to pay out. The reality is that much of what he and his pals at the Screws got up to was very wrong, much of it was illegal, and it caused untold damage to peoples’ lives. All that Paul “privacy is for paedos” McMullan can offer in justification is to say it’s not fair and that he should be able to go right ahead and do it all over again.

What you will not read in most of today’s papers. Pass the sick bucket.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Delingpole Admits Defeat Again

[Update at end of post]

We now know that the campaign to persuade the public that global temperatures have not risen at the rate previously claimed has failed. Worse, it has been thoroughly and demonstrably debunked, and its practitioners exposed as spin and fraud merchants. And the result is that those who pretend that it’s not happening have resorted to petulance and abuse as a result.
Zelo Street regulars will recall the misleading ideas peddled by the Mail On Sunday’s David Rose (most recently filleted HERE and HERE), which have, as with so much Mail content, been spread around a number of other online sources as if they were fact, which they are not. As David Holmes has shown at The Conversation, Rose got his key statistic badly wrong.

Rose claimed that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) report had asserted the rate of warming since 1951 to be 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade, adding that it was now agreed to be just 0.12 degrees, and therefore concluding that it was “only half”  the amount previously claimed. But the original figure was 0.13 degrees Celsius.

That means a change not of 50%, or even 40%, but less than 8%. The kind of variability that happens. And the rest of the spoilers being peddled ahead of the IPCC report have been dismissed by head man Rajendra Pachauri, who advised journalists that “There will be enough information provided so that rational people across the globe will see that action is needed on climate change”.

That hasn’t stopped the Rose canard from being taken up by the Murdoch press in Australia, but this too has been debunked by Paul Barry of ABC’s Media Watch, who has observed that Australian shock jocks are just as keen as their cousins Stateside to declare for the climate sceptic brigade. And one sure sign of failure has come from one of our own best-loved climate sceptic ranters.

Step forward James “saviour of Western Civilisation” Delingpole, who has responded to the 95% certainty of the IPCC that human activity is causing temperatures to warm by sneering “95 per cent of intelligent people know the new IPCC report is utter drivel”, but sadly, apart from his adoring readers (Damian and Toby Bonkers), few whose opinions matter will be swayed.

Del Boy cites a scientist who does not agree with the IPCC assessments, lauding his work as “excellent”, whines about ABC Media Watch being from an “irredeemably left-wing” broadcaster, attacks the deeply subversive Guardian (quoting another source of which he approves), and also talks up Christopher Booker, the pundit who thinks white asbestos is no more harmful than talcum powder.

All of which means he’s a busted flush, and the spoilers haven’t worked. The end.

[UPDATE 26 September 1105 hours: Delingpole has been given the opportunity by the Telegraph to make one last desperate throw of the dice, this time in the print version of the paper. "Global warming believers are feeling the heat" is the headline, being an excellent example of projection. The likes of Del Boy are the ones who truly believe, while all those rotten scientists dealing with all that nasty evidence are doing no more than going where it takes them. No belief system is required.

Although the article masquerades as informed comment, it is laced with abuse: "nonsense ... evidence-free ... discredited ... bravura spin ... scaremongering ... bluster ... skulduggery ... snouts in the subsidies trough ... gravy train". The assertion that warming stopped in 1998 is wheeled out for yet another encore, with Delingpole managing not to mention that the ten warmest years ever have come since then.

Sadly, nobody is taking his advice and recanting, and the only sources he can cite in support come from the usual retinue of contrarians and amateurs. Thus the piece does no more than confirm that the Telegraph ceased to be a paper of record long ago, and is prepared to peddle the thoughts of Del Boy as if they were the musings of a responsible, informed and competent science writer. And, thanks to the work of Paul Nurse, we all know how valid that claim is]

New Mail Pundit Continues Nazi Obsession

While the Daily Mail screams at the Labour Party for supposedly well thought out and publicly spirited reasons – rather than the rarely-mentioned fact that Mil The Younger has supported properly independent press regulation, something that scares Paul Dacre shitless – the latest recruit to the paper’s dubiously talented roster of punditry has exhumed the Mail’s oldest obsession.
No I f***ing haven't got a twitchy right arm, c***

Dominic Lawson, brought in to replace Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, has been sick-makingly described as a “sparklingly incisive new voice”, but his first effort, a clumsy intervention in the Damian McBride saga, relies on nothing more incisive than to dredge up the paper’s creepy fascination with the Third Reich.

The headline – “It's not one Mad Dog. The tribal Left is driven by hate” – is in accordance with the Mail’s use of projection, to accuse others of the boiling rage and hatred that sweats from every pore of its legendarily foul mouthed editor, but Lawson goes off the rails in line one: “One of the mysteries of history is that no documentary record exists of Adolf Hitler ordering the extermination of the Jews of Europe”.

Wait, what? This is relevant how, exactly? “Hitler’s aides, seeking to gain his approval, would initiate actions which corresponded to what they knew to be his wishes and interests ... Without wishing in any way to imply moral equivalence between mass murder and New Labour’s dirty tricks, I propose the same theory to explain the central question raised by ... Power Trip [the McBride memoir]”.

Maybe this is an isolated incident? You jest: Lawson quotes McBride on the response of Pa Broon to badly received BBC Radio interviews “Gordon would unleash a tremendous volley of abuse — usually a stream of unconnected swear words. I’m convinced he didn’t care that the BBC were still recording at the other end; he actually wanted them to hear” and then, guess what?

Yes, here it comes: “I’m tempted to add that the German Fuhrer was also prone to tantrums that terrified his aides and made them all the more anxious to do whatever it was they thought he must want”. Then he adds something that could have come out of the Python “Nudge Nudge” sketch: “But it would be in the worst possible taste to compare Brown’s character with that of the Nazi dictator”.

Are you insinuating something?” “Oh no, no, no, no, no, no ... yes”. Get out of here, Lawson – this is truly lame stuff. “Labour under Gordon Brown bad because ... Hitler!” is barrel-scraping of the worst kind, crude, nasty, and utterly wicked. That means he’ll fit right in with Dacre’s retinue of talking heads, and their inability to see their targets as anything more than so much collateral damage.

And he’ll trouser shed loads of dosh in the process, so that’s all right, then.

Ed Frightens The Pundits

Despite the cheering on of every opinion poll that shows a narrowing of the gap between Labour and Tory, the right-leaning part of the punditry is still frightened at the prospect of Mil The Younger crossing the threshold of 10 Downing Street – and, worse for them, armed with an absolute Commons majority. So yesterday’s leader’s speech was always going to provoke a suitably screaming reaction.
And so it proved, not least at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, where all hands were called to the deck to mount an assault of condemnation on whatever Miliband said, if only because he was, well, Labour leader. The unlikely figure of consumer affairs editor Steve Hawkes led the charge: “Ed Miliband's energy price freeze: this is a crazy idea that could create blackouts”. We’ll hear more of that.

Janet Daley, meanwhile, had nothing to say, but had to say it anyway: “Ed Miliband gave a speech to the hall, not the country”. That’s otherwise known as money for old rope. Meanwhile Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, lowered the tone with “‘Britain can do better than this’ – a crap slogan that wrecked Ed Miliband’s speech”. They let any old riff-raff write for the Tel nowadays.

But where was the frightening prospect of “Socialism”? Enter former Murdoch servant Iain Martin to stiffen the resolve of the troops, telling “Red Ed is back with a land grab”. Yeah, your investment is going to be snatched from you by a Soviet-era regime! Attaboy Iain, and don’t bother addressing the question of all those firms hoarding their land banks and refusing to do anything with them.

Was there anyone with a good word for Ed? Not yet there wasn’t: the loathsome Toby Young asserted that this was a restatement of Labour’s 1983 manifesto, except he was talking out of the back of his neck again. And Dan Hodges whined “The hall loved Ed Miliband’s speech. But he didn’t look like a Prime Minister in waiting”, which means Dan Says He’s Rubbish (again).

But there were some who dissented from the approved line. Benedict “famous last words” Brogan cautioned “It would be easy to dismiss Ed Miliband as a bug-eyed socialist. But the Tories should be wary”. Miliband had hit a nerve, struck a chord. And Peter Oborne was once more of independent view: “More and more he reminds me of Clem Attlee and the civilised approach to politics which he represented”.

Oborne went on “Mr Miliband is not the leader of some virtual political party, constructed by focus group experts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. He represents a great political movement, and it is his job to speak on behalf of the underprivileged and the disenfranchised”. Oh dear, someone at the Telegraph just let the real world into the circle jerking session.

And there’s the rub: the cat-calling is a desperate attempt to shut out reality.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Flannelled Fool Stalking Fail

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog like to call out others for alleged stalking, but are clearly not adverse to a little of their own. And Staines’ tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, likes to brag that, as a so-called Contributing Editor of the Spectator, he can wheedle his way into parties just by letting hosts know of his not inconsiderable presence.
I can't be stalking anyone, cos I'm on telly!

Well, yesterday evening, the Fawkes rabble were informed that media campaigning group Hacked Off were having a gathering near Brighton, to presumably set out their stall to the Labour Party on the occasion of the Conference. That they had been so informed was broadcast via the MediaGuido Twitter feed. But the bad news later in the evening came from Cole alone. Oh what a giveaway!
We're going to a party ...

So what had the Fawkes folks been up to? Well, one of their number had apparently been dispatched to try and blag his way into the Hacked Off gathering, which is believed to have been hosted by Steve Coogan. This “Plan A” was, it seems, an instant failure, with the Fawkes representative reduced to stalking the house in a vain attempt to find out what was going on inside.
... we're going to get in ...

Having been apparently made as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool, all that was left for the Fawkes rep was to invent something – anything – to justify the excursion. And it was at this point that Cole gave the game away, telling “Hear no-one has turned up to Steve Coogan’s private Hacked Off party at his house near Labour conference”. So it seems it was Cole on stalking duty.
... er, no I didn't

And the stalking had yielded nothing. But worse was to come: that Tweet was in itself a fishing expedition, hoping to get someone who was at the gathering to pipe up “yah boo bogbrush features, I was there and can report that so were A, B and C, so you’re wrong”. But takers of bait there were none. All Cole has received is a few credulous souls repeating his Ron Hopeful act as fact.

So, Hen, would you like to know who was there? Asking nicely? Saying please? Well, here goes ... er, how the bloody hell should someone typing away in Crewe know? And, let’s face it, even if I did have the faintest scrap of information about what happened chez Coogan, or didn’t, the flannelled fool would be the last person on this earth who I’d be sharing it with.

Henry Cole is desperate to know something, anything, about Hacked Off’s gathering, if only to burnish his credentials with that part of the Fourth Estate to which he and his boss have so shamelessly sold out. But his quest has been a total and utter failure. The Fawkes rabble clearly didn’t get a sniff, Cole was reduced to consoling himself watching Newsnight, and he didn’t even get Steve Coogan’s autograph.

Still, it’s excellent spectator sport. Another fine mess, once again.