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Friday 31 January 2014

Labour Lead? Quick, Apply Spin!

Another day, another opinion poll, and another array of excuses as to why the numbers do not yield the nominal result that those making them would like to see. Nowhere can this be seen in such sharp focus as at the Murdoch Sun, which commissions YouGov to give it a daily snapshot of public opinion, only to discard many of the results as they do not accord with the paper’s wishes.
And to be fair to Rupe’s downmarket troops, they are not the only ones wanting to not only pick and choose their polls, but also wilfully exaggerate the ones on which they choose to report. This week’s responses have been a case in point, as more than one poll showed Labour’s previously stable lead declining, and all was forgotten as this was immediately held to herald a Tory resurgence.

Labour's poll lead evaporates as parties gear up for election ... A ComRes poll gives Labour a one per cent lead over the Tories (33 per cent) with the Conservatives on 32 per centtrilled the Maily Telegraph. Moreover, “A YouGov poll in The Sun gives Labour a two per cent lead at 37 per cent, over the Tories (35 per cent)”. Hack Christopher “No” Hope was beside himself.

And he might as well not have bothered, because, after “Auguste” Balls made his 50p top rate of income tax statement, and the Tories proved to be a total shambles as they worked themselves into a lather over foreign-born criminals and whether they could make them stateless, thereby hoping to make themselves look jolly tough, the electorate had shifted once again.
Behold the spin of Ron Hopeful

So when today’s YouGov poll for the Sun appeared, the Tory cheerleaders all went quiet as they digested a Labour poll lead of a whopping 10%, which would translate into a Commons majority for Mil The Younger of well over 100 seats, including, hopefully, City of Chester, Reading East and Cannock Chase. No link was published to a Sun story, so it is assumed that the paper once again failed to run with it.

Instead, a clearly embarrassed Tom Newton Dunn, the paper’s non-bullying political editor, was left to spin the result as “The Raab effect (or a rogue)”. What he also ignored was that, as recently as January 20, the Labour lead in that same poll had been 8%, and that if there were to be a rogue result, it might not be last night’s. Even averaging all recent polls gave a nominal Labour majority of 76.

That result would come from a 6% Labour poll advantage over the Tories, 38% to 32%. And unless Young Dave and his jolly good chaps can persuade the electorate that giving a tax break to those earning over £150,000, while real earnings are yet to recover to their 2008 level, is worth voting for, that outcome is looking more and more likely. Right-leaning papers cannot imagine such a scenario.

Perhaps the voters really do not believe what they read in the papers.

Guido Fawked – Guardian Still Standing

There is no finer example of the vindictive streak possessed by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog than their unyielding campaign against the deeply subversive Guardian. And a particular favourite of the Fawkes folks has been to focus on the operating losses incurred by the paper and its online operation over the years.
The Guardian? Er yeah, it's more skint than me after a night on the piss, shit no, town, getting arseholed, bollocks no, more media contacts. Who can help me get legless. Oh sod it

The attacks on the paper, and editor Alan Rusbridger, are typified in their scale and ineptitude by a July 2012 post, “Guardian losses picture data special”, which recycled a graphic that wrongly asserted Rusbridger’s monthly salary to be the amount he was paid for the whole year. Never mind the accuracy, keep putting the boot in. And, as the man said, there’s more.

Next month cameGuardian CEO Andrew Miller Spins Losses to Staff” – and yes, I know, The Great Guido accusing others of spin is an interesting one – trying to give the impression the losses were increasing and by inference were unsustainable. Then last July cameGuardian Still Losing Half-a-Million a Week”, once more making the accusation of spin.

Readers were pitched such terms as “haemorrhaging” money, so we can be in no doubt of the impression this copy is intended to give. And that impression, not for the first time with the Fawkes rabble, is one whole pile of weapons grade bullshit. Because Guardian Media Group (GMG) has been sitting on a cash pile worth hundreds of millions, and now the final security brick has slotted into place.

GMG’s remaining stake in Trader Media Group (bought or sold a car recently? You may well have used their website) for a cool $1 billion. So the paper and its website might lose $50 million a year? With that much dosh available, being invested and grown all the while, such numbers are not going to be a problem. The securing of the title “in perpetuity” looks rather more settled now.

And, as the Columbia Journalism Review has pointed out, the Guardian brand, thanks to its targeted expansion and involvement with Wikileaks, Phonehackgate and the Snowden revelations, is becoming not merely recognised, but a significant presence, across the globe. Moreover, GMG still has a stake in profitable business and events firm Top Right Group – future sale of which could yield yet more.

Dominic Ponsford at Press Gazette put it well: the sale “sticks two fingers up to the Guardian-haters who take glee in the paper's huge annual losses and like to predict its imminent demise”. Who he might have meant is only too clear from the annual sniggering of The Great Guido. Right now, the Guardian looks set to outlast Staines and calmly ride off into the future.

That means the Fawkes folks are just full of crap. Another fine mess, once again.

Apologise Quietly, Nobody Will Notice

Yesterday it was revealed that an article written by a very prominent and persistent critic of the EU had been amended to include an apology which effectively admitted that the author had been lying, and knowingly so. Most will not have noticed this, as both author and editor have said nothing, and you need to know the location of the original article to see the “correction”.
The Telegraph now admits this man is a liar

The whole saga began when MEP and occasional Tory Dan, Dan The Oratory Man used the platform given to him by the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs to smear Jonathan Portes of NIESR, which he grandly described as “a think-tank whose conclusions fall safely and predictably into the soft-Left BBC-approved part of the political spectrum”, over his relationship with the EU.

Put directly, the central thrust of Hannan’s argument was that Portes and NIESR took a pro-EU stance in order to continue to receive EU funding (readers will see a parallel with the arguments put forward to discredit climate scientists who receive public funding). Portes pointed out that NIESR did not take a particular stance, and secured its funding through competitive tendering.

Hannan asserted “Mr Portes strongly supports EU membership ... If he didn't, as I suspect he is well aware, he wouldn't get hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from Brussels ... None of this would matter if Mr Portes were not regularly trotted out, especially by the BBC, as representing some sort of neutral position”. It’s the usual bleating from a favourite of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).

And, as the man said, there’s more: “The EU firehoses a great deal of money at think-tanks, Jean Monnet professors, pressure groups and NGOs ... Mr Portes's organisation gets a great deal of money from the EU, and supports British membership of the EU”. This is a straightforward smear. And to Portes’ credit, he kept at the Telegraph, via the PCC, until he got a result.

That result is this wording: “After correspondence from Jonathan Portes, the Telegraph is happy to make clear that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) receive research funding from the European Commission on the basis of competitive tender not because they ‘support EU membership’. We apologise for any confusion”. That means Hannan was lying.

It is not the first time he has been caught being flagrantly dishonest. So what show of contrition was on view from Hannan and his editor Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, yesterday? Simples. There was none at all: both of them have kept schtum. The apology is hidden away in the hope the readers won’t notice. Had Portes not advertised the fact, very few would have seen it.

That’s real weaselling from the Tel and its pundit. No surprise there, then.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Booker’s Dredging Story Unravels

What caused the persistent flooding of the Somerset Levels? For one resident of the county, there was only one answer: “The Environment Agency's failure to dredge clogged-up rivers is causing floodstold Christopher Booker in his Telegraph column on January 11. Getting this message across was an even higher priority than kicking those “rabid warmists at the Met Office”.
As confidently wrong as he ever was

And he had advice for Young Dave: “Instead of revealing that he has no idea what he is talking about, Mr Cameron might concentrate on the real causes of the genuine problem highlighted by the recent flooding ... a central part of this problem lies in the refusal of the ... Environment Agency ... to dredge the main rivers, which are so clogged up that they can no longer carry away the run-off from flooding”.

This was the central thrust of his argument, which was restated two weeks later: “Catastrophic Somerset floods are the result of the Environment Agency's policy against dredging its rivers”. Booker was then given a platform by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to tell “It's the deluded greens who've left my Somerset neighbours 10ft under water”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

The head of steam built up behind this assertion was believed by the two Lib Dem MPs from the area who quizzed Cameron at PMQs yesterday. The PM then declared dredging to be a jolly good solution, and committed to it. Fortunately, Booker’s nemesis George Monbiot of the deeply subversive Guardian has applied a little common sense to the problem, and effectively concluded Booker is wrong.

On the question of dredging, he tells “David Cameron pledges to pursue a policy in the Somerset Levels that will only lead to more dangerous rivers. But it keeps the farmers happy”. Dangerous? You betcha, says Sarah: “Removing river bank vegetation such as trees and shrubs decreases bank stability and increases erosion and siltation”. And the dredging has to be repeated after every flood.

It gets worse: “If the river channels are dredged and structures are not realigned, 'Pinch Points' at structures would occur. This would increase the risk of flooding at the structure ... Removing gravel from river beds by dredging leads to the loss of spawning grounds for fish, and can cause loss of some species. Removing river bank soils disturbs the habitat of river bank fauna such as otters and water voles”.

On top of all that, as Monboit points out, dredging a river “might raise its capacity from, say, 2% of the water moving through the catchment to 4%. You will have solved nothing while creating a host of new problems”. Many positive measures can be taken to ameliorate the effects of flooding. But dredging is not one of them: it may make people feel better. But it won’t stop floods returning.

Christopher Booker is a complete charlatan, a false prophet. No change there, then.

Nadine Dorries Invents New Sport

Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove has his detractors. Rather a lot of detractors, in fact. But to make up for this, some Tory backbenchers are positively slavish in their praise for his every move, so much so that they trip over their words and fall flat on their faces. Nominating herself in this category yesterday was Mid Bedfordshire’s representative (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries.
The subject was teacher qualifications: Labour would prefer all new teachers to actually be qualified to teach, rather than have a first degree from whichever University is deemed flavour of the month and fancy a bit of teaching. Other countries – Finland and Poland, for instance – insist that their teachers are properly trained. “Oiky” doesn’t want to have to bother with this inconvenience.

Ms Dorries took to her not-quite-a-blog (no comments are allowed) to tell how she spoke in support of The Great Gove: “I spoke twice this afternoon in the education debate, opposing Labour’s policy to restrict the recruitment options available to head teachers of state schools and preventing them from employing those who they think are the best for the job”. Go on (as if she needs prompting).
Nadine spoons a sufferism

It is to the great advantage of independent schools that they can employ outside experts in various fields such as music, art etc, people who are distinguished in their field and for whom teaching is a pleasure to benefit children, not a bureaucratic tick boxing exercise”.
Your bouts tonight

Wow, a brand new sport, and there I was thinking that Tory backbenchers sucking up to ministers was boring. Wonder how they get the gloves on? On second thoughts, someone hasn’t checked her copy and spet through a loonerism.

Well, she did once say her blog was 70% fiction.

Glenda Goes After Hugh Grant

What did I tell you? As predicted on this blog yesterday, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has followed the Murdoch Sun and piled in against actor and campaigner Hugh Grant. The only unknown was which of the Mail’s singularly unappealing bevy of Glendas would find herself at the front of the cab rank and be therefore ordered to write the hatchet job.
And the surprise winner of this dubious award has been Sarah “Vain” Vine, otherwise known as Mrs “Oiky” Gove, who has discovered that there is a downside to getting More And Bigger Paycheques For Herself Personally Now from the Mail: not only does she get to write her weekly Me-Me-Me-fest, but may also be called upon to peddle the occasional shameless pack of lies.

There is no need to wait for the whopper, as the headline revealsWith a love life like this, no wonder Hugh Grant wants to silence the press”. He does? And how, exactly, has Ms Vine figured out this slice of fantasy? “Through his support, financial and vocal, of an organisation called Hacked Off, he has seized on the justifiable and wholly understandable public anger surrounding cases such as the hacking of Millie Dowler’s mobile telephone to ride the anti-press bandwagon to his – and his celebrity friends’ – advantage”. And to which I call bullshit.

Hacked Off, given that it supports the cross-party Royal Charter, which has no provision, repeat no provision, repeat no provision for prior restraint, or as Ms Vine so subtly calls it, “gagging”, does not seek to silence the press. End of story.

So when the sainted Sarah tells “Grant’s obsession with gagging the press looks like his treatment of the mothers of his children, entirely self-serving”, she is mixing faux righteousness and dishonesty in roughly equal proportion. Moreover, her grovelling before the Vagina Monologue is so wilful, it descends into unintentional hilarity: “It’s the kind of thing you expect from a Channel 4 documentary”.

But let me put Sarah Vine straight: Hugh Grant isn’t trying to stop the press reporting his personal life. Nor does he want to stop them going about their business, despite what Paul Dacre has ordered her to write. And what Hugh Grant has done is to pay for his children’s upbringing, free of any state support. Papers like the Mail should be cheering him to the rafters for that.

And what Hugh Grant is not doing, Ms Vine, is spraying hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money up the wall pursuing the ideological dream that is Free Schools, something that will soon become unsustainable – without other schools suffering, or closing. And Hugh Grant is also defending himself, rather than looking the other way while a retinue of polecats roughs up his opponents.

Because that, Ms Vine, is where your husband is at. Now who’s a hypocrite?

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Hugh Grant – Why He’s News

Does actor and campaigner Hugh Grant have an upcoming film to publicise? Is he doing a travel show? Has he volunteered for Celebrity Apprentice? Will he be the new face of a drama or sitcom? Has he got a gig on Have I Got News For You? This blog is not privy to his personal schedule, but I suspect the answer to all of those is that even if true, he isn’t advertising the fact.
But Grant is on the front page of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun today. And, despite the paper’s website hiding its wares behind a paywall, we know the gist of the story because the Mail lifted it (see how that works, Rupe?). “About ANOTHER Boy: Hugh Grant 'is now a father of three after having secret son with Swedish TV boss'” roars the Mail headline in mock horror.

And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the son can hardly be secret when the Sun could access his birth record. And two, the minutiae of Grant’s personal life are of interest to the press merely for the dual purpose of flogging more copies, and furthering their attempts to undermine any move to get the Fourth Estate to accept properly independent press regulation.

Today the Sun has run the initial attack on Grant, but as sure as night follows day the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, who harbours deep personal animosity towards him after being made to look shifty and defensive at the Leveson Inquiry, will have ordered his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail to join the offensive, as part of the paper’s campaign against Hacked Off.

That campaign requires anyone connected to the campaigning group to be targeted, hatcheted and thereby demonised. Thus Grant is held to be someone of loose morals, Brian Cathcart is characterised as a mere academic who wouldn’t know what real journalists have to go through in their day to day work, and Evan Harris is painted as some kind of swivel-eyed obsessive (unlike Dacre, of course).

Why should that be? Ah well. Rather than engage with the arguments put forward by groups like Hacked Off, and respond to the concerns of those whose lives have been so grievously trashed by press intrusion and editorial dishonesty, the first instinct of so many of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet is to play the man, and sod any thought of being arsed to play the ball.

We know this because of the rare candour displayed by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who, in the manner of sniggering schoolboys conspiring behind the cycle sheds, have let the cat out of the bag: “Why Did Hugh Grant Lobby Politicians to Gag the Press?” they leer. He didn’t. So that’s the old pack of lies recycled in order to curry favour with their new bosses.

And it signals another barrage of smears and dishonesty. No change there, then.

PMQs – Itch-A-Sketch 4

It’s that time of week again, folks: when Young Dave and Mil The Younger face off across the Dispatch Box, backbench Tory MPs engage in their customary softball grovelfest, Labour try and trip Cameron up, and Dennis Skinner practices his stand-ups. We’ve got refugees, economic growth, flooding, and maybe food banks, bankers and Scots in today’s prospective topics. So eyes down and look in.
The volume is back up! It’s getting rowdy! The Speaker called for Mr Robertson to “calm yourself”! Well, thank goodness for that. I thought they’d all come down with some kind of courteousness virus.

Yes, there was flooding, with Lib Dems Jeremy Browne and David Heath getting Prime Ministerial agreement on action, and commitment that Something Must Be Done, not just to clear the water that has been there all month, but for the future. That much was agreeable stuff.

So was the response to Sheila Gilmore on the case of Mohammad Ashgar, the unfortunate man who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, even though he has mental health issues. Dave has got Sayeeda Warsi on the case. This was another safe area.

Even the National Minimum Wage and its enforcement were successfully negotiated, with Cameron telling Labour MPs Andy Sawford and Debbie Abrahams that he wanted to see more prosecutions for non-compliance.

But where he had to deflect and rabbit, and showed himself getting testy, was on that nasty top Income Tax rate. And Miiliband delivered his six off the reel today, persistently challenging Dave to confirm whether he would rule out a cut to 40p – or not. Cameron didn’t like this at all. It was all Labour’s fault. Jobs were up. Tax coming in was up. So nothing was up. Except the game was up.

So far this year, Mil The Younger has not found the range with his probing of the PM. This time, despite taunts of “anti-growth” and “anti-business”, he stuck doggedly to that one point: his side had committed to a 50p rate, it was genuinely popular, and what was Dave going to do? The answer never came. But Miliband knows it won’t come. Worse for Cameron, he knows he can’t possibly give it.

Despite the softball – particularly grovelling moments came this week from Chloe Smith, James Paice, Laura Sandys, and a stonking brown noser from Gerald Howarth – the leader of the opposition edged that one.

Batting away Ian Murray, Steve Rotheram and Lisa Nandy may have cheered Dave up a bit. Getting a topical reference to Penny Mordaunt appearing on Splash! may have cheered him a little more. But he looked peevish when pressed.

Iceland Scores Own Goal

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

Malcolm Walker is not an uncaring man, far from it: Iceland’s CEO pays his staff well and clearly cares about his customer base. But he is not slow to loose off the kind of comments that bring notoriety, and all too slow not to see the latest potential PR disaster awaiting his company. Because someone worth a reported £215 million is standing by while the cops go after others over £33 worth of discarded food.
Cod fillet indeed ... Malcolm Walker of Iceland

While Walker receives the representatives of the Fourth Estate, with the Maily Telegraph eliciting quotes likeMy wealth isn’t something I should ever have to apologise for”, preceded by Jan Moir from the Mail tellingThe boss of Britain's least fashionable supermarket hits back at the snobs and sneering lefties”, events on the ground in Kentish Town are not doing his image any favours.

As the deeply subversive Guardian noted, “residents of a squat in north London were arrested on 25 October, just before midnight, after a member of the public called the police to report three men climbing over a wall at the back of Iceland in Kentish Town ... Police arrested the men as they left the area with a holdall and trolley containing food ... The total value of the items taken allegedly amounted to £33”.

So are the three being charged with breaking and entering? You jest. The food – “tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes” had been dumped in a dustbin behind the Iceland store. So the Police retrieved the goods, and returned them to the retailer, only for them to go back in the bin and be sent to landfill. The sheer lunacy of the situation is all too clear.

It gets worse: “the three men were charged under an obscure section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, after being discovered in ‘an enclosed area, namely Iceland, for an unlawful purpose, namely stealing food’”. The CPS has responded to suggestions that it should drop the case by asserting “we feel there is significant public interest in prosecuting these three individuals”.

Malcolm Walker could have said something. Thus far he has not. And, were he to remain silent while this farce proceeds, it would not be his first recent PR disaster: last February he appeared before Eddie Mair on The Andy Marr Show (tm) and told a whole pile of whoppers about the horsemeat scandal, blaming local authorities, while conveniently ignoring the evidence.

The idiocy of expending scarce resources charging three individuals for taking £33 of food that had already been thrown out is bad enough. That the premises concerned are part of a chain run by a bloke worth hundreds of millions just makes the whole saga look that much worse. Malcolm Walker needs to say something, and say it soon, because if he doesn’t, Iceland’s image will take a terrible beating.

He had time to promote his new book. So he can make time for this. We’re waiting.

[UPDATE1 1145 hours: Malcolm Walker, who is a recent recruit to Twitter, has now responded to the Guardian story.
As can be seen, this appears to have taken him by surprise. He asserts that the call to Police was nothing to do with the store staff.
Also, he appears to be concerned as to why the CPS has decided to prosecute. So that's a whole lot of improvement on saying nothing, and full marks to him. But he needs to follow through. And then there is the whole business of food discards - not just at Iceland]

[UPDATE2 1700 hours: the CPS has now decided, even though they previously said there was "a significant public interest" in prosecuting those now becoming known as the Iceland Three, to drop the prosecution, on, er, public interest grounds.

So that's a shed load of taxpayers' money sprayed up the wall on a wild goose chase, then. Perhaps we should be thankful that it could have been a lot more money being wasted had the case proceeded.

And kudos to Malcolm Walker for managing a timely differentiation of the Police and CPS action from his own view - a PR disaster well bodyswerved. All he needs to do now is repent over that Marr Show attack on local Government]

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Don’t Menshn The Lack Of Beauty

Here on Zelo Street the emphasis is strictly on the non-fiction part of the library catalogue. But sometimes, novels reveal something about their author that makes their presence worthwhile. So it has been with Beauty, the latest off the chick-lit production line recently restarted by former Tory MP and persistent Twitter troll Louise Mensch, and located, as she is, in New York City.
Has she got news for us? It's a long story ...

Yes, despite the attention-seeking tirades against the Guardian (pointless), Glenn Greenwald (ditto), the Lib Dems (ditto), the Labour Party (ditto), and Homeopathy (too late), Ms Mensch has been able to churn out another novel. So what is it about? “There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t have her beauty secrets. But for Dina Kane, beauty is more than just business. It’s power. And it is the secret”.

Yeah, whatever. The Times – Ms Mensch works for Rupe – was unimpressed: “Mensch is right to promote ambition as a non-dirty word for young women — but does her leading lady have to be so unsympathetic? She doesn’t have a single female friend until the last pages. Ambition doesn’t have to involve blackmailing your mother or sleeping with an old man to get your own back on his son”.

The Evening Standard calls the bookIlluminatingly crude” and tells that the lead character “is Louise Mensch’s idea of a heroine, or, you might as well say, Louise Mensch’s idea of Louise Mensch”. Quite. And as for her admiring “Alpha males”, concludes “Brutality, cruelty, arrogance, strength. It’s not much of a political programme, perhaps? But then again, maybe it is and we are well spared it”.

But it’s the Independent that really goes to town on the book. “There are moments in Beauty that read more like a girlish cosmetics blog than a novel. Quite a lot of moments. Whole, soporific paragraphs are given over to Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks, Crème de la Mer and inventories of the heroine’s face paint ... Exciting for our heroine Dina Kane ... Exciting for her creator”. Oh go on, put the boot in.

For the reader - not so much. The cumulative effect of so much cosmetics chat is wearying, like being forced to watch one of those ‘Here Come the Girls’ Boots adverts on a loop for a really long time”. Ouch! Mee-ow! And her favourite paper, the Guardian? It rounds up the other reviews, which is another way of saying that it wasn’t deemed worth the candle.

No doubt fans of the genre will enjoy Beauty. For anyone else, apart from the welcome glimpse into its author’s unusual take on reality, a look at Amazon’s back catalogue tells you all you need to know as to whether Beauty is worth buying: Ms Mensch’s previous efforts, such as Destiny, Desire, Passion, Glitz, Glamour, and Sparkles, are all available secondhand for one shiny new penny a copy.

Still, it keeps her away from even more Guardian trolling, so that’s all right, then.

Chester’s Tory Champion Of Deceit

Small business in Chester is really getting behind small business Saturday this weekend. I have delivered more than 400 packs to businesses telling them what it is all about. Will the Minister commit to making an assessment of the success of the first small business Saturday, so that we can improve and help small business in future?asked Stephen Mosley in the Commons last month.
Mosley clearly claims to champion small businesses. He has also been recognised as a “Beer Champion”, an accolade which he prizes so highly that he has let anyone who cares know via his website. So from this, the thought may enter that Mosley is willing to weigh in on behalf of all those struggling licensees, especially the ones under the cosh of the overbearing PubCos.

But that thought would be sadly misplaced: when PubCos are mentioned, Chester’s MP is nowhere to be seen. As with so many right-leaning politicians, he is happy to crow over his part in persuading The Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, to scrap the beer duty escalator, and take a whole penny a pint off that duty, but silent on the worst offenders.

Because it is not the target of the dubiously talented array of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) – a 1p cut in duty – that is killing pubs right now. As Zelo Street regulars will remember from the story of The Caledonia, that excellent street-corner local in Liverpool that was sold from under its licensee and threatened with closure, it is the PubCos that are causing the most closures.

PubCos, unlike brewers’ tied estates, mostly do not have the incentive of selling beer, but of maximising the value of their property portfolios. This they do by jacking up rents and then selling pubs off, even when they are still going concerns, to cash in what are to them merely property chips on a life-size Monopoly board. That the largest PubCos are carrying significant debt merely hastens this behaviour.

Stephen Mosley has done nothing to oppose the appalling practices of the PubCos. And for those of his constituents who frequent the many fine pubs and bars of the City of Chester, this will come as no surprise: they are unlikely to see him in any of them this side of hell freezing over. I can say this with some confidence, having occasionally joined the excellent Chester Beer Project survey team.

Mosley’s “Beer Champion” boast is for the advancement of Himself Personally Now. If he’s intervened in a single impending pub closure since being elected to Parliament (the Greyhound in Saughall had already closed before he noticed it) then it will come as news to anyone interested. His support for small businesses is at best inconsistent, and at worst a sham.

Hopefully next year voters will see through the veneer of self-promotion and bin him.

Letts Not Accept Reality

A terrible realisation has dawned on the denizens of Northcliffe House: not only has the Labour Party laid claim to a policy that is genuinely popular, but it has also been launched by “Auguste” Balls, a hate figure without parallel for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. Moreover, it is a policy that, if enacted, will hamper Dacre’s mission to garner More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan

Yes, Labour has hit on the straightforward idea of getting the highest-paid to stump up a bit more in Income Tax. In previous times, this could have been shooed away by reminding those all-important Daily Mail Readers that, in the aspirational world painted by Dacre and his obedient gofers, they too could soon be on the receiving end of those higher taxes, so they should oppose such a move.

But all too many of those readers now realise that, not only are they highly unlikely to ever get anywhere near the £150k a year level, they are often still worse off than before the recession hit. Small wonder that Balls’ announcement has enjoyed a popular majority of more than three to one in favour, with even those who voted Tory in 2010 leaning towards accepting it.
From Mike Smithson at Political Betting

What to do? A coordinated onslaught on Labour has been ordered, and in the vanguard today is Quentin Letts (let’s not), bringing usThe truth about Balls? He isn't economically illiterate. He's just a ruthlessly calculating cynic”. That’s right Quent, don’t bother playing the ball when you can play the man. And the Beeb: “[Balls is] still trotting out gloom on the BBC’s airwaves”.

So what’s Quent’s conclusion? “He must see that his tax-and-spend plans no longer add up — and yet he is still pig-headedly pressing on with them. Clearly, he’s in it simply for the politics”. Yeah, right, next he’ll be saying that Young Dave is only in it out of a love for his country. And quit quoting Lord Myners as “one of Britain’s proudest pinkoes” – he doesn’t even take the Labour whip.

How desperate is Letts to smear Labour? This desperate: “The sad truth is that in our bent electoral system this lamentably limited approach may win them power”. Bent? Coming from the paper that topped the Operation Motorman roll of shame? You betcha, says Sarah: “One can but hope that sufficient numbers of British voters — sufficient, that is, to balance out the unfair election system — will see through bully Balls’s bluster”. Aw diddums!

First Past The Post was OK when it brought us Margaret Thatcher, wasn’t it, Quent? It was fine when “Shagger” Major won. It was acceptable when it kept Pa Broon out. But now that a genuinely popular policy has given Labour a sight of the finish line, it’s “bent” and “unfair”. So that’s another has-been who will be out when Dacre goes.

There won’t half be some deadwood thrown out when the Mail changes editors.

Monday 27 January 2014

The Amateur Hounding Of Rufus

Rufus Hound is a well-known comedian and comic actor. He has appeared on a number of different programmes, on different channels run by different broadcasting organisations. And he is standing in the European Parliament (EP) elections, for the National Health Action (NHA) Party. In pursuit of his campaign, he has had a dig at Young Dave and Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture secretary).
So far, so routine, but then, his tweaking of Cameron and Hunt (no Spoonerisms, please) has come to the attention of the otherwise not gainfully employed yet still loathsome Toby Young, who has wound himself up into a state of faux outrage and declared that he will thcweam and thcweam until the BBC takes notice of him. This tactic has been spectacularly unsuccessful.

But help was at hand: Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, weighed in on Tobes’ behalf. He too has declared that the BBC must not merely take notice of both himself and his pal, but has also assured anyone not yet asleep that he too will thcweam and thcweam until it does so. Both these less than august beings believe they are in the right. So what is their problem?

Rufus Hound authored a blog post entitledDavid and Jeremy want your kids to die (unless you’re rich)”. Tobes duly upbraided the NHA Party and made it clear that they should expel him for his “disgusting smear” of Tobes’ party leader. This was followed up with the customary suggestion that his target was somehow disqualified from talking about universal health care because he is well off.

But the clincher for Tobes was that Rufus Hound was a “BBC Comedian”. Sadly, though, this is not only weapons grade bullshit – Hound made his name appearing on Dave and also on shows like ITV’s Celebrity Juice – but a glaringly obvious attempt to score another cheap hit on the Beeb, on which Tobes also appears. He could therefore be equally called a “BBC Pundit”.

Sadly, there was no reply from the BBC, and Hound stood his ground. This was when Dames piled in with another assertion that Hound was a “BBC Comedian”, and his intervention was equally lame and pointless. “If a member of Ukip used such intemperate, inflammatory language, Nigel Farage would be forced to disown him or her. Shouldn't the National Health Action Party do likewise?” blustered Tobes.

What’s “intemperate and inflammatory” about telling the electorate that there is a greater risk of less than satisfactory health care if less money is being spent on the NHS over time, especially with the reforms and “marketisation” being inflicted upon it? So Rufus Hound has used a deliberately dramatic headline? Tobes and Dames ought to look at a few from their own paper before they sound off.

All this less then dynamic duo are garnering is ridicule. No change there, then.

Boris And Pals In 50p Fairyland

Sometimes, politicians and their cheerleaders lose touch with reality so completely that even their own natural supporters begin to break ranks and call them out. And that is what has happened today at the Maily Telegraph, where, led by London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and supported by the likes of Benedict “famous last words” Brogan, the hacks have gone totally gaga.
The real world. But only if you're Boris

The reason for this departure from the real world is, once more, the declaration by “Auguste” Balls that a future Labour Government would revert, if only temporarily, to a 50p in the pound top rate of Income Tax, to be levied on incomes above £150,000 a year. Bozza, to no coincidence at all, exceeds that threshold with his weekly “chicken feed” generating rants for the Tel (making him £250,000 per annum).

So it was no surprise to see him going off on a veritable orgy of abuse: “He would rather cut off his nose to spite his face ... stupid ... Gordon Brown stooge ... idiocy ... ignorant ... unlike ed Balls, people have ... common sense” before concluding “The Government should open up some more blue water, and cut the top rate back to 40p”. Not, you understand, that he’s a greedy SOB or anything.

What, then, underpins Bozza’s faith that Balls is wrong? That would be the Laffer Curve, which is routinely wheeled out by the right. This in turn derives from Secretary Mellon’s wrong call in the early 1920s that tax cuts were the driver behind more tax being paid, while ignoring the fact that the USA was at the time emerging from a severe slump that had followed the end of the Great War.

Moreover, it is difficult to be exact as to how much the 50p rate last raised, as it was in place for so short a time, giving those with the capacity to plan the drawing down of income the ability to pay more before it came in, and more again after it had been cut to 45p. Having the 50p rate in place for most, if not all, of a five year Parliament would stop much of that. But most Tel hacks don’t want to listen.

Brogan, still Deputy Editor this morning, gaspedLabour has allowed Ed Balls to put politics before economics, and must face the consequences. Promising to put the top rate of tax back up to 50p has gone down badly with business”. And a third of the 24 business figures lining up to condemn Balls donate to the Tory Party. Fortunately, there is one voice of sanity at the Tel, not that his pals are listening.

That is the eminently pragmatic Peter Oborne, assertingLet's support Ed Balls's 50p tax rate instead of George Osborne's shameful attack on the poor”. Oborne is a Tory voter by instinct. He also understands that, for many people, their circumstances have not recovered to the pre-recession level. Sadly, the call to his colleagues to return to reality is thus far going unheeded.

Balls has just moved the political barometer Labour’s way. Get over it, Tel hacks.

Daily Mail Farm Subsidy Fail

Among the rewards garnered by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre during his tenure as the Daily Mail’s editor has been a property portfolio that includes a London pied-à-terre in Belgravia (that means it’s expensive), a Home Counties property of suitably generous proportion, and Langwell, an extensive estate in North-West Scotland, which is marketed to shooting parties.
So what? I pay my f***ing taxes, c***

While enjoying the unquestioned benefits of these assets, the Vagina Monologue can consider which luckless targets his paper will next select for the ritual kicking so beloved of him and his obedient hackery. These include all kinds of Government bodies, especially those where there are people who talk foreign, or who are insufficiently grateful to be part of the United Kingdom.

So it should surprise no-one that anything related to the EU is considered fair game, especially when it comes to any form of subsidy, because this means someone is getting something that Daily Mail readers, who by definition are “hard working taxpayers” are not only not getting, but are having to pay for. And the most visible, and easily demonised kind of these are farm subsidies.

Those who receive farm subsidies can expect exposure by Dacre’s fearless hacks: “Tarzan” Hesteltine was upbraided by Richard Kay for his “£900,000 EU handout”, while Lord Henley was alleged to have received £200,000 over several years. And Richard Benyon had received a whopping £2 million in subsidies! As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. Even the Royal Family got slated.

The Queen had received £7 million, while the Duke of Westminster got £6 million, in “bonanza payments from Brussels”. It got worse: the Mail toldHow city tycoons claim they are farmers to milk the EU's millions”. So people working in London were pretending to be farmers so they could trouser subsidies! This is clearly A Very Bad Thing Indeed. Then there were those ungrateful Scots to kick.

Scottish independence would be economic disaster, finance experts warn ... England to take on ALL of Scotland's debts if voters back independence ... Sharing the pound with an independent Scotland could be a disaster like the Euro”. Yeah, that Scottish Government crowd are rubbish! Who’d willingly do business with them, eh? Er, actually Paul Dacre would. And he’d also do business with the EU.

His Langwell Estate “received EU grants to the value of 300,408 euros in 2012”. That means farming subsidies. The 2011 bung was £155,583. It is suggested that there was yet more money paid over for tree planting. If the last, estimated at over £600,000, is true, that means Dacre has pocketed over a million quid. That makes him an even bigger rank stinking hypocrite.

What you will not read in the Daily Mail. No change there, then.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Gove Polecats Out Of Control

Chief inspector of schools in England Michael Wilshaw has made a very important discovery, and one that, had he read this blog, would not have come as a surprise to him, that Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove and his retinue of polecats do not exempt even Gove’s own appointees from their routinely unpleasant campaign of undermining and counter-briefing.
Yes, "Oiky", your polecats. Paid for with our money

The Murdoch Timessaid two right-leaning think tanks were to criticise Ofsted - and one would call for it to be scrapped”. To no surprise at all, one of these less than august bodies is Policy Exchange, which sprayed much of its credibility up the wall when it told that northern cities should give up trying to exist and their populations should all move to a larger version of London.
Discredit. Spin. Deflect. Fingers in ears

And whose creation is Policy Exchange? No surprise here either: it was founded by “Oiky” Gove himself. Ofsted should be reformed, the wonks “claiming it was trapped by 1960s ‘progressive’ approaches to learning”. Schools were “being held back by child-first orthodoxies among inspectors, who were stifling innovation ... the current inspection regime placed disproportionate pressure on teachers”.
More loathsome spin from Tobes

All of this could have been extracted from the nearest bullshit quote generator, and probably was. And Wilshaw is quite clear who is behind the attacks: “he suspected the think tanks were being ‘informed by the Department for Education’ – ‘possibly’ Mr Gove's special advisers - and that he was ‘displeased, shocked and outraged’”. He did not mince his words in responding to the attacks.

I am spitting blood over this and I want it to stop ... It does nothing for [Michael Gove's] drive or our drive to raise standards in schools ... I was never intimidated as a head teacher and I do not intend to be intimidated as a chief inspector”. He asserted that Ofsted had done “more to raise standards in 21 years of existence than any other organisation”.

So what has been the response from “Oiky” and his pals? “A source close to Mr Gove told the BBC it definitely was not the case that the education secretary or anyone near to him had encouraged the attacks”. Note that there was no denial that Gove’s polecats directed the attacks, or authored them. And remember, the @toryeducation Twitter feed gave the game away on this last week.
THE REALITY

The DREAM is total voucherisation. DfE just accountants. Ofsted gone. MPs zero control”. Yes, Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete don’t want any pesky regulators sticking their bugle into their ideologically pure Free Schools, whether or not they are crap, corrupt, teaching creationism, or a total shambles. They are behind the hatchet job on Wilshaw. And they are clearly out of control.

As I said, it can only get worse. Who will bite the bullet and sack Gove? Dave?!?

Aidan Burley In The Crosshairs

As Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News, the go-to book on the workings of the Fourth Estate, put it, “I know of nothing anywhere in the rest of the world’s media which matches the unmitigated spite of an attack from the Daily Mail”. And, as Tory MP Aidan Burley is finding out again today, that spite extends to the Mail On Sunday, which has called “liar” on him over his testimony to Lord Gold.
That the MoS would come after Burley was in no doubt after Gold’s report tried to offload blame for Mark Fournier’s Nazi salute on their hack and snapper. Hugh Muir at the deeply subversive Guardian warned thatthe immediate effect has been to trigger new and potentially damaging hostilities with the Mail on Sunday, which broke the original story”. He then spelt out the reasons.

Gold's report was apparently written without any input from the journalists who stumbled across the infamous stag party. Worse, it states that the MoS encouraged those photographed to give a Nazi salute. That is vehemently denied by the paper, which is unlikely to let the matter pass”. Muir was spot on: today came the banner headlineLies Of Nazi Shame Tory MP”.
And, as the man said, there’s more: “Last week a Conservative Party investigation accepted his testimony that he had not been present at a bar where revellers were chanting ‘Hitler!’ and ‘Himmler!’ ... But we can expose those claims as a blatant untruth. We are publishing a photograph which provides incontrovertible proof that Mr Burley was at The Frog & Roastbeef in  Val Thorens”.

The rant continues “We are also publishing a transcript of a tape recording our reporter made in the pub, with Nazi chants clearly audible in the background. On the tape, a member of Mr Burley’s party identifies the MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire ... Our original report stated that groom Mark Fournier made a salute ‘without prompting’. Mr Burley never challenged that account, until now”.

The MoS is so keen to get Burley that is has engaged the services of a Labour MP, Ian Austin, whose Dudley constituency is close to Burley’s Cannock Chase berth: “My father escaped Treblinka. That's why I want Nazi shame MP fired now” reads the headline. He notes “It wasn’t students messing about or an ’Allo ’Allo!-style joke. It was a group of men at a party where guests toasted the Third Reich”.

As Hugh Muir put it, “An inquiry into [Lord] Gold’s inquiry may be necessary”. The MoS may have more in reserve: it will certainly be digging for more dirt on the embattled MP. And as I noted last week, even if Aidan Burley survives the assault from the MoS, and is confirmed as his party’s candidate to contest Cannock Chase next year, the electorate will more than likely throw him out anyway.

His best course of action may be to announce he will stand down in 2015.

Dacre Gofers Play Kick Balls

Pa Broon was always good at the “dividing lines” tactic. So it should have surprised nobody when his protégé “Auguste” Balls “promised to restore the 50p top rate of income tax on people earning more than £150,000 a year in order to help balance the nation's books and create a ‘fairer’ tax system”. There it was: a clear difference between Labour and Tory approaches.
Nobody's getting more f***ing tax out of me, c***

And to no surprise at all, leading the opposition among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet was the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, whose remuneration package, by complete coincidence you understand, would place him well within the 50p band, and therefore mean not quite such big paycheques for Himself Personally Now.

But here a problem enters: for the 99% of taxpayers who would not be subjected to this troublesome inconvenience, Balls’ announcement has gone down rather well. No matter: as with press regulation – also far too popular for the Mail’s liking – there is nothing that a plain, old-fashioned Mail assault can’t cure. So the creative retelling has begun in earnest.

Labour civil war after Balls lurches to Left with soak-the-rich 50 per cent tax bombshell”. What war? “Allies of  Tony Blair accused Ed Miliband of taking the party back to the 1970s when it vowed to ‘tax the rich until the pips squeak’”. Oh right, so mostly invention, then. We didn’t have entrepreneurs in the 1970s, you know. Apart from people like Richard Branson.

The Mail was so desperate that it had to call on Dan Hodges, formerly the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, to whine “Yesterday, flat-lining Balls had a bad economic policy... now he's got no economic policy at all”. But Hodges knows full well that this measure has sufficient public support to put Mil The Younger in 10 Downing Street, which he has made a living out of saying isn’t going to happen.

And anyone thinking the desperation was just a passing phase were disabused of that notion when up popped Allister Heath to warnNever mind Hollande's sex life... it's Ed Miliband's romance with Gallic finances we should truly fear”. Heath is introduced to readers as the editor of freesheet City AM, but as any fule kno is a stooge for the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The Mail’s frothers and ranters have been joined by the usual suspects from the Astroturf lobby groups that masquerade as “think tanks”. The mixture of horror and indignity has been a sight to see. The sob stories of having to make do with less servants, not run as many cars, or not being able to indulge in quite as much conspicuous consumption, will no doubt continue.

All because a few editors and pundits may take home a little less. Aw diddums!

Top Six – January 26

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 shops to visit later. So there.
6 Guido Fawked – Alex Wickham Outed A return to the Top Six for this post from August 2012. The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole at the Guido Fawkes blog, intended to use their newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham to garner information from those who might not immediately recognise him. Not for long, chaps. Another fine mess.

5 Leaves On The Line – A Cautionary Tale The press love to snipe at the idea of “leaves of the line” delaying trains. But this is a potentially lethal problem, as a serious accident from a part of the world normally unaffected by it shows.

4 Dacre Blames Hacked Off For McAlpine Death The desperation of the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor knows no bounds.

3 Gove Polecats Let Agenda Slip The @toryeducation Twitter feed let the cat out of the bag: abolish Ofsted, remove any Parliamentary accountability, total voucherisation, and money thrown at whoever fancies a slice of the action.

2 Paul Flowers – Daily Mail Hoaxes Itself The Mail gleefully printed details from a Twitter feed that they thought was run by disgraced former head of the Co-Op bank Paul Flowers. It wasn’t. But they wanted to believe it.

1 Mann v Steyn – Delingpole Silent Mark Steyn’s latest attempt to get Michael Mann’s defamation case thrown out failed. But James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who had been so vocal in Steyn’s support, was silent.

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

Saturday 25 January 2014

HS2 – Boris’ Dad Does Foot In Mouth

London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has had some difficult moves to pull off when positioning himself on the vexed question of the HS2 project. At first he gave the impression that he was with the objectors, but gradually finessed that stance to one where he was in favour, but wanted lots more work to ameliorate the effects of the new line.
You said what about Muslims, Dad? And about the Japs? And about west London? For f***'s sake Dad, leave the gaffes to me, right?

But now Bozza faces a new challenge, and one over which he has no control: his loose cannon of a father Stanley Johnson has entered the fray, cheerfully opening mouth and inserting boot in a way that is guaranteed to gain plenty of press exposure of totally the wrong kind, unless those opposed to HS2 are looking to enter themselves in the ridicule stakes.

Stan has discovered that HS2, although in tunnel at that point, will pass very close to his manor in Primrose Hill, and it’s a manor that comes with a £4 million price tag. So he’s hot on things like property rights, which he automatically conflates with human rights. Sadly, his protest has been supported by Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole, which will do him and his fellow residents no good at all.

Nor will Johnson père’s singularly unfortunate turn of phrase: “What about terrorism? With HS2 these young girls are going to get down from Birmingham 20 minutes quicker”. More than 30 minutes actually, and if anyone were planning an act of terror, and it got past the law enforcement authorities, it’s debateable whether the effect would be significantly altered for a delay of half an hour.

Stan’s next foot-in-mouth concerns the construction techniques, which he doesn’t like at all, despite having no experience in this field. The proposed anchoring system along the HS2 track at the point where it passes under his house has “never been tried, except perhaps in Japan, on the sea-wall at Fukushima”. Heads could be heard hitting desks across North London.

And, as the man said, there’s more: he would rather like HS2 to stop before it gets anywhere near Primrose Hill, if it’s all the same to all those prospective travellers who might like it to go to Euston: “Our objection, and it’s not being a nimby, is if it comes, it should stop at Old Oak Common. I don’t know exactly where that is, but it sounds like a jolly good place for a station”.

Does he ever get out of that Primrose Hill house? Or is he always chauffeured wherever he goes? And can’t the unfortunate residents of Primrose Hill get someone capable of engaging brain before mouth to represent their views? Because Stanley Johnson is currently spraying the area’s credibility up the wall big style, in a fashion that even Bozza would find hard to emulate.

Still, they’re both equally good for a laugh. Crikey chaps! Yikes! Oo-er!

Mann v Steyn – Delingpole Silent

Although the data for December has not yet been added in, it is clear that 2013 has turned out to be one of the warmest years on record – for global temperatures. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has ranked it the fourth warmest. This is additionally significant, as 2011 and 2012 had not been as warm overall. Temperatures may be on the rise once more.
Of course, unlike the naysayers who pretend that it isn’t happening, one keeps an open mind and considers the data, and the science, rather than saying it definitely is warming, full stop. And in the field of science, one of the biggest hitters is Michael Mann, which may explain why he is also a favourite target of those who don’t want to listen. But here too, those saying it isn’t happening are not faring well.

As Mother Jones recalls, “In 2012—after writers for National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky—climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit”. Mann’s chief accuser was Mark Steyn, “a prominent conservative pundit who regularly fills in as host of Rush Limbaugh's radio show”.
James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole was on the case like a shot: “I don't think Mann is going to win his case, not for one fraction of a millisecond ... there's about as much chance of his defending the integrity of his ludicrous, comedy ‘Hockey Stick’ curve as there is of George Galloway winning the Random Stranger I'd Feel Most Safe Sharing A Bed With While Completely Fast Asleep award”.

Well, Steyn has just tried to get Mann’s case thrown out, and failed. So where is Del Boy now? Not commenting on Mann and Steyn, but getting himself in hot water talking guff about gender stereotypes, is what he’s at right now (Foz Meadows’ dismantling of Del’s article for the Express – he’s going well downmarket there – makes for interesting reading).

One might expect Steyn to be getting more support if he’s in the right, but he’s already parted company with the National Review, and the lawyers representing both of them have withdrawn. Anthony Watts, like Delingpole, scoffs at the idea of Mann winning his case, partly because of the high bar that must be cleared to prove deliberate defamation, but all attempts to throw the case out have failed.

That Delingpole is “looking over there” instead of commenting on the Steyn case should surprise nobody: the tactic used by Steyn has been copied by Del Boy, who has taken to comparing wind power advocates to Jimmy Savile. The thought may have entered that some on this side of the North Atlantic, whom Delingpole has routinely abused, may turn out to be as unimpressed as Mann.

After all, making paedophile comparisons for fun is bang out of order.

Brendan O’Neill First Hurdle Fail

Last week, I took a few minutes to give the well-intentioned people at Spiked! the hard word, and requested that they desist from sending their regular emails telling of the latest contrarian guff from the likes of Brendan O’Neill, who is not on Twitter, most likely to avoid the inevitable barrage of ridicule. Why I should have done this was then illustrated superbly by the man himself.
Brendan O'Neill ...

Having been given a platform at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, Bren regaled his adoring readers (Damian and James Delingbonkers) with the assertion “Labour's plan to give 16-year-olds the vote is cynical gerrymandering”, followed by several paragraphs of self-justifying bullshit which could be picked apart all too easily. Moreover, he clearly hadn’t been listening to his fellow Tel bloggers.

Lowering the voting age to 16 is not guaranteed to give any political party an advantage, as was demonstrated by the loathsome Toby Young, who – for once – not only consulted some of those pesky statistics, but also got them, indirectly, from the deeply subversive Guardian, to show that support for the Tories among younger voters has increased in the last few years.
... and the figures he couldn't be bothered with

This discovery had been previously picked up on by resident spinner Mark Wallace, formerly of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, at Conservative Home. The poll he cites shows that what is known as “Generation Y”, those born between 1980 and 2000, is the only group of the four researched to show an increase. So giving the vote to 16 year olds may not be such a lost cause after all.

That means when O’Neill says “This is naked generational gerrymandering, a desperate stab to improve Labour's electoral fortunes by meddling with the voting age rather than by giving actual, already existing adult voters something worth voting for ... Labour's bigwigs hope that ... a new swathe of largely immature, Left-feeling voters, will boost its ability to win and secure power”, he’s talking crap.

It gets worse: “Hilariously, some people try to present the enfranchisement of 16-year-olds as the unfinished business of universal suffrage ... There is a massive difference between those earlier historic extensions of the franchise and Miliband's plans: in the past, working men and women fought long and hard, marched tirelessly ... There are no rabble-rousing 16-year-olds demanding the right to vote”.

Have I got news for Bren: there was no mass movement to lower the voting age to 18 either. Would he, on that basis, like to return that minimum age to 21? But O’Neill is adamant: “This might just be enough to make me go out and vote at the next election – against Labour”. As if anyone gives a flying foxtrot what one discredited phony “I’m a leftie, me” contrarian does with his ballot paper.

Give up pretending to know your subject Bren, and go get yourself a proper job.

Friday 24 January 2014

Farage Joins The Fruitcakes

Two figures pursuing their careers on opposite sides of the North Atlantic may this afternoon be expressing surprise at the latest pronouncements from Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. One of those is Young Dave, who might not have had the UKIP leader in mind when he characterised the party as being full of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” not so long ago.
And the other is Piers Morgan, who has been trying with limited success to persuade a largely hostile audience in the USA that more guns do not bring more safety, but only more shootings by more people who are not best trained, or in the best frame of mind, to use the weaponry to which there is such ready access. Because Farage has called the post-Dunblane handgun ban “ludicrous.

Appearing before the inquisition of Nick Ferrari on LBC, “Thirsty” said “that it was Ukip policy to create a ‘proper licensing policy’ and that people who kept hand guns responsibility locked up and had were willing to get an official license should ‘absolutely’ be allowed them”. Needless to say, this suggestion was not well received by those who work with law enforcement officers.

Peter Squires, who advises ACPO, said of Farage’s suggestion that “It will generate a demand, it will generate illegal traffic around that demand – the problem with hand guns is that they are small and concealable and they are already the weapon of choice of gangs members and criminals ... If public safety is a consideration then it’s a particularly stupid thing to say”.

That his political opponents will seize on Farage’s comments goes without saying, especially in the wake of a UKIP councillor asserting that recent flooding was caused in part by laws legalising same-sex marriage, and that councillor only being suspended after some delay. And, as the man said, there’s more: Nige was given a good going over on the BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday.

Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil’s questioning on the 2010 UKIP manifesto led to Farage describing it as “drivel”, suggesting that he had nothing to do with it as he was not leading the party at the time, and dissociating himself from it. But, as Iain Martin has discovered, “Thirsty” co-authored the forward to the manifesto, and attended the press conference at which it was launched.

Is Nige starting to crack up under the strain of having to shoulder so much of the burden himself? Common sense should have told him that he was wrong-footed on the councillor who equated heavy rain with gay marriage, wrong to openly distance himself from a manifesto that had his fingerprints all over it, and plain daft to advocate relaxation of the UK’s gun laws.

The most recent gaffe suggests that Farage is indeed one of the fruitcakes.