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Friday 28 February 2014

Gove Gets Full Grovel Nelson

It’s a bad news interlude for Michael “Oiky” Gove and his embattled retinue of polecats, as two more school trusts are issued withFinancial Notice To Improve” letters from the DfE. So what better to take the eyes of the public off these minor inconveniences and get a suitably compliant pundit to pen a “look over there” piece about how it’s all going wonderfully well?
Fraser Nelson ... shameless

This requirement is satisfied by another appearance in the Maily Telegraph by Fraser Nelson who, readers are reminded, is “editor of ‘The Spectator’”. And big expletive deleteding deal, say I: the Speccy and Telegraph are both owned by the Barclay Brothers – not that this is ever admitted or discussed within the paper or its website – so he is just another house turn.

Nelson sets out to tell that all these Free Schools and Academies having a less than stellar time is no big deal: “Free schools will stumble – the test is how well they recover” he declares, as if children having their education fouled up – after being promised something rather better – is perfectly acceptable. He then spins the shambles of Breckland IES as some kind of exemplar.

This is what Nelson said of the school, near Beccles in Suffolk, before everything went belly up: “Michael Gove might have kept quiet about Breckland Free School, but it could be the start of something great - if the Lib Dems would change their minds ... Sometimes, when you’re a government minister, the best tactic is to keep quiet about any breakthroughs”. Then the head and six other staff left.

So out comes the suitably reconfigured spin machine: “IES managers in Stockholm felt their new flagship British school was not on the right track and they dealt with it in the Swedish way. This meant immediate, decisive action. The company’s operations manager, a former head teacher from Lancashire, flew over from Stockholm to take personal control”. And they all lived happily ever after?

Sadly not: “a week before the new head teacher was due to start, the inspectors called. Ofsted had been tipped off that there was trouble ... For the teaching unions, who loathe reform in general and profit-seeking schools in particular, this will be seen as vindication. It would be taken as proof that the much-hullabaloo’d Swedish system is failing in Britain”. Well, PISA results show it’s already failed in Sweden.

So it’s the unions’ fault, and then Nelson takes the biscuit: “This time next year, there will be almost 300 free schools in England – and you can bet, by then, there will have been more scandals. If 300 new businesses were to start, you’d certainly expect a degree of trouble in at least 30 of them”. I couldn’t give a flying foxtrot about ideological purity. This is taxpayers’ money that is being sprayed up the wall.

Ever heard of “backing losers”? Come off it Fraser, and stop polishing that turd.

Hodges Says Look Over There

The ruckus over who at the National Council for Civil Liberties knew what and when has provided an opportunity for some who want to raise their profile among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet. Typical of this wannabe band is Dan Hodges, formerly the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, who has decided once again to push the idea that Leveson equals censorship.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Hodges appears to have tuned in to Channel 4 News yesterday evening as Jon Snow interviewed Steve Coogan, who was in Los Angeles, on the recent behaviour of the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. In the studio, showing his willingness to shill for the Mail as a way of perhaps securing future employment, was the loathsome Toby Young.
Coogan was forthright in his condemnation of the Daily Mail – and its hypocrisy of calling others out for allegedly helping paedophiles while running photos of under-age girls on its website. “Steve Coogan’s appearance on C4 instructive. If he and his Hacked Off mates get their way stories like NCCL will never see light of day” observed Hodges dishonestly.
Evan Harris was on the case in short order: “Spurious from [Hodges] again. As with Miliband story, nothing in Charter ... acts pre-publication ... reform is about remedy for inaccuracy (or other code breach) and access to justice if defamed”. He then quoted Schedule 3/17 of the Royal Charter: “[self regulator] should not have the power to prevent publication of any material”.
Such factual analysis was too much for Hodges, who proceeded to suggest that Harris “look over there”: “So you disagree with Steve Coogan? The Mail has not been acting like a ‘playground bully’. This is legitimate journalism”. That, of course, is not the point Harris was making – which was that Hodges had been caught lying, a charge he was unwilling to confront, let alone answer.
Evan Harris, with characteristic good humour, set out to Hodges what the latter was still unwilling, or unable, to see: having a legitimate story does not justify making allegations that are not – such as accusing others of “backing” paedophiles, or “apologising” for them. It also does not justify bullying the targets of the story into complying with a remedy that Dacre has specified (apologise for it).
And, of course, the playground bully will never rest with one compliant apology, when more damage can be done. But still Hodges was not for listening: “Is it a legitimate story being covered in a legitimate way. Yes or no” (punctuation eludes Dan at stressful moments such as this). Harris had, of course, already given him the answer. That was not the point – Hodges had to worm his way out of his dishonesty.

Getting righteous about others’ candour while doing that is never a good idea.

UKIP – Silvester’s Spring Surprise

Today, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers gather on the Devon Riviera for their spring conference. The choice of Torquay, still cut off from the rest of the rail network following the damage at Dawlish, seems apt for a party cut off from political reality. But it is not cut off enough to prevent another horrendous embarrassment from overshadowing proceedings.
Count fingers before shaking hands with this man

UKIP wants to portray itself as a party of good honest plain speaking, of old-fashioned British values and without the impression of establishment sleaziness that has attached itself to others. But it also let in Tory Party refugees like Brian Silvester, whose dishonesty, dodgy dealings and potential misuse of taxpayers’ money has already reached the local press, with the potential to go national in short order.

Zelo Street regulars will remember Silvester jumping from the Tory ship before being pushed, after he and his brother were convicted of flouting fire safety laws over their bedsits in Shavington, near Crewe. The former leader of Crewe and Nantwich Council joined UKIP – and remained a Councillor for Willaston and Rope ward, where he has been urging residents to oppose a planning application.

Silvester claims he wants to maintain the “green gap” between the built-up area around Crewe (which extends up to the north side of the Crewe to Nantwich railway line), and the village of Shavington. But at the same time as he was telling his voters to block an application from Richborough Estates, he and his brother were trying to flog their own land in the same area – also “green gap” – for housing.

Worse, they were trying to sell to Richborough Estates – the same firm whose application Silvester was telling his voters to block! So not only was he being shamelessly dishonest with the electorate, he was also playing both sides of the field with Richborough Estates. That the developer would not eventually find out is inconceivable. And Richborough did indeed find out.

The email from Richborough’s Paul Campbell to Silvester was dismissive: “We consider your site to be a step too far in  eroding the gap between Shavington  and Crewe ... maybe you could put an advert in the  Crewe Chronicle if you’re struggling”, which, freely translated, means he was told to f*** right off with his double dealing. But the worst was yet to come.

Silvester’s emails to Richborough were sent from his Cheshire East Council (CEC) email account. They were most certainly nothing to do with CEC business. An inquiry has been launched into a potential breach of the CEC code of conduct. UKIP showed well in the recent Crewe town council elections. They hope to do well in the upcoming European Parliament contest. But maybe not so well after this revelation.

Still want him in your big tent, Nige? Take your time. No pressure.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Peter Dacre – The Man Who Hated Britain

The decision of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to go after Harriet Harman comes with the recent attack on Mil The Younger, by vilifying his late father Ralph Miliband, fresh in the memory. As the Daily Mail’s editor has decided that it is a legitimate tactic to use a father’s behaviour to judge their sons, we can usefully inspect that of his own. And his name was Peter Dacre.
You f***ing calling out my father, c***?!?

Dacre père turned 18 in June 1943. At this time, it seems he was working on a local paper in Doncaster. The following year, he moved to work in London as a showbusiness writer. He thus managed to remain employed in journalism, rather than go to fight the Germans, as so many of his fellow countrymen had to do: they were called up, and so had no option.

The reason this is dwelt upon is that Dacre fils has decreed Ralph Miliband “The Man Who Hated Britain”, yet even after having to walk – walk – over a hundred kilometres from Brussels to Ostend to catch what may have been the last boat out before the advancing Germans arrived, he then volunteered to serve the country that had given him shelter, despite having no obligation to do so.

So why did Peter Dacre not serve his country? Was he somehow unfit to do so? Did he hold any religious belief or register any objection? Was he, somehow, engaged in secret war work that had to go unreported? The answer to all of these is in the negative. But being a journalist was a reserved occupation, despite the branch of the profession inhabited by Peter Dacre not exactly being critical to the war effort.

However, and there is inevitably a however here, nobody forced Peter Dacre to stay in the UK and write his sleb copy. He could, like Ralph Miliband, have volunteered, and many journalists did, some joining the intelligence services, and others the armed forces, where they ran the risk of being captured and shot as spies. Far easier to remain in London and make his career unhindered by such thoughts.

No doubt Peter Dacre was not alone in managing to bodyswerve the opportunity to serve his country, but the fact remains that his best-known son is calling out the reputation of someone who had the courage and backbone to Do The Right Thing, and volunteer to go and fight the Nazis. All Peter Dacre did was to chicken out, so he could enjoy an easy life in Civvy Street.

So who was “The Man Who Hated Britain”? Should the title go to someone who doesn’t rate the Royals, isn’t impressed by The Old School Tie or the aristocracy, but is prepared to risk his life to fight for his adopted country, or to a showbusiness reporter who chooses to stay at home and shelter under the protection of being in a reserved occupation? Many would select the latter.

And that would mean Paul Dacre’s father. What you won’t read in the Daily Mail.

Don’t Menshn The Muslims

Are there no limits to the gift that keeps on giving? Hardly had I decided that former Tory MP Louise Mensch, now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, could not possibly do anything more stupid than trolling, she excels herself and displays a yet more priceless example of synchronised opening of mouth and insertion of both feet – in another attempt at self-publicity.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

The trial of the two men found guilty of soldier Lee Rigby last year had come to an end with their sentencing yesterday. There was no need for Ms Mensch to be even tangentially involved, but in she went anyway, to tell the world that she knew more about Muslims than everyone else put together. In particular, she had a list of Muslim exemplars to put before her adoring public.
When I think of British Muslims I think of Mo Farah, Sayeeda Warsi, Raheem Kassam, Sunny Hundal, Yasmin Qureshi etc., not these fools” she said of the two attackers. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam – whom she knows – may be from a Muslim family, but he is not in any way observant. And we don’t talk about “getting Hundalled” without good reason.
That’s because Sunny is not a Muslim, which makes that another research fail for Ms Mensch. So how about apologising and leaving it at that? You jest; there’s a hole waiting to be dug. “Well, I was trying to specify what ‘British Muslim’ brings to my mind” she blustered. It clearly doesn’t summon such tiresome chores as indulging in a few minutes’ Googling, that’s for certain.
By this time, Sunny Hundal had arrived to put Ms Mensch out of her misery: “Erm, I’m not Muslim, Louise. Parents are Sikh”. Channel 4’s Darshna Soni observed “Funny. All look the same innit” as the chorus of helpless laughter echoed around Twitter. She’d been caught doing what looked for all the world to be profiling, yet was too stupid to understand how, well, stupid it made her look.
Mark Lewis invoked Healey’s Dictum – “when in a hole, stop digging” – but his words went unheeded as Ms Mensch still refused to say sorry and climb down from her self-appointed perch. And then came the really bad news: she’d missed out Sajjad Karim. Why is this a howler? He’s not just the first British Muslim to be elected to the European Parliament – he’s from the same party as Ms Mensch!
As heads hit desks around the UK and elsewhere, and Louise Mensch tried – unsuccessfully – to get everyone to “look over there” by having a snark at Janet Street Expletive Deleteding Porter, Rufus Hound summed up the farce, asking Sunny Hundal “Is that a Qur’an in your pocket or is Louise Mensch just pleased to see you?” And this is someone who thinks Roger Ailes should give her a job.

Meanwhile, Louise Mensch is still in that hole. And she’s still digging.

Toby Young’s Paedophile Smokescreen

Although the obsession of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient attack doggies has dimmed for the moment, taking the campaign to damage Harriet Harman off the Daily Mail’s front page for a couple of days, those on the right are taking the opportunity to frame the story for their own political gain. This is especially true of those totally lacking in principle.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

That leads us to one uniquely shameless and unprincipled individual, the loathsome Toby Young: for him, nothing is off limits when there is a rotten lefty to kick. So, with a nod to his editor at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs – that would be Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment – Tobes has made the linking of Ms Harman to a paedophile group his number one priority.
Thompson refers to Ms Harman as “Hattie”, showing the patronising schoolboy style that he would not dare use if ever she made the mistake of going anywhere near him. Then he asserts she “defended paedophilia, supported by no evidence at all. His post is couched in that “look-dear-don’t-shit-us-around-we-know-you-done-it-and-you-should-be-ashamed-so-fess-up-like-a-good-little-girl” style.
This tees things up nicely for Tobes, who looks around for copy that agrees with his point of view: “This piece in the [Mirror] is spot on”. It’s an opinion item, Tobes. Try again? “New evidence in the Telegraph casts doubt”. Very good, I showed yesterday why that was a heap of crap. “If Mail found links between senior Tory and PIE that would be on [the] front page”. He just doesn’t get it, does he?
Just watched Harriet Harman’s interview ... why won’t she admit NCCL’s  link with the PIE was a mistake ... as is [Ed Miliband’s] decision to treat revelations as a Daily  Mail smear. Political folly on a grand scale”. NCCL did not “link” with PIE. It was the other way round. And, like the Mail’s attack of his late father, smear is exactly what it is. Miliband is spot on, which is why he’s a party leader, and Tobes, er, isn’t.
Harriet Harman’s aid [sic] has said she ‘regrets PIE’s involvement with NCCL before she joined’. Actually it was before *and* during”. They affiliated twice, did they? And what was the mechanism for NCCL to kick them out? Well, come on Tobes, since you know everything about the business, you must have the quick and easy answers? As well as being able to spell “aide” properly, Mr School Governor.
Go on, one last heave: “The attempt by Harman and others to spin this as a Daily Mail ‘smear’ is ludicrous. Private Eye has been pursuing this story for decades”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the Eye and the Mail frame the business rather differently. And two, that does not alter the fact that Dacre has ordered this attack in order to do some damage.

Toby Young knows this. But he joins in the kicking anyway. No change there, then.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Sarah Is Still Vain

Back in November, I noted that the Mail’s new and supposedly Very Wonderful new Wednesday pundit Sarah “Vain” Vine was pretending sympathy for former double Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington over the latter’s unhappiness while she was on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here alongside someone called Amy Willerton, who has won no medals at all.
You can be vain and hitched to him?

This is because recent photos suggest Ms Adlington has had a subtle but measurable reduction of her nose – as I suggested would happen at the time. Sarah sympathises: “I, too, know how it feels to obsessively dislike an aspect of one’s own appearance — and how much confidence there is to be gained from altering it”. Like putting a large paper bag over Michael “Oiky” Gove, perhaps?

Nothing so simple: this is the Daily Mail, the place where pundits are expected to do the full confessional (unless they’re called Paul Dacre, of course). No, it’s, er, suitably intimate: “My problem wasn’t my nose (although it too cleaves the air with a certain majesty), but my hair. Or the absence thereof. It started falling out as a teenager, and just got progressively worse”. Oh goody.

So tell us what happened next. “Unlike Rebecca, I was never famous ... But people were often curious, frequently vocal — and occasionally downright cruel about it. At first I was defiant”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “In my case, that meant getting a hairpiece”. This does sound reassuring and sisterly, doesn’t it? But anyone reading this on Mail Online knows that body shaming is never far away.

Whatever Ms Vine’s kind words suggest, over on the Sidebar Of Shame there is, right now, Beyonce, a rather post-getting-the-scaffolders-in-looking Sam Faiers, Jasmine Waltz, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Rihanna, Sarah Harding, Ferne McCann, Candice Swanepoel, Abby Clancy, Peaches Geldof, and the obligatory appearance of the obscenely overrated Kim Sodding Kardashian.

And all that the Vain column does is promote the views of Herself Personally Now, so Sarah gets to tell everyone what she thinks about Simon “The Black Helmet” Cowell, “The Left”, Law and Order, time-wasting (she might be on to something there), houses built by despots, displays in butchers’ shops, and that she is married to Michael “Oiky” Gove. For the umpteenth time.

Then readers are let into a little secret: she asked Joan Collins to supper! And she doesn’t know what to cook for her! This is what is supposed to grab the attention of all those Daily Mail readers? Soil the bed, it must be a sad place where they have a copy delivered, then read it and take any notice of it. Why should she need to ask? Or doesn’t Chez Gove stretch to “five minutes’ Googling”?

The Sarah Vine column is about one person. And it isn’t Becky Adlington.

Guido Fawked – Paedophile Support By Association

Yesterday, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were on Harriet Harman’s case, passing severely adverse comment in a post titled “Harman: ‘No One Should Be Complacent’ About Historic Abuse”. Clearly, for The Great Guido, even if something happened decades ago, you can still be guilty by association. This puts Staines in a very difficult position.
Paedos? I had no idea, I was too busy getting pissed, shit no, parties organised so I could get pissed, bollocks no, good times to lots of people. And getting pissed. Oh sod it

Staines is a career libertarian. To this end, he has enjoyed a long association with a body called the Libertarian Alliance (LA): the twentieth anniversary of this was celebrated in April 2009 with a post on the LA’s blog titledGUIDO FAWKES: THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE SALUTES A BRAVE COMRADE”. And Staines has reciprocated the gesture, writing a pamphlet for the group.

This was “Acid House Parties: Against the Lifestyle Police and the Safety Nazis”, which, by pure coincidence, came at the same time as Staines was involved in promoting those parties. Other illuminati of the LA feature in the Fawkes’ blog’s “Guido Reads” list, not least one Brian Micklethwait, who was editor of the LA’s “Political Notes” in the early 1980s.

Micklethwait broached one particularly sensitive subject in Issue 10 of Political Notes, withSex, Coercion and the Age of Consent” by Max O’Connor. This included such eyebrow-raising questions as “Does it really matter if the child has any understanding of sex? If there is nothing objectionable about an adult giving a child sweets or toys, why is giving sexual pleasure wrong?

It gets worse: “And why is it abuse? Below the age of twelve or so, a child may not be particularly interested in seeking sexual relations but that doesn’t mean that he or she will not voluntarily accept and enjoy them ... non-coercive sex with juveniles is not immoral – it is merely a matter of preference, as is bisexuality or homosexuality, oral sex etc”. Colour me prudish, but we’ll hold the “etc”, thanks.

And O’Connor finished with this most unfortunate observation: “Members of the public horrified at the existence of the Paedophile Information Exchange, and politicians and media men wishing to present themselves as champions of morality and decency, should think again”. Micklethwait then asked “If libertarian principles are good, do they not also apply to children?

This was published under the aegis of a group with which Paul Staines has enjoyed a relationship lasting well over twenty years. So will The Great Guido say sorry for his association with such vile views, however tangential? It’s hardly any different to what his idol Paul Dacre is demanding of Harriet Harman. Perhaps this will become, in the retelling, a rotten lefty smear?

Or will this be one of those rare “no comment” responses? Another fine mess.

PMQs – Itch-A-Sketch 7

The topics list for the latest instalment of the clash between Young Dave and Mil The Younger does not look so obvious today: events on the fringe of the EU – in Ukraine and also applicant state Turkey, where the judiciary has been put under Government control – may feature. There could also be energy company stuff, hangover from the flooding, and maybe the NHS. As ever, look in and check it out.
Distractions and selfless acts of plain stupidity – that’s the quick and easy way to pass the half hour employed during today’s PMQs. While MPs from Northern Ireland were scathing about the Downey case – Nigel Dodds was positively fuming – there just had to be pointless trivia. And what could be more uplifting and trivial than telling the House how jolly wonderful Team GB had been in Sochi?

Miliband was not wasting too much time on that: he was dredging. Not river channels, you understand, but past figures for what Governments spent on flood defences. What about that? Cameron stuck to his guns: the Coalition had spent more, and the other lot left us with a jolly difficult job. The Labour leader was having none of that. He had figures from the UK Statistics Authority. So there!

No, said Dave, our spending was jolly well better than rotten lefty Labour spending. Miliband segued into the more general area of Climate Change. Were Dave and his pals taking it seriously? Cameron said they were. Government carbon emissions were down 14%. Michael Gove was shouting less. I mean, a Prime Minister can’t say fairer than that, can he? Ed pulled out the D-word.

There were Climate Change deniers in Government! The Environment Secretary! The Energy Minister! You don’t have to take Climate Change seriously to be in Government! Dave made a smoke of figures to confuse the enemy. His team was doing HS2. They were doing nuclear power. The other lot had done none of these when they had the chance (Andrew Adonis might have something to say there).

But this is all a bit routine. Come on folks, where’s the comedy turn? Here he comes, Julian Smith, the terminally stupid member for Skipton and Ripon: business investment had increased so much that it was stonking! Phwoarrr! Just look at the size of that magnificent, er, investment! What did his Right Honourable friend think of that, then? Dave conceded that it was indeed stonking. Perhaps.

And there was also time for a slice of victimhood playing from (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who wanted to talk about all those women being stalked. It is a serious problem, but having a self-proclaimed spokesperson who translates “persistent critic” as “stalker”, and included her Lib Dem opponent at the last General Election in the category, is going to help not at all.

But it just about summed up today’s PMQs: generally pointless and not much fun.

Telegraph Jumps On Paedophile Bandwagon

While the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail continue to trawl through every recent instance of convicted paedophiles so they can add them to the charge sheet against three senior Labour Party figures, the temptation for other media outlets to jump on the lefty-bashing bandwagon has proved irresistible – especially at the Maily Telegraph.
Saying sorry is difficult for all kinds of people ((c) Steve Bell 2014)

Here, Christopher “No” Hope is the lead name on the by-line of a particularly well-crafted but extremely nasty piece titledNew evidence casts doubt on Harriet Harman's defence over paedophile links” with the sub-heading “Claims Miss Harman has nothing to apologise for over involvement of civil rights organisation she used to work for with a paedophile rights campaign are thrown into doubt by new internal documents obtained by The Telegraph”.

The “doubt” is sown purely through a guilt-by-association approach, together with crafting a form of words deliberately designed to con readers, as will be shown later in the post. Hope sets great store in the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) only having 12 staff in the late 1970s. Thus they all knew one another.

Documents dated from 1978 and 1979 disclose Nettie Pollard - the NCCL’s Gay and Lesbian Officer - sat on the group’s 14-strong gay rights committee with Tom O’Carroll, PIE's chairman who was later jailed for child porn offences” readers are told. Then we find that Harriet Harman once wrote Ms Pollard a note. Yes, it’s a truly lame attempt to prove guilt by association.

This is reinforced by a rambling analysis of Ms Pollard’s assertion that “NCCL should oppose the Protection of Children Bill”. But Ms Harman – referred to by the anally retentive Telegraph hacks as “Miss” – was opposed to this view and backed the legislation. So the smear rests on that form of words.

Ready? Here it comes: “The archive also contained a handwritten note from Miss Harman to Miss Pollard dating from the late 1970s, as well as a copy of PIE’s constitution – dating from March 1975 – detailing the aims of the group including a pledge ‘to campaign, as members see fit, for the legal and social acceptance of paedophile love’”. Read quickly, that might sound like Ms Harman is somehow connected to the aims of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).

But all it shows is that her handwritten note to Ms Pollard was found in the same archive as a copy of PIE’s constitution. That is the Telegraph’s grounds for asserting that Ms Harman’s claims are “thrown into doubt”. And, of course, they were all working in the same office, and so they must all have been at it. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, and all that.

Christopher Hope put his name to that? What a truly desperate individual he is.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Don’t Menshn Fox News Job Application

The imminent departure of Piers Morgan from his 9pm Eastern Time slot at CNN may have been a signal for some to report, and in a few cases, rejoice over, but for one self-promotion specialist and all round know-all, it was an opportunity to remind a prospective employer that they were missing the services of someone they had not even thought about employing.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

No prizes for guessing that the one trying to “leverage” Morgan’s bad news to her own advantage was former Tory MP Louise Mensch, now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket. Ms Mensch wants a job – any job – with Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Her campaign is not going well at present. So out comes her knowledge of cable news.
Problem was, as ever, CNN can’t step away from the left which is why Fox News buries them day in, day out” she offered, thus showing she knows sweet jack about CNN. Perhaps she should Google names like “Tucker Carlson” and “Glenn Beck” to see where they started out in the cable news world. CNN’s problem is not in leaning one way or the other: in a partisan market, they don’t lean at all.
Still, she was undeterred: “Until CNN and MSNBC get some balance, Fox News will continue to bury them. Roger Ailes is a genius and his rivals don’t come close”. As someone nearly said once on the Goon Show, this person is a bit of a crawler. Otherwise the sentiment is meaningless: the only reason Fox comes out with the “fair and balanced” shtick is because it isn’t.
But do go on: “as a Fox anchor once said to me, years ago: ‘We balance CNN’”. And Ms Mensch was stupid enough to believe it. What she also manages not to understand is that, for advertisers, overall ratings are not everything: the prized number for them is “the demo”. What that? Well, this is how many viewers the channel gets in the 25-54 age range. And Fox isn’t quite so dominant there.
When she trills “Fox beats both ... MSNBC and CNN together”, she forgets Fox’ ageing audience. January 8 saw Rachel Maddow beat Megyn Kelly in the demo, although the latter scored double the overall audience. The following evening, MSNBC beat Fox across the whole of primetime in the demo. Advertisers want to see those 25-54 demographic numbers.
There’s a great piece of long form journalism crying out to be written on why, after years of burying by Fox, CNN and MSNBC refuse to switch” announces Ms Mensch triumphantly. MSNBC beat Fox in 3 out of 4 primetime slots on February 4 in the demo – another case of why Phil Griffin ain’t switching anything, and showing that Louise Mensch once again hasn’t bothered researching before sounding off.

That, of course, could stand her in good stead with Fox News.

But Still They Won’t Say Sorry!

That is today’s Daily Mail headline: once again, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is trying to equate the Labour Party with encouragement for paedophilia. But, as a new petition at change.org started by Owen Jones suggests through its title, “Stop the Daily Mail sexualising children”, encouragement of paedophiles did not end in the early 1980s: it is happening now. And the perpetrators still won’t say sorry!
Who f***ing says my website's creepy, c***?!?

This may be because that encouragement has been spearheaded by Mail Online, with needlessly intrusive photos of little children backed up by the creepiest of copy and captions. This behaviour is not limited to isolated occurrences. Paris Jackson (13 at the time), Nicole Kidman’s 16-month-old daughter, Jennifer Lopez’ two year old twins, Halle Berry’s two year old daughter, Brad Pitt’s two year old twins, and Miranda Kerr’s five month old son were all “growing up fast”.

It gets worse: although the post calling Heidi Klum’s eight year old daughter a “leggy beauty” later had the offending wording removed, there were also Jennifer Garner with her two daughters (7 and 4 years old), Ariel Winter (15) and her niece Skylar (a toddler), Myleene Klass’ two year old daughter, and 19-month-old Harper Beckham being described as “runway ready (ie a budding model).
Newspaper editors in glass houses, and all that

Not completely creeped out yet? As the man said, there’s more: several shots of Kourtney Kardashian’s one year old daughter in a string bikini (plus her three year old son), Farrah Abraham’s four year old daughter (and the full title of her sex tape), and Minnie Driver’s little boy (plus a similarly aged friend).

And there’s more Kardashian Kreepiness: lots of pics of Kim’s daughter North, taken with the obligatory long lens, Chantelle Houghton’s toddler daughter Dolly, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s four year old daughter, plus another of those “growing up fast” moments, with 13 year old Sophie Nelisse (in four inch heels). That’s an awful lot of encouragement for all those paedophiles we are told are out there.

On top of all that, Harriet Harman, one of Dacre’s targets in his latest attempt to damage the political party he loathes, has discovered a Mail story featuring a 12 year old girl in a bikini – but she was a sleb, so that makes it all right in the perverse world of the Vagina Monologue.

That’s a world where politicians are accused ofbacking” something they didn’t back, of being “apologists” for something they actually confronted and challenged, and “gave succour” to a group they threw out. “They have failed to utter a word of contrition or sorrow” over something they are accused of somehow facilitating, except that we don’t get an example, because there isn’t one.

Meanwhile, the Mail has failed to say sorry for its constantly “giving succour” to paedophiles. Paul Dacre is the lowest form of hypocrite.

Delingpole Jealous Of Piers Morgan

As representatives of one man who sought to have Piers Morgan ousted from CNN while he was still alive, the newly enriched rabble at Breitbart London was never going to hold back once the cancellation of his show was announced. Sadly, when the snark came, courtesy of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, it served only to blow back and reveal the jealousy of its author.
Not quite fair and balanced

It was blatantly derivative: Del Boy had to wait for Dan Hodges at Telegraph blogs to give him a pointer by earlier posting “Piers Morgan: the man you feel obliged to hate” (although Hodges’ take is, ultimately, diametrically different to Delingpole’s). Del’s post also recycles the same photo of Morgan that I had used earlier. The pressure to keep nose to grindstone isn’t doing wonders for originality.

It was flagrantly dishonest: Del tells that “investigations by Guido Fawkes found numerous incidents in which the Mirror, under Morgan's editorship, had illegally hacked and blagged private data ‘on an industrial scale’”. The Fawkes rabble huffed and puffed, but found no incidents at all. That was why their claim to be taking a dossier to the Metropolitan Police was such a laugh.

It rarely rose above abuse: “He has all the principle of a syphilitic whore ... He’s a liar (Delingpole calls liar on someone else, eh?) ... He’s a bore (ditto) ... He’s an arse (ditto) He’s a nauseating braggart (ditto) ... He’s an ill-mannered brute (ditto) ... He’s a historical illiterate (ditto) ... The man, as we used to say at school, is thick as pigshit”. Yep, Del Boy is truly jealous.

And, on top of all that, Delingpole demonstrates delusions of an adequacy he is most unlikely to ever possess: “Thanks to Morgan, it is now entirely possible that the careers of every single Brit hoping to make it big in the US will have been killed stone dead”. And who did you have in mind? Not one James Delingpole, perchance? But Del, you’re never going to make it big anywhere.

No, what really sticks in the Delingpole craw is that while he has had to move out of London because he’s skint – and has, by his own choice, saddled himself with two sets of school fees for his children – Piers Morgan has turned his fortunes around after his humiliating sacking from the editor’s chair at the Daily Mirror to garner several million of whatever your preferred currency unit happens to be.

Yes, this blog takes the piss out of Piers, and like anyone in the public eye he knows to expect this. I suspect he rather likes it, too. But while Morgan can point to a contacts book that includes heads of state, Hollywood A-listers, and the people who can enable him to secure More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now, Del Boy is reduced to scrabbling about among the right-wing nutjobs.

Just who is “thick as pigshit” now, eh Del? What a sad little loser he is.

Monday 24 February 2014

HS2 Flooding Smear Fail

Dionysius Lardner was a scientific writer in the 1840s and 1850s. He was very much the Christopher Booker and Richard North of his time, especially when venturing into a number of disputes with Isambard Kingdom Brunel over the building and operation of the Great Western Railway between London and Bristol, the best-known of which was over the routing of the line through Box Tunnel.
The tunnel had a 1-in-100 gradient from the east end to the west end. Lardner asserted that if a train's brakes were to fail in the tunnel, it would accelerate to over 120 mph (190 km/h), at which speed the passengers would die of asphyxia. Brunel pointed out that Lardner’s calculations totally disregarded air-resistance and friction, a basic error. Yes, a real Booker-and-North man, indeed.

But Lardner’s idea of putting forward ill-thought-out and easily dismissed objections to new railways is still going strong, and the advent of HS2 has given rise to the kind of stupidity that even he would not have contemplated. As the UK has just seen parts of its countryside flooded, and HS2 will cross watercourses and flood plains, the latest dumb idea is that this means HS2 equals flooding.

It gets worse: the press has been all too happy to indulge the culprits, Tory MPs David Lidington and Cheryl Gillan. Lidington has decided that his constituents in Aylesburybelieve the HS2 scheme should be cancelled”. His 100% consultation is to be applauded. Ms Gillan has told that the project isthe living nightmare my constituents have endured since March 2010”.

Both have a vested interest in denigrating HS2. So has the Maily Telegraph, where Christopher “No” Hope explainsThere are fears that HS2 will increase the risk of homes being flooded, because the route passes through areas blighted by flooding this winter”, which will come as news to the inhabitants of the Somerset Levels, Thames Valley and Severn Valley.

And, as the man said, there’s more: “Dan Rogerson, the floods minister, said that officials had still not assessed any likely flood risk from the HS2 route for the first section, from London to Birmingham”. As the precise alignment has not been decided on yet, it can’t be. But I can save Lidington and Ms Gillan the worry: they just need to find an instance of railway building in the UK causing floods.

After all, we’ve had railways for the best part of 200 years, so finding the information should be easy. They won’t find it, of course, as such an event hasn’t happened. With the far more sophisticated techniques available to today’s builders, there is even less chance of something that has not happened in all those years happening in the future. This is just a shit-stirring scare story from two desperate politicians.

But they can tell voters they got their names in the papers, so that’s all right, then.

Paedophile Smear In Trouble

The hectoring rhetoric of last week continues at the Daily Mail, where the obsessive pursuit of three Labour politicians by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre continues unabated, despite there being very little interest anywhere else – including all broadcasters, not just the hated BBC. But, elsewhere, the wheels are coming off the Dacre wagon over its very credibility.
Who're you f***ing telling to print a correction, c***?!?

Today’s front page continues the effort of last week to force the decades-old story of the infiltration of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) by a group called the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). As Harriet Harman, her husband Jack Dromey, and Patricia Hewitt were all involved with the NCCL at the time, the Mail is running its attacks as a form of guilt by association.

How Much Longer Can Paedophilia Apologists Stay Silent?” demands the headline, no doubt personally ordered by Dacre, who has the unshakeable belief that he can pull Labour off their opinion poll perch single handedly. The only added ingredient today is the claim “Even [the] Left demands answers”. So who is this Left? To no surprise at all, it consists of precisely no MPs.
The claim also hinges on defining the Guardian and Observer as part of “the Left”, as this supposedly damning evidence is just opinion voiced by Barbara Ellen at the Observer and Roy Greenslade at the Guardian, plus Kevin Maguire and Carole Malone at the Mirror. These, together with I-Speak-Your-Weight Tory MPs Rob Wilson and Philip Davies, are held to constitute a “chorus”.

But while the Mail is continuing its characteristically righteous assault, attention elsewhere is homing in on a previous campaign, that to frighten the electorate into believing that hordes of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants would flood into the UK more or less straight after the New Year had been rung in. Most of what the Mail claimed at the time has since been shown to be totally untrue.

As Adam Bienkov has noted, six airlines and three coach operators were asked if they had any evidence of increased traffic to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania since last year. All replied that they had not (you can read Adam’s piece on politics.co.uk HERE). Worse, the Mail has now yielded to the inevitable and made a typical “A big boy did it and ran away” correction.

An article on December 31 reported information provided by local travel agents ... We have since been made aware that some reasonably priced flights and seats on buses were available from Bucharest and Sofia at that time”. The Dacre doggies knew all along. They were told more or less immediately after publication. While Dacre tries his smear on the Labour three, bear his hacks’ dishonesty in mind.

Falsehood and misinformation is in the Daily Mail’s DNA. No change there, then.

So Farewell Then Piers Morgan

It was the kind of media announcement that schadenfreude was invented for: after three years hosting the weekday 9pm Eastern Time show on CNN, Piers Morgan is to step down from the role next month. As ever in the USA, the dread word ratings is being cited as the reason for the show being pulled (see my take just after his show started HERE). But CNN is being caned by its competitors, whoever is on duty.
Given out by the CNN umpire - Piers Morgan

Morgan replaced veteran host Larry King in January 2011 at a time when ratings for the 9pm slot had been in decline for several years. There was some improvement last year, but this was mainly due to what are known as “CNN Events” – a succession of one-off news stories, for which many viewers still tune in to the channel before any of its competitors.

So, when rival network MSNBC saw its own figures dip last year, there was no wavering by Phil Griffin and his team, and sure enough, they were back ahead of CNN at the start of this year. And way out in front of both networks has always been Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), whose decision to shuffle the pack and give Megyn Kelly their 9pm weekday slot only put more pressure on Morgan.
The competition: Rachel Maddow at MSNBC ...

Larry King lost the battle for second place in the cable news ratings battle soon after MSNBC gave Rachel Maddow her own show in 2008. Fox had professional loudmouth Sean Hannity on duty at 9pm, but he was regularly losing a million viewers after the hand-over from top rated host Bill O’Reilly. Ms Kelly has done a little better – at the expense of the unfortunate Morgan.

So the time-slot Piers Morgan occupied was always going to be a tough gig. Last month, he was getting 421,000 viewers while Maddow was pulling in more than a million (although Larry King’s ratings at the end of his reign were no better). In comparison, Anderson Cooper, who takes the 8pm slot, got 484,000 viewers and was not as soundly trounced by Chris Hayes at MSNBC on 809,000.
... and, latterly, Megyn Kelly at Fox News

There has, inevitably, been a characteristically lame effort by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog to capitalise on Morgan’s departure, as they wrongly assertCNN Sack Phone Hacking Suspect” (Morgan’s contract does not end until September, it isn’t being terminated, and he is not, as far as is known, suspected of phone hacking).

What The Great Guido fails to notice is that, unless Morgan can secure himself another berth Stateside, he is most likely to fetch up back in the UK, where he already presents a not very good chat-show-cum-This-Is-Your-Life series for ITV. Moreover, he’s made enough of the folding stuff from CNN not to be fussed what the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere think of him.

Morgan’s is the kind of failure many in the media can only dream of.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Delingpole Nazi Hypocrisy

When the Breitbart money arrived in London – rumoured to have been secured from at least two venture capitalists by Andrew Breitbart before he died – it should have been obvious to anyone looking to get involved with this new venture that payment was not going to be merely a conflation of gift and status symbol: the new paymasters would require results.
Not even slightly fair and balanced

That meant “leveraging” the talents on offer to bring in plenty of readers. Sadly, those talents extended only to James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole and a few also-rans. So this meant Del Boy had to churn out copy on a daily basis, whether he had media appearances to make, books to write, or domestic stuff to fulfil. It was what Stanley Unwin would have called “nosey grindstone”.

And so we arrive at Del’s rant at an organisation called the Soil Association. Who they? Well, they call themselvesthe UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use”, and that what they call “the best food” is “organically grown, minimally processed, fairly traded, fresh and seasonal”. Keep an eye on that word “organic”.

If it’s “organic”, then genetically modified produce is going to be out. You can’t call something “organic” if it’s been modified other than by conventional methods. So no-one should be surprised to see the Soil Association tellWe campaign against the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in human and animal food, and against the commercial planting of GM crops in the UK”.

Ready now for the Delingpole spin? Here it comes: under the title “Ein Volk, Ein Führer, Ein Rice!”, Del asks the kind of rhetorical question so beloved of his pals at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse): “What kind of nutcase would you have to be to oppose a miracle product which could save the lives of two million children every year and the eyesight of another half a million a year?

The supposed “miracle product” is called Golden Rice, and it’s genetically modified. It is claimed that it cures Vitamin A deficiency. But it is also not ready for commercial production yet. No matter: Del and the Breitbots are on the case, and have found that one of the Soil Association’s founders may have had far-right views on a number of subjects. This is therefore held to taint the whole organisation.

So an organisation whose founders had far-right sympathies are a no-no. It follows that Delingpole would never go near such bodies. So perhaps he can explain why he has written so extensively for the Daily Mail and its sister Sunday title, when the bloke who owned the paper in the 1930s was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis, and ran openly anti-semitic copy in the paper.

After all, we’re talking high principles here, eh Del? What a stinking hypocrite.

Mail’s Pointless Labour Bashing

The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre may not edit the Mail On Sunday, but he is editor-in-chief of parent company Associated Newspapers, and so it is no surprise to see the gratuitous kicking of anything to do with the Labour Party carried over from the weekday title today. What is extraordinary is that there is very little on which to hang what is yet another slice of knocking copy.
Hard At Work: Red Ed’s Floods Supremothunders the front page headline, backed up by a full four pages inside. And interesting to see that Mil The Younger is still being called “Red”, as if this will transform him into the reincarnation of Josef Stalin or Mao Zedong. So shadow rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner has taken time out to have a break and address a conference during the recess. Er, so what?

The senior MP in charge of Labour’s response to the floods crisis spent last week on an all-expenses-paid junket to a luxury resort in sun-kissed Mexico. As Britain struggled to recover from the devastating deluge, Shadow Floods Minister Barry Gardiner – who is also Ed Miliband’s ‘special envoy on climate change’ – jetted off to Cancun with his wife” we are told. Yes, and so what?

A Mail on Sunday investigation has established that since he was elected in 1997, the MP has spent an astonishing 157 days on all-expenses-paid foreign trips to exotic places in six continents, at a cost of well over £100,000”. And again, so what? Did the taxpayer pick up the tab? No. Is this practice restricted to the Labour Party? No. Did he take time off when Parliament was sitting? No.

While politicians on all sides last week visited flood-hit towns and villages and discussed how to stop it happening again, 56-year-old Mr Gardiner left it all behind, flying 5,000 miles to the stretch of Mexico’s Caribbean coastknown as ‘the Mayan Riviera’”. What new contribution could now be made to the flooding problem? The Environment Agency, local authorities and the armed forces are on the case.

How will a junior shadow minister being in one place rather than another improve matters? Even the MoS admits “Mr Gardiner is not breaking any Commons rules by taking the freebie”. Labour is not in power. The floods, although still blighting hundreds of properties, are now in the clean-up phase, with lessons to be learned for all concerned in the months ahead. That does not need Gardiner to be here now.

Normal men and women rightly believe that lawmakers should live as much as possible as their constituents do, facing the same problems, sharing the inconveniences and frustrations of normal lifepontificates Mail On Sunday Comment. And the last time I looked, many of those ‘normal men and women’ do indeed holiday in places like Cancun.

Still, the MoS story fulfils the Labour bashing agenda, so that’s all right, then.