The name of Allison Pearson is not one that has come up on the Zelo Street radar often: the last time was when she was writing knocking copy to sneer at Mil The Younger following his encounter with Myleene Klass. But it is a name that may well go down in infamy after a clumsy Labour-bashing smear piece appeared in today’sTelegraph, titled “The price that Ed Miliband is prepared to pay to win the Muslim vote”.
Not partisan, nor giving editors instructions, right?
And what price would that be? “The Labour leader's pledge to redefine Islamophobia as an aggravated crime will be cheered by child sex-grooming gangs in Rotherham and election-stealers in Tower Hamlets”. There is the smear in a nutshell. Yes, Labour being against hate crime, which - as Ms Pearson is not telling readers - means any hate crime, not just Islamophobia - means electoral malpractice and paedos!
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. When Ms Pearson tells “the main reason local authorities, police and social services did nothing to protect thousands of young girls from abuse at the hands of mainly Pakistani men was because they were afraid of appearing racist”, she is talking about people making accusations of Islamophobia.
What Miliband means when he says “We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records, with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime” is rather obviously about those who have a proven record (the word “record” is a teensy clue) of such behaviour. The Tel’s columnist fares no better when she tries to discuss goings-on in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
“Anyone who dared to challenge the Mayor’s shocking behaviour was branded - wait for it - Islamophobic” she asserts, once again missing the point, that what Lutfur Rahman or any of his pals claim does not give someone a criminal record. Nor does she garner any credibility points by citing Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, whose main charge against Rahman - Islamic extremism - was dismissed by the recent ruling.
But she does know that “If Ed Miliband’s new hard line on Islamophobia becomes law, men like Rahman could thrive unchallenged and our country will be even less able to defend itself against practices and customs that we find utterly abhorrent”. So she doesn’t know very much at all, as witness “if Ed Miliband has anything to do with it, I too will have my name recorded by the police”. Only for crimes against journalism, mind.
Hate crime - including that committed on religious grounds - is A Bad Thing. But for it to be taken into account, someone has to get guilty. Allison Pearson, I suspect, knows this full well. Instead, voluntarily or otherwise, she has churned out a desperate and dishonest smear in order to suggest that the Labour leader intends to give succour to child abusers. And all that this shows is that the Tel has fallen yet further from grace.
The sick desperation of the right-wing press has ceased to carry any shock value.
Another day at the piss-poor repository of tacky pro-Tory propaganda that is SunNation, and another excuse, with Mil The Younger visiting Russell Brand to chat about why one should vote and become part of the political process, to put the boot into Labour. Allowed to fly solo for the first time in making the initial assault was Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog.
Spokesman for an entire generation. Or maybe not
This supposed “journalist’ (no, don’t laugh) ticked all the knocking copy boxes as he sneered long and loud in a style that would no doubt find approval from his pal James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, leering “CONGRATULATIONS, ED! YOU’VE MANAGED TO PATRONISE AN ENTIRE GENERATION … Way to be condescending”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, all was not as it seemed.
James Doleman - who is a real journalist - was sure the hatchet job had been published before Brand’s YouTube channel The Trews had released the full video of the interview. Wickham denied this, but then, he’s not garnered the nickname “Billy Liar” for nothing. Whether or not SunNation posted his “article” after The Trews went live, it is all too obvious from the teaboy’s prose that he did not need to have seen it to make his observations.
You think I jest? Have a look: “There are thousands of people who in eight days should be voting for the first time, but who don’t feel represented by our political class, who don’t feel they have anyone to vote for … How incredibly condescending it is for Labour’s leader to think that these people are represented by Brand”. He makes no such assumption, and there is no sign here that Wickham watched the interview before writing.
There’s more: “The vast majority of people my age are nothing like Brand [how would you know, Alex?]. They are normal, decent, hardworking people who do their jobs, pay their rent, pay their mortgages and pay their taxes … Yes they are interested in important issues of social justice, but that is not the same as Brand’s bonkers, childish call to overthrow society and start again”. He didn’t see the interview first, did he?
Do go on: “How out of touch of Miliband to think that, just because he has a few YouTube subscribers [1.1 million is “a few”. Way to go, “Billy Liar”], Brand speaks for a generation … How downright insulting of him to put on a Mockney accent for the interview [he didn’t, you got that from other hostile reviews of the trailer], presumably because he thinks that is how young people talk”. He still didn’t see the interview first.
Spokesman's effectiveness, as measured by his own readers
And here’s the clincher: “that trip from Ed’s multi-million pound house to Russell’s multi-million pound house to lecture us about poverty won’t seem so clever after all”. They didn’t actually talk explicitly about poverty. There you have it: either Alex Wickham wrote his knocking copy without watching the video on which he was commenting, or he’s an even bigger liar than anyone gave him credit for.
“Billy Liar” caught bang to rights. And even the poll results don’t agree with him.
In a clear sign that Young Dave and his jolly good chaps will do whatever it takes, however shameless and unprincipled, in order to get themselves back into power at next week’s General Election, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has - one has to assume with Cameron’s, and Lynton Crosby’s, approval - effectively given the party’s pals in the press an assurance that they can carry on misbehaving, and nothing will be done about it.
This has involved Javid telling one flat-out lie, as well as threatening the BBC with some as yet unspecified sanction for its failure to report the news in a manner which meets with the approval of CCHQ. If advocates of a more trustworthy and accountable press needed to have the choice between the two major parties on the issue thrown into the starkest of focus, this was the moment that it happened.
Javid “accused the BBC of bias – calling one item ‘very, very anti-Tory’ – and said the job of changing the way the press is regulated is done … Warning that the upcoming charter review would include an investigation into bias, Javid said in a Daily Mail report that Labour’s commitment to revisit regulation risks interfering with press freedom” told theGuardian. If that sounds ominous, well, it’s because it is ominous.
He observed “Last week, listening to the Today programme, there was a debate… they were all anti-Tory. It came across as very, very anti-Tory”. We don’t get any more detail, but we do find that Javid “confirmed that the Tories had no plans to change press regulation”. Nobody is asking them to change anything, but those campaigning for greater accountability would like to see a commitment to follow through on Leveson.
Instead, Javid very deliberately sides with that part of the press opposed to the Leveson recommendations and the Royal Charter, replying to the question of whether his party would back a Leveson compliant regulator that “No, we won’t. But Labour will. It interferes with the freedom of the press. It goes fundamentally against one of the Leveson principles, which is independent self-regulation”. This is dishonest and self contradictory.
He says a Leveson compliant regulator “interferes with the freedom of the press”, but then says that is also “fundamentally against one of the Leveson principles”. Yes, complying with the Leveson principles is against the Leveson principles! But what is clear from Javid’s comments is that the Tories are not going to do or say anything that will offend their friends in the press, whose services they presumably still value highly.
And one service that the Tories clearly value highly is the press’ ability to rough up the BBC, as both the Sun and Telegraphhave done in advance of this evening’s party leaders’ Question Time special. This is what you can look forward to under the Tories: press misbehaviour can carry on as if Leveson had never happened, and if the Beeb tries any of that balanced reporting, they can expect demonisation - and maybe even sanctions.
The Nasty Party wants to look after itself, and stuff any of that Doing The Right Thing.
So the chat between Russell Brand and Mil The Younger was made available on YouTube, and was received predictably: those who cannot stop whinging at every move Miliband makes, every utterance, every press release, every decision, these people just carried right on whinging. And there is no greater anti-Miliband whinger that the Telegraph’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges.
Hodges is, you have to remember, a real, proper and serious journalist, and not someone who spends most of his waking hours spewing out weapons grade Miliband-bashing troll copy: indeed, anyone taking him to task is the one doing the trolling. This must be true because he says so, along with blubbering when someone he doesn’t like gets a profile piece in the Guardian. So what did this less than sage individual say about Milibrand?
Well, it was rubbish, and Dan was so clued up that he knew this before he had seen it: “Labour starting to talking down the Brand interview. Ominous”. Who? We don’t find that out. Not that he made it up, you understand. Dan has “sources”. And “Labour pushing out ‘Ed The Movie’ on same day as ‘Ed/Russell The Movie’ indicates they're not happy with the Brand interview”. Which is wrong, as they were released on different days.
Still, details, eh? There was still something fishy about the interview: “Been told full Russell Brand interview now been pushed back to the weekend. Can anyone confirm this?” Not very good, these “sources”, are they? How about a tribute to one of Dan’s pals? “Labour's obsession with Lynton Crosby - a man no ordinary voter has ever heard of - is testament to just how effective he's been”. Yes, let’s say something totally meaningless.
Equally daft was the assertion “SNP winning every seat. Ed and Russell. It's like David Cameron is writing the script for the closing stages of this campaign”. Were the SNP to win all 59 Scottish seats, and promise to keep Dave out of Downing Street, it would be testament to the most wrong-headed screenwriting of all. But, contrary to his earlier information, Hodges was able to announce “It’s up. Here we go”.
Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “No major screw ups from Ed. But the medium is the message. And the message I got is ‘Ed Miliband likes sitting opposite ranting lunatics’”. Aw bless, just like his hero Bozza - if in doubt, get out the mental health smear. And don’t disagree with him: “Independent on Ed/Brand: ‘The interview with Russell Brand that could well win Ed Miliband the General Election’. Actual headline. No spoof”.
Yeah, Ed was still rubbish! And his approach was also rubbish: “People tweeting ‘Under 25s will get it’. Great. If all over 25s are banned from watching TV or reading papers for next 24 hours, job done”. They don’t read papers, Dan. That’s the problem you and your masters can’t crack. Final thought? “Just wrote the line ‘Ed Miliband could be leading the country next Friday’. Sort of brought me up short”.
I should think it did bring the clown up short: next Friday is May 1st, and the election is not until May 7th. But don’t forget, you must be reverent and respectful with Dan Hodges. After all, he’s a real, proper journalist. I suspect he ranks as high as any in Rome.
Ever ready to put the boot into anyone in the Labour Party, and wasting no opportunity to pretend that he eschews such dreadful things as legal threats, the perpetually thirsty libel bully Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have chosen today to combine another of their pointless vendettas with helping their press masters to kick the hated BBC, as they go after Margaret Hodge once more.
Feared. But by whom?
Although Staines has not written either of the Hodge bashing efforts today - he has chaps to do that sort of thing for him - he is undoubtedly the presence behind them. The first post obediently showcases the Murdoch Times - a good move when much income chez Fawkes depends on that weekly Sun column - which has denounced Ms Hodge, but in a very carefully worded article which can easily be dissected.
Here’s a quick fisk: “just under 96,000 Stemcor shares handed to Ms Hodge in 2011 came from [Liechtenstein], which is renowned for low tax rates [Did she hold them when they were ‘in Liechtenstein’? If not, it’s hardly relevant]. Three quarters of the shares in the family’s Liechtenstein trust had previously been held in Panama [Ms Hodge and ‘the family’ are not one and the same thing]”. Pretty crap knocking copy, then.
The Times piece observes “The veteran Labour MP was accused of sheer hypocrisy”. And this is recycled by the Fawkes blog, whose founder, apart from his libel bullying, attacks the likes of Polly Toynbee for having three properties in the family, when, it has been estimated, he has four. It would be wise not to take any lectures on hypocrisy from the Fawkes founder, or the rabble he employs.
Then the Fawkes folks blubber “Guess where you won’t find the Margaret Hodge story? Yep, on the BBC’scontroversialelection website”. Yay obedient Murdoch poodles! But perhaps the Beeb is only being cautious: after all, the Telegraph has already had to apologise to Ms Hodge, back in late 2012. Here’s what they said at the time.
“Contrary to our report ‘Hodge faces challenge over family firm’s taxes’ (Nov 20), Stemcor, in which Ms Hodge has a small shareholding, has not abused transfer pricing to avoid tax. We accept that there is no inconsistency or hypocrisy in Ms Hodge criticising other companies for tax avoidance and apologise to her for any contrary impression”. The BBC should discard such caution and publish what the Fawkes rabble say they should?
Still, no threat has yet arrived chez Fawkes: “Hodge even threatened to sue anyone accusing her of tax avoidance. Yet no writ or letter before action came”. Are Staines and his pals feeling left out? I wonder if there are lawyers out there who might be interested in making the Fawkes experience a little more inclusive? After all, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving shower of utter and total hypocrisy.
Margaret Hodge has not, as the Fawkes rabble assert, been “busted”, or anything like it. But good to see Staines and his pals sing for their supper at Creepy Uncle Rupe’s table.
And once again the polls are showing only that no party is establishing any kind of lead: the Sun’s YouGov poll, for example, had the Tories a point in front yesterday, but Labour is one up today. So the right-leaning press has to seize upon anything that might give its preferred party an advantage, and so the news Mil The Younger had paid a visit to comedian-turned-campaigner Russell Brand has been given top billing.
This man is very scary. Allegedly
This is for one reason, and one reason alone: that the right-wing press believes that demonising Brand will damage Labour, propel Young Dave and his jolly good chaps to victory, and thereby prevent any prospect of anyone following through on the Leveson Inquiry, so they can carry on treating anyone who gets in their way like so much disposable cannon fodder. So today’s ridicule has gone off the scale.
“After Sturgeon, the Loony Leftie … MONSTER RAVING LABOUR PARTY … ‘Mockney’ Miliband cosies up with Brand” screamed the Sun front page, with the supporting article immediately available onSunNation (not that they’re desperate to get more people to read it), and telling “THE MILI-BRAND MEETING OF MINDS MAKES NO SENSE … The cod philosopher's meeting with the Labour man makes no sense”.
That's what I bladdy think of youse bladdy social bladdy media following, ya bladdy Pommie drongoes!
D’you think the Sun wants to give the impression that it makes no sense? And, as the man said, there’s more: lots of, well, cod reasons why Ed shouldn’t have done it, with the helpful addition of Dave saying what a Jolly Bad Joke it all was. But if you thought the Sun gave Miliband a rough ride, you ain’t seen the Mail. Here, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre ordered a full scale assault on the Labour leader.
“Do you really want this clown ruling us? And no we don't mean the one on the left: 'Pathetic' Miliband savaged for Brand video stunt” rants the headline, with the article continuing “Ed Miliband was condemned as 'desperate and pathetic' for agreeing to be interviewed by controversial comedian and self-styled revolutionary Russell Brand”. Readers were reminded that Brand was “a former drug addict”.
What's so f***ing wrong with kicking someone I don't like, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
This from a paper that lionises the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, who, er, you didn’t know? Ask Natalie Rowe. Meanwhile, the Mail had instructed the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) to have a good sneer. Quent told “we had a short burst of a video interview the Labour leader has done with that ghastly creep Russell Brand”. Pot and kettle, eh? It got worse.
“It was so sugary, I felt a little diabetic high coming on”. Try cutting down on the pints of Crème de Menthe. And worse: “The two men, one a multi-millionaire the other the son of Left-wing privilege”. Says a product of expensive private education. Try again. “He told us about his Dad. The Marxist one”. You mean the one who volunteered to fight for Britain against the Nazis, while your editor’s dad chickened out. Yeah, right.
All they have is abuse. The papers that lauded Mrs T. They really are running on empty.
Regular Zelo Street readers will recall the saga of the loathsome Toby Young and his West London Free School (WLFS), which should have relocated by 2013 to Palingswick House on King Street in Hammersmith. This event did not come to pass; indeed, in the intervening period, taxpayers (that means you and I, whether we want to or not) had to stump up more than £9 million for an office block on Bridge Avenue.
Behold a role model for Free School applicants everywhere
This purchase, with WLFS having to compete on the open market to secure the building, which has very little outside space, was clearly intended to buy not just space, but time. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the work to adapt Palingswick House was not exactly racing ahead, and last year, when WLFS had its hiatus and had to remove its head teacher mid-term, the building was still not ready.
But Tobes has now told parents and carers that all is now well: part of WLFS will move into Palingswick House in September this year, which is two years later than first intended. So that’s that, is it? Well, no it isn’t: despite Tobes telling that “work got underway before Christmas and Willmott Dixon report that they are ahead of schedule … the school will move into Palingswick House in phases rather than all at once”, all is not finalised.
He continues “The plan is for 240 pupils to re-locate at the beginning of Michaelmas term, with the rest following just after Christmas” (one side-effect of Tobes’ Very Wonderful “Classical Liberal” education is that it’s too bleedin’ common to say “Autumn” like everyone else), but then cautions “However, if the refurb isn’t finished, Willmotts will install temporary classrooms in front of Palingswick House”.
This may be a tad optimistic: the planning application has indeed gone in for eight temporary structures - classrooms and toilet facilities - to be installed at the Palingswick House site, but there is no sign of it having been accepted. There is also the problem that “The proposed development adjoins a conservation area and may affect its character or appearance”. So all may not be plain sailing, as well as being more than two years late.
On top of all that, there has been a requirement to remove contaminants from the area, which will not have been performed as a charitable act by whoever did the work. This brings us back, once again, to the question of how much this is costing (the easier part, who is paying, is of course, once again, the taxpayer). Perhaps the Freedom of Information Act may prove useful in this regard.
Meanwhile, Tobes takes any and every chance to tell anyone who will listen that Free Schools are A Very Wonderful Thing, while managing not to mention all the extra millions that have had to be shelled out to keep his own establishment show on the road. One should bear in mind his adverse comment on the previous Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme: this, it was concluded, was wasteful.
One look at the Palingswick House saga suggests Tobes is in a very draughty glasshouse.
In the third film of the Bond franchise, Goldfinger, 007 declares that the ‘53 Dom Perignom must be chilled to a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. To do otherwise was “As bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs”. The year was 1964; the Fab Four were on their way to conquering the USA. The remark has gone down as one of the most uncool moments in all Bond films, and there have been a few.
Dave doesn't rate him? So who does he rate?
Perhaps he will get away with it, but Young Dave has made a similar misjudgment this morning, perhaps driven by his innate peevishness: on hearing that Mil The Younger had visited Russell Brand, instead of shrugging off the questioner and pretending not to notice, he decided to come over all superior and dismissive. The idea of “hanging out” with the likes of Brand was clearly beneath him. Jolly Good Sheow!
As the Independenthas told, “Responding to the news, the Prime Minister said, ‘Politics and life and elections and jobs and the economy, it’s not a joke; Russell Brand’s a joke...This is not funny. I haven't got time to hang about with Russell Brand … Don't listen to Russell Brand, get out there with your stubby pencil!’” I’ll leave my stubby pencil exactly where it is, thanks. Has Dave thought this through?
Russell Brand has more than nine and a half million Twitter followers, or, put another way, around a million less than voted for Cameron’s party at the last General Election. His YouTube channel has almost 1.1 million subscribers. To borrow from the Heineken advert, he reaches the parts of the electorate that other popular figures cannot reach. He cuts through to many who are disillusioned with the political process.
Great judgment there, Dave ... or maybe not
And the leader of the Conservative Party has just snootily dismissed him as “a joke”. That would be the bloke who has found plenty of time to “hang out” with all manner of people whose public image is, shall we say, less than totally bright and shiny. Like, oh I dunno, oh look, there he is with professional motormouth Katie Hopkins! Yes, the one who called refugees “cockroaches”, who were “spreading like norovirus on a cruise ship”.
Who else has Dave mingled with in the recent past? There’s Andy Coulson, whom he gave a job at the heart of Downing Street, despite being warned that this was not necessarily a good idea. And how about Gary Barlow, who has recently encountered a little local difficulty with tax avoidance allegations? Then there is Jeremy Clarkson, who Dave wanted the BBC to forgive, even if he had smacked a Top Gear producer.
It gets worse: Cameron and the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks go back a long way - who can forget the horse-sharing and Dave’s sucking up to Creepy Uncle Rupe? He had no problem “hanging out” with any of them. But when Miliband called on Russell Brand, and Dave didn’t, he had his “Goldfinger Moment”, snootily and jealously dismissing the whole thing as “a joke”.
If Russell Brand needed any encouragement to endorse Miliband, this would be it.
With the polls still showing neither of the main parties able to establish a decisive advantage, push is coming to shove, and the realisation is dawning amont the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate that all that abuse they have been hurling at Mil The Younger has not advanced the cause of their preferred outcome - a majority Tory Government - one jot. So a new tactic is clearly called for.
At the Northcliffe House bunker, this means one thing: forget the mere hurling of abuse, and replace that with, er, hurling a lot more abuse. Yes, desperate times bring desperate remedies, and the first sign of desperation is the front page headline: “Red Ed’s threat to confiscate unused land branded ‘Stalinist’ as backlash grows over his plan to control property market … MILIBAND THE LAND-GRABBER”.
And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the interpretation of Labour’s housing proposals is, shall we say, a little on the hyperbolic and colourful side. And two, the “use it or lose it” proposal for unused building land was first proposed by Labour not yesterday, but in June 2013 - nearly two years ago. And Miliband was not the first politician to propose this remedy, not that the Mail wants to tell its readers.
That, whisper it quietly, was London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, but as he is a Tory, and may become leader of the party, even after his shambolic display opposite Miliband on The Andy Marr Show (tm), Mail readers are not told of his apparent moment of ideological unsoundness. Instead, there is an editorial heaping yet more abuse on the Labour leader in another attempt to panic readers.
And then, overnight, the Mailmade the discovery that racked up the panic yet more: Miliband had paid Russell Brand a visit. The reaction of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre must have been a sight to behold: arms flailing, the stentorian bark even louder than before, yet more of his unfortunate underlings on the receiving end of another barrage of expletive-laden rants, or as they are called at the Mail, “drive-by shoutings”.
Here was the ultimate weapon with which to frighten the readers: Russell Brand. The Mail’s anally-retentive staff will be shuddering at their desks; the kinds of people who sit up and take notice when Brand speaks are beyond the paper’s reach. What is worse, Brand’s The Trews channel on YouTube has almost 1.1 million subscribers. And he may be about to endorse the Labour leader. You don’t want to be at the Mail right now.
Were Brand to give his support to Miliband, the loss of bowel movement control within Northcliffe House would overwhelm the plumbing within minutes. CCHQ would be similarly afflicted. The bribes offered to Andrew Sachs and his family to give their blessing to more knocking copy would be truly mountainous. Today Miliband is likened to Stalin, tomorrow Mao Zedong and Pol Pot. Baby-eating stories may have to be prepared.
Daily Mail is melting down, melting down, melting down … all the way to London Bridge.
Every so often, a slice of blatantly party political spin pretending to be reputable journalism is so shameless that it just has to be called out. And, even though the paper for which he works produces so much of this that we callers-out are spoilt for choice, the accolade for most dishonest spin of the weekend has to go to the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), for his unswerving loyalty to the Tory Party.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan
As anyone interested in these things knows by now, during the final few minutes of The Andy Marr Show (tm) yesterday morning, Mil The Younger and London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson sat together on the Official BBC Sofa and did not enjoy a meeting of minds. And the conclusion from across the political spectrum was that Bozza ended up looking like the buffoon he undoubtedly is.
The favourite to succeed Young Dave as party leader - until yesterday - Bozza lost it with Miliband on the “non dom” argument, called him a “creature”, ranted at Marr for giving him an easier ride, and bizarrely resorted to talking about where they all went to school - including Marr. At times, he was silent and almost looked lost for words as Miliband calmly told him that his party should not have employed Lynton Crosby.
The reaction across Twitter was unfavourable. One user told “Boris Johnson isn’t super sub Tories imagine. Owned by Miliband”. Another recalled Wordsworth, and those notes Miliband made for the first TV debate: “Miliband v Boris on #Marr. Miliband plays the happy warrior card: "Don't get rattled Boris, come on now…”. Of course, that was guaranteed to get Bozza rattled, and he frothed even more.
Paul Waugh of Politics Home observed “Miliband reminds us of his pop at Boris on Marr. Arguably, was 1st time anyone in Lab has really laid a glove on Bojo since ’08”. One Tweeter noted “Boris Johnson's row with Ed Miliband reveals his darker side -- Appearance on Marr show damaged his leadership hopes”. Even Tim Montgomerie had to conclude “Tory MPs somewhat down on @BorisJohnson's #Marr performance, one telling me: If he wants top job he needs more precision, less bluster”.
So what did Quent have to say about that? Have a guess: “Bojo turned on Red Ed like a fat labrador: QUENTIN LETTS watches Boris savage 'Backstabber' Miliband”. How blatant were the whoppers? “Mr Miliband, convulsed by the presence of Bojo, did everything he could to stop Mr Johnson talking”. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“It was interesting to see Miliband made to look so terribly Establishment and old school” says a member of the establishment who attended, er, an old school. Never mind, though, Quent has the clincher for us: “And Boris had the last word”. Yes Quent, and by that time Miliband had already finished the clown off. Bozza was blustering, but nobody who mattered was listening. The Tories’ great hope was a busted flush.
So busted, in fact, that Letts has to be even more creative than usual. What a trouper!
After his appearance onThe Andy Marr Show (tm) yesterday, one might have thought that London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was more than willing to appear before the media, whatever the venue, especially as he is only going to reach his goal of leading the Tory Party if he succeeds in returning to the Commons. But the reality of Bozza’s activities is rather different.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the hustings debates that have taken place across the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency. Bozza is the Tory candidate, and he’s defending a five-figure majority, so he’s decided only to bother with one of the three debates. This may be not unrelated to the other candidates being all too willing to give him a very hard time when he bothers to turn up.
As Get West Londonobserved after the first debate, “Candidates from four of the five main political parties made promises at a public debate about how they would vote if elected to parliament”. Who might the fifth have been? “Conservative candidate Boris Johnson skipped the session – the first of three planned for the borough – as it clashed with a People's Question Time he was legally obligated to attend as London mayor”.
Bozza “was ‘empty-chaired’ at the debate and came under fire from all sides”. He came under even more fire at the second event, when he decided it might be wise to show his face and remind the electorate that the Tories were actually fielding a candidate. “Boris Johnson slammed at pre-election debate in Uxbridge” was the understated headline.
Labour hopeful Chris Summers was one of those slamming Bozza: “You don't want a candidate who's already got mayor of London, which is one of the biggest jobs out there, who's also an author, a newspaper columnist, numerous other sidelines … You're looking for someone to represent Uxbridge and South Ruislip and stand up for you on all the issues that matter. You're not looking for a dinner party guest”. Ouch!
Lib Dem Mike Cox also appeared to be enjoying himself: “We need somebody who is going to work hard for you irrespective of fear or favour, party or personal interest and, yes, God forbid, a burning ambition to be prime minister … If you want an MP to be a national celebrity, with no moral compass, who parachutes himself in from time-to-time, then vote for that man over there”. Double ouch!
Bozza retorted “I do have a record as a previous constituency MP and I worked flat out for those people”, but then, he resigned when he became Mayor of London, rather than try and do two jobs - and write his “chicken feed” generating column for the Telegraph - at the same time. He may not have enjoyed his hustings experience, because he didn’t bother turning up at the third and final event. And it gets worse.
At the only hustings that Bozza attended, all questions were pre-submitted and the candidates did not debate between themselves. He ducked the events where he would have had to think on his feet and take criticism from his peers. That’s not good enough.
[Update at end of post] The Tories must have been overjoyed at the sight of so many small business folk putting their names to another of those letters supporting them: this morning’s Telegraph tells “Exclusive letter to The Telegraph from 5,000 small business owners who helped to get the economy moving again … ‘Businesses like ours have helped to create 1,000 jobs a day since 2010. We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky’”.
How CCHQ must have enjoyed reading that headline - especially as CCHQ was the source of the story. You think I jest? Go back to April 10, and the deeply subversive Guardianwas already on the case, telling readers “Karren Brady calls on small businesses to sign letter saying Labour is 'too risky’”.
Yes, Ms Brady had been soliciting signatures to that letter for weeks, and so well-known was the tactic that it had found its way to the one paper the Tories would rather it did not. The letter, it was revealed, said “This Conservative-led government has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business … We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years”.
All of which is, more or less, what is on the front page of the Tel today. It gets worse: such has been the amateurish approach of the remaining hacks at Buckingham Palace Road that, when the underlying pdf file of signatories is examined, it reveals that the Author is, er, “CCHQ-Admin”. Partisan reporting is one thing, but this is ridiculous.
Could it get worse still? It certainly could: as Political Scrapbookhas discovered, from an analysis of just the first fifty signatories, there are several who do not own a business. And the bad news just keeps on coming: Aurum Solutions have told the Tel “Our Sales Director did not sign the letter in support of the Conservative Party. Please remove signatory 413 immediately”. And there may have been a Data Protection Act breach, too!
To put the lid on it, those poring over this supposedly exclusive surprise splash - that just happened to be in the Guardian a fortnight ago - are now realising that, as CCHQ solicited the signatories and put the information together, it is highly likely that all those who signed are at the very least Conservative Party supporters, and probably party members too. So this is another example of news that is not really news.
After all, holding the front page of a supposedly upmarket newspaper just to tell the world that 5,000 Tory supporters are not only in favour of the party’s stance on a particular issue, but also that they are going to vote for the party’s candidates next month, would be pretty pointless. And that is what the Telegraph has done this morning.
And by putting that on the front page, the Tel has made itself look even more ridiculous than before, while advancing the Tories’ campaign not one millimetre. Sad, really. [UPDATE 1430 hours: there were, as a Zelo Street reader has pointed out to me, 5.2 million small and micro-sized businesses in the UK in 2014. So CCHQ has managed to secure the endorsement of less than one-tenth of one per cent of these. That, in case anyone has not had their memory jogged, is the percentage of taxpayers who have positively endorsed the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance, which is regarded as an Astroturf organisation. It gets worse: one look at the comments for this post will show that many of those endorsing the Tories are either not real, functioning businesses - or may not be the most ideal of signatories. On top of all that, the Telegraph has now removed the document from its website which contained the incriminating paw-prints of CCHQ. Bit late now, chaps]
Brain Fade. It was so hilarious for the right-wing press when it was Green Party leader Natalie Bennett suffering it over housing policy. That was not a problem: they laid into her with their usual inimitable style, or lack of it. But how different it was when it was offered up as an excuse - and, it has to be said, a pretty lame one - for Young Dave making the kind of gaffe that suggests he is not really down with the proles.
Look cheps, that's one of those round ball games on that screen over thyah! Jolly good sheow!!
Cameron was making one of those speeches that he delivers to carefully selected audiences, at venues where - as in his “visit” to Crewe, when most of the locals didn’t even know he’d been in the area - opposition is not so much unwelcome, but totally excluded. He was waxing lyrical during a speech on opportunities for ethnic minority Britons, and, under no pressure at all, put the ball in his own net.
Britain was, he told, “a shining example of a country where multiple identities work … Where you can be Welsh and Hindu and British, Northern Irish and Jewish and British, where you can wear a kilt and a turban, where you can wear a hijab covered in poppies … Where you can support Man Utd, the Windies and Team GB all at the same time. Of course, I'd rather you supported West Ham”.
Jolly good sheow! Or rather not: Dave has previously claimed that he supported Aston Villa. The rotten lefties were on to it like a shot: “Auguste” Balls Tweeted “Hey David Cameron... I'm off to see that football team I support this afternoon. Name escapes me... they play in yellow... Watford?” Balls supports Norwich City, because, well, someone has to. Tone’s former chief spinner Big Al was rather less forgiving.
“Says a lot about his character which impacts upon policy. Out of touch. Phoney. Believes nothing”. Cameron himself offered “I had what Natalie Bennett described as a brain fade. I'm a Villa fan... I must have been overcome by something... this morning. But there we are, these things sometimes happen when you are on the stump”. But it was not convincing anyone. So someone had to go out there and spin for England.
And that person was James Manning at SunNation, who proved only that, when it comes to spin, Shane Warne he ain’t. “Aston Villa fan David Cameron today urged his audience to support West Ham … It’s pretty obviously an autocue fail rather than actual forgetfulness. Let’s dissect the exact moment it happened”. Let’s not: as the BBC reported, and Cameron himself admitted, it was not in his speech.
“I literally opened my mouth and I was going off-piste … I was then busking about other things you can support and was... I don't know what happened to me, it was just one of those things”. So why try and spin it? Ah well. As Alastair Campbell told, and the Sun knows, real football fans don’t just forget the name of their team. The Sun does a lot of sport - especially football. So a lot of football fans read it.
Many of them have already realised Cameron is a fake fan. You can’t spin that one.
Despite all the denials, the most open secret in and around the Tory Party is that, should Young Dave not prevail in next month’s General Election and decide to stand down as leader, at the front of the queue to replace him would be London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Those who have observed Bozza in action (or perhaps that should read “Bozza Inaction”) know he is not up to it.
Cripes chaps, Beano Boris just got rumbled! Yikes!!
One should not drive this one round the houses: Johnson was an appallingly bad MP, he suffered the ignominy of being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet not for his affair with Petronella Wyatt, but because he lied about it, and his tenure at City Hall has been marked by claiming credit for much of what Ken Livingstone started, blustering his way through MQT, and roundly abusing critics, often using mental health smears to do so.
Otherwise, Mayor Bozza has sprayed money up the wall on the vanity cable car, vanity buses - which still bake their upper deck passengers whenever the weather warms up - and a badly executed cycle hire scheme. He is now trying to spray more public funds up the wall on the “Garden Bridge”. His sole achievement is getting approval for Crossrail, without which all those business leaders would not have backed him in 2012.
But he’s still got his eyes on the prize of the Tory leadership. So to this end, measured and loyal Bozza fetched up this morning on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to trot out the usual jolly good fun act. All appeared to go well. But then, at the very last, he was sat down on the sofa alongside Mil The Younger. And from that point, his campaign progressed not necessarily to his advantage. This is important.
Because if Dave does go, it will most likely be because Miliband has become Prime Minister. This was Bozza’s opportunity to show just how spiffingly wonderful he would be at PMQs. Off he went, bashing Labour on their Non Dom policy. Miliband calmly asked him if he was in favour of “state sponsored tax avoidance”. Bozza became agitated. He cited “Auguste” Balls twice. He accused Marr of giving Miliband an easy ride.
Then he lost it. “Hang on, is this the Ed Miliband who was in the Treasury … with Gordon Brown? Are you the same creature?” His opponent was unruffled. Another tack was tried: “Not only did we go to the same University, we went to the same primary school” blustered Bozza, to which, er, so intercoursing what? In any case, Miliband was waiting with the put-down: “Not the same secondary school, Boris”.
So Bozza had a go at Marr: “Neither of us went to a school as smart as Loretto” (and again I say, so intercoursing what). And before he could reply to Marr’s point about his “backstabber” remark, Miliband told him Lynton Crosby was putting him up to saying that, and that he should dispose of his services if he becomes Tory Leader. By this time, Tories up and down the country were realising how PMQs would play out with Bozza.
Faced with around 300 Labour MPs ridiculing him, he’d be toast. Every week. So who wants him as Tory leader - apart from Miliband? Don’t all shout at once.
Anyone out there not counting down the days to the General Election has been reminded that it is not only getting close, but also that the Tories are getting increasingly desperate, by perusing the Mail On Sunday’s front page splash, where readers are told “MAY: SNP/LAB PACT ‘WORST CRISIS SINCE ABDICATION’”. Who may what? Ah, the perils of ambiguous surnames quoted out of context.
"Worst Crisis"? Aren't we forgetting something?
Home Secretary Theresa May has waded into the election campaign with a finely crafted intervention. Sadly for her, it is also finely crafted bullshit: since the Abdication “crisis”, which wasn’t much of one, we’ve had a World War - you’d think the Mail titles would remember this, as their man lost it - as well as Suez, the Cuban Missile Crisis (which really was a crisis), oil crises (plural), and a whole lot more.
And the MoS has another problem: very few voters will remember the brief reign of Edward VIII, and even if they do, the monarchy was in those days so distant as to be largely irrelevant to most ordinary peoples’ lives. Moreover, as the monarchy’s power has been little more than ceremonial throughout recent history, whatever happened during that brief period in 1936 would have remained largely irrelevant to all those ordinary lives.
In any case, Ms May’s intervention has got very little to do with what happened round at Buck House in the mid-30s: her actual intention is to question the legitimacy of the next Government before we’ve had the election. In other words, it’s a variation on the theme devised during the 2000 US Presidential Elections by Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) when they called Florida for Dubya before it had been declared.
Here's a little reminder
That made Al Gore look like a sore loser when he called for a recount. The idea for next Month’s contest is to declare that, whatever the numbers, any Government that relies on the SNP - who have made clear they would never support the Tories - is somehow invalid because that party supports independence for Scotland. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, this is total crap.
Every MP elected under the SNP banner would still be an MP: we don’t have different classes of them. So they would be part of the 650 total, and using them to get over the 325 “majority line” would be no less legitimate than relying on the DUP and UKIP - which the Tories would have to do. And the one about nationalist MPs not having legitimacy is also bullshit - as it’s happened before.
Before Ireland was partitioned into Northern Ireland and what was at the time called the Irish Free State, Irish MPs sat in the Westminster Parliament. Most were in favour of what was called “home rule” - just what the SNP wants. They propped up a Liberal Government. That Government’s legitimacy was not questioned; it enjoyed a Commons majority, it could get its legislation through the House, and it was a relatively stable alliance.
Theresa May is taking out of the back of her neck. So is the clown who wrote today’sMoS editorial. But good to see the right-wing press admitting that they are trying to get their preferred party into power by whatever underhand means they can.
So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have to be out and about later. So there.
6 Sun Scotland Hypocrisy The Scottish edition of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun praised the SNP. And, at the same time, the version on sale south of the border put the boot in to them. Flexible standards and sales, eh?
5 Sun’s Creepy Sturgeon Obsession Recycling a five month old story from the BBC, editing it selectively to make the SNP leader look worse (“she cut the hair off her sister’s doll”), and trowelling on the misogyny, should worry anyone who stops and thinks about press behaviour.
4 Grant Shapps In Deep Shit The Tory chairman made all sorts of defiant noises last week on Newsnight. Since then, he’s gone quiet, and it now appears he may have broken election rules - the last one to get guilty of that was disqualified as an MP.
2 Katie Hopkins - You’re A Liar She played the victim, but did not apologise for calling refugees “cockroaches”. Meanwhile, the petition to the Sun to dispose of her column passed the 300,000 mark.
1 Katie Hopkins - The Backlash After the column which described refugees in terms that crossed the racism barrier, the Sun’s Friday pundit was condemned on all sides. And the worst thing was that the paper thinks giving her a platform is OK.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!