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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Uber Protests Level Playing Field

[Update at end of post]

The saga of driver and rider matching service Uber, its impact on London’s black cab trade, and the perverse championing of the app by the supposedly free-market libertarian right, has been brought back on to newsdesks around the capital and elsewhere by Transport for London (TfL) putting a series of regulation proposals, to be applicable to all taxi and private hire vehicles and drivers, out to consultation.
The proposals include many items which should not prove controversial, nor which any provider of taxi or private hire vehicles should find problematic - like ensuring all drivers have a grasp of spoken English, their vehicle is properly insured, and that TfL know who is being used to drive the public around the capital. Instead, in a predictable move, Uber’s lobbying muscle has been mobilised to leak the proposals and then play the victim.

Yes, as so often, hard-pressed hacks are being urged to “look over there” by a company that is worth billions, and indeed, which has the odd billion Dollars in cash to play with. Uber employs former US Presidential advisors. The black cab trade, in contrast, is made up of one-man and one-woman bands, all of whom are self-employed, and have invested many years of their lives, and a shed load of cash, in their livelihoods.
Bring on the cheerleaders

The OTT press reaction has been magnificently exemplified by freesheet City AM, which has a front page splash headlined “TFL BOWS TO ANTI-UBER PRESSURE … Popular app could face clampdown as black cab lobby boasts of influence”. Pride of place is given to the obligatory rent-a-quote Uber spinner whining “These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride”, which is bullshit-speak of the highest order.

The City AM stance is no surprise, given it is now edited by Uber fan Christian May, who gave the company’s deeply unpleasant CEO Travis Kalanick a soft soap interview at a recent IoD event. But it is not the worst example of Uber grovelling: for that, we have to visit May’s pals, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have reacted as if the End Times were upon us.
How to guarantee an accessible vehicle in London

After splashing a copy of the proposals - which, by themselves, show only that most of the content is uncontroversial - the Fawkes blog has screamedTransport for London are launching a consultation today on proposals to kneecap Uber’s business”, before claiming the blog “understands Number 10 are furious with Boris for allowing the consultation to go ahead and are actively seeking ways of forcing him to back down”.

Given that Bozza now has an MP’s job to do, and was hardly hands-on before that, it’s entirely possible he had little to do with the consultation other than to nod when someone else suggested it. Meanwhile, it is noted that Uber want everyone else to come down to their standard, rather than the industry all play by the same admittedly rigorous, but necessary, rules. And that they are prepared to spin rather than engage constructively.

Regulations are there for a reason. And they are not something to pick and choose.

[UPDATE 1 October 1300 hours: the spin, verging on forthright dishonesty, has continued, with Uber fans at the Guido Fawkes blog claiming "On the pollution point, Uber is planning to go all-electric in the next few years".

No such claim has been made. The Great Guido has his trousers alight once again.

Meanwhile, Uber and its supporters are claiming that over 100,000 have signed the online petition in favour of the driver-and-rider-matching service. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the petition can all too easily be faked.

Not only are there many examples of fake names in circulation right now - whether Sillius Soddus or Biggus Dickus have been included is not known - but a short video showing how easy it is to fake signatures is also available.

Not a good result for all that PR expenditure, Uber people, is it?]

Fake Sheikh In The Dock

After considering the file of evidence submitted to them by the Metropolitan Police at the beginning of June, the CPS yesterday announced that it was charging Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, along with his driver Alan Smith, with conspiring to pervert the course of justice. This follows from the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos last year, which collapsed after the judge threw out the prosecution case.
Mazher Mahmood

The CPS explained “After carefully considering all of the evidence the CPS has decided that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to charge both men. This decision comes after it was alleged that Mr Smith agreed with Mr Mahmood to change his statement to police as part of a trial in July 2014, and that Mr Mahmood then misled the court”. Maz’ court date is at the end of next month.

Mahmood responded with a statement through his lawyers: “I am deeply disappointed that, after a totally unjustified delay, the Crown Prosecution Service have today informed me that they have decided to charge me with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. I deny the offence. I will vigorously contest it at court. In the meantime I have nothing further to say”. We should also be mindful of contempt laws.

That much was routine: the interesting part was seeing which papers decided to report the news, and which did not. There were detailed accounts in the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, Mirror, Evening Standard, and the decision to charge was covered by the BBC and Sky News (“first for breaking wind”). Online-only news sources have also covered the decision. So who has been keeping schtum?

Interestingly, both the Mail and the Express have, as far as is known, said nothing. But, all too predictably, radio silence is being maintained most rigorously at the Baby Shard bunker: there is nothing about the story in the Murdoch Sun, nor even the supposedly more upmarket Times. Nor has there been any coverage by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.

That may be not unconnected to the Fawkes folks having a regular berth at the Sun on Sunday, a source of good money which Staines dare not endanger. And he also dare not incur the wrath of Don Rupioni. So if the Murdoch line is to keep schtum, The Great Guido, freedom promoting libertarian extraordinaire, will do as he’s bloody well told.

What will also be interesting to see is just how far the Murdoch empire is prepared to go to support Mazher Mahmood. Will we see the same phalanx of lawyers that attended the Hacking Trial? Only then will we know just how valuable the Fake Sheikh has been, and continues to be, to Creepy Uncle Rupe.

In the meantime, remember what the man from the CPS said: “both Mr Mahmood and Mr Smith have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings”. Everyone deserves a fair trial. Let’s make sure he has one.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Simon Danczuk Aide Jokes Exposed

A civilian investigator for Greater Manchester Police was recently sacked for making a distinctly off-colour joke to the wife of Martin Digan, the whistleblower who had worked for 20 years to expose the activities of former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith. Crude innuendo delivered in the midst of a child abuse investigation was beyond the pale. There was no complaint about the sacking from Rochdale’s current MP Simon Danczuk.
That may be because Danczuk takes the subject of Child Sex Abuse (CSA) very seriously indeed. Or so he says: a number of emails have arrived on Zelo Street which appear to have been sent by his former sidekick Matt Baker. These show that, while Danczuk was fearlessly campaigning against CSA, his aide - the one who, it is claimed, wrote that book about Cyril Smith - seems to have been indulging in more of that crude innuendo.

Zelo Street regulars will recall the last Matt Baker email to appear on this blog, which has resulted in stories in Rochdale Online, and later the Manchester Evening News. That showed at attempt to smear former Rochdale Council leader Colin Lambert, together with former Mayor of Rochdale Robin Parker. Although he was Baker’s boss at the time, Simon Danczuk has denied any involvement.
But, as Clive James might have said, I digress. The first email extract - these are all believed to be genuine - was sent on 12 November 2012, with the subject “Cyril Smith handgliding” [?]. Baker’s email address, and the name of the addressee, are redacted, as is the subject line in the body text. But the rest is all too clear.

It’s a funny old world isn’t it? Turns out Cyril Smith was good at hand gliding after all. Except it was down young boys trousers!” Laugh? I thought I’d never start. Then there is an email from January last year, on “Cyril Smith & Tickle the pony”. An excited Baker tells “The first sentence of this story is so wrong. Read it. It is just WRONG!
So what is the fnarr-inducing first sentence? Yes, the Rutland Times link is genuine, and the story is still live. It reads “Cyril Smith was delighted to be given the chance to make a fuss of five-year-old Tickle”. The Cyril Smith in question was a resident of a care home. But the inference of “five-year-old Tickle” is as crude as it is clear.

And, as the man said, there’s more: a third email, making yet another crude swipe, this time at former Lib Dem Councillor Greg Couzens, who, it has been alleged, was one of Cyril Smith’s “famous five”. Sent in February 2013, and titled “What a recommendation!” it simply reads “Cyril was always right behind Greg!” Kersnick, kersnick.
I’m sure that Simon Danczuk will be the first to denounce this kind of behaviour. But if, as I believe, these emails are genuine, he has questions to answer about the conduct of his former sidekick. That’s in addition to the questions over the Lambert and Parker smears.

Zelo Street readers can expect further developments in the very near future.

Dan Hodges’ Corbyn Paranoia

It has finally happened: the crossing of the floor by the Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, happened long ago, but now has come the realisation that, just because he isn’t paranoid, it doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere is not coming to get him. It would be laughable if it were not so …. oh stuff it, it really is laughable.
He's desperate, Dan

Beneath the headlineWho will dare to confront Corbyn’s Children? Labour’s conference has seen a sinister tyranny emerging among the new leader’s supporters”, Hodges looks at the genial and mild-mannered Jeremy Corbyn, and his consensual, democratic approach to politics, and sees a cult figure, supported by hordes of mesmerised, zealous followers, willing to eliminate all opposition to their leader.

You think I jest? This is Dan’s opening gambit: “In 1978 the horror writer Stephen King produced one of his most famous, and chilling, works. ‘Children of the Corn’ tells the tale of a middle-aged, suburban American couple who stumble across a remote village in rural Nebraska populated entirely by children. Scary children … All the adults – the local minister, the police chief – have been killed”. And there’s more.

Sacrificed by the malevolent infants as an offering to their evil deity ‘He Who Walks Behind The Rows’. Here at Labour conference in Brighton someone, or something, is walking behind the rows. You can see it in the eyes of every Labour MP. The dread. ‘One misplaced phrase. One careless act of disloyalty. Then they will come for me’ … And they will. The 150,000 will come”. Hiding behind the sofa? No, neither am I.

And all those new members, Dan reckons, are A Very Bad Thing: “The Labour party membership surge is a catastrophe matched only by the election of Corbyn himself … It has already ushered in The Terror” [yes, he really wrote that]. But do go on. “Yesterday it was reported trade union activists are drawing up a hit list of former shadow cabinet members who have refused to serve the new regime”.

Yes, it was “reported” by the Telegraph making it up. In any case, what’s the problem with democracy? Ah, but Dan has that figured out, too: “this is not democracy. It’s the tyranny of the majority. Or the tyranny of the minority masquerading as the majority”. And a bit more Stephen King, perhaps? “As far as the average representative of the parliamentary Labour party is concerned, there is nothing out beyond the corn”.

And on he wibbles: “The mere fear of de-selection is enough. Fear. It is the great unifier now. Fear of the unbelievers. Fear of being branded an unbeliever. Fear, above all else, of the unbelievers who live out beyond the corn”. Almost unnoticed along the way, though, he admits “Maybe nothing will come of it”. Nothing other than Hodges’ credibility quietly being flushed down the pan for the last time, just to gain the favour of his bosses at the Tel.

Is this supposed to be journalism? One thing’s for sure, it’s got sod all to do with reality.

Monday 28 September 2015

Flannelled Fool Dodgy Stories Exposed

[Update at end of post]

As Zelo Street readers discovered some time ago, the relationship between the output of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, and reality has always been a tenuous one. Now his penchant for peddling porkies has been picked up by the national press - but that has not stopped his appetite for ever-more creative writing.
All together now: "Smile ... while your pants are blazing ..."

Master Cole’s tendency to talk well, but lie badly, was picked up by the deeply subversive Guardian’s Media Monkey column, which told “For the Sun’s rookie Westminster correspondent Harry Cole, it’s not been the best of spells - and just when he was keen to impress new editor Tony Gallagher too. Although the former Guido Fawkes sidekick has scored a few splashes, they have a tendency to prove dodgy”.

Such as? “Like the claim that Jeremy Corbyn ‘will kiss Queen’s hand to grab £6.2m’, later shown (on BuzzFeed) to be based on a false assumption … Or the supposed scoop that Corbyn long ago gave £45 to an IRA man on the run, which, as a law professor pointed out on Twitter, was alleged by the Times back in 1987 only to be retracted 12 days later”. Yes, those were debunked on Zelo Street too (see HERE and HERE).

It got worse: “Thursday’s Cole corker, ‘BBC boss and Savile Cover-up’, which was wholly indebted to a Meirion Jones article about Alan Yentob (who denies the claim) in an issue of Spectator Life that also hit doormats at dawn on Thursday, but nevertheless was run in the Sun with ‘Exclusive: Yentob Storm’ above the headline. To be fair, though, ‘Derivative: Yentob Storm’ doesn’t have quite the same ring”. Quite.

And I have even worse news for the flannelled fool: the Guardian missed the wholly fictitious claim by Master Cole that Jeremy Corbyn did not attend the opening match of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham because he wished to snub Royalty. The reality was that his walk-in constituency surgery went on well into the evening. But has this exposé of his dodgy storytelling made Cole stop and think? You jest.

No, like the dog returning to its vomit, today has brought more Cole fiction, as his “Labour Conference Diary” tells “‘I’m not in favour of hereditary systems in politics’ said Jeremy Corbyn in his big conference interview on the Andrew Marr Show … Which is surprising given the ‘hereditary system’ in Labour’s new top team … Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn is the son of left-wing firebrand Tony Benn and Labour’s new Shadow Environment Secretary Lisa Nandy’s grandfather was in the House of Lords”.

Let’s take this nice and slowly, shall we, Master Cole? An hereditary system is where one generation is succeeded by the next one by right. Hilary Benn and Lisa Nandy were elected through the democratic process, and are answerable to their electorates, so their presence in the Commons is not the result of an hereditary system.

The flannelled fool’s pants are well and truly on fire once again. Another fine mess.

[UPDATE 29 September 1150 hours: as if to prove my point, Master Cole has brought forth another steaming "exclusive" telling "TO WEAR A SUIT, OR NOT WEAR A SUIT, THAT IS THE QUESTION FOR JEREMY CORBYN ... Insiders aren't even sure if the Labour leader owns a suit".

Do go on. "An extraordinary row has broken out in Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle over whether the eccentric Labour leader should wear a suit when he gives his big conference speech tomorrow". Except there is no row, and Cole is once again making it up.

We hear from "an insider", and later from "One weary aide", although whether this is an aide to Corbyn, or to someone at the Sun, is not told. Only at the very end do readers find "A spokesman for Mr Corbyn admitted he had no idea what his boss would be wearing: 'there’s not a style guru, you’ll be surprised to hear'".

That one genuine quote, to no surprise, does not back up the idea that there has been "An extraordinary row". Because, once again, Master Cole's pants are on fire. There's more steers that are bum in your super soaraway Sun]

Tory Suicide And Grant Shapps

[Update at end of post]

The row following the death of young Tory activist Elliott Johnson in an apparent suicide rumbles on, with the Sunday Times unearthing what looks like more appallingly bad behaviour by former PPC Mark Clarke, together with the impression that CCHQ knew what Clarke was like, and what he was up to, but for reasons best known to themselves did nothing about it. And I have to tell the ST that there is more to explore.
Elliott Johnson at left; behind him is Mark Clarke

The article, by James Lyons and John Boswell, reveals that Johnson recorded a conversation he had when meeting Clarke, and “a second man, André Walker”. That recording was discovered after Johnson’s death, and has been passed to the Police. Clarke, it is claimed, wanted Johnson to withdraw a complaint he had made to CCHQ about Clarke’s behaviour. There are several more such complaints outstanding.

That much is inconvenient to the Tory Party. What is potentially far more damaging for them are claims that suggest Clarke’s actions were, if not sanctioned by them, at the very least allowed to continue. Former Bow Group chairman Ben Harris-Quinney claimed that Clarke “did CCHQ’s ‘dirty work’”. He also suggests that he was threatened with a campaign of anonymous and unattributable, yet organised, abuse.
A connection to Shapps? How might that happen?

Yet worse is the claim that Clarke, on hearing that Sarah-Jane Sewell, whose departure from Conservative Future (CF) he had previously celebrated, had been hired by the Parliament Street think tank, confronted its chairman Patrick Sullivan, telling him “Your career is over. Everybody in the room will cut you out. You’re dead to me. I know people in the party [my emphasis]. You’re never going to get ahead”.

So what might the Tory Party’s co-chairmen, Andrew Feldman and Grant “Spiv” Shapps, have known of this? Feldman, it is understood, concentrates on the fundraising side: the part involving all those activists is more likely to have been down to Shapps. The Welwyn Hatfield MP may now be far away from the job he left after the General Election, but the connection to Mark Clarke is one that Zelo Street readers will know all too well.
Well, here's a potential connection

A source helpfully made available this photo of a post-cricket match gathering at Didcot Parkway station last summer. At top right is Mark Clarke. Second from the left, wearing a pale blue shirt, and with Clarke’s right hand on his shoulder, is one Paul Abbott. Who he? Abbott was, at the time, Grant Shapps’ chief of staff. The photo was taken around the time that Ms Sewell was forced out of her role at CF.

It is quite possible that Shapps would have had some knowledge of what was going on, which may make for potentially awkward questions. What may also prove awkward, for Lyons and Boswell, is the presence on the front row of that photo of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. Cole now works for the same organisation as the Sunday Times hacks.

Not that the Sun’sWestminster Correspondent” will have any power to stop the investigation. And the rest of the press is on the case. This story has some way to run.

[UPDATE 29 September 1730 hours: the bullying scandal has now spread to Rail Minister Claire Perry, who has called on firms to, er, deal with online bullying. This is because India Brummitt, whose name has been pitched as a possible participant in the Elliott Johnson affair - something she has denied - is now a Parliamentary aide to Ms Perry.

Questions are being raised as to whether Ms Perry had any knowledge of the complaints that have been made about Mark Clarke and others. Were that to prove true, it would be most inconvenient to an MP who once Tweeted that she had signed up to the Beat Bullying online Big March.
And, for Grant "Spiv" Shapps, of whom questions are being asked as to what he knew about bullying, and when, here is another inconvenient photo. With Shapps are Mark Clarke, India Brummitt, and at right, former deputy party chairman Emma Pidding. It's pretty clear that Shapps knows those whose names are being circulated - so would he have us believe he doesn't know what they were up to?

Grant Shapps has been rather quiet of late. Maybe he has been too quiet]

Sunday 27 September 2015

Toby Young - Elitist Snob

Such is his enthusiasm for all things Conservative, and especially on education, one might think that the loathsome Toby Young would be a fervent supporter of Grammar Schools. Indeed, when he asked in a post for Telegraph blogs “If we accept that bright children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to excel in grammar schools – and I think that's indisputable – and we also accept that less bright children in neighbouring schools will suffer as a result of not being taught alongside them – again, hard to dispute – the question is whether that's a price worth paying?” his thoughts were clear.
Another grown up contribution to the education debate

Continuing “The choice we're faced with is not between more or less social mobility, but between two different patterns of mobility: a reasonable amount of modest mobility in a system characterised by universal comprehensive provision versus a higher level of bottom-to-top mobility offset by lower levels of modest mobility in a system that includes an element of selection”, he then came to an unequivocal conclusion.

To my mind, it's pretty clear that the latter is preferable. Why? Because everyone gains in a society when the most gifted are able to rise to the top. A brilliant child born on a council estate is less likely to discover a cure for cancer if he or she attends the local community school than if he or she attends a grammar”. He had been just as certain of his ground when telling the Guardian back in 2009 of his enthusiasm for Free Schools.

My plan is to create a ‘comprehensive grammar’, that is, a school which is as close as possible to the grammar I went to – traditional curriculum, competitive atmosphere, zero tolerance of disruptive behaviour – but with a non-selective intake”. Once he’d found a site, “the mechanics of setting up my ‘comprehensive grammar’ shouldn't be too hard”.

Grammar Schools were therefore A Very Good Thing. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the folks at the Independent have discovered that Tobes’ disposition towards Grammar Schools was not always so sunny. “Toby Young: Free school pioneer described working-class grammar school boys at Oxford as 'universally unattractive’” is the headline on Nick Mutch’s article.

The piece recounts Tobes’ description of working-class Grammar School students arriving at Oxford University: “It was as if all the meritocratic fantasies of every 1960s educationalist had come true and all Harold Wilson’s children had been let in at the gate … Small, vaguely deformed undergraduates would scuttle across the quad as if carrying mobile homes on their backs. Replete with acne and anoraks, they would peer up through thick pebble-glasses, pausing only to blow their noses”.

He even let his readers know that these ghastly oiks were known as “stains”. The Indy notes that Tobes “has not answered a request for comment”. Perhaps when he does find time - no word on Twitter either, as he is too busy congratulating himself on having edited the latest issue of Spectator Life - he can also explain how his claims that his late Father would approve of his actions sits alongside “fantasies of every 1960s educationalist”.

The Honorable Toby Daniel Moorsom Young really is a crashing snob. End of story.

Simon Danczuk Bullying Hypocrisy

Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP has once again been given a platform by the right-leaning press to tell the world that the party he allegedly loves is being taken over by rotten lefty bullies, and that by inference he is a helpless victim. This will come as a surprise to many in Rochdale, where they know all about Danczuk’s ability to play the sympathy card with one hand, while smearing and threatening with the other.
He kicks off by telling oftoday’s Labour Party on the brink of civil war and fighting a hostile hard Left takeover”, which will come as a surprise to those who saw Jeremy Corbyn’s genial demeanour on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning. This was followed by the claim that former Liverpool councillor Derek Hatton is “rejoining” Labour, which will come as a surprise to not only the party, but Degsy as well.

What is his justification for speaking out? “This has been my party all my life - and if Jeremy Corbyn can spend years attacking a Labour leader with the biggest public mandate in history, vote against Labour more times than David Cameron and call that a principled stand, then I’m perfectly entitled to have my say”. Then he talks of “gangs of Corbynistas aggressively bullying and attacking anyone”.

Well, let me put Simon Danczuk straight on “bullying and attacking people”. His former sidekick Matt Baker stands accused of attempting to anonymously and viciously smear former Rochdale council leader Colin Lambert, and former Mayor of Rochdale Robin Parker, a story first broached recently by Zelo Street, taken up by Rochdale Online and then the Manchester Evening News. And there’s more. Much more.

As the Mail On Sunday - that’s the same paper that has today given him a platform - told in July this year, Danczuk has never convincingly explained the almighty row he and then-partner Karen Burke had while on holiday in Spain, which led to her being dumped, with two small children, at Alicante Airport in the dead of night with no tickets, and no money with which to buy them. The fallout from that row has rumbled on for years.

Rochdale Online has the story: “Mr Danczuk complained back in 2009 that seven members of Rochdale Labour Party had undermined him in seeking an investigation into his conduct. Five of the seven were expelled from the party and two suspended. One of those suspended was the late Maureen Nicholl, 76 at the time and a party member for 60 years”. The question of his conduct followed from that row with his partner.

My information is that Simon Danczuk tried his best to suppress reporting of the row, which happened before he was first elected to Parliament, and that this once more involved bullying, only this time of the legal threat variety. So when he starts pleading that he’s Mr Reasonable, and he’s being bullied, there will be much hollow laughter in and around the town of Rochdale. As there will be when he claims to be tough on terrorism.

There are no gangs. There is no purge. And there is no credibility in Simon Danczuk.

Top Six - September 27

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 shopping to do later. So there.
6 Katie Hopkins - All Washed Up The pro-am motormouth is joining Mail Online not out of choice, or for a career move, but because she was too unpleasant even for the Sun.
5 Simon Danczuk Terrorism Hypocrisy Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP likes to shout the odds about others consorting with those accused of terrorism. But he appears to have been doing exactly that himself.
4 Simon Danczuk - More Dirty Tricks The email that appeared to have been sent by the MP’s then sidekick Matt Baker in an attempt to smear others in the Labour Party has now made the Manchester Evening News. So he ramped up the counter spin as well.
3 Don’t Menshn Piggate (Thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch declared that the unauthorised biography of Young Dave was a stitch-up of poor Michael Ashcroft. So that’ll be another totally wrong assumption, then.
2 Simon Danczuk Purge Paranoia The complaint by Heywood and Middleton’s Constituency Labour Party about Danczuk’s attempt to smear others was spun as the beginning of a Corbyn purge. So that’s another pack of lies, then.
1 Toby Young Cam Defence Flop The loathsome Tobes went in to bat to dismiss the unauthorised biography of Young Dave. He was as successful as usual - in other words, not at all.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday 26 September 2015

Tony Gallagher - This Is Your Arse

Sometimes the sheer wilful dishonesty and refusal to face reality that is exhibited by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate  is so brazen, and so obvious, that calling them out is not enough. It is necessary, on occasion, to hand the deployers of the greatest brass neck their arses on a plate. The latest such exponent of victimhood has been new Sun editor Tony Gallagher, who has been quoted at length in Press Gazette.
Tony Gallagher - not objecting to the Leveson Inquiry at the time

Taking out his onion at the recent Exaro Debate, he told “Things like the Bribery Act have made things much, much harder for journalists … I wonder now, I fear the answer would be a negative, that the Telegraph might not buy the disk of MPs’ expenses six years on, because the terms of the Bribery Act would expose you to that, which as I understand it has no exclusion for journalists”. HE DOESN’T KNOW.

There was more: “when the Royal Charter [on press regulation] came before the House of Commons a couple of years ago all bar a tiny handful of MPs voted in favour … and I’m absolutely certain that large numbers of those MPs were motivated by pure hatred of the media because of what it had done to them over the business of MPs’ expenses”. HE STILL DOESN’T KNOW. But he is certain that the rotten MPs done it.

Then he takes the biscuit in no style at all: “the relationship between the police and media has almost completely collapsed … I think you talk to any reporter, local or national, now and it’s almost impossible to have any kind of a dialogue with police officers that helps both your reporter and helps the news organisation”. WHAT’S THE NAME OF THAT PAPER YOU EDIT? The Sun. The one that shopped its sources to the Police.

Why should the cops trust a paper that might grass on them, get them a criminal record and lose them their careers? But Tone is ready with his “look over there” card: “the police’s refusal to reveal information, couched usually in Leveson terms, is one of the scandals of the age”. LEVESON HAS NO FORCE IN LAW. This is just a lame excuse, intended to blame the Inquiry for the shortcomings of your own industry.

It gets worse: “Freedom of Information is under assault as never before. It’s been a fantastic tool for rooting out corruption and exposing the excesses of central and local government”. And it’s been over-used and abused by fishing expeditions from the likes of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, whose shoddily researched rubbish all the papers you worked for recently - the Telegraph, Mail and Sun - slavishly reproduce as fact.

Moreover, the Royal Charter that MPs voted for because of that “pure hatred” would not stop the press talking to the Police, would have no restraint on what was published, would not stop them paying money for stories, and would have nothing to do with FoI. All it would do is to make press self-regulation properly independent - of politicians, proprietors - and editors like Tony Gallagher. Stop playing the victim Tone, and get real.

Meanwhile, here’s your arse on a plate. You’re welcome.

Don’t Menshn Iain Dale

[Update at end of post]

Following the serialisation in the Daily Mail this week of Call Me Dave, the unauthorised biography of the Prime Minister authored by Michael Ashcroft with some assistance from hack Isabel Oakeshott, has come the spin and punditry, some of it informed, and, all too predictably, rather a lot of it totally misinformed. Into this latter category has come the ranting of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Ms Mensch has decided that poor, unfortunate Michael Ashcroft has been taken for a mug by dastardly publisher Iain Dale and nefarious journo Ms Oakeshott, which is where she is, sad to say, plain flat wrong. Ashcroft and Dale have a business relationship going back some years: the Tory peer is an investor in Biteback Publishing, which published the Cameron biography. So most of her attack is also wrong.
She commented - at length, unfortunately - on Dale’s blog which reproduced his ConHome column, and which discussed the Cameron book. There was enough in Dale’s post to tell anyone who did not already know that Ashcroft was not some kind of innocent party to its publication. Ms Mensch was not for reading and inwardly digesting: she had already made her mind up, and moreover, decided that it was the unvarnished truth.
Zero sources Iain. Zero sources. You don't have any. Congrats on your first foray into fiction!” she trilled, seemingly unaware that “Piggate” was an anecdote: no other claim was made about it. Perhaps she was equally harsh on Ashcroft’s claim about Tom Baldwin’s foray into the snow. Perhaps she wasn’t. But she did stress “the difference between what I say about #Corbyn and Oakeshott's zero-sourced fantasy is that what I say I cite”.
This, as Zelo Street readers will know, is also crap (see HERE and HERE for two examples from her piss-poor Sun columns; there are lots more from Twitter, of course). She also obligingly emphasised her shaky relationship with reality by then Tweeting “Of course. Labour supporters didn't vote for Corbyn”. A vast majority of registered Labour supporters voted for Jeremy Corbyn. So that claim is crap, too.
All of this meant that Dale tired rapidly of the incessant whining, and after publishing her comment advised her to “Go and bother someone who gives a rat's arse what you think”. Note also that he tagged Michael Ashcroft in that Tweet. Ms Mensch, as so often, declined to take the hint: “Iain Dale's a bit upset that I'm calling out his excuses on #piggate here”. He wasn’t upset. He just has a life, and better things to do.
Call Me Dave has, for a political biography, been a publishing success - as Dale observes, most such books don’t sell more than around 5,000, and the Cameron biography has an initial print run of 35,000. The idea that Michael Ashcroft has been stitched up by his publisher and co-writer is as laughable as it is untrue. And Louise Mensch has no room to call out anyone for falsehood and misinformation.

Is she flying in for the Tory Conference? I suspect Iain Dale will be there. That won’t be a meeting of minds, then. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

[UPDATE 28 September 1650 hours: After Iain Dale had not bowed before her superior shouting power, nor withdrawn Call Me Dave in accordance with her dictates, back has come Louise Mensch again and again. And again. This she deems a justification for her view.
"The sad thing about @IainDale; he feels entitled to publish unsourced fiction that hurts somebody real, but gets huffy when called on it" she trilled, unaware that quite a lot of people "get huffy" when their points are answered only to be bombarded with what is verging on harassment.
This thought was not allowed to enter: "I mean @IainDale if you choose to publish a zero-sourced story like that, fine, but to huff off b/c criticised for it? Dish it out, take it". There was a source for the "Piggate" anecdote - but that source remains confidential to the authors.
But at least Ms Mensch no longer believes that Michael Ashcroft was some innocent party in all of this, as she now says "Not wiping out Lord Ashcroft's decades of work over one mistake, let's get real".

Meanwhile in the real world, Iain Dale is presenting his LBC show from the Labour conference in Brighton. Louise Mensch is holed up in her reassuringly expensive corner of Manhattan. I'll just leave that one there]

Friday 25 September 2015

Katie Hopkins - All Washed Up

Another day, another attempt to garner clickbait by pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins, who has journeyed north to Doncaster to join the UKIP faithful paying homage to their Dear Leader Nigel “Thirsty” Farage at what is optimistically called the party’s annual conference. The only question about her presence there will be whether it is she, or UKIP, that is the most desperate of the other’s company.
Viewers may want to look away now

And the clickbait generating snipes at the world were as distasteful as ever: after more than 700 pilgrims died during a crush at the Hajj, she Tweeted “717 pilgrims killed in stampede during religious pilgrimage where they throw stones at pillars. Target practise for Sharia I guess”. Her “otherness” paranoia had earlier taken the Sun’s entirely fictitious front page claim that a million migrants were heading for the UK to whine a bit more.
You bleeding hearts desperate to do good because of 1 photo, you're accountable for this mess”. And today, just to show how desperate she is for attention, she told that the photo of dead toddler Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a holiday beach in Turkey, had been “staged”. But, by now, Ms Hopkins’ unpleasantness was out of favour at her most prestigious berth - the Sun. And now she is leaving the paper.
She’s putting a hopeful gloss on her departure: “Thanks for all the kind words about my new role @MailOnline I look back with fondness & forwards with huge excitement … Katie Hopkins is about to get a much, much bigger audience” were typical. But, as the Guardian has told, the idea that Ms Hopkins actually resigned from the Sun is not quite true. Her style did not meet with the approval of the paper’s new editor.
Tony Gallagher “was not thought to be a fan of Hopkins, had not met her and believed her to be ‘toxic’ to the newspaper. One source says the Sun was ‘letting her contract lapse’ and there was no intention to keep Hopkins on as a columnist. Hopkins contract with the Sun was up for renewal at the end of the month”. That means, whisper it quietly, that Katie Hopkins is too unpleasant even for the Sun.
She’s going to Mail Online. Where she is not going is the print version of the Daily Mail or Mail On Sunday. Martin Clarke has taken her on for one reason, and one alone: she generates clicks. He needs clicks to get advertisers to stump up more money. But this kind of appointment has a limited shelf life, as Glenn Beck discovered when he was deemed too much even for Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
So it’s appropriate that she’s fetched up with Mr Thirsty to tell the declining UKIP membership “Farage going great guns. 4 million votes, 1 MP. But a relentless leader still very much at the helm”. No, Katie, he’s ranting to fewer and fewer people, and soon you’ll be ranting to ever-decreasing numbers at Mail Online, until Martin Clarke tires of advertisers’ complaints and pulls the plug on you.

Katie Hopkins, you’re all washed up. Don’t let the Sun’s exit door hit you on the way out.

Thursday 24 September 2015

The Sun Says Don’t Mention Motorman

Today’s Sun front page splash, like anything authored by the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, is shouty, brash, superficial, and does not survive any kind of serious analysis. Telling “Exclusive … Yentob Storm … BBC BOSS AND THE SAVILE COVER-UP … TV exposé pair ‘branded traitors’”, it looks like an open and shut case against the hated Beeb. But, in reality, it is just a crude attempt to shout “look over there”.
Look over there, readers ... 

Master Cole’s article has taken a quote from former Panorama man Meirion Jones, which he gave in an interview to be published in this week’s Spectator Life magazine, now edited by the loathsome Toby Young. Tobes claims the story will carry on running, because Cole got a quote from Tory MP Philip Davies, which shows the tenuous grip on reality exhibited by all too many of those out on the right.

The story is not new news: that Meirion Jones - and John Sweeney - found themselves eased out at the BBC was known about last year after the Panorama revelations about “Fake Sheikh” Mazher Mahmood, a subject that neither Cole, Tobes or any of the other Beeb bashers will be going near any time soon. No, the main reason for today’s Sun lead is to provide a diversion from yesterday’s Operation Motorman news.
... and, er, don't look over here

You didn’t read about that? See - the Sun’slook over there” was successful! What was it about? The information released is a list of journalists who requested information - much of it obtained illegally - from Private Investigator Steve Whittamore, who was busted by a raid back in 2006 (this is told in some detail by Nick Davies in his go-to book on the workings of the press, Flat Earth News, available from all good outlets. Hint).

That list makes grim reading for the Murdoch press. Among the roll of shame is one Dave Wooding, who is now political editor of the Sun on Sunday. His weekday counterpart, the non-bullying Tom Newton Dunn, is also present. Gary Jones, who spent some time at the now-defunct Screws, and worked with Southern Investigations, where Daniel Morgan was a partner before his violent murder, appears as well.
It gets worse: one of those who pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges, Greg Miskiw, is on the list, although his name has been mis-spelt as “Miskins”. The late Sean Hoare, who had the courage to speak up, is also there, as is Jules Stenson, who memorably tried to denounce Nick Davies on Newsnight before himself getting guilty. But you have to scroll down to the last page to find the name the Sun doesn’t want you to see.

Because that name is Rebekah Wade, now Brooks, who has just returned to the CEO’s chair at Rupe’s UK newspaper operation. She too was involved in an information gathering exercise, much of which was illegal. The Murdoch titles were in it up to their necks. So how better to divert attention but to use the Sun’s front page to kick the hated BBC instead? That, folks, is the elephant in the Baby Shard room right now.

Even Meirion Jones says “I think @TheSun should be leading on Rebekah and Operation Motorman rather than my comment piece”. What you will not read in today’s Sun.