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Thursday 31 December 2015

Daily Mail Honours Rant Repeated

The press loves to berate the BBC for the number of repeats shown on its channels, especially during the Christmas and New Year period, and those who labour in the service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail are especially harsh on the Corporation in this regard. What puts the Dacre doggies in a rather difficult position is that they have been indulging in the same thing.
Where the f***'s my gong, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

So when readers saw today’s headlineTainted New Year Honours: Gongs for sex shop queen, boss of shambolic tax office and cronies, donors and bungling bureaucrats … List is plunged into fresh controversy with a string of contentious awards … Jacqueline Gold, boss of high street sex shop Ann Summers, made a CBE … Lin Homer, who runs the shambolic UK tax office, is awarded a dame hood … Joined by a string of scandal-hit bureaucrats, political cronies and donors”, some may have experienced a little déjà vu.

This may be because they rememberTainted New Year Honours: Knighthood for Tory donor who made millions from credit crunch and CBE for jailed tycoon … Ex-convict Gerald Ronson and Conservative Party supporter Paul Ruddock both honoured … David Cameron accused of being 'out of touch' with decent British people … Government source says Prime Minister has no personal involvement in deciding who receives honours … Founder of online gambling company bet365 also appointed OBE” in the same paper.
The same whinge today ...

Those readers may also recallDishonours! Gongs for water boss who put up bills, police chief who failed tragic Victoria Climbie, hedge fund tycoon who bankrolls Tories and, oh yes, a Labour luvvie … Thames Water boss Robert Collington awarded OBE for consumer services … Retired Met police chief Sue Akers given a CBE for 'services to policing’ … Millionaire Tory donor Michael Hintze receives a knighthood … 'Labour luvvie' and Blackadder actor Tony Robinson gets a knighthood”, also in the same paper.

The first of those articles hit the news stands exactly four years ago, with the second, in June 2013, targeting not the New Year Honours, but those awarded on the occasion of the Queen’s official birthday. It’s clear that the Mail has a problem with all those people of whom it does not totally approve getting gongs. But why?
... as there was in June 2013

Ah well. Paul Dacre is nothing if not full of boiling, righteous anger, something usually directed against anyone not possessing right-leaning views, but equally against those who he believes have wronged him, or failed to recognise all those years of devotion to the cause of scoring More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.

Dacre’s predecessor David English - who, after all, was “kicked upstairs” in order to get the Vagina Monologue into the editor’s chair - was awarded a knighthood. Some of his contemporaries - Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, for instance - have been given the K. Yet every time the gongs are handed out, Dacre comes away empty handed.

So out come the Christmas and New Year repeats once more. Never mind eh, Paul?

Simon Danczuk Is Finished

[Update at end of post]

Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk has featured occasionally on Zelo Street: the dirty tricks deployed against former council leader Colin Lambert, Danczuk’s less than ecstatic reception at the recent Oldham West by-election campaign, his attacks on his own party leaders all the way back to Tony Blair, the paydays for all those tabloid articles which he probably didn’t write, his going on the lash rather than attend the Syria debate, and deserting his constituents during the floods, all have been covered.
So have episodes like that of Nasreen Nazir, said by his first wife Sonia to have been “an old flame”, and engaged at the taxpayers’ expense as a Parliamentary assistant, which leads us in to the unwanted exposure given Danczuk by the Super Soaraway Currant Bun this morning - the story has also been lifted by the Mail - of his apparent pursuit by text message of a young woman who was just 17 years old at the time.

Think about that. Danczuk is 49 years old. He campaigns on issues like child abuse. He has a son older than Sophena Houlihan, the subject of his latest attention. He can have no complaints at the Sun’s front page treatment: “Exclusive: Shame Of Labour Child Abuse Campaigner … MP’S SICK SEX TEXTS TO GIRL, 17 … Messages led to Danczuk love split”. Even for the ever-slippery Danczuk, that is a career-ending story.

The headlines make for yet more grim reading - well, grim for Danczuk anyway - with the Sun telling “Want me to spank you? MP Simon Danczuk, 49, sleazy texts to girl, 17 ... EXCLUSIVE: The MP, who had previously campaigned against child abuse, actively bombarded job-seeker Sophena Houlihan with slew of vile sex messages that professed how ‘horny’ he was”. Anyone not totally creeped out yet?

Not to worry, there’s an equally toe-curlingly embarrassing headline in the Mail: “Labour MP Simon Danczuk accused of bombarding a 17-year-old girl with sexual messages telling teenager 'God I'm horny' and asking: 'You want me to spank you?’My information is that the Police interviewed Danczuk after an allegation of grooming was made.

The latest revelation comes after Rochdale Online told readers how Danczuk had taken photos of his now former wife Karen and his last squeeze Claire Hamilton kissing during a night out recently. And to that have to be added claims by both ex-wives and Ms Hamilton that Danczuk has a problem with his drinking that verges on alcoholism. However diligent his work as an MP, Simon Danczuk’s credibility is shot.

It’s interesting to see that Danczuk has one thing in common with his predecessor Cyril Smith: spanking. The only difference is that Smith liked doing it to young men, while Danczuk has expressed a preference for doing it to young women. And what he has now done is to learn, as in the fable of Icarus, of the dangers of getting too close to the Sun.

Simon Danczuk’s demise as MP for Rochdale won’t have anything to do with Jeremy Corbyn or “purges”. He wanted tabloid coverage - and his wish has been granted.

[UPDATE 1300 hours: the Labour Party has decided to investigate the latest allegations against Danczuk, and for the time being has suspended him. This will no doubt be spun by some as an act of revenge by the so-called "Corbynistas", although it is nothing of the sort.
What Rochdale's MP has decided to do, though, is obvious from his recent Twitter excursion: "Today's Sun story, while not entirely accurate, refers to an extremely low point in my life ... My behaviour was inappropriate & I apologise unreservedly to everyone I've let down. I was stupid & there's no fool like an old fool ... I'm more saddened that this episode could overshadow the important work we're doing to help Rochdale & that's where my focus lies".
Freely translated, this means that the Sun story isn't really true (questionable), that he's trying to be honest about his failings (first time for everything), and that he will continue to discharge his duty to his constituents.
Which means he is going to try and tough it out, shameless as ever. Exactly how long that lasts, with the inevitable slew of adverse publicity which will follow with the inevitability of night following day, will be interesting to see]

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Don’t Menshn You’re A Liar

As it becomes clear that she refuses to cease her obsessive attacks on anyone who posts a dissenting view on the Tim Hunt saga, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch has continued to accuse those dissenters not merely of being wrong, but of being liars. Connie St Louis, David Colquhoun, Dan Waddell, Deborah Blum, Sue Nelson and many others have been loudly and unreservedly accused using the L-Word.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

What those thus accused may not know is that lying is something Ms Mensch not only likes to talk about, but practices herself, not that she is about to admit it. Moreover, her tendency to lying has in the recent past veered over the defamation line on at least two occasions, with her saviour being the unfeasibly large pile of money upon which she is perched in her reassuringly upmarket Manhattan exile.
On top of that, Ms Mensch likes to threaten others, but as with so many of the overmonied right, is of less than perfect courage when it comes to following the hot air with any substance. So it was that in December last year she declared that she was going to sue journalist and playwright Peter Jukes over his forthrightly expressed opinion that she had misused her position as an MP. No legal action was forthcoming.
This was as I said at the time (Ms Mensch also declared that she would be including my name on “the suit”, and that never came to pass either). Now, with a year passed, her bluster is out of time. She is a busted flush. But the worst example of her tendency to defamatory dishonesty came when she accused two individuals of hacking. Her claims were a pack of lies from start to finish. But she still made them.
The lesser of the accusations - although it was, and remains, deeply defamatory - was made against the Press Gang Twitter feed, believed to be controlled by Paddy French. He has asked Ms Mensch for the address of her lawyer; she became, for once, silent. Meanwhile, she accused the man otherwise known as Joe Public of rather worse: “Jpublik is a hacker who hacked the security cameras of my home … to stalk me”.
There was more, as she told James Doleman “He hacked the security camera system on my family home, James, and posted a photo of me on my steps … be REALLY interesting if you know this man's real name … I'm quite serious. He hacked the security cameras on my family home do you know who he is”. He did no such thing; when challenged to put the Police report online, Ms Mensch once more became silent.
So Connie St Louis, David Colquhoun, Dan Waddell, Deborah Blum, Sue Nelson and all the others whom Ms Mensch has castigated as liars should not worry about her comments doing them any significant damage, not when the author of those comments is prone to the most egregious lies herself, along with an inability to ‘fess up and withdraw when she gets it wrong. Louise Mensch has no room to call liar on anyone else. Ever.

And remember folks, they allowed her to become an MP. That’s the scariest part.

Letwin Racism Tarnishes Thatcher Legacy

The release of Government papers under the 30-year rule is another of those seasonal highlights that has the power to embarrass those involved who are still on the political scene. In the mid-80s, Margaret Thatcher was in her pomp, but not all was plain sailing, with rioting in London and Birmingham taxing the minds of her ministers and advisers. One of the latter was a certain Oliver Letwin.
The London rioting had centred on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, many of whose residents were unemployed, disaffected - and black. The older and wiser of Tory ministers, such as David Young, Douglas Hurd and Kenneth Baker, advocated positive action, but Letwin and his colleague Hartley Booth (later a casualty in the litany of “Tory Sleaze”) were having none of it.

They informed Mrs T that “lower-class unemployed white people had lived for years in appalling slums without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale” - somehow missing the appalling attitude of the Metropolitan Police towards black youth, which in turn was magnified by press bigotry - before warning “that setting up a £10m communities programme to tackle inner-city problems would do little more than ‘subsidise Rastafarian arts and crafts workshops’”. Letwin went to Eton, y’know.
It got worse - a lot worse. Booth and Letwin dismissed suggestions for positive action with “Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will founder. David Young’s new entrepreneurs will set up in the disco and drug trade”.

Quite apart from underscoring the patronising Tory attitude towards kinds of music they could not comprehend, and the lazy “black equals Rastafarian” stereotype, the worst thing about this saga is that Letwin and Booth prevailed, that Letwin was allowed to have three goes at becoming an MP, and that he is still sufficiently well regarded within the party to have been made David Cameron’s chief policy adviser.
Worse again is that there are some, despite Letwin’s apology - one of those “not really an apology” ones, and only because he got caught - who are still prepared to go in to bat for him. The serially clueless Tim Montgomerie was typical, with “Oliver Letwin's remarks from 30 years ago look badly worded but he's a decent man and in my experience he hasn't a racist bone in his body”. Yeah, right.

As Owen Jones has pointed out, “When Oliver Letwin offered Thatcher his racist advice, he was about my age now, and it was the 1980s, not the 1950s”. Not only are Letwin’s comments deeply ignorant and offensive, his view prevailed within the Thatcher Government of the mid-80s. But listening to Letwin ultimately did not go well for Mrs T: he was an early advocate of trialling the Poll Tax in Scotland.

That’s the Poll Tax that helped lead to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall. Right now, David Cameron, you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Broadcaster Calls Out Murdoch

After the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks was reinstated as CEO of the Murdoch empire’s UK print and online operation, and faithful retainer Trevor Kavanagh was gifted a seat on the board of alleged press regulator IPSO, it was obvious to all that not only was Rupert Murdoch unaffected by the furore over phone hacking, he wanted to make sure we could all see him giving us the finger.
That's what I think of youse Al bladdy Jazeera bladdy investigation, ya bladdy Pommie drongoes!

There would be no corporate charges over all that less than totally principled behaviour that saw some of his senior staff spend time at one of those exclusive hotels run for the pleasure of Her Majesty, there was now a majority Conservative Government in place, the hated BBC was having cuts imposed on its budget, Channel 4 was threatened with being sold off, and ITV faced falling advertising revenues. And that meant one thing.

The broadcasters would be going relatively easy on Don Rupioni and his fellow Mafiosi for the foreseeable future - or so they thought. Fortunately, just across the way from the Baby Shard bunker, which is now officially called The News Building - an oxymoron to savour - the people at al-Jazeera looked at these goings-on from their vantage point in The Shard and decided that they would say something about it.

The result was an item in the Listening Post strand, which you can view HERE. The meetings between George Osborne and Rupert Murdoch prior to the BBC being effectively forced to perform budget cuts are discussed, as is the appointment of Kavanagh to the board of IPSO. There is also some mention of the Murdoch press managing to forget that the country’s biggest broadcaster by revenue is Sky - not the Beeb.

Here is the promo blurb: “Concerns are growing that the UK's Conservative government is trying to reshape and influence Britain's media landscape as it continues to befriend media mogul Rupert Murdoch's empire … Shortly after David Cameron's outright election victory in May, his government announced a review of finances at the BBC, an organisation some Conservatives had denounced for harbouring a liberal agenda, slashing one-fifth of the publicly owned broadcaster's annual budget”. There is more.

Just weeks before making that announcement, Rupert Murdoch - a long-time critic of the BBC and owner of News Corp, which includes pro-Tory newspapers The Sun and The Times as well as SKY TV - met senior members of the government twice”.

There was a scrupulous balance in talking heads: two of the four you see making their case are Matt Tee, CEO of IPSO, and Charlie Beckett of the LSE, who is not averse to the idea of what he calls “reform” at the BBC. Giving the counter argument are Natalie Fenton, who is a director of campaigning group Hacked Off, and another bloke called Fenton, who is, says he performing full disclosure, me.

This edition of Listening Post is worth watching not because I happen to be on it, but because there are too few broadcast voices speaking up against the machinations of the Murdoch empire. Here’s hoping the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 follow up on the subject.

Simon Danczuk Bangladesh Hypocrisy

Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk gives every appearance of being on a mission to alienate anybody and everybody right now. At the weekend, with much of his constituency hit by the worst flooding in living memory, he absented himself for a date night with new girlfriend Claire Hamilton. The next day, she announced that she had dumped him, as well as spilling the beans on his alleged shortcomings.
Now, as the press homes in on the question of flood defences, and how they are paid for, Danczuk has decided to alienate yet more people - arguably, the ones who put him in power in the first place, then made sure he remained there after May’s General Election.
He has openly questioned the UK’s foreign aid budget, which, by the most fortunate of coincidences, chimes with the editorial stances of both the Sun and Daily Mail. Both titles have suggested that there is some kind of binary choice between aid to the developing world, and flood prevention, which there is not. Danczuk, ever keen to get his name in the papers, has obediently gone along with the idea.
There is, however, one potentially serious problem for Rochdale’s MP here: the only country he mentioned as an aid recipient was Bangladesh (although in 2014 that country was not even in the top five recipients), and it is the local Bangladeshi community that he has been so assiduous in courting in the recent past, to the extent that he spoke to a male-only meeting under the auspices of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP).
Danczuk has also met Khaleda Zia, the leader of the BNP, even thoughThe party has also been accused of turning a blind eye to the growth of militant Islamic extremism in the country and for allying itself with Islamic fundamentalist parties, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, which had also opposed the independence of Bangladesh”. Khaleda Zia’s son has featured on an Interpol “red corner” notice: he is wanted by the authorities in Bangladesh on terrorism charges.
So for Simon Danczuk to speak at one of their meetings could be seen as both brave and controversial: from this it can be concluded that he set great store by securing the backing of the BNP, and much of the Bangladeshi community. But now he has told the Manchester Evening NewsDivert foreign aid cash to boost flood defences, Rochdale MP demands”, and gone rather further with free sheet Metro: “Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in UK”.
Why? Perhaps some of those who got him that increased majority last May will remember this most recent outburst and let him know exactly why at the next General Election. Last time round, Bangladesh was a top priority for Danczuk. He wanted everyone to know how much he cared about the country, its people, and its workers. Now, he wants to know why the Government, er, cares about Bangladesh, its people, and its workers.

With friends like Simon Danczuk, Rochdale’s Bangladeshi community needs no enemies.

Monday 28 December 2015

Flooding - Tories In Trouble

After yet more heavy rainfall, and the inevitable flooding, this time reaching into the city centres of Manchester, Leeds and York, the right-leaning London-centric press is looking for convenient scapegoats. But the right-leaning press out there in the so-called Northern Powerhouse, much of which got covered in a mixture of filthy water and mud over the weekend, has already decided who to blame - its own side.
Tory supporting regional press has had enough

While both the Sun and the Mail try and get their readers to “look over there” at the UK’s foreign aid budget, their hacks, pundits and editors have missed one fact that has been picked up by those who do not live their lives in the London-centred bubble: however bad the floods get, there is one place that never gets hit, because substantial sums of money have been spent to keep it dry, and that is the capital.

You think I jest? Even when the River Thames burst its banks and flooded large areas to the west of London, that fate did not befall the city itself. So while those in the Northcliffe House and Baby Shard bunkers try to dismiss the floods as something we can solve by telling the developing world to go and do one, the normally Tory supporting press out in the provinces is having none of it - especially in Leeds.
Flood defence spending has been cut - official

The Yorkshire Post is an unashamedly Tory supporting paper. It backed the party even in 1974, when Ted Heath was on his way out. Its editorial today should sound alarm bells for David Cameron. This is part of that editorial.

This community spirit … will be critical in the coming days and weeks so the affected areas, large and small alike, can pick up the pieces and enable shops and businesses to reopen their doors at the first opportunity.

If only the same could be said for the Government’s response to this crisis – and previous incidents of flooding. For, while David Cameron did acknowledge the scale of a disaster now predicted to cost the national economy up to £1.5bn, his sincerity masks his administration’s abiding failure to take this issue sufficiently seriously.
London spending bias is all too obvious (thanks to Éoin Clarke)

The Prime Minister repeatedly used the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe this winter’s storms. Yet every fortnight brings ‘unprecedented’ levels of new flooding and the same pious platitudes from politicians, like Environment Secretary Liz Truss, whose rhetoric is increasingly economical with the truth.

For, while Ms Truss is right to highlight the real terms increase in the amount her department, Defra, has allocated for flood defences, she chooses to overlook the fact that many schemes are subject to partnership funding from councils and other agencies whose budgets have been decimated by spending cuts.

The disingenuous Environment Secretary was also the first Minister to sign on the dotted line when it came to the Chancellor’s spending review. A more adept politician would have fought, tooth and nail, to ensure that investment was sufficient to appease those who believe that the UK’s overseas aid budget should be used to pay for flood prevention schemes here” [my emphases].
Trying to blame developing nations ...

Stablemate the Yorkshire Evening Post has gone further, with a front page comment which does not mince words. “The fact remains … that such events as witnessed in Leeds this weekend are unthinkable in the Capital and much of the South East, where state of the art flood defences have long been in place” it tells. And there is more.

Technology is so advanced that the kind of devastation we have suffered as a city is completely avoidable. Is it expensive? Of course, but cheaper than seeing treasured mementoes ruined by encroaching floods and a city’s entire economy put at risk. The Government has made much of the notion of a Northern Powerhouse and Leeds, with its burgeoning financial and retail sectors has been placed squarely at the heart of this drive.

But a Northern Powerhouse is nothing when it’s under water. This city must have critical inward investment to make sure it has the protection from floods on this scale ever happening again. What’s good enough for London is good enough for Leeds.

The city is an economic force to be reckoned with - the beating heart of Northern England - and we demand that Prime Minister David Cameron announces immediate action to ensure that this situation is not repeated in Leeds, or anywhere else EVER AGAIN” [my emphases].
... doesn't wash outside the London bubble

Nor will those titles’ leader writers be impressed at the news that, since 2010, the amount spent on flood defences has been cut by around 20%, as opposed to increases before then. What national newspapers cannot bring themselves to understand is that not only are there a lot of people living outside London and the South East, but also that many of them are - or perhaps were - Tory voters.

Getting out the dog whistle and playing the UKIP game - blaming it all on foreigners - is not going to go down too well in Leeds. Or York. Or Manchester. Or Lancaster. Cameron and his pals could lose a lot of support here, or find that voters don’t bother to turn out when the Tories need them. Someone has not thought that Northern Powerhouse idea through.

And one more thing is for sure: all those readers are not going to be impressed by being told to “look over there” at developing countries, when the problem is here in the UK.

Lynton Crosby Gong Spun Badly

Use of the honours system to reward party fetchers and carriers was supposed to have ended after “Shagger” Major was ejected from Downing Street in 1997, but, slowly yet surely, it has crept back, with the latest example being the widely pre-briefed news that the Tories’ 2015 campaign chief Lynton Crosby is to be given a knighthood, perhaps for services to divisiveness, dead cats, and dog whistling.
The reaction to this less than totally savoury news has been all too predictable: first, the revulsion that a lobbyist for hire, whose previous clientèle includes the tobacco industry, should be so favoured, a view that has come mainly, but not exclusively, from Labour Party supporters. Then, second, has come the counter spin, those usually on the right, defending Crosby’s gong, and shamelessly talking him up.
So who would like to kick off the Crosby alternate reality spinfest? As if you need to ask: showing the pupils at the West London Free School a characteristically poor example when it comes to objectivity, the loathsome Toby Young declared “Can't think of a more deserving recipient. Congratulations, Lynton”.
Not to be outdone, Damian Thompson, formerly editor of Telegraph blogs and always up for supporting Tobes, claimed “Outraged by knighthood for Lynton Cosby. He saved us from Prime Minister Miliband. Should have been a dukedom”. Would anyone else care to join in this partisan idiocy? David Jack certainly would: “Forget a knighthood, Lynton Crosby should be made a saint for helping to prevent a Miliband-led Labour government”.
Ah, those voices of neutral and objective journalism. But who would call out Labour for their attacks? The Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” Harry Cole was that person: “Careful @labourpress, Spencer Livermore got a peerage for losing 2 elections”. Sadly for him, Livermore had not lost two elections, and his pants were once again shown to be on fire. Cole’s old boss Paul Staines fell into the same trap: “Labour gave their campaign manager @SpenceLivermore a peerage and he lost”.
Not in 1997, 2001 or 2005 he didn’t. Marcus Roberts was another to fall into the one-election trap: “Miliband made Labour's election chief a Lord and Labour had lost. And yet there is anger at Crosby (who won) being Knighted?” See above, and Crosby lost in 2005. Even Stephen Bush of the Staggers got caught not checking that one: “Labour staffer texts: ‘Hard to complain about Crosby knighthood. Spencer Livermore got a peerage, and he didn't even win’”. He did, and on three previous occasions.
And nobody mentioned Crosby’s service to Big Tobacco, or the less appealing aspects of his campaigning. But Harry Leslie Smith was there to put Crosby’s magnificent achievements into perspective: “#LyntonCrosby knighted for service to the state is the equivalent of  giving a Michelin Star to Burger King for culinary excellence

Quite. And sad to see so many supposedly experienced journalists failing to do a few minutes’ research. Anyone would think they were giving the Tories a free pass.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Toby Young - Euro Bashing Bellend

At a time when not everyone is enjoying Christmas cheer, one right-leaning pundit can be guaranteed to raise a festive laugh by sneering before engaging brain and bothering to do a few minutes’ research. Yes, he was bunged industrial quantities of taxpayers’ money to set up his own Free School, but when it comes to the basics of economics, the loathsome Toby Young is even more clueless than usual.
More grown up debate from Tobes. Or maybe not

On Boxing Day, Tobes took to Twitter to regale his adoring fans (whomsoever they be) with his latest discovery in the promotion of his own particular anti-EU cause. “The problem with Europe's socialist parties is that they refuse to recognise this problem” he declared. What problem could this be? Why, the Eurozone percentage of debt to GDP had risen from 84% in 2010 to 92% last year, which clearly proved something.
Sadly for Tobes, it proved nothing about socialism: the motor of the Eurozone economy, Germany, has been led by a centre-right Chancellor since 2005, either as part of a centre-right coalition, or as part of a “grand coalition” with the centre-left. Given that Angela Merkel has been Chancellor throughout that period, it can only be assumed that the centre-right was at all times the dominant coalition force.
Other Eurozone countries have had centre-right Governments throughout that period, such as the Netherlands. France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have had centre-right Governments for part of that period. Perhaps Tobes would like to show how centre-left parties have “refused to recognise” the problem of an increasing percentage of debt to GDP? But his fans will be waiting a long time for that one, because he can’t.

And it gets worse: while Tobes instructs his followers to “look over there” at a rise in the percentage of debt to GDP across the Eurozone from 84% to 92% between 2010 and 2014 - a whole 8% - what he is not telling is that the same percentage in the UK went from 78.4% in 2010 to 89.4% in 2014. Not only is the UK very close behind the Eurozone on this one, its rise on this one indicator has been 37.5% greater.
Worse, once again Tobes looks at an indicator of debt and proclaims that is is something about which we should be concerned. This is weapons grade bullshit on three counts. One, the percentage of debt to GDP has in the past been far higher - in the wake of World War 2 it was in excess of 230%. Two, other developed nations sustain far higher debt percentages - Japan’s is well over 200% - and nobody sneers at them.

And three, it is not just about debt, but the country’s ability to service it, that matters, along with the confidence that outside investors have in the country’s ability to repay that debt. None of this concerns Toby Young, because he is doing no more than indulging in a cheap exercise in partisan posturing. That exercise has unravelled because he is economically illiterate and cannot be bothered checking his facts first.

Is someone like that a fit person to be bunged all that money to start a Free School? That’s another case of “you might wish to ask that, I couldn’t possibly comment”.

Simon Danczuk Abandons Flood Victims

December’s heavy rains returned yesterday, this time causing flooding not in Cumbria, the area that had been bracing itself for a third or even fourth clean-up in a month, but across Lancashire and Yorkshire. Many areas were inundated with surging rivers and there was widespread damage to properties. The floods even reached Manchester city centre. Also affected was the area around the Rover Roch.
This meant that the town of Rochdale was seriously affected by flooding. As the Manchester Evening News has told, “Parts of Rochdale were left under water after torrential rain caused flooding across Greater Manchester … Rochdale town centre was submerged on Boxing Day after heavy rain overnight, causing damage to homes and businesses as well as travel disruption”. There was more.
Ian Pemberton, 26, described how his cafe, called Grandma Millie, had been virtually destroyed when floodwaters ripped through Rochdale town centre”. Someone whose now-estranged wife used to run a a café would, one might expect, have some empathy with the unfortunate Mr Pemberton. Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk had the ideal opportunity to show that he cared about his constituents.
He knew how bad it was

After all, he wasn’t one of those who had left the country for warmer climes over the Christmas and New Year break - he was there, in town, and demonstrated his presence and his concern by, er, going on BBC Radio Manchester to say how terrible the floods were. Wasn’t he getting out and about in the constituency? Well, no, but he was cheering everyone up by discussing the SunNation Christmas quiz.
So, yesterday evening, as the unfortunate residents of Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow began to count the cost of yet another bout of flooding, where was Danczuk? He had left town and travelled to Leyland, south of Preston, which was also affected by flooding. But he wasn’t bothering with that either: his sole reason for the trip was to go for a curry with his new squeeze Claire Hamilton.
Ms Hamilton is a councillor in Leyland, but it seems the flooding and its aftermath took second place to “Boxing Day drinks” with her new paramour. Yes, while the people they both represented began to clear up after what, for many of them, was the worst downpour they had ever seen, Simon Danczuk and Claire Hamilton were laughing the night away at “Leyland’s most prestigious curry venue for 28 years and counting”.
Many of those in the Rochdale and Leyland areas caught up in the floods won’t be able to even think of having a night out for long into the future. Their suffering might just have been assuaged by their local representatives showing a little concern for them - and showing their faces. Instead, Simon Danczuk has shown only contempt for his constituents by abandoning them for a night of personal gratification.

Thus more buyers’ remorse for those in Rochdale who voted Labour last May.