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Friday 30 September 2016

Arsehole Endorses Asshole

With around 40 days to go before voters across the USA choose their next President, one of the candidates has just spent his fourth day - so 10% of the remaining campaigning time - slagging off a former Miss Universe. Forget the economy, defence, immigration, the environment, law and order (and, yes, guns), Donald Trump, nominated by the Republican Party, is spending his time conducting a petty personal vendetta.
Donald, where's your hairspray?

Worse, a slew of newspapers that have in the past endorsed no candidate, or gone with the GOP nominee, have come out against him, the latest being USA Today, whose editorial today tellsThis year, one of the candidates - Republican nominee Donald Trump - is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency”.

The litany of charges against The Donald makes for grim reading: “He is erratic … He is ill-equipped to be commander in chief … He traffics in prejudice … His business career is checkered … He isn’t leveling with the American people … He speaks recklessly … He has coarsened the national dialogue … He’s a serial liar”. Yes, as the Stateside vernacular might put it, Donald Trump is an Asshole. But help is at hand.
We know exactly how he spoke up. He's an arsehole

Riding to Trump’s rescue has come a well-known English Parliamentarian to tell anyone prepared to listen “I’m a British MP, and I’d Vote For Trump In a Heartbeat If I Could”. Who might this chivalrous yet misguided presence be? Sadly for the GOP, it is Tory MP Philip Davies, whose less than benign presence the unfortunate voters of Shipley could well do without. Davies has been writing for Murdoch-bankrolled website Heat Street.

He says of The Donald “He is precisely the opposite of a quaffed, slick, well-prepared, believe-in-nothing typical politician … He came onto my radar a while back as he has essentially been waging as a one-man campaign against political correctness for some time. As someone who has fought a similar battle for years here in our Parliament, nobody will be surprised to hear that I can relate to that”. Yeah, right.
While he's an asshole

Davies, though, is uniquely qualified to endorse Trump, or indeed any other Asshole who may choose to run for elective office, as a recent Guardian report has shown. The MP had complained to the BBC Trust about a show in which comedian Russell Howard had described him as “an ‘arsehole’, ‘wanker’, ‘toad-faced hypocrite’, ‘windbag’ and a ‘shit for brains’” after Davies’ recent Commons filibustering.

Davies’ complaint was duly considered, and then rejected. So there is clearly no problem in referring to the MP an an Arsehole. From this we can deduce that, thanks to the efforts of his (thankfully) former colleague Louise Mensch, who oversees Heat Street, an Arsehole has now endorsed an Asshole for the US Presidency.

It might not be popular in the UK to say it - especially with our metropolitan elite - but, for all his faults, I would vote for Donald Trump” says Davies. Isn’t it comforting to know that Arseholes and Assholes can come together across the linguistic divide?

Uber’s Booking Charade

Zelo Street has already noted that drivers using the Uber app while at the wheel need to interact with it to the point that they would be distracted from driving - and so that interaction is breaking the law. And it’s not the only eyebrow-raising practice that the driver and rider matching service is involved in: the process by which Uber accepts bookings and processes payments should also be sounding alarm bells with regulators.
Not that Transport for London (TfL) seem in the past to have been too fussed about asking difficult questions about how Uber does business - so I will. A helpful source has provided a slide presentation illustrating how Uber bookings are taken - and the companies involved. There are, in fact, two companies involved, but why that should be necessary is not explained. And only one of those companies has a licence.

When the pundit opens the Uber app, he or she looks up nearby cars with Uber London Ltd - the company with the TfL operator’s licence. The database of available cars is, however, provided by Uber BV, a Netherlands company which acts as a price comparison site. Confused? You soon will be: after the pundit selects a car and makes a payment, that payment is passed by Uber London Ltd to Uber BV.

So Uber BV, a company registered in the Netherlands, gets paid for acting as a price comparison site. What’s that all about? Well, quite apart from the involvement of a company other than the one holding the private hire licence, this arrangement means the money leaves UK jurisdiction. And if the money leaves UK jurisdiction, it is beyond the reach of any UK body which might have an interest in it.
Who might that be? Oh, I dunno, how about HM Revenue and Customs? Uber has done nothing illegal in moving the money out of the UK, but it has avoided the taxation authorities. As the Guardian reported last year, “Uber is the latest company to risk public anger after paying £22,134 in UK corporation tax last year despite making an £866,000 profit … The online taxi-hailing service was reportedly able to pay such a low sum as it legally transferred profits to its sister company in the Netherlands, where it would be liable for a lower rate of tax”. That is where Uber BV comes in.

Steve McNamara of the LTDA summed it up: “Any four black-cab drivers pay more tax than Uber”. On top of that, Uber has effectively screwed over all those who drive using the UberX platform by tempting them with promises of good incomes, only to then impose a pay cut and make them work longer for less money.

Worse, the presence of Uber BV appears to contravene the private hire licence issue - if the Netherlands company is involved in bookings, it would seem logical that it, too, should have an equivalent licence. Right now, TfL is being petitioned to actually do something about this charade. Maybe the arrival of Sadiq Khan will focus minds.

A questionable booking process, tax avoidance, and all the while, far too little oversight by our free and fearless press. That has to change, and change it will.

Theresa May Grovels To Murdoch

Theresa May has been cited as someone who does not get too close to the press. She keeps her distance from all the gossip, the intrigue, the small talk and tittle-tattle. So it might have been thought that her time as Prime Minister would see the influence of the press barons put into its rightful place, with them having to join the queue along with everyone else who wants the PM’s ear. That thought was badly misplaced.
The first inkling that Ms May’s Government was being manipulated by the press even more comprehensively than that of her predecessor came with the appointment by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley of Sun journalist Craig Woodhouse as her Special Advisor (SpAd). This was followed by the demand that the BBC reveal the salaries of all those working for the Corporation paid more than £150.000 a year.

This, by sheer coincidence you understand, was in line with Sun editorial policy, as was the renewed threat to forcibly dismember BT, not because of broadband performance, but because the company had parked its pay-TV talks on Murdoch’s lawn, taking the rights to UEFA Champions’ League football, as well as some FA Premier League matches, driving up the price of broadcasting rights in the process.

Now Theresa May has followed suit: while her predecessor allowed Rupert Murdoch to slip in to 10 Downing Street by the back entrance, she has shamelessly gone courting him instead, making time for a meeting with Don Rupioni while in New York City recently. Think about that: she was there for just 36 hours, and along with meeting all those heads of state and addressing the UN General Assembly … she made time to visit Murdoch.

That isn’t just giving access, it’s grovelingly going out and begging for it. As the Guardian has told - note, no other paper is reporting the event - “May managed to squeeze in the meeting with Murdoch during the one-night trip. On Tuesday evening, after the speech, May met staff from his Wall Street Journal title. Downing Street confirmed that a ‘brief meeting’ had taken place”. And it got a lot worse this week.
Two days ago, Murdoch’s son James slipped in through the back entrance to 10 Downing Street for a one-on-one with the new PM. This was observed by a keen Twitter watcher who noted the time as well as the date. So, far from keeping the press at arms’ length, Theresa May - as well as her weak and easily led Culture Secretary - has positively gone out there pleading for access to the worst corrupter of them all.

Rupert Murdoch’s reply to the question of why he hated the EU was never truer: “When I go into Downing Street, they do what I say; when I go to Brussels, they take no notice”. We don’t need an interfering foreigner who doesn’t have the vote in the UK sticking his bugle into our country’s affairs and subverting our democracy. Either Theresa May re-establishes the distance between herself and the media, or she goes.

We did not vote to put the Murdoch mafiosi in power. So they should not be.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Rod Liddle - Again A Creep

Many of the Pundit Establishment do not like the concept of Social Media. The idea that someone of whom they disapprove might get hold of the megaphone fills them with dread, the thought that those people might make more sense just makes the dislike worse. As a result, Social Media is frequently denigrated in the pages of the popular press, and especially by the Murdoch shilling takers at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.
I'm only having a small glass of it, right?

All of which brings us to the outpourings of professional Miserable Git Rod Liddle, the washed-up has-been who long ago ceased to be a respected member of his profession. Now, most of Liddle’s Sun column seems to be taken up with slagging off those more popular than himself on the off-chance that he might use this to raise his profile. His latest Sleb target has been actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson.

As Zelo Street regulars will recall, Liddle had laid the blame for the European refugee crisis at the door of what he and his fellow sneer merchants like to call “luvvies”, He also took a swipe at Ms Watson because she had had the audacity to address the UN General Assembly in her capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador. He had no idea what she had said to the gathering, but was sure “instead of telling them all the rules of quidditch or how to turn someone into a frog, she bored them all rigid with whining, leftie, PC crap”.

This caused some blowback on Social Media. Liddle was so unhappy that he devoted much of his latest piss-poor column to telling anyone not yet asleep that “last week I put my size 13 foot in it … I was stupid enough to say nasty things about Hermione Granger — you know, that lass from Harry Potter who was good at spells and shagged Ron Weasley. I think … The actress who plays Hermione, Emma Watson, had given an address to the United Nations General Assembly”. And there was more.

But uh oh, Twitter went into meltdown. And then the bloggers took it up. Some airheaded bimbo who writes about celebrities said I ‘exemplified the sexism’ that Emma had been talking about”. And Liddle’s allegedly non-sexist response to this criticism?

No I didn’t, poppet”. Er, hello Rod! If someone calls you out for being a sexist pig, it is not the best look to call them “poppet”. Even for a has-been who has been reduced to writing knocking copy to order by the Murdoch mafiosi. And worse if you asked what a UN Goodwill Ambassador was and answered you own question with “I haven’t a clue”.

Just in case Rod Liddle, or any of the other Murdoch doggies, doesn’t know why Ms Watson was appointed to the role, you can read why HERE. She has been a Goodwill Ambassador for more than two years, and “has already been involved in the promotion of girls’ education for several years and previously visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts. She has worked to promote fair trade and organic clothing and served as an ambassador for Camfed International, a movement to educate girls in rural Africa”. She is prepared to take time out to help others.

As opposed to Rod Liddle, the sexist slob who takes time out only for the enrichment of Himself Personally Now. Rod, here’s your arse on a plate. Don’t let the door hit you too hard on your way out.

Alex Wickham - Pants Still On Fire

The routine dishonesty of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog is the stuff of legend: not for them the constrictions of honesty and integrity. And there is no finer example of this tendency to porkies than Staines’ gofer and head teaboy Alex Wickham, who has decided to talk about alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party - by lying blatantly, which to him is as natural as breathing.
Still pretending to be a journalist. No, don't laugh

Jewish Labour Members Walk Out Over ‘Cancer’ Ranttells the headline of Wickham’s post about the Arab ambassadors’ reception at this year’s Labour conference. So what was the story? “Jewish Labour members walked out of the Arab ambassadors’ reception at Labour conference last night after the Palestinian ambassador ranted about Israel. Multiple sources independently quote Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, as describing Israel and Israelis as a ‘cancer’”. There was more.

According to a source in the room a large number of attendees walked out in disgust, with some Jewish Labour members brought to tears. They were particularly upset that Labour MPs present did not speak out against the comments. Earlier Hassassian had launched another tirade against Israel, describing them as ‘cowboys’”.
There was, though, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with the claim that Israel and Israelis had been referred to as “cancer” - it was bollocks. Hassassain had made no such claim. What he had said was that Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank were a cancer, which may displease or upset some observers, but is not what Wickham accused him of saying. And it gets worse.

The “large number of attendees” walking out was in fact three, which, taken together with the correct context being applied to Hassassain’s remarks, shows why no Labour MP spoke out. The claim that there were “some Jewish Labour members brought to tears” is more of Wickham’s embellishment, or, as most people call it, lying speculatively.
Asa Winstanley, who, it has to be conceded, as a journalist at the Electronic Intifada, is unlikely to be a fan of the Fawkes rabble, pointed out on Twitter “Yet another false report by @GuidoFawkes: Hassassian said Israeli settlements in WB are a ‘cancer’, not Israelis”. Wickham, whose Twitter photo tries to make him look like a real grownup, rather than a vapid and rodent-like creep, responded immediately despite not being tagged.

@AsaWinstanley @GuidoFawkes I will take no lectures on accuracy from a disgrace of a man like you” he gasped in mock outrage. But he did not dispute Winstanley’s main point - that his story was not true. Nor was there any outpouring of support for Wickham’s position, probably because nobody finds his lying worthy of comment, so routine has it become, along with his desperation to perpetuate the Labour anti-Semitism row.

Alex Wickham is still full value for his “Billy Liar” nickname. Another fine mess.

Big Sam - Guardian Blames Murdoch

The prestige in being England football manager has declined somewhat since Alf Ramsey’s side won the World Cup in 1966, but the pay is not to be sniffed it: when Sam Allardyce took the job just over two months ago, his contract was worth a cool £3 million a year. Even so, he was then stung by the Telegraph grubbing around for £400,000 worth of “extras”, as well as suggesting ways to get round transfer rules.
As a result, Allardyce not only brought the game into serious disrepute, his gravy train was abruptly terminated short of its destination and he was out. Many observers have passed comment on the amount of money in the English game while searching for reasons why he did what he did, but no-one had made the obvious connection - until the Guardian spoke up yesterday. It was, they told, Creepy Uncle Rupe Wot Done It.

Here’s their pitch: “Since television money flowed into the sport in the early 1990s, the Premier League has become less a local English affair and more a global one. That has some benefits: better facilities and bigger names on the pitch. However, with top-flight clubs owned by foreign investors and English players making up a third of Premier League teams, there is a feeling that English football is becoming detached from its roots”.

But did it make the Premiership the best? Well, no it didn’t: “While England’s top flight has become the richest league in the world, it is not the best. On Uefa rankings the Premier League is behind both’s Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga. It’s been five years since an English club – Chelsea – won the European championship. There’s simply not enough bang for the television big bucks”. And how big are those bucks?

Last year the Premier League sold television rights to its live games for a record £5.14bn. That’s more than £10m a match, up 70% from the last time. Yet there is no evidence that the quality of the basic product – football matches – has improved. Coaches too often put results ahead of entertainment, in part because of the enormous sums at stake. Packed stadiums are more to do with clever marketing than better football”.

And then comes the rather cheeky remedy: “To correct this market failure, politicians should restrict the number of games broadcast on pay-TV and set aside some top matches for free-to-air TV. More people will watch the games. The BBC would be able to showcase an expression of national cultural identity. Commercial free-to-air channels could benefit from advertising. Highlights on the BBC draw millions more than a single match on pay-TV”. Murdoch is not the only participant, but he is undoubtedly the target.

After all, it was Sky that initially splashed the cash on the Premiership. Since then, the national team has won nothing - and it’s not a coincidence. Sam Allardyce was a fool, but all the money sloshing around the game makes the temptation that much greater. Rupert Murdoch’s cheerleaders like to tell how he has made football better. But he has not.

Our national team is a joke. Premiership sides all too often come up short against Spanish and German opposition. All we have is an endless cycle of marketing, glitz, and too much money. Murdoch has tainted the Beautiful Game. The Guardian is right. But nothing will be done about it, no matter how many trophies the England team doesn’t win.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. No change there, then.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Corbyn’s Vision - But Who Will Listen?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has, by most accounts, done his reputation and his party a whole lot of good this afternoon with the kind of conference speech many wished he had made not just at last year’s party conference, but at one or more times in the intervening 12 months when he had the chance to do so. It was rapturously received, and should play well on the TV news bulletins during the evening. The party faithful will return home happy.
But Corbyn has one major problem: he needs to get some positive coverage from the press, which despite steady falls in circulation, still has the ability to shout its way to the top of the news agenda and bully the broadcast media into pushing its chosen talking points up the agenda. Jason Beattie of the Labour-supporting Mirror gave a broadly positive reaction, which will cheer Team Jezza.

This was an assured performance by the Labour leader. He looked comfortable on the stage … He talked the language the delegates wanted to hear … He is convinced of his mission” he reported, before sounding the obvious caution “What is not clear is whether he can persuade the voters outside the hall to join his crusade”. And standing in his way is a viciously hostile cadre of vested interest, who won’t like his proposals at all.

Not least of these was the commitment to stop selling arms to the Wahabist régime in Saudi Arabia, a brutal theocratic dictatorship that for too long has had Britain’s leaders paying homage to its ruling elite while ignoring the appalling abuses of human rights, subjugation of women, and routine exporting of war to adjacent countries, including most recently Yemen. But the Saudis also have oil.

The Saudi question will be an issue to watch: papers like the Mail, Telegraph, Express, Sun and Times, if they mention it at all, will either frame it as the kind of practical price we have to pay for British jobs - part of the Trident argument - or ignore it altogether. When Beattie talks of “more housebuilding, investment in education, higher business taxes to pay for skills and training and an emphasis on research and development”, the hostile part of the press will immediately talk of taxes, and warn they would be too high under Labour.

What benefits might accrue will, of course, not be told: readers will be assailed by routine abuse - “loony lefty, Islington socialists, metropolitan liberals, out of touch”, along with sneering comments about the kinds of food they might serve at mealtimes, and the price that Corbyn’s house might fetch were he to sell it.

Yes, this is crude and gratuitous, but it is this against which any Labour leader must make his or her pitch nowadays. That is why cutting through using broadcast media, before the press gets to work demonising the speech, is so important. And why, once the leader’s line is set out, it must be held unswervingly while getting after the Tories when they gather in Birmingham next week, with discontent all too obvious and Theresa May vulnerable.

The task for Corbyn and his party is not, and never will be, Mission Impossible. But there is no point in pretending that it is other than a very big ask indeed

So Farewell Then Seumas Milne

When Guardian pundit Seumas Milne took leave of absence from his post last year to become Jeremy Corbyn’s chief spinner, it was apparently just for one year, and his job was hold open for him to return. Now, after he failed to show yesterday at the media briefing ahead of Jezza’s conference speech today, the speculation has mounted. Is he off back to the Guardian? And is his hand being forced in making the decision?
As far as Labour’s official position is concerned, no he isn’t: as Politics Home has told, although “Several senior party figures had claimed that the controversial spin doctor was on the verge of quitting - and could even be gone by the end of this week”, “a Labour source said the speculation was ‘untrue’ and added: ‘There's no plans for him to leave as far as I'm aware. It's business as usual … We don't comment on staffing matters’”.
Kevin Schofield does, however, also note “The speculation came just days after Mr Milne found himself at the centre of controversy after he changed Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis' speech to Labour's annual conference as he waited on stage to deliver it … A key section pledging not to re-visit Labour's existing policy supporting Trident renewal was removed from the autocue in the conference hall. PoliticsHome revealed that a furious Mr Lewis punched a wall in frustration after delivering the speech”.
And the denial is not going to hold up for long, after Beth Rigby of Sky News revealed this morning via Twitter “Senior Guardian source; ‘looks like Milne is coming back’ but yet to agree terms; whether he [is] freelance/staff, his purdah period … Told that senior Guardian figures expect to reach a deal with Seamus Milne ‘this week or next’ … Guardian insider says he only wanted to do year with #Corbyn & has ‘absolutely hated it’”.
One reason for taking Milne back was easy to deduce: “if Seumas Milne does go back to #Guardian, he'll apparently be keen to ‘spill the beans’ on the past year in team #Corbyn”. But there was also some unease at King’s Place: “Another senior source #Seumasmilne ‘def coming back [to Guardian] just ? of timing. Role not yet certain. A lot of disquiet about his return’”. And that may be what is forcing Milne’s hand.
Since he left to work for Jezza, the paper has undergone a significant number of changes, mainly taking the form of staff being sent down the road in an effort to control costs. Although Milne is said to be on good terms with new editor Kath Viner, many who have been displaced or otherwise made uncomfortable by recent changes are bound to ask what gives Milne immunity from them, and the ability to come and go as he pleases.
The thought occurs that Seumas Milne has been given an ultimatum: come back now, or don’t come back. Ms Viner cannot hold his job open for ever: there will be enough hostility to his walking straight back into the office as it is, although the prospect of the Guardian getting the inside track on Corbyn’s first year as Labour leader will have sweetened the pill somewhat. Ignore the denials: Milne is on his way out of Jezza’s office.

Who might succeed him? Fire up the 24-hour rolling news Speculatron once again!

Rachel Reeves Channels Enoch Powell

Recent elections have seen the deliberate scapegoating of the wrong targets: in 2010, much to the shame of the Lib Dems, there they were telling anyone who would listen that Labour had “crashed the car”, that Pa Broon was single-handedly responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. It wasn’t true, the economy was recovering, but instead those same Lib Dems then joined the Tories in inflicting years of needless austerity on us.
Rachel Reeves

After the austerity, we were then told that this was all the fault of the dastardly EU, and hence the referendum result. The electorate wanted someone to kick, were duly told it was all those people who talk foreign, and voted accordingly. This, too, was not true. The EU didn’t make things difficult for ordinary working people, and nor, largely, did EU migrants. Now, clueless Labour politicians are joining in with this new conventional wisdom.

And they do not come more clueless than Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who wants everyone to know that her constituency is on the brink of civil unrest. “The other reason we have got to get this right [Brexit] is because there are bubbling tensions in this country that I just think could explode … You had those riots in 2011, the riots didn’t happen in Leeds and in my constituency, but if riots started again in Leeds and bits of my constituency - it’s like a tinder box” she told yesterday. And there was more.

The trouble is I’m just not surprised and if we don’t get this right in terms of this response, and getting the balance right in terms of the renegotiation but also the deeper seated problems, these sort of things are just going to get worse … I worry about the economy and getting the deal right …  but I worry about the divisions in our society. Of course the referendum unleashed some of these feelings, but they are deeper seated as well”.

After Ms Reeves also said “there had been ‘three racist attacks’ in her constituency - one of which left a Polish man in hospital” I had a 1968 flashback; we’ve been here before. Blaming “others” for current and allegedly future problems? That was what Enoch Powell did in a speech which has gone down in infamy.

Ms Reeves might recognise these words: “The discrimination and the deprivation, the sense of alarm and of resentment, lies not with the immigrant population but with those among whom they have come and are still coming”. Because she is effectively saying the same thing. Never mind that Polish people are the target of attacks, it’s those who were here beforehand who are alarmed. It’s the incomers’ fault.

Powell went on to say “This is why to enact legislation of the kind before parliament at this moment [anti-discrimination law] is to risk throwing a match on to gunpowder. The kindest thing that can be said about those who propose and support it is that they know not what they do”. Throwing a match on to gunpowder. It’s like a tinder box. Spot the difference.

Enoch Powell was sacked from the opposition front bench for his intervention. The least that Rachel Reeves should do is to consider her position, and her language. If you’re going to play the blame game, just make sure you aim at the right target first.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Liverpool Sun Ban Proved Right

Politics Home editor Kevin Schofield was aghast earlier today at the realisation “Labour bans copies of The Sun from its conference in Liverpool”. He is, after all, a former Sun man himself. And despite the lame blustering of Murdoch PR droid Dylan Sharpe trying to reassure his former colleague “they haven't Kev, it's still here”, it is clear from Schofield’s report that the removal of the rag from the conference venue is being taken seriously.
Labour has banned copies of The Sun from being made available at its conference in Liverpool … The move came after Joe Anderson, the city's Labour mayor, complained about free copies of the paper being given away at a corporate stand … Mr Anderson told the Liverpool Echo: ‘I will get in touch with the conference centre and get it stopped immediately. I’ll do that right away … I don’t know how that was allowed into the conference centre. It’s a disgrace, and I apologise on behalf of the conference centre … It will be stopped right now”. Dead right it will.
But Sharpe is bound to try and gloss over the removal: this, after all, comes in the wake of the increasingly prominent Total Eclipse Of The S*n campaign, which has spread recently to the Merseytravel network, and a request from the local transport provider and manager that news outlets in rail and bus stations desist from stocking the paper, thus reinforcing the boycott that began more than 27 years ago.
The Murdoch doggies will of course claim that they have now apologised for their conduct in the aftermath of the Hillsborough stadium disaster, that all is now changed, that they didn’t really mean all the abuse, the lies, the smears, and the rest. And now that the Murdoch empire has even said goodbye to Wapping, the slate should be swept clean.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, there is a rather large fly in this tub of supposedly soothing ointment, and that is the continuing presence at the Baby Shard Bunker of disgraced former editor Kelvin McFilth, who has still not had the spine to stand up and say sorry for his disgusting behaviour - not without blaming someone else.
He's still part of the management - THEY'RE NOT SORRY

And the latest issue of Private Eye magazine - on sale at all good news outlets right now, including across Merseyside - has shown just how significant Kel’s presence still is. “Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie may have been the subject of several hundred complaints to press regulator Ipso regarding his views on the hijab-wearing Channel 4 newsreader Fatima Manji, and no fewer than three open petitions at change.org demanding that he be banned from various media jobs - but Rupert Murdoch seems unlikely to be giving him his marching orders any time soon” notes a Street Of Shame item.

It continues “Unlike most lowly hacks who toil away in the Sun offices on the 12th floor of the ‘Baby Shard’ building that houses News UK, MacKenzie has his own personal office - upstairs on floor 13, the management level, alongside CEO Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs themselves”. What was that about wiping the slate clean?

Nothing has changed at the Sun. They aren’t sorry, they’re still employing Kelvin McFilth, and he’s still regularly using the platform they give him to put the boot in on Liverpool. The boycott and its expansion were dead right, and should continue. Don’t buy the Sun.

Karen Danczuk Delusion Exposed

Today’s Murdoch Sun, deliberately ignoring the Labour conference to go after football stories - as if you need to know where the paper’s priorities lie - has also brought us another instalment in the media soap opera that is the dysfunctional Danczuks. Yes, there on the front page is the former wife of (still) nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk and her latest love interest, in all its shameless and money-grubbing glory.
Will the smiles survive departure of the gravy train?

Picture exclusive … KAREN SNOGS HER TOYBOYtells the headline, as readers are treated to several snaps of an increasingly tubby Karen Danczuk looking momentarily happy as she lies back and thinks of the currency symbols. The headline is a mild exaggeration, too: her pal is 26, and an age gap of seven years hardly qualifies him as a “toyboy”. Nor does the Sun touch on the impending harsh reality facing Kazza.
While the Murdoch doggies have flashed the corporate plastic to secure the photos from Kazza’s favoured Sleb snap outfit Fame Flynet, she faces a significant challenge over an unpaid bill back in Rochdale, the prospect of no longer being able to tap Spanker Si for dosh once he is ejected from the Labour Party - thought to be imminent - and his media work starts to dry up, and the loss of that apartment in Spain.
You think I jest? A Tweeter who goes by the name of Anthony has claimed Kazza failed to stump up the readies for the work on her bathroom. “@KarenDanczuk nice bath. Bet this cost you a bit. Or would have if you had paid for it” he told. Was he the one who did the work? Well, no, but she’d already blocked him. Did she still owe money for the work? “Yes. She just keeps making up excuses and going on holiday to Spain”.
And after Kazza Tweeted that she’d been doing some cleaning, he replied “very nice bathroom you could [have] afforded a cleaner with the money you never paid to have it done”. Someone may be getting another of those court judgments against her pretty soon if that continues. And then there is Spanker Si and his tenure as an MP. I hear that the rubber stamp will soon descend on his expulsion from Labour.
That will mean Danczuk is less marketable, even when he gets caught leaving the Lowry Hotel with another (as yet) unidentified young woman, as happened last weekend. And finally there is the impending bad news about the apartment in Algorfa, south of Alicante, where Kazza has been staying while she continues her relationship with the bloke seen in all the photos. It apparently isn’t hers, and soon it may not be his either.

My information is that Simon Danczuk is to sell the apartment, a move that would confirm that he has rather less dosh to throw around. It won’t exactly fetch a king’s ransom - apartments in Algorfa, Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa are plentiful and cheap right now - but it will need regular payments for local taxes, insurance, maintenance - and all the energy Kazza uses entertaining her new beau.

Exactly how enamoured he will be of Kazza when there is no apartment is not known.

Corbyn Fans’ Media Problem

As the Labour Party conference continues today in the highly sound City of Liverpool, many who back leader Jeremy Corbyn may not be best disposed towards the press, or even the media generally. Their antipathy towards even the BBC - political editor Laura Kuenssberg has attracted considerable stick, not all of it deserved - as well as papers like the Guardian and Mirror is threatening to blind them to reality.
And that reality is that, whether you choose to engage with the media establishment or not, it is free to say what it likes and when it likes about your chosen political party. It may not seem fair, but for the press at least, it is not a question of fairness. Papers have an agenda. This much was recognised by the New Labour team, which so many in the Corbyn camp now revile. But they won, and it looks so far like Jezza won’t.
Perhaps you all think I’m being too harsh on Corbyn and his team? Well, let me give you all an example. Meet Abi Wilkinson. She is, whisper it quietly, a journalist. A freelance journalist. This means she has to sell her copy to media outlets willing to buy it. The security of a staff job, for her, does not exist. So she has no attachment to any one newspaper’s political agenda. She is at the Labour conference this week.
And this is what she said earlier yesterday on Twitter: “Journalists who stoke hostility towards benefits by finding minority, unsympathetic cases are complicit in destruction of the welfare state … Anyone could find ourselves unemployed, disabled, reliant on the state for survival. It's an act of collective self-sabotage. So stupid … If this continues we will eventually realise and be sorry, and it'll be too late [because the] original creation required extraordinary circumstances”. She is on your side, Corbyn fans.
You might not have thought this when Ms Wilkinson turned up to the Momentum meeting on media bias. As Adam Bienkov of politics.co.uk noted, “Abi Wilkinson says she writes for the Guardian and Telegraph. Some hisses. Audience member mutters: ‘the Guardian's as bad as the Telegraph’”. And there was more in the media hostility stakes.
Bienkov again. “Audience member tells Abi Wilkinson: ‘I can't accept that we should change how we approach you. You should change how you approach us’”. Ms Wilkinson took the whole experience in good part, reflecting this morning “Think a lot of audience members wanted to express anger and don't often have ear of a journalist, but it was mainly very polite tbh”. Indeed. Corbyn followers should be glad of that ear.
You only have to look at the more hostile part of the press to see that, as papers have either ignored the conference altogether - the Sun, despite three of its staff being in Liverpool, has kept it off the front page - or have been rabidly hostile, such as the Mail with its “LABOUR IN LA-LA-LAND” headline. Even the i has gone with “Labour’s Socialist Manifesto”, and “Socialism” is a term the press will keep using - very negatively.

You don’t engage with the press? They’ll make something up anyway. You don’t engage with the broadcasters? They have to either speculate or ignore you. This matters, because the people who read those papers and watch those TV programmes are the ones whose votes you need to get into power. I assume that Corbyn fans want to get into power.

Blair’s team understood this. They got into power. It is as simple as that.

Monday 26 September 2016

Mail Bashes Mail

If ever anyone needed an example of the increasingly bitter rivalry between the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, who has occupied the editor’s chair at the Daily Mail for a quarter of a century, and Geordie Greig, recently installed - reportedly at the behest of the Rothermere family - as editor of the Mail On Sunday, it has been provided by the MoS’ serialisation of former Cameron spinmeister Crag Oliver’s new book.
Why the f*** shouldn't I put the boot into my Sunday sister paper, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

As Zelo Street regulars will be aware, the MoS ran its first extracts yesterday, including the last-minute conversion of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson from Leave to Remain, although Oliver appears to have missed that Bozza’s participation in Vote Leave was not a wholly voluntary one. The revelations painted Young Dave’s replacement Theresa May in a less than flattering light.

For the Vagina Monologue, this was little short of treasonous: despite Ms May being still very much an unknown quantity, and showing both fragility at the Dispatch Box and a worrying tendency to control freakery, Dacre is still more than willing to project his entire agenda on to her, and praise her to the hilt for it. So there had to be maximum retribution, although the Mail has stopped short of calling out its sister paper.

Fury as Dave's pals knife PM: May's allies hit back at Cameron camp over claims she blocked crackdown on immigration before Brexit poll … Theresa May has launched a fightback against David Cameron's camp … It comes after attempts were made to make her look soft on immigration … Her friends claim she demanded stricter border controls when he was PM” thunders the headline, under political editor James Slack’s by-line.

This is backed up by Dominic Lawson, by the most fortunate of coincidences doing his editor’s bidding with such gems asthe man Cameron recruited from the higher echelons of the BBC to become his spin-doctor-in-chief has published an instant account of the recent EU referendum campaign - from the losers’ perspective”.

Lawson also gives us the inside track on what Oliver was up to when still at 10 Downing Street: “He was always scribbling things down in a notebook during meetings and we pretty soon worked out that this was for some sort of diary he wanted to write”. The effrontery! The brazenness! Making notes during meetings! Whatever next?

Backing all of this up has been a suitably judgmental Daily Mail Comment, which says of Oliver that he “is the epitome of the arrogant political class. An obscure, middle-ranking BBC executive before being propelled into Number 10, he has no track record in public service and has never been elected to any office … How he could be given a knighthood merely for being Mr Cameron’s spin doctor remains a mystery”.

That is the clincher for Dacre: he has edited the Mail for all those years, and the only Prime Minister he ever got moderately close to - Gordon Brown - didn’t do honours. So there he is, without his K or peerage, his ingrained envy now turing to bitterness.

Talking up Theresa May could be his last chance of a gong. Sad, really.

The Sun Is Back In Liverpool

The campaign to rid not just Liverpool, but the wider Merseyside area, of the Murdoch Sun has had its successes, not least the Total Eclipse Of The S*n initiative which is now advertised on several of the city’s taxis. But this has not stopped the Sun worming its way back into the city, as a quick look at this year’s Labour Party conference tells you.
How could it happen? Well, it’s not the paper we’re talking about, but the motley assemblage of overpaid and under-talented staff who work for it. Yes, despite the revulsion clearly expressed by so many in Liverpool at the paper’s continuing contempt for them, a delegation has still been sent to cover the Conference. And it’s not as if they have been hiding themselves away: three variously well-known Sun faces have been openly advertising their presence. So I will advertise it too.
First up is the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who was Live From Liverpool yesterday lunchtime on the BBC Sunday Politics. Newton Dunn is a loyal Murdoch man through and through, having been at the paper since 2004. He has had no problem in taking the Murdoch shilling, nor with the continued presence at the paper of disgraced former editor Kelvin McFilth.
And, just to round off the charge sheet, he supports Arsenal. But Newton Dunn is not alone at the Labour Conference; also advertising his presence has been David Wooding, political editor of the Sun on Sunday, who famously threw his rattle out of the pram with Byline Media head man Peter Jukes last year, rantinghow dare you question my integrity?” How? Er hello David, you work for the Sun. You figure it out.
Behold another Scouse hating buffoon

The BBC’s John Pienaar yesterday Tweeted “Live now at #Lab16 on @bbc5live with @DavidWooding & @Anoosh_C. Listen: http://bbc.co.uk/5live”. Wooding does have the benefit of hailing from Merseyside, although whether the locals know he’s a paid up Murdoch hit merchant is not known. But there is one Sun presence in Liverpool this week whom Scousers will have no problem rumbling.
That is because, in addition to Newton Dunn and Wooding, there is also the deeply unsavoury figure of the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, Master Harry Cole, who was there yesterday evening to Tweet “Top Corbynista internet guru @GeorgeAylett chatting up some girls outside Labour conference: ‘you must know the Red Flag?’” As opposed to knowing the shortest way back to Lime Street without an armed escort.
And they're all pals with this specimen

Cole once accused MP and Labour Mayoral nominee Steve Rotheram of “using [the] death of innocent people to further his career” (those being the 96 Hillsborough victims). He was one of the Guido Fawkes team that smeared MP Luciana Berger not once, but twice. When the Hillsborough inquest verdicts were announced, he was penning a lame article about the Tory leadership using WhatsApp - to keep the 96 off the front page.

So I’ve included a photo of Master Cole, just to help anyone in Liverpool who encounters this singularly repellent individual recognise him. After all, he’s a believer in free speech, even if it’s of the dissenting variety, and bringing the one message - Don’t Buy The Sun.

Liam Fox WTO Con Fools Press

The rush by the Europhobic part of the press - for which, read most of it - to proclaim the wonders of life outside the EU, although that state is some years away, if it ever arrives at all, has once again led a number of clueless hacks, and editors who should know better, to follow disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox as he demonstrates once again that he has little idea what on earth he is talking about.
It's high time it was Goodnight From Them

Fox will make a speech to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week. It is being enthusiastically trailed by the most vocal Brexit cheerleaders, and especially by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, which has eagerly toldLiam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, will put Britain firmly on the path to withdrawing from the European Union’s single market in a dramatic speech this week”.

Do go on. “He will make a major speech to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Tuesday, signalling the UK’s determination to take its place as an independent member of the international body, able to negotiate its own trade deals outside the EU … Dr Fox is expected to signal his strong intent that once outside the EU, Britain will take up a fully independent place at the WTO”. This has been picked up by other media outlets.

Typical is City AM, where readers are toldThe government's stance on Brexit appears to be hardening, with international trade secretary Liam Fox set to advocate that the UK pushes ahead and becomes an independent member of the World Trade Organisation  … Fox is set to make a major speech to the WTO tomorrow, signalling that he intends the UK to become an independent member of the organisation”.

Also drinking from this particular bottle of Kool-Aid is the Express, aka the Daily UKIP, which has assertedWe don't NEED EU single market: Liam Fox to reclaim UK's seat at World Trade Organisation … LIAM FOX will this week set out his vision for Britain’s future as a leading free trade nation in a bid to reclaim the UK’s seat at the World Trade Organisation”. So that’s three papers that have failed to do their research.

Also failing to do his homework has been Europhobic Tory MP John Redwood, who has told “Britain is still technically a member of the WTO - we just volunteered to forgo it when we joined the EEC in 1973”. Shall we have a look at the WTO website to see what the actual status of Britain within the WTO is right now?

This is what the WTO has to say under the headingThe European Union and the WTO”: “The European Union … has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995. The 28 member States of the EU are also WTO members in their own right” [my emphasis]. Britain is already an independent member of the WTO. There is no seat to reclaim. It is not a technicality. And if Fox thinks that, he’s an even bigger clown then previously thought.

As for the press … try doing some research before churning over the PR, folks.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Simon Danczuk’s Half Cut Marathon

When the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog went to the aid of their pal Simon Danczuk last month, they knew that Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP was going to take part in the Rochdale Half Marathon today. What they may not have known is that Spanker Si’s training régime would look reassuringly familiar to them, and not in a way that would promote athletic prowess.
With just two days to go before having to run more than 13 miles, Danczuk finished the working week at his constituency office, and then it was straight down to … er, drinking beer, actually. I kid you not: he went to The Baum - one cannot fault his choice of watering hole, it’s CAMRA’s Greater Manchester pub of the year for 2016 - where he made a start to the weekend not by limbering up, but getting mellow.

Nice to have a couple of quick pints in the @TheBaumRochdale after work today - great #Rochdale pub” he Tweeted. But it was only an after-work pint, wasn’t it? Sadly for anyone who sponsored him, no it wasn’t: from there he was off into central Manchester to another regular haunt, the Lowry Hotel, where he attended the Manchester Evening News Diary Party. Here he went from Mellow to Elephant’s Trunk And Mozart.
Great night at the MEN #DiaryParty & lovely to catch up with friends” he told his Twitter followers. Those who looked at the young brunette woman featuring in two of the photos may also have allowed themselves a knowing stroke of the chin, and rightly so: as it was a media bash, there was a snapper on the door, who caught the two of them leaving. So once again Danczuk has ended up in the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.
LABOUR MP Simon Danczuk has been spotted leaving a posh hotel with a mystery woman -who looks just like a younger version of his estranged wife Karen … The 49-year-old was spotted leaving the Lowry Hotel in Manchester last night with the woman, who he appeared to be close to, even holding her high heels for her at one point” screamed the Murdoch doggies in mock horror. And there was more.
A source claims that the pair had tried to leave the hotel separately … It’s the same hotel where back in July the suspended MP had sex with another 22-year-old woman he met on Twitter just days before”. That, and the six photos, tells readers that they think she was his legover for the night - provided, of course, that he wasn’t too pissed.

So yesterday, with the Half Marathon imminent, it had to be off the sauce and down to training. Or rather it wasn’t: Spanker Si was out on another session, this time in The Oxford. “Popped in The Oxford #Rochdale last night for couple of pints with @StevieDawson & @TeamMcNeeney's food looked great. Must eat there!” he Tweeted later, not telling that the “couple of pints” turned out to be a number significantly greater than two. My information is that Danczuk went through eight pints during the evening.

That’s the kind of training régime that The Great Guido would have recognised. What effect it has on Danczuk’s ability to do a 13 mile run we will soon find out.