The editor of the Spectator magazine, Fraser Nelson, is familiar to many as one of the revolving roster of presentable faces that are the Pundit Establishment; in this way he is trusted, while using this position to get his propaganda out there, especially when defending the press’ status quo on regulation. There is no finer exponent of falsehood and misinformation when it comes to IPSO and the Leveson recommendations.
Indeed, only last week he was telling Jonathan Portes, after falsely accusing him of quoting a form of words he didn’t use (Portes did not claim he had - minor problem, eh?) that “If your blog was regulated by IPSO and your writing matched Fleet St standards of accuracy, you'd have to correct your false claim”. A claim Portes had not made. Moreover, Nelson is skating on very thin ice when claiming the moral high ground.
The Speccy has just published a text-book example of why its editor has no room to call inaccuracy on others: he has secured the dubious talents of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole to write what has amounted to a combination of promotion piece and simpering apologia for former EDL head man and crusader against all those Scary Muslims (tm) Tommy Robinson. And “Fleet Street standards of accuracy” it ain’t.
Del Boy tells readers at the outset “Britain’s most hated man isn’t all that hateful … The EDL founder has been jailed for fraud, assault and football hooliganism. So, why do I like him?” We therefore know what to expect. And so are not disappointed: “We meet in a gastropub in a pretty Georgian market town. It’s only ten minutes from the ‘shithole’ of a dump where Robinson has always lived - Luton - and much more congenial for lunch because we’re less likely to be interrupted by any of the numerous Muslims who have put him on their death list”. St Albans, then. But do go on.
Famous last words
And go on he does: “He is frank about everything he’s done, good and bad. It’s part of the natural charm … He’s intelligent, quick, articulate, well-informed, good-mannered - and surprisingly meek in his politics for a man so often branded a fascist. Many of his home friends are black, some are Muslims”. Of course they are.
Then we get the dubious claims seeping in: “It was Luton … that Islamist proselytiser Anjem Choudary chose as the base for his various proscribed organisations … As a result the character of the town changed forever … You know how hateful the EDL is: every-one does. What’s curious, though, is how much worse it is by reputation than in deed”.
They buy their Mums flowers an’ that. But Del Boy knows who the real villains are, and none of them are Robinson: “It’s a reflection of the Establishment’s intense reluctance to admit the scale of the problem with fundamentalist Islam in Britain … He’s a strong advocate of separate prisons for Muslims and non-Muslims: the scale of bullying (no one dare be caught cooking bacon, for example) and the extent of radicalisation, he argues, makes it culturally suicidal to continue as we are”.
And at that point, the bullshit detector began to scream long and loud. All of this is Delingpole accepting Robinson’s views as if they were fact. And Anjem Choudary … the right-wing press’ pantomime villain of choice when it comes to demonising Muslims. Is Del Boy suggesting that we take Choudary seriously? Get out of here.
"Gay marriage" ... "Global warming" ... "Bird-slicing, bat-chomping eco crucifixes" ... "red meat conservatism" ... "Islamophobia excuse notes" ... "Journalistic obscurity"
It gets worse: “After numerous beatings and attempts on his life, Robinson is under no illusions about his prospects of reaching a ripe old age. ‘I’m a dead man walking,’ he told me”. Yes Del, that’s why Robinson waded right in to the aftermath of last month’s attack on Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster, shit-stirring as he went.
Can it get worse and less credible still? It certainly can: “Though his kids are as yet unaware of his notoriety (Tommy Robinson is a pseudonym), he’s finding it harder and harder to protect them”. Anyone who wants to know, and many who do not, have known for years that Tommy Robinson is a pseudonym. He’s called Stephen Yaxley Lennon.
Delingpole ends with confirmation that he has swallowed Robinson’s schtick hook, line and sinker: “I don’t think that many of us are in a position to pass judgment. Not unless we’ve personally shared his worm’s-eye view of Islamic encroachment on our inner cities, which very few of us ever will. We simply wouldn’t be brave enough”.
No fact check. Very little pointing out that the article is either Robinson’s opinion, or Del Boy’s. And if anyone were to make a complaint to IPSO about this, it would be dismissed on the grounds that “It’s only an opinion piece”, which is otherwise known as the Littlejohn or Delingpole defence. For this excuse note, Fraser Nelson is prepared to get righteous.
It’s not as if Nelson did not know Del Boy would present him with this steaming turd of an article: Delingpole does, after all, have a day job with Breitbart, the premier global purveyor of Fake News and leading apologist for white supremacists.
But good to know just how high the standard of IPSO-regulated publications really is - and what “Fleet Street standards of accuracy” really means. Pass the sick bucket.