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Wednesday 31 May 2017

Racism - Diane Abbott Was Right

[Update at end of post]

As panic sets in among the Tory-backing press at the prospect that if their side does not score an overall majority next week they might not get that free pass that is repealing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, along with cancellation of the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, the time has come for some pretty desperate measures.
Diane Abbott

For the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, that means entrusting pretend journalists like the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole with the task of penning hit jobs on Labour shadow cabinet members, today’s target for the deeply unpleasant Fawkes refugee being Diane Abbott. “‘Brits invented racism’ Diane Abbott sparks fury as it’s revealed she once branded UK ‘one of the most fundamentally racist nations’” screams the headline.

And there is more. “DIANE ABBOTT once branded Britain ‘one of the most fundamentally racist nations on earth’, The Sun can reveal … The wannabe Home Secretary claimed Brits ‘invented racism’ and called Parliament ‘the heart of darkness, in the belly of the beast’ … According to contemporary reports the incendiary remarks were made to a US conference for radical left wingers in 1988”. Very good, Master Cole.

Now let’s take this nice and slowly, for the benefit of the flanelled fool and his fellow Murdoch goons. Britain, especially when Diane Abbott is alleged to have made those remarks, most definitely was fundamentally racist. When Stephen Lawrence was fatally stabbed in Eltham in 1993, it was only nine months after another fatal racist attack.

The press was comprehensively racist, too. Nick Davies recounts in Flat Earth News a former Daily Mail writer recalling a senior colleague “on the phone to the West Indies … he was having trouble booking a hotel room and resorted to addressing the receptionist as a slave, shouting down the phone ‘Who’s your owner?’” And it got worse.
Behold the rictus grin of the flannelled fool

Davies was also told by another reporter who had worked briefly at the Mail that “he had been amazed at the openness of the racism in the office: ‘You’d often hear people using the word “n****r” or “nig-nog” - really shocking … There is definitely a racist environment’”. Both the Mail and the Sun were upfront in their demonising of Winston Silcott after he had been accused of murdering PC Keith Blakelock during the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots. Black Britons were often on the receiving end of significant, blatant racism.

There is still an undercurrent of racism at work today: after Gina Miller brought her successful legal challenge against the Government’s proposal to use the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, she was the target of vicious racist abuse, including calls for her to be deported (Ms Miller is a British citizen).

And as to who invented racism, well, Britain did rather well out of one of its most basic manifestations - the slave trade. The problem for Master Cole is that he is young enough, and white enough, not to have noticed what life was like for Brits who were not white, and he is the kind of individual who most likely would not have cared if he had.

Diane Abbott was right - Britain in the 1980s was, still, fundamentally racist. But good to see the desperation to which the Murdoch goons are now having to sink.

[UPDATE 1 June 1730 hours: Master Cole should have looked first at the archives of his own newspaper before sounding off about racism in Britain in the late 1980s.
A Sun Says editorial, probably written by the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth, from 27 April 1987, ranted "WOULD YOU LET THIS MAN NEAR YOUR DAUGHTER?" and went on to smear poet Benjamin Zephaniah by asserting "On Friday, he is expected to become a Cambridge don …  Just what are his qualities [sic] which have appealed to Trinity College? He is black. He is a Rastafarian".

Britain in the late 1980s was indeed fundamentally racist. The Sun said so]

Corbyn Dementia Smear A DISGRACE

The Tory Party’s propensity to engage in dirty tricks is well known: already this week, we have seen their press pals briefed by the likes of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson that those ghastly socialists were planning something called a “garden tax”. The Telegraph lapped it up. Some of the more easily led Tory supporters believed it. But it was, as with so much from Bozza, totally untrue.
But now has come an even dirtier trick, this time from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, known to be, when push comes to shove, unwavering supporters of The Blue Team. This is to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn, who has just turned 68, is, well, you know, getting a bit forgetful. It’s his age, you see. He has to be taken aside and briefed all the time. Can’t help it, the poor old duffer.

Quite apart from the Fawkes blog being run by someone who was an ardent supporter of Ronald Reagan, a man who was almost 74 years old when inaugurated to his second term as US President, and who by that time was experiencing bouts of forgetfulness, with occasional difficulty in recognising individuals, this is sheer malice.

Corbyn appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour yesterday, and could not remember the headline number for Labour’s free child care promise. It was a brain fart moment, the kind of thing that can happen to anyone, although for a party leader it is seriously embarrassing. Jezza, when questioned later by the BBC’s John Pienaar, ‘fessed up to the moment and apologised for not having his figures to hand.
That was not enough for the Fawkes folks, who then slipped outSeumas Keeps Having to Correct Clueless Corbyn”, authored by newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham, who is not known as “Billy Liar” for nothing. The post talked of “how much Jez relies on his aides to bail him out. This is a recurring theme. Time and time again he doesn’t know the party line and has had to be saved by a member of his team”. And there was more.

Corbyn didn’t know his numbers this morning, and some Corbynistas are trying to dismiss it as a meaningless one off. The truth, evidenced by how often his spokesman has to clarify his random ad-libs to journalists, is that Jezza is a 68 year-old man who is not on top of his brief”. See, voters? It’s an age thing. He’s getting on a bit. Bit slow. He’s getting to the stage where he can’t remember things without being helped.
The sure-footed answer Corbyn gave to Pienaar shows clearly that he has no problem at all remembering things, he doesn’t need aides to bail him out, doesn’t have to be saved by a member of his team, and certainly is on top of his brief.

But what this characteristically nasty smear from the Fawkes rabble shows is that there are no depths to which the Tories will not sink to do the dirty on Jezza. And it will, of course, be totally deniable. I mean, The Great Guido? Nothing to do with CCHQ, honest.

Sun Corbyn-IRA Link Denial FAILS

The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have reacted indignantly to the suggestion that they in any way tried to link the Manchester bombing to their since debunked claims that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s was an enthusiastic supporter of the Provisional IRA during the 1980s. Not only that, the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have declared their “utmost contempt” for what they have labelled “false stories”.
As Press Gazette has told, “The paper’s front page carried an interview with ex IRA member Sean O’Callaghan on Tuesday, which hit out at the Labour leader’s alleged solidarity with the Irish terrorist group under the headline: ‘Blood on his hands’ [but] The Sun’s first edition, which carried the Corbyn story, went to print at 10pm, half-an-hour before the bomb attack at Manchester Arena that killed killed 22 and injured 59, including children … A second edition was put out shortly after which covered the atrocity”.

A Murdoch spokesperson added “The Sun is very keen to clear up any confusion about the timings of its editions on Tuesday, 23 May, and has the utmost contempt for those knowingly exploiting this confusion to suit their own prejudices against the newspaper … The Sun stands as one with the whole of Manchester and our hearts go out to all affected by this tragedy”. Methinks that someone protests too much. I will explain.

One, nobody is denying that the first edition of the Sun, which carried the “BLOOD ON HIS HANDS” headline, went to print before the bombing - Zelo Street acknowledged this last week. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, that edition would still have ended up on tens of thousands of breakfast tables the following morning.

Two, that much would have been merely unfortunate, but the original story, with the same “BLOOD ON HIS HANDS” headline, was put up on the Sun’s website AND IS STILL THERE AS I TYPE (0940 hours today). The Murdoch goons know all too well that more and more of their readers get their news from that website.
And three, four hours AFTER the bombing, when it would have been apparent to anyone in the Baby Shard bunker what had happened in Manchester, the Sun’s website had the supporting Sun Says editorial committed to it - 0235 hours last Tuesday morning. This incendiary rant, which calls Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnall “snivelling IRA fanboys”, is, like the story it supports, STILL LIVE ON THE SUN WEBSITE.

As the Sun’s faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh likes to say, when that Sun Says editorial was committed to the paper’s website four hours after the Manchester bombing, and both that item and the original story, with its original headline, were left there for MORE THAN A WEEK, They Knew Exactly What They Were Doing.

While the Murdoch goons protest that they’ve been terribly misrepresented by the rotten lefties, they can then go and have a quiet snigger around the water cooler at the knowledge that their propaganda by implication is still out there, and it’s Job Done.

The Sun is a lame excuse for a newspaper. Once again - Don’t Buy The Sun.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Tory Revenge Infighting Erupts

While Theresa May tries to convince the electorate that she can do more than merely stand there, engage rabbit autopilot and repeatedly declaim the phrase “Strong and stable leadership”, she can at least be reassured that the journalists among the Tory Party ranks will behave themselves and trot out the agreed line. But today has brought her the bad news that there are two non-trivial problems here.
One is that those journalists within the Tory fold are proving more hindrance than help: Michael “Oiky” Gove, his loyalty ensured by a generously sized bung from Don Rupioni, has fetched up on the Daily Politics, only to encounter in Labour’s Barry Gardiner one of those ghastly socialist chappies prepared to talk back. And London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson last night made a prize dick of himself after the Sky News an Channel 4 News debate (no surprise there, then).

The second problem potentially hindering the imperial progress of Empress Theresa is that there is now a Tory politician who has moved the other way - out of Government and into journalism. And it is a politician whom Theresa May not only sacked, but also, just for good measure, gratuitously insulted as she did so.

That would be the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, who has inexplicably been given the editor’s chair at London’s Evening Standard. Osborne may know very little about journalism, but he does know how to use the loaded weapon that is a mass market newspaper and direct it in such as way as to cause maximum discomfort to whoever is on the receiving end.

And today has seen a whole raft of incoming fire that Team Theresa would rather not have had to deal with. Londoner’s Diary has contributedIn at number two on the iTunes singles chart, just behind Justin Bieber, was a surprising entrant - a fearsome political anthem taking down Theresa May … Liar Liar GE2017, by the band Captain Ska, was only released on Friday but had quickly soared to second place by Monday”.
Might that help Jezza? Well, the article does say “Available for download at just 79p on the iTunes music store, Liar Liar GE2017 is truly for the many, not the few”. There is also plenty on that debate last night, including “when a midwife from Devon asked Mrs May how she could justify ‘chronic underfunding of the NHS’, the PM’s answer left one audience member unimpressed”. An audience member channelled his inner Roger Mellie and mouthed “that’s bollocks”. And there was more.

She was jeered and heckled by audience members as she took questions from the public and Jeremy Paxman during a televised interview on Monday … One voter shouted ‘you’ve clearly failed’ when confronting her about protecting schools”. And the Standard’s editorial, most likely Osborne’s own work, chided Ms May for avoiding her most important issue.

That would be Brexit, the excuse she used for calling this election. “The result can be summed up by what we imagine to be the conversation around the breakfast table in Downing Street: ‘Honey, I shrunk the poll lead’”. Ouch!

George Osborne is relishing his ability to take revenge at will. But he has a point. And the Tories can ill afford to lose the Standard - or to look like the party is split.

Simon Danczuk And Sub-Letting

Regular visitors to Zelo Street may recall an item from March last year on the continuing troubles of Rochdale’s now former MP - and no longer Labour Party member - Simon Danczuk, this time over his taxpayer-funded London flat. Spanker had been claiming for his two youngest children to “routinely” stay with him at his London flat, and that flat does indeed have a second bedroom. But here a problem entered.
In October the previous year, Danczuk had posted a photo of Labour councillor John Blundell, who was apparently staying at his London flat, out for a meal with the then MP. There was also a photo from Blundell of food preparation in progress; the kitchen looked identical to the one in the estate agent blurb for Danczuk’s flat. Blundell then referred to Spanker as “Dear Landlord” in a note he had left for him.
Was Danczuk subletting part of his flat? If he was, Parliamentary expenses watchdog Ipsa would have had something to say about that. They might have a lot more to say after a most revealing Twitter exchange, some of which has now been deleted, but was screen shotted and made available to Zelo Street. The exchange features Labour councillor Danny Meredith, who represents Rochdale’s Balderstone and Kirkholt ward.
We can still see a taste of that discussion from Dave Hennigan’s claim “Of course @johnblundell993 knows that his sub letting of @SimonDanczuk flat was illegal”, to which Meredith replied dismissively “Keep dragging the old stories up lol”.

Meredith was more forthcoming on the now-deleted stuff. “Why attack @johnblundell993 and not @SimonDanczuk surely Simon must have known? He is the fraudulent one!” he asserted. And to the suggestion that both Blundell and Danczuk were in the wrong and should be investigated, he added “John was paying his way … Therefore Simon is the fraudulent one”. Paying his way? Could he be more specific?
He certainly could. Check out the relevant Tweet: “I know but that is Simon’s bidding as John was paying the rent”. That appears to be a bang to rights claim that something highly improper - indeed, doubly improper - has taken place involving Danczuk’s taxpayer-funded London flat. If Blundell was indeed subletting the flat’s second bedroom, that is bad enough, but if Danczuk was at the same time claiming for his two youngest children to “routinely” stay with him, that just puts the lid on it.
So neither Danczuk, nor Meredith, nor Blundell can have any objection to this matter being referred to Ipsa. Nor can any of them object to any subsequent inquiry. Simon Danczuk has already been caught claiming a five figure sum to which he was not entitled, so it is in the interests of both him and the public to see this matter resolved.
If he’s done nothing wrong, that’s fine. But if he has, then this time Ipsa would have no alternative but to throw the proverbial book at him. Danczuk may be about to be humiliated at the ballot box, but the aftermath of his Commons tenure looks set to rumble on.

Election - Mail Presses Panic Button

The Tories have had to relaunch their General Election campaign. They called the election, but have wobbled badly since their manifesto launch. Another opinion poll out overnight shows their lead down to six points, and the momentum with Labour. So there was only one thing for the Tory-backing press to do today, and that was to press the panic button, dispensing with any pretence of objectivity and substituting blatant propaganda.
Why the f*** should my paper bother with facts, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

And the vehicle for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker came along yesterday evening in the shape of the Channel 4 News and Sky News debate, which featured - but separately - both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. Each was quizzed by a studio audience first, that part being moderated by Faisal Islam, before a one-on-one reprise of The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah. It did not go well for the Tories.

Although Ms May managed to straight bat Paxo, so did Jezza, and the Labour leader did noticeably better with the studio audience, some of whom ended up laughing at our less than wonderful Prime Minister. An online poll taken afterwards - yes, it was self-selecting, but the sample size of over 49,000 is telling - showed Corbyn taking it by 89% to 11%.
That was too much for the Mail: out came the accepted headlineJeremy Corbyn is PUMMELLED over IRA links, Bin Laden and the Falklands on live TV before Theresa May pledges there WILL be a social care cap for pensioners amid 'Dementia tax' row”. It was only by looking further that readers saw “Theresa May squirmed as she was heckled by voters over funding for schools and the NHS tonight”.

There was even less equivocation from the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who had clearly had his orders: “As he came under fire, the good ship Corbyn started taking on water: QUENTIN LETTS sees Labour's film-flam fail during debate”. There was more. “Both contestants had wobbles … But by the end of the show there was only really one Prime Minister to be had from this contest, and her name was not Jeremy”.
And Quent’s propaganda was not the only game in town: there was also the spectre of Brexit to dangle before readers. “Theresa May to go on the Brexit warpath today in bid to see off Labour: PM to declare Jeremy Corbyn is too weak to negotiate leaving the EUwas the headline, with predictable deployment of the insult “weak”.

Could they manage the equivalent of that wafer-thin mint? They certainly could: “Labour's secret plans for £4,000 'garden tax': Land and levy plot could treble the average council bill”. Er, WHAT? And the source for this dubious claim? “The Foreign Secretary declared the charge, which he branded the 'garden tax', would force families to sell off their backyards and send food prices soaring if farmers are forced to pay”.

The Foreign Secretary. Bozza. A career liar. The £350 million a week buffoon. Only at the end of the article do we get the Labour Party response: “This is desperate nonsense from the Tories. Labour has no such plans”. Yes, that’s the level it’s reached - just make it up and hope it sticks. From the paper Alastair Campbell called “The Dacre lie machine”.

Why do this? Simples. For the Mail this is a binary choice election - Section 40 and Leveson Part 2 with Labour, and look the other way from the Tories. That is all.

Monday 29 May 2017

Dominic Raab - An Utter Shit

The Tories, it seems, are suddenly not relishing this General Election campaign. Yes, they called it, and no, there was no need for them to do so, but the temptation of grinding Labour into the dirt on the false pretext that this somehow gave Theresa May a stronger negotiating hand on Brexit was just too much. The party’s problems are significantly down to so many of its policies, and politicians, being thoroughly unpopular.
Dominic Raab

And one Tory politician realising that this campaign has progressed not necessarily to his advantage is Dominic Raab, who has represented the ultra-safe seat of Esher and Walton since 2010. His efforts have not been helped by his co-authorship of the book Britannia Unchained (along with the equally unappealing Priti Patel) which asserted “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world”.

Perhaps his reputation had preceded him: this morning, Raab represented the Tories in Victoria Derbyshire’s Big Debate and addressed the issue of food poverty as if he were reporting on a set of company accounts. As the Mirror has reported, “A top Tory sparked anger today by saying most food bank users are not ‘languishing in poverty’ … Instead Dominic Raab blamed ‘cash flow problems’ for the huge rise of people using the Trussell Trust - which gave out nearly 1.2million emergency food parcels last year”.

Yes, they have “cash flow problems” because, all too often, they don’t have any cash flowing. They’re skint. There is no money left for food after paying for rent, gas, electricity, water, council tax and other household bills. So all those food bank users are indeed languishing in poverty. Raab is dealing in sophistry.

That nurses and other public sector workers are ending up having to use food banks, after several years of seeing their pay frozen - or receiving increases that do not keep up with the cost of living - did not occur to Raab, who demonstrated zero empathy towards those participating in the debate who are less fortunate than himself. And it got worse, as a disabled campaigner tried to get through to him on work capability assessments.

Fiona from Aberdeen “said disabled people were ‘fleeing’ from England to Scotland where she said the devolved parliament was doing more to protect them … ‘You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that’”. Raab’s response? He said “it was ‘just a childish wish list’ if there was not a ‘strong economy creating the revenue’”. Fiona was talking of people taking their own lives.

Her response was blunt: “So you choose to sacrifice tens of thousands of disabled people, for the sake of that? This is the sixth richest country in the world. It is a choice that people make”.  The Independent also noted “A £30-a-week cut to some new claimants of the Employment and Support Allowance came into effect in April despite opposition from more than 30 disability charities”. Thirty quid a week cut. While the best-off get more.

And the best that Dominic Raab can do is to think like a cost accountant. Well, as the Tories have been happy to send him out to bat for them in the Victoria Derbyshire debate, it has to be assumed the party line is not dissimilar from his.

Small wonder the polls are tightening. Dominic Raab is a contemptible and utter shit.

Guido Fawked - Terror Hypocrisy

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have made little secret over the years of their electoral preferences: for them, it is The Blue Team they want to see in power. In pursuit of this goal, there is no depth to which The Great Guido will not sink in order to deflect attention from the Tories’ problems, usually by smearing anyone who threatens to prevent the result they are all playing for.
Their chosen strategy when it comes to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is straightforward: take all the claims of terrorist sympathy and amplify them, perhaps even beyond the limits of credibility. Hence today’s offering in this genre, titled “Corbyn Attended Terror Conference After Honouring Munich Killer”, which tells readers “Guido can reveal”, but does not include a single relevant citation to back the claims up.

It is at least a change from trying to smear Jezza over money, a pursuit which was remarkable only because it was utterly pointless. That didn’t stop the Fawkes mob, who earlier this year claimed “£40,000 ‘Missing’ From Corbyn’s Tax Return” (it wasn’t - Fawkes teaboy Alex Wickham didn’t read the tax return properly) and then assertedCorbyn’s Numbers Don’t Tally With Government Accounts” (er, they did).

In other words, if in doubt, make it up. This should be borne in mind when The Great Guido is once again trying to push the “Corbyn means terror” meme. What should also be borne in mind is that Paul Staines is the last one to call “terrorist sympathiser” on anyone, mainly because he has significant previous when it comes to, er, sympathising with terrorists. Not only that, he’s proud of his achievements in that area.

Staines was part of Committee for a Free Britain, regarded as part of the Tories’ “lunatic fringe”, editing the organisation’s publication British Briefing, which sought to “smear Labour MPs and left-leaning lawyers and writers” (no change there, then). The CFB was fronted by one David Hart, one of the singularly most unpleasant individuals ever to become involved in politics. And here was the terrorism connection.

The CFB lionised the Nicaraguan Contras, so much so that it became involved in running guns to them. The Contras’ charge sheet included targeted killing of health care workers, kidnapping, torture, execution of civilians, rape, and a litany of other abuses. During their campaign in Nicaragua, they managed to kill well north of 500 people. The Contras were, let us not drive this one round the houses for too long, terrorists.

And there was Paul Staines helping them along. The terrorists characterised by Human Rights Watch thus: “the Contras were major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners”. Yes, Paul Staines was up to his neck in facilitating deadly terrorism.

Yet the agenda set by The Great Guido is slavishly followed by many supposedly reputable journalists. Which gives you another insight into what is wrong with so much of our free and fearless press right now. Another fine mess, once again.

FBI Bomb Warning - Tories In Trouble

Why the Tories should be trying to get voters to “look over there”, at who Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn might have met as part of his desire for peaceful resolution of conflicts like that in Northern Ireland, is becoming clearer by the day in the wake of the Manchester bombing. That is because Salman Abedi, who carried out the attack, had been the subject of a series of warnings - none of which were acted upon.
This puts Theresa May and her team in what Spike Milligan might have called A Very Difficult Position. It is just not credible to point the finger at Jezza and shout “soft on terror” while being, er, apparently soft on terror. Cuts to policing, especially community policing, which the Tories were warned could have the consequences we saw all too clearly last week, have left dangerous gaps in law enforcement intelligence.

And there wasn’t just one warning: Home Secretary Amber Rudd was reminded yesterday morning on The Andy Marr Show (tm) that Abedi’s behaviour had been the subject of warnings to the authorities. As the Guardian reported, “He was still a teenager when friends rang a police counter-terrorism hotline five years ago to express concerns about his behaviour. On at least four other occasions, community leaders and members of his family were reported to have warned of his dangerous tendencies”.

The Mirror went further. “Abedi had allegedly been reported to authorities at least five times … It has been claimed that he was previously banned from a Manchester mosque after criticising the Imam during a sermon against the Islamic State. The terrorist, whose parents are of Libyan origin, stood up before declaring: ‘You are talking b*****ks’”.

It gets worse: as the Independent has reported, “FBI agents are said to have informed British officials that the 22-year-old was part of a North African Islamic State cell based in the north west of England that was plotting an attack in the UK … Abedi was reportedly placed on a US terrorist watch list in 2016 after he came to the attention of intelligence agencies during an investigation into terrorist groups operating in Libya”.
Even the Murdoch Sun has admittedFBI tipped off MI5 that sick Salman Abedi was part of ISIS cell in North Africa and planning to strike Britain, it has been claimed”, with the Mail agreeing thatThe FBI told MI5 that Abedi was planning an attack in Britain in January this year … it will pile more pressure on MI5 to reveal when and how they knew of Abedi”. These august Tory cheerleaders are stressing that it is MI5 they are implicitly accusing of failure, not wanting to halt the imperial progress of the Empress Theresa.

But the reality is that both security services and policing have been subjected to years of cutbacks. And while Labour is committing to recruit another 1,000 to the security services, and another 10,000 Police officers, all that the Tories are promising is that law enforcement agencies have the tools for the job, and perhaps they will set up some kind of review. But that review will not plug the gaps in intelligence and community policing.

Theresa May and her team are standing in an awfully draughty glasshouse. They keep calling “terrorist sympathiser” on Corbyn, but the reality is that their rĂ©gime of cuts has forced security services and Police to effectively drop their guard. monitor fewer individuals, operate with blind spots in their vision. And that’s not good enough.

Sunday 28 May 2017

When Terrorism Is NOT Terrorism

A double fatal stabbing took place in Portland, Oregon two days ago. As the BBC reported, “Two men have died in the US trying to stop a man abusing two women of Muslim appearance, Oregon police say … The abusive man turned on the two men and fatally stabbed them in the city of Portland, police said … Police have identified the suspect as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35. He has been charged with offences including aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon”. What did the Mail make of this killing?
Jeremy Christian

White supremacist 'kills two Good Samaritans by slitting their throats as they try to defend woman in a hijab after he started yelling anti-Muslim slurswas their first headline, followed soon after bySecond Portland train stabbing victim was Army veteran father-of-four, 53, who was heading home when he was 'killed by white supremacist for trying to protect Muslim woman in a hijab’”. And where did this happen?

The attack happened on a MAX train in Portland, Oregon, around 4.30pm Friday … Christian was arrested after he ran off the train at the Hollywood transit station”. MAX stands for Metro Area eXpress, and it’s not what we would call a train service. It’s more like the Manchester Metrolink - a medium distance light rail operation. So the “stations” and trains are pretty much open to anyone; there are no barriers, for instance.

All of which means the attacker did not have to pass any kind of security check before boarding a service. That attacker had posted this on Facebook: “All Zionist Jews, All Christians who do not follow Christ's teaching of Love, Charity, and Forgiveness And All Jihadi Muslims are going to Madagascar or the Ovens/FEMA Camps”. Nice guy, eh?
Two MAX cars in downtown Portland

The Mail concedes “The suspected murderer Jeremy Christian is known for hate-speech, and is a self-identified white supremacist who was pictured on April 29 referring to himself as the 'Lizard King' and giving Nazi salutes at a free speech rally with an American Revolutionary War flag tied around his shoulders like a cape”.

Now have a pause and a think about that. Had Jeremy Christian been a follower of The Prophet, and abused two overtly Christian or Jewish women before fatally stabbing two blokes who interceded, he would have been immediately labelled a Terrorist. No matter that he was acting alone - so was the Westminster attacker.
But the Westminster attacker was labelled a terrorist. Far-right pundits lined up to promote their Muslim-bashing narrative, telling us that there had to be controls on such people. Hell, if we’re talking train stabbings, the bloke involved in the Grafing Bahnhof incident wasn’t a Muslim, but that was the way media outlets like the Express framed the story. There was a fatal stabbing, so he became a Muslim and the incident a terrorist one.

Well, now there has been another terrorist incident in the north-western USA. Two men have died and another has been injured. But as there are no Muslims involved, it is not terrorism. Would the press be practising double standards? Perish the thought!

Hello Tories - Phone Hacking’s Back

While everyone the Tory Party can muster does the rounds of the broadcasters this weekend, telling anyone who will listen that Labour’s manifesto commitment to 10,000 more Police officers means there would be more terrorism, there is one item in the Tory manifesto - and I’m not talking about social care this time - that those talking heads would rather no-one talked about. Because it might be very awkward for them.
A commitment has been given to not only repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which was a key component of the post-Leveson press regulation overhaul, but also to scrap Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, which would have looked at the relationship between press and Police, and the potential for such relationships to become corrupted. For this to look credible, the press has to look like it’s keeping its house in order.

The problem for both press and Tories is that an increasing number of people know full well that the press has not been keeping its house in order, and that there are a number of variously embarrassing revelations either out there already, or in the pipeline and with a delivery timescale in the imminent category. On top of that is the steady procession of court cases, the subject of one of those being phone hacking.

Hacking never really went away, like all the other “dark arts” described in Flat Earth News, Nick Davies’ go-to book on the workings of the Fourth Estate. And hacking not only by the now defunct Murdoch Screws, but also the still-extant Sun, is now the subject of legal action which has been joined by a lengthening list of well-known individuals.

That much is bad for the press: what is also bad for the Tories is not only that they are prepared to do the ultimate Faustian deal and look the other way in exchange for the support they hope will carry them back into power, but that the hacking revelations on the way will show that they made a most unwise decision in cosying up to the tabloids.

The revelation that shows just how unwise the Tories have been has been made by the investigations team at Byline Media, who have testimony from former Screws hack Paul “privacy is for paedos” McMullan. He claims that the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks (or Wade as she was then) was, despite claiming otherwise in the Hacking Trial, well aware that stories were coming from hacked phone messages.

After telling “She tricked a jury into believing she was far too above the nitty gritty of day-to-day journalism to know that phone hacking had ever gone on and certainly she had never sanctioned it and she was let off scot-free”, Mc Mullen added “I was made Deputy Features Editor … It means that now I know exactly what Rebekah was told about every story that came from every illegal act, either by a private investigator we hired or by journalists themselves”. That’s most interesting. Do go on.

When anybody walked into the newspaper office on Tuesday morning conference when Rebekah was Features Editor and put up a story idea her first question was, ‘where did you get it?’ … And the journalist would then tell her, and she would demand to listen to the tape and quite often that tape would have to be transcribed and sent down to legal (department) or at least locked away with the tape in the reporter’s drawer”.

There is also talk of mass email deletion, attempts to pervert the course of justice, and news that a whole host of those involved with the last days of the Screws are being investigated to see if any or all of them have evidence linking them to hacking.

This comes on top of the revelations about the Mail titles’ continued use of PI Steve Whittamore, even after he was busted in the raid which we now know as Operation Motorman. The Tories are promising to ignore all of that, should they win next month.

So Theresa May and her team would no doubt hope that there are no more of those nasty revelations to come. Well, let me put it this way. The raft of stories has come from Byline Media. Next weekend is the Byline Festival. What better way to showcase independent journalism than to have that festival make another of those revelations?

What that might be I do not know. But neither do the Tories and their pals. And by next weekend, it will be close to the General Election, but not so close for the electorate to be unable to take it on board before they vote. I’ll just leave that one there.

Labour Sterling Scare BUSTED

Amid the deluge of knocking copy frightening readers about Labour’s alleged softness on terrorism, it has been hard to find any Tory-supporting media outlet with anything else to contribute to the General Election campaign. But for once, the Telegraph has ridden to the rescue, although in the process has shot itself firmly in the foot.
Bank of England, London

The story being pushed in today’s Sunday Tel is, unsurprisingly for a title now edited by Allister Heath, who forged his editorial career at City AM, on potential market reaction to a Labour victory, and especially the money markets. “The pound is in for ‘a rough ride’ if the Conservatives lose the general election, currency traders and analysts believe, after a number of strong polls for Labour sent the currency into a tumble late last week” tells Tim Wallace’s article. And how rough might this ride be?

Sterling could fall by another 5pc on a Labour victory, forcing the currency down to $1.20 against the dollar, which would be the lowest level since the 1980s … Against the euro the pound could fall to as low as €1.08 to $1.09, a level not seen since the depths of the financial crisis”. Er, sorry to pour cold water on this, Telegraph people, but Sterling went lower than that against the Euro at the end of 2008 - close to parity, in fact.

But the talking heads kept on coming: “‘Looking at how much we have moved since this election was called, it is pretty clear the response would be negative and if I had to put a figure on it, I would say a kneejerk sell-off of 5pc or a bit more,’ said Adam Cole, head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets … ‘At least for now, if the [poll] numbers keep closing then it suggests the pound is in for a rougher ride,’ said Craig Erlam at Oanda”.

So Sterling falling to $1.20, or to €1.09, would not only be A Very Bad Thing, but it would only happen if we elected a Labour Government. Everyone got that? OK, now let’s look at what the Telegraph - yes, the same paper - said last October, in an article titledFTSE 100 hits new record high but pound drops below $1.21 as Brexit hard-landing fears rattle City”, one of whose authors was none other than Tim Wallace.

That article concluded with the line “WRAP: Footsie soars but Pound drops below $1.21 against dollar and €1.10 versus pound amid warnings that sterling could fall further”. Last October. Under a Tory Government. Led by Theresa May. The same Theresa May that the Telegraph, and the rest of the Tory-backing press, wants its readers to vote for next month.

And this is how the Tel reported comments from Michael Saunders, one of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee: “‘Given the scale and persistence of the UK’s current account deficit, I would not be surprised if sterling falls further, but I am fairly agnostic as to whether any further depreciation is likely,’ Mr Saunders told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee in a written submission yesterday … The former  Citigroup economist added that the drop was not necessarily bad for the UK economy”.

Not necessarily bad for the UK economy. A statement approvingly reported by the Telegraph when a Tory Government under Theresa May is presiding over the fall in Sterling. But if Labour were to be in power, a similar fall would be catastrophic.

We know the Tel wants the Tories to win. And now we know they’re a bunch of hypocrites.

Top Six - May 28

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 stuff to do later. So there.
6 Katie Hopkins Calls For Genocide Hatey Katie responded to the Manchester bombing by calling for afinal solution”. The remark ultimately cost her her LBC show.

5 Mail’s Sick Bomb Death Intrusion The inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker wanted their readers to know that the youngest victim of the Manchester bombing had called out for her Mum before she died. Their readers were unimpressed.

4 Katie Hopkins Manchester Smear BUSTED Hatey Katie’s follow-up to her “final solution” demand was to try and kick Channel 4 News for interviewing members of Manchester’s Libyan community. That didn’t work, either.

3 Manchester Attack - Mail Blames Corbyn The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his attack doggies made sure their readers knew that Nick Clegg had enabled the Manchester bombing, and that Jezza was the one wot done it.

2 Sun IRA Witness IS PROVEN LIAR Sean O’Callaghan, the one inside source for the Sun’s hit job on Jeremy Corbyn, was known to be a liar and a fantasist. It didn’t stop the Murdoch goons putting his claims on their front page.

1 Manchester Attack - Sun Blames Corbyn The Sun’s Tuesday front page splash was bad enough, but the hacks would not have known of the bombing beforehand. They did know, though, when the incendiary editorial attacking the Labour leader was published more than four hours after the attack took place.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!