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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Tory v Labour - Press Access Hypocrisy

There was considerable faux outrage laat week after Labour campaign group Momentum declined to accredit hacks from the Murdoch Sun to their The World Transformed event going on alongside the Party Conference in Liverpool. Those giving fealty to the Murdoch mafiosi included, to her shame, the joint political editor of the Guardian. Moreover, this was not the first time the media establishment had kicked off over access.
Last month, when Jeremy Corbyn gave the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh, the faux outrage - backed up by sneering and outright lies - was on view once more when it was discovered that the organisers did not invite external broadcaster to the event, but made their own video feed available to anyone who wanted it.
The confected furore began after normally sensible Channel 4 News man Michael Crick got a little ahead of himself, seeing something underhand and sinister that was not there. This prompted sneering from the low moaning noise that is Desperate Dan Hodges, and a malicious pack of lies from the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole.
Then, yesterday, came the Oh What A Giveaway moment. After Theresa May caused her fellow EU heads of Government to finally run out of patience at the Salzburg summit on Thursday, she gave a speech from 10 Downing Street - scripted, no questions, and indeed no journalists present - projecting defiance. It was strictly for domestic consumption only. And its presentation shut out all except one of the pantheon of media outlets.
Which was the media provider given the privilege of broadcasting the Empress Treeza to the masses? Was it Channel 4 News, Crick’s berth? Perhaps the Mail on Sunday or its sister Daily Mail was allowed in, given Whinging Dan Hodges’ acquiescence? Or maybe it was someone linked to the Murdoch mafiosi, which would have placated Master Cole?
Sadly, it was none of the above. It was the BBC. No-one else was allowed in. So where was Crick’s outrage this time? After all, she wasn’t even taking questions, but effectively using the Beeb to broadcast a party political broadcast. “It’s worth stressing that what happened today was NOT a press conference. There were just two BBC (as ever) people there; no other journalists & certainly no questions” he observed. Without outrage.
Desperate Dan Hodges drooled “Setting aside the minor, we're-about-to-crash-out-without-a-deal-and-all-die stuff, I thought that was May's strongest moment since becoming PM. Certainly since the election”. He had no problems with the broadcasting arrangements, nor the lack of questions. And what of Master Cole?
CONFIRMED: BBC have been summoned to Downing Street. PM will give a statement on government Brexit policy. No other journos invited. On telly at 1345”. So just the Beeb, no other invitations, no questions, but as it’s the Tories, no problem.
The media establishment wants us to consider them more reliable than all those ghastly New Left Media sites that they keep slagging off, but keep on being caught out exhibiting the most flagrant double standards. We should keep on trusting them.
Well, the more they pile on the hypocrisy, the less trust they’re going to get. Sad but true.
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Rachael Swindon - REALITY

Visibility brings all manner of consequences: profile, notoriety, interest, hopefully popularity, maybe even a glimpse of fame. It can also bring jealousy, dismissiveness, smears, abuse, and even vindictiveness. All of those came the way of the Tweeter known as Rachael Swindon, whose support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and her social media reach, made her the target of the right-wing press.
It got worse: she even attracted at least one stalker, and a host of obsessives. These sad individuals persuaded papers like the Mail and Sun to doorstep her, but to no effect, as neither paper wrote up a story. It also led hacks without the full set of investigative skills to make fools of themselves claiming that Rachael was in fact a man Tweeting as a woman. The most foolish was Jane Merrick. Will she now apologise? Don’t bet on it.

So there was only one credible course of action, as anyone who has had the press pack bearing down on them will know - choose the most rational and, hopefully, sympathetic media outlet and give them the story. So it was that Rachael Cousins and husband Jon invited BuzzFeed News into their council house on the outskirts of Swindon.

Unfortunately, Mark di Stefano’s article had to have the obligatory eye-catching headline “Here’s The Woman Behind Britain’s Most Divisive Twitter Account”, although Ms Cousins is not looking to “divide” anyone - she’s just a passionate Labour and Corbyn supporter.
But we do learn that she “had joined Twitter in 2014 ‘to tweet about Peter Andre and EastEnders’”. It was the Tories voting for benefit cuts that set her on her current path (Zelo Street had no real cause célèbre until the phone hacking story broke in 2009; one event can pique the interest and set a future course all on its own).

Di Stefano puts the reality of Ms Cousins’ situation directly: “Cousins said her husband is living with fibromyalgia, a painful long-term condition causing extreme pain and fatigue. She has osteoarthritis in her legs. Neither are working at the moment, and while they now live on unemployment benefits, documents back up their claim that they’re currently locked in a battle with the Department for Work and Pensions over his disability payments”.

So much for all the obsessives whinging about “benefit cheats”. Ms Cousins is one of many in the UK who finds herself in straitened circumstances. Far too many pundits and social media obsessives believe that such people should just know their place and keep quiet, and in days gone by, that is what would have happened. Not now.
She is one of many reasons that Labour under Corbyn’s leadership, while not being immune to the incessant barrage of press abuse, has not subsided in the opinion polls, and indeed was able to claw back most of a 16-point deficit in the run-up to last year’s General Election. Yet still there are journalists who don’t get it.

That’s why Jane Merrick was not alone in sneering at the Rachael Swindon Twitter phenomenon. Michael Deacon of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph was another. Hugo Rifkind also weighed in to criticise her. They all got it wrong.

Rachael Cousins is not only a real person, she is one of thousands actively backing Jezza and Labour who have cut out the mainstream press. I’ll just leave that one there.
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May Delusion - Murdoch Lies

Yesterday’s ostensibly defiant speech by Theresa May, which was in reality another futile gesture for domestic consumption only, has had the effect she and her dwindling band of hangers-on wanted - it has fired up our free and fearless press to match her delusion. The front pages are, mostly, exactly as she would have wished. All have noted her defiance. Praise has been lavished upon her. And it is all supremely pointless.
The Sun headline writer need not be a person of taste

But that thought was not allowed to enter at the Baby Shard Bunker, where the Murdoch goons had decided beforehand that there could be no sign of that delusion, or indeed any inkling of the grim reality facing the PM, shown to readers of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. So it was that the task of maintaining morale among the paper’s rapidly shrinking readership was given to the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole.
Smile, though you're copy's churning, smile, though your pants are burning ...

As Zelo Street regulars will recall, Master Cole, formerly tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, marked his Sun front page debut in no style at all with “COURT JEZTER”, which claimed Labour would lose their allocation of “Short money” unless Jeremy Corbyn joined the Privy Council. This was a pack of lies, so bad that not even press non-regulator IPSO was prepared to excuse it.

So it was that the flannelled fool brought forth what may be his last Sun front page splash - he’s inexplicably been given the deputy political editor’s job at the Mail on Sunday, quite an achievement for someone who couldn’t edit his way out of a paper bag - telling readersMay’s Brexit Fightback … UP EURS! … Furious PM freezes talks with Brussels”.
Some people and their papers have form for lying

Talks have been frozen? When did that happen? But there it is: “RAGING Theresa May froze Brexit talks until the EU makes her a fresh offer … In a ­dramatic retaliation to her Salzburg humiliation, the Prime Minister blasted Brussels for a lack of ‘respect’ and making the ‘fundamental mistake’ of underestimating her resolve to keep her Chequers deal alive”.

There was more. “Mrs May made a rare live address from No10’s state dining room to vow she will not abandon her soft Brexit offer - despite it being shredded by EU leaders in Austria … Instead she insisted the ball was now in their court to make Chequers work or face No Deal … The PM, seething at her Salzburg slapdown the day before, challenged the EU to come up with a counter proposal to her Chequers offer”.
But there was, as Captain Blackadder might have pointed out, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. As Jonathan Portes told last night - so before the Sun hit the news stands - “Despite all the noise and newspaper headlines, only substantive point here is that UK *will* shortly make new proposal, with further concessions, on Irish border/backstop, as EU27/Ireland/Commission have long been asking”.
Who to believe, a Professor of Economics at King’s College London, or an odious flannelled fool who has made a career of smearing, bluffing, and lying? Once again, the combination of the Sun and Master Cole means another pack of lies.

The Murdoch mafiosi can’t even do jingoism honestly. Don’t buy the Sun.
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Friday, 21 September 2018

UKIP Goes Full Third Reich

To show that the politics of delusion are not an exclusively Tory Party preserve, the new leader of the last remaining saloon-bar propper-uppers at UKIP has brought forth the kinds of policy ideas that will drive lots of members to one political party. The problem for Adolf von Batten is that the party welcoming all those new members will be the Tories.
I em not a racialist but, und zis is a big but

Batten, an appallingly immodest man with much to be modest about, has yanked the Kippers further to the right, if such a thing were possible. As the Guardian has reported, “Ukip has proposed Muslim-only prisons, special security screening for Muslim would-be immigrants and a repeal of equalities laws before its annual conference, further indicating the party’s shift to the populist hard right”. And there was more.

Other policies put forward in a so-called interim manifesto … include the abolition of the category of hate crime, as well as scrapping the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the government’s equalities office … The document also calls for a national inquiry into the abuse of children and women by sexual grooming gangs, something it calls ‘one of the greatest social scandals in English history’”. Wonder who that is aimed at?
You'll have to speak up, I'm a bit Mutt and Jeff

The rampant paranoia is evident elsewhere in the manifesto: “political correctness and the fear of identifying the vast majority of the perpetrators as Muslims … Islamic literalist and fundamentalist extremism … driven by the political doctrine of cultural Marxism … open-border uncontrolled immigration, and imposing an alien politically correct cultural agenda on their peoples” Batten is not a racialist, but, and this is a big but.

Allowing people to spread hatred under cover of “free speech”, doing away with Human Rights, segregation of part of the population, demonising that minority of the population as “alien”, inventing hostile political doctrines to give supporters something to oppose, spreading fear of “the other”, claiming to be a friend to ordinary hard-working people, offering easy and glib solutions to their problems. What does that sound like?
Squeaky too much racism finger up the bum time

Well, that sounds like fascism, and more specifically the kind of fascism practiced under the less than benign rule of the Nazis in 1930s Germany. The great pity about the UKIP manifesto is that, as so often, scapegoating of Muslims gets a free pass, while if any of those proposed measures had used “Jews” instead of “Muslims”, the condemnation would have been universal, and rightly so. That comparison should not need to be made.

UKIP is now so far off the political mainstream that even former Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty “ Farage has saidI’m less than impressed with the current direction in which we’re going. It devalues, undermines many of the incredible achievements … (Ukip is) in danger now unless it changes direction very, very quickly, of total and utter marginalisation”. Adolf von Batten is too extreme even for Nige.
And anyone thinking the Nazi comparison is too extreme, Batten also said this: “We are going to hit Remainers hard. Remainers we know where your constituencies are and we are coming for you”. The full Third Reich, with the Gestapo thrown in.

This is not a political party. This is totalitarian thuggery. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Theresa May - Time To Go

The act of national delusion continues: today, delayed by power problems at 10 Downing Street - there’s a metaphor to savour - Theresa May stood at the lectern, two Union Flags behind her, to deliver yet another pointless speech on the progress, or lack of it, with Brexit negotiations. It was so well received that Sterling tanked on the foreign exchange markets. It was supremely pointless. It addressed no issues. And it solved no problems.
As the BBC has reported, “In a statement at Downing Street she said for EU leaders to reject her plan with no alternative at this ‘late stage of negotiations’ was ‘not acceptable’”. They were supposed, perhaps, to allow her crock of crap to be considered as a serious negotiating position, as well as flagrantly bypassing Michel Barnier.

There was more. “A defiant Mrs May added: ‘I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country.’” But no-one was asking her to do that. Then came the part of the speech for domestic press consumption only. “At this late stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side's proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals. So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress”. Christ on a bike, they told you two years ago.

What happened yesterday in Salzburg was the entirely predictable result of several factors: proposals that had already been dismissed as unworkable; trying to short-circuit the negotiating process by attempting (unsuccessfully) to pick off member states one by one; trying to cut out Barnier; not bringing proposals forward until the last minute.

Also, the duplicitous nature of some ministers did not help, especially Michael “Oiky” Gove claiming the final agreement could be reneged upon at will. Nor did all the futile braggadocio over “not paying the divorce bill”. Some of the Tory right still think that the prospect of No Deal is A Very Good Thing. The currency markets think otherwise.

But one conclusion in inescapable: Theresa May’s credibility is now shot. Her leadership is a contradiction in terms. Her party is a shambolic rabble. Many in her own cabinet are “on manoeuvres”. Many outside the cabinet are manoeuvring to get rid of her. She cannot deliver on Brexit. Worse, she is unable or unwilling to contemplate any common sense alternative - such as extending the Article 50 period, or not doing the deed at all.
As she has outlived her usefulness, there is only one option left for Theresa May, and that is for her to go. The manner of her departure matters less than her getting on and doing it. She could, of course, if she believes she has the country with her, call a General Election, in which she and her rabble of a party would be soundly thrashed.

Blaming the EU will no longer work for her. Nor will blaming Labour: they are not in power; it is not for them to ride to her rescue. Nor will any other kind of blame-shifting. Nor will calling on sympathetic media outlets to shill for her.

We see you, Theresa May. You are no less inept than your cowardly predecessor. Your party has screwed over our country. You have no idea how to extricate yourself from this mess. You have reached the end of the road. In the name of God, go.
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Why The Guardian Grovels To Murdoch

The actions this week of Guardian joint political editor Heather Stewart, where she went in to bat for the Murdoch mafiosi after Labour grassroots organisation Momentum declined to accredit Sun hacks to their The World Transformed event in Liverpool, may have surprised as many observers as they dismayed. But there is very straightforward method in this particular madness, and it is, as so often, all about money.
For so long, the Guardian lost money. Now, following rounds of staff cuts, those losses have been stemmed, but there is always the need to secure advertising revenue. And it is in bringing in the advertisers that the paper has cosied up to Murdoch. Worse, this new closer relationship has involved compromising the paper’s reporting on matters that may reflect aversely on their new pals - a blatant case of self-censorship.

As the Guardian told earlier this year, “The Guardian’s parent company has joined forces with rivals News UK and the Telegraph to create an online advertising business … The Ozone Project has been launched in response to demand from advertisers for a one-stop shop to buy digital adverts across multiple leading news sites. When it launches in the autumn it will be possible for advertisers to buy online ad space on the Guardian, the Times, the Sun, and the Telegraph from a single site”.

One Zelo Street contact put it thus: “if Ford is launching a new car, instead of dealing with THREE different advertising and display teams on THREE different titles, they just deal with one pooled team at Ozone, who will do one set of adverts, which are used across all papers. It’s called ‘programmable’ or ‘programmatic’ advertising because a computer program distributes the adverts across all of the websites, by simply ‘pressing a button.’

Neat, eh? But the consequences for the Guardian’s editorial independence have been grave. Not only did Ms Stewart do the previously unthinkable - back the Sun over a ban on its hacks in Liverpool - reporting of Murdoch wrongdoing has also been scaled back to the point where it has become all but invisible. Take, for instance, phone hacking allegations.
Earlier this year, the paper sided with the Murdochs over Leveson 2, abandoning victims of press abuse. As David Hencke put it, “The decision this week to join the rest of the press pack and welcome the demise of Leveson 2 - the inquiry which would have taken a cold hard look at how mainstream media - in particular the News of the World and the Mirror - indulged in phone hacking and other nefarious practices is profoundly disappointing”.

Independents like Byline Media are now far more likely to report the procession of claimants alleging phone hacking, blagging and other malpractice against the Sun, and indeed other Murdoch titles. The Guardian was distinctly lukewarm on the case of former Sunday Times blagger John Ford, who has now blown the whistle on his former title.

Thus the paradox of the modern-day Guardian: it has stabilised its finances for now, but in the process has joined so many others in selling out the causes it once championed. Expect more support for Murdoch hacks and less talk about The Dark Arts in future.

The cowards of Kings Place are complicit in covering up criminality. Sad but true.
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Brexit Farce - Sun Loses It Completely

Yesterday Theresa May, today our free and fearless press: the inability to accept reality, the insistence that We British are always right and the dastardly garlic-crunching foreigners are always wrong, the unwillingness to accept such concepts as negotiation and compromise, the understanding that all those claims of how easy it was going to be were no more than packs of fanciful lies, the whole delusion is laid bare.
We were told Brexit would be no more than a pleasant walk in the park. The deals would be wrapped up in the blink of an eyelid. They needed us more than we needed them. We held all the cards. And anyway, who won the war?

The reality - that many Tory MPs are still unwilling, or more likely incapable, of understanding - is that the EU wanted to be nice to Ms May, to help her out. Her inflexibility and ineptitude scuppered that idea. Trying to cut out Michel Barnier didn’t help our cause. And thinking we could pick off some of the other 27 member states was plain stupid.

It was, whisper it quietly, a mess of our own making. So what has the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to say for itself in apologia this morning? Well, the comedy newspaper that is the Express has just carried on lying, screaming that the EU is “vengeful”. But that is rank amateurism when put alongside the howling denunciation from the Sun.
The Murdoch goons have suffered the meltdown to end all press meltdowns this morning: from the front page headline “EU DIRTY RATS … Euro mobsters ambush May”, to the pointless article telling “Chequers Brexit proposal explained - what is Theresa May’s plan, when will it be voted on and who is for and against it” (because it’s dead), to the hectoring, abusive editorial, the impression of helpless outrage is inescapable.

That editorial is British Euro-failure distilled into powerless ranting. “WE can’t wait to shake ourselves free of the two-bit mobsters who run the European Union … EU leaders promised a fair hearing on our future relationship at yesterday’s crunch Salzburg summit … Instead, Mrs May was ambushed with a cack-handed attempt to sign us up to Brussels’ unacceptable terms there and then”. She wasn’t. But the lies are just ramping up.

Yesterday the leaders of the undemocratic European Union showed their true colours”. The European Parliament is an elected body, unlike, say, the management of News UK. But do go on.”This isn’t some grand project, designed to bring the peoples of Europe together in one happy union. It’s a protection racket”. Yes, protecting the people of Europe from shyster capitalists like Rupert Murdoch. And boy, does he hate them for it.
And on it goes. “They have refused to negotiate in good faith. They have refused to compromise, even while Britain has worked day-in, day-out to find agreement”. Britain hasn’t worked at all to find agreement. Also, the EU has been the one negotiating in good faith, while the UK has been trying to pick off member states (see above).

Then comes the self-awareness failure: “Like all good gangsters, they’re trying to rule by fear”. Is that a Murdoch paper trying to call “gangster” on someone else? And denouncing the EU as “an outfit that increasingly looks more at home in Sicily than Strasbourg”?

Hurling abuse at the EU. Because it worked so well before, didn’t it? Or maybe not.
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Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Brexit Charade IS DEAD

The list of The New Guilty Men is seemingly endless: there have been clueless politicians like Young Dave and his pal George, Liam Fox, David Davis, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom, Kate Hoey, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, Nadine Dorries, Bernard Jenkin, Michael “Oiky” Gove, and Dan, Dan The Oratory Man. There have been intellectually bankrupt pundits following in their wake.
That roll of shame is rather longer, containing as it does such luminaries as Isabel Oakeshott, Tim Montgomerie, Iain Martin, Iain Dale, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, Trevor Kavanagh, Quentin Letts (let’s not), Richard Littlejohn, Amanda Bloody Platell, Sarah Baxter, Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer, Rod “a smile, a song, and a four pack of Stella” Liddle, Andrew Pierce (in a pink shirt), and Julia Hartley Dooda.

Added to those has been the collective cluelessness of lobby groups such as the TPA, IEA, CPS, ASI, Brexit Central and the rest. There has also been the participation of newspaper editors and proprietors. All knew more about Brexit than anyone who actually did know about the subject. All knew the EU would do what we wanted. And all were talking out of the backs of their necks. Because they knew Sweet Jack Shit.

Let us not drive this one round the houses for too long: We The People have been systematically, cynically and deliberately lied to on an industrial scale for years. So many in the UK have believed that we are the righteous ones, and that the puny foreigners would bend to our will, before the force of our superior arguments. This was bullshit.
And it was in the pleasant surroundings of the Austrian city of Salzburg that all the years of lies and braggadocio came crashing down on their first contact with reality. EU leaders, and heads of the other 27 member states’ Governments, are not stupid people. Nor are they of infinite patience. Nor are they amenable to spending year after year being ritually slagged off by brainless mercenary politicians and pundits in the UK.

So it should have come as no surprise when Theresa May’s “Chequers Compromise”, delivered with a “take it or leave it” attitude, was firmly, almost brutally, rebuffed. This happened because the EU has finally had enough of being screwed around by the UK.

For decades, we’ve been allowed the exceptionalism of not joining the Euro and not joining Schengen. We kept our rebate, moaned about free movement while not bothering to properly implement its provisions, and yes, blamed all our ills on the EU.
So when push finally came to shove, what do you think happened? Those EU leaders finally decided they’d had enough. If we want to behave like the petulant child of Europe, fine. But don’t expect us to do it on their patch, and on their time.

Today’s Salzburg encounter is the day the Brexit charade died. The chance of getting a no-deal outcome through Parliament is not unadjacent to zero. The idea that the assembled gobshites and nonentities like Farage, Rees Mogg, Bozza and the rest could cobble together an alternative plan and rescue the situation is laughable.

Our political class and their press pals have sold us down the river. Now we need someone to step up to the plate before our country gets totally fouled up.
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Tommy Robinson Is Ready To Die

As the time draws near for Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, to face a retrial for alleged contempt of court over his visit to Leeds, realisation has hit home that this could entail his going back to jail. As a result, there has been an outpouring of victimhood, which is always good for getting the crowdfunder numbers moving.
So it was that Lennon’s Facebook page included this gem recently: “The fact that this contempt of court case against Tommy is at the Old Bailey (big terror trials and high profile murders usually) shows just how politically motivated this all is. They want him silenced and they have already shown that they will break rules in order to do just that. They never expected the reaction that would follow”. Inventing politically motivated trials.

But the real pièce de résistance has been an appearance via Skype by Lennon for the irredeemably batshit Alex Jones and his InfoWars propaganda machine. Here, Jones claims that “Muslim men” have organised into “rape groups” who target girls at the rate of “a thousand a town”. He talks of “the paedophilia of the UK” and says this is “the religion of the elite over there”. If brains were TNT, he wouldn’t have enough to blow his head off.

Jones then tells Lennon “they want to kill you”. So it should come as no surprise that Lennon then tells that his retrial is because “I was talking on my iPhone about Muslim men raping children”. He also claims misleadingly that “the court case had finished”. But then we get to his retrial. Lennon suggests that he is not going to “walk into court, say sorry and plead guilty”. This would be “meeting the Government half way”.
Was he afraid of what he was doing? “I don’t fear that, cos that’s the truth … the inevitable outcome of this path, which I have chosen … I wrote a letter to my wife when I was in prison explaining all of this, to say I’m not in this position through anything other than choice. I know what I’m doing. I’m not their victim, I’m their target, and I’m not going to wallow in self-pity about a situation that is nothing in comparison to what many other people go through”. And then comes the righteousness.

The other judgment to make is … are we morally right? And if I’m morally right, I’ll do anything [there’s a legal get-out clause for you]. I will go anywhere, and I will not care about the consequences of the problems I’m talking about if I’m morally right”. One can only imagine the expressions on the faces of some of Lennon’s recent targets.

There was more. “Once you go past that as a moral compass, what we’re doing is trying to save the future of our culture [so not just crusading against grooming gangs, then], our children, our country, our history … it’s nothing, what I’ve been through.”

He wasn’t finished. “We are a generation of cowards, born in an era where … and I also take huge satisfaction that so many people have been brought off of the fence. Watch what happened - this last arrest … I’d like to say a huge thank you to Judge Marson who put me in prison, because he has red pilled more people than anyone I’ve ever met”.
So it really is about the publicity, then. “He’s been the most successful in bringing people to our cause. We’re right. We’re telling the truth. It’s a moral battle that we can’t afford to lose”. But this does not guarantee his freedom.

I think next Thursday I’ll go back to prison, and I just want people to know that”. Why, Jones asked, did he believe that? “I sat down with my wife, I explained to her the situation I’m in, and I said look … I just can’t do it … I can’t do it … I don’t accept it [apologising for any contempt] … I don’t accept that anything I said could have prejudiced that trial … tell me why there’s that [reporting] restriction”. So he’s not going to apologise.

Clearly, Lennon has made the calculation that going to jail again is going to be good for business. He gets the opportunity to accept he was in contempt and apologise, he refuses, and thereby gets sent down. He clearly said that being sent down by the judge in Leeds was good for his cause. So he’s looking to do another stretch, starting next week.

And he’s ready todie for the truth”. What a martyr. What a trooper. What a con artist.
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That the bar for allowing people to stand for Parliament is not very high is something that will be familiar to those who look in regularly on Zelo Street, and especially when it comes to the Tory Party: Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, James “not so” Cleverly, Nadine Dorries, Chris Grayling, Bernard Jenkin - the assembled idiocy is substantial. Added to this list now is Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who represents the unfortunate voters of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Ms Trevelyan has seen something that looks too good to be true, and which really is too good to be true for Brexiteers such as Herself. But such is her enthusiasm for the cause that she has believed it anyway, telling anyone who will listen “There's now a US-UK trade deal ready to be signed says @BrexitCentral”. There isn’t. There really isn’t.

So what is there? Ah well. The anti-EU right has been acting in concert, with lobby groups (let’s not favour these with titles like “think tanks”) and propagandists attempting to turn their spin into reality. Eleven like-minded lobby groups have put together what they would like to see in a trade agreement, and then declared that it really is a trade agreement.

However, and here we encounter a significantly-sized however, one look at the roll-call of those lobby groups tells you what to expect in the alleged agreement. From the UK, there are the ASI, CPS and IEA, and from the USA, the AEI and Cato Institute. The convocation of flat earthers could not be more complete. So what’s on offer?

According to the Guardian, the agreementwould see the NHS opened to foreign competition, a bonfire of consumer and environmental regulations and freedom of movement between the two countries for workers”. Freedom of movement between the UK, with a population of 66 million people, and the USA, with 326 million. As Private Eye magazine might have mused, I wonder who that might favour? I think we should be told.
One look at the kinds of details on offer tells you exactly who it might favour: it “would remove tariffs and throw out the precautionary principle that has guided much EU regulation on GM foods, chlorine-washed chicken, hormones in meat, pesticides and chemicals in cosmetics”. Removing EU regulations and imposing US ones instead.

That this would be a sell-out to US business, and especially Agri-Business, was only confirmed by the news thatLiam Fox is planning to use controversial ‘Henry VIII’ powers to scrap European food standards in order to pave the way for a trade deal with the US after Brexit … Fox believes the UK should diverge from EU rules after Brexit in order to sign wide-ranging free trade deals with countries with lower standards”. Oh goody.

What other delights would be on offer? “The IFT/Cato Institute free trade deal recognises that its proposals are likely to be unpopular. ‘Health services would benefit from foreign competition, although we recognise any change to existing regulations would be extremely controversial,’ it says … It recommends testing the waters with foreign competition in education and legal services first”. Screwing around with education, just for starters.
One commentator who has seen them coming has no doubt what the alleged “agreement” would mean. “Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said: ‘The measures supported in this paper represent a free trade utopia, entirely divorced from economic reality. The authors view good government as “getting out of the way” of business, and letting profit drive every aspect of our society. If carried out, these policies would destroy huge swathes of our economy, including farming, and they would lay waste to public services.’” And we have Tory MPs willing to shill for it.

The idea that this “deal” is ready for signature is below the credibility threshold. It would sell out our farmers, sell off the NHS and most likely replace it with a cripplingly expensive US-style insurance-based health care system, and effectively convert the UK, at a stroke, into just another US state. And its proponents talk about freedom and independence.

The IEA, CPS and ASI are not credible trade negotiators. The ritual incantation of soundbites such as “free trade”, as on a tape loop, should convince no-one. And Liam Fox is still a disgraced ex-minister who cannot be trusted any further than he can be chucked.

A UK-US “trade deal” does not exist. Don’t fall for this attempt to sell out the UK.
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